Joy's Fiction Stargate SG-1 Slash Fanfiction

Trinity 27

T


Trinity 27: Ignis Fatuus

Summary:  Strange goings on as the boys and their teams set off on a search for an ancient medallion.
Author notes:  Ignis Fatuus: “An illusion that misleads.”
Special thanks to Marie for the translations.
An attempt at a ghosty plot.  I failed, so take the chapter as a more successful bit of fun.


After getting checked in at the Heidelberg hotel near June Lake, the two teams headed out immediately for their ‘real’ accommodations: the Galaxy hotel.  Though it cost the government more money to set them up in two different hotels, their assignment required it.  They needed to stay onsite, and the Heidelberg was established as their ‘regroup’ site in case anything went wrong. 

They’d been driving for a good thirty minutes when Jack shook his head in disgust.  “Daniel…we’re on a road called Cemetery.  This doesn’t bode well.”

Daniel looked over at Jack, sitting shotgun as he drove their rented transport van East.  “I think the fact that we’re all wearing black suits and ties, looking for all the world like a Secret Service contingent, doesn’t bode well, either.  I mean, aren’t we supposed to be maintaining a low profile?”

Jack looked over his shoulder at Sam.  “I think that’s Carter’s fault.”

“Hey, all I suggested was that we go as a team of scientists.  How was I supposed to know that the General would go it one further and have us dress the part?”

“The man’s definitely got a strange sense of humor,” Jason said irritably, pulling at his tie, loosening the knot.  “I feel like a strangled penguin.”

“Blame Carter,” Jack said, his own tie already loose.  “I am.  She’s the only one not wearing a tie.”

“Hmph,” Sam shot back, then added under her breath, “I offered to wear one.” She pretended to look insulted but she couldn’t really complain, having worn business suits and skirts for most of her career.  At least she didn’t have to wear one of those damn skirts this time.  She felt quite comfortable in her suit and didn’t know why the guys felt uncomfortable.  She privately liked seeing the men looking business-like, and in black.  They looked good, although Teal’c looked more like a well-dressed ‘mechanic’ for the mob than a member of the scientific community.  She also thought that the men were bitching just a bit too much about the ties, almost as if they felt they were ‘expected’ to. 

Except Daniel.  He didn’t seem to mind wearing the suit, though he had loosened his tie as well.  He only objected to sticking out like a sore thumb–and he was right.  They did stick out like sore thumbs.  He was especially sensitive, too, because this time, the mission was his baby.  But Hammond had made it clear to both him and Jack that though the mission was under Daniel’s command, if any combat or defensive requirements came up, the mission would automatically revert to Jack’s command.  The retrieval of the medallion, the point of the mission, was secondary to their safety. 

Sam smiled to herself as she remembered that Daniel had remarked under his breath, loud enough for her ears only.   “Knowing Jack, he’ll create a situation just so he’d get to take command.”

Daniel looked at her in the rearview mirror, watching the smirk on her face grow.  He didn’t have to ask what it was for, either.  Neither minded dressing in business clothes, and they also found the mission parameters just a bit amusing.  Having to listen to Jack’s grumbling was the most entertaining part, tolerated with private snickering about Jack wanting to be ‘on top’.  Every time Daniel thought that, a grin appeared before he could stop it.  Jack caught him doing that once already, and he’d grumble and growl to himself, muttering things only the rest of them could imagine.  Teal’c found that part more amusing than anything.  Jack never had to say anything out loud, either, as everyone knew the man’s feelings.  Jack didn’t like sharing command of a mission.  Either he was in charge or he wasn’t.  Daniel understood that and he’d give Jack all the leeway he could on this one, short of handing over the mission. 

Frankly, Daniel liked being in command of missions where his expertise was not only useful but required.  He’d give Jack, as well as Jason, leeway on security issues, because their experience in that area was greater than his–as well as invaluable.  As much as Jack’s military bearing sometimes got on his nerves (and Jason’s, though to a lesser extent), Daniel had learned from him, and walking into the unknown and dealing with it properly was something that Jack was extremely good at.  Daniel knew his own strengths, and felt he was good, if not better, with the more scientific side of things and with Sam and Teal’c’s invaluable contributions, they made a good team as a result.  Daniel was very proud of the team he belonged to.  As he was of Jason’s. 

Through the rearview mirror, he glanced at the others in the 8-person van and caught Jason’s eyes trained on him, smiling softly, looking away when Daniel found him watching.  He pretended to be interested in something else, pointing at something out of the window to Alex, his 2IC.  When he looked back, Daniel winked at him.  Just a tease of a promise, and it made Jason smile again. 

Daniel was very glad that Hammond had sent SG-2 along.  While SG-2 was exceptionally good at being a first contact team like SG-1 was, their back-up as a security team made Daniel feel secure, made all the more so because of Jason’s martial art abilities.  Jack made him feel that way, of course, but having Jason and his guys there to back them up made things better.  He could relax and concentrate on his surroundings while everyone else did their jobs.  Aside from his own personal security, it really was preferable to have two teams in the field when they went out and about on Earth.  Experience proved that their own people were sometimes just as hazardous to deal with as the Goa’uld.  Adrian Conrad was a good example and–

“I still think this is a bad sign, Daniel,” Jack went on, breaking the silence.  “In fact, I say we turn around and have an impromptu vacation at Yosemite.” That prompted a few ‘seconds’ from others and a conversation started about the places to go in Yosemite. 

Daniel didn’t bother to answer Jack, as he knew the man simply liked to bitch when he was nervous about going into an unknown situation.  Five minutes later, Daniel was moving south, as the road curved slowly to the right.  Driving for five more minutes, Daniel slowed down and turned right once more, moving the sturdy vehicle onto a minimally maintained road called Galaxy Drive.  A few yards past the road sign was a brown historical marker that read, To Ghost Town #12 and the Galaxy Hotel

Jack traded looks with the others in the van but no one commented.  They already knew where they were going and what they would find.  The ‘recon’ was just a backup plan Jack preferred to enact first.  The information about the hotel and the mysterious medallion was something they’d already been fully briefed on before leaving Colorado. 

That Monday morning, Daniel had done his research after coming to work.  He’d then held the mission brief, going over what he’d found out, handing out mission folders that he’d prepared.  It never failed to impress Jack, Jason, or anyone else, how organized and professional Daniel was and how seriously he took his job, despite how it appeared sometimes. 

He’d taken all the information learned and had distilled it, interpreting the facts and rumors into a comprehensive and understandable report.  What he’d discerned was that a rich, reclusive tycoon named Avery Hawkins had built a hotel specifically for entertaining, but not for gambling or whoring.  His interest, at least initially, had been on science, collecting artifacts that had unknown ‘scientific’ origins.  Hawkins had been a doctor of anthropology and philology, and Daniel had become intrigued by him.  As he’d learned about him, he’d wondered why he’d never heard of the man, even off-hand.  Then he’d found out why:  Hawkins had been ostracized for his deep interest in the myth of Atlantis–and in proving it true.  Through Daniel’s research, he’d learned that the man had been misunderstood because of wide-spread ignorance, something he was familiar with.  Hawkins had aimed to prove scientifically the existence of Atlantis and any other old myths.  His main endeavor, it seemed, was to catalogue the timeline of scientific development.  This meant collecting those artifacts of unknown origin and trying to prove where they’d come from before announcing his findings to the world. 

This was where the medallion had come into play and how it had also diverted Hawkins’ interests.  It had been found on one of the small Greek islands, Lemnos, widely known for its medicinal reddish clay.  An excavation for removal of the clay had unearthed several fossils and artifacts and Hawkins had been visiting the island at that time.  Thinking it to be his fate to find the curious medallion, he’d brought it back with him to the States.  Six months after bringing it home, Hawkins had developed an obsession with astronomy, hence the renaming of the hotel (which had been Alexandria, after the Egyptian city).  The obsession had included the building of a small observatory with a telescope atop the hotel.  Daniel hoped it was still there.  There had to be a correlation between the medallion (or amulet, which Daniel sometimes called it) and the interest in astronomy.  What had caused Hawkins to divert his interest in Earth’s mysterious scientific history and focus on the sky?

Daniel hoped to understand once he could see what was inscribed on the medallion.  There were no pictures or drawings, but there had been a rough description of it in a rare interview by a local newspaper reporter who’d interviewed Hawkins upon his return from Lemnos. 

“Oblong in shape with rounded sides, the metal is silverish though does not shine like silver.  No one can determine what sort of metal it truly is.  There is a central relief picture, framed in the same oblong design as the necklace.  The picture depicts a woman, standing like the statue of justice, with a globe in one hand and what appear to be compasses in the other.  Perhaps the first version of justice and her flaming sword?  Professor Hawkins has said that it is actually a representation of the Greek muse, Urania, goddess of astrology and astronomy, but this reporter is unsure.  Though the item was unearthed on the Greek isle of Lemnos, there is no proof that this image is of a so-called Greek goddess.  Along with the picture, there are strange symbols surrounding the edge and they appear to be gibberish.  Perhaps this item is not as old as the professor believes it is.”

Taking into consideration the ignorant mind of the Western U.S.  in the late 1800’s, as well as that of the reporter, Daniel knew that the ‘gibberish’ was probably an unknown writing, and hoped it was from the Ancients, not the Goa’uld.  The medallion was said to be on display, but a hundred years later, that was unlikely still the case.  Daniel hoped it was locked away and not stolen.  Current information about the item was non-existent, and info about the Galaxy Hotel itself was sketchy.  Daniel had had to separate facts from rumor and even after the report he’d given, there was still more he needed to know.  After checking into the Heidelberg, he’d asked the desk clerk about the Galaxy.  They hadn’t a clue so Daniel had called the manager-cum-desk clerk of the Galaxy, a woman named Francis Clarke.  Her answers had been similarly vague and unhelpful, though Daniel felt she was hiding the more colorful facts in favor of not wanting to scare away the ‘tourists’.  Even after telling her that his team was a group of anthropology scientists from the Smithsonian and not the run-of-the-mill tourists, Ms.  Clarke had seemed tight-lipped.  All that had served to do was get Daniel’s curiosity up. 

What he already knew for certain was that the hotel itself was built in the style of Monticello, in honor of Thomas Jefferson, whom Hawkins had claimed for years as one of his ancestors.  There was something else, however, that had piqued Daniel’s interest, as well as everyone else: Along with his interest in science, archaeology, and collecting rare artifacts, Hawkins had also been a collector of swords, from Middle Eastern scimitars and Asian katanas to fencing foils, epees, and sabers.  All of them were supposed to have been real, not replicas.  While Daniel collected a few himself, he didn’t hold much hope that he’d get to see any of them.  The swords themselves might not have been enough of a draw to tourists and economy may have dictated that the swords be sold to other private collectors in order to pay for the upkeep of the hotel-turned-museum.  Both teams had hope that some swords remained, but reality dampened their enthusiasm. 

Then…there were the rumors about the hotel itself.  Daniel didn’t put much stock in ‘haunting’ stories, though some hauntings were considered valid–that is, if one believed in the strong emotional echoes that lingered in a place, like the Tower of London or the prison of Alcatraz Island.  In the present case, Daniel had already investigated whether or not the site of the hotel, situated inside Apache country, had been built over burial grounds.  It hadn’t been.  Those considerations aside, Daniel knew that ‘hauntings’ were typically a means to drum up business, usually started by the owners themselves.  That was likely the case here.  Daniel wouldn’t discount anything because there was one other possible reason for the ‘haunting’ label: ascended Ancients. 

As for the point of the mission, what he had to do was examine the medallion and decipher the writing.  If it was determined that a more thorough examination was needed, then they would buy it for the ‘Smithsonian’ research division.  The inscriptions found offworld had intimated that a medallion–or amulet–was supposed to have been lost in the sea of Aegea.  Or Aegean. 

“Hidden in Aegea, she of red clay, she holds the truth of Armageet.”

Who was ‘she’?  Urania, the one depicted on the medallion?  Wasn’t she another Roman version of Aphrodite, like Venus was?  There was no telling, considering the ancient myths tended to contradict each other.  ‘Armageet’ was certainly a mystery, but the other words in the inscription were clear, as were others.  A few more hints about Earth, but that had been it.  Daniel had been reasonably certain of the translation, considering he’d created a working dictionary that had taken the past five years to assemble.  Though the dictionary was rudimentary, it at least served a purpose in determining whether a site offworld was of Ancients’ origin. 

As for the writings on the medallion, they were supposed to be some sort of ‘key to the ages’, which might indicate a key that would open up a vault or storage room of some kind.  Although that test to find Thor’s Chariot didn’t yield a vault of weapons, Daniel was almost certain that the ‘vault’ in this case went to something useful.  Whether or not it would be of military value was anyone’s guess.  Daniel just hoped that the room referred to was indeed a vault and not a tomb.  And he did not dare to inform Jack about that possibility.  Some things were just safer, stress-wise, not to mention.  What Daniel did hope for was that the medallion led them to something simple–and non-threatening.  He was in no mood for excitement on this mission.  Unless, of course, it came from Jack or Jason. 

Daniel thought further about that, and what he could possibly get away with, when Jack interrupted again. 

“Is this place we heading to in an actual ghost town?” he asked, spying the landscape and not seeing much that looked dried up and dusty.  In fact, everything was nice and green…alive. 

From the back, Alex piped up.  “According to Dr.  Lee, the hotel-turned-museum sits outside the remnants of a ghost town, so there won’t really be a ‘town’.  Probably just bits, like a façade.”

“Jesus, that’s almost worse,” Jack mumbled. 

Daniel was silent for a moment, debating whether or not to be snarky.  Opting for a milder approach, he quirked his lips slightly.  “You could’ve stayed home, Jack.”

Jack gave him a long look, then said drily, “And miss seeing you in action on your first command?  Not a chance in hell, Daniel.”

Someone made a snorting sound and Daniel had a feeling that it came from Jason.  The other sounds of clearing throats weren’t hard to pick out, either. 

“Daniel Jackson is quite capable,” Teal’c said through the silence afterwards, as if that settled everything. 

Jason’s lips twitched in an effort not to smile.  “Well said, Teal’c.  By the way, Jack.  I hear the hotel is haunted.” His lips twitched even more in preparation for Jack’s comeback. 

As expected, Jack turned halfway in his seat to glare at him, not saying a word.  Jason laughed then.  Sometimes seeing that predictability was worth pushing Jack’s buttons. 

Jack turned back around, focusing his attention on the lake.  “Still can’t believe they named that lake Mono.”

Daniel followed Jack’s line of sight, not bothering to rise to the obvious joke.  “Fascinating lake.  Within the lake and over its surface there are these large crystal growths.  All things considered, it’s a good thing it’s not called Crystal Lake.”

Jack rolled his eyes.  “Don’t even think that.”

Almost on cue, Jason’s teammates, Al and Connor, called out in pretended fear, “It’s Jaaaaaason!” Laughter followed and Jason shook his head, rolling his eyes. 

“Guess it’s a good thing you forgot to pack that hockey mask,” Alex smirked. 

Jason’s smile was mischievous.  “Could’ve come in handy.” More laughter ensued, accompanied with killing ‘sound effects’. 

“Okay, boys,” Jack finally told them, “let’s not drop the age average of the van’s occupants.”

Jason smirked, and raised a brow in query when Sam turned in her seat to look at him and his teammates.  Across from her, Teal’c did the same.  “Do they always do that?” Sam asked, pointing her thumb at Alex, Al and Connor. 

“Please,” Jason said with disgust.  “It’s usually worse, ‘specially with those two,” and he pointed at Al and Connor. 

Connor pointed at his commander.  “The C.O.  usually starts it, Major Carter.”

Jason snorted a small laugh, an indication that Connor wasn’t lying.  When Sam gave him a curious smile, he asked, “What?”

“Unusual command style,” she simply said. 

“It works,” Jason replied, though the look he gave his team members, complete with cocked eyebrow, forced their smiles to suddenly become sober. 

“Best C.O.  we’ve ever had,” Alex said, his expression serious.  His teammates nodded with agreement. 

Jason’s smile was partnered with a tilt of the head.  An acknowledgement of the compliment. 

“Same goes here,” Sam suddenly said. 

Jack’s entire brow line rose up two inches.  He was going to say something sarcastic, mostly because he was suddenly embarrassed, but he didn’t get the chance. 

“Here we are,” Daniel interrupted as the van turned down yet another ‘road’. 

Attention was now on their surroundings.  The short mountains were the backdrop and around them, short shrubs, green with growth.  What was more remarkable was that there were quite a few squat evergreen trees, most of which either skirted the lake or the hotel itself. 

“Wow,” Sam said, looking at the columns in the front of the building.  Her eyes then spotted the ground, realizing that the drive had smoothed.  The reason was that the road had been paved with pebble stoned cement.  The circular drive in front of the building set off the colonial style, and the center of the drive was landscaped with colorful, curious looking cacti and evergreen bushes.  A small reflection showed the presence of a tiny pond. 

Daniel pulled up and stopped in front of the five-step entrance.  “Okay, guys.  Behave yourself,” he said, unbuckling himself from the seat and opening the door. 

“Usually my line,” Jack said dryly as he exited the van. 

“Usually,” Daniel echoed with a smirk.  “We should probably leave most of our things in the van,” he added with more seriousness, straightening his tie. 

“Good idea,” Jack agreed.  He waited for Daniel to give further orders and raised a brow when Daniel didn’t. 

Daniel paused, wondering what the silence was for.  When he realized, he rolled his eyes.  “Okay, Jack.  You guys do your thing while I talk to Francis Clarke.  See if I can get more information out of her in person.”

With a lop-sided grin, Jack gestured for Daniel to go ahead of him and the troupe of ‘scientists’ first gazed up at the structure before going inside.  It did indeed resemble the Palladian architecture of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, but it was not as wide, and had obvious second-story arched windows facing the front.  Daniel frowned at the strange use of designs that Hawkins had incorporated into this building.  The columns in front were obviously Palladian, as was the rotunda-type dome at the top of the building.  But the rest was incongruous.  He hoped the dome was not the ceiling for a rotunda.  By all accounts, it should be a retractable roof for stargazing.  He glanced over his shoulder at Jack and pointed. 

