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Summary: Sometimes you don't need to speak to communicate. Contains Danny whumping :-(. Dan/Paul all the way. Many thanks to Joy for the beta. One heck of a job, as always.

General Hammond was not a happy man. His best negotiator, Major Stan Kovacek had been promoted and sent to the Pentagon to act as the liaison between the US and Russia and he was now without someone to do the job. He was really worried about it, but had to shelve that thought as he had a briefing with SG-1 followed by a budgetary meeting with Major Davis, also from the Pentagon. Hammond was quite fond of the major, truth be told. He was an excellent liaison, always level-headed and polite; no bootlicker though - always ready to say what he was thinking, as well as what the diplomatic niceties made him say. Certainly he was a million percent better than the hated Samuels.

SG-1 were ready for him in the briefing room and they rattled through the information they had prepared. A milk run, hopefully, to collect mineral samples and maybe check out some ruins if there was time. He gave the go-ahead and then sighed.

"General?" They'd all picked up on his distracted mood but Jack was the one to speak. "What's wrong?"

Hammond sighed and smiled, he should have known that they would know him that well. He looked at the four expectant faces and answered.

"I need to replace Kovacek," he said, and went on to explain his problem.

They commiserated with him and then Daniel made a suggestion.

"What about Major Davis?" he asked. "He's an excellent negotiator and he's used to dealing with aliens."

Jack glared at Daniel for that, though he had no idea why the thought of Major Davis being there would make him feel almost angry. The man had never done anything to make him dislike him. In fact, he quite liked the guy.

"Don't we need him up at the Pentagon?" Hammond asked thoughtfully.

"Surely he will know of someone sympathetic to the SGC that can be recommended to take his place? Assuming he'd want to come here, of course," Daniel added, "the Springs is not exactly a cultural hotbed, is it?" He was grinning widely at a private joke and the others were looking at him curiously. "Oh, sorry, just something we'd talked about on the way to Moscow," he explained. The others accepted it and let it ride, but Jack's guard was inexplicably up.

"I can but ask him," Hammond said carefully.

"What about combat experience?" Jack put in. "He may need to fight."

"Jack, he's a fully-trained air force major," Daniel replied, "with combat experience. The decoration he got in the Balkans wasn't for wallpapering his CO's office."

That stunned Jack - not so much that Davis had seen combat, but that Daniel would know about it.

"Don't tell me, it was a long flight to Moscow," he drawled.

Daniel looked at him over the top of his glasses, narrowed his eyes, tightened his lips and replied, "Yes." He said nothing else, not wanting to get into a fight with Jack right now. He was tired of all of that bitching with him. He'd put up with it for so long and then one day decided that he wasn't going to rise to the bait anymore. As a result, he and Jack barely spoke.

Hammond dismissed them and they got up to leave. Daniel remained behind for a moment though.

"General, I hate to do this to you at this time, but I'm seriously considering requesting a transfer to SG-11 permanently."

Hammond sighed again. He'd been afraid that something like this might be on the cards.


"I'm tired of being shot at, Sir," Daniel replied truthfully - adding in his mind, 'bitched at, picked on, ignored by my CO'. "I'm an archaeologist, not a soldier, Sir. I fell into my current role but I'm not trained for it. I don't feel like my talents are being fully utilised. You expect me to run the anthropology department yet you also expect me to go and put myself on the firing line week after week. With the growth of the scientific departments and areas of study here, I'm just too darned tired. I'm working twelve to fourteen hours a day - when I'm not in the field. I barely found the time to move to the new house recently."

"Are you in a hurry to do this, Daniel?" Hammond asked kindly.

"No rush, but I'm sure that one of the military linguists can take my place as soon as is necessary. I'll still be around and I can prepare briefings for the various teams so they won't go in blind. In fact, I'd be able to spend more time doing that, making sure that they were going in with as much knowledge as I can give them. I can't do that now. Unless you want me to live here in the mountain and give up sleep altogether." He gave a humourless laugh at the end of his little speech and Hammond picked up on just how tired Daniel really was.

"Let me look into it. Are you all right to go on this next mission?"

"I'll be fine, Sir."

"Good. I'll try to have an answer for you when you get back."

There was a knock on the door and Hammond called 'enter'. It was Paul Davis.

"Ah, Major, just the man I was wanting to talk to. Dr. Jackson had an idea that might actually help me out a lot, and make your life a little more interesting. Do you want to hear it?"

Paul looked at Daniel with a wry grin.

"What have you been thinking now, Daniel?" he grinned. Then he turned to the General with a big smile. "Please, Sir, in all the years I've known the Doc, his ideas have never failed to be 'interesting'."

Hammond laughed at the gentle teasing from the major towards Daniel and realised that the two of them were friends. This might make things easier.

"Dr. Jackson, as it was your idea, how would you like to stay while I put it to him?" he asked and then pointed to the chairs. Both men sat and looked expectantly at him.

"Quite frankly, Major, I'm in a quandary. Major Kovacek has just been promoted..."

He told him the story and then put Daniel's proposal to him. Paul swallowed down his delight at being asked and just replied as calmly as he could.

"That's a big responsibility," he said, "are you sure I'm the right man for the job?"

"Absolutely. I know it's a big thing to ask of you, Major, but I'd like you to consider the possibility."

"I'm certainly tempted - very tempted. But what about your liaison at the Pentagon? You know I'm on your side, General, and that I do everything I can to help you out. If the wrong liaison was chosen to replace me..." he let the rest of that slide, knowing that they understood.

"What about your friend, Major Williams? You said she was on our side, didn't you?" Daniel prompted.

"She is," Paul grinned. "And she's a fearful negotiator, General. You think I'm stubborn when you ask for more money - she's tougher."

"A good friend of yours?" the General asked.

"Yes, Sir. She's a damned fine friend - we've known each other since the Academy. I trust her implicitly, General. If my transfer here was approved and if her transfer to my current post was also approved, I think things would work out well. Be aware though, Sir, she's not afraid to take on three-star generals if she thinks she's right." Paul was smiling widely now and Hammond picked up on his real fondness for this woman.

"Um, do you mind me asking a personal question, Major?" he asked quietly.

"No, Sir. Go ahead."

"Is she more than just a friend? I wouldn't want to take you away from her if you were in a relationship."

Paul had to rein in his growing hysteria, as did Daniel.

"No, Sir. Jess and I are friends, nothing more. I guess if you think Daniel and Major Carter, you've pretty much got us pegged. Pretty inseparable when we get the chance to be together, but it's a sibling thing."

Hammond understood now and then asked one last thing.

"How soon could you move here? I'm pretty desperate, to tell you the truth."

"I only rent my apartment in DC," Paul answered.

