Trilogy 9: Metamorphosis
Summary: Once more, there’s trouble on Adriann’s planet.
Warnings: Secondary character death, and no, it’s not a member of SG-1 or 2.
And if, for some weird reason, you have a vampire/blood squick, don’t read.
“On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”
Daniel pulled on his second boot and quickly crossed up the laces, tucking the tongue in and smoothing out the inevitable wrinkle. As he threw his tennis shoes inside his locker, his hand slipped on the edge of the locker door and he looked down to find his palm sweaty. Annoyed with himself, he rubbed both hands off over his trousers, glad that he was wearing the black fatigues. Taking a deep breath, he took his fatigue shirt off the hanger and pulled it on, forcing his mind to focus on the mundane task of closing buttons, smoothing down pockets, and making sure his field vest was properly supplied.
Behind him were Sam and Teal’c, both getting changed and ready for the mission. He had a feeling they were eyeing him, wondering at his peculiar silence, and he knew that if he didn’t say something soon, they’d start nagging. Turning, he glanced quickly at them, and sure enough, they both caught the movement of his head and looked over.
“What’s wrong, Daniel?” Sam asked as she adjusted the collar of her shirt.
“Nothing,” he answered.
“You do not act as if there is nothing wrong, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c put in expectedly. He was giving Daniel one of those looks that said, “I’m older than you are. I know better.”
With a sigh and a bit of a mock-scowl, he shook his head and turned away from them, back to his field vest–the one that had been ready for a half an hour already. “Just feeling a little… anxious, I guess.” That was the understatement of the year.
When he turned back around, field vest in hand, Sam was sitting on her bench, facing him. Waiting. Rolling his eyes, Daniel sat down on his own bench and leaned his forearms on his knees, field vest still in his hands.
“Are you worried for Jalen?” Teal’c asked as he closed his locker.
“No,” Daniel drawled. “I think he’ll be just fine. Jason’s worried more about him than I am.”
“Then is it Adriann?” Sam asked. Teal’c shot her a look and she raised her brows at him, as if to say, “What?”
Daniel recognized the exchange. It happened whenever she’d said something that Teal’c had meant to say.
“Do you not wish to see him?” Teal’c asked instead.
Daniel grimaced slightly, feeling that it would sound stupid to anyone else. “Yes, I want to see him. But I’ve been wondering whether I should see him.” The surprise on his teammates faces was expected, too. “It’s nothing Jack or Jason have ever said. They accept my relationship with Adriann. The problem is me. I’m just… I don’t know. It bothers me sometimes.”
“Why? You’re always saying that it’s no big deal,” Sam said, puzzled. The way Daniel looked away made Sam roll her eyes. “You’re doing what I do, Daniel,” she sing-songed.
“What’s that?” he sang back.
“No, I’m not. I care about him, but I keep thinking I’m holding him back. And I thought maybe I’d be over him by now.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because…” Daniel didn’t want to explain it. It really was too personal. “I just think I should, that’s all.”
Teal’c inclined his head. “Or perhaps, you wish that Adriann would be, as you say, over you?”
Daniel gave Teal’c a crooked grin and stood up, putting on his vest. “As always Teal’c, you see a lot.”
Sam jogged her brows as she got up, Teal’c doing the same. “Stop worrying about it.”
“You have an unusual connection with Adriann,” Teal’c said, “that is perhaps responsible for the depth of the feelings you both share. It is not likely to diminish with time, Daniel Jackson.”
“Right,” Daniel said, grinding his jaws. “He’s like Jack and Jason in a lot of ways. Except my feelings for them are far deeper, and with them comes the hard fact that I’ll never actually have an open relationship with either of them as long as we’re part of this program.”
Sam pressed her lips tightly. “Sorry.”
“Is it merely your fears causing your anxiety?” Teal’c asked.
Daniel pursed his lips, regarding his friend. “No, Teal’c, it’s not. It’s my concern for Adriann, too. I keep thinking I’m keeping Adriann tied to me somehow. He should have moved on and I know that won’t be the case when he sees me. And when I see him…” Shaking his head, he went for the door. “It’s like a goddamn moth to flame.”
Entering the gateroom, Daniel nodded to those waiting before turning to Jason.
“Talking to the General.”
At that moment, Jack walked in, looking a bit confused.
“What?” Daniel and Jason said together.
“It appears that our British import isn’t finished with his current assignment so our five-man rotation won’t start for another few months.”
“What assignment?” Daniel asked.
Jack grinned. “It’s–“
“Classified,” Daniel and Jason said with him, nodding. “You look conflicted,” Daniel added, studying Jack’s expression.
Jack looked down at his vest and double-checked the pockets’ contents. “Not conflicted, Daniel. Just…” Looking up, he saw the disbelief in both his lovers’ faces. “Okay, fine, I am, a little bit. I was looking forward to meeting this guy, but at the same time, I couldn’t get over the feeling that we were on babysitting duty.”
“This isn’t someone from the Pentagon, Jack,” Jason said reassuringly. “He’s a guy just like us.”
“Except he’s coming out of a version of Special Ops,” Jack said, jogging his brows.
“Does that concern you, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked as General Hammond interrupted over the intercom.
“Good luck, people. Check-in time is 1500,” and he tapped his watch.
Jack and Jason nodded, both saying, “Yes, sir.”
“Good luck, Jalen,” Hammond added. “And don’t worry. I believe you’ll do just fine.”
Jalen gave him a lazy salute and smiled back. “All the best, General. Thanks for the homestay.”
“Our pleasure, and God speed.”
“Thank you, sir.”
That was Jack’s cue. “Okay, kids, let’s go.” On the way up the ramp, he answered Teal’c’s question. “No, not really, Teal’c. I just hope the guy’s not overly gung-ho.”
Daniel recognized Jack’s peculiar possessiveness for the Stargate Program and grinned. “Stop worrying, Jack. Barring serious injury, retirement or death, you’ll still be the Alpha male around here.”
Jack shot him a dirty look as he shoved Daniel through the gate.
“Wise ass,” Jack grumbled as they exited the gate on Bel’alat.
Amused, Daniel stuck his tongue between his teeth and held back, giving Jack a gentle shove as they descended the steps of the platform.
“Watch it,” Jack warned, turning to him at the bottom of the stairs. “Someone might take that as repressed homosexual desire.”
As the others laughed, Daniel said, “Takes one to know one.”
Jalen looked away, his laughter dying down as he took a long look at the immense fortress, which still looked to him like some sort of cross between a medieval castle and an adobe-built mansion. Camulus rumbled agreement, though he added that the building reminded him of the ancient Atoniks. Upon further examination, Jalen agreed with him.
As their internal discussion went on, Jason looked over at him, mistaking Jalen’s expression for worry. “What’s up?” he asked.
“Second thoughts?” asked Sam.
Daniel shook his head at her, leaning in confidentially. “I think he and Camulus are discussing the situation.”
Jalen snorted. “Actually, we were discussing the architectural design.”
“Ah, right up your alley,” Jack said, thumping Daniel’s shoulder.
“You should know,” Daniel shot back as he looked at Jack up and down, continuing the homosexual innuendo.
“Coulda been worse,” Jason said, smirking at Jalen. “You could have been doing the stereotypical thing and discussing the decor.”
“I suck at that,” Jalen replied dryly, earning a snort from Alex.
Al rolled his eyes. “God, can we get inside please before someone starts comparing dick size?”
Jason threw an arm around his shoulder as the group headed toward the main doors. “You’ve just jinxed it, you know that, right?”
“I didn’t need to,” Al replied, giving his leader a dirty look as Jason let him go with a slap on the back.
Daniel started to add his own snark when his attention was suddenly diverted. The overwhelming emotion of fear came to him out of nowhere and as he stopped and focused, he realized it came from inside the fortress. “Something’s wrong,” he said, starting to jog toward the entrance of the massive structure.
“What?” Jack asked, at his side.
Jason’s neck hairs stood on end and he caught abreast of Jack and Daniel and said, “I don’t know why, but he’s right, I feel something, too.”
“There’s fear, inside,” Daniel said as he stopped and swung open the door. “It’s not from Adriann, either,” he said, concentrating. “In fact, I don’t sense Adriann here at all.”
The two teams headed across the main reception hall, their boot heels echoing around the room. At the far doors, Kashan appeared with Jacob at his side.
“Dad, what’s wrong?” Sam asked, going to him.
“Daniel’s picked up fear,” Jack added. “Problems I take it?”
Jacob was confused as he stared at Daniel. “You picked up fear?”
“Empathic ability,” Daniel reminded him, wishing he didn’t have to mention at all.
“Oh right, I forgot,” Jacob said, shaking his head. “Yes, Jack, problems.”
Jalen walked over and clasped forearms with Jacob. “Jacob.”
“Jalen,” Jacob greeted, pleased to see him.
“Kashan? What’s going on?” Jack asked.
“The weather patterns on Var’chol’si–“
“I’m sorry?” Jack asked.
Kashan blinked at him, annoyed at being interrupted. “Var’chol’si. You know the name.”
“But it’s the name of your people,” Jack said.
“Our planet has the same name.”
Daniel frowned in concentration, searching his memory, then sighed with aggravation. “I remember. Adriann told me that once.”
“You could have clued us in,” Jack complained and when Daniel opened his mouth, he waved him off. “I know, I know. You probably told me and I didn’t pay attention.”
“Don’t worry, Jack. You paid attention at the time,” Daniel replied, then turned to Kashan apologetically. “Sorry. Go on.”
Kashan sighed deeply and began again. “Our planet’s weather patterns have shifted. Frequent storms now plague the area where our home is, including the gate, and that has brought out the Bor’cha. A lightning bolt then breached the perimeter fence, letting in several Bor’cha who tore up part of our Zha’ren herd. Adding to that, there appears to be an alteration in the Bor’cha behavior because they’ve been coming out of their hiding places a lot more often.”
“Dammit,” Jack exclaimed. “Is that why Adriann isn’t here?”
“How’d you…” Kashan began, but then remembered the connection between Daniel and his leader. “Yes. Adriann is taking care of the perimeter as well as trying to push the Bor’cha back.”
Jacob added, “Adriann requested that we stay behind because of the incursions around the stargate.”
Jack raised his P-90 as he locked eyes with Kashan. “And going by the fear Daniel picked up from you, Adriann could use the help.”
Kashan looked relieved but he said, “I’m grateful for your offer but Adriann asked us to remain here.”
“The situation’s obviously changed or you wouldn’t be so worried. How many of your people are on the home planet?”
“Eight. The rest of us are here.”
“And Emeni? Is she there?” Daniel asked.
Kashan made a face and gestured outside, leading the way. “She’s one of the reasons Adriann and Talen went back.” Outside, he pointed in the direction of one of the hills. “Several Brethren are building new stables and barns for the animals.” He turned to face Daniel. “Emeni was being stubborn about leaving, even when the storms began. Adriann went to get her and our brothers and sisters, including the Brethren. We’ve been moving as many of the animals here as we could but it’s difficult.”
“We’ve offered to help,” Jacob said, “but Adriann is being stubborn, refusing to give up his home.”
“Can’t blame him for that,” Jack added.
“Adriann, for fuck’s sake,” Daniel growled to himself and headed for the gate.
“Daniel,” Jack called, running after him and grabbing his arm. “You know damn well we can’t exit the gate into an unknown situation.”
“Then let’s find a way to see what’s on the other side,” Daniel answered crossly.
Turning to Jacob, Teal’c asked, “Have you found any telecommunication devices within the cache of Goa’uld technology that Ba’al housed here?”
Jacob nodded. “We have. I’ll be right back,” and he jogged back to the building.
“You talkin’ about those little gold balls with the cameras?” Jack asked.
Teal’c grinned at him. “Indeed. A telecommunication device used for scanning the area around the stargates would be extremely useful.”
“Good thinking, T,” Jack said, briefly squeezing his shoulder. It earned him a bow of Teal’c’s head.
Jack chewed at his lip, staring at the gate, then headed for it.
“Jack?” Daniel asked.
“We need to update Hammond as well as get permission to go on a rescue op.”
Alex cleared his throat. “Will he let us proceed?”
Jack smirked darkly as he dialed the gate. “The trade agreement needs to be protected.”
“We could use gas grenades,” Sam suggested.
“Maybe, but I think,” and he turned, silently tallying the three P-90 clips each person carried, along with the 2 blocks of C-4. Pursing his lips, he went on. “Daniel, you have two extra clips for your sidearm?”
“Okay. So I think we’re covered for now. We’ll do an assessment after we get there, see what else we need. And Carter, hopefully Jacob’s already thought of grabbing some of those grenades.”
“If not, I know where they are,” Kashan said. “I could go back and make sure he has them.”
“No, I need you here,” Jack said as the wormhole engaged. Standing in front of the MALP, he switched on the video feed. “Base, this is Colonel O’Neill.”
“SG-1, you’ve only just left. What’s wrong?”
“Sir, we’ve run into a bit of a situation.”
“Seems Adriann’s having trouble on his home planet. Those lightning storms I told you about have increased. Adriann has been attempting to move his people here but apparently they’ve run into a snag.”
“Aren’t the Tok’ra helping?”
Jack turned to Kashan and the man stepped forward. “General, this is Kashan.”
“Hello, Kashan. I’m sorry to skip the pleasantries here so let me get right to the point. Why aren’t the Tok’ra helping?”
“They were, but most of them were called away on a mission for the Tok’ra high council. Jacob and a few remained behind. They offered to help but Adriann would not allow it because their numbers were few.”
“Do you know the details of that mission?”
“No, and I did not ask.”
“How long has Adriann been gone?”
Jack didn’t know that part and his eyes widened. “Sir, we need to help him.”
“And you’re asking permission to launch a rescue.”
Jack heard the mild sarcasm and his cheek twitched. “Hole in one, sir. I think we can handle it, but the situation isn’t exactly safe.”
“No rescue operation ever is, Colonel.”
“Especially with this one, sir, given we’ll probably have to deal with those…” Jack paused, looking at Kashan.
Jack nodded. “Nasty pieces of work, sir.”
“I remember reading the report, Jack,” Hammond answered. “Regarding intel. How do you suggest getting a look at what’s on the other side of that gate?”
“Jacob’s gone to get a…” Jack paused to look at Teal’c.
“Vo’cum. Those comm devices the Goa’uld and Tok’ra use, General. We’ll toss one of those through to get a handle on the situation around the gate. If it’s clear, shall we proceed?”
“Affirmative, Colonel. What’s your estimation on standard supplies?”
“I hope we won’t need more, sir. Between the eight of us, we have several clips, our zats, and our C-4. Then there’s Jacob, Jalen, and Kashan, who’ll have…”
Jalen held up his zat. “There’re more inside, Jack.”
“We should be set for the time being, General.”
“Very well. Establish contact again in three hours. If you miss the time, we will dial Adriann’s planet and try you by radio.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Good luck, and no unnecessary risks, Colonel, is that understood?”
Jacob was approaching as the gate shut down and Jack asked, “Did you by chance bring any gas grenades and zats?”
Jacob smirked at him and raised a large leather bag. “Just who do you think you’re dealing with?”
Jack grinned. “That’s why you were a General, I’m guessing?”
“And a leader of the Tok’ra,” Jacob grinned back as he pulled out one of the small metallic grey ‘grenades’. “I figure they’ll come in handy once we actually leave the gate, providing we have to use them.”
“Better to have them, yada,” Jack said.
Jacob put the grenade back and withdrew the large, spherical communication device. “Let’s get started.”
Jack put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “Dial it up.” Turning to Kashan, “Are you staying here or joining us?”
Kashan shook his head, his long, dark auburn hair billowing with the movement. “Now that we have your assistance,” he said with grateful relief, “I will not remain behind. You will also need my abilities.”
Jack nodded, expecting that answer, then gestured at Jacob as the wormhole stabilized. “Have at it, Jacob.”
Jacob turned on the golden sphere and lobbed it through the event horizon. In his free hand was an electronic pad and he activated the display screen. Jack, Daniel, and Kashan hovered around him, waiting.
There were interference lines at first and after a few adjustments, Jacob cleaned up the reception. Nothing appeared in front of the gate but forest debris, no doubt from the storm. Rays of sunlight poked through but the black clouds hung heavy, making the scene ominous. Jacob touched a gyro knob on the pad and the sphere slowly turned 360 degrees. There were no signs of beasts in the vicinity.
“Seems to be clear,” he said, looking at Kashan.
“Do you remember the last time you visited?” Kashan asked.
“I’m not likely to forget it,” Jack replied dryly.
“Then you recall that the Bor’cha came out only when the sky was darkened. That is not the way of it any longer.”
“Simple overcast skies,” Kashan said, pointing upward at their own light grey sky, “seems to be enough now.”
“Shit,” Jack grimaced.
“Precisely,” Kashan nodded gravely and pointed at the pad’s screen. “Even that threat of sunlight will not deter them but we have no choice. We must proceed, Jack, and with all haste.”
“I hear you,” Jack agreed, and turning to everyone, he raised his voice. “Jason, SG-2 will be on our right. Jacob, Kashan, you’ll stay between us. We’ll all go through together. After we exit, we form a circle, assess the situation, then proceed quickly from that point. Is everyone clear?” He received affirmatives and nodded back. “Let’s go.”
Exiting the wormhole onto the round stone platform that circled the stargate, the group formed a circle and tensed, waiting for attack. When nothing happened, Jack ordered them to move out but Kashan shook his head, eyes wide, and held his hand up.
“What?” he asked, hackles up.
Kashan felt and heard the terror. “Trouble in the stables!” He ran off to their right and Jack cursed as he ran after him, the others right there with him.
“I can sense Adriann, Jack,” Daniel said, running beside him. “He’s in trouble.”
“He and others are in the Cha’pac stables, surrounded by Bor’cha!” Kashan yelled.
It seemed to Daniel to take an eternity to get to the stables behind the mansion, and even longer as they headed down the short, descending road and toward the wide doors–left open–that opened into the underground stables. As they ran, fear and dread magnified as Daniel was hit with the emotions coming from inside.
The rescue team ran into the immense room and was met with a cacophony of noise. Screams of fright blended with the growls and roars made by the beasts, and Daniel halted, staring to his left. Several beasts surrounded Adriann and two of his kin, Quessan and Techan, along with four Brethren. All six held torches, but only five of them were swinging them at the beasts, keeping them at bay. Adriann’s concentration was on the beasts. He had his right hand up, directing it at a Bor’cha a few yards away… held dangling in mid-air. Adriann then curled his fingers and the beast went limp as its neck was snapped. With effort, Adriann tossed its body aside and turned on the others, who’d been circling.
Jack didn’t bother to wait. “Everyone, drop to the ground now!” he yelled.
“Nice timing!” Adriann shouted back as he, Quessan, and Techan dropped down, yanking their Brethren cousins with them.
Out of the way, bullets ripped through the beasts while Jalen, Jacob, and Kashan used their zats. The noise was painful and deafening, but in ten seconds, the battle was over. Taking no chances, Jack signaled that they look around to make sure while he and Kashan ran forward to check on Adriann and the others.
“You guys okay?” Jack asked, giving Adriann a hand up.
“Fine,” Adriann replied, looking around at the dead beasts. He could feel no more of them around, but that feeling was confined only to the stables.
“Is anyone…?” Kashan asked, but quickly received silent, glad news. No one was dead, except for a few of the Cha’pac and ten Bor’cha. He fixed Adriann with a look of shock. “How long have you been trapped in here?”
Adriann shrugged. “Not long. We managed to get the first few but we couldn’t hold them all back.”
“You’re lucky you’re all in one piece, nifty powers or not,” Jack said with a relieved grin.
Adriann returned the off-hand compliment with a smirk. “Sometimes being a… superman?… has its disadvantages.”
“Nice analogy,” Jack replied as he and Jacob turned away to search.
“There are no more here,” Adriann told him.
“I always double-check,” Jack replied.
“Don’t take offense, Adriann,” Daniel called out as he peered down a stable row. “Jack always has to see it with his own eyes before he’ll believe. He does that with everyone.”
“Yes, I am aware,” Adriann replied courteously.
For a moment, his almost professional response caused Daniel to stop what he was doing and focus not on the search but on Adriann. There was distance there. What was wrong? Daniel shook his head and dismissed the thought, assigning the distance to the horror of the event. Continuing on, he rounded the end of the row and nodded at Sam and Teal’c as they came out of theirs.
On the other side of the enormous room, Jason and his team fanned out while Jalen checked to the right of the entrance doors, searching the tack room there, then moved on down a connecting aisle where the hay bales were stacked. Coming back, he passed the doors again and paused.
“Clear here,” he called out and the others began to report the same.
“Get those doors closed,” Adriann called out from across the room and Jalen turned to comply.
Jason cleared his row and stopped, looking around, and when Jalen tripped over a lump of hay, he grinned. “You want to watch your footing around here.”
“Thanks for the advice,” Jalen called back, smirking at him as he grabbed the right door’s iron handle, swinging it around.
Jason walked toward him to assist. “Coulda been worse, you know. You could’ve stepped in shi–“
His amusement was abruptly cut off when a beast leapt through the half-open doors, blasting them back; its enormous fangs were bared as it hit Jalen like a linebacker, knocking the zat from his hand.
“Jalen!” Jason yelled, even though he knew it was too late to get out of way. Raising his P-90, he set it on single fire and tried to get a clear shot without hitting Jalen. Aiming at the beast’s back, hoping to cripple, Jason fired as he needlessly yelled, “I need assistance here!”
Jalen tried to protect his face and throat, but the beast clamped down, teeth slicing into his left shoulder and chest. He screamed and tried to kick and roll, to dislodge his attacker, yet even with the strength of Camulus, the beast was much too large and heavy. Jalen’s vision began to swim as poison entered his bloodstream and set his body on fire.
Jack cursed loudly, withdrew his sidearm and pelted toward Jalen, shoving Jason out of the way.
“Jack, what the fuck!” Jason screamed just as Adriann yelled, “No, Jack, wait!” and ran toward him.
Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c exited their rows just as Jack hit the beast like a truck. The two rolled off Jalen, end over end toward the wall and hit it with a hard thud. Jack pulled his knees up against his chest for leverage and a second later, he was face to face with the Bor’cha, it’s great yellow eyes boring into his. At that moment, Jack felt he was a dead man; the beast had a new target.
He could feel the heat of its breath, the stench of rancid meat, and for a moment, his stomach lurched when he thought of where that stench might have come from. Swift anger kick-started his sudden inaction and Jack forgot all about his own death and focused instead on killing the thing on top of him.
Gritting his teeth, he grabbed a fistful of fur at the beast’s throat and watched with horrible fascination as the thing’s lips curled back and it emitted a low menacing growl. He heard Daniel and Jason yelling his name and for a moment, he considered giving them orders. But he knew they might not have a clear shot, and that was okay. He did. “I got it,” he said tightly, mostly to himself, and gratefully thanked whatever instinct it was that had him bringing up his knees; it gave him room.
He flipped the safety on the sidearm and aimed the business end at the beast’s face. At that moment, it twisted around, and in slow motion, Jack watched as the beast opened its jaws and sank its fangs into his left forearm. Screaming in fury and pain, Jack’s grip on the beast’s fur was slackened and he cursed himself for not moving fast enough.
Pressing the muzzle into the matted fur on the left side of the creature’s head, he growled, “Here’s my teeth, you sonofabitch,” and emptied the clip into its head.
Fur, blood and brains spattered everywhere and Jack would have flinched from it if he could have felt anything other than the fire rapidly spreading into his shoulder. “Oh shit,” he grimaced and rolled out from under the creature. He tried getting to his knees but his strength was quickly leaving him. Dropping onto his side, he groaned loudly. “I think I’m hurt,” he said, then laughed at saying something so obvious.
Daniel, Adriann, and Jason were suddenly in his vision, their hands on him, and Jack watched Jason’s face turn blurry. “This is bad,” he whispered just as Adriann placed his hand on his forehead. Then all Jack knew was blackness.
Daniel felt Jack ‘leave’ and horror filled him. “Adriann…”
“He’s not dead, Daniel, I made him sleep,” Adriann said quickly.
Jason let out a sigh of relief and returned to Jalen, trying to soothe him, but from what he could tell, Jalen was no longer aware of him, or anything. He was sweating and very pale, body shaking. “Adriann?” he asked, not knowing what he could do. Medic skills were useless here.
A moment later, having heard Adriann’s telepathic call, Talen tore into the stables from the kitchen entrance. She ran to Jalen first and pushed Jason aside, ignoring gentleness for expediency. Just as Adriann had done with Jack, she placed her hand on his forehead, fingers gripping the top of his head, only instead of putting him to sleep, her aim was to talk to Camulus.
Focus, she whispered, reaching into his mind. When he fought her, she angrily yelled, Focus! It is the poison, attacking you!
I am trying! Camulus said angrily.
To her Brethren, Elsa and Opol, she said, “Please get the things we’ll need to remove the poison and bring them up to our rooms.”
As if the men weighed nothing, she and Adriann lifted Jalen and Jack in their arms and walked quickly into the main house. Daniel and the others were right behind and it seemed to take an eternity to get them upstairs. Entering Adriann’s room, Talen laid Jalen upon his bed while Adriann proceeded to take Jack to Talen’s room next door. Daniel followed him there but Jason was suddenly torn between the rooms and stood in the hallway looking indecisive.
“Go,” Alex said, pointing at Talen’s room. “I’ll stay with Jalen. You have your radio, I’ll call if necessary.”
Jason didn’t need telling twice and he ran into Talen’s room, nearly running into Kashan and Quessan. Adriann was sitting next to Jack, with Daniel on his opposite side, and both were stripping Jack of his field vest and shirt. Jason ran around the right side of the bed to join Daniel, trying to assist. His anxious expression matched Daniel’s and he tried not to look at him, in case the look made them feel worse somehow. But instead, their bodies touched and the contact was apparently all they needed. At least it was for Jason and he looked up, focusing on Adriann.
“This isn’t as bad as mine, right? I mean…” Adriann gave both him and Daniel a look that made his blood freeze. “What? It’s his arm! C’mon, it can’t be–“
“Adriann,” Daniel said, interrupting him. “What is it?” He could sense Adriann’s mind clearly and felt the fear inside him, but he couldn’t tell what the fear was for. Jack’s life? Jalen’s? Both?
“You were attacked by Tam, Jason,” Adriann said as Jack’s field vest and black T-shirt were dropped to the floor. “It’s not the same as getting bitten by the Bor’cha itself. This…” Adriann said, pointing his chin at Jack’s bloody arm. “is much more dangerous.” He bared his teeth then, but in anger and fear, and looked over his shoulder at his kin. “Where the hell is Elsa?”
A second later the Brethren woman appeared, her long, dark hair flying behind her. She quickly walked to the bedside table and set down a tray filled with vials and jars, water bowls and compresses. “I tried to hurry, Adriann,” she said apologetically.
“It’s all right, I shouldn’t have snapped at you,” he said.
“Do not worry about that,” she answered absently, her dark gold eyes fixed on Jack’s wound. “See to him.”
“Opol?” Adriann asked as he picked up one of two vials filled with blue liquid.
“She is in your room with the medicine for the other one,” Elsa answered.
“Thank you, Elsa.”
“Is this enough medicine for your needs?” she asked.
“For Jack, probably. For Jalen, would you prepare more please?”
“I have the others working on it already,” she answered quickly.
“Very good, thank you, Elsa.” Adriann then placed a hand on Jack’s forehead and closed his eyes. “Drink,” he murmured.
“What’s going on?” Daniel and Jason asked together.
Annoyed, Adriann scowled at them, then his features softened and he took a deep, controlling breath. “I need to wake him to give him this medicine,” he said, picking up the blue liquid. He unstoppered the vial and slid his free hand under Jack’s neck, pausing to see if Jack was conscious enough to drink. “It is moonflower root, for ridding the poison. Assist me, please.”
Daniel helped prop Jack up as Adriann tipped the vial and poured the contents slowly into Jack’s mouth. Jack was barely conscious but to Daniel’s relief, he swallowed the medicine.
“What’s it do?” Jason asked, puzzled. “I thought you were going to do what you did with me.”
Adriann shook his head and took the second vial Elsa was handing him. “Given the virus the beasts carry that made us sick in the first place, it is no longer a good idea. Talen and Emine have been working to find a better way. This moonflower root has been refined so that it acts like the enzyme we produce here,” and he tapped his teeth with the vial. “The same thing that causes bite marks to heal; the same thing that helped seal your wound.”
Daniel gave Adriann a long look as he fed Jack the contents of the second vial. The distance he’d sensed earlier was still there and, in fact, felt stronger. Adriann had a wall put up, keeping Daniel out, and the first thing Daniel thought of was that he was trying to protect him from something. But from what? Adriann wasn’t looking at him and Daniel felt his fear rising.
“Adriann,” he began.
“Finished,” Adriann murmured, ignoring him, and he lowered Jack back onto the bed. Giving Elsa the vial, he picked up a cloth and cleaned up the blood around Jack’s wounds.
“Adriann?” Daniel asked again.
“He’ll be fine,” Adriann answered, still not looking at him as he next picked up a jar filled with emerald green paste and began to smother the four, two-inch long wounds running crosswise over his arm.
“Are you okay?” Daniel asked as the feeling of distance increased.
“I am well,” Adriann answered.
Daniel felt a tightness coil inside his chest and he heard the words, He’s lying inside his head. “I don’t think so.”
Adriann glanced up at him, held his gaze, then dropped his eyes. He laid a gauzy material over Jack’s wounds but did not secure the wrappings. Setting Jack’s arm across his chest, he said, “Hold his arm up, don’t let it fall,” then stood up, looking everywhere but at Daniel and Jason. “I’ll see to Jalen now,” he said, then took a step toward the door.
“Adriann,” Daniel called, making the man stop in the middle of the room.
Adriann allowed a brief smile, wishing he didn’t feel so grateful that Daniel still cared for him. He looked over his shoulder, and not just at Daniel, but at Jason. “He will be fine. I need to see Jalen now.”
The look filled Jason with alarm and he pushed himself slowly to his feet. “And Jalen?”
Adriann clenched his jaw briefly. “I will give him the anti-toxin. But his condition is different.”
“How?” Jason and Daniel asked.
“His wounds are far graver. And Camulus’ presence is a problem,” Adriann answered slowly. “I do not know what will happen to Jalen if Camulus should be unable to protect him and he dies.”
Daniel and Jason went white. “Is Camulus’ death a possibility?” Jason asked.
Adriann nodded slowly. “Bor’cha poison is deadly.” He shook his head. “There is also a fight going on between the powers of the symbiote and the way the poison is reacting to its presence. Talen and I think Camulus is trying to somehow alter the poison.”
“You can’t be more certain?” Jason asked, growing angry.
“We have yet to get an answer from him,” Adriann said. “We sense something else is going on but we just do not know what it is. Guessing would be a waste of time.” He paused at the door, cocking his head as he heard Talen’s voice from the kitchen. “Talen will be here shortly to see to Jack’s needs,” he said, then left the room, shutting the door behind him.
Jason turned to Daniel, hand on his arm, catching his gaze. He swallowed hard and Daniel nodded to him. “Go be with him. I’ll call you if something bad should happen.”
Jason gave him a sad look. “I don’t think I’ll do the same.”
Daniel sighed and pulled Jason into his arms, hugging him tightly. “I’ll feel it anyway, Jason,” he murmured against his ear, then he pulled back and gave him a hard look in the eye. “And I’ll help you from here, as much as I can.”
“I know.” Jason leaned in and kissed him lightly, then bent over and kissed Jack’s forehead, threading his fingers through his damp hair. “I love you,” he whispered, then hurriedly left the room without a backward glance.
Sam, Teal’c, Al and Connor were hovering in the corridor, waiting between rooms, and when Adriann exited Jack’s, Sam approached him anxiously. “How is he?”
Adriann gave her and the others a reassuring nod. “I believe he will be fine, but it will be a day or two before we know for sure.” He paused, sensing that wasn’t satisfactory. “I cannot tell you what you want to hear. I am… hopeful. That is all.” He turned away, hating what was to come with Jalen, and so it was for that reason that he scowled when Teal’c grabbed his arm.
“You are hiding something,” Teal’c accused.
Adriann did not pull his arm away but he leveled Teal’c with such a fierce look that Teal’c was forced, reluctantly, to back down and let him go. “I am not,” Adriann finally answered. When Jason came out of the room, Adriann pointed his chin in his direction. “Ask Jason and Daniel. For now, I need to tend to Jalen.”
Turning to Jason, Teal’c didn’t ask about Jack, but gestured at Adriann. “Why is he angry?”
“He’s upset,” Jason said, watching Adriann enter his room. He went to follow.
“So are we,” Al frowned, not understanding what was wrong. “He said you’d explain to us about the Colonel.”