“If the information is accurate, there should be a telescope for you to check out up there.”

Jack gave him a grin.  “We’ll see.” He nodded at the building’s front.  “Looks a little…”

“Odd,” Alex said as he took a few steps off to his right, looking up. 

Daniel snorted.  “Eerie is the word I’m thinking of.  Hawkins was supposed to have built this place in honor of Thomas Jefferson, and it seems like he did…for the most part.  But out here, in the middle of nowhere?”

“Eccentric obviously, Daniel,” Jack commented.  “What do you say we get this going?”

“We have our backup things stashed in the van?” he asked in an undertone.  Jack gave him that look that told him, ‘Like you need to ask?’ Daniel suppressed a grin as he made his way up the steps and into the lobby.  The others promptly followed.  The interior of the building was just as much out of place to their surroundings as the exterior.  It was perfectly early American in decoration, looking as if they were visiting the hills of Virginia, not California. 

“Wow,” Daniel said, taking a slow 360 before spying the front desk and the officious looking clerk.  He walked over and held out his hand to the fortyish woman with blonde hair tied in a severe bun at the nape of her neck.  “Daniel Jackson.  I believe you are expecting my party?”

Her eyes grew round and she seemed a bit relieved.  “The group from the Smithsonian?  Of course.  Francis Clarke.  Please to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Daniel automatically replied, shaking her hand, noting with brief interest that her handshake felt…nervous.  After getting their accommodations settled, including keys and room numbers, he excused himself from her for a moment and handed out matching keys.  They were doubling up, just as they always had, though it was probably necessary here as the Galaxy wasn’t that large a hotel and housed only twelve rooms. 

As the team members went back out to the van to get their bags, Daniel decided to question Francis for information about the hotel.  It seemed that after they’d paid their way, she was freer with the information.  She was answering his questions left and right, but they were things he already knew.  Test questions.  He caught the ‘naughty, naughty’ scold of amusement in Jack’s eyes as the man ascended the curving staircase nearby.  Ignoring him, and pointedly waiting for his group to go upstairs, Daniel gave Francis his most earnest, ‘I need help’ look. 

Upstairs, and leaning over the bannister, seven people quietly, gleefully, listened as Daniel played Ms.  Francis Clarke like a pro. 

It was like pulling teeth but his ‘interrogation’ of Ms.  Clarke was finally over with.  Daniel reached the second floor, his room key twirling round his index finger.  As he read the room numbers, and came to his own, he found the door wide open.  Looking across and down the hall, three other rooms were also open.  He snorted softly and shook his head.  Jack was so predictably security-conscious.  He walked inside, and finding the room empty, he set his bags down and went next door.  All seven team members had assembled in Sam and Teal’c’s room, and six of them were getting ‘instructions’ from Sam on the use of the handheld naquada scanners she’d brought.  The devices were necessary, even in this out-of-the-way hotel, but they had other useful abilities, such as being able to read for pure metals–like trinium, which Daniel was fairly certain the medallion was made of. 

“How goes the instruction?” he asked as he entered and closed the door behind him. 

Jack handed him one of the scanners.  “Not a problem, but you’re late for class.”

“I already know how to read these things, Jack.  Chicago, Osiris, remember?”

Jack winced.  “Right.  Sorry, Daniel.”

Daniel dismissed it with a soft look.  “Nothing to be sorry for, Jack.”

“So what’d you find out?” he asked, his eyes showing a bit of amusement. 

“The ‘museum’ section,” he said, making a quoting gesture, “is downstairs.  She said their collections are housed in what were once library rooms but have been converted to display the artifacts and antiques.  The entrance to the observatory, however, is on this floor, at the end of the hall,” and he pointed.  “I didn’t learn much from her, other than a few stories about this place.”

“And the medallion?  Did you get any idea about it from that Clarke woman?” Jack asked. 

Daniel shook his head.  “It’s lost.  Somewhere in this hotel,” he said, spreading his arms out then dropping them.  “Apparently one of Hawkins’ heirs went mad and hid the damned thing somewhere.  So…we’re on a treasure hunt, guys.  Ms.  Clarke said that if we somehow manage to find it during our surveying and research, she’d be eternally grateful.”

“Think she’d be willing to sell it once it’s found?” Sam asked. 

Daniel nodded.  “Probably.  Though I got the feeling that she hasn’t been all that eager to find it.”

Jack was intrigued, though he wished he weren’t.  “Did you get an idea as to why?”

“No.  Makes it a bit…interesting,” Daniel answered. 

“That’s a word and a half.  All the more reason to be prudent, Daniel, when we do find it,” Jack suggested. 

“Definitely.”

“Okay, so how do you want to start the search?” Jack asked. 

“Well…” Daniel said, biting his lip in concentration, and looking down at his watch.  “I don’t think we’ll be able to search this place thoroughly in one day.”

“Agreed,” Jack and Teal’c said together. 

“So, Jack, why don’t you and I check out the observatory and the rest of this floor.  Jason, you and your team go with Sam and Teal’c and check out the first floor.  Not just the libraries.  Snoop around, as we usually do.” His grin answered everyone else’s at that remark.  “But just do a onceover, getting a lay of the land.  We can then do a more comprehensive search tomorrow, and possibly the next day, if that’s necessary.  Oh, and if the staff asks you any questions about what you’re doing, tell them you’re examining the architectural structure for historical preservation, which will explain our need to look in closets or places that might otherwise look suspiciously intrusive.  I told Ms.  Clarke but the staff probably doesn’t know.”

Jason nodded, agreeing with Daniel’s orders.  “I don’t think there’re more than five people working here, anyway, Daniel, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Aside from that making our job easier, that’s also just plain weird,” Jack added.  “I mean, what hotel doesn’t have a full staff, even in the middle of nowhere?  People need jobs and I can’t believe there aren’t a buttload of people here working at minimum wage.”

Daniel shook his head.  “Beats the hell out of me, Jack, but she’s literally working with a skeleton crew.”

Jack made a grimace, making Daniel laugh.  “Relax, Jack.”

“I’m hearing that song, Daniel.”

“Song?” Alex asked. 

Daniel held up his hand, trying to warn Jack from saying anything, but the man answered anyway. 

“Hotel California.”

There was a collective groan, except from Teal’c. 

“I am not familiar with that song, O’Neill,” Teal’c said, frowning. 

Sam patted his arm.  “I’ll tell you about it later, Teal’c.”

Jack explained anyway.  “Great song, T.  It’s a story song, and pretty much about a spooky hotel filled with lost passages and homicidal maniacs.”

Daniel sighed and gave Jack a patience-is-wearing-thin look.  “Thanks, Jack.”

“Not a problem,” Jack answered, clearing his throat.  “So, do we have any further idea what the medallion looks like?” he added, trying to divert attention back to the subject at hand. 

“No,” Daniel replied solemnly.  “We’re working blind.  But we’re used to that.  Everyone have their Smithsonian IDs?  And the phones?” he asked, referring to their cell phones, their civilian replacement for the field radios.  Receiving nods, he gestured for the door.  “Okay, anything you have questions on, call me or Jack.” He turned to his leader and gestured.  “Shall we go?”

“Doubt we’ll find anything,” Jack said as they left the room, the others filing out behind them. 

“One never knows, Jack.”

The observatory’s only access, Daniel found, was at the end of the hall.  He and Jack had opened the door and found a spartan room containing a short, spiral staircase that led to a hatch door.  They’d opened it up, thrown it back, and climbed up to find an octagonal room with a domed ceiling.  Though small for an observatory, it appeared functional.  It was also, surprisingly, well-lit from the windows that each octagonal section contained and Daniel posited that it may have been planned as an artist’s room before Hawkins’ interests had changed.  The retractable roof was simple in its design, and when open would reveal a third of the viewable sky overhead.  The old-fashioned turning handles and connecting mechanisms looked well-cared for so if they wanted to avail themselves of some stargazing later, it wouldn’t be difficult to open the roof. 

The room itself was simply designed, with pale yellow trim around the stained wood flooring and furniture.  The only odd thing was the circular mosaic tile inlaid in the center of the room–its placement underneath the telescope.  Daniel had a hard time trying to figure out the reason for that, but dismissed it as an eccentricity of Hawkins’. 

As they surveyed the room from the opening in the floor, Jack blurted out, “Wow.”

“Yeah, you got that right,” Daniel mumbled as he made his way to examine as much of the mosaic design as he could see.  After a few minutes, he determined that it was simply a colorful addition, probably done for Hawkins’ wife. 

“Probably be something to look out of at nighttime,” Jack commented as he picked at some of the glazing in one of the windowpanes. 

“Probably,” and when Daniel found what he was doing, he walked over and gently took Jack’s hand.  “Jack,” he softly scolded. 

Looking sheepish, Jack flicked the small bit from under his fingernail.  “Sorry.”

Daniel shook his head and turned away.  “‘Bull in a china shop’ comes to mind.”

“Takes one to know one, Daniel,” Jack quipped as he checked out the solid paneling of the walls and the ornate wall sconces, getting an idea that he should be looking for possible hidden nooks and passages. 

Daniel grinned as he moved over to the telescope itself, giving it a cursory glance before looking down yet again to examine the mosaic under its base.  A minute or so later, Jack brushed by him just a little bit too close.  He paused to ask but his eyes widened when Jack’s hand whispered over his ass as he moved away. 

Daniel turned slowly.  “Something on your mind?”

“Sorry, no,” Jack said, quickly frowning.  He had no idea why he’d just done that. 

“Bored?” Daniel asked. 

“Naturally, but our missions are usually boring, firefights notwithstanding.  This one’s just boring and weird.” Still frowning, he moved to stare out of section of windows that gave a spectacular view of the lawns and the lake beyond. 

“Uh huh,” Daniel murmured as he moved to stand at his lover’s right.  He couldn’t believe how quickly his cock had hardened over that slight touch.  He stared out across the lawn as he placed his hands–safe for the moment–in his pockets.  “Don’t know if I mentioned it, but you look very good in that suit.”

Jack’s cheek wrinkled in an impish grin as he turned to him.  “So do you.”

Daniel met his gaze as he faced him, his eyes full of mischief.  His hands left his pockets and slid under the black jacket and up Jack’s white shirt.  “In fact, I’ve been thinking about some very creative ways of…undressing you.”

Jack’s smile turned dangerous and he took hold of Daniel’s biceps and pushed the man against the window.  “Bad, bad idea.” He was so tempted, so turned on.  After looking around, he leaned down slightly as Daniel lifted his head.  Their kiss was brief and chaste, but due to the forbidding nature of it, it was hotter than he’d felt for a while.  Excitement swelled within him and his cock was hard in seconds.  “Very bad,” Jack whispered against Daniel’s lips as his crotch brushed Daniel’s, hinting at what was happening underneath his trousers.  He opened his mouth, not knowing why he was taking such an extraordinarily stupid risk, and drew the tip of his tongue over Daniel’s lips. 

“Speaking of bad ideas,” Daniel breathed as he too opened his mouth, his tongue licking across his lips where Jack’s had just been. 

“Very bad ideas,” Jack repeated, his voice low and husky, and kept his lips just brushing Daniel’s, neither kissing nor moving away.  “I’m getting some very nasty ones.” He squeezed Daniel’s arms, pressing him so firmly against the windowpanes that they creaked. 

Daniel couldn’t help it and he parted his legs.  Though only a mere two inches of movement, it was enough to feel more of Jack’s excitement.  “Me, too.”

“I’ll tell if you will.”

“Want to suck you,” he teased, a shudder running through him because the words were so…raw. 

“Yes,” Jack answered through a gust of air, watching Daniel’s eyes darken rapidly. 

“Want you to fuck me–right here,” Daniel went on, wanting to rub and grind but something forced him to remain still. 

Jack groaned softly.  He wanted to thrust so badly that his entire body ached for it.  “Right in front of the windows,” he said, his lips never leaving Daniel’s. 

“Yes,” Daniel hissed. 

“Strip you down.”

“Yes.”

“Hold you down.”

“Yes.”

“Fuck you so hard.”

“God, yes.”

Because their words were so sudden, so highly erotic, if they kept going, they knew they could come from just the briefest touch to their erections.  Daniel wanted it and he could see that Jack did, too.  He didn’t ask himself what they were doing or why.  All Daniel knew was that he had the tremendous need to watch Jack come and feel his own release.  He was about to add something even more pornographically inventive to spur that on when the sound of something dropping on the hard wood floor interrupted them.  Startled, they parted quickly and checked the room. 

But found nothing on the floor…and no one there. 

They expelled nervous, guilty laughs. 

“I have no idea why the hell we just did that,” Jack frowned, breathing slowly and forcing himself to calm down, for his dick to go back to sleep. 

“Me, either,” Daniel agreed, doing the same.  “We know better.  We could’ve been caught.”

“Even if they’re downstairs right now, they could’ve come up.”

“Exactly,” Daniel said, adjusting the stretch of cloth over his groin. 

“So what the hell was that?” Jack asked, puzzled. 

“Atmosphere?” Daniel offered. 

The sound of his phone ringing, echoing throughout the room, startled them more than it should have.  Through a shaky laugh, Daniel answered. 

“Hello.”

“Hey.”

“Jason,” Daniel mouthed to Jack.  “Hey.  What’s up?”

“I found something you should see.”

Daniel’s eyes widened.  “The medallion?”

“No, no, but you’ll want to see these.”

“What?”

“What you’ve wanted to see more than the medallion, I think.”

“Meet us at the bottom of the staircase,” Daniel said excitedly and hung up. 

Jack touched his elbow.  “What?”

“You’ll see,” Daniel smiled and started for the exit in the floor. 

“Wait,” Jack said, stopping his lover. 

“What?”

Jack took hold of his jacket–and buttoned it, hiding the evidence of improper mission behavior.  He then buttoned his own. 

Francis Clarke hovered nervously around them as Daniel and the others entered the large ‘trophy’ room.  The books that lined the shelves, floor to ceiling, along one wall would’ve classified the room as a library.  However, the occupied display cases perched on claw-footed tables that decorated the room, along with items that hung from locking hooks on the walls, reclassified the room’s purpose. 

There were swords.  Everywhere. 

Daniel was hoping they’d find them.  He ran a reverent finger along the edge of one display case, staring with fascination at the scimitar and matching warrior’s headdress.  “You didn’t sell these?”

Ms.  Clarke shook her head.  “It was tempting, I can tell you.  But Mr.  Hawkins stipulated in his will that the swords remain in this building as long as it stood.”

Daniel nodded, as if understanding.  “You’ve kept them safe, and that’s something in itself.”

She only nodded her appreciation of the compliment, looking around the room, watching as the ‘scientists’ peered at the antiques. 

“What about these?” Jason asked, gesturing at a line of fencing swords hanging unsecured next to a large fireplace.  “Why aren’t they locked up?”

Ms.  Clarke sighed.  “They’re old but not worth as much as the others.  They’re only ordinary fencing swords.  Mr.  Hawkins also stipulated that should anyone wish to do any fencing during their stay here, they should avail themselves.”

No one missed the strange use of the long-dead owner’s given name but didn’t inquire. 

Daniel felt the fingers of his right hand twitch as he stared at the fencing swords.  He hadn’t held a foil or epee in years but his body still remembered the rhythms and movements.  Almost like sex, he thought with amusement. 

Breaking himself away from the spell of the swords, he looked at his watch.  “Okay, well, we can…play later.  Right now, take some readings and–“

“Readings?” Ms.  Clarke asked, startled. 

“Structure faults.  Historical preservation?” he reminded her and she suddenly nodded, blushing for forgetting.  “If it’s worth it, the Smithsonian would probably like to take over keepership.” That seemed to pique her interest and Daniel realized that his suspicions were confirmed.  The woman would probably like to be anywhere but inside this building, taking care of relics.  It shouldn’t be too hard to get her to release the medallion then–providing they could find it. 

“We’ll have to see.  Oh, Doctor Jackson?” Ms.  Clarke blurted out. 

“Yes?” Daniel asked, looking down at her.  The top of her head perhaps reached his nose. 

“I almost forgot and my sincerest apologies,” she said, sounding distracted and decidedly edgy.  “There is no formal dining because the dining room is under construction after a storm we had three months ago.  But the kitchen is operating and we’ll be serving lunch soon.”

Daniel nodded slightly, giving her a careful look.  “Where do we eat if there’s no dining room?  Our guest rooms?”

She pointed toward the back of the hotel.  “There is a large stonework patio out back where we’ve set up cafe tables, complete with canopies.  You may eat there if you don’t care to eat in your rooms.  I’m very embarrassed about the inconvenience.”

“Nonsense,” Daniel added smoothly.  “We understand these things.  After all,” and he added an engaging smile, “look who we work for?”

She smiled and let out a nervous laugh.  “Of course.”

“Anyone hungry?” he asked, looking around and receiving head nods.  “We’ll go out back when we’re ready.  Do we order from there?”

Ms.  Clarke nodded quickly.  “Yes, and I’ll just go make sure the staff is ready for lunch.” She disappeared quickly. 

Jack snorted and turned round, giving everyone a speculative look.  “Well that was bizarre.  Did anyone else notice how she seemed spooked by this room?” More nods, except from Daniel and Jason, who shook their heads.  “You didn’t notice?”

“I noticed, but I don’t think it’s the room,” Jason observed. 

Daniel nodded.  “It’s the hotel.  She’s been nervous since we arrived.  Maybe it’s something to do with that haunted rep.”

Jack made a face.  “Considering the unknown source of that falling object earlier in the observatory, I’m not surprised.” He was then asked to explain, which he and Daniel did–leaving out the part about unexplainable urges, kissing and erections–Jack caught the protectiveness in Jason’s eyes and it made him grin.  “Major, it was the building making the usual noises.  There’re no ghosts.”

Jason snorted.  “After what we’ve seen in our…jobs?”

Jack rolled his eyes.  “I’ve yet to see a ghost.”

Yet,” Daniel emphasized. 

“Daniel, don’t start,” Jack warned, making Daniel smirk.  “It’s just the hotel making noises.  It is over a hundred years old, right?”