"You could rent from me," Daniel added, a little too quickly. He elaborated. "General, you know I moved to the house recently, well, it came with next-door, too. It was a specially built semi-detached house for a couple and their elderly but independent relative. The two houses are adjoined, but separate. There is a connecting door between the two. I was going to use the second house for storage or guest rooms, but Paul can rent it if he wants. We can brick up the connecting door if you want," he added as he turned to look at his friend.

"I'm sure we'll come to some arrangement," Paul smiled. "Besides, it will mean I can feed your fish while you're away; it will save them dying off so frequently."

Daniel snorted in reply.

"I'd say I've got my accommodations sorted out, General," Paul stated. "How about we get this budget finished and then we'll be able to look into me transferring here?"

Daniel stood up and with the General's permission he left, asking Paul to come and see him in his office when he was finished with the budget. He closed the briefing room door and immediately bumped into Jack.

"So?" he asked.

"So what, Jack?"

"What were you talking about?" Jack followed Daniel as he stalked off towards his office.

"You know what, Paul getting the position that Hammond was talking about."

"Before Davis went in there," Jack growled.

Daniel stared at him but said nothing yet. This was a matter for privacy.

"My office," he growled back and Jack was stunned by the fierceness of his tone.

They walked in silence till they got there, Jack shut the door behind them and then demanded to know again.


"Whatd'ya mean, 'why'?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"You're on my team Daniel. If you've got a problem that needs taking to the General, I should know about it."

"Even if that problem is you?" Daniel asked curiously.


Jack was not happy. Daniel however just grinned.

"I never said there was a problem with you; it was a hypothetical question. If you must know I asked for a transfer."

Jack stood open-mouthed, stunned by Daniel's trickery and then by the revelation. Daniel waited expectantly for a reply, putting his coffee maker on while the silence continued.

"You're leaving the team?" Jack finally said with an emotionless face, but his voice betrayed his feelings.

"I've asked the General to consider it," Daniel answered.

"What did he say?"

"He said he'd consider it."


"Because I asked him to."

"NO. Why do you want to leave the team?"

"Because I'm fed up of being on it, Jack," Daniel sat down at his desk and dropped his head into his hands. "I'm not wanted on the team, I'm not needed on it. I feel like a third leg, Jack. You're always ignoring me - when you're not telling me to 'shut up' - and I don't think that I want to do that anymore."

Jack tried to answer that and found he couldn't. Daniel's voice sounded tired and resigned. The fight had left him - and the passion. Instead Jack just left the room, numbed by the whole thing.

Daniel felt partially depressed by the situation, but also excited. He needed a change, he knew. If his transfer wasn't approved, but Paul's was, he could live with staying on SG-1. But he needed the change. His big fight with Jack after that episode with Reese proved to him that Jack didn't want him around anymore. Things had been better on the next mission out but the joy of going out with the guys was gone. He buried himself in paperwork until his stomach rumbled and reminded him that he'd forgotten lunch again. With a sigh he got up and made his way to the mess hall.

He distractedly grabbed some food, not really sure what he was getting - some sort of sandwich or other. He sat, ate, and was still unaware of his surroundings until he felt a presence. It was Sam and Teal'c.

"The Colonel says you're asking for a transfer," Sam said. "It's not true, is it?"

She sounded upset.

"Damn him. I was going to tell you myself. Yes, Sam, Teal'c, it's true. I've had enough of his bitching and it's going to stop. I want to go to a team where they at least respect me."

His friends picked up on his mood and got angry with Jack.

"We respect you," Sam replied quietly. "Don't do this, Daniel, please."

"I agree with Major Carter," Teal'c added. "I would not like you to leave the team."

"Thanks guys. But it's not as if we wouldn't see each other anymore. And it's not as if Jack wants me on the team, is it? Come on, he even said he doesn't like the things I say. I have no idea why, guys, but he doesn't want to be my friend anymore. Not sure what I ever did to make him hate me, but he does. I can't go out there if I can't trust him to watch my back."

"Don't you?" Sam asked in astonishment.

"No, not always. I feel like I'm tolerated at best. Looking back, I'm surprised I put up with him for so long. Glutton for punishment I guess. I'll come out on the next trip, but that's it - if the General agrees that is. He might not. In which case I'll be inflicted on you for a while longer." He added the last part with a grin, but then he saw the sadness in the eyes of his friends.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I would have told you all this before, but... well... I didn't know how to say it. Still love you guys, you know."

Teal'c reached across the table and put his hand on Daniel's arm - his own way of saying the same thing back. Daniel smiled and nodded. Sam just hugged him. "Love you too, Daniel," she said quietly. "We'll still be friends, won't we?"

"Always, Sam, always," he promised.

"So, you really think we'll pull this off?" Paul asked as he sat in Daniel's office later. "I mean, won't it look a touch obvious?"

"Hiding in plain sight, Paul," Daniel replied. "Look. The General needed you here in a hurry, I have somewhere you can live with a different address from me - but we'll still be able to live together Paul. Why do you think I bought the house in the first place?"

"Because it's quirky?"

Daniel punched him gently.

"Twit. I got it because I was going to use the second house as a guest place - so you could stay with me without question."

"You bought the houses because of me?"

"Paul, how long have we been together?"

"Nearly two years..."

"Do you love me?" Daniel whispered - even though they were already speaking quietly and couldn't be overheard anyway.

"You know I do," the equally quiet reply.

"I love you, Paul. I wanted a way for us to be together."

"You suggested me for this post because..."

"You're the best person for the job and no other reason. Look, when are you off duty?"


"Good. Grab your coat. If anyone asks, you're coming to check out your potential new home."

They left the office and started off down the corridor. They arrived at the elevator doors and waited for it to open without speaking. As it arrived and opened, they saw the General stepping out with a fierce-looking Colonel O'Neill.

"Ah, gentlemen, I was just coming to find you," Hammond said jovially. "I've been in conference since you left, Major, and the news is that you're being transferred here. You've been granted a few days' leave to organise your move. I'm sorry to spring this on you so quickly, son, but we have need of you here as soon as humanly possible."

Paul smiled back at the General and said, "I was just off with Daniel to see the house and work out the details with him, Sir. I'll be here before you know it."

"Good," Hammond replied. Then he turned to Daniel. "That other matter, we'll discuss it more fully when you return from your next mission with SG-1 if that's all right?"

"Of course, Sir, no rush," Daniel soothed. Just the thought of being able to officially have Paul around was making the prospect of working with Jack less stressful already.

Jack opened his mouth to speak, but the elevator doors closed on him.

They entered Daniel's house as if they were just good friends, but the second the door closed on the world, they fell on each other, holding tightly before lips brushed against skin and low moans came from their throats.

"Bed," Daniel ordered.

"That's what I love about you, Dan, you have such good ideas," Paul replied with a grin.

Daniel snorted as he took him by the hand and led him to the bedroom, coats falling off as they moved, shoes gone by the time they got to the door. Their shirts hit the floor by the time they got to the bed and they lay down together, kissing and touching frantically and passionately. Socks were toed off, belts hurriedly undone and pants pushed down, all without breaking their contact. In next to no time they were naked and rolling around the top of the bed, desperate to get off, but wanting to keep going too.