“Jack’s gonna be fine,” Jason said, pausing in front of Adriann’s door. “The poison from the Bor’cha is a lot more dangerous than that shit Tam infected me with.” He swallowed as he opened the door and looked into the room, seeing his twin lying there with monstrous wounds over his chest and shoulder. “All I know is that Jack is a lot better off than Jalen.” He turned away and looked at his teammates, then fixed Sam with a long, painful look and whispered, “Camulus could die.”
Sam went pale, remembering Jolinar. “To save Jalen’s life?”
“I don’t know,” Jason said, shaking his head. “I just don’t know what’s going on. And what’s worse, I don’t think Adriann does, either. And that’s part of why he’s angry.”
“What’s the other reason?” Connor asked.
“I think he’s blaming himself,” Jason answered, then took a deep breath and entered the room, closing the door behind him.
When Adriann entered the room, he saw with relief that Jalen’s shirt had been removed and bandages had already been draped over the wounds. Opol nodded to him, and gestured at the tray beside the bed; it held a lot more than the one Elsa had brought in for Jack. On the right side of the bed stood Jacob and Alex, wiping the blood off their hands with towels Opol had brought them.
“Jacob, you will need to stay by the bed because of your unusual tie to Camulus. Alex?”
Alex stared back. “What?” The look on Adriann’s face scared him. “Heal him, do something!”
“Alex!” Jason interrupted as he closed the door and walked over. “Ease off.”
Alex thought about snapping at him but Jason’s expression stopped him. “Okay, what the fuck is going on?”
Selmak answered for Adriann and Jason as he sat down on the bed, his face grave. He took Jalen’s hand in both of his. “Camulus is dying.”
Alex whirled around, eyes wide, staring at Jalen. “He can’t be,” he whispered.
“He is,” Adriann nodded and pointed Jason toward the other side of the bed where Jacob sat.
“But…” Alex began, then sat slowly on the foot of the bed, struggling with his emotions. Jalen was pale, but his eyes were open, and when they flashed, Alex felt a lump rise in his throat.
Camulus saw only shadow and blurred color, then the room focused and he turned his head to the left and found Selmak staring down at him. He tried for a smile but the pain turned it into a tight grimace. He knew what was going to happen but he knew he had time to say what he needed to say. Seeing Jason sitting down behind Selmak, he pulled his hand from Selmak’s and reached for him. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to know you better.”
“Me, too,” Jason answered, clenching his jaw.
“You are like your counterpart,” Camulus went on, then pulled up a smile. “In some ways, worse.” Jason couldn’t help but smile at that and Camulus added, “And some, better. Take care of him and be patient. This will be extremely difficult.”
Jason nodded. “Sam can help. She’s been there.”
Camulus frowned. “Jolinar.” Pulling his grip from Jason, he returned it to Jacob and Selmak. “I will miss you, old friend.”
“As will I. Do you wish me to tell the others anything?”
Camulus nodded. “It is on my personal data crystal, for just such an occurrence.”
He glanced at Jason, giving him a warm look. “The mahogany bag Jason bought me. Interior side pocket.” He paused, then gave Selmak a sad look of regret. “It is not on the crystal, but I want you to tell Marisa that I did not know what to say. She will know what I mean. Tell her I still love her and be persistent. She will not believe I told you that.”
Selmak stroked Camulus’ hand. “You have always been too hard on yourself, and blind where she is concerned. I will tell her, and yes, she will believe you.”
Camulus looked to the right, fixing Adriann with a hard look. In return, Adriann sat down, his expression pained. “I have done all that I can for him… and it was not…”
“No, you do not,” Camulus answered, then wheezed and broke out into a coughing fit. “I could not eradicate the poison.”
Adriann frowned. “I know that.”
“Listen to me. I could not detoxify the poison but I have managed to alter its chemical make-up so it would not be deadly once mixed with the symbiote poison.”
Adriann lifted his brows in surprise, but he also knew there was a catch. “But?”
“I do not know what they will do once they combine.”
Adriann blinked at him. “What do you mean?”
Camulus closed his eyes and grimaced through a spasm of pain. “The altered poison is mingling with the body in some sort of new symbiosis and I do not know how. It is my doing, however, though I did not know that would happen. Whatever is going on, I will be partly to blame for the result. If it is bad, then I wish to say I am sorry for…” He grimaced through another spasm of pain and when it cleared just a bit, he saw Alex standing at the foot of the bed, arms crossed. He looked lost. Camulus reached up with his right hand. “Alex?”
Alex came forward and Adriann moved aside for him to sit down. He took Camulus’ hand and held it to his cheek. He couldn’t say anything; words didn’t seem to be enough. Except for one phrase. “I love you,” he whispered, and squeezed his eyes shut.
“In the sun, the rose blooms,” Camulus replied, and for a moment, Alex smiled. Then Camulus’ hand went slack and his eyes rolled back into his head, eyelashes fluttering, then closing.
“Camulus…” Alex started to say, but Adriann gently took hold of his shoulders and moved him back a couple of feet. He leaned over Jalen, one hand on his chest, the other on his forehead. He closed his eyes and Alex let himself think that Adriann was trying to save Camulus’ life, but a few seconds later, he knew that couldn’t happen. So what was Adriann doing?
Jason knew, and he reached over, laying his hand flat over Jalen’s stomach. He felt life there and closed his eyes, willing it to continue. Don’t die on me, dammit. Without thinking twice, he mentally reached out for Daniel and felt a touch, like a stroke on his back. Jason swallowed and opened his eyes. “Don’t let him give up,” he said to Adriann.
While Adriann didn’t hear his words, it was exactly what he was trying to do. He felt the despair and rage in Jalen’s mind and tried again to tell him to fight, not to give in to the grief. He sensed a rebuff, a reaction to his intrusion, but Adriann also sensed something else. There was the expected pain from the injuries and the poison, but something else was going on. He opened his eyes and pulled his hands away, reaching for the vial of blue liquid.
“Help me give this to him,” he said, and Jacob assisted while Adriann coaxed Jalen to drink not one vial, but three. Semi-conscious, Jalen began to cough back the contents of the third vial and Adriann surprised and shocked everyone when he clamped his hand over Jalen’s mouth, forcing him to swallow the rest.
“You didn’t have to do that, did you?” Jason asked in an angry whisper when Adriann finally let Jalen go.
Adriann fixed him with a tired, exhausted stare. “Yes. I did. He needs that root or it won’t make any difference what Camulus tried to do.”
“He’s right,” Jacob said, backing off the bed to stand and placing a silencing hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Camulus was severely weakened by the attack. I doubt his efforts would have sufficed.”
Adriann stood up, too, and ran his fingers through his hair. “Right now, the only thing we can do is wait. Give him water, juice from the tanna root, and then hope that whatever happens is a positive one.”
Jason frowned, not liking the sound of that. “What do you mean, ‘whatever happens’?”
Adriann sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know what will happen any more than Camulus did.”
“Bullshit! You know something, dammit!” Jason said, getting to his feet. He walked around the bed and took Adriann by the shoulders, gentling his grip to make sure that he didn’t take it as an attack. Telepathic ability or not, Adriann was acting weird.
Adriann didn’t shake him off and instead laid his hands over Jason’s forearms. “All I know for sure is that something isn’t right. Talen senses it, too. All we can do is wait. I’m sorry, Jason.”
Jack knew he was dreaming. He’d been here before, hacking his way through the jungle, trying to find a way out. What he couldn’t figure out was why the hell he was back in Nicaragua. And what the fuck was that pounding? Almost like chopper blades in slow-motion. He stopped the swing of the machete to try and locate the sound but it seemed to be coming from everywhere. He raised his arm and absently wiped the sweat off his brow, and abruptly hissed at the stinging pain. Looking down at his arm, he saw four deep gashes, dripping with blood. What the hell was that?
Jack, it’s Talen.
Jack spun around. Like the slo-mo chopper blades, that voice came from everywhere. Talen? That name sounded familiar. Why was that?
You are fighting a poison, not the jungle. I am here to help.
Suddenly she was there, twenty feet away, surrounded by plants. Her long black hair and white gossamer dress enhanced the beauty of her face and body and he felt the recognition of attraction. Not arousal as such, but he could easily go there if he wished. She stretched out her hand, reaching for him.
“Take my hand.”
He walked slowly toward her, closing the distance between them, and the moment he took her long-fingered, finely shaped hand, it began to rain. Cool, blessed rain, and Jack tilted his head back to receive the cleansing.
Someone was touching him. Jack could feel cool fingers on his skin. Then there was the metallic scent of sweat and blood. He tried to swallow and had to clear his throat first. The result made him distastefully aware that he needed to wash his mouth out. Or eat some mints.
“Jack, don’t move too much,” Daniel said softly.
On the heels of his words, Jack tested the theory that Daniel was being overprotective and moved his body just a bit. The resulting pain shooting up his arm and into his brain told him he’d screwed up. “Shit,” he croaked.
“Just have to see for yourself, don’tcha?”
Jack opened his eyes and saw Daniel, sitting on his left, frowning down at him. “Guess so.”
“Such a contrary personality,” came a voice to his right and Jack turned his head slightly and saw Talen sitting there, smiling gently at him. She reached over and gently mopped his face with a cool, moist cloth, its mild medicinal scent reminding Jack of mustard leaves. He was absurdly glad of the scent because anything else would have turned his stomach. Retching and blindingly hot pain? Not a good combo.
“My natural charm,” he quipped, trying for humor.
“You’re like Adriann that way,” she said almost absently as she looked into his eyes, studying them.
“Whatcha looking for?” he asked.
“Poison. It dilates the pupils to an abnormally large size. Yours are returning to normal.”
When Daniel peered at him too, Jack irritably pushed at him… using his bad arm. The pain that shot through him forced Jack to suck in a breath and go completely still.
“Dammit, Jack,” Daniel scolded softly as he slowly set Jack’s arm back over his stomach. “Go ahead, keep moving.”
“Nope, not going anywhere,” Jack said, feeling abruptly weak and hating it. He eyed Talen, expecting a rebuke from her, too, but she just rinsed her cloth and gave him a tiny smile of I told you so. “Can’t you give me anything for the pain?” he asked.
“Elsa is brewing up a tea for you to drink. It tastes awful but it works well.”
“How long does the brewing take?” Jack asked, trying not to sound petulant. When Daniel leaned over and kissed him lightly on the mouth, Jack growled deep in his throat. “Sorry.”
“For being you?” Daniel asked as he ran his fingers through Jack’s hair. “I’m just glad you’re gonna be okay.” He glanced up at Talen’s worried expression, then touched Jason’s mind. He was still angry.
“What’s that look for?” Jack asked, studying his lover’s face. Daniel sighed and looked at Talen again. “Daniel, what’s happened? Is it Jason?” Jack started to panic. “Has something–“
“No, he’s fine. It’s Jalen.” Daniel hesitated, but Jack’s expression told him to just say it. “Camulus died.”
Jack grimaced and shut his eyes. “Oh fuck.”
“Yeah. And Jason’s… well, he’s using anger to mask his pain.”
“Goddamn it,” Jack scowled again. “Why’s he pissed?”
“Um,” Daniel started.
“Adriann and I believe that something else is going on inside Jalen, the way it mingled with the presence of the symbiote. We can’t explain it and because we can’t–“
Jack cut her off, knowing what she’d say. “So he’s angry at you?”
“I can understand how he feels,” Talen said. She took a deep breath, ordering herself to remain calm, but when she spoke, the warning in her tone was unmistakable. “However, Jason’s behavior is causing Adriann to become dangerously defensive. You both have seen what he’s like when he’s emotionally upset and…”
She turned her head in the direction of Adriann’s room, furrowing her brow as she concentrated. He’s awake, Jason. Come here.
“You just call him or something?” Jack asked.
“I did, yes,” she said, turning back to them. “Please tell him what I said, and I ask you to have patience. Jalen is alive and that is all that we can do for now. You may wish to call Doctor Fraiser here to make sure since she is the expert on human systems.”
“Good idea,” Daniel replied, watching her leave the room.
“Except she’ll have to be escorted by machine gun,” Jack said, hissing at his pain.
“What?” Daniel asked, becoming alarmed. “Are you–“
Jack waved him off and then growled again for causing another bolt of pain. “Time, Daniel. What time is it?”
Daniel looked down at his watch. “1448,” he answered and started to ask why when he remembered that check-in was at 1500. “Shit.”
“Tell Carter to go in my place, and I want you and Teal’c to go with her, and with as many of the Residents as possible.” Jack hesitated, then added, “Unfortunately Jason and Alex are probably in no shape to check-in, so take Kaufman and McCaffrey with you so they can speak for SG-2.”
Daniel wanted to argue but knew Jack was right. “Right. But…” and he retrieved Jack’s radio and set it next to his left thigh. “In case Hammond wants to talk to you.”
“Right,” Jack said, and before he could issue any over-protective suggestions, Daniel kissed him on the mouth and left the room.
Right outside the door, he gestured at Sam and Teal’c who were talking to Keshan and Ophius. “Sam? Teal’c?” he called, walking over. “It’s time for check-in and Jack–“
“We were just discussing that, Daniel,” Sam said, heading him off. “Ophius has a group of men ready to escort us and we really should go back to base so we can make our report in person.”
“I’m not leaving Jack,” Daniel said automatically.
Sam nodded with sympathy. “And Jason’s not leaving Jalen.”
“Jack suggested that Al and Connor accompany you to speak for SG-2.”
“Don’t you think you should check with me first?” Jason said, walking over, Jacob right beside him.
The smudges under Jason’s eyes brought up Daniel’s worry again. “No, you look like shit and you’re not thinking straight.”
“Ha, ha,” Jason said, obviously not amused. “And it just so happens I agree. Hammond takes one look at me and he’ll confine me to the infirmary. And Alex. He looks worse than I do, if that’s possible. No, I agree with Jack. Al and Connor should go. But I am head of SG-2, Daniel. Jack would get pissed if you issued orders for him, wouldn’t he?”
Jason had a point. “Jacob, maybe you should come with us?”
“It’ll be a good idea,” Jacob said, looking pale and somehow subdued. “And I should go back to the SGC, then make contact with the Tok’ra, let them know.”
“Al and Connor in the room?” Daniel asked.
“No,” Jason said, crossing his arms. “Downstairs, getting something to eat.” He cocked his head in Jack’s direction. “Talen called me. He okay?”
Daniel nodded. “And wants to see you.”
Jason sighed disconsolately and turned away but Daniel grabbed his arm and pulled him into a tight hug. He couldn’t help but pick up what Jason was feeling.
“Be careful,” Jason murmured against his neck.
“I will, and you, too,” he said, pulling back and eyeing Jason carefully. “Promise me something?”
“Anything,” Jason replied, wishing suddenly that they didn’t have an audience.
“Stop antagonizing Adriann? This isn’t his fault.”
Jason felt the edges of anger rise but common sense prevented him from arguing. “I know. And I promise. Go, you’ll miss the check-in.”
He watched them leave as he moved over to Jack’s door and felt a bit wistful. Why did they always have to suffer–
“Jason, may I have a word?” Adriann asked.
Jason turned around and saw Adriann standing several feet away, hands clasped behind his back. He had changed into a somber black jacket and trousers and his hair was now tied behind his back. He looked at ease, calm, but Jason’s instinctual sense told him otherwise. Taking a deep breath, he walked toward him, then paused when Adriann turned around and walked away, looking over his shoulder as an indication for him to follow.
Jason ended up in the atrium at the end of the corridor, the place where Daniel and Adriann had had their ritual. He stood just inside the door, not wishing to make himself comfortable. He had no intention of staying and figured that Adriann knew that already. He watched the man walk across the room and stand in front of the immense fireplace, picking up a poker to prod at the burning wood.
“I… promised Daniel that I’d stop antagonizing you,” he said, not really knowing why. It sounded like further antagonism of a sort but he couldn’t seem to help himself.
“You’re not doing a very good job of keeping that promise,” Adriann said without turning to look at him.
Jason had a feeling that Adriann would have liked to use that poker on him and the sudden realization that he was partly to blame sobered him. “Adriann, I’m just…”
Adriann turned to him, brows knitted together, making him look deadly. “Do you think I don’t understand what you’re going through? Do you think it’s easy for me, or Talen, to not be able to help?”
He threw the poker onto the floor and walked toward Jason with an angry stride and Jason resisted the urge to take a step back. “No, I don’t–“
“I have no desire to keep the truth from you, Jason. If I knew what was going on with Jalen, you’d know, too.”
He was two feet away from him now and Jason could feel the anger and resentment. He’d seen Adriann pissed off before and didn’t want to be the cause of it this time. He knew the man was telling the truth, knew that Adriann would never keep anything from him, but the anger and fear had made him blind, lashing out at the one person who could help. He started to answer, his mouth working, but no sound came out. He couldn’t find words good enough to apologize.
Adriann sighed and reached for him. “Come here,” he said, and put his arms around him. Rubbing his back and cupping the back of his head, he murmured, “I’m sorry. All I can tell you is that we have no choice but to wait and hope. I can’t read his mind to sense what’s wrong in his body. Neither can Talen.”
“I know, I’m s–“
“Shh,” Adriann said, pulling back and placing fingers over Jason’s lips. “Once was enough and I appreciate it. I will tell you one thing though, something Talen and I have been discussing in the last half hour.”
Jason’s brows went up. “Is it good news or bad news?”
“Neither,” Adriann answered.
He took in a long breath and walked away, looking around the room as he clasped his hands behind him again. He reminded Jason once again of Teal’c.
“Talen thinks that whatever is going on won’t kill him, and I agree. Whatever it is, it’s going to happen soon, but in days, not hours.”
“Days?” Jason asked, alarmed. What if Hammond didn’t give him leave to stay here that long?
“I’ll talk to your General, if it will help,” Adriann said, giving Jason an apologetic smile for reading his thoughts. “Sorry, but you and everyone else’s thoughts have been rather… loud. It’s hard to shut them out sometimes.”
Jason blinked at him. “I didn’t know that could… how’s that work exactly?”
“Strong emotion,” Adriann answered, then smiled when Jason’s thoughts inevitably turned to the times he’d had sex in the mansion. “Yes, that, too, Jason.”
Jason winced in embarrassment. “Sorry ’bout that.”
“Why?” Adriann asked, walking back over. “I rather liked hearing it. Much better than anger, don’t you agree?”
Jason nodded absently, focusing only on his embarrassment. “I should probably go see Jack before he gets angry with me.”
Adriann tilted his head in a way that told Jason he was listening to someone. “He’s getting what you call grumpy.”
“He’s not getting grumpy, just grumpier,” Jason snorted. “He hates being sick.” He stepped back and then paused, gesturing between them. “Are we okay?”
Adriann gave him a puzzled look, then smiled. “Yes, we are okay. Tell Jack I’ll look in on him soon.”
As Jason made his way back to Jack’s room, he was suddenly hit with the idea that Adriann’s smiles and good humor were tinged with sadness. He couldn’t help but think that Adriann had asked him to the atrium for a reason that had nothing to do with Jalen and whatever it had been, he’d passed on it. When next they talked, Jason would have to bring it up because he had a feeling that Adriann wouldn’t.
Coming in the room, he saw Jack fighting one-handed with a pillow and grew annoyed with him because it was obvious that he was in severe pain trying to move. “Jack, dammit,” he said. Closing the door, he quickly walked over and fixed the pillows behind him without a word and found it amusing that Jack didn’t say anything either. Finishing up by getting a heavy, quilted blanket from the chiffonier and draping it over Jack’s legs, Jason sat down, then lifted up, pulling the radio out from under his ass.
“In case Hammond wants to hear my charming voice,” Jack said.
Jason nodded. “Jacob’s going back.”
“No reason to stay,” Jack agreed, “and he’s probably gotta inform the snakehe… er, Tok’ra about Camulus.”
“That’s what he said, yeah.” Jason smoothed his fingers over the radio, staring at the controls. He suddenly had no idea what to say. Asking Jack if he was okay would be stupid and telling him about Adriann seemed pointless. Lost in his thoughts, Jason was suddenly startled when Jack reached up and placed his palm on his chest. “Come down here.” Jason leaned over, figuring Jack wanted a kiss, and he was right, but when he started to sit up again, Jack cradled his neck and held him close, nuzzling his face. “I’m sorry.”
At first, Jason frowned, not knowing what he meant, then he realized he meant Jalen. He sighed and took his lover’s hand, squeezing it. “Thanks.”
They were silent for a while, mostly listening to each other breathe and not having to think about anything. Finally Jason sat up, keeping Jack’s hand in his. “I talked to Adriann,” Jason suddenly said. “Apologized.”
“Talen was worried,” Jack said dryly.
Jason let out a soft snort. “Don’t blame her. I was an asshole. But it’s fixed now and we’re okay.”
Jack watched him, knowing better. “You don’t get over being pissed off that fast.”
Jason gave him a guilty shrug. “What could I do? I was wrong. I’m still pissed, but I took it out on him.”
“We’ve all been guilty of that. Box it up, Jason, or you’ll say something stupid to someone.”
Jason looked down, stroking Jack’s hand as if it were meditation tool. “I’ll try.”
Jack bit down on the urge to say the usual about ‘doing, not trying’. “But there’s more on your mind,” he said, studying him. “What?”
Jason shook his head. “Nothing specific, Jack. I just sense something else is wrong with Adriann. And it’s not about Jalen. I get the feeling he’s hiding something, but it’s not a bad feeling…” He shook his head again. “I don’t know.”
Jack took a deep breath. “I think I do.”
Jason arched a brow. “What then?”
“Don’t know why, but Adriann’s been avoiding Daniel directly since we got here. When he’s spoken to him, he’s barely looked him in the eye.”
Jason frowned severely. “That’s not like him.”
“No, it isn’t,” Jack agreed. “Lying here, it came to me in bits and pieces, the things I saw but didn’t pay attention to given how preoccupied I was.” Jason rolled his eyes at him. “Whatever it is,” Jack went on, ignoring it, “something is definitely wrong.”
“When this mess has died down some, they should talk.”
“Before, Jason, not later,” Jack added. “It should be fixed soon. Adriann’s distracted. We need him focused.”
Jason grinned all of a sudden. “We could gang up on Adriann and find out what’s going on.”
Jack was surprised. “Do an end-run on him? Are you whacked? He’ll see it coming.”
Jason snorted, amused. “Probably already knows, so it wouldn’t be much of an end-run anyway. He’s going to be in here soon, checking up on you, so we’ll find out one way or another. Oh, and he said he’ll talk to Hammond, request our presence here till Jalen gets better.”
“That was nice of him.”
“Hopefully Hammond will see the advantage of letting us remain here.”
“Which is?” Jack grinned, dreading the answer.
“Either he lets me stay or he court martials my ass for pestering him to death, also known as conduct unbecoming and insubordination.”
Jack grinned at him. “I’ll just bet Adriann read all that in your head, too.”
Jason winced. “He read everything, I think. Everyone else’s too. He said it’s difficult not to hear us right now. We’re all broadcasting rather loudly because of our strong emotions.”
Before Jack could ask what kind of strong emotion, Adriann entered and closed the door. “How’s the pain?” Jack made a face and Adriann simply nodded. He could feel the waves of it. “I thought as much,” he said, going to the opposite side of the bed and sitting down. Lifting the gauze, he examined the wounds, then snapped his fingers at Jason. “Jason, would you please hand me that jar of green paste?”
Jason picked it off the tray and handed it over. As Adriann reapplied the medicine, he picked up a towel to clean his fingers off with and exchanged a knowing look with Jack. “We have to talk to you, Adriann.”
Adriann slowed down his movements but didn’t stop. He should have seen this coming. “About Jalen?” he asked, knowing better.
Jack reached up with his uninjured hand and lightly touched Adriann’s administering one. “You’re avoiding Daniel. Why?”
Unwilling to answer just yet, Adriann finished and stood up, moving back around the bed and taking the cloth from Jason when he offered it. He nodded his thanks and set about cleaning his fingers.
“Adriann, tell us what’s wrong?” Jason asked.
Cleaning the green paste out from under his nails, Adriann shook his head, though not in refusal. “It is… difficult, accepting the loss.”
Jack and Jason exchanged puzzled frowns and grumpy with pain, Jack pointed two fingers at the bed. “Do me a favor and sit down. I can’t talk to you if I can’t see you.”
Adriann paused mid-movement and despite himself, threw Jack a grin. He couldn’t help it really. He cared about the man. “You can see me just fine,” he argued.
Jack sighed impatiently; it was almost a growl. “Humor me.”
Adriann moved to the foot of the bed instead. He couldn’t sit down. He felt the need to pace. “I need to stand.”
“Fine,” Jack said as he rolled his eyes with Jason. “Well?”
“Daniel…” Adriann began, then narrowed his eyes at Jack and Jason. “You are aware of his decision. Why ask me about it?”
“We don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Jason said impatiently.
“You should know that,” Jack said, studying him. “But you don’t.”
Adriann looked down at his hands, shaking his head. “I’m trying not to pry, especially where this is concerned.”
“Except you can read us all right now,” Jack countered.
“About Jalen, about you, about the situation. Not Daniel.”
“For cryin’ out loud,” Jack said tightly, his anger rising.
“Adriann, we don’t know,” Jason repeated. “Check if you want.” He looked at Jack who gave him short nod.
Adriann opened up a little, reaching into their minds, and winced when he realized he was wrong. They really didn’t know. “Oh. I apologize.”
“Then what the hell is going on?”
“Daniel no longer wishes to continue our relationship. And it has taken me by surprise.”
“What?” Jack and Jason asked, equally surprised. “He never said anything,” Jack added.
“When did you find this out?” Jason added.
Adriann cleared his throat. “I felt it, during the search, before you and Jalen were attacked.” He paused, then went on. “I usually reconnect with him whenever we meet. It is just a touching of minds, a reaffirmation, if you will.”
“But?” Jack asked.
“But I did not feel the same… willingness… from him. I felt apprehension and doubt; a desire to push me away. He fears… no, fear is not the right word.” Adriann concentrated on another. “He distrusts my feelings for him. I do not know why.”
Jack and Jason were even more surprised by this. Daniel had never said anything. “Are you sure you read him correctly?” Jason asked.
Adriann sighed and shook his head. “Yes. And what I felt from him made it plain. Maybe you two can shed light on why.”
“Typical bullshit,” Jack said, staring at Jason.
“Excuse me?” Adriann asked, a bit affronted.
Jack shook his head. “Sorry, not you. Daniel.” Jack sighed heavily, then continued. “He’s mentioned this once before so I think what’s going on here are two things. But before I list those, I think you should know that the ‘fear’ you’re confused about had to do with the intensity of his feelings for you. They scare him.”
“What?” Adriann asked, laughing with disbelief. “He’s never expressed…”
“He won’t, unless stressed to,” Jason said.
“As for those two things,” Jack went on. “The first is that Daniel thinks being with you is unfair to us. But we’ve corrected him on that score. The second thing is that he thinks he’s keeping you from other relationships. Like Eros.”
Adriann stared at them, completely at a loss. “But I have no interest in maintaining a long-term relationship with Eros. We share a close bond and that relationship will never end, but neither one of us is ready for permanence. It is also not in my nature to be exclusive to just one person. Never has been.”
“And your feelings for Daniel are what?” Jack asked, though he already had an idea.
“I love him,” Adriann said slowly as he met their gazes. “He is greatly important to me. I would do anything for him, and I mean anything.”
Jason nodded. “He loves you, too, Adriann. That hasn’t changed.” He looked at Jack and furrowed his brow. “What’s his problem?”
Jack shrugged. “I don’t know for sure, but maybe he’s just not used to his feelings for Adriann. Maybe there’s something else at work here.” He thought about it a moment, then grinned. Evilly.
“What?” Jason asked.
Adriann stared at Jack for a moment, then arched his brow in surprise. “I already know part of why he desires me.”
“Remind him of it,” Jack said.
“Remind him?” Adriann asked.
“Yeah, remind him. Show him. If I know Daniel, he’s blocking those reasons off in that stubborn head of his.”
“Are you sure this is wise?” Adriann asked.
“Trust me,” Jack answered, looking up at Jason, remembering the past. He took his hand in his and brought it to his lips, kissing the knuckles. “You’ll know what to do.”
Jason smiled with a bit of embarrassment, realizing that Jack was thinking about what happened after returning home from their cabin visit four years ago. With a sigh, he said, “The moment you’re healed…”
Jack bit at his lip. “I’ll see that threat.”
“It’s no threat,” he answered and leaned over, kissing Jack lightly.
Adriann watched them, feeling a bit envious. He was about to say something when the radio squawked, startling them all.
“Colonel O’Neill, this is General Hammond, over.”
“Shit, where’s that–” Jack began but Jason was already handing him the radio. Pressing the button, Jack said, “O’Neill, sir. How’s things? Over.”
“Well enough on this end, Colonel. Major Carter and Kashan have explained the situation. I’m authorizing an extended stay as long as Doctor Fraiser verifies that your situation warrants it. Over.”
“Understood. Are you sending Fraiser over now, sir? Over.”
“As soon you disconnect your end, Colonel. How’s Jalen doing? Over.”
“Adriann could explain it better than I could, sir. Over.”
“By all means, Colonel. Over.”
Jack held out the radio and Adriann walked over to take it. “Say ‘over’ at the end of your part of the conversation. It lets him know that you’re waiting on his answer.”
“Understood,” Adriann answered. Pressing the send button, he felt a little strange talking into the radio, and though it wasn’t for the first time, he did feel odd not talking to the MALP device of theirs. “This is Adriann, over.”
“Nice to hear from you again, sir, though I’d have preferred a better set of circumstances. Over.”
“Agreed, sir. What have Major Carter and Kashan told you about Jalen’s condition, sir? I do not want to waste time repeating information you may already have. Over.”
“We understand that he was attacked and you are currently treating him for injuries sustained. Jacob Carter has also informed us that the Tok’ra, Camulus, was lost. Over.”
Jason frowned, hating the word ‘lost’ to explain death. All hands lost. He was lost in a storm. The word was… insulting.
Sensing his feelings, Adriann gave him a sympathetic smile as he answered the General. “I’m afraid so. Camulus gave his life in order to save Jalen’s, hoping that the symbiote poison would counter the poison from the Bor’cha animal. Jalen is currently stable and I am certain that his life is in no more danger, but the situation itself is far from complete. Over.”
“What *is* the situation, Adriann? Over.”
Adriann sighed, staring at Jack and Jason. Keying the mic, he said, “I have just explained to Jack and Jason that neither Talen nor I know what is going to happen, but we are certain that the result of this attack has yet to manifest itself. That is why it is imperative that Jalen *and* Jack stay where they are. I do not foresee Jack’s condition worsening but I am worried about Jalen.” When he realized he hadn’t said over, he added, “Over,” and ignored Jack’s and Jason’s grins.
There was silence from the radio. “We didn’t get cut off, did we?” Adriann asked Jack. “Are you still there, General? Over.”
“Apologies, Adriann. Please stand by. Over.”
Adriann looked at Jack and frowned. “Is he weighing decisions?”
“Honestly?” Jack said, glancing at Jason. “He’s thinking about whether or not to take your word that the situation is stable.” As Adriann’s brows rose significantly in astonishment, Jack nodded at him. “I know, I know, but experience has taught him to be cautious, especially after something bad has already happened.”
Adriann didn’t like it, but as a leader, he understood the need to protect his people.
Finally, the answer came. “Very well, Adriann. Since Doctor Fraiser is the most familiar with your history, I will send medical equipment with her so that she can more easily work from your location, but I will send no one else. I must inform you that I am not happy with the current danger posed to both my people and yours. This situation must be resolved. Over.”
Adriann nodded, mostly to himself. “I understand that more than you know, General. And thank you. Over.”
“You’re welcome. I need to speak with Colonel O’Neill please, sir. Over.”
Adriann handed the radio to Jack and giving them both a wave, he left the bedroom, intending to head for the gate.
“O’Neill here, sir. Over.”
“Colonel, you understand that this situation is going to hamper our future relations with these people until we take care of what caused the problem in the first place. Over.”
Jason growled and got up to pace. “Fuck.”
Eyeing him, Jack keyed his mic. “Yes, sir. In that case, we’ll need a FRED with additional supplies. Over.”
“Already in motion, Colonel. Will contact you again at 1000 tomorrow to check your progress, but in the meantime, I want you to start developing a plan to neutralize those beasts by whatever means necessary. Over.”
Jack slowly dropped the radio to his side. “That man is not happy.”
Jason sat down on the bed and leaned over, resting his head in his hands. “We can’t do what I think he’s suggesting.”
“He’s not suggesting we exterminate those critters, Jace. He just wants the threat eliminated.”
“I know that,” Jason snapped, then gave Jack an apologetic look. “We can’t do anything, Jack. It’s not our business, and I don’t want to attempt squat without Adriann’s authorization. This is his problem, not ours, and we need to let him handle it.”