Daniel considered that plausible.  “Yeah, it is, but that noise we heard wasn’t a normal noise.  Something dropped.” At the look in Jack’s eyes, he amended, “All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t dismiss anything.”

“Agreed.” Pursing his lips, Jack looked around at the expressions of Jason’s team as well as that of Teal’c and Sam as they moved about the room.  They looked nervous.  Except for Teal’c.  Nothing ever seemed to scare the Jaffa, but he hadn’t been around Earth long enough.  That last thought amused him.  He moved over to the windows and looked outside, taking in the view.  Then his eyes focused on the dark purple and grey clouds that were stretching toward the hotel. 

“So much for cafe dining,” he said with annoyance. 

“What is it, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked and joined Daniel as he and the others strode over to look outside. 

Daniel groaned.  “Looks like a thunderstorm.”

“Perfect, isn’t it?” Jack said with heavy sarcasm. 

“Why do you say that, O’Neill?”

“You’ve been around a while, Teal’c.  Watched a lot of our movies.”

“I have.  And your point would be?”

“Ghost stories almost always have rain, lightning, and thunder.”

Lunch consisted mainly of ham or sliced beef sandwiches, and the teams ate outside.  The storm was at least another hour away so they took their chances, watching the distant lightning arc across the sky.  Afterwards, their search continued, checking out the small closets, assorted artifact rooms, and the extra utility rooms of the house, including the kitchen, the laundry, and the garden room. 

It was nearly 3 p.m.  and the two teams were getting a bit cranky.  The approaching storm brought high humidity, and along with it, an unusual rise in temperature for mid-December.  They were therefore sticky and dirty from the dust and constant searching in non-air-conditioned rooms.  Though not normally tired in the middle of the afternoon, the humidity was zapping their strength.  Because of this, Daniel called a halt to the day’s work and told everyone to relax–as much as could be expected anyway–and have a drink.  Jack seconded that and had immediately gone to his room to get rid of his jacket and tie.  The shirt and trousers were fine and comfortable, but that jacket and tie needed to go.  He rolled up his sleeves, refreshed his face, then grabbed and beer and headed back downstairs. 

Finding Daniel leaning against the front desk, he paused. 

“What’s up?”

“Nothing.  I just asked Francis Clarke for a blueprint of the building so she’s digging through the files.”

“Think the blueprint will help?”

“It couldn’t hurt and…we should have gotten one before, considering that we almost always get a lay of the land before we check out anything.”

Jack nodded.  “I know.  But when we do stuff ‘at home’,” he said, carefully enunciating his words, “it’s hard to remember when the neighborhood isn’t necessarily threatening.”

Ms.  Clarke suddenly appeared, looking frazzled and in need of a break.  She handed Daniel a large, green file case, one that was obviously meant for maps.  “It took me a while but it’s in with all of the land survey maps.”

Daniel looked at the case, becoming distracted.  “Thanks.  I’ll get it back to you as soon as and I promise not to damage the contents.” With that he was upstairs and out of sight. 

Ms.  Clarke looked aggrieved but Jack smiled graciously at her.  “Pay him no mind, Ms.  Clarke.  He gets like that and doesn’t mean anything by it.  He’ll keep his word, though.  He’s a very neat and orderly kind of guy.” It was a lie of course but Jack felt it needed to be said, mostly because he saw that the woman was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. 

“Of course.”

“Why don’t you relax for the rest of the day.  Kick back, put your feet up.”

“Um…” she said, tempted. 

“I don’t see any other guests here besides my party and we certainly don’t judge,” he said, smiling.  “We can relax in that nice little artifact room by the northeast corner and you can tell me all about the strange history of this house…hotel.”

“Well…”

It only took one more smile. 

After kicking off his shoes and doing the same as Jack had done, removing his jacket and tie and rolling up his shirt sleeves, Daniel settled down on the bed with the blueprints stretched out in front of him.  He studied the paper carefully, comparing the marks with what he’d already observed during his walk through the hotel.  Modification notes and diagrams, with a date of April 20th, 1929, noted next to them, were also on the blueprints so it was clear that the plans hadn’t been replaced in over seventy years. 

After getting back up to fix himself a drink, he resumed his seat on the bed and went back to his examination of the house’s design.  An hour went by, then another, and the study of the blueprints became an unfocused blur as his tired eyes closed. 

Daniel almost always knew when he was dreaming — a trick he’d picked up from Jason.  He watched, amused, through the strange sequences, reflections of things on his mind, things he had seen throughout that day. 

Then… 

Daniel found himself in a room illuminated only by soft, dark golden light, almost orange in color.  He was standing before a small, free-standing vanity, made of what seemed like dark cherry wood.  Its design was old and beautiful, and he placed it as 18th-century American.  The mirror of the vanity was in three sections, the largest in the center, and the top of each section came to a point, like small, arched doorways. 

He reached down and ran his hand over the surface of the desktop portion, and caught a movement out of the corner of his eye.  Looking up and to his left, he saw a door and next to it, the source of the movement.  A wall sconce.  But it wasn’t electrical.  It was oil, and he could smell the slightly acrid odor of it as it burned.  He frowned, wondering what he was doing in this sort of dream.  He’d never seen a desk like this, though he had seen oil lamps like the one he stared at.  Replicas of them, that is. 

A sound then filled the eerily quiet room.  A moan.  And the rustle of sheets.  A strange feeling he couldn’t identify came over him and he felt a sudden chill down his spine when he looked down. 

He hadn’t noticed anything reflected in the mirrors, but he saw something now.  A bed, with a narrow head and footboard, ornately carved and rounded with a high arch.  The headboard was larger and sitting with his back against it was a man.  He held his arms up, shoulder-high, and… 

It was Jason. 

And he wasn’t holding his arms up.  They were ‘being’ held.  By ropes.  His eyes were open, staring at…Daniel?  No, at the mirror?

Daniel turned round… 

“Daniel?” came Jack’s voice, accompanied by a shake of his shoulder and Daniel sat up, startled.  “Whoa, there.  You were dreaming.”

Daniel blinked and found his voice.  “Um, yeah.”

Jack smiled.  “Wanna talk about it?”

“Um…” He was just about to repeat his dream when he suddenly decided not to.  “No.  I need to think about it for a while.”

“Must’ve been some dream.”

“It was a really weird one, Jack.”

Jack made a groaning noise.  “I hate those.  But it, uh, must’ve been ‘nice’ weird.”

Daniel’s brow line went up.  “Why’s that?” He looked up and Jack pointed down…at his groin.  Without having to look, Daniel realized he was hard.  “Damn.”

“I’d, um, love to take care of that for ya, but I came, no pun, to get you for dinner.” Jack then made a flourish and held out his hand.  “Supper awaits…on yon table,” and he pointed with his other hand at their room’s desk and chairs. 

Daniel snorted.  “You’re such an asshole,” and he took Jack’s hand. 

“No, if I were, I’d make you go get it from the kitchen.  But, I’m a nice guy and I brought it to you.”

“Storm here yet?”

As soon as the words left his mouth, he heard the pelt of rain on the windows.  A flash of light bounced into the room next and was immediately followed by thunder. 

“Damn, that’s close,” Daniel said, frowning. 

“Right on top of us.”

“Where’s Jace and the others?”

“In their rooms.  Hungry?” he asked. 

“As a matter of fact…” Daniel smiled. 

“For food.”

“That’s what I meant,” Daniel said, smirking as he went and sat down in one of the two desk chairs.  “You have a dirty mind, Jack O’Neill.”

“You should know,” Jack retorted as he joined him. 

Jason walked into the room he shared with his 2IC, Alex, and stripped off his tie just as the lightning struck.  He sighed heavily and looked over his shoulder as Alex came in with the tray of food.  He moved over to their room’s desk and set the food down. 

Jason flung the tie on the bed and began to unbutton his shirt.  “I am so glad to get that goddamned thing off.”

Alex shook his head and laughed through his nose. 

“What?” Jason asked. 

“You could’ve taken it off earlier, you know,” and he pulled suggestively at his own shirt collar, open at the neck, as it had been since Daniel had called it a day. 

“Yeah, but you know me.  Habit.  I don’t take off my ‘uniform’ until dinner.” He stripped off his shirt and threw it on the bed, revealing his thin, sleeveless undershirt. 

Again, Alex shook his head as his eyes travelled over the fabric.  “I’m surprised you’re not soaked, having been wearing two layers.  This humidity is enough to choke you.”

Jason shrugged.  “Yeah, I know.  I may not be sweating like crazy but I could be.  I’m clammy enough,” and he held out his hand, palm-down.  The backs of his fingers shone with fine layer of sweat, as if he’d just returned from a sauna.  “Aren’t you?”

Alex grinned and showed his own damp skin.  “Al and Connor are probably going to turn in early.”

Jason nodded.  “After playing cards for a little while, as usual.  Sam said something about crashing and Teal’c, well, he’ll be meditating as per usual.  As for Jack and Daniel…well, god only knows what mischief they’ll get up to.”

Alex’s smile suddenly turned devilish.  He kicked off his shoes and threw his own shirt on his bed.  As he removed his belt, he padded past Jason over to the wet bar to retrieve some bottled water from the small fridge.  He pulled off the cap and took a sip, walking slowly back.  As he past his leader, he said over his shoulder, “I could, you know, always leave for a while.” His tone dripped with suggestion, and keeping his back to Jason, he turned his head only slightly.  “If you need any private time al–“

A hand firmly thumped him between the shoulder blades and forced him to stumble.  “Very funny, Alex.”

Alex’s grin didn’t lessen.  He turned and took a long, teasing drink from the long-necked bottle, his eyes glued to Jason’s. 

“Alex…” Jason warned. 

“I don’t mind, really.  I can get always get lost for a while if you, you know, want the room…” He then winked and mouthed the bottle. 

“That’s it,” Jason said, lunging forward to snatch the bottle away from his 2IC.  Laughing, Alex moved to get away but found his feet tangled.  In seconds, he was on his back, his body and arms pinned as Jason straddled him just above his hips, his legs squeezing. 

“Jason, I was teasing,” Alex cried out, unable to keep from laughing. 

Jason tipped the bottle he’d managed to hold onto over Alex’s face and waved it threateningly.  “Torture time,” he informed the prone man, his voice low and dangerous. 

Alex only laughed at him.  “Don’t tease me.”

A drop fell, hitting him in the forehead, and he arched his head back, forcing the water to slide into his hair.  Another drop fell onto his cheek, then another just under his nostril, the drop rolling inside.  He sniffed hugely while Jason chuckled deep in his throat. 

“I give,” Alex said, trying not to laugh. 

“You must be thirsty with all that effort,” Jason replied and continued the ‘torture’ by aiming drops of water at Alex’s mouth.  Unable to help himself, Alex stuck out his tongue and took the drops in rather than risk them going elsewhere.  “You always ask for more, don’t you?” Jason leered. 

“One of these days it’s going to be you on your back.”

Jason’s leer grew.  “Promise or threat?”

“You decide.”

Their game was common for them.  One they’d started long before Alex had recognized his attraction to Jason.  It was both friendly as well as sexual, but it had never gone past the teasing point, had never crossed the line.  Though the kiss they’d shared several months before during their stay with The Residents had revealed their mutual attraction, it hadn’t been enough to ruin their professional relationship or their friendship.  Their relationships with Daniel–Jack, though Alex didn’t know about him–and Cari had prevented it. 

His face now wet, Alex had had enough and as with all their similar games, it was time for him to fight back.  He suddenly bucked up, trying to dislodge Jason, causing him to fall forward, precariously tilting the bottle over Alex’s face. 

“Watch it, Alex, or you get the whole bottle,” Jason warned, the smile on his face growing more dangerous. 

Alex growled at him and bucked once more.  In the process, however, he unintentionally rubbed his groin against Jason’s ass.  Both of them froze, realizing exactly what sort of state Alex was in. 

Jason stared down into the large, very intense brown eyes of his 2IC.  “That’s…  a first, Alex,” he said, keeping absolutely still.  He didn’t want it to happen and tried to tell his dick otherwise, but the brief touch against his ass was forcing his own body to react.  He set the bottle down on the carpet and started to push back, to move off his teammate, but Alex thrust up at that moment and with their groins now lined up, the result was predictable. 

“Alex,” Jason scolded softly, not bothering to explain because they both knew all the words.  He started to move away but Alex grabbed him round the waist. 

“Wait,” he breathed, “please,” and he thrust up again.  Another shudder went through them both. 

“Alex, dammit, what’s gotten into you?” and Jason started to pull away but felt Alex’s arms wind tightly around him and his strong body flipping them over.  His eyes wide with both shock and arousal, Jason tried to twist.  “Have you lost your m–“

His words were cut off with a kiss and Jason couldn’t understand why he was kissing Alex back.  A powerful surge of lust was pelting through his body and for a moment, it was as if there was nothing else in the world he wanted.  But his reasoning kicked back in and he found the strength to tear himself away.  He got to his feet, the back of his hand against his kiss-bruised lips. 

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he asked his equally stunned 2IC. 

Alex sat on the floor, his eyes wide in astonishment.  He touched his lips, then swallowed convulsively.  “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I…” At the look of disbelief, he held out his hand in surrender.  “No, I’m serious, Jason.  I don’t know what the fuck possessed me to do that.”

Jason blinked a few times, realizing that the man was telling the truth.  He didn’t know.  Grabbing his hand and yanking him to his feet, Jason put a hand in the middle of his friend’s back and guided him to the desk and one of the chairs. 

“Sit.”

He did the same and both men sat there dumbfounded.  Jason’s trained mind kept seeking out rational, psychological reasons for both of their reactions and he kept coming up empty.  There was simply no explanation for what was going through his mind as Alex ravished him.  He swallowed.  That was the only word that fit, albeit an old-fashioned, harlequinesque sort of word.  And what was more bizarre was that he felt…  used.  As if something more had happened.  But how the hell was that possible?

He took a deep breath.  “Okay, something funny is going on around here.  I know that neither one of us would do such a thing willingly.”

Alex glanced at him and looked down at the table. 

“What?” Jason asked. 

Alex looked up and gave Jason one of the most intense looks he’d ever received.  It meant that whatever he’d say, he was deadly serious.  “Jason, if things were different, I would have been willing.”

Jason thought about it for a moment and slowly nodded.  “You’re right.  If we weren’t involved with others, we might just…” He took another deep breath.  “But it still does not explain what just happened.”

Alex shook his head.  “No, it doesn’t.” He paused, waiting to see if Jason would say anything else, and when he didn’t, he asked, “Tell me why the hell I felt like I was someone else but I still feel guilty as fuck?”

Jason didn’t know.  “I’ll figure it out, Alex.  In the meantime, let’s eat and see if we can’t turn in early.”

“Good idea,” Alex agreed, then added, “Are you mad?  Has this damaged our friendship or our work–“

Jason frowned deeply, shocked.  “No, and get that thought out of your head right now.”

Alex breathed with relief and began eating. 

Jason could see how nervous the man was though and figured he’d better do something to help lighten the mood and get him to relax.  “Besides, it’s too much paperwork to get a new 2IC.”

Alex smiled and the tension seemed to disappear from the rigid set of his shoulders.  Jason allowed himself to relax and he began to dig into his meal.  Taking a bite, he paused as he chewed when the word ravished popped back in his brain.  It suddenly occurred to him that the word might have been common…over a hundred years ago. 

Daniel was so tempted.  Jack lay there on his bed, asleep in his undershirt and shorts, and he looked so…edible.  But he too was tired and wanted to sleep so he moved–reluctantly–to his own bed and lay down.  He still remembered the short dream from his nap earlier that day and told himself to tell Jason about it the next day.  Hoping he’d have no more weird dreams, he closed his eyes… 

The same dream came.  This time, the moment Daniel looked at the three-sectioned mirror, he saw the reflection of the bed, and Jason in it, his hands tied to the sides, over his head. 

Daniel turned swiftly and…found no one there, not even a bed.  Frowning, he turned back to the mirror and there was the bed, there was Jason. 

Jason moaned, staring at him it seemed, and he began to writhe suggestively on the bed, thrusting his hips as if he were fucking someone. 

Then there was sudden movement to the right, inside the mirror, and a man appeared at the foot of the bed.  His head wasn’t visible but most of his body was.  He wore a silk robe, covered with a strange swirling design.  The burgundy and midnight blue colors seemed to melt and blend in.  He walked over to stand before Jason, then dropped his robe and started to walk on his knees toward Jason. 

Daniel inhaled.  Though he’d never seen the man nude except for very brief flashes in SG-2’s shower, the nude intruder was Alex.  And in his left hand was a leather riding crop. 

Daniel whirled around but again, there was nothing there.  Turning back to the mirror, he reached forward, as if testing more of reality (reality? this was a dream!) by expecting to plunge his hand through and grab the man away from Jason.  But his hand met solid glass.  He ran his fingers over the glass just as the man, Alex, knelt at Jason’s left and touched his skin with the leather crop. 

Daniel’s hand froze, then slowly moved out of the way…so he could see.  Somewhere his waking mind screamed for him to wake up, but there was no response.  Alex moved the riding crop slowly up the inside of Jason’s left thigh, the flexible tip sliding over his balls and then under his cock, lifting it, as if presenting it for inspection. 

The crop was removed, slowly, dropping Jason’s heavy erection.  Alex raised the crop high and Daniel held his breath, staring at Jason’s face as his eyes widened.  No words of protest were issued but a loud groan was heard.  Then the crop came down, hard, across his right side, over his ribs, and the sound of slapping leather was loud.  Daniel cringed, his body shuddering, as Jason cried out.  Alex raised the crop again and brought it down over Jason’s left side.  The cracking sound was louder than before, rivaling Jason’s yell.  Two long red lines appeared on Jason’s skin and extreme anger flooded Daniel.  But so did arousal.  He felt his cock thicken and lengthen as the crop came down twice more, this time over his chest, striking his nipples.  Jason moaned, a sound Daniel had heard before.  A wanton, lustful sound. 