"Dan!" Paul gasped as he felt Daniel's hand on his cock. "I'll come, I can't hold on."

"Me either - just do it, babe, c'mon, come for me," Daniel encouraged. He worked them both hard and fast, aching to finish this and be granted relief. Paul thrust his hips in time to Daniel's movement, and true to his word he came hard, spilling over the encouraging hand, Daniel following him in quick succession.

"Hmm," Paul moaned, making Daniel laugh.


"Hmm. You want coherence, you wait for a bit."

Daniel reached over to the bedside table and grabbed some tissues, cleaned them up and then managed to persuade Paul to get under the cover. He pulled him into his arms and held him tightly.

"Love you," he murmured into the sleepy-major's ear.

"Love you too," Paul replied, barely audibly, but Daniel heard the words and felt the depth of them even as a gentle snore came from his now sleeping lover. He gave a little laugh to himself and then shut his own eyes for a nap.


An hour later and Daniel was awake and in the kitchen making some supper for them. A bleary-eyed Paul appeared, only clad in his boxers.

"Nice look," Daniel grinned.

"Could say the same about you, you know," Paul replied looking at his sweat pants-clad lover. "Talk, Dan. Tell me what's going on. All of it."

"Okay, hang on, let's get a drink." He poured a couple of coffees, left the supper to cook quietly on its own and then led him into the living room. They sat next to each other on the sofa and drank their coffees for a minute before Daniel got his thoughts together. Paul knew to not interrupt him when he was thinking, it wasn't a safe thing to do.

"Right. There's two things. First thing - you and this job. I only thought of it because the General said how he was stuck. You popped into my mind as being perfect for the job, because you are a damned good diplomat, Paul. Now, one thing I don't like about this is that you may go into dangerous situations, but I know you're a trained and experienced officer and it's only my protective streak coming into play. You're probably as statistically likely to get killed in an air accident on Earth while flying between here and DC as you are to get killed off-world given the amount of hours you fly. But I know I'll blame myself if you get hurt, so you'd better not get so much as a scratch Major Davis," he added with a grin.

Paul put down his coffee, took Daniel's off him and put that down too. Then he pulled him to lie down next to him and kissed him soundly, putting every ounce of passion and love that he felt for the man into it. When they broke for air, Daniel moaned - partially at the loss of contact and partially because he was getting horny again.

"Thought you wanted to talk," he teased.

"I do. Just want you to know how much I love you. Thanks for trusting me with this, Dan. I promise I'll always do my best to come home to you - you'd better do the same for me. You're on a first-contact team, remember, you'll be in more danger than me."

"Not for long if I have my way," Daniel contradicted and he told Paul about his request. This got him another kiss.

"Ah, don't get so enthusiastic, hun, yes, it's technically safer, and yes, I'll spend more time on base. In fact we'll work together on drawing up protocols for dealing with specific cultures, most likely. BUT. I want to go on SG-11, which will mean weeks away from time to time."

"I can live with that, Dan. We should be used to that by now," Paul replied with a sigh. But he was definitely happier at the thought of Daniel off SG-1 and away from Jack O'Neill. He'd been there when things were really bad - and he'd helped him through the worst fights and held him while he was rigid with anger with the man, desperately trying to calm down his lover before he broke something.

"I should show you the other place properly, shouldn't I?" Daniel said. "Every time you've been here in the last month or so we've ended up in bed straight away. You've only had a little look, haven't you?"

Paul stood up and said he'd better get some clothes on then, because there were no curtains in the other one-storey house.

Daniel checked on the supper and then went into the bedroom to pull on a T-shirt for himself.

"So, how are we going to work this?" Paul asked as they headed 'next-door'.

"Simple. You have this house - it's got its own number, mine is 110, yours is 111, so we'll have different addresses. You'll have your own telephone number too. But we'll get call diversion on it so you can divert here. My bedroom phone has a couple of different ring tones, it's one of those that can be arranged so that when a diverted call comes it sounds lower - so if it goes for you and you're in bed with me, we'll know for you to answer it. We'll shift all of your stuff down here, put it in 111. When I'm away, you live there just in case someone comes. When I'm home, we keep the adjoining door open, giving us twice the space. It's not perfect but..."

His sentence was cut off with a kiss.

"It is. Considering the circumstances, it is perfect, Daniel."

Daniel showed him each room and Paul said he'd get them decorated to his own tastes so that people would see him actually as living there. Neither man was used to sharing with another for any length of time, so this arrangement would give them their own space too.

"What about rent and bills and things?" Paul asked as they went back into Daniel's side and he started to dish out supper.

"Look, you know I get paid ridiculous amounts of money, don't you? Well, I saved a hell of a lot and bought these houses outright. I don't owe a penny. We'll be in and out of each other's houses so why don't we pool the bills and split them 50/50? Groceries and that, well, we can take it in turns or something. I'm not that fussed. I earn enough to keep us both in comparative luxury."

Paul grinned - he came from a wealthy background. Daniel didn't and he considered himself to be very rich.


They ate and got ready for bed. Paul decided to take a chance and stay all night - they'd say he'd stayed on the sofa if anyone questioned it. But as he was on leave now - officially - it was unlikely that anyone would.

"Will the novelty wear off quickly?" Paul asked as they snuggled up under the cover and started to slowly drive each other out of their minds.

"I hope not," Daniel replied as he aimed for one of Paul's more sensitive areas. Paul screamed, and Daniel was grateful that their home was set away from anyone else's.

He kicked the cover off them and then started to kiss every square inch of Paul's body.

"Dan, please, let me kiss you," the pleading came.

"In a minute, hun, let me do this, please? Just lie back, babe, let me make you feel so good."

Paul wanted to answer but found he couldn't. He had to concentrate just to breathe as he felt Daniel's freshly-shaved smooth face glide over his body, the linguist's tongue trailing wet stripes as he went. Brown nipples were gently teased between Daniel's teeth and Paul's cock got impossibly hard.

"Dan," he gasped, "please." He couldn't find the words to beg, but Daniel knew his lover well enough now to know that he couldn't stand anymore and needed to get off now. He stopped what he was doing and turned him over onto his stomach, grabbed the lube from the table and pushed Paul's legs apart.

"You want?" he asked.


"On your knees, Major Davis," he ordered huskily. Given free rein to play, he would now, and drive his lover out of his mind as he did.

Paul knew this, knew he'd have to endure a little more teasing, but not much - and he knew he'd enjoy it.

He felt his buttocks being pushed apart, and tried to imagine what was going to happen to him now. Would Daniel cut to the chase and fuck him already? Or would he tease him with his fingers as he liked to do? Or would he... oh dear God he was. The tongue. Paul loved this with a passion - giving or receiving he didn't mind. Just the sheer intimacy of tongue and ass drove him insane. He screamed with pleasure and felt Daniel laughing gently against him, hot puffs of air brushed his skin.