Jack observed his lover for a moment and though he knew it was disrespectful, he couldn’t help thinking that Jason was sexy as hell when he got angry. Remembering their little moment before Hammond had interrupted, Jack reached over and tugged at Jason’s arm until he had his hand. Locking their fingers together, he tugged again. “They’ll do what’s necessary, Jason. Now, stop worrying and come here.”
Jason couldn’t help but smile, but his tone was mildly scolding… even as he allowed Jack to pull him close. “That medicine doing more than healing you? You’re not usually so… chipper… after a talk with Hammond.”
Jack grinned. “Call it a life and death experience, making me appreciate what I have.”
Jason tried to brace against being pulled down, but he was losing the battle. Mostly on purpose. “You’re in no condition to fool around,” he murmured.
“Which means you get to do everything,” Jack answered, then kissed him, convincing Jason to play with his tongue for a while.
A few hours later, Jack looked up in surprise as Janet walked into his room. “Hey, Doc,” he said, trying to sound a lot more bored than he actually was. Jason was a guilty cure.
“Hey yourself, Colonel,” Janet greeted, giving him a careful smile. He looked good, considering, she thought, but she didn’t like how pale he was. She turned to take her medical kit from Kashan and was momentarily distracted by his smile for her. She sent him a scolding ‘don’t do that’ look before turning her attention on Jack. Placing her kit beside his left hip and opening it like a tackle box, she picked out her stethoscope and temperature unit. “I hear you’ve been feeding the animals again. Haven’t I told you to stop doing that?”
“Yeah well, sometimes I just can’t help myself,” he replied, then went quiet as she examined him. Her brow furrowed at the temperature reading, but she seemed a lot happier with the dressing on his arm.
“Nicely done,” she said.
“Adriann,” Jack said.
“I was talking about the animal that bit you,” she said, her mouth twitching.
At the foot of the bed, Jason snorted with amusement and Jack gave him a dark look before leveling Janet with sarcastic one. “Funny you should say that. That toothy bastard said your name but it bit me instead. I think that technically makes this your fault.”
The two regarded each other, then abruptly both of them smiled. “Nice to see you, too, Colonel,” Janet said, chuckling. She wanted to give him a hug but it wasn’t advisable, not with that arm.
“You, too, Janet,” Jack replied. “So, will I play the violin again?”
“Could you play it before?” she retorted, grinning at him for a moment before she became more serious. “You have a slight fever,” she said as she reached for a vial and a hypodermic. Jack grimaced and she nodded. “Antibiotic. And this one has been proven to work alongside the herbal medicines Adriann’s people use.”
Jack merely nodded as she gave him the intra-muscular shot. “Have you looked in on Jalen yet?” he asked when she was finished.
“I’m about to,” she answered as she closed her kit and picked it up. Once again, Kashan was there, offering to take it for her but she shook her head slightly.
“He’s just happy to see you,” Jack started and then clipped the rest of what he was going to say when she arched her brow at him.
“I’ll check on you tomorrow, Colonel. I’ll pop in to see Jalen, but then I’ve got a mini-lab to set up.”
“Right,” Jack replied, watching her and Kashan leave. Daniel came walking in and exchanged looks with Jason before he came over and sat down on the bed. “So… Hammond’s pissed,” Jack said needlessly.
“Oh yeah,” Daniel answered. “I think he was about to recall us till Kashan told him we were needed here.” He grimaced then, glancing at Jason once more. “And I heard his order about the Bor’cha.”
Jason made a growling noise. “Yeah, that’s not gonna sit well with Adriann.”
“Kashan said that they’ve already been devising a plan,” Daniel answered, then gave his lovers a meaningful look as he lifted his chin. “There’re gas containers on the FRED.”
Jason rolled his eyes as Jack made a face. “Not a good idea,” Jack said, shaking his head. “God only knows what that gas would do to the plant life.”
“That’s what Kashan said when I told him what that stuff was.”
“The primary business of those beasts is the problem of Adriann and the others. If they want our help, we’ll see what we can do, but under no circumstances are we going out on hunting parties. There’s another way and we’ll find it.” Daniel and Jason nodded in agreement, and that settled, Jack decided to switch subjects. “So…” he began, taking Daniel’s hand in his.
“So?” Daniel repeated, a little puzzled by the cautious look on Jack’s face.
“About Adriann,” Jack said.
Daniel cleared his throat and got up. “I think I’ll find you something to eat,” and he started for the door but Jason stepped in his way.
“Sit your ass back down,” he said, pointing at the bed.
“Jason,” Daniel frowned, stepping to the side to go around him.
Jason grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around, marching him back to the bed. “Sit.”
Daniel looked at them both and knew there was no way he was getting out of it. Sighing heavily, he sat back down. Jack grabbed his hand again, wincing at the force he used. Daniel scowled at him reproachfully. “See? What’d I tell you?” he said, laying his other hand over Jack’s.
“Then stop trying to get away.”
Daniel pursed his lips and shot Jason a betrayed look as his lover pushed a stool over to sit down beside them both.
“Don’t give me that look,” Jason warned.
“What about Adriann?” Daniel asked resignedly. “There’s nothing–“
“He’s upset,” Jack said flatly.
Daniel thinned his lips, hating the news. But what did he expect anyway? For Adriann to be happy about it? “I suppose you want me to apologize?”
“No, I want you to stop acting like an ass and go make up,” Jack answered.
Jason snorted. “Or make out, we’re not picky.”
“Jason,” Daniel berated.
“Why didn’t you talk to us about it?” Jack asked.
“Because… we already talked about it,” Daniel said, finding it hard to explain.
“Meaning you were second-guessing yourself again,” Jason stated, annoyed. “For cryin’ out loud, Daniel, we know how you feel about him and we’re fine with it.”
“I know that.”
“Apparently not,” Jack said disapprovingly. “You’re using us as an excuse, Daniel.”
“I am not!” Daniel protested. “I’m–“
“You’re not holding him back, Daniel,” Jack said, getting to the point. “And don’t you think that you should talk to him about it instead of arbitrarily making the decision? You used to jump on my ass whenever I did that.”
“And me,” Jason added.
Daniel grimaced. “It’s just… I knew what he’d say.”
“So despite what you tell us all the time,” Jason said, purposely patronizing, “you’re being a hypocrite, thinking you know what’s best for him.”
Daniel got up, slapping Jason’s hand away when he tried to stop him. “Just… don’t.” He paced the room, hating it that they were watching him. Waiting. It was maddening. “Fine!” he said, turning to face them both. “I’m a hypocrite. But he had Eros and then he didn’t and–“
“That’s not going to wash, Daniel,” Jack said firmly, “and you know it. Would you do that to one of us?”
Daniel stared at him, incredulous. “What the hell are you talking about?” He suddenly held up his left hand and pointed to the silver ring on his pinkie, one of three matching bands with a triangle of leaves. “I’ve made a commitment to you. I could no more tell you to move on than I could do it myself.”
“And what about your commitment to Adriann?” Jason snapped back. “What the hell was that ceremony about? What the fuck is that tattoo on your back? On Adriann’s? Are those just decorative leftovers from a fun party?”
Daniel ground his teeth, glaring at him, at Jack, hating them for being right and hating himself for making them tell him things he already knew but tried to ignore. Abruptly, he sagged and sat down on the floor, head in his hands. “Shit.”
Jack and Jason exchanged looks and Jason went over to him, crouching down, and rubbed his shoulders. “Eloquent as ever.”
“Jason,” Daniel scolded as he looked up at him, then over at Jack. He was silent for a minute, struggling with the words. “I… I didn’t think I’d feel this way,” he said softly. “I love you two, but I look forward to seeing him when we’re apart and my thoughts are constantly on him when he’s around. How the fuck am I supposed to be fair to you?”
“By being fair to yourself,” Jason answered as he stood up and held out his hand for Daniel to take. When he pulled him to his feet, Jason took him by the shoulders again, and this time, gave him a brief shake. “He gives you something you can’t get from us. And that’s not a bad thing, Daniel. Don’t you get it?”
“Get over here,” Jack said, wishing Daniel didn’t make this so fucking hard.
Reluctantly, Daniel walked over and sat back down on the bed, forcing himself to meet Jack’s gaze. “What? Are you gonna send me to go find him?”
Jack gave him a lop-sided grin. “I don’t have to. You’ll see him now or you’ll see him later. That’s up to you.”
With an effort, Jack reached up to touch Daniel’s face and Daniel took his hand away so the strain wouldn’t hurt him. “There,” Jack said.
Daniel stared at him. “What?”
“Why did you just do that?”
“Because you’re not supposed to move like that.”
“Daniel. Answer the question.”
Jack was making a point, Daniel thought, and it perversely irritated him. “Because you’ll cause yourself pain.”
“And you stopped me. Why?” When Daniel refused to answer, he said, “Because you love me, you don’t want me in pain. Now Adriann’s in pain of a sort. And you’re not stopping it.”
“Don’t you love him anymore?” Jason pushed.
Daniel closed his eyes. “You know I do.”
“Then stop being an ass and go apologize,” Jack said impatiently.
Daniel sighed, knowing that if he didn’t fix the problem, and soon, they’d know and they’d nag him to death. “Fine, I’ll talk to him later today, okay?”
Jack exchanged grins with Jason, then lifted his hand and gestured with two fingers. “Good man. Now, come here.”
Jason let out a short laugh, finding the déjà vu amusing.
“What?” Daniel asked, looking over.
Jason pointed at Jack. “He wants you for something.”
Daniel turned his attention back to Jack, and grinning reluctantly, he rested his elbow on the pillow next to Jack’s head and leaned over. “You really are a pain in the ass,” he said, his lips inches away from Jack’s.
“I love you, too,” Jack whispered just before Daniel kissed him and played the same game that Jason had played earlier.
. . .
After hours of reading in Adriann’s library, Daniel went to the room to the right of Jack’s and lay down, his thoughts turning to Adriann and how he’d apologize. Before he knew it, he was asleep. He began to dream and most were blurry, vague images, jumbled one after another, not giving attention to anything. But eventually, his dream focused, as if he’d come out of an ethereal fog and into the real world.
He was back in the library, staring down at one of the large old tomes. He flipped through the book, trying to focus on the content, when a shadow crossed the bright sconce on the wall to his left, blocking his light. He turned to find Adriann standing several feet away, naked under an open robe. He was in shadow, silhouetted by the backdrop of the lamp so it cast an outline of light and Daniel had to squint to see him properly. Adriann beckoned him with an outstretched hand and Daniel became keenly aware of the desire emanating from him, thick and visceral.
Come to me.
The words awakened him, as if he’d actually heard them, and Daniel opened his eyes and frowned in concentration, trying to decide whether or not they’d been spoken orally or inside his head. He sat up, rubbing at his face, and looked around the darkened room, but there was no one else in the room. It had been Adriann’s voice he’d heard, he remembered that, and his sleep-muddled brain finally unclouded enough for him to remember even more: He was supposed to have gone to see him after the library but he’d… fallen asleep.
Daniel picked up his watch from the bedside table. The green glow from the face told him it was after nine. He’d slept four hours. Pushing off the bed, he went to the desk to pour himself a glass of water and as he sipped at it, thinking about the dream and the words Adriann had spoken, he heard them again.
Come to me.
They weren’t just dream words, they were real, beckoning him; not quite a command, but more of a… dare? Daniel let out a slow breath and dressed only in his black fatigue trousers and T-shirt, he walked barefoot from the room. Looking both ways down the corridor, he turned left and headed for the atrium at the far end. He had no reason to think that Adriann would be there but something told him that’s where he’d be.
Entering the room, Daniel closed the door behind him and paused, caught off-guard by the lighting of the room. None of the lamps were lit, but it didn’t matter; he had no trouble seeing. The primary light came from the large fireplaces, one directly across from him and the other off to his left. The secondary source came from two of the planet’s twelve moons, shining into the room from the arched window above. The two-toned effect gave the atrium a sort of gothic, romantic glow and Daniel stomped on the urge to laugh at the Jane Eyre cliché that came to mind.
“Something amuses you?” Adriann asked as he stared into the fireplace across the room, one hand on the mantel top, the other behind his back. A pose Daniel was used to seeing but for some reason, this one gave him the feeling of a calm before the storm; the eye of the hurricane. He didn’t know why the metaphor came to him and he tried to dismiss it and come up with something else, but the feeling would not go away.
Like the dream, Adriann was wearing a robe, but this one was full-length and closed, made of velvet and silk, with the dark colors of indigo and violet running like spilled oil onto a black surface. It reinforced the calm effect, but it looked odd, contradicting the restrained energy that the man emanated.
Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Daniel swallowed, wondering why that metaphor applied as well. It didn’t really matter. It fit. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, waiting for his prey. So the more apt question was how long had he been lying in wait?
“Just my mind grasping at strange images,” he answered finally as he approached the man, coming to stand beside him in front of the fire. “I was sleeping, so I guess I’m not quite awake yet.”
“You weren’t that asleep,” Adriann remarked, then dropped his hand from the mantel and slid it inside his pocket.
Daniel lifted his chin. “No, you woke me up.”
Adriann said nothing as he continued to stare into the fire. The silence seemed to stretch endlessly and finally, Daniel set aside all the metaphors and distractions and focused on the real reason Adriann had been waiting.
“I’m sorry,” he said gruffly, then cleared his throat. Adriann grinned but Daniel couldn’t tell if the expression was from amusement and that bothered him. “Now you’re the one amused,” he ventured, trying not to feel offended.
“A little, but not at you.”
“It is ironic that among the gifts I gave you, one of them would be the ability to block your thoughts from me.” He looked up then and his expression matched the self-deprecation that Daniel felt from him.
“I’m sorry for that, too,” Daniel said uncomfortably.
“It is not necessary,” Adriann argued. “You have every right to block your thoughts.”
“I didn’t think I could, but when I found that it was possible, I did it without question because I was… confused. But I know better. I shouldn’t have cut you off instead of talking to you about it so I’m the one who should apologize. I hurt you and I didn’t… it wasn’t… it’s the last thing I wanted.”
“Then why?” Adriann asked.
Daniel sighed, knowing damn well that Adriann already knew the answer, but perhaps it just needed to be said. “It doesn’t matter anymore,” he hedged.
“Answer me, please.”
Sighing again, Daniel finally said, “I didn’t think I was being fair to you.”
Adriann arched a brow. “Is it fair for you to end our relationship without discussion?”
“I didn’t!” Daniel replied emphatically, surprising himself by raising his voice. More slowly, with less volume but just as much feeling, he added, “I don’t want to end it.”
“I do not wish that, either, Daniel. I never have.”
Daniel frowned at him. “Why did you go along then, acting as if we were just acquaintances?”
“To respect your wishes,” Adriann answered, a sad smile forming. “Our empathic tie has never been severed, Daniel. I felt your wishes quite plainly.”
Daniel felt heat rising to his cheeks that had nothing to do with embarrassment. It was panic. “They’re not what I wish, Adriann. I was just…”
Adriann turned to face him finally and brought his right hand out from behind him, resting it on the mantel. “What do you want from me?”
Daniel was startled by the question. Unable to answer, he looked away, staring into the fire instead.
“Do you love me?” Adriann asked.
“Yes.” Daniel waited a few hesitant seconds, then asked, “Do you?”
“Yes,” Adriann said slowly. “But it is a given, is it not?”
Daniel shrugged. “Yeah, I guess it is.”
Adriann dropped his hand from the mantel and clasped both hands behind his back, slowly circling Daniel, his eyes focused only on him. “So the question still remains. What do you want from me?”
Daniel remained still, following him only by turning his head, refusing to keep him in sight. It thrilled him to feel Adriann move behind him, not knowing what he would do, and when he actually did nothing but continue to circle him, Daniel knew for certain that he was being seduced. A warmth began to spread through him, an anticipation of the unknown. He tried to concentrate on answering Adriann’s question but found that he couldn’t, not with Adriann’s distracting him like that. “I could ask the same thing,” he said instead.
Adriann grinned at him, recognizing the deflection. “I want to please you, indulge in your fantasies as well as your fears. I want to taste you and watch you respond. What do you want?”
“Jack and Jason seem to think–“
“No, Daniel. This is not about what they think.”
Daniel cleared his throat. “You give me what they can’t. But… I don’t know exactly what that is. What you give me, I can’t define. It’s something that’s in addition to what you have always given me. Passion, love, trust. What else there is, I don’t–“
“Go deeper than that,” Adriann said as he stopped in front of him, his back to the fire.
Abruptly reminded that Adriann was nearly a foot taller, Daniel took half a step back. “Deeper?” he asked, and given the way Adriann was looking at him, his mind went to only one place.
“Needs,” Adriann said, deepening his voice. “Certain things Jack and Jason can only give you in role play.”
Daniel colored, a flicker of a smile on his lips. “But that’s different. It’s a kink, a once in a while thing that–“
“They told me I need to remind you. I guess I do.”
“They…” Daniel started, brows rising in surprise. “You talked to them?”
“They cornered me,” Adriann said with an amused expression.
“No one corners you, Adriann, unless you let them,” Daniel answered quickly as a knot formed between his brows.
“You are allowing yourself to become side-tracked,” Adriann said.
He smiled again, and in that beautifully wolfish way of his, showing those brilliantly white canines that made Daniel’s skin tingle every time he looked at them. Perversely, he became annoyed. “Stop that.”
“I am not doing anything on purpose, Daniel. But you are.”
“What are you talking about?”
Adriann cocked his head, astonished by Daniel’s willing blindness. He had an urge to seize him and quickly suppressed it. Keeping his hands behind him, he moved off to his left, walking around the room, creating a little distance. It was time to stalk. To remind. He looked at the window that filled the far wall, following it as it arched overhead and took up half the ceiling. Stars twinkled down through the glass and he stared at them for a moment before moving over to look down on the grounds.
“Do you remember the first time I seduced you?”
“Vividly,” Daniel answered, shuddering just a little at the memory of it.
“Despite my… immoral behavior… you enjoyed what happened.”
Daniel cleared his throat again; several times. “Your point?”
Adriann smiled, his gaze still on the grounds below but his focus was solely on Daniel. What words should he choose first?
“Adriann?” Daniel asked, wondering if the man was getting side-tracked himself.
Adriann turned and looked over his shoulder. “Passion, without consequences,” he said.
“What?” Daniel asked, walking over and stopping at the desk that separated them.
Adriann began to take slow, deliberate steps as he moved around the desk. “I am the animal,” he said, the smile gone. “The wild side of desire.”
Daniel swallowed and he started to interrupt but Adriann kept talking, kept coming.
“A desire you seek,” Adriann continued. Stopping a few feet away, he smiled and let his canines flash to fanged points for a brief second before retracting. The effect on Daniel was immediate; a rise in blood pressure, heart beating faster, breath becoming shallow. It thrilled Adriann down to his core. “I am unbridled lust and I am freedom. I give you that which you have always wanted.”
Daniel inhaled sharply as Adriann suddenly closed in with frightening speed, wrapped his arms around him and lifted him off the floor, bringing them face to face, body to body. Daniel grabbed at his arms and subconsciously hooked his legs around him for support; the action pushed Adriann’s robe open and the resulting scent of bare skin went straight to Daniel’s cock.
“And you,” Adriann went on, using the hypnotic resonance of his voice. “You give me acceptance, lust and love. You freely give… and you freely take.”
Daniel half-closed his eyes as Adriann cupped the back of his head with one hand and leaned in, as if to kiss him, but he stopped inches away. Waiting. Resisting for a few seconds, Daniel suddenly plunged both hands in Adriann’s hair, clutching handfuls of it, then paused to see what Adriann would do in response.
“What are you waiting for?” Adriann teased. “Or do you want a demonstration of power?”
Daniel started to say no, but a second later, Adriann was rising off the floor. Involuntarily, Daniel gripped harder with his legs as instinct took over and the only thing on his mind just then was how hard he was pressing his groin against Adriann’s.
“You’re scared of me,” Adriann whispered, “because of the way I make you feel. You want that power in you, through you. Take it, Daniel. I know you want to. I can feel you.”
Lust rose inside him like fireworks but Daniel still tried to resist. He knew he was playing, knew Adriann was enjoying it, goading him, and Daniel wanted to give in. But just… not yet. “I’m not scared of you.”
“Power scares you. My power,” Adriann said. He leaned in and touched his nose to Daniel’s, then lifted his chin and inhaled as if smelling him. “You enjoy the hunt, the tease, but it’s time to take your prey.”
“Not yet,” Daniel said without thinking, surprising himself.
“Stop fighting,” Adriann hissed, tilting his head and bringing his lips close to Daniel’s. “Take me, Daniel. I’m your—”
Daniel tightened his fingers and yanked Adriann forward to claim his mouth in a hungry, passionate kiss. A deep moan escaped him as Adriann took over, seeking out his tongue for an erotic wrestling match. Daniel could feel his lover’s determination through the strength of his arms, the smell of his sweat, the intensity of his emotion. It was exhilarating.
Adriann smiled through their kiss… then tightened his fingers in Daniel’s hair and pulled his head back, exposing his throat. Licking a wet stripe up the middle, ending over his chin, he whispered, “Here is what you want, Daniel. Power. Possession. And penetration.” Then he struck with violent swiftness, biting into his jugular.
Daniel sucked in a breath as pre-come pooled around the head of his cock. He tightened his fists, his legs, as waves of pleasure flooded his body. He closed his eyes, indulging himself. Yes, this is what he wanted, what he needed, and he gave into it. He thought, this should last forever, until Adriann slid a hand down past his ass and teased at his balls through the coarse cotton. “Yes,” Daniel whispered hoarsely, and raised his knees, gripping tightly around his lover’s hips as he ground desperately against him. Spikes of pleasure shot through him like miniature orgasms and Daniel pulled at Adriann’s hair, hoping it hurt.
Seduced by it and the taste of blood, Adriann groaned loudly and returned them to the floor as he sucked harder. A sudden frustration filled him; he wanted skin but felt only clothes, so with awe-inspiring ease, he snatched the black cotton that hindered him and ripped it from Daniel’s back.
Daniel gasped in surprise, then winced from the brief pain caused when his trousers and briefs followed suit. For a fraction of a second, he wanted to complain–he didn’t have a spare uniform–but the concern was driven away by the need now controlling his mind and body. He eagerly dropped his legs from their grip around Adriann and let his trousers puddle to the floor.
Smiling, Adriann retracted his teeth and licked at the wound. “Better,” he said.
Annoyed at the loss of Adriann’s bite, Daniel shoved the robe off his shoulders and roughly grabbed him by his hair once more, but this time, it was he who yanked Adriann’s head back. “Almost,” he said gruffly, then lunged, biting down over his jugular. He hadn’t thought about how hard, nor did he care, and when the throbbing pulse hit against his tongue, he bit harder. Then it came, the tang of blood, and he let out a wild growl of sexual hunger and sucked hard.
Stunned amazement, coupled with a dizzying rush of lust, hit Adriann like a hammer. He wrapped Daniel’s legs back around him and dropped to his knees, eyes closing in overwhelming pleasure as Daniel sucked against his skin. “Yes,” he choked, relishing in the flood of emotion coming from his lover. But when he realized that he smelled his own blood, he pulled back, eyes wide… staring at the small amount of blood staining Daniel’s lips.
For a second, he meant to scold, but the sight of blood on Daniel’s lips overrode any remaining restraint Adriann felt. He growled and kissed him with brutal passion, loving the growling sounds of want Daniel made. Hugging him tightly against his now-naked body, Adriann yanked Daniel’s head back once more and sank his teeth into his flesh.
Daniel’s eyes rolled back into his head as he rubbed his cock frantically against the strong body that held him. He knew what Adriann wanted next and he wanted it too, but when fingertips rubbed over his asshole, Daniel reacted savagely and scraped his nails across Adriann’s back as he roared and came hard, grinding and jerking as thick streams pulsed from his cock.
The sweetness of his blood rushed into Adriann’s mouth and Adriann moaned loudly, needing more. Slick from natural lube, he swiveled his hips and freed his cock from between them, aiming, finding his target. Pushing past the puckered barrier, he was intoxicated by the heat and wonderful response Daniel gave him. Spreading his knees, he thrust quickly, seeking not friction but a certain gland. When Daniel cried out and dug in his nails, coming again, that was all he needed and Adriann fucked him with furious speed, tossing his head back to yell when he came.
Hugging Daniel tightly, Adriann whispered, “I love you,” against his neck as he emptied into him, body begging for continued pleasure, wanting to drown in it. It lasted forever, and yet, not long enough. Adriann held onto him, hips jerking slowly now, refusing to give up, wanting this to last.
Daniel tightened his fingers in Adriann’s hair and hugged him back, burying his face in his neck. “I love you, too,” he whispered. At that moment, he expected to feel embarrassment as a result of his actions, but the sated happiness he felt from Adriann prevented it from appearing. What he felt instead was a deep, warming satisfaction; a type of bone-weary release of the tension he’d been carrying for months. He wanted to tell Adriann how he felt, but knew there was no need. He was no longer shutting him out, so the man already knew.
“So,” Adriann said minutes later, reluctantly breaking through the afterglow.
“Mmm,” Daniel managed, and through his thoughts told Adriann to be quiet. Adriann chuckled, his breath cool over Daniel’s sweaty skin.
“You want me to lick you clean or would you prefer a bath?” Adriann asked, ignoring Daniel’s order.
Daniel snorted softly, blowing puffs of air through Adriann’s hair. “In a while,” he said, not being specific, then he squirmed, rubbing his semen into Adriann’s skin, and felt the hot spike of desire returning, wanting to add more.
Despite the few bruises and aches in his body, Daniel felt energized early the next morning. Dressing in black silk trousers and a matching robe, he left Adriann asleep by the banked fire, surrounded by pillows and covered with a thick, furry comforter. He wanted to stay there, but felt the need to be with Jack and Jason. And to face their smug I told you so.
He didn’t look forward to the teasing he’d get for the clothes, but fortunately, Adriann had told him he would get him some leather clothing from one of the Brethren. Hopefully, that wouldn’t be too long from now. Daniel didn’t relish the thought of appearing out of uniform in front of anyone else, but leather would be preferable to silk.
Hand on Jack’s door, he was about to turn the knob when Al appeared from one of the rooms on the other side of Jalen’s and spotted him. Oh no, here it comes, Daniel thought, and braced himself for the inevitable.
Al stared down the hall and couldn’t keep the smirk off his face. He didn’t need to ask why Daniel was wearing something other than his uniform. After all, he’d gotten used to it whenever they’d stayed with Adriann. But this was a little different. It was early and he knew damn well that Daniel hadn’t expected to be seen. It was like sneaking back into the barracks after visiting the women’s quarters. While he didn’t get being with a man, he couldn’t help wondering what it was like to be with someone like Adriann. Or Talen, for that matter.
Trying to squash the grin on his face, Al approached Daniel, gesturing at his clothes.
“Don’t ask,” Daniel told him, wearing a bemused smirk.
“I was just gonna say they… look comfortable.” He paused, and once more tried to contain his amusement as he asked, “How’s Adriann?”
Daniel sighed at the tease the man made, but he also felt the embarrassment coming off the man. Perhaps a chance to turn the tables. “Fine. But…”
“But?” Al asked.
“You look like a man with a question.”
Al cleared his throat a few times. “Not going there,” he said, then changed the subject. “Are you gonna check on Jalen later?”
Daniel nodded. “Of course. Janet’s studying his blood work. Maybe she can help, maybe not.”
Al looked over his shoulder, staring at Jalen’s door. Returning his attention to Daniel, he said, “Major Wagner has been a bit…”
“Upset,” Daniel finished for him but he detected more to Al’s concern.
“Yeah, of course, but no, that’s not what I mean.” He frowned, looking over his shoulder again.
Daniel suddenly realized Al wasn’t staring at Jalen’s room, but Alex’s. “What?”
Looking back at Daniel, and appearing a lot more uncomfortable, he said, “He’s been steering clear of Jalen. I think he’s afraid that if he goes to see him, Jalen will die, too.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. The irrational fear was justified but not in that way. “Did you tell Jason?”
Pursing his lips, Daniel sighed heavily. “I’ll tell him to go have a talk with him.”
Al nodded, relieved. “Thanks. He’s the only one who could get through to him. Connor and I have tried. We’d have talked to Colonel Coburn about it, but haven’t had the chance.”
Daniel cringed. “Have you checked on Jalen lately?”
Al shook his head. “No, but we’ve talked to Doctor Fraiser about him. She gave him something to make him sleep through the night. That fever he’s been burning is taking a lot out of him.”
Daniel sighed, a frown forming. “Guess the Tok’ra have a few more weaknesses than they thought.”
Al nodded. “At least Selmak and Jacob have gone back to confer with the other Tok’ra. Maybe they know something Jacob doesn’t.”
“I doubt it. Selmak’s one of the oldest. She’d have known if they’d come across this before. Or the Goa’uld for that matter.”
Al shot him a dark smile. “Well, if anything, we found another method of killing a Goa’uld symbiote.”
“Heh,” Daniel replied with a strained laugh. He tilted his head at the door, gesturing inside. “Tell Connor I’ll have a talk with Jason. I’m just now checking in with Jack, see how he’s doing.”
“Right,” Al answered, turning back, then he looked over his shoulder and grinned. “I don’t envy you the teasing you’re going to get.”
Daniel didn’t either as he opened the door. When he looked across the room and saw Jason lying on his side next to Jack, his heart tugged. Jack was on his back, his wounded arm now in a type of sling, bandages covering the bite. His uninjured arm lay over his head, bent at the elbow. Daniel grinned then because he knew that the scent of Jack’s armpit was going to rouse Jason sooner or later, awakening him with a hard-on that had nothing to do with the morning pee.
I want you back here
Daniel grinned at the sleepy summons, imagining the mock-scowl on Adriann’s face. I want to be, too, but it’s morning and I’m needed here.
I could kidnap you, Adriann threatened.
Daniel closed his eyes and stifled the groan in his throat as he rubbed at his cock. He heard a faint chuckle and sent back a rude reply, making Adriann laugh even more.
“Is that a new kind of voyeurism?” Jack asked, startling Daniel out of the telepathic conversation.
Clearing his throat, Daniel dropped his hand from his crotch and walked to Jack’s side of the bed. Bending over, he kissed him good morning, leaning in firmly to put emphasis on it. “In a way,” he smiled, then leaned over further and kissed Jason’s cheek, grinning when Jason tried to bury his face further into Jack’s neck. He sighed fondly as he looked down at them, wishing it was night again.
“Whatcha thinkin’?” Jack asked, moving his lower body a bit, stretching.
His movement defined the cotton outline of his cock and Daniel felt his mouth water a little bit as he thought of pulling down those trousers. The idea made him grin and Jack cleared his throat to get his attention.
“Hmmm?” Daniel asked, letting his eyes travel across Jack’s body till he stopped at his face. Jack’s gaze wasn’t on his, however, but on his clothing and suddenly Daniel’s little mood alteration began to dissipate just a little. “Don’t say it,” he said, clearing his throat as he sat down.
Jack scooted just enough to drop his arm and ruffle Jason’s black hair. “Wake up, sleeping beauty. Guess who’s back?”
“Jack,” Daniel said, rolling his eyes.
“What?” Jason croaked, lifting his head.
“Daniel’s here,” Jack sing-songed.
Jason turned onto his side, saw Daniel sitting there in changed clothes, his expression clearly saying he was expecting the worst. Jason smiled. “I knew it. What did we tell you?”
“Jason, don’t start.”
“He told me not to say it,” Jack mumbled. “But you did so I’m half-satisfied.”
Jason grinned knowingly. “Only half?”
“Where Daniel is concerned,” Jack explained with mock-annoyance.
Daniel looked back and forth between them and quickly deduced what they meant.
“He’s thinking some deep thoughts,” Jason said as he watched Daniel’s expression.
“I don’t think ‘deep’ is a word you should be using,” Daniel shot back, then gave Jack a dirty look. “I hope your arm didn’t suffer too much… collateral damage.”
“Arm’s fine,” Jack replied smugly.
“So’s the rest of him,” Jason added as he trailed a hand over Jack’s abdomen and started to go lower. Jack grabbed his hand before he could get there.
“Ah huh,” Daniel said, narrowing his eyes at Jason. “And just who took care of you?”
“The one-armed bandit’s excellent mouth,” Jason said as he sat up, and at the look Daniel gave him, both he and Jack snickered.
“How’d you work that one?” Daniel asked, suddenly aroused at the image that came to him.
“Very careful maneuvering on my part,” Jason answered as he bent over and kissed Jack tenderly. “Jack didn’t even have to move… much.”
“Except now I need a toothbrush,” Jack returned grumpily.
Daniel started to tease further information out of them but a knock at the door interrupted him. Jason got up quickly and began to pull the blanket up but Jack stopped him, wincing as he jarred his injured arm. “I’m half-dressed, Jason. And Janet’s seen it before.”
“How do you know it’s her?” Daniel asked just as Jack called out for whoever it was to enter.