Alex drew away the crop and ran his nails over the four red lines, causing loud protests.  Fingertips then pinched and pulled at nipples, and the protests changed to sounds of pleasure.  Switching the crop to his right hand, Alex stretched out his left hand and circled Jason’s cock with his fingers, making a fist.  He began to pump, slowly, sensually, making Jason writhe in pleasure.  Then the crop came down over Jason’s chest and his sounds were a mixture of pleasure and pain.  Alex increased the speed of his hand and the crop came down again.  And again.  Jason was now thrusting into Alex’s hand, eager to come.  When he whimpered, Alex pulled his hand away and straddled his chest, hiding Jason’s face from Daniel’s view. 

Moving up, the crop was back in his left hand and from his motions, his right hand now gripped Jason’s hair. 

“Suck,” came Alex’s hoarse order, and he rocked his hips slightly.  Daniel watched his buttocks flex and tremble, knowing that the reason was because Jason did as he was told.  He was sucking Alex’s cock.  Daniel watched, mesmerized, the heat of both jealousy and arousal suffusing his cheeks, his lips.  He wanted that mouth on him.  He looked down Alex’s body as it continued to slowly thrust, and detected what he thought was a shining trail of sweat down the crack of his ass.  But Daniel soon realized that it wasn’t sweat.  It was lube. 

“Yes,” Alex murmured and he began to thrust a little faster. 

His left hand raised the crop again and Daniel’s breath caught.  Alex brought his hand down behind him, landing the crop across Jason’s abdomen–and perilously close to his cock.  Jason’s body tensed and was joined by a quick moaning breath.  When Daniel’s eyes focused on his cock, he found it leaking, glistening with pre-come.  He was riveted, unable to take his eyes from it, and when the crop came down again, Jason’s cock twitched and more pre-come spilled. 

“Yes,” Alex whispered.  The crop was suddenly thrown to the floor, and Alex moved backward, reaching for Jason’s cock.  He held it, pumped it awkwardly, then abruptly impaled himself–completely.  As both men cried out, Alex began to ride him, violently, viciously, not seeming to care if he hurt himself.  Jason’s panting changed to whines and shouts when Alex twisted to his left and shoved his fingers into Jason’s ass.  He still had a vicious grip on Jason’s hair and when he turned, Daniel could see the pain…and pleasure…reflected on Jason’s face. 

Alex was suddenly no longer riding, no longer moving.  But his fingers were.  Rapid and busy, they fucked Jason’s ass, opening him, readying him.  It seemed to take forever, but he finally withdrew them and moved off Jason’s cock.  Daniel could then see the glistening skin of Jason’s cock and his own cock twitched in response.  Color drew Daniel’s attention to Alex’s ass and he froze.  There were a couple of tiny smears of blood.  If Alex had liked being rough enough to do that to himself, what would he now do to Jason?  And would Jason like it?

Daniel shook his head, telling himself that his lover wouldn’t like that sort of pain, that this wasn’t real, that these men weren’t Alex and Jason…and that his lover wasn’t getting off with someone else.  The room he viewed through the mirror was set in another time, another place.  Daniel got the feeling that he was seeing his lover and Alex because they were familiar, that maybe they were taking on the roles of others…like a play staged for his benefit… 

“Spread,” came Alex’s voice, bringing Daniel back from distraction, and his eyes opened wide in shock.  Jason’s legs were trembling with strain.  Alex had a firm hold of his ankles and had pushed them up high, over Jason’s head, nearly to his bound wrists.  The human V-angle was…arousing.  Daniel didn’t want to feel it, didn’t wish to feel it, but looking at it made him think…perfect.  The angle was perfect.  If he were doing that, his cock would need no guidance, and though he couldn’t see, he *knew*.  When Alex’s buttocks clenched, the muscles rippling as he slowly pushed forward–without the use of his hands–Jason’s loud grunts and groans confirmed that he was being penetrated.  The guilty pleasure of it made Daniel realize that he wished his view were different.  So he could *see*.  So he could watch. 

“Louder,” Alex ordered and Jason’s groans increased in volume as they became screams.  Profane, begging screams.  Alex ground in, burying himself, and…stopped.  Despite Jason’s protests and demands, he remained still.  Daniel was relieved.  Partly because it gave Jason time to adjust.  But mostly, it would drive Jason mad with want, just as he himself had done time and again, and he knew that that was Alex’s purpose.  To drive the man he fucked insane with need. 

“Please!” Jason suddenly cried. 

“Sodomite!” Alex abruptly screamed. 

“Stop it!  Finish me, you fuck!”

“You’re a sodomite whore!  A slut!  You like my cock up your ass!”

“As do you!”

“YES!” Alex replied.  “Say it!”

“Sodomite whore!”

Daniel’s ears burned at the words and he found himself caught up in it, whispering a guilty ‘yes’. 

Alex pulled his hips back and Daniel thought he was going to withdraw, until the man slammed into Jason with a force Daniel knew hurt.  Alex then began to thrust, slowly, his hips almost lazy in their action.  Daniel’s cock jumped.  Jason’s familiar cries changed to growls.  He was enjoying it. 

“Liking it, aren’t you?”

“Yes, yes, please!”

“More, you whore?”

“Finish me!”

It was then that Alex altered his rhythm and his next words were spoken in French.  His fucking suddenly became hard and violent as the words poured out of him.  His rapidly slamming hips crashed into Jason’s body, knocking him into the headboard with each blow against his ass.  The sounds of orgasm came.  Loud, long, and full of obvious pleasure. 

Daniel stared transfixed, unable to move.  He was jealous but extremely aroused and hated the feeling of being both at the same time.  “Jason…” he whispered. 

The sound of rumbling thunder brought Daniel from his dream.  He sat bolt upright in his bed, panting and wide-eyed.  He had to think a moment to remember where he was.  Then he remembered, and remembered the storm.  Forcing himself to slow his breathing down, he started to move…and winced.  His dick was hard as hell.  He looked down and saw the large wet stain of pre-come.  Pre-come not come.  Well, thank Christ for small favors.  He didn’t want to be coming in his sleep, dreaming about Jason getting fucked by someone else

The thought caused a rush of lust through his body whether he wanted it to or not and he had to stomp down the urge to growl in frustration.  Jack was asleep in the next bed and there was no way he was waking him up.  Jack would ask what was wrong and sooner or later, he’d wheedle it out of him.  Daniel couldn’t repeat his dream, not at the present time, not until he’d digested it…or got used to it.  He laid back down and closed his eyes, willing himself to try and go back to sleep, but the remembered images and sounds of Jason wouldn’t leave his brain. 

“Fuck,” he said under his breath as he opened his eyes.  He rolled over and gingerly eased off the bed.  Damn, his cock hurt.  Mincing his way to the bathroom, he quietly shut the door, then stripped down.  He was planning on just jerking off over the toilet but when his eyes caught the shower, his plans changed.  Turning on the water, he had to pause and consider.  Cold or hot?  He made the water a little cold but as he started to step inside the bath and the draft from the cold water reached his cock, he abruptly changed his mind. 

Turning the water temperature to hot, he pulled the curtain aside and stepped in, wincing and gasping as the water hit his skin.  Bracing one hand against the wall under the showerhead, he dropped his head down, letting the water hit the back of his neck, interrupting the water flow.  It cascaded down his taut, trembling muscles and flowed smoothly down his abdomen and over his cock.  He took it in hand, holding it around the shaft, not moving anything but his thumb as he slid it over the hot, sensitive skin of the head.  He shuddered, holding his breath as slivers of pleasure shot through him.  He’d never felt pleasure this acute before, so keen that it seemed to dance on the knife-edge of pain. 

Daniel slowly moved his thumb in circles, rubbing the pre-come into his skin, playing with the slit.  He was just about ready to test his first pumping motion when the curtain was moved aside.  He damn near jumped out of his skin–and probably could have come at the same time had he been stroking.  Jack shut the curtain and moved in behind him, his hands going to Daniel’s back, shoulders, sliding over his waist. 

“What’s wrong, did you…” Jack looked over Daniel’s arm and caught the obvious strain of his lover’s cock.  “Damn.  A wet dream, Daniel?”

Daniel stayed motionless as he let out a nervous gust of air and laughed.  “Like you wouldn’t believe.” He wouldn’t turn around.  Jack would see the trouble behind his eyes if he did.  “I don’t want to talk about it right now, if that’s okay.” He hissed then, and followed it with an uncontrollable gasp as Jack’s right hand gently cupped his balls.  “Dammit, Jack!”

“No talk,” he said, his voice deep and erotic.  His hand moved up and gently, slowly, took Daniel’s cock from his grasp.  “Just let me.”

It was then that Daniel felt Jack’s cock rock-hard against his ass and he shuddered.  “God, yes, Jack.” The first stroke up and down his shaft made Daniel jump with excruciating sensitivity.  The swipe of Jack’s thumb over the head made him jump a second time.  “Fuck.”

“So sensitive,” Jack murmured, his lips against his ear. 

Daniel shuddered at the words and gave in, turning slightly as he locked his arm behind Jack’s neck.  “Want you badly.” He pulled him into a fierce kiss, his tongue plunging into Jack’s mouth, trying to consume him.  When they separated, he was panting.  “Badly.”

Jack swallowed, closing his eyes as his dick twitched against Daniel’s ass.  He felt the throbbing organ in his fingers pulse with need and he whispered, “How badly?”

“Don’t care,” Daniel replied, hissing as Jack stroked again.  But he did care.  He wanted lust, passion, feral and unbridled.  “Rough.”

“How rough?” A hard stroke made Daniel release his hand from Jack’s neck and clap it over his own mouth, stifling the yell.  “More than that?” Jack asked. 

Daniel nodded soundlessly, not daring to remove his hand until he was sure he wouldn’t scream. 

“More than this?” Jack asked as he stroked again, harder. 

“Mmm hmm,” Daniel moaned quickly under his fingers, the sound desperate and wanting. 

A bolt of desire shot through Jack at the sound.  It was the almost exactly the same sound he’d heard when he’d been startled out of his own dream.  Daniel had been moaning.  When his lover had gotten up to go into the shower, Jack had opened his eyes and caught the back of him.  Daniel’s skin had been glistening with sweat, the muscles twitching, practically vibrating with need.  If the dream had been anything like his own, Jack knew there were only two solutions.  Slow and easy or hard and rough.  Not fast.  Just hard.  Jack swallowed at the thought and his own lust rose. 

He let go of Daniel’s cock and whispered in his ear, “Don’t move.”

Daniel damn near came from the sound.  He shook his head, his fingers still over his mouth.  It was a good thing because he groaned when he heard the sound of a plastic cap, and choked out a loud gasp when Jack’s slick fingers slid down the cleft of his ass and moved slowly inside him.  From the front, Jack’s hand slipped over his left thigh, raising it up, forcing his foot to brace on the inside ledge of the tub. 

“Hold still,” Jack whispered against the back of his neck, then bit down. 

The hand over his thigh tightened and the fingers inside him twisted.  Daniel’s hand over his mouth shot out in front of him, joining the other one on the wall.  “Fuck me.” The fingers found his sweet spot quickly and his body began to shake.  “Now, Jack,” he whispered, desperately trying to keep himself from shouting his need.  The fingers inside him eased out and the firm head of Jack’s cock was nudged at his entrance.  “Yes,” Daniel sighed, his body seeming to be as electric as the lightning outside. 

“Get ready,” and Jack reached around and wrapped his fingers around Daniel’s cock. 

“Jack,” Daniel said, the sound more air than voice.  As Jack stroked his shaft upward and thumbed over the head, Daniel felt the slow firm push of his cock.  “God, yes.” His moans were choked as he tried to silence himself.  It was even more difficult when Jack pulled his cock back and thrust home – hard. 

“More,” Daniel demanded, the word not even a sound, just a whisper. 

Again and again, Jack pulled back and drove in hard, knowing he couldn’t do this for long.  Daniel’s reactions were too erotic, too stimulating.  Jack’s gaze traveled over the back muscles before him.  His lover was on fire, his body coated in sweat, even under the water.  The harsh panting was increasing, matching his own, and Jack knew that they were close.  He increased the strength and speed of his hand as he quickened the pace of his hips.  God.  Daniel had better come, because he was about to… 

“Jesusfuck!” Jack growled against him, his teeth biting down into a thick shoulder muscle as he came. 

“Harder,” Daniel ordered, and softened it.  “Please.”

As Jack slammed into him, that familiar keen warmth spread over his balls and up into his cock.  “Yes!” he cried, hoping the sound wasn’t too loud as he came hard, his body trembling from the force.  “God,” he whispered, amazed at how long it took him to actually stop spurting his semen over Jack’s fingers and against the tile of the shower. 

His legs suddenly gave out and he dropped to his knees, Jack’s half-hard cock pulling free as a result.  He made no sound but Jack did, groaning and dropping down behind to take him in his arms.  Daniel leaned into him, moving to the side slightly so he could turn his head.  Jack’s kiss was fierce and deep, but it gentled as their bodies calmed. 

“Must’ve been some dream you had,” Jack murmured. 

“God, it was.”

Jason sat up in bed, panting rapidly, his fingers running through his hair, tightening, pulling.  He gazed down and saw the dark wetness staining the crotch of his sweats.  His eyes moved quickly, guiltily, over to Alex’s bed and he breathed with relief to find the man asleep.  He swallowed, trying to relax, but couldn’t.  The strange dream was still vivid in his mind.  Aaron, his ex-lover.  And Daniel. 

He pushed himself out of bed, fully intending to make for the bathroom and relieve his aching cock, but a greater need had him pausing in the middle of the room.  Without further thought, he left. 

Daniel shut off the water and pushed the curtain aside.  And found Jason, dressed only in the sweatpants he’d brought, watching from the door.  His hands were cupping himself while an intense look of desire reflected back through his eyes. 

Before anyone could utter a word, Daniel was out of the bath and over to Jason in a second, kissing him deeply, almost ravenously.  He had no idea what his plans were exactly, but as he kissed his lover, need rose within him and made his mind up for him.  Dropping to his knees, and dragging Jason’s sweats down with him, he quickly engulfed his lover’s stiff cock. 

Jason was startled and nowhere near refusing.  He gasped and closed his eyes a moment, his fingers combing through Daniel’s hair as he spread his legs.  “God, Daniel.” His eyes opened, and looking to his right, found Jack leaning against the wall on one shoulder.  One hand palmed his soft cock while he watched him with an unreadable smile.  Jason felt a blush of need creeping up the sides of his face.  “Jack.”

His smile turning mischievous, Jack pushed off the wall and walked over…behind Daniel.  He reached out and wove his fingers round Jason’s as they continued to fondle Daniel’s hair. 

“You love it when he does this,” Jack stated, seductively heightening the passion within his lover. 

Jason felt his cock sliding further into the mouth of his kneeling lover and he swallowed convulsively.  “Yes.”

Daniel hummed then, sucking hard, bobbing his head quickly back and forth–urging. 

Jason gasped, his mouth dropping open.  He tightened his fingers as the intense heat crawled up his balls.  With his eyes locked on Jack, he thrust a warning to Daniel. 

Daniel hummed loudly, and clutching Jason’s ass, a finger probing teasingly around his lover’s hole.  His lips and tongue felt the hot silky skin tingling, knowing the orgasm was near.  Daniel wanted it intense, wanted it so much so that Jason would have to stifle a scream.  He waited a moment longer, then hummed again as he plunged two damp fingers inside, fucking him without delay. 

Jason let out a gust of air, his eyes widening in surprise.  “God!” he whispered hoarsely, drawing out the sound. 

Jack wasted no time.  He grabbed Jason by the back of the neck and kissed him deeply, cutting off any further shouts as Jason came hard down Daniel’s throat. 

Daniel leaned against the short headboard of his bed and cleared his throat frequently as he spoke of the dream he’d had.  Jason sat to his left, legs drawn up, chin resting on his knees, listening with astonishment.  Jack sat to Daniel’s right, one foot on the floor, and his attention was no less captive.  The men’s afterglow was long since gone but their bodies were still filled with energy.  The need for sex, for release, was still there, and it seemed completely due to the dreams…and the need to talk about what had happened to bring them together in the middle of the night. 

Daniel finished his recounting, having described it in detail, though he’d left out most of the dialogue.  It was Jason’s turn.  He spoke softly, reciting his version of events in short, halting sentences.  He was still fairly shaken up that Alex had been the one fucking him in Daniel’s dream…and only a small part of him would admit that he was aroused by it. 

“Aaron?” both Daniel and Jack asked. 

Jason nodded slowly, not looking at either of them for too long.  Daniel reached over and brushed his thumb over Jason’s cheek.  Jason lifted his gaze to Daniel’s and held it.  “You want to know what part you played, don’t you?” he asked. 

Daniel nodded. 

Jason took a deep breath.  “Aaron was the one tied to the bed.”

Daniel swallowed.  He hadn’t expected to be the one with the crop, though he didn’t know why.  The image of himself hitting Aaron as he fucked him…  He felt embarrassment and unjustified guilt, and maybe just a small bit of arousal, but his dick barely took notice.  He was greatly relieved. 

Jason looked over at Jack and found him frowning.  “It was only a dream, Jack.”

“I know that, Jace.” Jack hadn’t been happy about the news that it was Alex in Daniel’s dream, or Aaron in Jason’s.  He’d wanted it to be him as the one in their dreams.  But he could barely claim justification for jealousy as the guilty memory of his own dream flooded his mind. 

“Jack?” Jason asked.  He knew by the tension set in Jack’s shoulders that Jack had had one of those dreams, too.  If fact, he had a feeling the others would be having similar ones.  Maybe even Teal’c.  “Who was in yours?”

“Mine was…different,” Jack told them, then pushed off the bed and walked over to the windows, crossing his arms.  The one lit lamp in the room cast his long shadow across the floor. 

Daniel and Jason exchanged worried, confused frowns, and got up, joining Jack at the window, framing him.  Daniel touched Jack’s bicep, his fingers pressing in slightly and felt the flex of Jack’s muscles underneath t-shirt. 

“What is it?” he asked, alarmed by the amount of tension Jack exhibited. 

Jack opened his mouth to speak, then promptly closed it, not knowing how to explain, not wanting to.  Jason ran his hand up Jack’s back, making him shiver.  He looked at him, then at Daniel.  “I’m sorry but I’d really rather not talk about mine.”