"God Dan, don't laugh, just get on and fuck me, please," he panted.

Tongue went, and he felt Daniel's larger body over his, enveloping him in the strong arms, the heat of Daniel's bare stomach and chest on his back made him groan. He felt Daniel ready to enter him.

"Are you ready? Do you need me to get you ready?" Daniel murmured behind his ear, sending shivers down his spine and gooseflesh over his entire body.

"No, do it, please Daniel, just do it."

He willed himself to relax and felt Daniel push inside him in a few short, smooth strokes. He felt the head scrape over the top of his gland and moaned with pleasure. Daniel let him adjust to the sensation and then started on a slow, deep thrusting rhythm which threatened to make Paul lose any remaining marbles he actually had at this point. Daniel's hand gently found its way underneath and the second sensation of a soft stroking rhythm on Paul's cock made him push backwards and demand that Daniel move - and move NOW dammit.

Daniel grinned. He loved it when Paul became demanding like this. Some nights they'd had together, they'd literally been up all night, playing, teasing, testing each other's willpower before finally one would get mad and yell at the other to fuck him. One night they'd seen in the dawn before Daniel had caved.

Daniel moved, harder, faster, pushing as much as he could. His hand moved in tandem, working Paul as hard as he could. Moans and cries increased in volume till Paul came spilling his hot semen over Daniel's hand - the contractions of his muscles milking Daniel and making him howl as he, too, finally came.

Paul flopped onto the bed, said "ew" when he hit the wet spot, making Daniel laugh. Daniel left him as gently as he could and rolled off him, pulling him on top of his body.

"I love you, Major Davis," he murmured into a very sleepy Paul's ear.

"Backat'cha, Dr. Jackson," Paul whispered.

"We need to get cleaned up a bit," Daniel groaned.

"You do it," Paul complained.

"Uh huh, both of us. C'mon, shower," and he slapped Paul's ass in encouragement, getting a glaring green eye looking right back at him.

"Slave driver."

"Yeah, I know."

Somehow, they found the strength to get up. Daniel wiped off the wet bit as best he could with some tissue, and then the two of them fell into the shower to get cleaned up. Both were still very tired, so there were no fun and games, just cleaning each other as they went.

A quick towelling off sufficed and then they headed to bed to finally sleep.

Daniel was making breakfast for them both when there was a knock on the door. Bleary-eyed, he stumbled to the front door. It was Jack.

"Jack. What do you want?" Daniel asked.

"We need to talk before we get to work," Jack answered.

"I'm not alone. Paul stayed over," Daniel said. There was no point in hiding it. "Paul! Jack's here," he called out, giving Paul some warning. Then he made his way back into the kitchen, leaving Jack to follow him.

"So? What do you want?" Daniel repeated.

"Why are you leaving the team?"

"I told you."

"What did you say to Hammond?"

Daniel stared at him. Then he let out a humourless laugh.

"Is that what you're bothered about?" he asked. "You're wondering if I dropped you in it? Well I didn't. I told him I wanted to be an archaeologist again and that I was tired of being shot at. If that's all, Jack..."

"NO! No, sorry, don't mean to shout. I don't get it. Why, Daniel? Why are you leaving me?"

That got Daniel's coldest stare.

"I'm not leaving you. I'm leaving the team. How can I leave you, Jack? You left me two years ago."

"Whatd'ya mean by that?"

"You started your bitching and picking on me then, Jack. Just after Shau're died. I needed you, you left me alone. You've not been back since. There have been a couple of times when I thought you wanted to be my friend again, it's why I've stayed on the team so long. But no more. I'm not putting up with it anymore, Jack. You want a whipping boy - go find another one. This one's had enough."

Jack sighed.

"I'm sorry, okay? We were getting too close. It's not safe in the field to be too close to your team."

"But it's okay to mess about with your female 2IC's head by flirting with her, telling her you cared about her enough to die for her. Oh, she told me, Jack. I know exactly what went on. It's safe in the field to do that, but not to have friends? To constantly pick on, undermine, shout at and ignore a team member? I might not know much about the military mind set, Jack, but I'm sure that that isn't standard operating procedure."

Another sigh from Jack. He had gone there to sort things out at Hammond's request but he wasn't getting anywhere. And what was worse, he knew that Daniel was right.

"It won't happen again, Daniel," he tried again.

"No, Jack, you're right. It won't. We have a mineral trip to make today and then I'm off the team. You'll never be able to bitch at me again. And just think, you'll never have to pretend to be my friend again either. Just think of the benefits for you."

Daniel was feeling particularly snarky as he hadn't had any coffee yet. However, the pot was made.

"Paul! Breakfast's done," he called as toast popped up from the toaster.

"Do you want anything?" Daniel asked Jack.

"No, thanks. I've already had mine." He was surprised by the offer.

Paul came out of the hall and into the kitchen, fully dressed, Daniel was pleased to note.

"Thanks Dan," he said as he took a plate of toast and a mug of coffee.

"Welcome. What time's your flight?"

"Two hours from now. Then it's panic time, sorting out the move. I should be starting to bring things down in about two days. When you get the phone number, let me know as soon as, will you?"

"Sure. We should be back tonight. I'll organise it tomorrow."

"What's going on?" Jack asked - he hadn't been told exactly what the plan was.

"I'm renting next-door from Daniel, Sir," Paul slipped into his Major Davis role quickly. "I was lucky that he had somewhere otherwise I wouldn't have had anywhere to live - apart from the mountain and I didn't fancy that," he added with a grin.

"No, I suppose you wouldn't. You two good friends then?" Jack asked suspiciously.

"Yes, Jack. Good friends. You know - do stuff together, that sort of thing," Daniel snapped back.

Jack knew exactly what he was getting at - friends, as they had once been. Jack sighed and stood up.

"I'll see you at the mountain, Daniel," he said quietly and headed for the door. Daniel's stomach tightened in sadness and not a little anger.

"Jack, stay for a coffee, huh?"

Jack was really surprised by this, but he took the olive branch offered. Perhaps he could mend this before it went too far. He knew he had till the end of the mission and that was it. He accepted the coffee and sat back down.

"So, how long have you two been friends?" he asked.

Paul looked at Daniel and a silent communication passed between them.

"Well, we've known each other since Paul first became liaison," Daniel said, "so that's what, three years, Paul?"

Paul nodded, chewing on his toast because he didn't want to actually speak.

"We just got to know each other more and more over the years," Daniel added - still avoiding any hint that they were more than 'just good friends.' "We have lots in common." Paul nearly choked on his toast, and blamed his coughing fit on a dry crumb that went down the wrong way.

"So, what, you guys gonna be roommates or something?" Jack asked.