Sure enough, it was Janet. Peering at them, wondering if it was safe to enter–the three men had guilty expressions. “Morning, gentlemen.”
“C’mon in, Doc,” Jack gestured.
She’d taken off her green fatigue shirt, which Daniel guessed was due to the warmth of the house, and her dog tags hung outside the olive t-shirt. Her hair was no longer held up in a clip behind her head but she still had it in a ponytail and it swung as she crossed the room.
“That’s nicely casual, Janet,” Daniel grinned.
“I can afford to be casual here,” she sniffed. But catching sight of Daniel’s alternate clothing, she threw him a sarcastic grin. “And you’re way more casual than I am, Daniel. What happened to your uniform?”
Biting his lips together briefly, Daniel tried not to look guilty. “I had a little mishap. I’ll be getting some more appropriate clothes in a little while.”
“Mishap huh?” she asked as Jason got up and moved out of the way so she could examine Jack.
Daniel was extremely relieved that she didn’t make more of it. Although with her face averted, Daniel couldn’t see her expression… except he saw Jack’s–and the man was looking positively evil. Glancing over at Jason, he found the same look.
“So Janet,” he said, ignoring the both of them. “Got any ideas about Jalen’s condition?”
Janet held up a hand to forestall any further questions as she took Jack’s vitals and listened to his chest. Daniel sat down at the foot of the bed and waited patiently, hoping she’d find nothing wrong when she was finished. When she placed her stethoscope around her neck and stood up, she jostled Jack’s knee as if she’d just ruffled his hair.
“You appear to be fine, Colonel, within the boundaries of your injury. Your blood work is still processing but I think it’ll come back normal. The medicine they used on your arm seems to be detoxifying your system and I don’t expect there’ll be any infection. But again, we’ll have to wait and see.”
“And Jalen?” Jack asked so Daniel wouldn’t repeat himself.
She gave a heavy sigh and shook her head. “I have no idea. Talen has a better grasp of the Bor’chas’ anatomy than I do, even though we took samples of it over a year ago. Something’s changed, and maybe it’s simply the fact that this is the first time I’ve examined a human who’s been infected. But then there’s the added complication of the symbiote poison, which nullifies any accurate analysis of either species, human or Tok’ra. The bottom line is that Jalen’s body isn’t reacting to the poison as an infection and it’s probably due to whatever Camulus did to circumvent contamination and death for his host. Whatever he did, it’s a wait and see situation.”
“Which is what Talen and Adriann have been saying,” Jason said as his brows furrowed. “What have you detected so far? What’s the poison doing?”
Janet crossed her arms as she thought over her answer and paced the room for a few moments before she turned to look at all three of them. “Well,” she said finally. “I can’t be sure, but it appears to be altering his DNA.” At their horrified looks, and memories of what had happened to Teal’c several years before, she held up her hand. “Not that kind of alteration, but his DNA is changing and I have no clue why or if it’s some weird kind of healing process started by the symbiote. Together with Adriann and Talen, I’m comparing notes and trying to come up with an answer.”
Jack chewed at his lip, then asked, “Do you have any ideas?”
Mimicking Jack, she bit at the corner of her lip. “Suppositions won’t do any good, Colonel.”
“We’re concerned about whether or not he’ll recover,” Daniel added.
“Oh he’ll recover,” Janet said. “Rather like the Brethren, Tam, recovered, but it’s not the same.”
“Hang on,” Jason said, panicking. “Are you saying he might turn into one of those things?”
Daniel’s eyes widened with Jason’s. “Janet, everyone who gets infected like that goes insane and has to be killed.”
Janet shook her head and held up a calming hand to quiet them. “No, I asked Talen and she said it wasn’t that.”
Daniel let out a guarded sigh of relief as Jason asked, “But?”
“No ‘but’, Jason,” Janet said hesitantly. “I gave you the facts and you know as much as I do. We have to wait.”
Jason rubbed at his brow. “He’ll kill himself if he gets sick like Tam did.”
“I already told you, Talen assured me it wasn’t–“
“So what if she’s wrong?” Jason asked, alarm covering his expression.
“I trust her judgment on this, Jason, and if you’d rather talk to her, then…” She waved in the air, then gestured at her head. “Call for her. I’m sure she’ll hear you.”
Feeling the panic rising higher in his lover, Daniel walked around the bed and put his arm around Jason. “Don’t panic, Jace,” he said, and leaned in to kiss his cheek. “We won’t have to kill him.”
“You don’t know for sure.”
“No, but…” Daniel paused, cocking his head to ‘listen,’ a gesture he did often whenever his empathy was reaching out.
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “Sensing anything?”
For a few long moments, Daniel concentrated, then relaxed and shook his head. “I’m not sensing danger. I feel… the heavy weight of tension from pain, anger, and fright, but that’s all. That’s what makes me think Janet and Talen are right. It’s not like Tam.”
Janet sighed with relief, as if she’d been afraid of a different answer. “I’ll know more after the lab gets back to me on the additional DNA findings,” she said as she looked at her watch. “Which should be in a few hours.” Turning to leave, she gestured at the Colonel. “That wound is healing fast, Colonel, thanks to their miraculous medicine, so despite the pain and what they tell you, you should start moving around. Otherwise, everything you eat or drink…”
“Will just sit,” Jack nodded with long-suffering. “I know, Doc. Thanks.”
With a grin, she added, “I’ll check back in after lunch. Right now, I’m off to the lab.”
“So you’ve seen Jalen already?” Jason asked.
She nodded back. “And I gave him meds for the pain he’s experiencing so he’ll be out for a while.” She threw a comforting grin over her shoulder and left the room.
After she left, Daniel said, “By the way, Jace. Saw Al before I came in here.”
Jason grinned and gestured. “He tease you?”
“A bit, but more importantly, he mentioned Alex. I think you need to go see him.”
Jason frowned. “I checked on him last night. I know what’s worrying Al.”
“Clue me in,” Jack said, so Jason explained how Alex was handling Jalen’s situation. “For cryin’ out loud.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him, but I have to let him deal with this in his own way. When Jalen’s better, he can do the butt-kicking.”
Jack grinned, then his stomach growled and he rubbed it. “Maybe this means I’m getting better.”
“It’s a good sign,” Daniel added.
Jack’s stomach growled again and he grimaced and pushed the blanket aside. The loose bandage fell off his arm and he wrinkled his nose at the bite marks. “That’s so gonna leave a scar.”
“Jack,” Daniel and Jason both said as they went to him, but Jack shooed them away.
“Stop it. You heard what she said. Get that tape from the med kit in my vest so I can keep this stupid bandage in place, then help me get dressed. I’m going down to the kitchen.”
Rolling their eyes, they did as he asked, knowing better than to argue, and as soon as Jack was dressed, they framed him like guards as he walked slowly from the room. A few feet away, however, Jack stopped, his hand on Daniel’s arm. “Go find something to wear.”
Daniel grimaced. “Shit. I was supposed to have it already up here.”
“Then rummage through their–“
Jack was cut off by man walking toward them from the direction of the main staircase. It was Rone, a man they’d met before. “Doctor Jackson?” He was carrying clothes. Jack smirked and said, “We’ll see you downstairs.”
“We’ll stop by and get the boys first,” Jason said.
“Stop briefly,” Jack said, but they didn’t move and instead stared at the clothing Rone handed Daniel: an embroidered leather tunic with plain trousers, both dyed black.
“Adriann said you would wish to wear your own boots so I did not bring any. If you would wish…”
“No, no, thanks very much, Rone, this is excellent,” Daniel said admiringly as he took the clothes, holding them up against them. “You guys do such beautiful work.” Rone blushed, bowed, then tucked his hands in the long sleeves of his housecoat and turned back the way he’d come.
When Daniel looked up from the clothes, he saw Jack and Jason smirking at him. Rolling his eyes at them, he turned away, heading back into Talen’s room. There was silence, and he waited for it, and by the time he’d opened the door…
“We’ll see you downstairs,” Jack called from further down the hall. “Don’t forget your sword and mask.”
“I’ll know just where to put the sword, Jack,” Daniel said, closing the door with a smile.
Jason pigsnorted as he banged on Al and Connor’s door, then moved to Alex’s. “Breakfast, boys,” he called out loudly. “Downstairs.” He began to walk away, grinning as he heard a bunch of cussing from Alex’s room.
Alex swung open his door. “I just got some damn sleep, Ja…” Alex began, till he saw Jack. He straightened the shirt he’d only just thrown on. “Er, mornin’, Colonel. How’s your arm?”
“It’s fine,” Jack told him without smiling as he noticed the shadows underneath Alex’s eyes. “You’ll be getting some sleep tonight, Alex, even if Doc Fraiser has to dope your ass.”
Alex sighed. “Understood, sir. It’s just hard to sleep.”
“I get it,” Jack said slowly, though his voice was kinder. “Now, grab Mutt and Jeff. We’re getting some chow.”
Jason grinned just as Al and Connor appeared, hearing the nicknames. “Speak of the little devils.”
“How’re you doing, sir?” Connor asked.
“I’m in a lot of pain, thanks for asking, but for some weird-assed reason, I’m hungry,” Jack replied.
“That’ll be the medicine, Jack,” Ophius called from down the hall as he waited at the top of the stairs.
Reaching him, Jack threw Ophius a dark look. “It’s really annoying that you people are so perfect.”
“We are not perfect,” Kashan said as he rounded the corner from a hallway behind Ophius. Janet was with him and they were holding hands, but upon seeing Jack, she pulled her hand away.
When they met them at the top of the stairs and she started down just in front of him, Jack whispered, “Given all that’s happened here over the years, Janet, don’t sweat it. I’ve had your confidence. Now you have mine. Okay?”
“Thanks,” she said in an undertone as they started down the steps. “I’m just not used to you seeing my side of things.”
Jack grinned with understanding but his grin faltered when he was attacked by a wave of dizziness. Grabbing the banister to steady himself, he felt Jason’s familiar arm slip firmly around his waist.
“C’mon,” Jason said, and though his heart was pounding, he kept his voice calm. “You just need food, that’s all, but I’ll be right here just in case.”
Jack gave him a grateful look, murmuring, “Thanks,” and staring into those dark brown eyes, he found concern. “I’m fine. Just stay right there.”
“Not going anywhere,” Jason answered.
Having felt the distress from the kitchen, Adriann left and crossed the hall quickly to stand at the bottom of the stairs. Jack looked much too pale and he resisted the urge to go up and help. Instead, Adriann decided that Jack could use a distraction. “I can always carry you,” he suggested with sarcastic grin.
Jack recognized what Adriann was doing and though he played along, he was also quite serious. “You do that,” he warned as he continued down the stairs, “and it’ll be the last thing you ever do.”
Adriann grinned in victory and threw Jason and the others a conspiratorial wink. “Teal’c and Sam are in the kitchen, and while we were waiting on you, he warned me that should I display any overprotectiveness on my part, it would elicit a threat from you. Apparently, he was right.”
“Ah huh,” Jack said, reaching the bottom. “And was there a wager on that?”
“Perhaps,” Adriann replied. “But I don’t believe I’ll tell you who won what.”
“Right,” Jack answered, and he swallowed as his stomach churned up some nausea. “I hate being weak,” he whispered to Jason.
“I know,” Jason answered, and rubbed his lower back in a way he hoped would soothe and when Jack smiled at him, he felt secure that it had.
Upstairs, Daniel finished dressing and once more experienced the sensual feeling brought on by soft leather. The lining on the inside of the trousers and tunic was brushed silk and though he rarely wore material like it, he enjoyed the sensation it gave him. He suspected they’d been specially made; the trousers were neither too short nor too long and lay over his boots as cleanly as a pair of his jeans would have.
The collar was Chinese-like in design but the embroidery was all Var’chol’si. It was a remembrance of Adriann’s culture and it made Daniel smile. He knew at once this was clothing he’d keep here, to wear when he visited. The way the tunic buttoned at the breastbone told him that Adriann had done that on purpose. Eye candy, Daniel thought. Except wearing it right now elicited the wrong response since he wasn’t all that keen on showing off an alluring view of his chest to Sam, Teal’c, Al or Connor. Not even Alex.
Daniel opened the chiffonier to find something to wear underneath when his empathic sense alerted him that something was wrong. Startled, he opened the door and stepped out cautiously, looking up and down the hall. Taking a few steps to his right, he tried to focus on where the trouble was coming from. Just as he came abreast of Adriann’s door, he heard a shout in his mind.
Accompanying the shout was a deep hunger combined with confusion, panic and need rolled into one.
It was Jalen. Daniel ran to the door and stepped inside to find Jalen kneeling in the middle of the bed, his face and bared torso shiny from sweat. His long hair was half-wet, too, as was his goatee and mustache. Daniel ran forward and felt his forehead, knowing what he’d find. The man was burning up.
“Daniel,” Jalen said with relief.
“Jalen, hang on, I’ll…” Daniel froze, staring down at Jalen’s wrists in shock. He was bound with leather cuffs and attached to the cuffs were loose chains draped across the bed. Following the one nearest him, Daniel found the chains were bolted into the two posts at the foot of the bed.
“What the hell is this for?” he asked angrily, immediately wanting to know why no one had mentioned this little… precaution. He wondered suddenly if Talen and Adriann had lied to them. Was Jalen really turning into the animal that Tam had changed into? “Why are you chained?”
Jalen lifted his hands, examining his wrists as if the chains were a simple curiosity. “I don’t… I think I’m dangerous, Daniel,” he said, then leveled his gaze on Daniel’s face. “You have to help me,” he said, then contradicted his previous supposition by holding out his hand.
“If you’re dangerous, why are you reaching for me?” Daniel asked warily–even as he took a step forward. He sensed no danger; that early warning system Jack joked about wasn’t going off. But nonetheless, the hairs rose on the back of his neck. He could feel a lot of confusion from Jalen, but under it, was a deep, yearning hunger. “What’s wrong? Are you thirsty? Hungry?” Without thinking, Daniel took Jalen’s hand and he stared more fixedly into Jalen’s face. It was only then that he saw the abnormally large pupils.
“Jalen, something’s wrong.”
“I’m… thirsty, Daniel.”
Daniel got up to get him some water from the refreshment table near the bed, and as he poured some water into a glass, he suddenly remembered another odd thing: Jalen had been given painkillers, supposedly meant to knock him out, and whatever medicine Talen had given him also had a tranquilizing effect. So how the hell was Jalen awake? Was it the fever?
“Here,” he said, coming back over. “Drink this.” Jalen took the water and drank it down in three large gulps, but suddenly growled and flung the glass away from him. “No, not water.” Daniel absently heard it tumble and roll across the carpet as he reached up to feel the man’s pulse at the carotid artery. It was hammering.
“Goddamn it, Jalen. I have to get Talen and Adriann,” Daniel said and he started to pull away but Jalen grabbed his hand.
“I have to get help.”
“Don’t leave me, I need you.”
“I can’t help you, Jalen. I don’t know what’s wrong never mind how to fix it.”
“I know how,” Jalen said as he stared at the hollow of Daniel’s throat and with a strange, half-growl, reached around Daniel’s waist and grabbed him, pulling him onto the bed.
“Jalen!” His strength astounded Daniel and he barely had time to recover after being lifted onto the bed. “Okay, listen, I’m here, but I need to send for Adriann, so just let me–“
“Daniel, I need you,” Jalen growled and tried to encircle Daniel in his arms but Daniel pushed back against his chest, keeping him at bay.
“For what?” Daniel asked, trying to ignore the fact that he felt a strong attraction to Jalen; he was Jason’s twin, after all. Sexy and even more so now, wrong as that was.
“Please,” Jalen said, whispering now as he continued to stare at the bared skin revealed by Daniel’s tunic. “You’re so beautiful.”
“Jalen, stop, you’re delirious, let me get Talen–“
“I need you so badly,” he said, gaze lifting again to Daniel’s throat.
Then his eyes sparkled with flecks of white, like ice, and combined with the dark brown, they looked like fire. Daniel froze, not understanding why this was but he knew one thing: he had seen that color in Adriann’s eyes.
Jalen licked his lips, groaning, “Please,” before he bared his teeth a bit… and his canines lengthened. They sharpened to needle-sharp points and while they were nowhere near as long as the Residents’, there was no mistaking whose fangs they resembled. And they weren’t the Bor’cha beasts.
“What the fuck?” Daniel yelled, this time in alarm.
“I need you.”
“Jalen, no, you can’t,” Daniel said, wishing he wasn’t getting aroused by this. It was so not a time for his kink to stand up and salute. No, no, no. “Jalen–“
Jalen smiled and pulled aside the tunic covering his throat. “So beautiful,” he said, then struck, slicing quickly into Daniel’s jugular, immediately sucking with almost brutal force.
Daniel inhaled sharply, closed his eyes, and yelled for Adriann with his mind.
Adriann was smiling as he stood near the hearth, enjoying himself as he watched Jack throw mock-scowls at Teal’c for not telling him what the bet was or who won what. Everyone else seemed to be amused, too, but only because once Jack sat down and had a few bites from a biscuit, the color started to return to his cheeks. Adriann felt very relieved, and thanked the universe for sparing Jack’s life.
He was about to grab his second mug of tea when he abruptly lost his smile and looked up at the ceiling as he heard Daniel’s call. Talen and the other Residents froze, listening with him. Two seconds later…
“No!” Adriann yelled and pelted out of the kitchen.
Jason didn’t understand but he was right behind him along with the other residents, leaving everyone else in their wake.
Getting up and trying to follow, Jack grew instantly angry from the overall feeling of impotence, hating that he was unable to run because of that goddamned poison. Sam and Teal’c were flanking him as the three of them left the kitchen and that only made him feel worse. “Go,” he growled. “I’ll be right behind you,” and as he watched them reluctantly leave him, he ground out, “Sonofabitch,” just as Janet slipped her hand around the inside of his elbow.
“Can’t get rid of me that easily.”
Jack sighed and briefly closed his eyes. “Something’s gone bad, Janet. Go see what it is.”
“No can do, Colonel. You’re just as important,” she said, worried that he’d used her first name. Privately was one thing, but here? No, it meant he was scared and that worried her even more than whatever else was going on.
The door crashed open and Adriann rushed over and leapt onto the bed, grabbing Jalen by the back of the hair.
“Let him go!” he growled, using the persuasive resonance in his hypnotic voice. When Jalen didn’t comply, Adriann slid his right arm in front of Jalen’s throat, elbow in front of his trachea, and placed him in a choke-hold. He then squeezed. The result was Jalen’s inability to swallow and he let go, roaring with rage.
Jason’s teammates rushed in behind Talen, Kashan, and Ophius, and as the Residents surrounded the bed, ready to help Adriann, Alex, Al and Connor hovered a few feet behind Jason who stood at the foot of the bed next to Teal’c and Sam. They wanted to grab Daniel, but had no clue if that would be the right thing to do.
“What the hell?” Sam asked, staring at Daniel’s throat, then Jalen’s lips. “Jason,” she said, turning to him, but Jason didn’t hear her. He was frozen in place, eyes glued to the fangs Jalen now had; he was also peripherally aware of the restraints.
“No,” he whispered. “This isn’t happening,” and he turned, moving around Sam and Teal’c to get to Talen, who stood at the corner of the bed. “Talen, you said he wouldn’t–“
“It’s not what you think,” Talen shot back.
“Then what the fuck are those!” he yelled, pointing at the chains.
“Take him,” Adriann said as he finally separated Jalen from Daniel.
Daniel felt his head swim as hands helped him off the bed. He staggered, holding one hand against his neck and the other out for balance. Two people grabbed him and walked him over to a chair by the door and looking up, he found Teal’c and Talen. “Jack? Jason?” Jason came into view, squatting down on his right.
“Jack’s coming what?” Jack asked. He scanned the scene quickly, then under his breath, teeth clenched, said, “Sonofa…”
Janet looked around for a chair and Kashan, realizing what she was looking for, retrieved one quickly from across the room. With a grateful smile, she had him place it next to Daniel’s and guided Jack over to sit down whether he liked it or not.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked.
Talen raised her hand and asked for silence. “One moment, Jack. Adriann? How far did he go?”
On the bed, Adriann shook his head as he slowly maneuvered around until he knelt in front of Jalen, taking his face in his hands. “How deep did you go?”
“I don’t know,” Jalen answered.
“What the…” Alex said from the door.
“Adriann?” Daniel asked as he registered what was going on. He started to rise but Talen moved over and laid her hand on his shoulder, keeping him in his chair.
“No, remain here,” she said.
Daniel shook his head, hand at his throat. “He didn’t mean…” he started, but was beginning to feel nauseated. Blood was oozing from his wound and Talen reached up and lifted his chin, making him look into her eyes.
“I need to stop the bleeding,” she said.
Daniel knew what she meant and he tilted his head back, taking his hand away. As Talen rose up, Jack reached over and put a hand on her arm.
“What are you doing?”
“This is quicker and easier,” she said.
“It probably is,” Janet added, her mouth grimly set.
Talen rose halfway and bent over Daniel, biting him gently over the wound. It was only long enough for the blue enzyme in her saliva to fill the wound and as she retracted her teeth, licking the skin, she felt the tissue begin to mend. Pulling away, she squatted again. “There, you should be fine. And we have to get you into the next room.”
“No, I want to be here.”
At that moment, Adriann pulled aside his own tunic, exposing his throat, and whispered, “Everyone leave,” he said. Though his voice was gentle, he continued to use the hypnotic tone.
Jalen saw his handsome, bared neck, and inhaled. His eyes half-lidded and he wrapped his arms around Adriann’s back, then sank his teeth into his jugular. Adriann dropped his head back slightly, giving more room, and stroked Jalen’s hair. “It will be fine, Jalen,” he said softly.
Talen rose to her feet. “Let’s go,” she said to the humans in the room. “Jack, go back to your room with Daniel.”
“I want to know what the hell’s going on with him,” Jack said.
“Kashan will explain,” she said as she looked over her shoulder. Kashan nodded and went to the door, holding out his arm and gesturing for the teams to leave. As they filed out, with Jason escorting Daniel and Janet escorting Jack, Talen said to Kashan, “I will replace you shortly.”
He nodded and when Jack and Janet were the last to leave, he closed the door behind him. Reaching the next room, Kashan left the door open and crossed the room to the nightstand where the medicines were and picked up a vial.
Daniel sat down on the end of the bed while Jack returned to his spot, back against the headboard. He felt annoyed that his arm was throbbing like crazy and knew that if anyone said anything wrong, he’d snap at them. “Not feeling too good,” he warned.
“I know,” Kashan said as he moved the medicine tray to Jack’s side of the bed. Janet stood by him and when he sat down next to Jack, gesturing for Jack to drink the vial of bluish liquid, Janet soaked a cloth in the rinsing bowl, squeezed out the water, and handed it to him. Kashan thanked her and turned back to Jack, noticing that he still held the full vial. “Jack, that’s what we gave you yesterday. Drink. You will feel better.”
As Jack drank it, grimacing, Kashan set about cleaning his wound. When he needed another cloth, Janet was ready and as she handed him a new one, she felt odd, as if she’d just gone back in time to medical school.
Daniel groaned as a wave of dizziness hit him and Kashan glanced over. Immediately feeling guilty for not taking care of him, too, he said, “Jason, help him lie down next to Jack. When you’re done, get him some of the calla paste.”
“Which is where?”
“In the chiffonier. It’s the blue paste in the white jar. And get him a glass of water,” Kashan said.
“We’ll get it,” Sam said as she strode to the tall free-standing closet while Teal’c filled a glass with water.
“Why am I weak like this?” Daniel asked irritably. “Adriann doesn’t affect me like this.”
“Because Adriann knows what he’s doing and Jalen doesn’t. It’s also the problem with his saliva, which he passed into your wound.”
“You speak of the poison?” Teal’c asked.
“Yes,” Kashan said.
“Yet he has been altered. Is that not like Tam?”
“Tam’s the one who attacked Jason?” Janet asked.
“Oh yeah,” Jason said, rolling his shoulder absently.
“It’s not like Tam,” Kashan said. “What’s happened with Jalen is completely different.”
When Sam brought over the paste, Kashan put his hand up to forestall the questions. “Daniel, you need to eat a mouthful of that paste and swallow it with water.”
Sam held out the jar and curling his lip at it, Daniel scooped out a glob of bright blue paste with two fingers and stuck them in his mouth. It was very bitter and he grimaced, then took the glass of water from Teal’c. Rather than liquify the stuff in his mouth, he tried to swallow and found he needed to drink the entire glass. Grimacing again, he handed the glass back to Teal’c. “More please,” he gasped, shaking his head.
Jack gave him a sympathetic smile. “That bad?”
“God!” Daniel answered and when Teal’c returned with the water, he drank that down as well. “I need something else to take this taste out of my mouth.”
“It won’t last,” Kashan said. “Give it a few minutes.”
The room went quiet as Kashan finished cleaning Jack’s arm and reached for the salve.
“So Jalen isn’t like Tam?” Janet asked him.
Kashan shook his head and some of his hair fell down over his shoulder, getting in the way. Janet reached over and corrected it, smoothing his hair as she did so. He looked up at her, then at everyone else.
“No, not like Tam,” Daniel said, answering Janet. “I wasn’t imagining things, Kashan,” Daniel said. “He has your eyes, your teeth.”
Kashan nodded silently, then said, “We weren’t lying, Daniel. None of us knows why or how this happened. We were worried because of what Janet discovered about his DNA, and at the time, the chains seemed like a good idea. We felt violent images in his mind.”
“There wasn’t another way?” Jason frowned.
“I am sorry, but no.”
“So what’s happened to him then?” Jack asked.
Kashan swallowed. “Jalen has become what you call hybrid. He is half Var’chol’si.”
“How could that happen?” Jack asked.
“Was it Camulus’ doing?” Janet added.
Kashan gave a slight shake of his head and focused on Jack’s arm, now smoothing amber, not green, paste into his wound. Jack gave a relieved sigh and closed his eyes.
“Man, that’s better.”
Kashan nodded. “We did not dare use this on you before, Jack. Not until the poison had left. Your body is depleted now, because of the poison but not because it remains in your body,” and for a moment, he closed his eyes and concentrating, sending a message to Elsa. “I have just asked that food be brought up, enough for all of you.” He looked around the room. “I take it none of you wish to return to the kitchen?” Nods answered him and he nodded back, finishing with Jack’s arm by taking a thin piece of cotton from the tray, this time wrapping it around his arm like a bandage instead of draping it.
“Talen said you’d explain,” Daniel said. “I have a feeling she meant more than just telling us that Jalen’s now partly one of you.”
Kashan nodded, and after a moment of silence, staring gravely at Jack’s wound, he gave everyone in the room his attention, looking at each of them from time to time as he spoke. “A long time ago, when our race thrived, there were stories that a hybrid had been created. We, Adriann and the rest of us here, were of one clan. A small village, you might say. We were among the few who suspected it might have had something to do with the Goa’uld.
“Occasionally, they would attack us and some of them would be killed while others would remain on the run on our planet, cut off from the stargate or their ships. They were attacked. Adriann had a feeling they were the ones the stories were about, but there was never any proof, and Adriann believed that it was due to a conspiracy among our leaders. They felt that hybrids were unclean.”
“As in infectious or evil?” Jack asked.
Kashan winced. “Both. And though some of my people tried to stop it from happening, anyone who had been transformed and was caught was put to death. Adriann and the rest of us tried to find proof so we could somehow put a stop to it. Unfortunately, before any of Adriann’s scientists could get hold of surviving Goa’uld hosts, the plague began.” Kashan sighed heavily. “Before we knew it, our numbers became small.” He looked at the door, staring as if he could see what went on in the next room.
“Is he okay?” Jason asked.
Kashan nodded. “I think so.” He then turned to meet Jason’s gaze. “But he is the first hybrid we have ever come in contact with. No hybrid ever survived longer than a few days so we have no idea what will happen to him and whether or not he will live.”
“You’re not going to–” Jack started.
“No, as I said, we never felt that hybrids were unclean.” Kashan shrugged. “They’re like cousins. We cannot kill our own, especially now. It would be the same as… what is that quaint but apt human expression? Cutting off your face to spite your head?”
“Nose, to spite your face,” Alex corrected. He sat with Al and Connor across the room, listening and waiting with concern.
“We are not people who look behind, but forward,” Kashan went on. “We have had to be.” He reached over and took Janet’s hand. “Please do not be offended, but I hope he is more like us and less like you.”
“Why?” Janet asked.
“Because if he is more like our race, then perhaps we have a chance in reclaiming it. Emeni is pregnant and that’s good, but we all understand genetics. The people we have left are not enough to keep our race stable. Eventually, we will die out since we’re incompatible where breeding is concerned.”
“So you hope to thin your bloodline in order to extend it?” Janet asked.
“Or have others… cross over,” Jack stated.
Kashan frowned. “Not against their will, Jack.”
Appearing in the doorway was Talen and she inclined her head at Kashan.
“I must give part of myself,” Kashan said rising.
“Part of yourself?” Daniel asked, frowning. He wanted to sit up, do something but he was still feeling a bit queasy.
“Talen will explain,” Kashan said, then he kissed the palm of Janet’s hand and left the room. She watched after him, looking wistful.
“Janet,” Jack said, patting the bed. “Have a seat.”
Talen stood near the doorway, feeling a little out of sorts, then she walked across the room to the chiffonier and opened the upper compartment, fishing through a drawer before she pulled out a bottle filled with green liquid. She looked around the room as she unstoppered the cork. “What is it you say? Cheers?”
Slightly confused, everyone nodded, and Jason said, “Cheers.”
She nodded back and said, “Cheers,” before closing her eyes and drinking the contents. Afterwards, she stood still, as if waiting for something.
Sam pursed her lips. “Isn’t that the same stuff you gave us for extending our…”
“Libidos?” Jack finished.
“The very same,” Talen replied, opening her eyes. “But that is not its only purpose. We also use it to strengthen our vitality if we have been physically drained.”
“Talen–” Daniel started, but she held up her hand, cutting him off.
“I have heard what Kashan told all of you, Daniel. And no, something as… extreme… as that would never be done against the will of the person becoming a hybrid. Though the Goa’uld suppress their hosts, we can access their thoughts through our telepathy and ask if they would like to take another path rather than suffer further as unwilling hosts. As one of us, they would have a new community. But they would also be free to leave. The problem with that is our fearing for their lives.”
“I can see that,” Jack said. “People can act violently against those who’re different.”
She turned and gave Jack a wan smile. “Indeed.”
Daniel sat forward, giving Talen a long look. “Do you agree with Kashan?”
“Regarding?” she asked, raising a brow.
“Creating hybrids to further your species.”
She gave some of them an uncomfortable glance, then returned her attention to Daniel. “Yes and no. I do not object to furthering our race this way, but I do not believe it is a good idea on behalf of the hybrid. Anyone who is not born as one of us should not take the step into becoming even half of what we are. It would be like asking one of you to become a Tok’ra.”
There was an automatic reaction as everyone shifted uncomfortably. Now, suddenly, the idea of becoming something other than human wasn’t as acceptable.
“Jalen did it. What harm could there be?” Alex asked.
Jason frowned at him. “Jalen’s situation was different. He didn’t go to them and ask to be a host for purely unselfish reasons. They had a war to fight and he went to help because he had to.”
“He loved Camulus,” Alex frowned.
“Doesn’t mean that he would have chosen to be his host under different circumstances. I think the same thing applies with those of our people who become hosts for dying Tok’ra. They’re dying too. Blending cures them. There’s hardly a pure motive.” Jason looked at Talen. “And that’s probably another reason to believe that becoming a hybrid wouldn’t be a wise idea. You could end up with a murderer.”
Talen nodded. “Probably not a common occurrence, but yes, that would be another issue to discuss.”
“Does Adriann feel like you do?” Daniel asked.
With a lift of her right brow, she gave him a smile that was part mischievous, part parental. “You could try asking him, Daniel. You have the ability, even if you have to concentrate harder to use it.”
Daniel shook his head. “If he weren’t busy, I probably would, but not now.”
She considered that, then sighed and nodded. “I understand. And the answer is that Adriann is torn, like me.”
“You mean he isn’t in favor of having hybrids?” Sam asked.
“He is, but he has doubts.”
“I don’t really blame him,” Jack said, giving Talen a look. “And speaking of Emine, how’s she doing?”
Talen smiled and pointed above them, indicating the third, and private, floor. “She is well, and keeps herself busy. She, like all of us, is fully aware of what’s going on, but for the safety of the baby, she keeps well away from danger.”
“Is that her doing or Adriann’s?” Daniel asked.
“Both,” Talen answered.
“I’m sorry to be rude, but can we get back onto what will happen to Jalen?” Al asked as he walked over to Talen. He crossed his arms as he looked up into her grey eyes, feeling a bit disconcerted at her height. Though he’d been around her and the other female Residents, he still found it a bit weird to stand next to a woman well over six feet tall. “What’s going to happen to him?”