It wasn’t that big a surprise to Daniel, and though disappointed, he nodded.  “If you feel you want to though, just holler.”

Jack sighed.  “Thanks.” He turned to Jason, expecting something similar, but he didn’t get it. 

Jason took Jack’s silence as a sign of guilt.  He’d tried to talk to Jack before about the way he perceived his dreams and nightmares, but it had never done much good.  Having been helped so much by the man over the last year, Jason couldn’t help but want to reciprocate.  But judging from the set of Jack’s shoulders and the firm resolution behind his eyes, Jack wasn’t going to be talking anytime soon.  Jason understood.  The thoughts about his earlier guilt were fresh in his mind and really didn’t want to talk about it.  But he had to.  He also wished he hadn’t had sex with his lovers before confessing it but…sometimes the mind forgot. 

Jack’s brows knitted together when Jason walked away from him and Daniel.  He stood with his back to them, head down, staring at something unseen as picked at his fingernails.  A sign of guilt, Jack realized.  His frown increased as he glanced at Daniel. 

“Do you know what this is about?” he asked, pointing at their lover.  Daniel shook his head slowly.  They both approached but Jason turned to look and walked away from them, holding up his hand to ward them off.  All it did was cause concern and they went after him, taking him to the bed to frame him as they forced him to sit. 

“What’s wrong?” Daniel asked.  “It’s obvious that you want to say something.  What is it?”

“I’m…afraid to say this…and I don’t understand what happened but…”

Jack and Daniel glanced knowingly at each other, remembering the observatory. 

“After Alex and I grabbed our dinner and went to the room…something happened.”

He closed his eyes as both his lovers froze.  He knew they were getting the wrong idea but it still wasn’t that far wrong.  “It’s not what you’re thinking, but…we were goofing off, and Alex started teasing so I got him down on the ground, preparing for my usual torture,” and he smiled slightly. 

Jack and Daniel smiled with him because they knew about the strange alpha games Jason played with Alex.  They listened as Jason explained the events soon after the water torture. 

“Daniel, Jack, I’m s–“

“No apologies,” Jack said, pulling Jason into a half-hug. 

“None,” Daniel added.  “Besides, Jace, something like that happened with Jack and me in the observatory.”

Jason blinked.  “What?” he asked, shamefully grateful that whatever it was hadn’t just picked on him and Alex. 

Daniel told him what had happened and Jason frowned.  “Jace?” Daniel asked, glancing quickly at Jack. 

“We’d never do something like that,” Jack said, sighing and shaking his head.  “I have no idea what the fuck is going on.  I’m starting to think that my ability to command–“

“No, no, no,” Jason interrupted, shaking his head adamantly as he got up and began to pace.  “It’s not that.  Don’t you see?” His thoughts flew rapidly as a realization hit him.  “Look at it from a different perspective.  Now, not that either of you would refuse the other, but on duty?  No, that isn’t possible.  I think,” he added carefully as the idea coalesced in his mind, “that something in this house is making us act this way, dream this way.  There’s some sort of presence here.”

“Oh, come on, Jace,” Jack dismissed, “don’t give me that cliched, ‘a ghost made me do it’.”

Jason glared, a surge of anger hitting him.  “I didn’t say it was a ghost and since you’re so goddamned quick to dismiss my theory, give me another explanation!”

Jack returned the glare and opened his mouth to bite back, but Daniel cut him off, alarmed at how quickly the two were arguing. 

“Hold on, Jack.  Jason has a point.  With all that we’ve seen, how can you dismiss his idea so readily?”

Jack ground his jaw, thinking.  His gaze went from Daniel to Jason, and part of his anger died as he caught the look of indignation behind Jason’s eyes.  Daniel was used to having his ideas shot down, had been since he’d started telling the world his archaeological theories.  He’d therefore developed a thicker skin.  Jason, on the other hand, rarely made such outrageous claims, so he wasn’t prepared to get shot down.  Nor as quickly as Jack had just done.  As for himself, Jack knew Daniel was right.  He really didn’t have a valid reason to dismiss Jason’s theory.  It just sounded like a ghost story. 

“Look, I’ve grown up believing that ‘ghosts’ are nonsense, that they’re nothing more than someone’s imagination, good for putting into stories but nothing else.” When he paused and Jason and Daniel both opened their mouths, he held up his hand.  “I’m not done.” Jack first looked at Jason.  “I’m sorry,” he said softly, and held out his hand. 

Jason returned the apology with a single nod and took Jack’s hand, letting him pull him back down to sit. 

Jack continued to hold his hand and took a long breath.  He rarely fought with Jason but when they did argue, it was usually over something substantial.  He didn’t want there to be hard feelings over something that, frankly, spooked Jack just a bit more than he wanted to admit.  He wanted, no, needed, the reassurance that there were no such things as ghosts just so he could stop feeling like a nervous cat.  Jason’s theory punched holes right through that. 

“See, the idea of there being ghosts, spirits, whatever, is just…creepy.  I don’t want it to be that, so I snapped at you.”

“Well, I never said it was ghosts and since we haven’t seen any, there’s no proof that it is ghosts,” Jason answered quickly, “but whatever it is, Jack, it’s behaving like them.  If you see what I mean.”

The room went silent again as they pondered that.  Finally, Daniel sighed.  “The only thing we can do is wait and see what happens.”

“I knew you were going to say that,” Jack replied. 

“Only because you were going to,” Daniel answered back. 

The next morning found the sky just as dark and overcast as before, but for the moment, no rain, no thunder, no lightning.  The morning also found a sleepy, tired group.  Everyone was a bit edgy, and it seemed very clear to Daniel that they’d all had similar dreams, as Jason had suspected.  Coffee and breakfast soon helped matters, but the eerie feelings never went away. 

The searching began again, albeit slowly, and progressed throughout the day without a single discovery.  Daniel was becoming a bit discouraged and because of that, was still searching by dinner time. 

He was examining the walls by the kitchen pantry when his phone beeped. 

“Hello.”

“It’s time to call it a day, Daniel,” Jack told him. 

Daniel sighed.  “I guess.”

“Where are you?”

“By the pantry.  You?”

“Jace and I are in the sword room.”

Daniel smiled.  He’d forgotten about those swords and suddenly, his interest in the walls became unimportant.  “I’ll be right there.”

“Thought you might.”

Daniel could just see the man’s smug grin.  He hung up and made his way through short connecting hallways and rooms before finally entering the sword room. 

“You know, this building is like one big maze.  You have to go through a series of halls and connecting artifact rooms before getting anywhere.”

“Well, to this room, anyway,” Jason said, a sword in his hand.  He bounced the end in the air, as if testing it.  “It’s the back corner of the building so it figures.”

“How so?”

Jason gestured at the two walls of windows, though the wall opposite the door had less windows than the one that faced the rear of the building.  “More light to fence with during the day?  I don’t know.”

Daniel shrugged.  “Maybe.  Everyone else off to dinner and whatever?”

Jack nodded.  “Though Teal’c is still feeling a bit strange, what with junior acting up.”

Daniel frowned in puzzlement.  “Yeah, that is very weird.  Normally his symbiote doesn’t get upset except around other Goa’uld and Rheetou.”

Jason stared at a section of the sword blade and said, almost absently, “Maybe Junior’s afraid of ghosts.”

“Jason,” Jack and Daniel chided, though for different reasons. 

“Hey,” Jason returned, his expression that of a man who feels he’s right.  “I’m just sayin’.”

Jack shook his head.  “No ghost got inside my head, Jace.”

Jason sighed.  “Then come up with a better explanation.”

“I don’t have one…yet.”

The conversation died as the room fell silent, the three men trying to come up with a more plausible explanation for their dreams and inappropriate actions.  They couldn’t so they distracted themselves with the contents of the room. 

“Finding these things interesting, Jace?” Daniel asked as he walked over and picked up an epee sword.  “Damn, never noticed before but whoever is taking care of the swords doesn’t know shit.” He looked over the other blades, including the ones held by Jack and Jason and snorted with derision.  He tested the strength of the one he held, bending it, waiting for it to break, and as he made his way through the empty center of the room, he sliced the blade through the air in a series of motions that quickly caught Jack and Jason’s attention. 

“You could say that I’m finding things interesting…now,” Jace finally answered, feeling warm at the sight of Daniel with a sword in his hand…and knowing, obviously, how to use it.  He exchanged glances with Jack, who had the same look on his face. 

Daniel noticed.  He smiled enticingly and made the slicing motion again, then brought the tip of the epee blade to his empty hand, touching it firmly with his thumb, though not enough to break the skin.  “I’m glad these don’t have buttons.  I’m all for safety-conscious but you can’t have a decent assault or conversation with ’em.”

He found Jack and Jason mouths agape and grinned through a short, soft laugh.  “What?  I didn’t just sit with my head buried in a book throughout my stay at three different universities.  I wasn’t that lame.”

Jack smiled and exchanged another glance with Jason.  “‘Conversation’?” he asked. 

“The play’s the thing,” Daniel said, pretending to parry an unseen attacker. 

“Daniel…” Jack warned. 

Daniel laughed and stopped moving.  “Sorry.  It’s the swordplay between opponents.”

“You could’ve just said instead of showing off,” Jack commented testily as he picked up one of the epees, feeling its grip. 

“No,” Daniel replied, “I couldn’t.” He returned to what he was doing, made a lunge and parry, then stood straight up and whipped the blade through the air, frowning at it as if the blade weren’t satisfactory.  “You two show off all the time, whether you realize it or not, so just deal with my doing it for a while.”

Jack snorted as he exchanged glances with Jason.  The two of them shrugged, knowing Daniel had made a good point.  He was right.  They did tend to show off a little bit, going a little ‘alpha’.  Daniel was the only one of them that didn’t do that.  He picked up his weapon and fired it.  He didn’t carry it with him at all times when they were offworld–which is what Jack wished he’d do.  Daniel’s periodically cavalier attitude toward the P-90s they carried sometimes pissed Jack off.  Because he worried more when Daniel didn’t have his weapon.  That damn stunt three years before with Chaka had been a perfect example.  His P-90 had been in his tent.  Shit.  He was going to make a comment about it when he noticed how distracted Daniel was.  He decided that maybe the next time they were offworld would be a better time.  Like maybe when they were surrounded by an army of Jaffa, his snarky mind told him.  

Jack replaced the sword he’d been holding and picked out another.  And another.  “Can’t take these guards off, I suppose?”

From the middle of the room, Daniel looked over his shoulder and grinned, slightly shaking his head.  “Epees are designed this way.  Foils are the ones with the smaller guards but they’re mostly for training.  In my experience, assaults, er…fights, require epees or sabers.”

“Sabers?” Jason asked, surprised. 

“As in those wider, flat swords?” Jack asked. 

Daniel nodded absently as he whipped his epee through the air on purpose, knowing he was showing off.  Part of him simply couldn’t help it.  This was one area of assault fighting that Jack, Jason, or Teal’c had never needed to teach him.  In fact, he had a feeling it would be the other way around.  Too bad the Goa’uld didn’t use swords.  He could definitely hold his own.  Or better. 

Jason watched Daniel move and grinned.  This was something new about his lover, and he was thrilled.  Jack too, seemed fascinated, and like Jason, was pleased at finding out something about Daniel he didn’t know — something good, that is.  Ex-girlfriends he could do without knowing about.  Or ex-boyfriends.  He took his eyes from Daniel, examining his own sword, noting nothing wrong with the blade, though it did look a little dirty and needed polishing. 

Jason held up the sword in his hand, then stretched out his arm, shoulder-height, looking at the nearly straight line of the blade.  It seemed to drop slightly at the tip.  He was about to slash through the air with it, wondering if it would make that whipping noise, when the cold press of steel was suddenly against his throat. 

His eyes wide, he slowly lifted his chin and met Daniel’s eyes.  He swallowed.  Daniel looked mischievous and…dangerous. 

“Defend yourself, sir,” Daniel challenged, his lips twitching into a lop-sided grin. 

Jack’s brows rose and he couldn’t help but smirk.  “I think you’re being challenged, Jason.”

“Ya think?” Jason asked, mimicking Jack as his sword swung over, knocking Daniel’s away from his throat.  His eyes never left Daniel’s.  “You could’ve cut my throat.”

Daniel shook his head.  “Not unless you purposely leaned into the tip, Jace.” He tapped Jason’s sword.  “C’mon, let’s see what you know from watching all those movies.”

Jason snorted, accepting the bold challenge.  “Fine.” He turned sideways, assuming the pose.  “En garde.”

Daniel grinned and made a teasing face.  “Oooo, French.”

“‘Bout the only thing I know of fencing,” he said, tapping Daniel’s sword.  “So, swordsman, teach me.”

“Apprends-moi.”

“Apprends-moi.  Maintenant.”

Daniel smiled.  “Someone’s been paying attention to Lieutenant Saint-Michelle.”

Jason smiled enigmatically.  “Just a few words during our defense classes, Daniel.”

“Well, tell her that you need to work on your accent.”

A harder tap came to Daniel’s sword as Jason moved backwards, circling.  “You gonna talk or teach?”

Daniel’s smile widened even more dangerously and Jack couldn’t help but grin his head off.  He set his sword down and leaned against the wall, folding his arms, settling in to watch the show. 

Daniel and Jason separated a moment to roll up their sleeves, having already left their jackets in their rooms.  When they returned their attention on the other, the teaching began.  Swords crossed frequently and though Jason tried to parry, there were a few times when Daniel disarmed him.  Though he felt embarrassed, it didn’t stop him and he came at Daniel for more. 

After fifteen minutes, both men were sweating lightly while Jack watched, enjoying himself immensely.  Then Daniel changed the rules suddenly when his sword sliced down through the air, the tip flicking. 

The sound of cloth ripping brought Jason up short, his body motionless while his wide, surprised eyes looked down at his leg.  The right leg of his trousers now had a vertical six-inch rip in the middle part of the thigh…and the sword tip was still there, resting just below the tear.  He looked up at Daniel without raising his head. 

“You’re a dead man, Daniel.”

Daniel only smiled.  “Really?” he asked, and moved his sword carefully. 

Jason’s eyes grew wider as he felt the cold steel of the blade move inside the tear…and against his bare skin.  He swallowed, glancing over at Jack before returning his gaze to the sword at his leg, and Daniel. 

Daniel turned his hand, forcing the blade to turn over, and Jason shivered as it rolled against his skin.  The metal aroused him, bringing out another one of his kinks and he was torn between kissing Daniel for this and smacking the crap out of him for his timing.  The sword suddenly moved again, this time in slow, widening circles.  Rising higher, toward his crotch, the blade forced the tear in the cloth to lengthen and Jason felt his desire mount.  He half-closed his eyes as he felt himself stiffen as hard as a rock. 

“Damn you, Daniel,” he whispered. 

Daniel smiled at his small victory and glanced quickly at Jack.  “Care to play?” he asked, daring. 

Jack shook his head very slowly.  “I prefer to watch.”

“Don’t I know,” Daniel replied teasingly.  He was about to entice Jason more but was interrupted when Francis Clarke came bursting into the room, her eyes wide and worried. 

She halted as she took in the sword against Jason’s leg and the ripped cloth exposing his thigh.  She swallowed, wanting to ask but then changed her mind, shaking her head and waving her hand. 

Her presence seemed to break the moment, though, and Daniel moved the sword away.  He didn’t explain, and neither did Jason or Jack, seeing the alarm on her face.  They cleared their throats, almost as one, and gave her their full attention. 

“Ms.  Clarke, what’s wrong?” Daniel asked. 

“It’s one of the staff, Claire Erickson.  She’s missing.”

All erotic thoughts abruptly left as the three men’s demeanor changed, their professional sides kicking in. 

“What happened?” Jack asked, walking across the room to her, joined by Jason and Daniel. 

Ms.  Clarke’s eyes moved from one man to the next.  “I can’t find her and neither can the other members of the staff.  She’s disappeared.  We’ve searched everywhere.  Have you seen her?”

Daniel frowned.  He’d last seen the petite brunette at breakfast, serving the croissants.  “Not since breakfast.  Could she have gone to town, running errands without telling you?”

Ms.  Clarke shook her head.  “No.  She has no car so she couldn’t have driven off anywhere, and she’s afraid of storms so she wouldn’t have gone outside.  This isn’t like her at all.”

“Okay,” Jack nodded, and with a nod from Daniel, he assumed leadership of the ‘mission’.  Getting on the phone, he called Teal’c while Daniel called Sam.  Jason was already on his cell, calling his teammates, informing them, directing them to search. 

Jack clicked off his phone and looked at Ms.  Clarke.  “Okay, when’s the last time you saw her?”

“Six hours ago, just after lunch.  She was supposed to have helped tidy up the rooms but…” Her arms waved in resignation.  “We’ve conducted our own search, you know, quietly, but I’m afraid we need your help.”

“We’re on it,” Jack told her, and was about to leave the room when Sam, Teal’c, and Jason’s teammates showed.  Assignments for sections of the hotel were issued, and Daniel immediately volunteered to search the hallways around the pantry and kitchen.  Jack and the others didn’t fail to note the curious tone in Daniel’s voice. 

“An idea, Daniel?” Jack asked. 

“An idea, Jack.  The construction of the walls in that section don’t match the blueprints I’ve been studying.  I’ve been looking for some sort of clue in the structure as to why that is and was doing just that before I was…distracted,” and he held up his sword, grinning slightly.  He moved over and returned it to the wall next to the others. 

Jack turned to Ms.  Clarke.  “You’ve never heard of any remodeling that wouldn’t be shown on the blueprints?”

She shook her head a little too quickly.  “Only rumors, tales, gossip.  I’ve never paid them any mind.”

Jack knew she was lying.  “What gossip?” he asked her pointedly. 

“Um,” and she cast a look at Daniel, having already told him that she didn’t know why the building plans were different.  “Just common gossip about a story where Mr.  Hawkins’ son, Cade, was planning to add a room after his father died.  But the room was never built.”

“What if it was hidden?” Daniel asked and Ms.  Clarke practically blanched.  He wished he could figure out why but had a feeling she didn’t know where the rumored room was. 