"Something like that," Daniel replied coolly. "He's renting the house next-door. We'll probably spend a lot of our off-duty hours together though - I don't know about you, but I hate coming home to an empty house. This is perfect for me. Having a friend here but still having my own space. It beats being alone, that's for sure."

Jack ignored the dig. There was a time when they'd spent nearly every waking hour together. He knew it was only his own fault though, so he didn't say a word.

"Well, I hope it works out for you," he replied in a genuine tone, surprising the hell out of Daniel. Daniel knew him well enough to know when Jack was being honest in his opinions, no matter how well he could hide his true intentions to anyone else. Jack also knew this, so he didn't try to hide that from him.

"I really must go. Don't be late for the mission, Daniel," he teased gently. "If you need any help moving things in, Major, give a shout. I'm sure I can rustle up some 'volunteers'."

Despite his astonishment at Jack's offer, Paul was able to offer him a genuine heartfelt smile back.

"Thank you, Colonel. I may take you up on the offer. This is going to be one of the fastest moves in history, I think."

"Thanks Jack," Daniel added. "I'll be following you up, I just need to do a couple of things here first. I won't be late, I promise."

Jack smiled and nodded and left.

"That was odd," Daniel said as he shut the door. "Do you think he's been replaced by some alien or something?"

Paul smacked his arm gently.

"Dan, he's terrified of losing you from the team. I think this is going to be a good mission for you. Make the most of it, please. And be nice to him. If you can encourage him to be nice to you, you'll be able to stay on SG-1. That's what you want, isn't it?"

"To be frank, hun, I don't know anymore. I've got to go," he sighed, and laid a prize-winning kiss on Paul's lips. Then he found the key to 111 and gave it to Paul.

"Just in case I'm not home when you get back. Feel free to do whatever, hun. Make it your home, please."

"My home is wherever you are," Paul replied and kissed him back.

"Are you going sappy on me, Major Davis?"

"A temporary aberration, Dr. Jackson. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible."

Daniel laughed, grabbed his coat and headed out of the door.

The mission was a quiet one and it gave Jack a few chances to speak to Daniel.

"He calls you Dan."

His pronouncement came out of the blue and Daniel was a touch taken aback.

"Excuse me?"

"Major Davis. He calls you Dan. You hate being called Dan."

"You used to call me Danny. I detest that. It never stopped you. Why, do you have a problem with it?"

"No, no, just surprised, that's all."

"He asked, I said he could. It stems from a joke we were having about monosyllabic life-forms." At the blank look he got back, he added, "You had to be there, Jack. It was funny at the time."

"I'll take your word for it," Jack replied carefully.

Daniel couldn't believe how well the mission was going for once. Teal'c and Sam were stunned by Jack's demeanour, but made the most of it and it was the lightest their spirits had been in a long time. As they approached the gate, however, Jack appeared nervous. Daniel understood why.

"Um Jack, can we talk before we go back, please?" he asked.

They were a bit early for once, so Jack okayed it, and he and Daniel sat apart from the others to keep this between themselves.

"Are you going to ask for the transfer still, Daniel?" Jack asked straight out.

"I don't know," Daniel answered truthfully. "Look, Jack, the reasons I gave to Hammond were genuine, okay? I'm not a soldier, I'm an archaeologist. In the last couple of years I haven't had much of a chance to be one of those. How would you feel if the majority of our missions had been digs, huh? You would be wanting a change, too, wouldn't you?"

Jack agreed - he could see Daniel's point.

"This mission has been fun, Jack, it's been like we used to be. If you could guarantee that you'd be like this all the time, then maybe I could stay. But I'm not sure I trust you to not get mad at me next time we step through the gate. You broke my heart, Jack."

Jack was stunned by that.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean you built me up, became the best friend I've ever had - and then you dumped me when I needed you most. It was like I'd lost two people that I loved instead of one."


"Jeez, Jack, don't get upset by a word. Friends can do that, you know. Love each other, I mean. I know you don't even like me anymore, but there was a time when you seemed to care. You don't now, do you?"

"Of course I care, Daniel. I care a lot - far more than I should. I'm sorry if you don't think that."

"Jack, when did you last give me reason to think it? Huh? Tell me I'm imagining it and prove it to me. I'm tired, Jack, tired of it all. I need a change, a break. If you really are my friend, you will back me in this. Don't fight me, please. And when you need me on a mission, I can come back and help you out. I'll do it willingly if you help me now. But if you fight me, I won't."

"You're not giving me much of a choice here Daniel. I don't want to lose you."

"You're going to, Jack. But you can let me go to SG-11 and you get me back whenever I'm needed, or you fight me on this and you never get me back. It's your choice."

Jack reined in his anger, but he really could see just how tired Daniel was. He nodded.

"Okay. I'll talk to Hammond about you transferring. Danny? Are we friends again? I mean, can we be?"

Daniel smiled warmly at him, stood up and put his hand out to pull the older man up. Then he pulled him into a hug.

"You know, there are very few people that I let hug me," he said quietly into Jack's neck. Jack was holding him tightly, not wanting to let go.

"I know," he replied in relief. He could salvage this friendship - that's what Daniel was telling him between the lines. He'd gone to him at Hammond's request, but now he knew that it was what he wanted and he was determined to do so. It was up to him now.

The transfer was approved and Daniel was thrilled with the way his friendship with Jack was being rekindled. Paul had somehow managed to pack his entire apartment and move in two days - as he said, some kind of record. He had one more day in which to settled down, and then he was to take command of SG-9. Daniel managed to beg a day's leave so that he could help Paul... as did the rest of SG-1. They were desperately trying to keep 'their' archaeologist sweet, in the hope that one day he'd come back to them. Sam even managed to persuade Jan to take a day off to help.

Paul accepted the assistance - he'd had a removals company in to help him pack all his non-personal stuff like furniture, kitchen equipment and the like. He'd left his bedroom for himself to pack. He was leaving that now too, just waiting till the removal guys shifted his furniture in to the right places so he could put things away. Jack was being Jack, 'organising' everyone and generally getting under Daniel's feet. The two men were bickering again as they once had, laughing at some personal in-joke. Sam, Teal'c and Jan looked sadly at each other when they realised how long it had been since they had heard that. And Paul was feeling a little left out of the loop.

It was starting to get late and the unpacking was nowhere near done.

"Paul, just unpack what you need for tonight and tomorrow. I'll get some bedding in here - you don't even have to dig it out." He gave a wink out of sight of the others and Paul yawned in reply.

"Thanks Dan," he got out through the yawn. "I'm shattered. Guess it will be weeks before I get it all away. Hope you don't mind me leaving this place in chaos."

"Paul, I still have some boxes to unpack and I've been here six weeks. It's fine. Take your time and do it right. You said you wanted to decorate anyway, didn't you?"

"Well, duh. That floral wallpaper may be suitable for an eighty-odd year-old woman, but it is so not me," he replied with a snort.