The others shot Al a surprised look, but Jason, on the other hand, couldn’t help but feel appreciative that Jalen was brought back into the conversation. “I don’t think that was rude, Al,” he said, “since it’s on my mind.”
“Of course,” Talen said tightly, crossing her arms, mirroring Al. Her slender fingers were suddenly on display showing off the long, black nails. Sam couldn’t help but be reminded of her name, even if it was spelled differently.
“I’m sorry, Talen,” she said. “We don’t mean to be disrespectful to Emine. We are immensely pleased that she’s pregnant and that something good is happening. But the thing with Jalen, that’s not so good, is it?”
Forcing her defensiveness down, Talen nodded. “Thank you for that. And no, this really isn’t a good thing, not in my opinion. However, Jalen has one thing in his favor and that is the fact that he is already used to being half-human. This is still a startling, dramatic change for him, but it is not as bad as it could have been.”
“Except it couldn’t have happened to a normal human,” Jason said.
“Without the symbiote poison,” Jack added.
“No,” Talen agreed, furrowing her brow in concentration. At last, she looked back over at Sam. “To answer your question, Sam, Adriann has mixed feelings, but they’re not like mine. He understands what Jalen’s transformation offers and what it may mean for us but he feels… heartsick… at the changes the man will experience.”
“I think I understand. And I think it’s why we’re all concerned,” Sam replied.
“On a certain level,” Teal’c said slowly, “I understand what Adriann feels and what Jalen is going through. I was not born to carry a prim’ta. That change was forced upon me, just as Jalen’s was forced upon him.” He paused, waiting to see if there would be anyone to argue with him. Satisfied that no one wanted to contradict his feelings, he added, “However, Jalen’s transformation is a lot more complicated than mine. I believe that one day my dependence on my symbiote can be overridden. That is not so with Jalen. His is a permanent change, am I correct?”
Lifting her brows, surprised that Teal’c would put Jalen’s change in those terms, Talen nodded. “Correct. He cannot go back.”
“If I may ask another question,” Teal’c ventured.
Talen nodded. “Proceed.”
“How far has Jalen’s transformation gone? Kashan said that he is probably more of your species than human. Is this why he is craving blood?”
Talen frowned in thought, considering her answer. “Kashan is correct. The blood lust that Jalen is experiencing is similar to what we experienced while we were sick. We craved it more than was normal because we lacked what it gave us already. We believe that Jalen’s body is demanding blood because he is still transforming. Our blood is required to help facilitate that change.”
“And will he change further?” Alex asked.
“Externally, no,” Talen answered. “The changes you saw are all that will happen physically. Physiologically, he is still transforming, probably due to shifting hormonal levels and brain function.” She looked at Daniel and gave him an apologetic frown. “He did not know what he was doing when he bit you, Daniel. He knew he needed blood but he did not know that he required only one kind.”
Jason got up and moved around the bed to face Talen. “But he won’t always require yours, right? Otherwise, a hybrid would be of no use to you.”
She nodded. “He needs our blood right now. When he has finished the change, he will be like the rest of us.”
“How’s he doing now?” Jason asked.
Talen held up her hand to suspend further talk as she reached out to Adriann. A few seconds later, she dropped her hand. “He is calmer. We have all given him some of our blood, and we did that for two reasons. One, so that none of us would be robbed of too much and two, we each have our own unique chemistry. Jalen’s system requires that he have as much diverse chemistry as possible inside him so that any healing ability we pass on will strengthen him as a whole.”
She paused suddenly, listening as she cocked her head to once side. She then gave a sort of perplexed look.
“What?” Jack asked.
She frowned again, listening to Adriann as well as Jalen. Looking at Jason, she said, “He is a little better, more stable. And he wants to see you.”
Without a pause, Jason swiftly headed out of the room.
“What’s that look for?” Jack asked. Talen still looked perplexed.
“You look like someone’s given you a puzzle you have no idea how to solve,” Daniel clarified.
“I have no idea what he means, but Jalen said, ‘Someone give me the right stereo instructions because I think I got the Japanese version.'” When the others grinned and laughed softly, relaxing just a bit, she added, “I could reach into his mind and discover the answer but I do not wish to bother him.” Daniel and Jack tried to explain and while Talen still didn’t quite get it, she found it amusing that humans had a weirder sense of humor than she thought.
Jason walked into Jalen’s room and found only Adriann sitting with his… brother. Was he technically still his brother? Maybe, maybe not, but Jason felt the kinship anyway, no matter what. Going toward the bed, and noting that Jalen was still half-dressed and sweating, he went to the chiffonier to grab a robe.
“It is not necessary,” Adriann said. “He will not catch a virus or become cold. The fever is reduced and he is feeling better.”
Snorting with dark amusement, Jason put the robe back and returned to the bedside. He started to ask Jalen how he felt, but upon seeing the restraints, the same earlier fury rose within him. “What the hell are those still doing on him?”
“They are for his protection.”
Jason shook his head. “Get them off. You have no idea what you’re doing to him, restraining him like that.”
“I do know,” Adriann said solemnly, “but it has to be done. He’s not quite himself yet.”
“Get them off him,” Jason challenged, “or I will.”
“Jason,” Jalen sighed wearily, “don’t be an asshole. Sit the fuck down.”
Adriann rolled his eyes and got up. “You’re brothers alright. I will be next door if you should need me. Jalen, you know you can call–“
“Just leave,” Jalen interrupted and waved at the door for Adriann to go, but the clinking of the chains distracted him and he scowled at the damn things attached to his wrists. “Leave me caged like an animal.”
Hating that, and hating the reason for it, Adriann sighed and took one of Jalen’s wrists in hand. Placing thumb and forefinger over the solid metal button that kept the leather cuffs locked, he snapped it off, opening the cuff. Doing the same to the other one, he gave Jalen a hard look. “Listen to me,” he said, using the hypnotic tone of his voice. “You are not clear-headed yet. The fever is still within you, messing with your emotions, your thinking. I have freed you but do not go outside.”
Jalen didn’t look at him and shook his head. “I need air, Adriann.”
“I know, and I will be back soon and we will go out into the air together. Promise me you will stay.”
Jalen grit his teeth and said, “I will try.”
Frustrated, Adriann turned to Jason. “Get the zatnikatel from your gear. If he tries to leave without escort, you will have to use it. You cannot contain him by your strength alone because you are no longer a match for him.” Without waiting for a reaction from either man, Adriann turned swiftly and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Jason stared after him, dumbfounded. Turning to Jalen, he found a guilty look on his face, except he didn’t know why it was there. Was he embarrassed by his new-found strength or that he could still become violent? “I am not going to shoot you.”
“Good to know.” Rubbing his freed wrists, Jalen pushed off the bed and walked around the room, shaking his limbs to regain proper circulation. Jason watched him and he couldn’t really see any difference in him, except that maybe Jalen looked somehow more muscular than before. Though the way he paced, barefoot and bare-chested, Jason couldn’t help but see why Jalen had called himself a caged animal.
“What?” Jalen asked, looking up, then realized that he’d lost his concentration. Hesitating, he eventually walked over to his brother and gave him a sad smile. “Sorry.”
Jason shook his head, looking at him more carefully now. The only real difference he could see were Jalen’s eyes, now flecked with light grey. He could also feel the heat from the fever coming off his body. Taking Adriann’s warning into consideration, he took his brother’s hand in both of his own; it was hot and sweaty.
“The fever is pretty bad,” he said.
“Not as bad as it was, trust me.”
“How much control do you really have?”
Jalen sighed, his sad expression increasing to the point that his eyes looked misty. “I have no fucking idea, Jace.” He studied his brother’s face, trying to read him. “It’s more than what he told you. Adriann says I could be fooling myself, that I have to be careful, to watch and guard my feelings.” Jalen suddenly snorted derisively. “I think I understand one of my ex-girlfriends a lot better.”
Jason raised a brow. “In what way?”
Jalen cleared his throat. “She had one of those periods you hear about where they completely altered her till it was over. I usually avoided her during those times because her actions were always so volatile. She’d be angry all the time, so much so that every damn thing I said or did would be misconstrued and I’d find an object hurled at my head. Hanging around would’ve had me ending our relationship and that would’ve been unfair. The unfair part was that she wouldn’t let me help.”
“Hence the ‘ex’ part?” Jason asked.
Jalen cracked a sardonic grin. “No, that actually happened because of my job, not her PMS. She found some medicine that had helped her with her periods, but it turned out that she wasn’t all that good with my keeping secrets.” He snorted again and closed his eyes, covering his forehead with his hand, rubbing with thumb and forefinger. “How ironic that I now understand what she was going through.”
He started to shake then, his composure slipping, and Jason put his arms around him and held him tight. Rubbing his back, he said, “I’ll be here to help you, long as you need.”
Teary, Jalen hugged him harder and laughed against his shoulder. “Look at me. I’m a mutant.”
Jason pulled away long enough to look into his eyes. “A hybrid, not a mutant.” Jalen shook his head wordlessly, and changing the subject slightly, Jason said. “I’m awfully sorry you lost Camulus, Jalen.”
“I haven’t even had the chance to mourn him,” Jalen said, and suddenly his face became a mask of anguish and all Jason could do was hold him and continue to rub his back as he cried. Eventually, Jalen stopped and he pulled away. “I bet I look like shit.”
Jason looked into his face, pushing his hair away, looking at his red eyes and nose. “Vanity says no,” he said, making Jalen laugh a little.
“No problem. And I meant what I said. I’ll stay with you as long as you need me.”
Jalen laughed and sniffed through his clogged sinuses. “I doubt Hammond would agree. Speaking of him, weren’t you guys due for a check-in?”
Jason shook his head. “In the morning. We’ve already talked to the General and he gave us the go-ahead, which is why Janet’s here.”
Jalen winced. “Right, I should’ve guessed.”
“Hardly. You’ve been a little out of it,” Jason teased.
Curiosity rose again and Jason cleared his throat this time. “Um, I was wondering. If you’re hybrid, how much of you has changed? Talen said you’re the same on the outside but she wasn’t exactly clear about what that meant.”
Jalen tried a grin but he was suddenly not feeling so well. Something started to burn within. An itching need to run. Perhaps because he’d been cooped up so long. Trying to distract himself, he said, “You’re wondering if my hardware’s still the same or if I’ve grown just a bit?”
Jason simply raised his brows questioningly.
Dredging up some humor he didn’t feel, Jalen said, “Vanity says I’m the same magnificent bastard I’ve always been.”
Jason started to laugh and he reached out to brush away a leftover tear from Jalen’s face. “Modesty notwithstanding.”
Jalen nodded, but his humor was abruptly cut short when his body suddenly grew warmer. The need for fresh, cool air intensified. “Jason, I don’t think I can wait for Adriann,” and he started to shake again. Bending over, hands on knees, he tried to breathe slowly, to calm himself.
“Do you want me to get him?” Jason asked, putting his hands on his shoulder and back.
Jalen reached up and took his arm blindly as he focused on breathing and stared at the floor. “Don’t leave me. I don’t need him.”
“Is this normal? Did he say to expect this?”
Jalen laughed derisively. “He doesn’t know what to expect.”
“What’re you feeling?”
“I need to get out of here. Now.” He got up and began pacing in a circle. “I’m not hungry, not for blood. Not for food. I need something else, I need a distraction, I need…” An animal restlessness filled him and he suddenly stopped and stared at Jason. But when he looked at him, he didn’t see his brother. He saw a lover.
Swallowing hard, Jalen said, “Oh shit. I need some air, Jason, and I need you to keep your distance.” He headed for the door but Jason tried to stop him.
“You’re not making sense. Stay, go. Adriann was right, Jalen. Your head is all over the place.”
“Jason, please help me. Please. I need air. Come with me, but keep your distance.”
“You won’t hurt me,” Jason said with certainty.
“No, not in the way you’re thinking.”
“In what way then?” Jason asked, wondering why he was being so thick all of a sudden.
“Outside,” Jalen said, not answering. “Let’s go.”
Jason didn’t argue, and mostly because he figured the Residents would stop Jalen before he got anywhere near a door. Out into the hall, Jalen looked one way, then the other, unfamiliar with the layout. “Which way?” he asked.
“To your right,” Jason said. “There’s the main staircase.”
Jalen moved and when Jason put a hand on his arm to try and slow him down, his brother veered away from him, nearly hitting the windowed corridor wall. Instead of repeating himself, Jalen said, “You know what I miss most from Earth?”
“What?” Jason asked.
“Music. Old favorites have been going through my head. I long for the real thing.”
Jason couldn’t help but grin. “So you’re having song-accompanied freak-outs?”
“Pretty much,” Jalen said, then turned back to stare out the windows as he passed them. He pointed down below. “The patio. Just… let me get there.” He looked back at Jason, but just then, he felt his teeth begin to lengthen and abruptly turned away. “I promise. I won’t go further.”
“Jalen, what’s wrong?”
“I think my control’s slipping.”
They were ten yards from the stairs when Calane and Ophius appeared at the top. Further down the hall, Tashin and Quessan appeared from one of the rooms. Jalen stopped, one hand flexing into a fist. “No.”
From behind them came Adriann’s voice.
“Jalen, I asked you to wait.”
Jason looked over his shoulder, finding Adriann only thirty feet away. He hadn’t even heard him.
“I couldn’t wait,” Jalen said, eyes back on the outside. The sun was almost shining it was so bright outside.
“You should have called me,” Adriann told him.
“I’ll stay with him,” Jason said.
“Where’s your zat?” Adriann scolded.
Jason clenched his jaw. “I don’t intend to zat him. It’s in the room.”
Adriann sighed and pointed outside. “And if Bor’cha had come?”
Jalen slowly turned to face him and Jason could both see and feel the anger within his brother rising. There was also a rebellious expression he recognized. “Jalen, let’s just open a window,” he suggested.
“No, it won’t be enough,” Jalen said, now looking in both directions, glaring not just at Adriann, but at the other Residents. His new family. Except they weren’t. Looking back at Adriann, he grit his teeth. “Just out in the patio, that’s all I need.”
Adriann glared at him. “I know you had no intention of staying there.”
“You have no right to confine me!” Jalen shouted, startling Jason.
“Are you that dismissive of our feelings that you’d so blithely toss your life aside?”
“That’s not my intention! You know why I need to get out!”
“Well I don’t know why,” Daniel said as he came out of Jack’s room and started walking toward him. “Tell me.”
Jalen saw the wound on Daniel’s neck had gone although he distinctly remembered putting it there. “I’m sorry, Daniel, I’m–“
“It’s okay, Jalen. It wasn’t your fault,” Daniel said, keeping close to the wall so he wouldn’t antagonize him. He came abreast of Adriann and gave him a quick look of warning–don’t stop me–before walking further ahead. “I’ll come with you and Jason.”
“He’ll stop you,” Jalen accused.
“No, he won’t,” Daniel said, not looking for verification. “Jalen, listen to me. What exactly do you need? It’s not just air, is it?” He could feel waves of confusion as desire and some sort of flight instinct battled each other. He didn’t feel that Jason was in danger but he couldn’t be sure.
Jason recognized the assessing look on Daniel’s face and frowned at his brother. “Is there more?”
Ignoring him, Jalen took a step back as Adriann and the others slowly started to draw closer. “If you won’t allow me the right to choose…” Jalen said, then he shoved open both panes of the window he was next to and quickly climbed onto the sill.
“No!” came from several voices and Jason reached up, grabbing hold of Jalen’s trouser waistband.
“Jalen, come down! You’ll hurt yourself, possibly die!”
Jalen looked down at Jason’s scared and angry face and crouched to cup it in his hands. “I’ll be fine. But just in case, remember, I love you.” He then bent and kissed Jason firmly on the mouth.
It shocked Jason and he didn’t know what to think, and distracted by it, he wasn’t fast enough to react when Jalen let him go and jumped from the second-story window.
Everyone rushed forward to look out of the windows but Jason didn’t bother. He ran for the stairs and found Daniel right beside him. “You’re feeling better?”
“Well enough,” Daniel replied and looked over his shoulder just in time to see Adriann jump.
“He’s gotten there before us,” he said.
“No, no, no,” Jason murmured anxiously as pelted down the stairs, Calane and Ophius in front of them and several pairs of boot heels in their wake.
“They won’t harm him,” Daniel said, trying to ease Jason’s mind, but saying it mostly for the benefit of Calane and Ophius.
“Who’s they, I wonder?” Jason purposely replied as they rounded the bottom of the stairs and ran to the doors that led out to the patio. Rushing through them, they found Jalen standing in the grass several yards away, uninjured.
“Thank god,” Jason breathed.
“I should’ve realized,” Daniel said.
“Realized what?” Jason asked, not taking his eyes off his brother.
“Because he’s changed, I’m assuming he has similar abilities.”
Dressed only in his trousers, hair disheveled and his skin glistening, Daniel thought Jalen looked like he’d just awoken from a fevered sleep. But Adriann was stalking him and Calane and Ophius were flanking him on his right, so the overall effect was of a prison escape. Daniel suddenly couldn’t blame Jalen for his feelings.
“Don’t run, Jalen,” Adriann said, distracting them as he took a step toward Jalen.
“Don’t you fucking come any closer!” Jalen warned back, looking back and forth between him and the other two Residents. “You’re trying to lock me away.”
“No,” Ophius said reassuringly.
“Jalen,” Jason started, coming toward him, Daniel at his side. “Come on. Let’s just come back over here and sit down. We won’t go inside.”
Jalen shook his head and started to look away but when he caught sight of Daniel again, a momentary calm came over him. “Daniel,” he said, and held out his hand. “Come with me.”
“Where’re we going? Can’t we stay here?” Daniel asked as he took a step forward, hoping that maybe he could calm Jalen down. Jason put a hand on his arm, but not to stop him. It was more a protective touch and nothing more. Keeping his eyes on Jalen, Daniel touched Jason back, grasping his fingers in a loving gesture before he let go.
“Daniel,” Adriann began, but stopped when Daniel frowned at him.
“If he wants my help, I’ll give it to him. You three,” and Daniel waved at Calane and Ophius, “mean well but you’re part of the problem.”
Adriann glared back at him angrily. “You know we mean him no harm.”
“Yes, but he’s not seeing it that way,” Daniel argued, then looked back at Jalen. He was three feet away now. “Come on, stay here. You know they’re right about the Bor’cha. Let’s just sit down on the patio, okay?”
“Listen to him,” Adriann said, using ‘the voice.’
The moment Daniel heard it, he turned to stare at him. “What’re you doing?”
Adriann ignored him and tried again. “Come sit down, Jalen.”
Jalen started to backpedal, shaking his head, trying to clear himself of Adriann’s beguiling tone. “No! Stop tricking me!”
“It’s no trick. We’ll give you what you need.”
“You’re talking to a half-breed, Adriann,” Jalen growled back. “What the fuck do you know about what I need?”
Adriann leveled him with a cold stare. “So you want to die, is that it?”
Jalen sneered and pointed upward at the lifting cloud cover. “Have you noticed how bright it is through those clouds? Your bullshit about the Bor’cha is a deception.”
“You know that is not true. Think, Jalen. The Bor’cha have been coming out under any cloud cover.”
At his words, Jalen hesitated and looked around, but anger and need overrode common sense. “No, I won’t let you lock me up again.”
“So you would rather take your chances with the Bor’cha then stay with us?” Adriann said, taking a step toward him, holding out his hand.
Jalen backpedaled further and held up a hand as if to ward him off. “Don’t!”
Adriann turned his hand over and both Daniel and Jason yelled, “Adriann, don’t hurt him!” but Adriann ignored them, fixing Jalen in place.
Chin up in defiance, Jalen knew he was unable to move, but his mind was still his own. Glaring back at his jailer, he said between clenched jaws, “You’re nothing but a zoo keeper.”
The accusation send a cold, hard stab through Adriann and before he could check himself, he was angrily distracted… and he let go of his hold. “You have no idea how hard that was!” he shouted. “To restrain one of your own.”
“I’m not one of you,” Jalen said, voice cold as he staggered back, released.
“You are, half or whole. But we had to keep you confined.”
“Why?” Jalen yelled.
“Are you insane? Feverish, not in full understanding of what you are? You were dangerous!” and Adriann pointed at Daniel. “Even chained, you managed to attack him.”
“I didn’t,” Jalen said, suddenly hurt and confused. “I…” He looked over at Daniel and shook his head. He knew he’d bitten him, that he’d… “No, not attack. I never…”
“But you did, Jalen,” Adriann said, lowering his voice. “And it is not your fault, that is what I’m trying to tell you. You are feverish and suffering from what we call blood lust.”
“I’m not going through that anymore,” Jalen said, frowning at him suspiciously. “Not after…” and he waved at him, then at Ophius and Calane. “You took care of that. So why wasn’t I released then?”
“You’re still going through it,” Adriann explained, his voice back down to normal. “I knew what you’d be capable of, even then, and chaining you was the only thing I could come up with. You’re right. I haven’t ever seen anyone like you and I was afraid for you, for everyone else. I did not know what you were capable of.”
“You still don’t,” Jalen warned.
“I’m sorry, Jalen, no, I don’t. Chaining you was wrong, and I’m sorry for that too. Please don’t run because I made a bad decision.”
“Bad decision? Is that what you call it?”
“What would you call it then?” Adriann asked.
Jalen ground his jaw, refusing to answer that. “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through?” he asked instead.
“Yes, I know.”
“Then if you know, and if you’re so damn sorry, why are you still trying to confine me?”
Adriann started to reply but Daniel started forward, holding his hand out. Jalen immediately backed away. “Don’t, Daniel. Leave me alone. After what I did…”
Daniel used the same beckoning tone Jalen had used on him. “And you didn’t know. Come on. Don’t run.”
“You don’t understand,” Jalen said softly, but he was torn and didn’t know what to do now.
“Daniel,” Adriann started.
“Don’t, Adriann,” Daniel replied, and he took another step. “Take my hand, Jalen. Don’t run.”
“Listen to him, Jalen,” Jason said. “Please, come back inside.”
“Jalen, you have to listen to him! He’s annoying that way.” It was Jack, yelling from a second-story window.
Jalen looked up and a small smile appeared on his face as he took in the handsome man above. “You know, you two really do have good taste.” He then turned, intending to run, but just at that moment, two things happened.
Daniel grabbed him, catching his hand just as a white light from an Asgard beam enveloped them both and beamed them upward. A few seconds after that, a Goa’uld cargo ship materialized a hundred feet above them.
“Fuck!” Jason yelled, and from the window, Jack cursed angrily. “What can you do?” Jason asked, turning to Adriann.
Adriann looked back at the house as he raised his arm, summoning his kin. Calane and Ophius ran to him and all three of them looked up at the ship, but almost immediately, they had to break off. “Those aren’t Goa’uld shields,” Adriann said, looking at Jason. “We cannot penetrate them.”
“And that was an Asgard beam,” Jason said.
Jack appeared through the back door. “Was that what I think it was?”
“It was, O’Neill,” Teal’c said beside him.
“Question is,” Sam said as she walked out, looking up at the ship. “Who the hell is that and how the hell did they get their hands on Asgard beaming technology?”
Disoriented for a moment, it didn’t take Daniel and Jalen long to re-orient. They found themselves in the ring room of a Cargo ship, which didn’t exactly explain the method of transport. “You okay?” Daniel asked.
Jalen felt his restless desire to run was still there but somehow, this current distraction was helping. “Given the situation, I guess. Was that what I think it was?”
“Except we’re in the ring room of a Goa’uld cargo ship.”
“Yep,” Daniel said, pursing his lips. “Which tells us what?”
“That we’re in trouble,” Jalen said, stating the obvious as he looked at himself and sighed, shaking his head. “Of all the fucking times to be caught shirtless and barefoot.”
Daniel jogged his brows as he made his way over to the door controls. As he raised his hand to push them, he looked over his shoulder. “Ready to meet our kidnapper?”
“No,” Jalen sighed.
Before he opened the door, Daniel placed his hand on Jalen’s arm. “You seem better than you were on the ground. Are you really okay?”
Jalen slowly shook his head. “No, Daniel. I can’t control whatever this is. I feel…” He shook his head. “Never mind. Let’s get this over with.”
Daniel hit the sequence of buttons, then took in a slow breath and said, “Just remember, no playing with your food.”
“So not funny.”
Daniel half-smiled. “I’m just saying.”
As the doors opened, Jalen whispered, “Yeah, well, stop giving me ideas.”
“Right,” Daniel said as they both looked across the floor to the person leaning against the central console. Ba’al. He had his arms half-crossed and held a zat in his right hand. His body language spoke of the typical superior attitude he always affected. He smoothed down the black embroidered coat he wore and inclined his head smugly.
“What a welcome surprise. What is it you annoying Tau’ri like to say? Two birds with one stone?”
“Shouldn’t you be cowering in some distant part of the galaxy?” Daniel shot back. Neither he nor Jalen were inclined to move.
“Now, now,” Ba’al returned. “Mustn’t piss off your new master, Doctor Jackson. Or should I just call you Daniel?”
Daniel narrowed his eyes. “I hate to break the news but you’re not my master.”
“Who is then? O’Neill?”
Daniel started to shoot back an answer but Jalen shook his head. “Don’t play his game, Daniel.” To Ba’al he said, “Beam him back down. This is between you and me.”
“And give up what will surely be a perfectly good slave?” Ba’al leered then, his focus back on Daniel. “I remember one particular night with great fondness.”
Daniel tried to stifle the uncomfortable flip his stomach made but the memory of what happened the year before made that difficult. He wanted to antagonize the Goa’uld but he took Jalen’s advice to heart and remained quiet.
“That won’t happen again,” Jalen told Ba’al.
“I beg to differ,” Ba’al replied, then gestured with the tip of the zat. “In here, both of you.”
Jalen clasped his hands in front of him and remained where he was. “We’re fine.”
“Come now, Camulus. Do you want your boyfriend to be zatted?” Ba’al asked as he raised the zat and activated it without firing.
“Camulus isn’t playing today,” Jalen said.
“I see you haven’t changed,” Ba’al said, still showing an amused, if dangerous, smile.
Daniel ignored the remark and looked around. “Where’re your other slaves?”
“Elsewhere,” Ba’al said, then lost his smile and stood away from the console. “Out, both of you. Now.”
Jalen tugged at Daniel’s sleeve. “C’mon. He’ll shoot you otherwise.”
“Good man. And so kind of you to undress for me. An unexpected bonus.”
They walked forward and stopped in the middle of the empty floor space and Daniel looked around, waiting for Jaffa to appear. “No Jaffa either?”
“Nope,” Ba’al answered simply.
There was a few moments of silence as the three regarded each other, then Daniel said, “Now what?”
“Kneel,” Ba’al said.
“No,” Daniel and Jalen answered.
“Okay,” Ba’al said, shrugging. Then fired his zat.
Daniel didn’t even have time to think “Oh shit” before he was once again introduced to that electrical current that fired up every nerve in his body, including making his teeth ache. He started to crumple and then things went grey.
Jalen caught him before he fell and lowered him to the ground on his side, checking his pulse, even though he knew it would be erratic. Residual electricity tingled his hands and arms and any other part of him that touched Daniel, but it was something he expected so he didn’t waste time getting alarmed by it. Instead, the anger that he’d been feeling found a new target and intensified. As he looked to his right, he found Ba’al chuckling. The sound brought up memories that amped up Jalen’s hatred.
“Now, it’s just you and me,” Ba’al said with a nasty smile. “Just like old times.”
Jalen slowly pivoted on the pad of one foot, then rose just as slowly. “I think you’ll find that things have changed just a bit,” he said. When Ba’al automatically dismissed what he said, Jalen took a step toward him and Ba’al held up the zat threateningly. “Haven’t you noticed? You’re usually so observant, you twisted sonofabitch.”
Ba’al stared at him, narrowing his expression. “Your eyes have changed.” Just as quickly, he assumed an air of nonchalance. “Doesn’t matter. You’re still,” and he waved his empty hand at Jalen’s body, “quite useful.”
“Is that all?” Jalen asked, raising a brow. “Boy, you really have lost it.”
Ba’al lifted his chin as the knowledge hit him. “Did your Tok’ra friends kill your loser half?”
Jalen copied Ba’al’s previous nonchalance and shrugged, refusing to show the bastard the pain he felt for the loss. “He gave up his life.”
“Is that so?” Ba’al said, clearly not believing him. “What happened? Did you forget to rape one of your friends and he couldn’t bear to live without the turn-on?”
Expecting just such a comment, Jalen ignored the remark easily. He took another step and halted when Ba’al waggled the zat at him. He figured he was probably as close as he was going to get, but it didn’t matter. He was only two feet away now. Within reach.
“What do you want from me?” Jalen asked. “Aside from revenge.”
“A little punishment first,” Ba’al said with predatory sweetness. “You’ll have to pay for your betrayal. It can’t be helped.”
“Yeah, I figured as much. So tell me, what’s on the menu? A little torture? A little rape? For old time’s sake?
“Something like that,” Ba’al said, then he took a step back, zat still held at the ready. “On your knees.”
“Remember what I said about how some things have changed?” Jalen asked.
“Not that much apparently,” Ba’al said, affecting boredom.
Jalen smiled… and his canines flashed to needlelike points. As he’d hoped, Ba’al’s eyes widened with shock and he took an involuntary step backward. Seeing it filled Jalen with such a deep sense of satisfaction it was almost as good as sex. “So, you still want to play?”
Ba’al started to say something, his expression one of confusion and fear, but Jalen didn’t waste any more time on pointless banter. He struck with lightning reflexes, knocking the zat away with one hand while the other reached out and grabbed Ba’al by the throat. For the first time, he consciously recognized the new strength coursing through him as Ba’al feebly grabbed his arm and wrist with both hands and tried to get loose. When he couldn’t, he kicked out, but Jalen tightened his hand and lifted him off the floor.
“What shall I do with you first?” Jalen asked.
Ba’al couldn’t answer, of course, and Jalen had no intention of letting him answer. He wanted to scare him, hurt him, and this was just the start. With vicious anger, he threw Ba’al across the room, watching with a nasty sense of pleasure as he hit the wall with a loud thud. Striding to him quickly, not wanting to give Ba’al a chance to recover, Jalen still wasn’t all that surprised when Ba’al kicked out at him in fury. Jalen grabbed the offending foot and felt his pleasure rise that Ba’al was fighting back.
“I always told you overconfidence would be your downfall,” he said, then twisted his ankle sharply, forcing Ba’al to cry out in pain and kick at him with the other foot. Fully expecting that too, Jalen let go of his foot and grabbed the offending leg. Dropping to his knees, he curled his right fist tightly and rabbit punched Ba’al on the cheek and brow before pulling his fist back to calculate more.
Slightly dazed, Ba’al tried to hit him but with his left ankle useless and his right leg held in a vise grip, the only thing he could do was swing and hit wherever he could.
“What shall I do with you next?” Jalen asked as he hit him again, breaking Ba’al’s nose. “How much pain can I inflict before I make someone like you pass out?”
“Not enough,” Ba’al said and spat blood at him.
It landed in a spray across Jalen’s chest but he didn’t mind. He liked it there. It was Ba’al’s blood and he suddenly wanted to bathe himself in it. “Nowhere near enough,” Jalen said, smearing the blood over his skin. “In fact, I wonder if you taste as nasty as Adriann said you did.” Jalen suddenly grabbed him, holding him down until he straddled Ba’al’s hips. It took a few seconds longer to try and do something with his hands, so in the end, he had to trap them under his knees. It would mean he couldn’t lift Ba’al’s upper body off the floor as high as he planned, but that was okay. Bending forward would apply pressure to the hands, so in the end, it all worked out.
Seizing Ba’al by the throat, Jalen lifted him up, laughing as Ba’al cursed at him in Goa’uld. “This is so perfect,” he said. “And time for a little Earth lesson. Always nice to learn new things, don’tcha think? This one’s an old Earth saying. It has to do with the passing of a monarch.” Gripping him by the back of the neck now, Jalen took a fistful of Ba’al’s hair and yanked his head back, exposing his throat. He had no intention of drinking, however. All he wanted was to sever the artery and watch him slowly bleed to death. He bent down, making sure Ba’al’s eyes were on him, on his teeth. “The King is dead. Long live the King.”
He was about to slice him open when Daniel pushed himself to his knees and whispered, “Jalen, what’re you doing?”
Surprised, Jalen looked over. “How you doing?”
“Been better,” Daniel asked as he managed to kneel. A deep crease furrowed his brow as he took in the sight before him. Daniel wasn’t too proud of the exultant feeling he had over seeing what Jalen was doing. “You?”
“Playing with my food,” Jalen answered.
“He’s not worth it, you know.”
Unable to believe what he was hearing, Jalen shoved Ba’al back down to the floor and turned his gaze more fully on Daniel. His expression was so filled with hatred that Daniel nearly recoiled.
“What?” Daniel asked, alarmed.
“Are you actually telling me not to murder this evil bastard?”