“Okay, Daniel, you search where you were before, but if you find anything, and I mean anything, you call.  Immediately.  Jason, since we’re doubling up, go with him. 

“Gotcha,” Jason replied, nodding.  He was eager to see what Daniel was talking about.  “Daniel, let’s get those blueprints and check out the section you’re curious about.”

“I’ve a feeling about the observatory,” Jack said, “so, Teal’c, you’re with me.”

Teal’c nodded.  “Anything specific, O’Neill?”

Jack shook his head.  “No, it’s just an odd feeling about that room.  Carter, go with Wagner.  McCaffrey, that leaves you and Kaufman.  Everyone turn on your phone’s radio mode.”

Daniel nodded and the teams quickly dispersed, leaving a hand-wringing Francis Clarke behind.  She looked about the room and hastily left, looking over her shoulder as she did. 

“It is unfortunate that the weather has detoured the use of this machine,” Teal’c commented, passing a hand over the cold metal. 

Jack sighed and nodded.  “Damned inconvenient.”

A squeaking, as from a metal hinge or wheel, came from behind them and the two watched with fear as the lever for the roof was turned…by itself. 

“Okay, we’re leaving,” Jack said, and made for the hatch in the floor. 

“Agreed,” Teal’c said, frowning and clutching his stomach as Junior began to writhe. 

Jack pulled the handle and…damn near fell over when the hatch didn’t give.  His face altered from scared and annoyed to angry.  “Teal’c, give me a hand.”

The two of them tried, but the hatch wouldn’t budge.  They were trapped. 

The dark purple clouds outside rumbled. 

Jack looked up as rain began to fall through the retracting roof.  “Fuck.”

Blueprints in hand, Daniel took Jason to the section of the hotel where the pantry was located and showed him the line of wall that didn’t match the current construction.  Jason frowned as he scanned the top portion of the wall along the ceiling.  His eyes then stopped. 

“Daniel?”

Daniel turned and Jason pointed.  Along the base of a candle holder, there was a raised crack, and unless someone were looking specifically, they would’ve taken the crack as nothing more than a loosening of the old wallpaper.  Their eyes followed the seam of the old wallpaper as it ran down to the floor under the skirting board.  Dropping to their knees, the two found the molding marred by a fine line.  A cut.  Jason remained squatting while Daniel stood up and carefully wrapped his fingers around the candle holder.  He gently tried turning it, first left, then right, but nothing happened. 

“Pull down,” Jason suggested as he stood. 

Daniel did but still nothing happened.  Pursing his lips with determination, he gripped the holder more firmly and pushed up.  He felt it give slightly and hoping he didn’t just break it, pushed harder.  A hidden hinge was suddenly exposed and the holder bent completely upward, at a 45° angle. 

There was an audible click inside the wall and their eyes widened.  As they leaned into it, a three-foot section of the wall moved inward, revealing itself as a perfectly hidden door.  With an exchange of looks, they went inside. 

Sam and Alex entered the next room, checking out the closets.  One of them was locked and Alex lifted a brow as he looked over at Sam. 

“I hear you know how to pick a lock.”

Smirking, Sam looked back at the main door before she moved over to try to get the door open.  After a minute, there was a click and she turned the doorknob with a rather smug grin.  Alex returned it and pushed the door openly cautiously, reaching around the frame for the light switch.  His eyes widened as he felt something brush the back of his fingers and he grabbed Sam and moved them back. 

“What?” she asked, holding her lock picking ‘keys’ defensively. 

“Something’s in there, it brushed my hand.”

Because their weapons were in the van’s floor compartment, he looked around for something to use as a weapon and the only thing he could find was a tall, rather heavy jade statue of Kwan Yin.  He smiled with approval as Sam positioned the lock picks in her fist, the sharp ends poking out dangerously from the bottom. 

They moved slowly back to the slightly open door, framing either side.  With a silent, ready nod from Sam, Alex reached out with two fingers and pushed the door open. 

The body of an apparently-unconscious woman fell through, dropping half out of the closet with an abrupt thud.  It was Claire Erickson.  Just as they stooped to look her over, the door to the main room slammed shut and the lights went out. 

Al and Connor left the last of their ‘assigned’ rooms to check, finding nothing. 

“We could check the staff’s quarters and that garden room or whatever it is,” Al suggested. 

Connor nodded and moved on ahead.  “Wish we had our weapons,” he said in an undertone.  Al pressed his lips firmly together, thinking. 

“The kitchen.”

After reaching the kitchen and picking out a few knives, hiding them under their jackets, they moved out.  Five minutes later, all they found were scared staff.  Suggesting the staff stay in their rooms, and informing Francis Clarke to stay in her office, the two headed for the garden room where the landscaping equipment was kept. 

Entering the garage-like room, they searched through the stacks of tools, bags of soil, and the lawn care equipment.  Nothing was found. 

Connor sighed.  “Well, this was a bust.  Let’s get back to the main hall and inform the Major and Colonel O’Neill.”

As they headed for the door, it suddenly slammed shut and the lights went out. 

“Goddamn it,” Al said angrily and pulled out his penlight. 

“Shit, wish I’d thought to bring mine.”

Al smirked at him.  “I only grabbed mine just in case I lost one of my contacts.”

Connor sighed.  “Just as well you did.” He opened his jacket and pulled out the knife, Al doing the same.  Checking the door and finding it locked, Connor sighed again.  “Shit.  Okay, let’s find that other door.  They have to get these riding lawnmowers out somehow.”

Winding their way through assorted bags of soil and bark, Connor suddenly jumped.  “Jesusfuckinghell!” and he fell back, tripping over a pallet and landing his ass on a large bag of soil. 

“What?” Al asked, whirling, shining his light on him. 

“Something touched me!”

“It was my arm,” Al scolded. 

“No it wasn’t, Al, unless you’ve suddenly taken a liking to my dick.”

“What?  No!” he exclaimed, then froze.  “You mean…you were…you know?” Al asked, unable to say it. 

“Groped!  Yes.  Jesus, Al,” Connor said with disgust and held out his hand.  “Now help my ass up.”

Al reached out, pulling his teammate up.  They both took deep breaths, then pulled out their phones and tried calling their leader but found their phones dead. 

Daniel shut the door behind him as Jason felt along the wall for a light switch.  A bare bulb, rather dim, turned on overhead, showing the contents of the secret room.  It was the size of a small bedroom, square, and held furniture draped by dust-covers.  In front of them and against the far wall sat something shaped like a desk or vanity with a mirror backing.  To their right, the obvious outlines of a bed.  At its foot, what was probably cedar storage chest.  To the left of the door was a free-standing coat rack, uncovered, the sheet on the floor.  Next to it and close to the far left corner was what seemed to be a small, short sofa. 

Daniel moved to it, pulling the sheet off, finding that it was indeed an upholstered settee with a low back.  He looked over as Jason walked across the room and pulled the sheet from the desk.  They froze, recognizing it.  

It was the mirrored desk from their dreams. 

“Jason, oh my god.”

Jason let the breath go that he’d been holding.  “I know, Daniel.”

As one, they turned to the large bed.  It was then that Daniel realized why the shape of the sheet over the bed frame looked familiar.  “Shit.” He walked to the foot and slowly pulled.  The sheet came off slowly, almost sensually, like a slow strip, revealing the bed in his dream.  He turned.  “Is this the same bed in your…” Jason nodded, stunned.  Daniel took a deep breath.  “This is too fucking weird.  We gotta show this to Jack,” and he turned back to the door…finding that there was no knob.  The door was made to look like a part of the wall. 

“Goddamn it.”

“Shit,” Jason exclaimed softly.  The two of them pulled out their phones.  Daniel called Jack and Jason called Alex. 

Mid-beeps, the phones crackled and popped, then went silent. 

Daniel sighed and closed his eyes.  “Jack’s gonna kill us.”

“Fuckin’ A, he will,” Jason said irritably, obviously alarmed.  “Okay, let’s find the hidden knob or lever or whatever it is.”

“Good idea.”

Absently, and for a reason he didn’t know, Daniel bent over, drawing his hand over the quilt-covered bed, pushing down on the mattress, ‘testing’ it.  It gave with his hand.  It was a feather bed, thick and soft. 

“Oh wow.  This is a real feather bed.”

“Daniel,” Jason whispered. 

At the alarming tone in his lover’s voice, Daniel straightened and turned, looking where Jason’s gaze was fixed.  On the shadowed wall in the far corner of the room, to the right of the mirrored vanity, hung the riding crop. 

“Oh my god.”

“Yeah, and look what’s hanging next to it,” Jason told him, his voice lowering just a little. 

Daniel saw.  Adjusting his glasses, he sucked in a slow breath and moved over. 

“Daniel,” Jason warned. 

“I’m just going to look, Jace.”

“Just as long as you don’t touch it.”

What hung next to the crop was a foot-long leather ‘paddle’.  Its handle was wrapped in thick leather strips and the surface of the flexible pad was well-oiled, stained and curved; signs of long use.  They both swallowed, exchanging glances.  Jason and Daniel suddenly had a strong feeling why Jack didn’t want to talk about what happened in his dream. 

“No wonder he…” Daniel cleared his throat and looked away, examining the crop instead.  It too looked worn, having been used perhaps hundreds of times.  He swallowed, feeling a desire rise inside him that he didn’t want to feel.  “Jace, I’m getting a strange–“

As he spoke, the dull, white bare bulb in the ceiling popped, throwing the men into darkness. 

“Oh shit.  Now what?” he asked. 

He was answered when the light was replaced by the sudden activation of the antique–and supposedly non-working–oil lamp stationed on the wall by the door.  The room now glowed a mysterious golden-orange.  The same color as in the dream. 

Daniel didn’t move, suddenly feeling a chill running down his spine.  “Uh, Jace?”

“Yeah?” Jason asked, barely hearing himself.  He shook his head, as if trying to clear it, but there was nothing wrong with his ears a moment later.  In fact, everything was crystal clear.  Overly so.  Sounds and feelings seemed hyper-sensitive.  His skin suddenly itched with what he could only describe as need, and as he looked at the back of Daniel, his eyes travelled down, stopping to stare at his ass, before moving back up.  All he could feel at that moment was intense lust.  Daniel was his and he wanted him, wanted to taste, to feel. 

“Jace?” Daniel asked, starting to turn but stopped as Jason’s arms slipped around his waist, tightening.  “Jason,” Daniel smiled, chiding mildly.  He automatically tipped his head to the right as Jason’s lips brushed under his left ear.  “This isn’t the–“

“Je veux t’embrasser.”

Daniel’s eyes widened in shock and he turned swiftly in Jason’s arms, staring at the man’s face–as if he’d changed to someone else.  He looked the same, but the dark light behind his eyes seemed more intense than Daniel had ever noticed before.  Jason’s right hand slid down his back to cup–and squeeze–his ass.  The act was highly suggestive, erotic, as was the way Jason was looking at him.  Daniel couldn’t help it and felt himself harden quickly, despite the fact that he planned to put a stop to this, whatever it was, right now. 

“Jason,” he said, frowning that his voice croaked.  He cleared his throat.  “Jason, you don’t speak French, uh, not like that.  If you could have, you’d have spoken to me like that long before now.  You know that and…” He swallowed the rest of the sentence, realizing that Jason was walking him backward.  Toward the bed. 

“Je veux t’embrasser,” Jason whispered, his head bending. 

Daniel leaned away–wondering all the while why he was.  He started to move to his left but Jason’s left hand was on his chest, pushing him.  The back of Daniel’s knees met the side of the bed and he went down.  Immediately propping himself on his elbows, preparing to push off, he didn’t get the chance to as Jason crawled over him. 

“Je veux t’embrasser,” came the phrase once more, though spoken more deeply, sensually. 

The tone made Daniel shiver.  “I got that,” he said shakily.  “Jason, whatever’s gotten into you, fight it.  I may want you, and uh, I’d be stupid to think otherwise, but this isn’t you.”

“Oui,” Jason replied before he laid his body on top of Daniel’s, blanketing him, surrounding him.  “Je te veux,” he said before he kissed him, deep and breathless. 

Daniel gripped the bed–so damn soft–tightly, his fists white-knuckling.  Jason’s hands roamed over him, exciting him, distracting him, and when the kiss broke–no other word for it–Daniel was panting. 

“Touche-moi,” Jason whispered, “embrasse-moi, mords-moi.”

Touch me, kiss me, bite me. 

Daniel shivered again.  “Jason, good god, don’t sound like that,” and his lover’s hand was moving between them, opening their trousers.  Daniel tried one more, half-hearted, attempt to stop what was happening.  Part of his mind screamed that this wasn’t Jason, this wasn’t real, and the other–aroused–part of him told him to shut up and let Jason do what he wanted because he wanted it, too. 

“Jason, something’s happening here, something wrong.  You can’t, you won’t feel good about this, about me, if we–“

Jason pushed off, sitting up, straddling Daniel’s legs, and for a moment, Daniel thought he was back to normal.  Until he saw the amber light reflected in his eyes.  Daniel’s heart raced excitedly, both fearful and yet wanting.  Jason pushed his trousers down his hips, exposing his hard cock, and he reached to pull Daniel’s down. 

“Jason, look,” Daniel started again, trying to pry Jason’s hands from his buttons and zipper.  But the sound of his zipper opening removed the strength behind his tugging.  He stared up into those eyes, that face he loved, and lifted his hips, starting to give in.  He shivered as the cold air hit the heat of his exposed erection.  “Jason,” he whispered.  “We’re going to hate ourselves after.”

Jason smiled as he reached down and grabbed the bottom of Daniel’s shirt and with a quick motion, ripped it open, sending the buttons flying in all directions. 

Daniel’s eyes widened and a shudder went through his body and straight through his cock.  “Jesus, Jason.”

“S’il te plait,” Jason said, waiting.  “Touche-moi.”

Daniel swallowed.  “This?” he asked, and took the tails of Jason’s shirt and ripped, sending the buttons flying.  Jason smiled ferally, his lips curling back. 

“Je te veux,” he whispered, and bent down.  “Je veux te croquer,” he added, and abruptly took one of Daniel’s nubs into his mouth and bit, sucking and worrying it between his teeth. 

“Fuck!” Daniel cried out, biting his lip, arching and closing his eyes, his hands finding Jason’s hair, carding through it messily.  Jason found the other nipple, pulling hard, teasing it, forcing Daniel to let out a moan and thrust up into him.  The friction against their cocks caused Jason to growl deep in his throat. 

“Je suis á toi, Daniel,” he whispered before kissing him hard, rubbing his groin against Daniel’s, their cocks riding together. 

I am yours

Daniel was gone, done for.  There was no way he would stop now.  The building could collapse around him and he wouldn’t even know.  Or care. 

Jason’s hands were suddenly in his, clutching tightly and raising them over Daniel’s head.  The heat in Daniel’s belly only rose higher.  He tried to spread his legs, his need to wrap them around Jason’s waist strong, but his trousers trapped him, just as Jason’s thrusting body did.  Daniel couldn’t do anything but thrust back, encouraging his lover to move faster.  He looked up into his lover’s face then, wanting to see him.  He shivered, finding Jason staring down, watching, panting rapidly as he humped him with feverish need. 

“Jason,” he said, trying to think of something to say but Jason’s mouth was suddenly on his, his tongue deep inside, twirling round his own, his lips wanting to suck.  Daniel moaned and bucked hard, forcing Jason to break their kiss.  His lover looked between them, watching their cocks grind together as he firmly held onto Daniel’s hands, pressing them into the mattress. 

“Bon,” he said, watching, “finis-moi.”

“Yes, Jason,” Daniel replied, his cheeks flushing with the signs of his coming release.  “Goddamn you, Jason.” He tightened his fingers around Jason’s, meeting his lover’s thrusts with brutal abandon.  Faster, harder, and he cried out, demandingly, his breath hitching as he felt his balls tightening. 

“Baise-moi!” Jason growled, humping harder, faster, biting hard over the muscle in Daniel’s shoulder, licking afterward, soothing, tasting, getting off on the taste of salt and hot skin. 

“Yes!” Daniel whispered harshly, his hands ripping free from Jason’s to clamp down hard over his lover’s ass, pulling down as he thrust upward, grinding desperately.  Sweat beaded and dripped down from Jason’s hair, falling onto Daniel’s lips.  He licked, swallowing.  “Jason!”

A shaky, strange cry escaped Jason’s throat.  “No, no, can’t,” he said, suddenly speaking English, pulling away, rolling onto his back.  “Daniel, I’ll come all over you.  I can’t.”

“Bastard, hell of a time to come out of it!” Daniel growled and rolled on top of his lover, kissing him hard before he moved down to take Jason’s cock into his mouth. 

“Holy shit!” Jason cried, doubling over, his hands grabbing Daniel’s hair.  With another cry, he thrust uncontrollably as Daniel sucked hard, swallowing his release. 

The moment he knew he wouldn’t spill anymore he pushed Daniel off of his cock and returned the attention.  Daniel arched his back, clutching the bed with one hand and Jason’s hair with the other.  It didn’t take long and he was soon shuddering his come down Jason’s throat. 

Both of them now on their backs, panting through the fading afterglow, they realized what they’d just done. 

Daniel groaned.  “We’re so screwed.”

“Maybe we can pretend nothing–“

“Jason, my shirt’s ripped open.  So’s yours.”

Jason lifted his head and looked down at himself.  “Right,” he said, laughing with embarrassment as he zipped up his trousers. 

“It’s not supposed to be funny, Jason,” Daniel said, trying not to smile himself. 

“No, it’s not but it is.  I mean, look at–“

A crashing sound of thunder stopped his words as the walls literally vibrated. 

“Uh oh,” Daniel said ominously. 

“What?!”

“Goddamnshitfuck!” Sam exclaimed as she and Alex got up and went for the door. 

Alex gave out a nervous laugh.  “Whatever happened to ‘holy hannah’?”

“I got over that,” she said sarcastically. 

They tried the door.  It was locked.  Sam tried her picks but the door wouldn’t budge.  She flipped open her phone and pressed the quick dial.  Her phone crackled and went dead.  “Try yours,” she told Alex even as he was checking his own.  His didn’t work either. 