"Decorating party next then," Jack put in. "The guys, you, me, a crate of beer and lots of paint and wallpaper. Whatd'ya say? It will be fun."

Paul groaned and Daniel laughed. "As long as you help me too, Jack, I haven't had a chance to do any decorating in my house yet."

Jack overacted and let out an exaggerated sigh. "If we must," he said, but his eyes were laughing. He acknowledged to himself that he was feeling a lot happier now that he was trying to be Daniel's friend again. He could get to like this a lot.

Daniel thanked the guys and they left laughing and joking together. Paul stood at the window looking out as the cars pulled away.

"Penny for them?" Daniel asked, sidling up behind him and slipping his arms around Paul's waist he rested his chin on his shoulder. They had installed net curtains on all the windows as a matter of urgency for their privacy.

"Oh, not worth that much, I'm sure," Paul sighed.

"Uh huh, Major D, something's up. Tell me. You're not sorry about this, are you?"

"No. Of course not. We've wanted this for a long while, haven't we? I just can't believe we've got what we want. Guess I'm waiting for something to take it all away."

"Oh boy - I thought that I was the pessimist in this relationship. C'mon, let's finish up unpacking what you need and I'll call for a Chinese meal to be delivered. I've got a bottle of bubbly in my fridge, you know. I think we can celebrate, don't you?"


They did as Daniel suggested and faced each other over the table, eating their meal, duelling with chopsticks for the remaining piece of sweet and sour pork. They were laughing, but Daniel noticed that Paul was again a touch distracted. He tabled that and waited until later when they were in bed to actually bring it up again.

"Spill. Something's bothering you and I'm not letting up till you tell me."

Paul actually blushed a little. "It's dumb, Daniel."

"Oh no, if it's bothering you, it's not dumb. Talk or I'll tickle you."

"Crap. Okay, okay. It was you and O'Neill. You were so happy together today, you actually looked like a couple. Guess I got a bit jealous."

"Don't be, babe. Love you remember. I'm not even on his team anymore. Jack's just trying to be my friend again. This is how we used to be. There's never been anything more between us, honest. Never will be either. Don't you go thinking I want to be with him, okay?"

"I wasn't thinking that, honestly," Paul replied a little breathlessly.

"Hey, we're okay, Paul. We've pulled this off. I'm going to be with SG-11 - and I don't have any scheduled missions for a couple of weeks. Which means that I've got some time to put your mind at rest," he added with a dreadful leer.

"You do? And just how are you going to do that, Dr. Jackson?"

"How about," Daniel said slowly and seductively, trailing a finger down Paul's bare chest, "how about I just lie here and let you have your wicked way with me? Huh? You get to do whatever you want - and that way, I'll prove that I am so yours, Major Davis."

Paul grinned and said, "Where're the handcuffs then? 'Cause I want to tie you up and keep you forever."

Daniel grinned back and nodded to the bedside table. He lay on his back and put his arms up, ready to submit to whatever Paul had in mind. Whatever it was, he thought, it couldn't be anywhere near as perverted as he was prepared to be for this man.

A few weeks down the line and they were settling into a routine. Paul had sold his car in DC on the grounds that it was easier than transporting it down to the Springs, so he needed a new one. Annoying as it was, they had to go in separately. So he'd splashed out and bought himself a sporty BMW, a convertible in a silver-grey. Daniel was impressed when he saw it but then laughed and pointed out the he'd better hope the soft top was waterproof, especially because of the ridiculous amounts of snow they had over winter.

They'd had one decorating party in which the gang had come over and helped them do Paul's place - another was scheduled for when Daniel got back from his next assignment - a two week dig on some old abandoned temple site. That was a few days down the line, and neither man was looking forward to the separation, though they hid it well. Paul had had a few short missions, treaty-signings and one hostage negotiation which had gone swimmingly, and Hammond was thrilled with his leadership of SG-9. So much so that he actually sought out Daniel one day and thanked him for the suggestion.

"How are you two getting on at home, son?" he asked.

"Fine, Sir. It's nice having someone around the place. And we get to keep our privacy too, as it's two separate houses, but if we want company for dinner it's just a knock on the connecting door away."

"You two are good friends then?" Hammond asked gently.

Daniel wasn't so sure what he was getting at, but he doubted that Hammond was trying to out them.

"Yes, Sir. We have a lot in common. It's nice being able to talk about work to him too, you know, not having to worry about clearance or something."

"Doesn't it spoil your chances of dating?" Hammond teased. "Always going out with your friend, I mean."

Daniel snorted. "Sir, I can't date, neither can Paul - or pretty much any of the single people on the base. We can only go out with others from the base because explaining what we do isn't allowed - it kinda screws up any chance of a relationship. But of course, the damned frat rules stop a lot of relationships too. We're onto a loser here, Sir, no matter what we do. I guess most people are like us, just looking for someone to talk to without having to explain why we disappeared for days on end without a word. At least Paul will feed my fish when I'm away."

The conversation had been light-hearted, but Daniel had worried about it all the rest of the day. Was Hammond hinting that he knew? There was no sign of disapprobation there, so he wasn't really scared that Hammond was going to check up on them, but he knew that Paul could not afford to be outed at all.

"Dan? Are you okay?" Paul asked over dinner that night.

Daniel looked up from his meal and told him what had been said. Paul sighed. He'd been afraid of something like this.

"Dan, if it comes to it - if there's a choice between the Air Force and you, you have to know, I'll leave the Air Force. I'm not leaving you. Ever."

"I can't ask you to do that, Paul," Daniel insisted.

"True, you can't. But I can choose to do it, and I do. Love is way more important than a career. I could always teach - either politics at school or give flying lessons, I am a pilot after all. Or I could go into politics proper. Don't think I'm without options, hun, I'm not. And don't feel bad if it comes to it."

Daniel was around the table in a flash, their meal forgotten as he swept Paul into his arms and kissed him till the major begged for air.

"I'd give it all up for you, Paul. In a heartbeat. You have to know that too."

"I do, babe, I do."

There was a knock on Daniel's front door, and Daniel went to open it. Jan and Sam were there, carrying some wine.

"Feel up to some company?" Sam asked.

Daniel nodded, stepped back and let them in, sending a small prayer of thanks that he hadn't just gone down on Paul as he wanted to.

"Paul, we've got company," he called out.

Sam and Jan giggled conspiratorially as he said that, earning themselves a curious stare from Daniel. He led them into the living room and took the wine off them to open it. Paul had cleared up the plates by the time he'd entered the kitchen to retrieve the corkscrew and glasses.

"So much for a quiet night in," Paul whispered with a grin. They didn't mind though, they both loved the ladies' company.

"What's the story, girls?" Daniel asked.

"What do you mean?" Sam replied.

"You're giggling, a lot. Talk now, or I'll tickle you, Sam," he warned with a grin.

Paul poured the wine and passed it out and saw that neither woman could look him in the eye.