“No,” Daniel said, feeling nauseated from the effects of the zat. He really hated those things. “But if you’re going to kill him, don’t toy with him. Just do it.”
Jalen glared back and spoke through clenched teeth. “Would you be giving Adriann this advice?”
Daniel opened his mouth, then shut it, considering the question. “No,” he admitted.
“You were lucky, Daniel,” Jalen glowered. “You didn’t get to experience the full measure of this sick bastard’s games.”
“You enjoyed yourself easily enough,” Ba’al goaded.
Jalen slowly turned his head, glaring down at the Goa’uld. He struggled with the idea of defending himself, saying that it wasn’t really him, but there was no point. Ba’al wouldn’t understand. But there was one thing he would. “So it shouldn’t come as a shock to you when the tables are turned, should it?”
Ba’al froze and stared up at him, then chuckled again. “That kind of strength is no longer within you. You are weak, a pathetic coward. You could never hope to be my equal.”
Daniel groaned and stretched to his left, grabbing the fallen zat. “Jesus, Jalen, get rid of him.”
Jalen wasn’t paying attention to him, however. He was too busy staring down at the being who’d caused him so much suffering. Suddenly the idea of touching this creature with his mouth or his fangs disgusted him. Anger rose within him for not being properly dressed or geared. “You’re so fucking lucky I don’t have a knife,” he said slowly, then gave Ba’al a right cross, knocking him out. Jalen felt no satisfaction now and pushed off him in disgust before turning his anger on Daniel.
Walking over, he crouched down in front of him. “Why couldn’t you have left me alone? I didn’t need your goddamn interruption or your fucking moral philosophizing.”
Daniel rubbed at the back of his neck as he returned the glare aimed at him. “Feel better?”
With a disgusted snarl, Jalen turned away and walked over to Ba’al, thinking about kicking the shit out of him. But Ba’al needed to be awake. Turning around, he shouted, “Why’d you interfere?”
Sighing and hating the headache that was threatening to take off his head, Daniel said, “Would you stop yelling at me? I didn’t want you falling down that dark road, Jalen.”
Not listening to him, although he wasn’t shouting anymore, Jalen growled, “I’m curious as to what would you would have done.”
“Zatted him,” Daniel answered.
“Quick and clean killing, eh?”
“Maybe not. We could turn him over to the Tok’ra.”
Jalen stared at Daniel, stunned. “I can’t believe you’re that weak-willed.”
“Excuse me?” Daniel asked with angry surprise.
“Do you think that by handing him over to the Tok’ra, you’re absolved?” Jalen asked Daniel.
“So it’s okay for someone else to do the torturing and killing just as long as it’s not you? Do you think your hands remain clean?”
Daniel blinked, unable to answer that without sounding like the kind of people he despised. And right then, he hated Jalen. “I never said I was better, nor did I imply it,” he said finally.
“Well, will wonders never cease,” Jalen spat.
“Don’t take this out on me,” Daniel shot back angrily.
“You’re the one who stopped me from getting my revenge.”
“I didn’t stop you,” Daniel said, rubbing his forehead now. “And stop shouting at me, dammit.”
“Give me the fucking zat,” he said and started to take a step toward him, but at that moment, Ba’al grabbed his ankle and yanked, making Jalen lose his balance and fall. Ba’al got up and threw himself over him, attempting a choke hold, but Jalen elbowed him in the face and Ba’al loosened his grip.
As they began to roll around the floor, trading punches, hoping to disable, Daniel quickly got out of the way and activated the zat, hoping to get a clear shot.
Ba’al somehow managed to roll on top of Jalen, over his back, and with a gleeful, bloody smile, he grabbed Jalen by the crown of his hair and shook. “Remember this?” he said, humping against him madly as if he were riding a bronco.
Daniel’s eyes grew wide and a horrible feeling roiled in the pit of his stomach as he quickly imagined what Ba’al meant–and what he’d done. He wanted to shoot him, but doing so would get Jalen too. Perhaps there would be a moment where he’d get the separate shot on Ba’al but he couldn’t chance it. Before he could shout to Jalen to get away from him, Jalen let out a roar of fury and rolled to get Ba’al off his back.
The two men separated but remained on their knees, glaring at each other, panting heavily. They looked like combatants in a fight club.
“What’s the matter, Jalen?” Ba’al goaded. “Afraid of admitting that you loved that?”
Jalen spat at him. “I don’t give a fuck what Daniel says. You’re getting skinned if I have to do it with my nails.”
Ba’al then smiled maliciously and said, “Another time perhaps. I’ll see you again, Jalen.” Then he hit the leather wristband on his left arm and promptly dematerialized.
“No!” Jalen roared and he ran to the bridge console and pressed a few buttons. But Ba’al, wherever he’d gone to, wasn’t trackable. “No!”
“He’s gone, isn’t he?” Daniel asked.
Jalen’s anger turned on Daniel as he got out of his chair and rushed to him, snatching the zat out of his hand. He backed up and aimed it at him. “Why did you have to distract me!” he screamed. “Why?”
Daniel froze. He knew there was nothing he could say that would calm him down so he waited, silently, hoping Jalen would come to his senses.
Anger suddenly rose and Daniel ground his jaw. “If you’re going to kill me, then do it.”
Furious and frustrated, and knowing he couldn’t kill him, Jalen let out a hellish scream and threw the zat over Daniel’s head. It impacted on the wall behind him with a metallic crack and fell to the floor.
Daniel swallowed and didn’t bother to look behind him. He kept his eyes on Jalen and said, “I’m sorry.”
Jalen strode over quickly and grabbed Daniel by his arms. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, only that he wanted to hurt something. When Daniel resisted, pushing against him with one hand while the other grabbed him by the throat, Jalen finally saw the look in his eyes. Fear. In Daniel’s eyes. Because of him. Anguish filled him and Jalen released his hold and dropped to his knees, shoulders sagging with exhaustion and despair.
“Why didn’t you take the shot?”
Daniel dropped to his knees and put his arms around him. “Because I didn’t want to risk injuring you.”
Jalen shook his head. “Adriann wouldn’t have hesitated, Daniel,” he said, then lifted his head to look at him. Angry tears were filling his eyes. “Neither would Jack.”
Taking in a slow, shaky breath, Daniel said, “I’m not them.”
Jalen stared at him, then started to laugh softly. It had a sad, hollow sound to it. A defeated sound. Daniel couldn’t stand to hear it and he grabbed Jalen by the shoulders, his effort a little difficult to manage since the man was sweating from his exertions. “You didn’t lose. He got away but that doesn’t mean you lost. We’ll get him some day, or you will. It’s only a matter of time.”
“But he got one more lick in,” Jalen said, closing his eyes tightly shut and shaking his head as if to rid himself of something nasty. “You saw what he did.”
Daniel swallowed again, this time fighting against the rise of bile. “I saw. But it wasn’t real this time. You weren’t his slave and he knew it. He tried to mock you and you threw him off. He didn’t succeed, Jalen. He fucked up and he ran.” Daniel shook him gently. “He ran, Jalen.”
Jalen shook his head but he said nothing. He didn’t want to hear anything Daniel had to say. “Leave me alone, Daniel.”
Swallowing again, and hating the rift that was now between them, Daniel let him go and gingerly went to the pilot seat and sat down. It didn’t take him long to remember how to land the ship and he checked the sensors to find a safe place. The readout showed people below so he set the ship down a conservative fifty yards to the north of their position, then shut down the engines. Power was still active, however, and he walked past Jalen and raised his hand to open the door.
“You shouldn’t have interfered, Daniel.”
Daniel dropped his hand from the control and walked back over to him, crouching down. Hand on his shoulder again, he was thankful that he wasn’t rebuffed. “I know. And I was wrong.”
“You want me to forgive you, make you feel better? How can I, when I can’t forgive myself.” Jalen wiped away the wetness on his face and pulled back, turning away so he didn’t have to look at him. “I don’t understand you. I never did. You’re the same in both universes. You stand judgment over people and yet you think you can do whatever you want.”
Daniel felt his own anger rise again. “I didn’t think you were completely…”
“What? Sane? Justified?”
“Rational,” Daniel said.
Jalen snorted with derision. “There you go again.”
“I had cause, dammit!” Daniel said, letting out his anger. “Look at where you were before this. You were running on some instinct you didn’t understand. You didn’t know where you were going and you could’ve gotten yourself killed! You didn’t give a shit about the people who love you so just how the fuck is any of that rational? Then we get this mindfuck of an interruption and you went a little scary! Given your behavior so far, how the hell was I to know just what you were capable of, Jalen? How?”
Daniel paused and took a deep breath, then sighed heavily, hating himself for losing his temper. “It wasn’t your actions that bothered me. It was the fact that I didn’t know how far you were willing to go.”
Jalen looked away, refusing to feel guilty. “I needed to watch him die. He deserved it, Daniel.”
Sighing, Daniel said, “I know,” then looked over his shoulder at the door. “Let’s go. They’re probably worried sick.”
“No, not anymore,” Jalen said, looking up at him. “Adriann knows we’re okay. Through me, and through you.”
Daniel grimaced. “I keep forgetting that.”
“So he’s undoubtedly told the others.”
Daniel rubbed at his neck again, wincing at the stiffness. “I really hate those goddamn zats.”
Jalen eyed the door and when Daniel returned to the control panel, he said, “I don’t want to go back.”
Daniel frowned. “Why?”
“They’ll try to confine me again. I won’t allow it, Daniel.”
Brow furrowing in concern, Daniel asked, “Is Adriann telling you that?”
Jalen closed his eyes. “Uh, no, he’s not.”
“Well, how do you know?”
“Because I can feel their fear of me. For me. They want to do what’s best but I will not be locked up.”
Rolling his eyes, Daniel pressed the buttons and the door opened. “Then you have to do two things, Jalen.”
“What’s that?” Jalen asked, though he sounded as if he couldn’t have given a damn.
“First, stop acting irrationally and gain control.”
Jalen laughed, the sound far from happy. He could still feel the restlessness churning within and knew that getting any kind of control might be a dubious proposition. Although, at the moment, he seemed to be okay. “What’s the second thing?”
“Explain to him why you can’t be locked up. We both know it has nothing to do with your change. Adriann will understand.”
Jalen slowly got to his feet and gave Daniel a tired look. “I doubt it.”
Daniel frowned again and looked outside. “I don’t get why he doesn’t he know already.”
“He knows. But maybe not the full details. I think I’ve been blocking him.”
Daniel’s brows rose in surprise. “You can do that?”
“I guess. He hasn’t attempted to touch my mind like he was before, when I was, well, worse.”
“Maybe he’s leaving you alone,” Daniel suggested, with a touch of condescension.
“Well, I hope he stays out.”
“Granted he can be a nosy shit, but why? He can help.”
“With what I have in my head?” Jalen asked, surprised that Daniel hadn’t already figured that out. “I don’t want him to see the dark stuff in there.”
Daniel gave him a confused look. “Jalen, he’s already seen that.”
Jalen shot him a wary, puzzled look. “What’re you talking about?”
“Just after you and Ba’al were captured on Bel’alat, remember?” At Jalen’s horrified look, Daniel stared at him, incredulous. “How could you have possibly forgotten that?”
Jalen looked away then, hands curling into fists. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m in denial.” Daniel snorted and Jalen threw over his shoulder, “Yeah, well, I don’t like the idea of someone seeing into my head and I don’t like the idea of seeing into someone else’s head.”
Daniel couldn’t keep the sardonic smirk off his face. “You should hear Jason and Jack. They don’t much like it either.”
“Why do you?” Jalen turned and asked.
“I don’t, not exactly. I’d just as soon not have this little empathic gift. But…” Daniel took in a deep breath, telling himself not to blush. “I love Adriann. He pokes around where he doesn’t belong, but he never does any harm with that information, not with us, anyway. When he goes too far, I tell him, and he backs off.” Daniel pursed his lips, then smirked again. “Or at least, he lets me think he does.”
“And you really accept that?”
“I accept who and what he is, Jalen.”
“Including the fact that he’s a killer?” Jalen tested.
Daniel crossed his arms. “Yes. Including that.” He paused, staring at Jalen as if for the first time and he began to reassess him. “I… really haven’t thought about how much you’ve changed. I mean, I thought maybe it’s just like being you, only with more added on.” It was Jalen who snorted this time. “I didn’t really consider than you were becoming like him. I’m sorry, Jalen.”
Jalen was quiet for a moment, thinking over his words and trying to do it clearly. “Maybe I’m directing my anger at the wrong person.”
Daniel grinned. “You sound like you’re back to normal.”
“Whatever that means.”
“If it helps, I promise never to get between you and your revenge again.”
Jalen rolled his eyes. “Just don’t be there when it happens.”
“Yeah, you’re back to normal.”
The smile Daniel gave him only served to remind Jalen of the desire he held for him, and the fact that his restlessness was far from gone.
“What?” Daniel asked.
Jalen cleared his throat again, then again. “Um, about my running and that restlessness?”
“Yeah,” Daniel drawled.
“It wasn’t just about being confined.”
“What was it about?”
“Sex,” Jalen answered, and he was about to admit what that meant when they heard the sound of running footsteps. Adriann and Jason came in first and they stood there for a moment, looking around.
“Pilot’s escaped,” Daniel said, making a flying gesture with one hand.
Adriann took a moment, then headed straight for Jalen. Daniel started to get in his way but Jalen quickly sidestepped him and backed away, hands up in a martial arts’ fighting position. “Don’t you even think about it, Adriann.”
Adriann stopped, almost rocking back on his heels, and scowled. “What makes you think I was going to attack you?”
“You’re coming at me like a bat outta hell, that’s what.”
Adriann sighed and held out his hand. “Come here, Jalen.”
Rebellious, Jalen shook his head. “Don’t order me.”
“Told you,” Jason said, walking over to Daniel.
“Be quiet,” Adriann growled, then walked over to Jalen and put his arms around him. “You scared me.”
Shocked, Jalen just stood there, refusing to return the hug. “I scared you?”
Jason narrowed his eyes as he looked into Daniel’s, then horror crossed his face. “You’ve been zatted. Who did it?” He looked at Jalen, but it wasn’t accusatory.
“Ba’al,” Daniel answered.
“Ba’al?” Jason asked, wide-eyed, and turned to the door just as Sam, Teal’c, Jack, and Ophius entered the ship. “It was Ba’al, Sam.”
“How did you know?” Daniel asked, watching Ophius walk over and hand Adriann the dark green tunic he’d been carrying. With a smirk, Adriann passed it to Jalen, who pulled it on without comment or a thank you. For the moment, he was embarrassed, as if his mother had just come outside to give him his coat.
“We did,” Sam said, gesturing to Teal’c. “We studied the fleet of ships on Bel’alat so we pretty much knew what Ba’al had. It was a guess, but given who was beamed up,” and she pointed at Jalen, “we figured it was Ba’al.”
“And you got caught in the beam?” Adriann asked Daniel as he peered at him, examining his eyes.
“Ba’al was thrilled,” Daniel said drily.
“Sonofabitch,” Jack growled. “Where’d he go?” he asked as he walked over to Daniel and did the same thing Jason and Adriann had done. “Y’alright?”
“Fine,” Daniel said, slightly annoyed. “Ba’al’s gone. Had a back-up plan.”
“As usual,” Jalen said. “The bastard never, ever, does anything without having several plans within plans and at least one escape route.”
“In this case, another cloaked ship,” Teal’c said, disgusted, and Jalen nodded.
“Why didn’t he just leave with you guys?” Jack asked.
“Overconfidence,” Jalen said. “Combined with the need to gloat.”
“He thought he had time,” Daniel added.
“But he didn’t.”
“But you got the better of him, obviously,” Jack said.
“Clearly,” Teal’c said, making his way to the bridge with Sam.
“Yeah, although I kinda fucked that up,” Daniel said, feeling worse than before.
“No, you didn’t, Daniel,” Jalen said. “You were zatted, how could you fuck that up?”
“I distracted you,” Daniel replied, frowning at Jalen in confusion as the man lifted his chin rebelliously. Daniel couldn’t figure out why Jalen was trying to take the blame for letting Ba’al get away.
“Is there something you want tell us?” Jack asked, pointing at them both.
“No,” Jalen said immediately. “I had him, but then I fucked up and got distracted by Daniel. I should’ve killed him when I had the chance but I was doing my own gloating.” He dared Daniel to contradict him.
“How did Daniel distract you?” Jack asked.
“He was reviving from the zat and I took my attention off Ba’al. He found an opening and we started rolling around fighting. At some point we were separated and in that moment–“
“He hit the transportation device on his wrist, disguised like a wristband,” Daniel finished.
“I tried to track him but like this ship, he has an Asgard cloak and I don’t know how to track an Asgard cloak so…”
Daniel sighed. “Jalen.”
“Stop it,” Jalen warned. “It was my fault he got away.”
“Do you two wanna tell me what the hell’s going on?” Jack asked crossly.
Daniel pursed his lips, not wanting to make him look bad but he didn’t like this chivalrous attitude either. “Jalen?”
“Difference of opinion, Jack,” Jalen answered, staring at Daniel. “Nothing more.”
Jack looked back and forth between Daniel and Jalen and didn’t get what the hell they were doing, but he was putting a stop to it. “Ya know, it’s nice, this trip down memory blame, but I have a suggestion. Either explain yourselves or drop it.” When they said nothing, Jack rolled his eyes.
Ophius grabbed their attention when he walked over to the far wall and picked up the damaged zat.
“I did that,” Jalen said.
“I take it you did not take his escape very well.”
“I didn’t, no.”
“Let me see it,” Sam said, walking over to take a look. Ophius handed it over and Sam looked at it, then smirked at Teal’c and walked over to the pilot’s chair and handed it to him.
Teal’c turned it over, then lifted a brow with what Jack immediately knew as respect. “You must have been angry indeed to have inflicted this kind of damage.”
Daniel jogged his brows. “He was pissed alright.”
“To put it mildly,” Jalen added. “So while I threw my fit, he landed the ship.” Jalen then surprised Daniel by smiling at him. “I had no idea you could do that, by the way.”
“A man of many talents,” Jack replied.
Daniel nodded once and then cast a long look at Adriann. Remembering what Jalen said, he sent him a thought.
I fucked up and Ba’al got away. Please don’t be angry with Jalen. It’s not his fault.
I know all about it, Daniel. Jalen thinks he can block me, but he cannot.
Daniel blinked at him, then looked over at Jalen, but Jalen had walked over to Teal’c and was explaining the fight.
“I really wanted to torture that fucking…”
“I understand,” Teal’c told him. “I felt that way once myself when we had Apophis in our grasp at the SGC.”
“We all have, I think,” Jack said as he walked over and put his hand on Teal’c’s shoulder. “Whaddya say we get this baby closer to the homestead?”
“Next to the patio would be good,” Adriann suggested.
“Agreed,” Teal’c answered. The engines started back up and the door closed. As Teal’c took the ship in the air, Sam sat down next to him to check the readouts. “Is there any sign of Ba’al’s ship?”
“No, it isn’t appearing on the sensors.”
“He’s gone,” Jalen said.
“I’m glad you didn’t try to go find him,” Jason told him.
“I couldn’t,” Jalen explained, pointing at Daniel. “He’d have killed me.” Daniel rolled his eyes. “Plus, I know him. Unfortunately. I’d have been wasting my damn time and pissing the lot of you off in the process. I know how to bide my time.”
Jack looked at him, assessing Jalen’s mood, and remembered that just before the ship had landed, Adriann had said, “They’re fine now.” At first, Jack had thought that he’d meant they were out of danger from Ba’al, but now he wondered if he’d meant Jalen.
“How’re you doing?” Jack asked.
Jalen shrugged and gave Daniel a long look. “Not quite insane?”
Daniel grinned. “No, not quite.”
Adriann reached out and in a surprising demonstration of affection, he stroked Jalen’s hair, then his goatee.
Jalen felt unnerved and disquieted and pulled his head back, away from Adriann’s touch. “What’s up with you all of a sudden?” he asked.
“You’re feeling better now?”
“In what sense?” Jalen asked, annoyed. “I’m pissed off, frustrated, and I have this intense desire to kill someone or fuck them stupid, but other than that, sure, I’m fine.”
Daniel barked out a laugh and tried to cover it up when Jalen glared at him. “What?” Jalen asked.
“Back to normal then?” Jason asked, looking a touch worried still.
“Whatever the hell that really means,” Jalen said. “‘Scuse me,” he added and walked toward the engine room.
Jason went after him but when Daniel started to follow, Jack put a hand on his arm. “Let Jason handle it, Daniel. I can tell the man’s still pretty damn unsettled.”
“I added to that, I’m afraid.”
“How?” Jack asked.
Daniel looked at Adriann and Ophius, then back to Jack. He didn’t dare look up at the console to see if Sam and Teal’c were paying attention. “I… kinda stopped him from killing Ba’al.”
“What?” Jack asked him. “Why? No, never mind. How?”
“It wasn’t on purpose, Jack. I just…”
“What happened?” Adriann asked.
“I was coming around after getting zatted and I distracted him.”
“How?” Jack repeated.
“I thought… well, I thought he was going to torture him.”
Jack and Adriann raised their brows. “And?” Jack asked.
“I couldn’t just sit there. I know that Ba’al deserved whatever he got from Jalen, but torture? I just told Jalen to kill him and get it over with. And that pissed him off even more.”
“What had him pissed off before?” Jack asked.
“I did,” Adriann said.
“Or we did, actually,” Ophius added.
“That chain business?” Jack asked.
“Jalen hates being confined,” Daniel said. “It’s why he was pissed off to begin with.”
“That’s not all there is to it, Daniel,” Adriann corrected him.
“No, but it was the impetus for his decision to run.”
Adriann shook his head. “That reason was secondary.”
“What was the first then?” Daniel asked, remembering that Jalen had been about to tell him.
“Toward?” Daniel asked, brows rising.
“Anyone,” Ophius said, then he looked toward the back of the ship.
Daniel looked at Jack and both their eyes widened as they looked at Adriann. “He wouldn’t, not toward Jason.”
“No, not anymore,” Adriann said, narrowing his eyes in concentration.
Daniel started to go to Jalen and Jason, but like Jack had done, Adriann stopped him. “We can feel him, Daniel. He’s in control for now.”
“For now? For how long?” Jack asked.
Adriann and Ophius exchanged a look. “Depends on how well his emotions are stabilizing,” Ophius answered. “When Teal’c’s landed the ship, and we get Jalen back inside, we can help him.”
“You can’t restrain him again,” Daniel said, shaking his head.
“We won’t need to,” Adriann assured him. “I believe the danger level has passed.”
“He says he’s still restless,” Daniel argued.
“Restless, yes,” Ophius said. “Irrational, no.”
“Then what’re you two worried about?” Jack asked suspiciously.
Neither Ophius nor Adriann answered right away and Daniel couldn’t help but worry. He looked toward the rear of the ship, and though blocked by a wall, he tried to feel for Jason’s mind, and all he could get was concern, nothing more.
“He can take care of himself,” Jack said, touching Daniel’s shoulder, then he slid both arms around him and drew him into a hug. “Just as you can,” he said, tightening his hold–and for a moment, Jack was startled, and relieved, that there was only a small ache in his wounded arm. “But I wish you’d stop scaring the shit out of me.”
Returning the hug and feeling Jack’s relief as well as his worry, Daniel pulled back and looked at his arm, then leaned in and nuzzled his face, inhaling the musky, slightly unwashed smell of him. It sent a little signal to his groin. “Feeling’s mutual.”
Jalen stood by the vertical control panels that held the crystals, listening to the hum of the ship, and sensed Jason’s approach. He realized that if it had been anyone else, even Alex, he would have snapped at them. “I’m okay. Just processing.”
“There’s a lot of that going around,” Jason half-joked, then went to his brother and pulled him into his arms, hugging him tightly. He could feel Jalen resisting a little, so he let him go, but he didn’t pull away. Staring into that bearded face and eyes that somehow looked haunted, he felt emotion welling up and the urge to cry. To stifle it, he looked down. Through the open tunic, he saw smears of blood. It sobered him. “Tell me that’s not yours.”
“It’s not mine,” Jalen said. He resisted the urge to lift Jason’s chin, make him look at him. The intimate gesture would have sent the wrong signals through his body. “You should go back up front,” he said, clearing his throat.
“I think you need me,” Jason said. “Even if it’s just my presence.”
“Why would you think that?” Jalen asked, blushing suddenly because he was immediately reminded of his other brother. It was something he would have said.
“We’re blood,” Jason replied, swallowing.
Jalen nodded, not saying anything. What was there to say?
Jason then took in a breath. “I need to ask you something.”
“Ask,” Jalen allowed, looking curiously at him now.
Jason cleared his throat. Several times. “Um, at the window. You kissed me.”
Jalen winced. He’d had a feeling that would come up. “I did.”
Jason couldn’t look at him suddenly and he found himself strangely focused on the smeared blood streaks. “I could make assumptions as to why, given that instinctual thing I have in my head, but I’d rather not assume.”
This time, Jalen risked it, and he ordered himself to maintain control as he lifted Jason’s chin with a finger. “Because I love you. Because I didn’t know where or what I was doing and I knew I was going off half-cocked. I could have done something to get myself killed and I just needed to do it.” He paused, searching for the words. “Plus, there’s another reason… and it’ll probably scare you.”
Jason’s brows wrinkled in confusion. “You don’t scare me.”
Jalen laughed, softly, quickly, and couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. “Maybe. The deepest thing I feel, the reason for all of this restlessness… is the need to…” He swallowed. Hard. “To dive into my basest animal instincts.” He closed his eyes and concentrated. “Because my emotions seem to be all rolled up together, I’m getting a little… confused.” He opened his eyes and met Jason’s gaze. He reached up, grinning as he tried to smooth away the lines between his brows. “I kissed you because I love you. And it was the first time I’ve done that. With you, anyway. And because of the confusion, when I kissed you I… kissed you just a little too much.”
With you, anyway. The words rolled around in Jason’s mind and though he was relieved that Jalen hadn’t meant anything else by the kiss, he was still curious about what he meant. “You mean you used to kiss your… my other self?”
Jalen grinned. “Like you kiss Lysa, I’m sure?” He paused, smirking. “Or don’t you kiss your sister?”
Jason twisted his mouth in a grudging smile. “Our sister,” he corrected, earning an eyeroll. “And yeah, when I was young, but when I got older, it felt just a little too weird to kiss her on the mouth so I started kissing her cheek instead.”
Jalen snorted with amusement. “And I have issues?”
Jason stepped back and backhanded him gently across the stomach. “Okay, let’s just save the ‘analyze Jason’ bit for later, okay?”
Jalen nodded, then looked at the wall before them, the one that separated the engine room from the main room of the ship. The amusement on his face died and a concerned worry replaced it. “I don’t know what I’m going to do, Jace,” he said softly, then met his eyes. “I really don’t know.”
“In what way?” Jason asked. “Dealing with what’s happened or being with them?” and he tilted his head, pointing in the direction of the other room.
Jalen frowned then and shook his head. “Both. I have this urge to run, but it’s a different one. It’s that one you get when something big has happened and you want it all to go back to the way it was. I just want this all to be a nightmare I’m going to wake up from.” He blushed then, his frown becoming more apologetic. “I don’t mean anything bad toward him, or the others, but I don’t know if this is a good thing, you know?”
Jason nodded and hugged him again. He could say a lot of things but none of them would be right, so he just decided to hold his brother for as long as he wanted.
Teal’c set the ship down just outside the patio boundaries, angling it so that the door faced the house. Daniel rubbed Jack’s arm in a reassuring way before he walked off and headed for the engine room. When he saw Jason holding his brother and rubbing his back, he felt relieved, but guilty for intruding.
“We’re there,” he said.
Jason broke apart first and stepped back, eyeing his brother carefully. “Ready?”
Jalen took a deep breath and nodded. “As I have to be.”
Daniel took a few steps forward and inclined his head toward the front. “We can wait till they’ve filed out, if you want.”
Jalen shook his head and then pointed in the direction of the house. “Let’s go.” For a moment, Daniel was amazed that he seemed to automatically know which way they were facing. Unless it was a lucky guess, but all he felt from Jalen was a calm assuredness.
Leaving the engine room, Jalen was met with relief that everyone but Sam, Teal’c, and Jack had left already. Clearing his throat, he nodded to the others and paused in the middle of the room. “Thanks.”
“For what?” Jack asked softly.
Jalen gave him an appreciative smile, then nodded at Sam and Teal’c again as he left the ship. Jason was right behind him though he didn’t need to look to know that it was true; since sensing him entering the engine room, Jalen could now automatically know wherever he was. If this was a typical ‘benefit’ of being even half Var’chol’si, he didn’t mind so much. He started to wonder what kind of a distance this sense had and figured it was most likely planet-bound, and within a moderate separation. If Jason happened to go to the other side of the world, he wondered if he’d still sense him.
His thoughts were interrupted by Jack’s voice not far behind him as he said, “You know, I could use a bath.”
Jalen looked over his shoulder and said, “You and me both.”
Daniel started to grin and looked away and Jack caught it and slapped his shoulder. “Don’t go there.”
Jason grinned too as he caught Daniel’s eyes and before Jack slapped him as well, he took a big step forward.
“Coward,” Jack commented just as he went through the doors.
Behind him, Sam and Teal’c exchanged glances. “You think he’s getting paranoid?” she asked, knowing Jack could hear her.
“I do believe he has been that way for several years,” Teal’c answered, and when Jack looked back at them, they had smirks on their faces.
“You’re the reason, you know,” Jack pointed, and when he looked away, allowed a grin on his face. His attention, however, was diverted when Jalen stopped at the foot of the stairs and looked upward.
Adriann was standing on the top step and he gestured upward. “Nothing bad awaits you,” he said. “I promise.”
“I think I’m fine anyway,” Jalen said, and though he was pretty certain, he still had his doubts. As he ascended, he saw Alex leaning against the wall, arms crossed, with Al and Connor flanking him. He straightened when he saw Jason and Jack, but his concerned face was on Jalen.
“You calmed down now?” Alex asked, assessing him quickly, “or do you want me to go rent The Hound of the Baskervilles?”
Jalen stared at him, feeling his worry, and knowing Alex as he did, he took the comment for the tension-breaker it was meant to be. He smiled widely and laughed. “I’m fine, Alex. Though I do have this huge craving for…” He saw Janet and Kashan nearby and suddenly cleared his throat. “For um, something I’ll skip saying.”
Janet rolled her eyes and came forward, holding out her hand. “C’mon you. Examination time.”
He took her hand but still protested. “There’s nothing you can do, you know.”
“Not exactly,” she said, “but I’ve already told Adriann and the others that I want to monitor that fever of yours and make sure it’s not an infection.” She looked over her shoulder as they started down the hall. “Major Wagner? Would you join us please?”
Jalen shot her a guarded look. “Janet?”
She gave him a secretive sort of smile. “I have a feeling he might help calm you down.”
“Jason does that,” Jalen said to put her off-balance, and to his delight, Janet didn’t fall for it. Still, he couldn’t help but try another tactic. “What about Jack? Shouldn’t you be checking his arm or vitals or something?” They were at his room now and she stepped aside and gestured him in. “C’mon,” she said, then waited for Alex to come in before she looked over her shoulder as she closed the door. “This won’t hurt a bit.”
In the hall, Kashan bit his lips together and chuckled as he went to the window side of the hall and leaned against the wall. Adriann cleared his throat as he walked past, grinning at him, then redirected his attention toward Jack and the others. “Elsa and the others are preparing the dinner meal now. They will send it up in a while.” He paused and looked at Daniel. “I know Jack wants a bath, and the rest of you probably want to get cleaned up, but Daniel, I have a surprise for you first. From Opol.” He held out his hand and Daniel took it. With a puzzled grin on his face, he looked at Jason and Jack and let Adriann lead him down the hall toward the atrium.
“Sir,” Sam said to Jack, “Teal’c and I would like to examine the ship. Ba’al may have left behind some surprises.”
“Wouldn’t we know that by now?” Jack asked.
“Not if he intended them to catch us unawares,” Teal’c answered. “Perhaps several hours or days later, when the explosion or explosions might have a much more devastating effect.”
Jack pursed his lips and nodded. “Okay. But stop by the kitchen first and grab something to take into the ship with you. If I know the two of you, you’ll be in there for hours.” They nodded and started to walk away and Jack called out, “Take your radios.”
“Yes, sir,” Sam said as she looked guardedly at Teal’c. When they made it back down the hall and out of earshot, she said, “We could sleep there tonight.”
He lifted a brow. “Together?”
She hesitated as they started down the stairs. “Um, yeah, that is, if you want.”
He appeared to think about it, staring straight ahead, but she caught him starting to grin, looking at her out of the corner of his eye, and she managed to walk just a bit closer to him by the time they entered the kitchen.
“So what now, sir?” Al asked.