“Well, this is just great,” she groused. 

“What happened to goddamnshitfuck?”

“I’m saving that for later.”

The old oil lamp on the wall, meant only for decoration now, suddenly illuminated. 

“Goddamnshitfuck,” Alex whispered as goosebumps formed.  He caught Sam looking at him and he smirked.  “I’m not saving it for later.”

It was Sam’s turn to laugh nervously.  “Let’s check out Miss Erickson.” They returned to Claire’s side and checked her pulse.  She was alive but from what they could see through the small amount of golden light filling the room, there were no visible signs why she was unconscious. 

They looked around, trying to find another exit, and spied the windows.  Nodding, they moved over.  After a minute, they discovered that the locking mechanisms wouldn’t work.  The windows wouldn’t move and were as stuck as the door.  They were trapped.  Sam sighed and went over to one of the antique chairs, lifting it experimentally. 

Alex’s brow shot up.  “You sure you wanna do that?  Damn thing probably cost an arm and a leg.”

“Well, I’m not going to sit here and risk an arm and a leg, waiting to get rescued.”

“Good point,” he said. 

Sam moved over to the window and picked up the chair.  As she lifted it, getting ready to smash it through the glass, a flash of lightning blinded her and thunder boomed soon after, rattling the windows.  Unshaken, she lifted the chair again and yet another light flash, followed by the thunder.  She frowned and exchanged scared, angry looks with Alex.  Taking a deep breath, she tried again and the lightning-thunder mix happened again. 

It was, somehow, a warning.  And Sam got it. 

“Fuck,” she cursed. 

“That’s what I said.”

Daniel stood, listening, as he ran his hands through his hair, trying to straighten it out.  “We gotta get out of here.”

“No shit, Daniel,” Jason said, grabbing the coat rack. 

Daniel’s eyes widened.  “What’re you gonna do with that?”

“Leverage,” he replied, getting a good hold of the staff.  He stepped to the back of the room, then walked quickly, dropped the rack’s bottom to the floor and held on as he jumped, landing both feet squarely on the hidden door.  It cracked, plaster falling.  Making a noise of disgust, he repeated his flying kick, dislodging more plaster.  With a growl, he tried a third time and this time, the door cracked and broke outward, leaving a v-shaped gap.  The bottom part of the door was stuck

Shrugging, he turned with a satisfied smirk.  “That’ll work.” His expression changed to a frown when he found Daniel hadn’t been paying attention and was, instead, focusing it on the mirror.  With a short laugh, he shook his head and walked over.  “What’re you doing?”

Daniel suddenly pulled the vanity forward, out from the wall, and examined the backing of the mirror.  His lips twitched in a smirk and looked up at Jason. 

“What?” Jason asked, walking round the desk to look. 

Daniel pointed at the backing of the center mirror.  Instead of flush and straight, like the other two, the paper backing was raised, covering up something. 

“The medallion?” Jason asked. 

“I hope, and the more I think about it, it makes sense,” he said carefully, and let out a slow breath. 

“I can see the wheels turning,” Jason remarked drily. 

Snorting, Daniel elaborated.  “Someone or some thing has been purposely distracting us from finding the medallion.  I think that maybe the dreams and what happened with us…” and he gestured at the bed, “have been engineered.”

Another crash of thunder rumbled the building.  Daniel looked up at the ceiling. 

Jason shook his head.  “That makes no sense.  Those dream images weren’t something I’d created from my own mind.  I’ve never seen this place before.”

Daniel gave him a look of tolerance.  “Think outside the box for a second.”  Jason scowled at him and Daniel’s expression turned conciliatory.  “I’m sorry, but, the ghost idea notwithstanding, you get a little too psychological sometimes.  If I’m right, the dreams were caused by…said ghost…which I don’t think is really a ghost at all.”

Jason took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Sometimes Daniel’s mind went where no man has gone before.  “Okay, Buckwheat, let’s have it.”

Daniel backhanded his shoulder.  “Very funny, asshole.  First, let’s get this…thing…”

He turned his attention back to the raised backing of the mirror, spread his fingers over the edge of the paper, and ripped down.  The paper tore easily and an inch-thick, oblong-shaped piece of cherry wood was revealed.  It seemed glued or taped to the backing, like someone hiding an envelope under a desk. 

Jason shot Daniel an inquiring look.  “It’s not metal, Daniel.”

Daniel rolled his eyes in annoyance.  “Duh, Jason.  Looks like a casing.  Or I’m hoping, at this point.” His brow furrowed in thought. 

Hoping?”

“Yeah,” Daniel drawled, and he suddenly grabbed the edges of the wood and pulled.  He could feel it give a little but it took quite a bit of effort before the entire thing fell off in his hands.  He turned it over and before he could examine it, Jason pulled at his arm. 

“As you said, let’s get out of this room before the ‘ghosts’ get any more ideas about keeping us in here.”

Squeezing through the opening Jason had made, they stepped out into the hallway.  Jason started down the hallway, then paused, frowning.  Daniel hadn’t kept up with him.  Sighing at Daniel’s preoccupation with the wooden case, he walked back and took him by the arm, gently propelling him forward. 

“You know,” he said as he led them toward the main hall, “if those dreams were conjured by a ghost, Daniel, it’s a seriously twisted one.”

“What?” Daniel asked, startled, as he looked up from his examination. 

Jason raised his brow as they walked through a junction in the hallway and continued on.  “Well, what’s the point of all this shit?  I mean, if it’s a ghost, why didn’t it just keep us from that room, instead of allowing us in there?  After what it did to me, as well as having the ability to affect our dreams, it could have kept us out.” He frowned then, thinking it over. 

“You mean it lured us in there?” Daniel asked, seeing where Jason was going. 

“Well, I don’t know about that, but once we got in there, we were…”

“Contained?” Daniel offered. 

Jason whistled between his teeth, making a zig-zag motion with his hand.  “Detoured.”

Daniel smiled secretively.  “Hell of a detour.”

Jason returned the smile.  “I’ll say.” He suddenly cleared his throat, forcing away the memory. 

Daniel shook his head.  “Whatever it is, it went to a lot of trouble to distract us…and it didn’t do a very good job.”

“Exactly!” Jason nodded briskly, gesturing at the item in his hand.  “And before you go discovering how to get inside that thing, I think we need to go find the others.  The phones being cut off is a good way to isolate us and–“

“They’re probably not having a good time right now,” Daniel said, internally chastising himself for his distraction with the medallion.  “Right.  So…” and he pointed in the direction of the antique and artifact rooms.  “That way?”

Jason looked up just as another flash of light and rumble of thunder shook the building.  “Shit!” he exclaimed and bolted up the stairs. 

“What?” Daniel shouted as he went after him. 

“Observatory!  That’s where Jack and Teal’c were heading.”

Daniel thought about how open the top room was…open and exposed…and the telescope would make a good lightning rod.  “OH SHIT!”

As they climbed the spiral staircase, water dripped down upon them, through the hatch that led to the room. 

Daniel swallowed, closed his eyes, and inhaled through his nose slowly.  He hoped he smelled right.  “Jace, do you smell anything?”

Jason was already inhaling and he shook his head.  Reaching the hatch, he pushed but it refused to open.  He then saw that the bolt had been slid home.  Frowning, he grabbed it and at first, it refused to slide back.  Rainwater dripped on him as well as Daniel, but after some harder tugging, it slid back with a jarring motion that nearly sent him and Daniel down the flight of stairs. 

Shoving it hard, it lifted and fell back into the room.  “Jack!  Teal’c!” both he and Daniel shouted. 

“Here!” Jack called out, and he and Teal’c quickly appeared in the opening, soaking wet.  “Move,” he ordered grouchily, “before we all turn into crispy critters.”

Daniel sat his buttocks down on the railing and let go, riding the entire thing down.  Jason looked down with disbelief, then shrugged and did the same, hating that dizzy feeling when he came to land with a thud on his feet. 

Jack and Teal’c were quickly behind, taking the cue and riding the railing down. 

Jack landed, breathing heavily as he stared at his lovers.  “Thanks,” he gasped. 

“Sure,” Daniel replied, his eyes wide with concern.  He had to stomp down on the desire that hit him at seeing Jack’s face, hair, and clothes soaking wet.  A drop of water slid down Jack’s throat and disappeared under his open shirt collar.  ‘Alluring’ was the only thing that came to mind at that moment, and Daniel frowned at himself, swallowing away the images that came to mind.  “You guys okay?” he asked. 

“Yeah,” Jack replied. 

“We are,” Teal’c answered. 

It was then that both men took in the revealing skin and open, buttonless shirts.  As one, their brows rose, and Jack pointed a waving finger at both Daniel and Jason. 

“You guys, uh, have some…trouble?”

Daniel and Jason both looked down at themselves, having forgotten their state of undress.  Their cheeks pinked with embarrassment. 

“Um…we’ll explain this later,” Daniel said hastily, “and it’s not what it looks like…exactly.”

Jack’s brow line rose a little higher.  “Well, later I will expect to hear what ‘exactly’ means,” and he felt a bit smug when the men before him looked decidedly uncomfortable.  Part of him knew that it was due to Teal’c’s presence.  “So, what’s that?” he asked, gesturing at the object Daniel still held in his hands.  “That what I think it is?” he asked, motioning for the guys to start for the hallway and the main staircase. 

“Don’t know yet,” Daniel answered as they walked.  “We found it in a secret room.”

Another look of surprise, then Jack looked around him as they descended the stairs.  “Where’re Carter and the rest of your team, Daniel?  Major?”

“We don’t know,” Daniel replied quickly. 

Jack halted near the bottom.  “You don’t know?”

“No,” Daniel said simply, detecting the familiar tone.  “Considering where you were, we went to find you first.”

Jack nodded then and jumped the last few steps.  “Okay, well, after what’s happened, it’s not a good idea to split up.  Suggestions where to look first?”

Daniel pointed at the office as he made his way behind the front desk.  He found the door locked.  “Ms.  Clarke?” he called out.  The door unlocked and opened wide, slamming back.  She appeared shaken and frightened.  “Have you seen our friends?” he asked soothingly. 

She swallowed.  “Um, Mr.  McCaffrey told me to wait in here as he and Mr.  Kaufman checked out the garden room.  Last I saw, Ms.  Carter and Mr.  Wagner were checking out the antique rooms.”

Jack nodded and took off at a jog toward the antique rooms.  The others, including Ms.  Clarke, followed. 

The increasingly loud noise of thunder and lightning had them quickening their pace, checking room after room. 

“This door’s closed!” Daniel called out as he ran up to it, knocking hard.  “Sam?  Alex?”

Their voices quickly returned from the other side of the door.  “We’re here!  Door’s locked!” Sam called out. 

The others joined Daniel quickly.  “Use your picks!” Jack said automatically. 

“I tried that already, sir,” Sam returned just a bit caustically, making Jack wince. 

“Sorry, Carter.  Hang on.” As he, Jason, and Teal’c looked around them for something to break the door down with, Ms.  Clarke pulled out the ring of hotel keys, waving them. 

“I think you might want to try these first,” she said, a bit of calm returning with the slightly amused tone. 

Jack gave her an apologetic look and gestured a hand at the door.  “Be my guest.”

As she searched through the keys, she looked over at Daniel.  “Picks?” she asked inquisitively.  “As in lock picks?”

Daniel started to answer but Jason was quicker.  “We run into a lot of old buildings that no longer have keys.  Sam’s our group locksmith.”

It was a plausible explanation and Ms.  Clarke seemed to accept it as she nodded.  “I suppose you get a lot of that,” she added, inserting a key into the lock and turning. 

The door opened and they stepped inside quickly, Ms.  Clarke leading the way.  She looked around, spotted Claire Erickson on the floor by the closet, and rushed over. 

“Claire!” She looked back at Sam and Alex.  “Is she…?”

“She’s alive,” Sam said quickly, “but she’s been unconscious since we found her.”

As Sam spoke, Alex looked at his leader, surprised at the state of his shirt.  He suddenly looked over at Daniel, finding the same state of disarray and his brow line shot into his hairline.  The question on his face was unmistakable.  Jason shook his head, holding his hand up, effectively telling Alex the answer to his question would have to wait.  He strode over to Erickson and knelt down, making use of his medical training.  He placed his fingers over her throat, taking the staff woman’s pulse.  “Strong,” he said.  “Anyone have a penlight?”

Ms.  Clarke nodded and handed him one over his shoulder.  Jason opened one of Erickson’s eyes and flashed the penlight on her eye twice, then checked the other eye.  “Equal.  Reactive.  No head trauma apparent.  Any visible injuries?” he asked, looking over at Sam and Alex. 

They shook their heads.  “Not that we could tell anyway,” Alex said, gesturing at the lack of electricity. 

Attention was suddenly on the oil lamp on the wall, still flickering with an orange glow.  Ms.  Clarke stared.  “Oh my god,” she whispered. 

“I take it you were locked in here with no way out?” Jack asked Sam and Alex, ignoring Ms.  Clarke for the moment. 

Sam shook her head.  “I tried to get a chair through the window but…”

“But?” Jack asked. 

Sam and Alex exchanged glances.  “The uh, storm seemed to flash and rumble every time I raised the chair so…”

“Are you saying…” Jack started, then remembered how the observatory’s roof mechanism began to move by itself.  “Never mind.” He turned to Clarke.  “You said the garden room?”

She nodded, taking her eyes from the oil lamp. 

Jack gestured at the hallway.  “Let’s go.”

She started out the room, and Jack looked over at Jason and Daniel.  “Why don’t you two stay here with Erickson.” Daniel started to object.  “No, I don’t want anyone left alone.”

“Right,” Daniel replied, nodding. 

As the group disappeared down the hall, leaving the two men with the unconscious staff member, Daniel moved over and sat down on an upholstered footstool.  He looked down at his shirt, then over at Jason.  Pursing his lips, thinking, he stood back up.  “Jace, is it safe to move her?”

Jason shrugged.  “Probably.  She’ll have to be eventually if she doesn’t wake on her own.”

“Well…I have an idea.  Before Al and Connor see us.”

Jason’s brow rose.  “And that would be?” he asked, having already been trying to think up a plausible lie. 

“We take her with us as we get new shirts,” he answered simply, or so he tried to make it sound. 

Jason thought it over, looking mildly surprised.  “Good idea.” He took hold of one of the woman’s wrists and pulled her forward, dropping her easily over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry.  “Let’s go.”

“Had anything like this ever happened before?” Jack asked Ms.  Clarke as they made their way through the staff hallway. 

Walking behind him, she nodded as he looked over his shoulder.  “But not in a very long time and long before I took over the keepership of this place.  I thought it was a story.”

Jack didn’t ask further as he came to a closed door.  He heard arguing inside and Alex smiled.  “I’ll take this, Colonel,” he said moving behind him. 

With a grin, Jack stepped aside.  “Be my guest.”

Alex nodded and promptly rapped on the door.  “Keep it down in there, I’m trying to sleep!”

Jack grinned and stifled a laugh as anxious voices were suddenly on the other side of the door.  Alex moved aside for Ms.  Clarke to open the door.  When it opened, they were greeted by two very relieved men, looking none the worse for wear. 

“‘Bout time, sir,” Connor said to his Captain. 

“Traffic, yadda,” Alex replied. 

“You guys alright?” Jack said, cutting in. 

Their demeanor changed only slightly toward the Colonel as they replied with “yes, sirs”. 

“Connor’s got something going’ on with an imaginary friend, but other than that, yes, sir, we’re fine,” Al snarked and promptly received a slug in back from his teammate. 

Stopping at Daniel’s room first, Jason set Ms.  Erickson down on the room’s small sofa, sitting her up.  He held onto one shoulder so she wouldn’t slump over and looked over his shoulder as Daniel changed into a fresh, white shirt. 

Daniel grinned at him as he straightened the collar and began buttoning up the shirt.  “If you weren’t so broad in the chest, you could wear one of mine.”

Jason cocked a brow.  “Complaining?”

Daniel walked over as he rolled up the sleeves.  “Not in the least.  Ready?”

For one second, Jason had no idea what Daniel meant as he gazed at the way the shirt contrasted with Daniel’s skin, especially the throat.  He then snapped out of it.  “Right, yes.” Instead of a fireman’s carry, he picked her up in his arms and followed Daniel across the hall to his room.  Also furnished with a small sofa, he set the woman down and just as he did, she began to rouse.  He paused, squatting in front of her, his hand on her arm. 

“Ms.  Erickson?” he asked. 

She groaned, feeling her forehead.  “Who’re you?” she asked as her eyes started to open. 

“Ma…Mister Coburn, Smithsonian party.”

“That’s right, that’s right.” She sat forward.  “Where am I?”

“In my room,” he said simply. 

Daniel had to cover his mouth to keep from laughing at the image before him.  Jason, shirt open, buttonless, kneeling before a distressed and very prettily mussed young woman.  He wished he had a camera. 

Claire’s eyes focused on Jason, taking in the sight of the man kneeling before her.  Instead of a shy, blushing reaction, Ms.  Erickson reached for him.  Jason read it innocently and Daniel covered his mouth, stifling a smile.  He watched as his lover leaned in, thinking the dazed Ms.  Erickson wanted help to stand, but her hands were suddenly sliding up his tanned, muscular chest. 

“Hello,” she whispered, then grabbed the collar of Jason’s shirt in both hands and kissed him soundly.  Daniel shook his head at Jason’s naïveté toward women.  He just wouldn’t get how damned sexy he was, especially when he looked like he did now.  Daniel didn’t really blame Ms.  Erickson for reacting the way she did, though he had a feeling that she wasn’t completely with it yet and when she was, she’d be completely embarrassed.  With that thought in mind, he cleared his throat. 

Jason flailed, thunderstruck, trying not to let his hands land anywhere but the edge of the sofa.  “Ms.  Erickson,” he said, trying to politely pull away.  When he heard Daniel sniggering behind him, he wanted to smack him one. 