"Sam? Janet? What's wrong?" he asked gently.

Jan was the first to get to a state where she could talk.

"Guys. Um, Sam and I would like to tell you something, but technically we can't," she started. Sam was blushing. "And we want to ask you something, but again, technically we can't, but as your doctor I'm pretty certain I know the answer anyway."

The light started to dawn on Daniel.

"Sam? Jan? You two?" he pointed at each lady a couple of times, his eyebrow raised and his mouth curled into a warm and friendly smile.

Sam cleared her throat.

"Er, yeah. Daniel? Paul? You two?" she asked.

Daniel looked at Paul who nodded slowly.

"Yeah," Daniel replied carefully.

"Told ya," Janet laughed. "And before you say anything, I'm not breaking confidentiality here, Sam guessed first. You two have been together for ages, haven't you?"

"Two years," Paul admitted.

"Hot damn - longer than we thought," Janet howled.

"How about you two?" Daniel asked.

"Not very long at all," Sam confessed. "It's all very new to me. Came as a shock, I can tell you."

All four relaxed now, they knew there was no way that anyone would drop the others in it.

"Does Jack know about you?" Sam asked.

"No, and I want it to stay that way, at least for now," Daniel answered. At Paul's questioning grunt he elaborated. "Jack detests the law. This is something I found out a long time ago. Before you even joined the SGC, Paul. There was a scandal - a couple of airmen were caught. Jack did his nut and railed at the whole thing, but he had to do that in private and only to me because he couldn't be seen to protect them in public. Something else that he hated. If he were to find out about us, I wouldn't worry. I know he knows about some gay couples on the base and he does what he can to protect them. But I'd rather not say anything to him - we're only now getting back on track with our friendship. I take it nobody knows about you two?" he asked the girls.

"No, and as with you, we want it to stay that way. We figured you two would be safe to tell and we also had an idea that might help protect us all."

Daniel and Paul settled together on the sofa and waited for the proposition eagerly.

"Quite simple, we want you guys to be our public dates. If you, Paul, are seen to be with Sam, and Daniel, you with me, it should get some of the gossip-mongers off our backs. There's already rumours about you two, you know."

They did know, they'd heard some and it hurt them both to deny everything. The girls had a point.

Janet continued. "Look guys, the four of us get on well, don't we? What's the harm in going out together?"

Daniel looked at Paul and got a grin in return.

"I think," Daniel replied carefully, "it sounds like a very good idea. And if you two want to be alone, you can do that here. When we get back from an evening out, you can go to Paul's place and we'll stay in mine. He's got a lot of stuff here anyway," he added with a smirk.

And so it was settled. Officially, Daniel was now with Janet, and Paul was with Sam. Unofficially, the two couples could do what they wanted.

"So, how did you two get together?" Daniel asked them.

"Well," Janet replied, "Sam was upset when you left the team." Sam was blushing a lot now.

"You offered comfort?" Paul asked gently.

"A lot more than that," Sam sniggered into her wine, finally starting to relax, though her face was still bright-red.

"I'll bet," Daniel added with his most unconvincing leer. Paul smacked him.

"Behave," he scolded, causing Daniel to laugh - a lot. Before the girls knew what was happening, the men were wrestling on the sofa, laughing as they did.

"Sorry," Daniel gasped, "I didn't mean anything by it. You said it's new to you, Sam. What about you, Jan?"

"Um, no. I had a girlfriend at college," she admitted.

"Sounds like me," Daniel agreed.

"Dan, I know you had a girlfriend at college," Paul howled. "Don't rub it in."

"Virgin," Daniel teased and the girls looked askance.

"Unlike the slut," Paul explained, poking Daniel in the ribs and making him laugh, "I'm gay. I'm not against the idea of meeting a woman, but I've never met one that did a damned thing for me."

"Better never had, either," Daniel said with a growl.

"What about you, Daniel?" Sam asked.

"I'm bi - like Jan I guess," he said with a grin. "Thought I was gay till I met a girl I took to. Prefer guys, but..."

"He's a slut, as I said," finished Paul.

Daniel shrugged and the girls giggled.

"How did you guys get together then?" Janet asked, her face lit up in her naughtiest smile.

"Ah," said Daniel, "um, remember the crystal skull thing?" They nodded. "Well I was feeling... strange, I guess, when we got back. Jack just patted me on the back, said, 'you're back then, great' and left me standing."

You could have heard a pin drop - the ladies kicking themselves for not paying Daniel more attention at that time.

"Anyway," Daniel drew in a deep breath and then smiled at Paul, "he was there for a meeting of sorts and asked me to dinner."

"He jumped me," Paul sniggered.

"I didn't. Well, I did. But you were flirting with me all night across that table, what did you expect?"

"Not what you did, that's for sure," Paul replied, laughing louder now. He looked at the ladies and their eyes were wide open. "And no, you're not going to find out just what he did do either. Suffice it to say, his carefully contrived innocent image went out of the window that night. Any doubts I'd had about asking him out went with it."

"Regrets?" Daniel asked seriously.

Paul stared into his deep-blue eyes and said vehemently, "Never. Not a single one, Daniel."

"Good, me neither," Daniel agreed and then put his arm around him and pulled him close.

The night went on, the four of them laughing a lot and generally agreeing that their plan of becoming a public foursome would be a good one. Jan didn't have to go home that night as Cassie was staying at a friend's place. Daniel invited them to stay over as they'd had too much to drink and they accepted.

Paul shot off to his bedroom and they heard rustling noises from there. He emerged a few minutes later saying, "I've changed the bed, it's got nice clean sheets on. Um, I'll just..." and he waggled his finger in the direction of Daniel's bedroom.

Daniel escorted Sam and Janet to Paul's bedroom.

"He doesn't sleep in here unless he's on his own," he explained, "so you're not kicking him out or anything. Do you think we can make this work, girls? You're going to have to flirt with us in public you know - I know that won't be a problem between you and me, Jan, we've always done that anyway, but you Sam. Will you be okay?"

"I think I can manage that," Sam replied with a grin, "Paul's cute. Will he be okay?"

"He'll be fine," Daniel answered laughing, "he's always flirting. Trust me on this one. Just don't go getting any ideas about taking him from me. I know how easy he is to fall in love with."

Sam hugged him and kissed his cheek. "I'm happy for you, Daniel. It's about time you had someone special."

"You too," he replied, hugging her back. "When I'm on the dig, watch him for me, please."

They promised that they would, Daniel kissed them both chastely goodnight and headed back to his own half of the house.

As he lay in bed with Paul they talked.

"Are you going to be okay, Paul?" Daniel murmured.

"I'll be fine. It's not as if I didn't get used to not having you around before. It won't be fun, but I'll cope."