Jason stood only a few feet from the door of his teammates’ room and gave Al and Connor a jog of his brows. “Well, since all the fuss is pretty much over with, thank the gods,” he began, then winced slightly since it was never going to be over with Jalen. At least, not for a long time. “We hang out, wait till tomorrow morning, contact the General, and then set about trying to do something about those goddamn animals.”
Connor made a face as he sat down on the bed and began to unlace his boots. “We can’t exterminate them, sir. They’re part of the eco-system.”
“I know that, but Hammond wants us to do something about them because they’re becoming a hazard to our trade agreement with Adriann’s people. Our scientists need those plants harvested.”
“I thought we were already trying to propagate our own crop?” Al asked.
Jason cringed and said confidingly, “Truth is, I haven’t been paying attention. I have no idea if the crop is viable or not. Or if they’ve moved it off-world to Diné.”
His men simply nodded in agreement; neither of them had made time to find out, either. “So, when you say, ‘hang out,’ sir, what exactly does that mean?” Al asked.
Jason grinned at him. “It means that you get to relax, Al. Keep your eyes and ears open, of course, but this is Adriann’s home and his people know what they’re doing, so they’re the ones in charge of security.”
Connor grinned. “Does Colonel O’Neill know that?”
Jason returned the sarcastic smile. “Jack’s slowly gotten used to the idea over the years we’ve known these people.”
“Sir, about those Bor’cha,” Al began. “We’re going to need a lot of people to contain them, or secure the Residents’ property locally. Don’t we have a 303 out on patrol?”
Jason jogged his brows again, thinking about it. “That’s an excellent idea, Al. I’ll let Jack know and he’ll pass it to the General. The 303 would have to jet back home and get the right sort of people and the proper amount of supplies, but that shouldn’t take more than a few days. Our job is more immediate because we will have to write out the reports that those people will need in order to get outfitted because there’s no way in hell we’re gonna let the Var’chol’si tackle this on their own. And I think Hammond already knows this so we can expect to stay here at least one more day.”
Connor groaned and Al sighed heavily.
“What?” Jason asked, momentarily puzzled, then he remembered. “Oh, that’s right. You two have to be home soon, don’t you?”
Al sighed. “Abby knows the job, sir.”
“Yeah, except she won’t be too happy if you miss your anniversary,” Jason said, no longer joking. “Especially since you patched things up.”
“Only because he pulled his head out of his butt,” Connor said as he pulled off his boot.
Al pointed a finger at him. “Don’t start.”
Jason grinned and turned to Connor. “As for you. Cheryl’s birthday is coming up, isn’t that what you told me a few days ago?”
Connor nodded, looking flatfooted. “Her present’s in my locker.”
“Dumbass,” Jason said, rolling his eyes. “Haven’t you learned yet? You have to leave these things with other people.”
They all knew why, too. Just in case they never came home. “I didn’t expect to be gone this long,” Connor answered defensively. “Seriously stupid, sir, I know, given where we were going.”
“Well, maybe not. The plan was to go to Bel’alat, not here.” Jason paused, thinking quickly. “Tell you what. We have that ship out there. Sam and Teal’c have pretty much claimed ownership, I think.” The comment earned him grins from both men. “While we wait for a 303, probably the Prometheus, Sam and Teal’c can use the cargo ship’s sensors while a crew coordinates on the ground. The crew will mostly be made up of Adriann’s folks which means I can send you two,” and he pointed with two fingers, “home.”
“Providing the General gives the okay,” Connor said.
“Providing the General gives the okay,” Jason repeated.
“Sir, how’s Jalen really doing?” Connor asked.
“As well as anyone would be, I guess,” Jason answered, then abruptly shook his head, changing his mind. “Actually, no, he’s doing better, and worse. Better because he’s already accustomed to changes in his body, and while this one’s pretty goddamn drastic, it’s not too bad. And worse because he lost Camulus and though we don’t exactly get the loss, we can understand what it means to lose someone you love, so for him, it’s pretty bad.”
“I feel for him, sir,” Al said and Connor concurred.
Jason just nodded.
“Is he going to stay here?” Connor asked.
“He’ll probably stay at Bel’alat, but I don’t know. He is the unofficial ambassador there, except that was as a Tok’ra. I think maybe they’ll choose someone else and he’ll become our liaison to Adriann’s folks.”
“Not really a difference where Bel’alat is concerned, sir,” Al remarked.
“No, not really.” He looked about and started to fidget, knowing he’d forgotten something. Then he remembered. He was gonna go sneak up on Jack. He grinned to himself, then caught Connor and Al exchanging looks. “What?” he asked.
Al knew Jason wanted to leave, but he couldn’t resist teasing. “Sir, you wanna join us for a few games of Mahjongg? Daniel got us these beautiful pieces.”
Jason raised a brow, easily recognizing a goad from Al when he heard one. “Ah, I think I’ll leave you hustlers to your Mahjongg. I’ll go babysit our injured Colonel.” He went to the door, pursing his lips. “Um, Alex is with Jalen, so um…” He twisted his mouth and stared at his men. “Don’t give him a hard time when you see him.” Al and Connor glanced sidelong at each other and Jason grinned. “Okay, not too hard a time.” Then more to himself, he said, “Although going by Jalen’s mood, you may not see Alex till morning.” Al started to laugh and hid it in a cough when Jason looked at him. “As for Daniel, well, he’s with Adriann, something about Opol doing something special for him.” When Connor smirked, Jason pointed at him warningly. “Don’t go there.”
As he ignored the snickering, he went to the door and looked at his watch. “So, you two want me to check back with you in a few hours?” When they gave him puzzled looks, he rolled his eyes. “The rest of the day is a play day, gentlemen, so you’re unofficially off the clock.”
“So, we can actually go make mischief then?” Connor asked, trying to look innocent at the same time. Al tossed a Mahjongg piece at him, which Connor caught.
Jason pursed his lips, staring back at them, and a devilish grin slowly formed. “Have fun.” Opening the door and stepping through the threshold, he comically smacked his forehead. “Oh wait, you can’t. You’re married.” Grinning and quickly closing the door, he snickered as a boot thudded on the other side of the door. “Losers,” he said loudly, chuckling as he walked down the hall.
Jason could hear the water running as he entered Jack’s room. Moving around the right side of the bed, he went to the open doorway. Jack had his back to him and had just finished stripping. He was testing the water with a toe and stooped slightly to hold onto the two-foot high handrail that paralleled the right side of the round sunken tub. Jason leaned against the doorframe and breathed in deeply, silently, appreciating the view.
Jack never seemed to lose his muscle tone. Always firm, well-muscled. Arms nicely strong, blending well with his wide back and narrow torso. Above his squared but shapely ass, he was getting just a teensy bit love-handled, but Jason liked to think that had more to do with constant belt use than anything else. Jack didn’t gain weight easily. He hated tanning beds, however, so his skin was on the pale side, mostly on his back and legs. Jason couldn’t wait for winter to be over. Jack tanned beautifully.
Letting his eyes soak up the view and amp up his desire, Jason wished he could see Jack’s other side just so he could linger over his chest and the way the hairs played around his nipples; the soft curls above his cock–which Jason immediately imagined inside him. But this view was just fine. For the moment.
He pondered whether or not to startle Jack, but the chances that he might decide to tease the shit out of him as a punishment made Jason reconsider. He’d rather experience a different kind of punishment. He crossed his arms, making a slight noise that was decidedly different than the noise the pipe water was making, and added clearing his throat.
Jack looked over his shoulder, completely unaffected by his nudity and that Jason could’ve been anyone. His demeanor told Jason two things. Jack was expecting him, and he’d reacted that way on purpose just to activate Jason’s possessiveness.
“Want company?” Jason asked, not moving. He tried to ignore the fact that Jack’s ploy was working, but it was also something Jack needn’t have bothered with; Jason’s possessiveness was never ‘off.’
Jack gave him a lopsided grin, then looked down into the tub as he stepped in and descended. The bathtub wasn’t too deep but it was like a Jacuzzi in that it was deeper than most, and in this case, flush with the floor so you literally had to step down into it. Instead of getting into the tub, however, Jack sat on the edge… and grimaced slightly from the cool tile. “Damn stuff was warm in that guest room we stayed in last time. Guess Talen likes her bathroom cold.”
“Or perhaps she just likes seeing goose bumps form,” Jason said, watching them pop up on Jack’s skin.
Jack gave him a small grin, then purposely slid down into the water and moved over to sit on the built-in seat that wrapped around the walls of the tub. He was facing Jason now and he found it an interesting view. Although Jason had to do something about all those clothes. He’d had a little intimacy with him the day before, but it was far from what he’d really wanted.
And now was as good a time as any, though there had to be some fun foreplay involved. Getting ideas, Jack wiggled his ass and got comfortable. Placing both arms on the lip of the tub, he sighed as the hot water began to relax his muscles. Tipping his head back and closing his eyes, he spoke in a voice he knew would tease Jason. “That feels so good.”
“I imagine it does,” Jason answered, crossing his arms. Waiting.
“Well, are you gonna stand there all day?” Jack asked, half-opening his eyes.
“Was gonna sit down at some point,” Jason replied. “Thought about lying down, too.”
Jack pointed at him in a lazy manner. “You might wanna take all that off.”
Jason lifted a brow but remained where he was. “Am I joining you or…?”
“You might wanna close the door, too. You’re lettin’ out all the steam.”
“You’re the one who left the door open,” Jason returned, grinning sarcastically when Jack gave him a look.
“Close the door and strip,” Jack said in a bland, casual tone as he reached for the soft body sponge that sat in a ceramic tray by his left hand.
Jason bit at his lip, recognizing the game Jack was starting. He straightened and grabbed the doorknob, slowly closing the door. Bending over to unlace his right boot, he paused and looked up. “I’ll assume you meant for me to actually be in here when I take off my clothes?”
“You assume correctly,” Jack answered, then looked around the bathroom as Jason removed his boots and socks. “By the way?”
Jason set his boots by the wall and turned back to unbuckle his belt… so that Jack could see. “Yes?”
“That… hutch, I think it is… to your left? That’s got something in there you might wanna bring with you.”
Tossing his belt over by his boots, Jason unbuttoned his trousers as he walked over to the closed wooden hutch. Opening one of the pine-colored doors, he grinned as he found an array of the same sorts of ointments and salves and oils that he’d seen on the floor in the room he’d been in before. Here, Talen had them all neatly arranged in a cozy, freestanding ‘closet.’ Picking up the round honey-colored jar he’d also seen before, he held it up to the light and tipped it. Oil. Taking off the stopper, he smelled and sure enough, that honey-smelling amber oil.
“I’ll assume you mean this?” he asked.
Jack smiled. “That’s the one.”
“Why didn’t you bring it over?” Jason asked as he walked around the tub, behind Jack, and stopping just to his left. He crouched down, grabbing the tile with his toes for balance, and set the oil jar next to the sponge tray. “Or did you think I’d let you bathe alone?”
Jack wanted to grab Jason by the pant leg and yank him in the tub fully clothed, but he wasn’t too sure about the strain his wounds could take and didn’t want to risk breaking them open. While they looked pretty-well sealed over from the medicines Talen used, he couldn’t take the chance.
“You’re not naked,” he said instead.
“I’m working on it,” Jason said, rising. Keeping his eyes on Jack’s, he walked around the tub and stood just where he’d seen Jack from behind. Pulling his shirt out, he then slowly pulled it up and over his head, then tossed it to the floor. “I left the boys with instructions to go have fun till morning,” he said as he shoved his trousers and underwear down.
Jack simply nodded.
With a sly smile, Jason added, “and I’m sure that Daniel will join us later, once he’s finished.”
Jack grinned. “With whatever he’s doing, though he’d better save some for us.”
Jason stepped down into the tub and sat down next to Jack. The displacement he caused had the water coming up to just under their shoulders. “I don’t know,” he said doubtfully. “Not exactly fair.”
“How’s that?” Jack asked as he picked up the sponge and reached for the soap jar.
Jason put his hand over Jack’s and moved it, taking the jar, and the sponge, away from him. Soaping up the sponge and setting the jar aside, he added. “I don’t see me capable of saving anything. He’ll just have to wait a few hours for…”
“Recharging?” Jack asked.
Jason scooted closer, the water rippling between them, and ran the sponge over Jack’s collarbones. “To put it mildly.” He glanced at the faucet at the other end of the tub and looked back at Jack, then at his hand as he slowly moved the sponge. The tension was building. He wanted to kiss Jack so damn badly. Wanted to have him touch him, caress him, massage him in the way that made his body tighten up and purr. “Tub’s full now,” he said as he lifted his gaze to Jack’s.
Jack took the sponge from Jason’s hands and returned the same washing motion, slowing even more over Jason’s tattoo so he admire its black contrast. There really was no cleaning involved, of course, but he didn’t really care. He knew that wasn’t on Jason’s mind and it wasn’t on his, either. “Switch the tap to the cycle position,” he said, setting the sponge to the side.
Jason stretched across the tub to turn the handle that allowed the bathwater to cycle down below. The water would come in at the same rate as it left the tub, constantly refreshing their bath. When he started to return, he paused, taken over with the urge to get himself completely wet. Giving Jack a grin, he submerged into the water, shaking his head. He felt movement and maybe Jack’s knees, and when he reemerged from the water, Jack was right there in front of him. Face wet, hair wet. He’d done the same. He wasn’t exactly smiling, but he certainly wasn’t frowning. The only description Jason could think of was… shark-like.
“Hey,” he said, as the look went straight to his cock. He started to wipe the water off his face when Jack grabbed his hand and pulled it away. “What’s up?” he asked.
Jack slid his hands up Jason’s back and pulled them closer, chest to chest. “I am,” he answered as he felt his hard cock bumping against Jason’s. “But… you’re not.”
“Yet,” Jason said.
“Good to know,” Jack said, staring at Jason’s lips and the way the water settled on his upper lip. “How long’s it been since I kissed you?”
Jason found himself doing the same thing as Jack, and staring at his lips gave him many ideas. “Since you kissed me or I kissed you?”
“Well, I believe it was yesterday when you kissed me. But since I kissed you? I can’t remember. That means I’m way overdue.”
Jason leaned in slightly, his eyes beginning to close. “Kiss me then,” he whispered.
Jack wanted to stretch this out but Jason’s lips were drying, as were his own. “You know, there’s this water drop–oh fuck it,” and he grabbed Jason’s ass right at the moment he kissed him, then groaned with passion when Jason wrapped his arms around his neck, effectively placing his head in a trap. It told Jack he was going nowhere and that was just fine by him.
Their tongues twined, then danced, played, and tasted, and all the while, Jack tried to reform Jason’s lips as he mashed his own against him. The next thing he did–and he hadn’t known he was going to do it till it happened–was reach up and grab Jason’s thick hair in both hands, putting him in a sort of vise lock. Jason’s reaction was to grab his shoulder blades, fingernails slightly scratching over his skin, and that only made things ‘worse.’ Pulling and forcing his head back, loving the gasp Jason made and the way he closed his eyes, Jack whispered, “You’re mine,” and he licked a wet stripe just under Jason’s chin, knowing damn well that was becoming a new erogenous zone.
Jason had been nearly hard after that kiss but this move by Jack had him aching. “Yes, yours,” he said and moved his hands around to Jack’s chest, sliding them first up to caress his face, his neck, then back down to his chest, where he moved his fingers through the hair.
“So…” Jack began as a shiver passed through him from Jason’s touch. He nipped over his jaw to catch an earlobe between his teeth, teasing it with his tongue, before he let it go and murmured, “How shall I remind you?”
The deep voice in his ear threw a shudder through Jason’s body and he gasped, “Fuck me.”
Jack grinned against his lover’s ear and asked, “Here?”
Jason slid his fingers over Jack’s nipples, tweaking them, making him lean into his touch. Then he moved lower, following the line of fine, wet hairs, and when his right hand bumped against Jack’s cock, he couldn’t help but wrap his fingers around it. Stroking slowly but firmly, he said, “Anywhere. I want this nice, hard cock of yours inside me.”
Jack thrust through Jason’s hand, giving him a demonstration. “Oil and water don’t go together,” he said, biting his lip against the pleasure Jason gave him.
“Bath after,” Jason said, then quickly pushed away and hoisted himself over the lip of the tub and got to his feet. Dripping water everywhere, he smoothed his hair back and swiped the water off his face, before going over and picking up the jar of oil. Stopping at the railing, he held out his hand. “C’mon, lover boy. Show me what you plan for me.”
Snorting, Jack took Jason’s hand as he climbed up the few steps. “Lover boy?”
Jason smiled and lowered his gaze to Jack’s cock, which now pointed very much north. Lifting his gaze back to Jack’s face, he began to back up toward the door. “Yes.”
Releasing Jason’s hand, Jack wiped some of the water away exactly as Jason had as he followed him through the door. Before they hit the bed, Jason stopped and considered. “Should we put towels down?”
“We could dry off instead?” Jack suggested.
Jason set the oil on the shelf over the headboard and shook his head. “No, I want you wet.” Taking Jack’s hand again, he climbed onto the bed and stretched comfortably across, rolling onto his back and leading Jack where he wanted him to go.
Jack loved the idea of bathroom sex, but right now, on this thick, soft bed, he knew this was better. Pushing Jason’s legs apart and kneeling between them, he reached down and took hold of his lover’s cock, stroking him just the right way and smiling as Jason gasped and grabbed the pillow under his head.
“Like that?” Jack asked unnecessarily, then leaned over to steal a kiss, only Jason grabbed him and pulled him down on top of him. Jack groaned into his mouth, kissing him harder when Jason clamped his hands over his ass and thrust. “Can’t give you what you want yet,” he teased, then began to work his way down.
“I want this, too,” Jason said, closing his eyes, jerking as Jack bit and kissed his way over his chest, stopping to kiss around the raven tattoo that curled around his left nipple.
“So convenient,” Jack whispered, then proceeded downward, making his way to his navel… and smiling. “Been awhile since I got to play with this,” and he tongued the small silver ring, holding Jason down when he tried to pull away.
Jason knew he should have taken it off. He knew this. And yet, he thought that maybe Jack or Daniel would love to play with it. Only problem was, Jack was sending electrical signals to his dick and if he didn’t stop doing that… Jason tried to pull Jack’s mouth off him but failed miserably. Pushing up on one elbow, he slid his hand between his body and Jack’s mouth. “Stop, seriously. You’ll make me come.”
Jack got an evil look on his face. “Yeah?”
“Don’t,” Jason said, unable to keep from laughing. “Seriously, Jack, I can’t, not now.”
Jack considered the begging… and decided he wanted more. Grabbing Jason’s hands and holding them against the mattress, he dug in, loving the way he made him squirm.
“Goddamn it, Jack,” Jason said, voice shaky. “I’m not kidding. And don’t go down on–” He sucked in a breath and threw his head back because at that moment, Jack moved down and quickly engulfed his cock–his hands still holding Jason’s down. With the feel of his mouth over him, the mixture of wet and heat, and oh god, that tongue, Jason swallowed against the spiking pleasure and ended up giving in, thrusting his hips as if on automatic pilot. “Oh Jesus, suck me,” he whispered.
Abruptly stopping, Jack growled, “Make up your mind,” before he pushed back and claimed Jason’s mouth hungrily. As Jason kissed him back with equal intensity, Jack had to order himself not to drop down on top of him. He’d have rubbed over his body and right now, that was the last thing he needed to do. What he needed right now was to do exactly what Jason wanted: to be inside that firm, hot ass, to feel him tighten around him as he watched Jason writhe and moan. Reaching over him to the shelf, Jack grabbed the jar and pushed off, kneeling between Jason’s legs.
Panting, Jason slid his hands up and down his lover’s chest, indulging in the tactile. “Back or stomach?” he asked.
Grinning, Jack took off the stopper and poured a liberal amount over his cock and deliberately stroked himself, liking the way Jason watched him. “Stomach,” he said finally. “At first.”
Matching the expression on Jack’s face, Jason carefully turned over, making sure he didn’t hit Jack with his legs, and grabbed the spare pillow. Placing it gingerly under his cock, he raised his ass and shook his hips.
Groaning at the sight of it, Jack rubbed his oiled hand over Jason’s skin, massaging the firm muscles before reaching down to caress his balls. Jason dropped his head down and groaned and Jack took that moment to slide his fingers back up, past the perineum and finally, over his hole. Adding more oil, he placed the jar back on the shelf then continued his caresses, rubbing circles before he suddenly slid two fingers in.
Jason sucked in another breath, clutching the pillow in front of him as he closed his eyes and concentrated on relaxing. He smiled then and repeated Jack’s earlier words. “That feels so good.”
Perversely, Jack slowly withdrew his fingers and grinned when Jason let out a protesting moan. “This will feel even better,” he said, then pushed Jason’s legs further apart, positioned his cock, then slid inside him as he laid down over his back.
“Oh god, I love you,” he said breathlessly as the burn quickly passed and was replaced by heat and the simple fact of Jack being inside him. When Jack put his hands on his arms and slid them down to clasp their fingers together, Jason tightened his gratefully. “Definitely love you.”
“You’ll love me even more in a minute,” Jack murmured, then began to thrust. The initial pleasure had Jason rolling his eyes into his head and he spread his legs wider, arched upward, lifting his ass, meeting Jack’s movements. Quickly, from experience, their bodies began to move as one, though Jack’s hips moved just a bit more. Undulating, rocking, they moved in tandem until their pleasure demanded a change, an increase.
Jason let go of Jack’s hands and pushed up on his elbows, dropping his head down again. Cued, Jack laid his left hand over Jason’s head, applying just enough pressure for leverage, then grabbing his hip with the other, he short-stroked hard, slapping against his ass.
“Jesus yes,” Jason choked, curling his fingers into fists as Jack found his gland. Again and again.
Jack closed his eyes and wallowed in the feel of Jason’s body, in the sounds he made upon each impact. His balls swung and slapped with him and he knew if he kept at this position, he’d come. But no, not yet. He needed to see Jason’s face. “Time to turn over,” he panted, slowing down.
Jason swallowed, lost in the acute sensations ripping through his body, and nodded. Jack eased off and let go, then slowly pulled out. The loss was intolerable and Jason quickly turned over. Upon sight of Jack’s flushed and sweaty face and body, he grabbed behind his knees and pulled them up.
Jack grabbed the oil again and poured just a little more over Jason’s ass, adding just a bit more on his cock for good measure, then returned it to the shelf. He grinned down at him as he took his own cock in hand, pausing before sliding back in. He pushed the head against Jason’s hole, then backed off. Then he did it again. And once more. “Am I yours?”
“Make it so you don’t have to ask,” Jason replied, swallowing again at the utterly possessive look on Jack’s face.
“Are you mine?” Jack teased, pushing again, and ever so goddamn slowly. This time, he didn’t back off.
“Yes,” Jason answered, voice straining with need. “God, yes.”
Jack let go of his cock and wrapped his arms around Jason’s thighs as he leaned in, pressing his weight against him. He moved his hips, pushing in and pulling back, going deeper an inch at a time. It was unnecessary and they both knew it, but Jack loved to tease, to make Jason feel him. As if for the first time, Jack thought, and he got a different kind of smile on his face.
One that Jason recognized. He knew this game well. “So hard,” he gasped.
Jack spread his knees for balance and pulled back, almost nearly out, before he thrust back inside in one long, smooth stroke. Jason dropped his mouth open, panting more rapidly. “First time, isn’t it?”
“Like the feel of me?” Stroke.
“Will you scream for me when I make you come?” Stroke.
Jason laughed breathily. “Probably.”
“Good,” Jack said as a wicked expression crossed his face. He pulled back again, and this time, he sped up his thrusts.
Jason’s brows furrowed in keen pleasure and he breathed, “Fuck, you’re beautiful.”
Jack stared down at him, not quite smiling, then with a snarl, said, “Feel me,” and slammed home.
“Fuck!” Jason yelled, squeezing his eyes closed as he threw his head back.
Jack knew that for another cue and he let go of Jason’s right thigh and pushed it open so he could wrap his fingers around his cock. The moment he did, Jason’s eyes opened and he raised his head off the bed as he grabbed Jack behind the neck with one hand and with the other, took over the stroking of his cock.
“Make me come.”
It was Jack’s turn to swallow as he grabbed Jason’s thigh again, then swiveled his hips and plunged in, angling for his gland.
“Yes,” Jason croaked as he stroked himself quickly. “Yes.”
“You love my cock inside you,” Jack breathed.
“Yes,” Jason gasped, closing his eyes, feeling his balls draw up.
“Look at me,” Jack commanded.
The moment Jason looked up, Jack pushed forward, looming over him, then let his hips fly. “Jack!” Jason cried as he surrendered to the bruising of his ass. He was unable to look away as his orgasm approached and when it did, all Jason could do was stare into Jack’s eyes as the beautiful spike of pleasure swarmed over him. He let go of Jack so he wouldn’t hurt him and grabbed the bed instead, grimacing and throwing his head back as the yell came.
“Fuck yes!” Jack growled at him and pistoned faster, harder, the sight below him going straight to his balls. Then Jason wrapped his legs around him and rode him back, and oh dear god! Without warning, Jack’s climax attacked him like a bolt of lightning and he shut his eyes and gasped as if in pain but it was far from that. As he pumped his release into Jason’s body, he felt his lover’s hand on his neck and opened his eyes. Jason was blurred but gorgeous, pulling him down on top of him for a sweaty, glorious kiss.
“I love you,” Jason whispered.
Opening his eyes again, and thankful that Jason was less blurry, Jack nuzzled him, unable to say anything till the afterglow started a minute later. Relaxing on top of him, he kissed him back and said, “Romantic.”
Jason smirked back at him and Jack grinned and bit his chin. “I love you back.”
Eventually, Jack pulled out and they lazily rolled out of bed and returned to the bath. Rubbing his ass cheek, Jason gingerly sank into the water, sighing. Jack cringed and Jason rolled his eyes and moved over, straddling his lap under the water. “Don’t you dare,” he said. “This is a happy sore.”
Jack smiled and reached between them, flicking Jason’s navel ring with his fingernail.
“Jack,” Jason laughed, squirming. The fact that he could feel that zing right now was a bit startling.
“Just checking to see if your nerves are still working properly.”
“All of me is working properly,” Jason answered with a mock-glare. “And you’ll get to see how much just as soon as I get a hold of Daniel.”
Jack bit his lip. “You at one end, me at the other. He doesn’t stand a chance of getting out of this room again till morning.”
Jason placed his hand on the back of Jack’s neck, smiling mischievously. “I love a man with confidence,” he said just before he dragged him under the water and kissed him breathless.
Completely flabbergasted, Daniel smoothed his hands over his resewn shirt and trousers, staring into the full-length mirror that hung on the far wall of the atrium, next to the second fireplace. He simply couldn’t believe his clothes were back to normal. “You could teach our sewing artists a thing or two.” Turning to Opol, he gave her a stunned look of gratitude. “‘Thanks’ seems inadequate.”
Opol grinned and tucked a strand of her long dark, brown hair behind her ear. She gave Adriann a smile that Daniel felt looked just a little too adoring and said, “Adriann asked if I would apply my skill to your clothing and I was pleased to help.”
Shaking his head, Daniel finally turned away from the mirror. “Well, you did an outstanding job. Now is there any way I can return the favor?”
She shook her head quickly, blushing. “No, Daniel. It is one of my many thanks to you. There is no need to return the favor.”
“Thanks for what?” Daniel asked, confused.
Smiling, she shook her head disbelievingly, then touched Adriann’s arm and left the atrium. Daniel gave Adriann a suspicious look as he picked up his boots.
“What was that about?”
Adriann reached over and ran his hand down Daniel’s chest, unnecessarily smoothing the cotton. With a sigh, he said, “For saving our lives, Daniel.”
Daniel blinked. “But that was over a year ago.”
“And they’ll be eternally grateful,” Adriann answered. “As will I.” He reached up and caressed Daniel’s cheek and jaw. “I thank the universe frequently for bringing you and your people into our lives.”
Daniel tried not to frown at that, but it just sounded… well, he wasn’t used to it, that kind of gratitude. They could help, they did, and the trade agreement was a mutually beneficial arrangement. All that Daniel thought was necessary. Nodding with embarrassment, Daniel stepped away from him, unable to keep from feeling the man’s exceedingly deep love. Sometimes the power of it was just a little too much to handle.
Adriann walked over to him and turned Daniel around to face him. Giving him a careful look, he said, “I know this embarrasses you. I’m sorry.”
Daniel took in a deep breath, willing down the blush he felt creeping around his ears. “I guess if I were in your position, I might feel the same.”
Adriann smiled. “Might? Wow, an allowance,” he teased, and Daniel pushed him away from him.
Chuckling, Adriann took Daniel by the shoulders, turned him toward the door and gently shoved. Daniel looked over his shoulder, slightly amused. “And now you’re kicking me out?”
“Absolutely,” Adriann said, giving Daniel a mock-scowl. “I have business to see to.” When Daniel rolled his eyes, he smiled. “And your presence is required in Jack’s room.”
Daniel raised a brow. “And you know this because you’ve been listening?”
Adriann affected a sniff and turned away. “I’m not saying anything. Go, Daniel. You finally have some free time to spend with them.” He looked over his shoulder and added, “And Jack’s arm is doing just fine.”
Pursing his lips, Daniel started to leave when Adriann said, “And Daniel?”
“I think Elsa’s sent up some food by now.”
“For?” Daniel asked.
It was Adriann’s turn to roll his eyes. “It’s your dinner time.”
“In an hour or so.”
“You’ll be excused, Daniel,” Adriann said, chuckling even more.
With an annoyed groan, Daniel left him and walked down the hall. Entering Jack’s room, he found his lovers on the bed, dressed in fluffy, royal purple bathrobes. Jack was reclined against the headboard while Jason faced him, lying on his stomach diagonally across the bed.
“Where’d you get those robes?” Daniel asked.
“Talen’s closet,” Jack said, pointing at the chiffonier.
Daniel dropped his boots at the foot of the bed, then moved around to Jason’s side. Touching the edge of Jason’s robe, he said, “Nice. So where’s the caviar and champagne?”
“Room service is slow,” Jack said, lacing his fingers behind his head.
Daniel grinned. “It’s on the way.”
Jack sat forward. “No shit?”
“No shit. Adriann told me that Elsa’s sent something up.”
“That’s very cool,” Jack said. “Especially since I’m starving.”
“I have no idea what they’re sending up though.”
“Well, whatever it is, you better get changed then,” Jason said as he turned onto his side and reached with his foot to nudge Daniel’s hip.
It was then that both of them realized that Daniel was wearing a uniform. Jack narrowed his eyes and Jason sat up and leaned forward, pulling Daniel across the bed.
“Didn’t you say this was ruined?” Jack asked.
“It was. Opol apparently has a magic needle.”
Jason’s and Jack’s brows rose in shock. “No way!” Jason said, looking for sewing thread on Daniel’s trousers as Jack pulled up his shirt. Their attentions were, at first, innocent but the moment Daniel began to get turned on by it, they seemed to buy a clue, too.
Jack smiled and pushed Daniel onto his back, looking down at him from his right side. “When’s the meal getting here?” he asked, his hand on Daniel’s chest.
Jason decided not to play fair and leaned over to nuzzle and inhale Daniel’s groin and the growing outline there. “Mmm, I think I found my dinner.”
Aroused by the warm breath even through his trousers, Daniel pushed him away. “Don’t start something you can’t finish, Jason.”
“I always finish what I start,” Jason said, exchanging a quick glance with Jack. He was feeling it, and he knew Jack was: their desire was ratcheting up again now that Daniel was there.
“With how many interruptions?” Daniel asked archly.
“Several, usually caused by you,” he said.
“Now wait a sec,” Daniel protested, but Jason was quickly crawling over him, making him laugh. “Jason,” he said, attempting for a reason he couldn’t figure out to go back to arguing. But when Jason threaded his fingers through his hair and firmly held him as he kissed him thoroughly, Daniel forgot all about… whatever the hell it was they were teasing each other about.
Till the knock came at the door. Jason started laughing into the kiss, companioned by a chuckle from Jack, and Daniel shoved Jason off him with a growl and scooched off the bed. “Asshole,” he said, going to the door. Opening it, he found Elsa standing there holding a large tray that looked heavy from all the food on it.
His first thought was to relieve her of the burden but he squelched it, knowing it would demean her offering. He didn’t quite understand the Brethren’s’ feelings of service and devotion for it felt a little too much like slavery to him, but he’d seen no unequal treatment of them since he’d first stepped on the planet so he had to accept it as part of the culture. There were times where Jack had had to remind him to leave things be. Just because a culture had servants didn’t mean they had slaves.
Stepping aside and inviting her in, she smiled and entered, heading for the table that held the water pitcher. Daniel moved ahead of her quickly to clear a space.
She nodded a thank you and set down the tray. “We did not know how hungry you were,” she said, and to Daniel, it sounded almost apologetic.