“You just can’t bring yourself to be rude, can you, Jace?” Daniel teased, finally moving over, helping Jason to stand.  His lover backed away from a disheveled Ms.  Erickson.  “Go change your shirt, Casanova.  I’ll watch her.”

Jason cleared his throat, glowered, and turned away.  “Thanks so much,” he muttered, retrieving a shirt from his dresser, but instead of dressing in the room, he disappeared into the bathroom and shut the door. 

Daniel chuckled and returned his attention to Claire Erickson, who looked like she was just coming to her senses.  She stared at him for a minute, then her back straightened.  “You’re real?”

He nodded.  “‘Fraid so.”

Her hand shot to her mouth.  “Oh no, I’m sorry, I thought this was another…” She looked at the door.  “Is he mad?”

Daniel couldn’t get the smile off his face.  “No, he’s not mad.  Surprised and embarrassed, but not mad.”

“Well, that makes two of us,” she said, rolling her eyes in disgust. 

“Can you tell me what happened?  You were found unconscious in a closet in the Chinese antique room.”

Ms.  Erickson tried to recall what happened but couldn’t.  She shook her head.  “I have no idea what happened.  I blacked out, I guess, though I have no idea why.”

“What do you remember before you blacked out?” Daniel asked. 

She concentrated for a moment.  “I was in the Chinese room when I heard a noise coming from the closet.”

“A noise?” Daniel asked, frowning. 

“Yeah, see, we periodically get small animals wandering into the hotel through the kitchen, though I’ve never actually seen any.”

Daniel looked surprised.  “So why would you think one would be in the closet?”

She frowned.  “I don’t know.  That’s just what came to mind.”

“Okay, so then what happened?”

“Well, I went over and opened the door, expecting to find a fox cub or something, but there was nothing.  I then noticed that the lightbulbs in the closet wasn’t the right color.”

Daniel blinked.  “What color was it?”

“Some strange orange color, like something left over from Halloween.  I thought that maybe someone had put in the wrong bulb, so I grabbed a step stool to replace the bulb.  When I was standing on the stool, the closet door slammed shut.  I tried the doorknob but I was locked in so I banged on the door, yelling for someone to let me out…”

She paused and stared fixedly at Jason as he walked out of the bathroom and toward them.  His new shirt was now tucked neatly inside his trousers.  He saw her staring and frowned, stopping a few feet away. 

“What?” he asked, rolling up a sleeve. 

Claire frowned.  “You look familiar.”

Jason exchanged glances with Daniel.  “I do?”

She nodded, continuing to stare until she caught herself and looked away.  “I can’t figure from where though.”

Daniel suddenly had a feeling that whatever had been playing with them had been playing with her, too.  “What were you doing just before you went into the Chinese room?”

She blinked rapidly, thinking.  “I was on my way to my quarters when I thought of something to tell you and your group but…” She touched her forehead and rubbed.  “I can’t remember what it was.  I have a horrid headache.”

Jason moved over to his overnight bag, fished out some aspirin, and returned with a glass of water, handing them both to her. 

“Thanks,” she said, taking the aspirin as she rubbed her temple. 

They waited a moment, then Daniel picked up the oblong box and showed it to her.  “Do you recognize this?”

She looked at it with curiosity, turning it over in her hands.  “I’ve never seen this before.  Where’d you find it?  Looks like it’s made of the same wood as the other old furniture here.”

“Have you ever heard about a secret room?” he asked carefully, waiting for her reaction. 

She frowned, then looked up excitedly, snapping her fingers.  “That’s it!  That’s what it was!  I remembered hearing a story and since you were examining the hotel, I thought that maybe you should know…if the story was true, that is.”

She looked at the two men as they exchanged looks.  “What?”

“We found the room, and we found this object in it.”

She stared.  “Where?”

“By the pantry,” Jason answered, sitting down next to her.  “Can’t miss it, now that the door’s been broken open.” When her eyes grew round as saucers, he added, “We were trapped in there,” gesturing at himself and Daniel. 

She didn’t seem to be alarmed by that, but by something else. 

“What?” Daniel asked. 

She got up suddenly, rubbing her hands along the thighs of her slacks.  “I’ve heard…sounds.”

“Sounds?” they asked, standing. 

There were footsteps suddenly, coming from the hallway, and for a moment, the three were startled. 

“Daniel?  Jason?” Jack called out, and he suddenly appeared in the room, followed by everyone else.  Jason walked over, looking at Al and Connor. 

“You boys okay?”

“Oh, fine, just trapped in a room with killer lawnmowers,” Connor deadpanned. 

Jack shot him an annoyed look.  “No killer lawnmowers.”

“But?” Jason asked, sensing something else.  He knew Connor.  When his Sergeant joked like that, it was to cover up something else. 

“He says some thing touched him,” Al told him. 

“Something did,” Connor argued, scowling at Al. 

“Um, well,” Daniel interrupted, “Ms.  Erickson here was locked in a closet because she was going to come inform us about the secret room.”

Ms.  Erickson stared.  “You think that’s why?” she asked, alarmed. 

Daniel nodded slowly.  “And I’m betting that it’s because of this,” and he reached over, holding his hand out to Ms.  Erickson.  She still held the oblong box and realizing it, gladly handed it over as if it were something disgusting. 

Jack gestured with his hand.  “You haven’t opened it yet?”

“No, but I was getting round to it.”

“And I take it you have a theory already?”

“Oh, I think I’m getting the picture, yeah.”

“Well, open the box first, make sure it’s what we think it is.”

“What?” Ms.  Clarke asked. 

“Another rare artifact,” Daniel said quickly, studying the edges of the apparently sealed box.  Jason moved away from the group and went for his overnight bag, rummaging until he came out with his pocketknife.  He handed it to Daniel and the moment he slid the blade into a side seam, thunder and lightning shook the building again.  Everyone paused, feeling a shiver down their spine as the room suddenly grew intensely cold. 

Firmly setting his jaw, Daniel ignored the sounds and the cold, prying the wooden box open, bit by bit.  When he spied a bit of silver, he smiled.  And the lights went out. 

“Goddamn it,” Jack cursed angrily. 

Jason lit the penlight he’d gotten from Ms.  Clarke and went back to his bag.  Once there, he grabbed his flashlight and tossed Daniel the penlight.  “Alex, get your flashlight out of your–“

His words were cut off as the oil lamp next to the door lit up, suffusing the room with an orange glow.  Through the window, a bolt of lightning hit the ground close to the building and the window of the bedroom, as well as others heard down the hall, shattered, spewing glass fragments everywhere like shrapnel. 

Everyone dropped down, automatically turning away from the window.  Teal’c, closest to Ms.  Erickson, shielded her with his body as his arms went around her.  Alex, closest to Ms.  Clarke, shielded her. 

Opening his eyes, Daniel found that he’d rolled under the room’s desk.  Placing the penlight between his teeth, Daniel stubbornly continued to pry open the box.  With a crack, the wood splintered in half down one wide side.  The silver ‘medallion’ dropped free of its box and taking the penlight from his mouth, Daniel lit up the front of the object.  Before any damn thing else happened, he tried to quickly scan the symbols surrounding the image of the woman in the center, knowing damn well that he couldn’t decipher them without the reference book he’d brought…and that was in the next room. 

“Everyone okay?” Jack shouted. 

A round of ‘fine’ answered him, but Jack didn’t hear Daniel’s response. 

“Daniel?”

No answer. 

Jack rolled to his knees, feeling his stomach lurch.  “Daniel?” he yelled. 

“In the next room, Jack!” came Daniel’s voice. 

“Sonofabitch, I’m gonna kill him for scaring the shit out of me,” Jack growled as he bent low and made his way to his room.  Sticking together, the others followed him. 

The yellow-orange light that glowed by the door was pretty much overwhelmed by the brilliant light that glowed now ten feet from a frozen Daniel. 

Jack halted in the door, then took a judicious step along the wall, moving in Daniel’s direction.  “Daniel, just move back toward me.”

“Jack, if it wanted to do something, distance wouldn’t mean squat.”

“Good point.  But do me a favor and back up to me anyway.”

The moment Daniel was close to him, Jack felt himself relax–slightly. 

Jason narrowed his eyes, squinting as moved behind his lovers, dragging Sam behind him.  “Stay together guys.”

The moment Teal’c entered the room, arm across his stomach, feeling nauseated, the light glowed more brightly.  Daniel looked over and shouted, running toward him.  “Teal’c, get down!”

“Daniel!” Jack and Jason warned, reaching to grab him but was too late as Daniel moved too damned fast. 

Running to stand in front of Teal’c, spreading his arms out, Daniel did what Jack and Jason intensely hated: he put himself in harm’s way.  Contradictorily, they’d have done the same.  It was just that Daniel did it more often than they did. 

“Damn it, Daniel,” Jack hissed. 

“He’s not…”  Daniel started to say “He’s not Jaffa” to the glowing light, but remembered Ms.  Clarke and Erickson.  While keeping secrets wasn’t exactly on his list of priorities at the moment, he needed to protect Teal’c more than anything.  “He’s not your enemy,” he said, his voice only slightly raised.  “He fights your enemy.  With us.”

The light coalesced and took the appearance of a Caucasian woman with ankle-length golden-red hair–as Daniel pretty much expected.  Behind him, at the door, Ms.  Clarke’s eyes widened and she fainted dead away.  Claire Erickson became frozen in place, too shocked to move. 

“C’mon,” Jason tugged at Jack’s shirt sleeve, pulling him as he made his way over to Daniel.  “If Daniel’s gonna be toast, I’m goin’ with him.”

Jack couldn’t argue with that. 

“You are in possession of an object that does not belong here.”

Her voice resonated, echoing slightly, as if speaking through a stadium microphone. 

“Well, what took you so long to collect it?  Traffic?” Jack asked sarcastically. 

“Jack,” Daniel warned.  “Now’s not the time.”

“Screw that, Daniel.  If she’s gonna get nasty, so will I.”  Jack returned his attention to the woman with the glowing aura.  “So, what’s so important about it?  And maybe more importantly, why can’t we have it?” he asked, pointing at the silver object in Daniel’s hands. 

“It is too dangerous for you to control,” the being said. 

Daniel blinked.  “Armageet?  Is that your…name?”

She nodded.  “The item cannot be controlled by such as you.  It is no fault of yours, no shame.  It just is.” She held out her hand and the item lifted from Daniel’s grasp.  Jack reached out and grabbed it, startling the being. 

“Jack!”

“Wait a minute,” Jack said angrily.  “Before you go grabbing it back, I wanna know what it is, and if it caused us to have those dreams.” He glanced quickly at Daniel and Jason, clearing his throat again. 

The being did not withdraw her hand and a second later, the object Jack held tightly was taken from his grasp.  It floated to her but instead of going into her hands, it settled at her feet.  Daniel figured that it was because the item was corporeal and she wasn’t. 

“Its purpose was to map the mind, to make healthy that which was sick.  But the method for doing this has been corrupted by another and we are here to collect it, having finally located it.”

Jack noticed that she answered only half his questions.  “And the dreams?” he prompted. 

“And other stuff?” Jason asked, eyeing Daniel. 

“Other stuff?” Jack asked. 

“Later,” Jason said quickly. 

“Right,” Jack said, and looked back to the being. 

“That was done by another being, one held within this corporeal realm.”

Daniel blinked.  “You mean a ghost, a spirit?”

“One that used to belong to us but no longer.”

“Like Orlin?” Sam asked, standing up and walking forward. 

The being looked startled.  “Orlin?” She looked away from Daniel, staring at nothing specific, or so it seemed.  She then returned her gaze.  “Yes, but less advanced, less powerful.”

“Been doing a helluva job so far,” Jack cracked. 

Daniel sighed, partly because of Jack and partly because he knew the object was lost and he’d only memorized half of the symbols.  “You said ‘we’.  Does that mean the others are here, too?”

The being regarded him for a few moments.  “A few.”

“Oy,” Jack mumbled.  “So, are you here to punish the other one, too?”

“No, we are here to retrieve that which belongs to us.”

It was then that Claire spoke up.  She’d been trying to follow along with what was going on, and clearly these people weren’t scientists.  But she had a pretty good grasp of what was going on and the being’s attitude pissed her off. 

“Excuse me, Arma…geet,” she said, stepping quickly away from Al and Connor and moving up next to Jason.  He looked down at her and raised his right brow in query.  She looked up at him, flushing slightly at the kiss she’d boldly planted on him, then cleared her throat and looked back at the being.  “Just why aren’t you going to clean up after your own mess?  This is your fault.  Fix it.  I don’t give a damn what that object is that Mr.  Jackson found nor do I care what it does, but that other…whateveritis…is messing with all of us!  It’s your problem so take…it…away!”

As if cued by her words, the oil lamp by the door exploded, the ‘fuel’ inside bursting into flames, catching the wallpaper on fire. 

“Teal’c, Carter!” Jack yelled as the duo hurried out of the way. 

Everyone dropped to the floor, covering their heads as a hard gust of wind blew through the broken windows, sending out more shards of glass.  Armageet returned to her glowy form, growing brighter until she momentarily blinded everyone in the room.  Sparks flew from the lamp by the bed and from the electrical outlets around the room.  The fire was snuffed out quickly but was forgotten when a loud roar shook the entire building, as if from an angry throat. 

Daniel looked up over the edge of his arm, trying to see what was going on.  The object that Armageet came to retrieve was hovering in the air, between her white form and the form of something that seemed to glow orange.  The silver ‘medallion’ then flew out of the room and the beings flew out after it.  Or so it seemed to Daniel.  He got up and ran for the window, needing to see what went on. 

Jack reached after him and damn near had him that time.  With a growl, he went after him and tackled Daniel to the floor. 

“Jack!” Daniel said, fighting him. 

“No, dammit!” Jack howled at him, then covered Daniel instinctively as a large explosion went off outside, illuminating the darkness surrounding the hotel. 

Everyone waited, staying put, and as the minutes passed by, it seemed as if the excitement was over as the air grew quiet.  Jack looked up through the window, then rolled to the side as Daniel pushed him off with irritation. 

“I wanted to see that, dammit.”

Jack sighed.  “Too damn bad,” he shot back. 

“Jack.”

“Daniel.  Self-preservation.  Get some.”

Daniel took a deep breath, counting to ten, wanting to smack his lover and team leader.  After counting to twenty and taking a few more deep breaths, he thought he had the urge under control.  Walking over to the window, glass crunching under his shoes, he found that the wind had died completely and the storm outside had dissipated into nothing, leaving only the starry sky. 

“Well, that was…” he started. 

A glow suddenly appeared in the room, quickly turning into the form of Armageet.  She did not look at Jack, or Daniel.  She focused her attention on Claire. 

“The problem has been neutralized.”

She then disappeared through the ceiling. 

“So that’s it?” Jack asked with annoyance, then turned to Daniel.  “I hate that.  And it’s kinda anticlimactic.” Daniel nodded and sighed with disappointment. 

“What a mess,” Claire moaned, looking around the room. 

“We’d be happy to help you clean up,” Daniel offered, with Jack quickly nodding. 

Claire gave him a long look.  “I’d appreciate that, considering that it’s probably your presence that set this off.”

Jack held up his hand.  “Hey, this would have happened eventually, with or without our presence, so…”

Claire shrugged, then sighed and walked to the door, helping up the waking Ms.  Clarke.  “C’mon, Francie, we gotta mess to clean up.”

“Wha?” the woman asked as they left the room. 

“Okay, folks,” Jack said, “let’s go see about getting some brooms and stuff to clean up this mess.”

Jason stayed behind as his team left and he looked at his lovers as well as Sam and Teal’c.  “I feel…used.”

Jack winced.  “No kidding.” Daniel and the others nodded solemnly.  Jack looked at Daniel and pointed at the window and the room.  “Was this your theory?”

Daniel nodded.  “Not the plot, of course, but that it was the ascended Ancients, yeah.  I had a feeling.  The medallion was of Ancients’ origin, then unusualness of the storm kind of helped.”

Jack considered that for a moment, then nodded.  “Let’s hope we don’t find any more of that shit.  I told you–“

Daniel held up his hand.  “Jack, don’t say it.”

As Sam and Teal’c slowly walked around the glass and left the room, Jack pulled Daniel back for a moment, giving him a gentle, apologetic look.  “I’m sorry for riding you so hard.”

Daniel let a smile spread across his face.  “I’m not.”

Jack grinned.  “I meant–“

“I know, Jack,” Daniel relented.  “And I also know that it’s just because you’re an overprotective asshole.”

Jack gave him a long look and nodded.  “Wouldn’t if I didn’t…you know…”

Daniel looked at Jason, who waited at the door, then back to Jack.  “What?  You mean, ‘loooooove me’ so much?”

Jason laughed, biting his lips together after Jack sent him a look. 

“Yes, Daniel, because I love you so much.” He let Daniel’s arm go then and promptly smacked Daniel on the ass, making Daniel jump.  When Jack walked out of the room, Daniel paused, giving Jason a secretive smile.  “He smacked me on the ass.”

“I noticed that,” Jason replied, looking over his lover, making sure he didn’t have a glass cuts. 

“Think we should get him a leather paddle?” he asked, making Jason snort. 

“Only if you want to give him a heart attack of embarrassment.  Let him bring that one up in his own time.”

“Be sooner than you think.”

“Why?”

“Well,” Daniel drawled, “Once we show him what’s in that secret room…”

Jason groaned.  As Daniel started to leave, it was Jason’s turn to hold him back.  “I feel used, except for the stuff we did together.  I really got off on that, Daniel.”

Daniel smiled mischievously.  “Me, too.  And in case there’s any doubt, that sword stuff was all me.”

“I know,” Jason told him, leaning in to kiss him.  “And I did learn some useful things from this.”

“Like?”

Jason whispered some of the filthier French phrases in Daniel’s ear and that earned him a push against the door frame, a deep, searing kiss, and a good grope from one hand. 

Daniel suddenly let him go before he could get hard and walked down the hall, wiping his lips with his thumb.  He looked over his shoulder and gave Jason a promising smile.  “Coming?”

Jason followed, his steps slow and careful, almost stalking.  He shook his head as he returned Daniel’s challenge with a dangerous look.  “Not yet, ya bastard.”


 

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