“It’s fine,” he said warmly, “but you really didn’t have to go to so much trouble.”
Elsa gave him a fond but chiding look–like a parent to a child. He figured it might be appropriate. Elsa was older than most of the other Brethren he’d met, and though she might look young, he knew that her Earth-equivalent age was somewhere around a hundred and twenty. Older than Teal’c.
“There was no extra time spent, Daniel,” she said, turning and heading back for the door. “The food I have brought will be the same food served in the great hall.”
“Right,” Daniel said, grinning.
Jack was off the bed and walking to her, adjusting his robe but feeling awfully exposed because he was wearing it. He held out his hand to Elsa and puzzled, she stretched out hers. He clasped it warmly, then brought it to his mouth and kissed the back of her hand. “Thanks. It’s still very generous.”
She gave him a puzzled look and withdrew her hand. “You are welcome. Please enjoy the food.”
As Jack gave her a smile and closed the door, Jason sent Daniel a puzzled look as he went over to fetch the tray and bring it back to the bed. Daniel held out his hand to stop him.
“Let’s just pick up the table and bring it over to the foot of the bed.”
“Grab one end then,” Jason said, and as they picked up the table, it proved to be quite heavy; it was no small, light-weight table they were carrying.
Watching their efforts, Jack pursed his lips, amused. “Want some help?” he asked as they carefully crossed the room.
“You’re not ripping your arm open,” Daniel told him with mock-severity, though it didn’t at all hide his protective look.
Jack wanted to argue but decided to leave it alone. “Hen,” he said, grinning sarcastically.
“Chick,” Daniel replied, grinning back.
As they sat down on the bed and took food and drink from the table, Jack found he was indeed quite hungry. The entree was a sandwich of a sort, red meat rolled into a tortilla-like bread the size of a large burrito, and the drink was the same sort of reddish ‘ale’ the Var’chol’si and Brethren drank with their meals, like wine. Its taste was mild but its effects weren’t. And there was a large pitcher of the stuff.
He had the idea to combine sexual teasing with their dinner, but he really wanted to put that off until the food was out of the way; he had no interest in mixing his dinner with foreplay. Judging by the way Daniel and Jason ate, they didn’t either and looked just as hungry. Curiously, he found that arousing. Or maybe because after dinner, he planned to have Daniel and Jason for dessert.
“So, I was talking with Al and Connor about tomorrow,” Jason began, licking meat juice from his fingers.
“And you’re thinking… what?” Jack asked, having some thoughts about that himself.
Daniel suddenly broke his train of thought as he reached over and killed Jack’s preference to keep anything sexual away from the ‘dinner table’ by plucking a stray bit of meat from the end of Jack’s sandwich, then opening his mouth, tipping his head back slightly, and dropping it in. Chewing, with a grin on his face, he gave Jack the impression that he was deliberately beginning to wind him up. And Jack found he really didn’t mind it all that much.
“I’m trying to eat,” he scolded. “Stop that.”
“Well, I just had to save that bit before it fell to the bed.”
Jack didn’t buy it and Daniel knew he didn’t buy it. Deciding not to point that out, he instead pointed downward at the towels that he and Jason had laid over the comforter. “That is why these are here. It’s Talen’s room, not their guest quarters.”
“Always the gentleman,” Daniel said, but he purposely assumed an expression that clearly indicated otherwise.
Jack was about to answer but Jason cleared his throat. He knew that Daniel was just doing his usual teasing, but he was hungry and for once, had no intention mixing dinner with dessert. “Daniel, put a pin in your dinner foreplay.”
Jack sniggered as Daniel shot Jason a playfully dirty look, but it quickly faded when he realized Jason was serious. “Fine. I’ll stop,” he said, “but that means foreplay will last longer.”
“No it won’t,” Jack said and this time, Jason sniggered.
“As I was saying,” Jason went on. “I was talking to the boys about the order we have where those Bor’cha are concerned. They aren’t needed here. The prelim work we have to do first doesn’t require that many people now that we have that ship and its sensors.”
“Providing it’s not booby-trapped,” Jack said.
“Providing it’s not booby-trapped. So I’m going to ask Hammond if I could send them home. They have family obligations to attend to. We can stay here, help Adriann on the ground while Sam and Teal’c take their readings from above.” He paused, watching Jack consider. “Sound like a plan?”
Jack nodded. “Have either of you given any thought as to what might be the best course of action?”
Jason shook his head. “No, I got a little side-tracked.”
Daniel grinned at him sympathetically. “Me, too, actually,” and looking at Jack, he asked, “But I take it you have?”
“I’ve had nothing to do but think,” Jack half-complained. When Jason shot him a filthy smile, Jack corrected himself. “Almost nothing.”
Daniel’s lips twitched with part-amusement, part-guilt. “Well there’s one silver lining to your injury,” and grinned like a naughty child when Jack threw him a look. “Seriously, Jack, what’s on your mind?”
“Aside from fucking you stupid?” Jack asked.
“Who said it’s me who’s getting fucked stupid?” Daniel asked.
“Well it ain’t me,” Jason grinned, “because Jack’s already taken care of that.”
“You still seem pretty smart to me,” Jack smirked. “I apparently didn’t fulfill my task properly.”
Jason grinned. “Then maybe one of us will show you how it’s done,” he said, and on the heels of his words, he felt his body–now happy with food–react nicely to the provocative innuendo. Dinner wasn’t done and he was far from full, but that was okay. Hunger was no longer a paramount concern and sex was closing in as its replacement.
Daniel opened his empathic reception to Jack and Jason a bit more and he could feel their desire for him. It matched his own, and though he hadn’t been able to keep dinner free from sexual distraction, his stomach was still demanding attention. He took a bite of food and decided to change the subject of the conversation. Slightly.
“So,” Daniel began with a sordid grin on his face. “Speaking of teammates, Jason. I wonder how Alex is doing.”
Jason snorted. “If Jalen’s needs were anything to go by, I’m quite certain by now, that Alex will be sore, exhausted and asleep.”
“And Jalen?” Jack asked.
Jason wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, earning a little scolding look from Daniel, and reached for his mug of ale. After a healthy drink, one accompanied by the recognition of a pleasant buzz filling his head, he gave his lovers a careful look, then shrugged. “I don’t think that Alex alone will be able to fulfill his… needs.”
Jack exchanged glances with Daniel. “You could send a little reminder to Adriann,” he said with a wink.
Daniel closed his eyes and concentrated and was met by Adriann’s quiet chuckle. The sound inside his mind sent a message to his cock, but it made him feel oddly possessive, not aroused.
See to your own needs, Daniel. Talen will see to Jalen’s.
“What?” Jason asked, eyeing Daniel’s smirk.
“Jalen’s being taken care of.”
Jalen was happily pleased, but far from sated. The restlessness in his body was still there, still gnawing deep in his belly. Alex lay on his stomach next to him, lightly snoring, and Jalen was a little jealous. He was quite certain that Alex was satisfied, though he wondered how pleased Alex would be when he noticed the bruises later.
Stroking his erection and closing his eyes in pleasure, he sighed and wished there was another way to satisfy the hunger in himself.
The voice in his mind startled him, but to his relief the surprise was minimal. It was as if he fully expected such discourse. He didn’t quite recognize the sender but something told him it was Talen.
I don’t understand what is happening to me
I know. Come to us.
Us? he asked himself, and while he didn’t know who ‘us’ was, he knew where. Jalen got up and searched for a robe in the chiffonier. Picking out a black one, he slipped it on and left the room. Absently tying the sash, he headed in the direction of the rooms on the other side of the grand staircase. Pausing at the open hallway that also served as a balcony over the main hall, he cocked his head to listen.
This was not the place, his instinct told him. Further down. Passing one door after another, he stopped at the last one at the end of the hall and wrapped his fingers around the knob. Hunger lay inside. Jalen stepped inside and closed the door behind him, though he didn’t really register doing so. His attention was on the large four-poster directly across from him.
Naked, Talen and Ophius lay on their sides facing each other and between them was a board game Jalen recognized. Chess. Talen had her fingers on what Jalen thought was a knight and when he frowned in confusion, she smiled.
“Janet introduced us to this lovely game of strategy.”
“Oh.” He couldn’t help but ask. “Where is Janet?”
“With Kashan,” Ophius answered as he sat up carefully, trying not to disturb the board. Talen grinned at him and set down her piece.
“I think we can put this away for now.”
Jalen swallowed as he watched this extremely tall, beautiful woman walk across the room with the game and set it down on a small desk that sat before three arched windows. He admired her polished, muscular body and couldn’t help but think that perhaps she could be the embodiment of the ancient Amazons. When she turned around, he felt his dick twitch at the sight of her full, round breasts and looked away. His eyes fell on Ophius who was regarding him with a look of understanding. He was coming toward him, holding out his hand, and Talen was nearing him as well, holding out hers.
Jalen took their hands and they led him to the bed, his robe sliding off his body as he knelt in the center. Their hands washed over him, making him tremble with arousal. Then Talen’s fingers were encircling his shaft while Ophius moved behind him, one hand moving down his ass.
Jalen swallowed nervously, hating the silence. He didn’t mind the seduction nor the way they fondled and caressed his body, but couldn’t they talk?
“We use our minds,” Talen said as she maneuvered in front of him.
“I’m not used to that,” he said, beginning to pant as she stroked him.
“You will be,” Ophius said behind him.
“Such a nice difference,” Talen said, stroking faster.
Swallowing again, Jalen finally realized he wasn’t touching her and reached out to do so. It was then that he found her anatomically different, for she had two sex organs, male and female, and he swallowed again. “I’m really not used to this,” he said.
She smiled and guided his hand and, as he watched her canines lengthen, he felt Ophius’ lips on the side of his neck, teeth grazing his skin. “This is what I need,” he said absently, and knew it was true.
“Do not worry,” Ophius murmured, the sound mischievous. “We will make sure that your disquiet is gone before you leave this room.” He then sank his teeth into the left side of his neck while Talen leaned in and took the right side. Jalen sucked in a breath as his ass was breached, then gasped again as Talen pulled them both down on top of her. She guided his cock inside her and the combination of heat and pleasure swiftly blocked out every concern and gratefully, he closed his eyes and succumbed.
Jalen was being taken care of? Jack asked himself. He had an idea for a little of that himself, which also involved being contrary and perverse, so he set his own glass of ale down on the desk and licked his lips. Looking down at himself, absently searching for crumbs, he waited a moment, knowing that they were waiting.
Jack looked back up and asked, “So, Jason, how do you know what Jalen’s needs are. Exactly?”
Daniel coughed in the middle of taking a drink and Jack grinned. “Jack,” Daniel complained.
“He told me what they were,” Jalen said slowly, wondering if Jack was going where he thought he was going.
“I saw that kiss,” Jack continued.
Jason lifted his chin, throwing Jack a warning look. “You’re doing that twin thing again. Stop it.”
Jack waited a few seconds, then grinned and said, “Winding you up is what I’m doing.”
Setting down his own glass, Daniel made a rude noise and backhanded Jack across the chest and taking that as one more cue, Jack caught his hand and yanked Daniel over, bringing him chest to chest. “You’re still dressed.”
“You’re still observant.”
Jack leaned in, stopping just short of kissing him. “Jason and I have been discussing what to do with you.”
Jason snorted, half with relief that Jack was done with the twisted teasing. “We have.”
Daniel couldn’t help but be aroused by Jack’s easy attempt to manipulate him. “Is that so?” He leaned away from Jack’s hold, though not remotely interested in breaking it completely. Looking over at Jason, he asked, “So. Wanna tell me what you decided?”
Jason grinned and moved in behind him, pulling Daniel’s shirt up. “Well,” he started, nudging his lover’s arms out of the way, and as Daniel lifted them, Jason said, “We figured we’d do the usual double-team.” He pulled Daniel’s shirt off and threw it to the floor. “You know.” He slid his hands around to Daniel’s chest, grinning when Jack shifted to give him room, and used firm caresses to arouse him.
Jack took over, opening the buttons on Daniel’s trousers with deliberate slowness. Daniel looked back, eyes on his, and deciding to tease a bit more, Jack didn’t bother to push his trousers out of the way as he slid his hand inside, under the briefs, and palmed his cock.
Daniel half-closed his eyes as Jack’s familiar rubbing began to quickly stiffen his cock. Jason pushed his pants over his hips, and Daniel had to ask. “Was this strategy part of it?”
“We’re winging it,” Jason murmured against his ear while his hands half-undressed, half-caressed.
His hands still at his sides, Daniel swallowed and stared at Jack’s lips. “You might want to kiss me now,” he said, but then circumvented his suggestion by wrapping his arms around Jack’s neck and kissing him hard.
Jack momentarily interrupted the kiss to say, “I think it’s you kissing me.”
“Yes,” Daniel said, then tightened his left arm around Jack’s neck to kiss him more thoroughly while he moved his right hand down to slip into Jack’s robe and take hold of his cock. He found him hard, and briefly smiled before he was forced to gasp when Jack changed his caress to a stroke.
With a kiss behind Daniel’s ear, Jason moved backward off the bed and dropped his robe, his desire to move things along paramount. He leaned across and slid his hands under Daniel’s arms and pulled him backward, separating his kiss with Jack.
“Jason,” Daniel laughed, protesting.
Grinning, Jason knelt on the bed, staring down at Daniel’s upside-down face as he said, “Jack, get his pants off.”
“You’re being an ornery little shit, aren’t you?” Daniel said, absently lifting his legs as Jack pulled his trousers and briefs off. His main focus was on that interesting half-erection of Jason’s. The view was delicious and the smell of him arousing. Reaching up with both arms, he grabbed Jason’s thighs and slid his hands over them, caressing the skin, working his way upward. When he had his hands on Jason’s ass, he tugged hard, forcing Jason’s to fall forward, bracing himself on his hands and knees.
Daniel’s cock was in front of him but Jason looked up at Jack as he disrobed. “Well, I’m at one end,” he said, then sucked in a breath as Daniel pulled his hips down and took his cock into his mouth.
“Yes, you are,” Jack replied, spreading Daniel’s legs apart and kneeling between them. “And I’m at the other.” But instead of turning his attention to Daniel, he took Jason’s head in his hands and leaned in, rubbing his cock over his face. “Only right now, it’s your other end.”
Daniel smiled at Jack’s words and Jason’s muffled groan and concentrated on licking and sucking. He slid his tongue down the shaft and gently took Jason’s balls into his mouth, separately, then together. This was a nice dessert, he thought, loving the spicy smell of him as he rubbed his tongue against the skin. He was just getting to the place where he could zone on what he was doing when Jason wrapped his hand around his cock and stroked. Daniel moaned with pleasure and wrapped his hand around Jason’s, encouraging him.
Turned on, Jason followed his lead while Jack threaded his fingers through his hair, mussing it thoroughly, and slid a few inches of his cock back and forth in his mouth. Jason lifted the middle of his flattened tongue to ride against the shaft and moaned when Jack did.
Jack sighed and tilted his head back, closing his eyes, indulging in the contact for a few minutes before he knew he had to withdraw. What he wanted was to sheath his dick somewhere far tighter, far hotter, but Jason was sucking him off so well that if Jack wasn’t careful, he could lose it. Pulling out slowly, he crouched down and grabbed him by the back of the neck, kissing him passionately. Jason returned the favor and finally whispered, “Time to give him a little more attention?”
Jack smiled and whispered, “Sandwich time,” in Jason’s ear.
Daniel stopped and shoved Jason onto his side, licking his lips as he smirked at his lovers. “I heard that.”
With his eyes on Daniel’s, Jack retrieved the still-unstoppered jar of oil from the shelf over the headboard and waved it temptingly. “Good,” he said, then carefully crawled onto the bed and over Daniel’s body. Hovering over him without lying on top of him, Jack knew he was teasing. “It’s time, Daniel.”
“For?” Daniel asked cheekily, but he knew and his cock was getting harder because of it.
Jack leaned down and nuzzled him again, lips just barely brushing over Daniel’s, and Jason watched them, turned on by the obvious lust in their breathing, their eyes, and the body language that spoke of wanting everything so intensely it ached. The same things he felt himself. Taking the oil from Jack’s hand, he poured a liberal amount over his cock and smiled slowly, mischievously, as he was met with two surprised expressions.
To Jack, he said, “You didn’t seriously think that Daniel was going to be the center, did you?”
Daniel smiled widely, catching on. It was so nice to be able to switch sides, to play cat and mouse… or hunter/prey. Sliding his hands from Jack’s stomach and on up to his chest, Daniel indulged in the feel of his pecs and the hair that covered them. He missed the dog tags, which were probably somewhere on a pile of Jack’s clothes, but this was just as good–no metal to get in the way. Tweaking Jack’s nipples, he spread his legs seductively and moved his hands around to grab hold of Jack’s ass. He flexed his fingers, kneading the muscles under them, and loved the surprised look on Jack’s face.
“You definitely require some attention after that heroic wrestling match with a creature three times your size.”
Jack knew the game had shifted and didn’t mind in the least. While he bottomed for Jason very rarely–and mostly because that’s the way Jason wanted it–the thought of being the center in the sandwich and having Jason be the top for once…
“Think you’re up for it?” he teased Jason, then snorted as his lover gave his erection an emphatic stroke. “Yeah, guess you are.” He looked down, trying to decide if Daniel should stay like he was, but when Daniel raised his knees and held his hand out for the jar, Jack realized that he wasn’t in control of this one. And for now, that suited him just fine.
Daniel poured some oil over his cock and balls and applied some to his ass before he added more in his palm and took hold of Jack’s cock. Jack began to thrust in reaction to Daniel’s fist and Daniel impatiently handed the oil back to Jason.
“Spread those fine legs,” Jason said, helping it along as he nudged Jack’s knees apart with his own. He drizzled oil over the top of Jack’s ass and set the jar aside absently as he watched the oil slide down into the cleft and over his hole. Grabbing Jack’s hips, Jason searched for Daniel’s gaze and having caught it, winked at him.
Daniel slid an arm around Jack’s neck and pulled him down for a deeply passionate kiss, which is what Jason wanted. It left Jack’s ass in the air. Slipping two fingers past the ring of muscle, he closed his eyes and focused partly on the groan Jack made and partly on his fingers. Slowly, he fucked him, sinking deeper, angling, until he found that small, hard nub.
“Shit,” Jack said, breaking off his kiss with Daniel as a shudder passed through his limbs, making them tingle.
“Gotcha,” Jason sighed. Grabbing the oil again, he added more over his fingers, moving them in and out as he went. He was fully prepared to keep doing this for several minutes but he watched Jack position himself against Daniel’s hole and he had to act quickly. With the oil back on the table, Jason withdrew his fingers and grabbed hold of Jack’s hips, but when he didn’t slide in, Jack made a growling sound. Jason murmured, “Just wait, Jack,” he said, then let go of Jack’s right hip as he rubbed Jack’s hole with the head of his cock.
“Ready?” Daniel asked him, losing his own patience. “I know I am.”
“Yes,” Jason said.
Looking into Jack’s eyes, Daniel grabbed the back of his neck as Jason had done before and held him while he lifted knees to his chest. “Fuck me dirty,” he said, eyes half-lidding as Jack pressed against him.
Jason pushed, and so did Jack, and Daniel lifted up to receive him more fully, groaning loudly as Jack slid inside. Jack made the low grunting sound he always made whenever he was fucked and Daniel whispered, “Yes, Jason, fuck him,” against his lips before he kissed Jack hard.
Like before with Jack and Jason alone, the three of them together moved in an easy rhythm, familiar with each other’s body timing and movements. Taking most of the attention, Jack thrust back and forth, overwhelmed by the double assault. He couldn’t seem to keep from moaning, either, and the hands on him from both his lovers only encouraged that. Minutes went by, or hours, he wasn’t sure, and Jack lost himself in the indulgence, loving the way the oil kept both his cock and his ass slick. It didn’t absorb into the skin too quickly and made it possible for him to appreciate the easy thrusts, not just his own.
The other thing the oil did was let him feel the heat from both Jason’s cock and Daniel’s ass. Jason’s dick filled him so wonderfully well, the hardness spearing him again and again, winding him up, drawing him close to the edge, while Daniel’s body took hold of him, keeping him surrounded by intense, almost-painful pleasure.
Jack wanted this to last forever but when Daniel began to stroke himself with one hand while playing with his own nipples, he knew that would turn Jason on and make him speed up. Upon that thought, Jason did, only he added an extra jab as he thrust and Jack gripped the towels under Daniel’s head tightly as the effect went straight to his balls.
“Oh yeah, Jason, that’s so nice,” he said, then let out a gasp of surprise when Jason suddenly grabbed him by the shoulders and sped up. Jack knew he was going to come soon and he tried to encourage him, make it better. “Fuck me,” he said gruffly, and he started to say more. Till Daniel yanked him down into another kiss.
Jason tried not to grip him too hard but the look of Daniel and the sound of Jack was just too goddamn much. “Beautiful,” he said, using shorter strokes, and with a cry, he threw his head back and came.
Jack wanted to hear that same cry from Daniel and it was his turn to make it happen. When Jason pulled out of him and shot the rest of his climax over his ass, Jack growled with pleasure and quickened his strokes. He fucked Daniel faster, harder, and when Daniel slid his fingers into Jack’s hair and clutched him, yelling, “Fuck me hard!” Jack complied, doing the same thing that he had done earlier with Jason: he let loose.
“Fuck yes!” Daniel cried, knowing the intensity of Jack’s fucking wouldn’t take him long to come. It was so damn good and Daniel sped up his hand, letting it blur over his cock as Jack’s assault brought him over the edge. “Yes!” he yelled, feeling his cock swell as his orgasm hit him like a sledgehammer.
Jack watched the come pulse thickly from Daniel’s cock, hitting his chest and coating his knuckles. With it was the grip of his muscles around his cock and that was all Jack needed for that extra shove over the cliff. He dropped down on top of him, kissing him desperately as he ground against him and came hard.
Jason laid down next to them, kissing and nuzzling their faces, their shoulders, his hand on the small of Jack’s back, rubbing lovingly. When Jack broke his kiss with Daniel, he turned to Jason, looking for more, and Jason smiled and gave it to him.
It took a few long moments of lying there, bathing in the afterglow, before Jack eased his cock from Daniel’s body and rolled off on his other side. The three of them lay there panting, cooling down, and Daniel lazily spread his semen over his skin, grinning when Jason’s hand joined him, then Jack’s.
“I think we totaled her bed,” Daniel said. He could no longer feel the towels underneath him and when he looked, along with Jack and Jason, they found the towels had been pushed aside from the motion of their bodies.
“Oops,” Jack said, though at that moment, he didn’t really have enough care behind it.
Jason rolled onto his back and closed his eyes, then a slow smile crept across his lips. He knew his next words would elicit a response, and what kind only fueled his ready imagination. “Tell you what. I’ll give her both of you for breakfast. That should appease her.”
Daniel and Jack exchanged surprised looks, then attacked their lover to remind him that Talen wasn’t the only one who could bite.
. . .
Daniel abruptly awakened from some quickly fading, meaningless dream and blinked his eyes open. He smelled something familiar and after a moment, he realized it was coffee.
Pushing up on his left elbow and looking at the bedside table next to him, he saw a white coffee mug. At first, he wondered why the hell he didn’t remember coming back home, till he registered that the mug was rounded and the familiar shape belonged to the Brethren. But coffee? Bringing the mug off the table, he looked at it. Dark brown. Looked like coffee. He sniffed. It smelled like coffee. It was hot so he tentatively sipped and sure enough, it was coffee.
He sipped almost non-stop till he’d had at least a third of the contents, then set it back on the table and looked over his shoulder. He was alone. Frowning, he grabbed Jack’s watch off the table and stared at it till the numbers came into focus. 0830.
He groaned and lay back down, closing his eyes. A few seconds later, he detected another noise. Water running. The bathroom. Groaning again, he flipped the blanket back and swung his legs over, sitting up a bit shakily. Forcing himself up, he walked in more or less a straight line to the bathroom and pushed open the door. Jack stood at the pedestal sink, finishing a shave, and grinned when he saw him through the mirror.
Daniel scratched at his scalp and suddenly yawned. “I guess. Where the hell did you scrounge up that coffee?”
Jack half-nodded. “Thank Carter. She and Teal’c talked to base an hour ago, before Hammond arrived, and had them shoot over some of the stuff.”
Daniel grinned and left the doorway, retrieved his coffee and came back. “I thought check-in wasn’t until 10?”
“It’s not, but I woke up about forty-five minutes ago and decided we should go ahead and get a clearer picture on the problem before we talk to the boss.”
“With his team, down at breakfast,” Jack replied, wiping off his face.
Daniel hated waking up without either of them and though he knew it was childish, he let himself wallow in the resentment. He may as well have slept in his quarters back at the SGC. There were few times when he could wake up with Jack and Jason and pretend they lived openly, without prejudice and oppression. He had that luxury at home, or at Jack’s or Jason’s, but it was always fleeting. This morning, in this place, he’d wanted to wake up with them after that wonderful night they’d had, to allow himself the fantasy. But like the reality, he’d had that snatched.
“Shit,” he grumped, and turned back around, set his coffee on the table, and crawled back into bed, dragging the covers up over him, knowing that was childish, too.
Jack winced and let out a sympathetic sigh as he stood in the bathroom doorway. After five years in a relationship, he knew Daniel’s moods and while this one didn’t happen that often, it was easy to guess. Going over, he sat down and leaned over, pressing his upper body against Daniel’s. “You know I love you, right?”
“Go away,” came Daniel’s muffled voice.
“Not until you say it,” Jack drawled, knowing the ritual. He then wrapped his arm around Daniel, through the blanket, and hugged him. Daniel made another growling noise but Jack discerned a bit less grumpiness.
“Why didn’t you wake me?” Daniel asked, then threw covers off his head and gave Jack a severely disappointed look. “I hate waking up like this when none of us have to be out of bed right away. You should have woken me.”
Guiltily, Jack rubbed his arm and said nothing, then looked with relief when Jason walked in, interrupting.
He was carrying a ceramic carafe that Daniel knew instantly was coffee. He paused, closing the door behind him. “Hey,” he said, then approached carefully. “I was, um, hoping you were still asleep.”
Daniel pushed up on his elbows, started to say something fairly nasty, but at the look on Jason’s face, he thought better of it. Glancing up at Jack, he saw Jack giving him an appraising look, almost expectant. “What?” Daniel asked.
“Aren’t you going to give him the bitchy attitude, too?” Jack asked.
Jason closed his eyes, knowing that tone. “Uh oh.” He refilled Daniel’s mug, then set the carafe down. “Before you say anything, I want you to know that I went down to grab some coffee. But if you would have rather waited, then–“
“Jason,” Daniel said, cutting him off as he cringed and fell back, laying his arm over his eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m being a bitch. Neither of you were here when I woke up and you accidentally ruined what I wanted to wake up to.”
“Drink your coffee,” Jason said, “and you’ll feel better. Or would you rather stay bitchy?”
Daniel sighed. “I’d rather you got back into bed.”
Shaking his head, Jason picked up the coffee mug and walked around the bed to Daniel’s other side. Sitting down gingerly so he wouldn’t spill it, he smacked Daniel’s side with his free hand. “C’mon, up on elbows. Drink.”
Daniel did as asked, taking the mug, and at Jack’s disgusted look, he said, “Don’t be like that. You just softened me up so I’m more agreeable.”
The words made Jason laugh and reluctantly, Jack chuckled and gave Daniel a long look. “One day, Daniel, we’ll all live together without threat of prison.”
“I know,” Daniel said, blowing at his coffee.
“And if we didn’t have this high-stress but very important job, we would both retire,” Jason added.
“And if I didn’t love you so much, I’d never put up with your crap,” Jack said, meaning it.
Daniel paused mid-blow and looked up at him. “I know.”
“Okay, gimme that,” Jason said, taking away the mug.
“Hey!” Daniel protested.
Jason set the mug on the left-hand table and turned in place, bringing his booted feet off the floor so he could lay down next to Daniel. “Jack, get up here.”
Jack grinned and they framed Daniel as they lay on their sides, hands cradling their heads. “Better?” Jack asked.
“You’re not naked,” Daniel said, unable to keep from grinning when they gave him a dark look. “But I’ll take it.”
Jason leaned over, and like Jack, nuzzled him before he kissed him, and like Daniel had done to Jack, found himself immersed in a long kiss that would have been a lot more arousing had it gone on longer. Separating, and licking his lips, he said, “Mornin’.”
“I love you and…” Daniel began.
“I love you back,” Jason said, “though I can’t seem to remember why at the moment.” When Daniel nuzzled him back, Jason added, “Although I’m starting to get my memory back.”
“Jack loves me too,” Daniel said. “Although–“
“Don’t push it,” Jack said, biting his shoulder, making Daniel smile stupidly. He suddenly sighed heavily, knowing it was time to go back to work. But that was okay, he thought as his brain slowly woke up. Jack and Jason were with him. “So, today’s agenda is to figure out a way to get rid of those blasted animals.”
“Yep,” Jack said.
“Without killing them.”
Daniel nodded. “Will Hammond give us the people we need?”
“I was talking to Jack about that,” Jason said, and outlined his idea about the Prometheus. “That way we have the ship standing by for beam-outs in case they’re necessary.”
“That’s a good idea,” Daniel said. He suddenly snorted. “Never thought that part of our duty involved animal round-up.”
Jack snorted in return. “When it concerns trade agreements, everything’s in the job description.”
Daniel’s attention was suddenly diverted and he looked at Jason. “Speaking of trade, is Jalen going to remain as the liaison?”
“Only for Adriann,” Jason said. “Sam suggested her dad as the Tok’ra liaison, but we’ll figure all that out later.”
“How’s Jalen doing?” Daniel asked.
Jason sighed heavily. “He’s calmer this morning.”
“Alex did that?” Daniel asked.
Jack grinned. “No. Talen and Ophius.”
Daniel’s brows raised. “Another threesome?”
“Well, temporary,” Jason replied, thinking. “He’s better, all things considered.”
Daniel nodded, wishing there was something he could do. And not just about Jalen. He was feeling just a bit deflated, wound down. And in a twisted turn of fate, a little anxious. He’d been feeling that way about coming here, seeing Adriann, and now, he didn’t want to leave. He knew they had to, but a large part of him hated the idea of going back home.
“What’re you thinking?” Jason asked, watching him.
“That I don’t want to go home.”
“Not many of us do, Daniel,” Jack sighed, “but we have to.”
Daniel growled. “I know that. I just wish we had some place else to go.”
There was nothing to say to that, but feeling the need to make him smile, Jason said, “You just want to stay here and feed your little fetish.”
Daniel grinned, mostly to himself, and shoved at Jason’s shoulder. “Stop.”
“You know,” Jack joined in, tapping his canines. “That little bite thing you have.”
“It’s not a bite thing,” Daniel protested.
“Bite fetish then.”
“Jack, it’s not a fetish, either.”
“Tell that to my thigh,” Jack said.
“Hey,” Daniel argued. “You started it. We were supposed to be attacking Jason, remember?”
“Which he turned around on us,” Jack said.
“And we’re in deep shit for that little bit of play,” Jason added. “We should have been more careful.”
“I didn’t bite you anywhere anyone could see,” Daniel said, puzzled by the fuss.
“Really?” Jason asked, brows rising. “You wanna see that baby you put on my ass last night? I don’t think Janet’s stopped laughing since I warned her about it earlier.”
“What’d you tell her for?” Daniel asked, looking back and forth between his lovers.
“Because you bit me on the spot where they give us our shots, Daniel. And I’m due next week.”
“Oh no,” Daniel grimaced. “Guess I’ll have to use the other hip.”
Jason cringed. “The other hip.”
“Idiot,” Jack smirked. “Where’d my medic go?”
“You fucked his brains out,” Jason replied just as a knock came to the door, startling them. Adriann entered the room and taking in the sight, he closed the door and grinned as he crossed the room.
“What if we were having sex?” Jack asked only slightly annoyed.
“I wouldn’t have knocked,” Adriann answered truthfully.
“You’d have just come walking–“
“Telepath?” Adriann said archly as he moved to the foot of the bed and sat down on the edge of the foot frame. He reached over and tweaked Daniel’s foot, making him yank it away. “Are you being teased for your little fetish?”
Daniel slowly sat up and for a moment, regarded him before answering. “This is your fault, you know.”
“Mine?” Adriann asked, melodramatically placing his hand on his chest. “No, surely not.”
Jason played along with Daniel and put on a mock-scowl. “Yep, your fault.”
“Distracting him, making him want you,” Jack answered, pretending to look severe.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Daniel said dryly.
Trying not to laugh, Jack waved at his own neck and said, “And we’re left out. We don’t even share his love for… that.”
Enjoying himself immensely, Adriann lifted his chin. “I can always fix that.”
Quote at the top is from, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth(Hot Summer Night)” by Meatloaf.