"You'll have to flirt a lot with Sam at work, you know. If there are going to be any rumours, they have to be 'straight' ones. Even though we're all in the same command structure I doubt they'll say anything about the frat rules as we're all on different teams. You're the same rank as Sam too, so we won't have a problem with the rank rules either. I want you to have fun with the girls while I'm away, Paul. You'll be protecting them and us if you do."

He appealed to Paul's protective streak - which while it wasn't worn on his sleeve as Jack's was, it was about as large, at least where Daniel was concerned. Paul agreed and for once, they settled down to sleep without making out, just holding each other tightly as they drifted off.

Paul paced up and down his office. Daniel had been away for a week and at every scheduled check-in he had been fine. The General made a point of informing him whenever he heard too, something that initially worried Paul a little, but then he relaxed about it. If the General had a problem with their friendship, he'd have said something by now. His flirtatious routine with Sam wasn't going unnoticed either, and the initial 'Missing Dr. J?' jibes disappeared. Janet played the lonely girlfriend beautifully and took to moping in the control room whenever a scheduled connection with the dig site was made. Unlike the General, she was reporting Daniel's moods back to Paul. So far, he'd had excited at a new find, pissy because the coffee was awful, happy because the sun had finally come out... and underneath it all, she was sure that he was missing Paul like mad.

But this didn't explain why Paul was pacing. He knew the check-in wasn't due for a few hours, but he had a feeling in his gut that something was wrong. Taking his life into his hands he stormed out of his office and headed to Jack's.

Jack was there, preparing for a scheduled mission the following day by poring over the intel he had received. He heard a knock on the door and bade Paul enter.

"Um, Colonel, may I have a word, please?"

"Hey Paul, come on in," Jack greeted warmly. Paul relaxed slightly - if Jack was going to be in his 'off-duty' mode, this might make things a little easier.

"What's on your mind?" Jack asked gently. He had decided that being nice to Paul would be a good way of proving to Daniel that he wanted to be his friend, so he was sticking to it.

"I think something's wrong with Daniel," Paul blurted out. "I can't say what or why, I've just got a bad feeling and it won't go away. I can't go to the General with this, Sir, but I'm afraid that something has happened to Daniel and the team. Can we dial up and check?"

"Are you sure that this is a genuine gut feeling..." he went to the door and pointedly shut it, nodded up at his camera to show that it was off and continued, "...or are you missing him, Paul?"

Paul swallowed hard. He had to be very careful here, especially after what Daniel had said a few nights before leaving.

"I'm certain, Sir. I miss his company, of course I do. We have grown very used to having the other around. But I feel jittery, my stomach is tight - all of my radar signals are warning me that something's very wrong."

Jack sighed, he couldn't ask Paul outright, and Paul certainly wasn't going to say a thing.

"Okay, we'll go to the General together. If I tell him that I am feeling it too, he'll listen. Daniel and I always used to have an almost telepathic link anyway."

"He missed you so much," Paul said without thinking, and nearly bit his tongue. Jack looked at him with sad eyes.

"I know. I missed him too. It was all my own fault, and I'm doing my best to put that right."

"You are," agreed Paul with a smile. "Daniel appreciates it too, he's happier than he's been in a long time. You being his friend is one of the most important things in his life. Please, don't walk from him again."

"I won't, you have my word, Major," Jack said, straightening his back and heading for the door.

"Then I know that you'll stay," Paul replied. "I know you won't go back on your word."


They knocked on the General's door and Jack did the talking. He said that he wanted to check on Daniel, explained why, said that Paul felt just as nervous too and waited for Hammond's reaction.

"If this was about anyone else I'd send you away with a flea in your ears," he replied. "However, I can't see that it can do any harm. Permission granted, gentlemen."

They thanked him and he dismissed them, shaking his head in wry amusement as he watched them make the quickest exit they could muster and still have any dignity left.

"Dial up SG-11," Jack ordered as soon as he strode into the control room.

The sergeant dialled without question - Jack was giving off dangerous vibes.

Jack leaned close to Paul and whispered, "If he's there and okay, you are going to have to come up with a reasonable explanation for us checking up on him. I've had enough mother hen jibes over the years."

Paul grinned back, he had been thinking like mad and had come up with something. It was pretty pathetic, but it would do.

The wormhole engaged and they called Daniel and waited. And waited. Nothing. Nervously, Jack ordered the tech to pan the camera on the MALP around and he felt sick when he saw the devastation that had been their camp.

"You were right," he growled at Paul. Paul ran to the phone and called the General, Jack ordered his team to the gear up room along with SG-3.

"Colonel, Sir," Paul said, "if they've been taken, you'll need a hostage negotiator. There was no sign of any bodies, so we can assume that they're still alive." His eyes spoke volumes to Jack. Daniel had better be alive or he'd kill him.

"Get to the gear up room," he ordered and then waited for the General's orders.

In a short while the rescue party had stepped onto the planet, SG-9 volunteering to come along to bolster Paul's position, SG-3 and an ad hoc team of security forces to hold the gate. Further reconnaissance had shown nothing in the area so they were relying on Teal'c's extraordinary tracking ability.

"I'm gonna put a damned leash on the boy when I get hold of him," Jack growled when Teal'c announced that he'd seen tracks.

Paul shot him a furious glance but then realised that Jack was as frightened as he was for Daniel's sake.

They followed Teal'c for four hours till darkness started to fall and Teal'c announced that they could proceed no further until light. A message was radioed back to the gate and relayed to Hammond, and then they made camp. As they sat around the camp fire, Sam moved close to Paul and surreptitiously took his hand in hers - something not unnoticed by Jack. He wasn't sure if they were comforting each other or there was something else going on. He listened into their low volume conversation.

"He'll be okay," Sam whispered.

"He better be," Paul snarled. He stretched his arms and back and caught Jack looking at him. "Jan will kill us otherwise," he added with a mirthless snigger. Sam picked up on his change of subject.

"Yeah, it's her birthday next week, she was making threatening noises about him not being there for her as it was. If he's been taken to another planet and it takes longer to find him, he's dead meat when he gets home."


Next morning they were up before dawn, and as soon as there was sufficient light, Teal'c led the way again. Every so often he'd say that something had happened. A scuffle here, someone being dragged there... none of which helped Jack to relax at all. Eventually they came to what looked like some sort of settlement.

"Major Davis, you're up," Jack said as they reached the gates.

A big, ugly, hulking great man stood at the gate. Paul approached him with a wry grin and said, "Take me to your leader," earning him a glare from Jack and a poke in the arm from Sam. He was in no mood to be overly diplomatic though.

They were led to what looked like a parade ground or market square, without the market. Paul used the tips that Daniel had given him about assessing the surroundings to try to figure out the mindset of the people they were about to meet. There was nothing that gave him a clue about which civilisation they had come from. The guy on the gate had been big, Caucasian, and ugly. That was it. There were no decorations of any sort. The temple had struck Daniel's interest for similar reasons. It was probably a temple, but without any obvious features there they couldn't be sure - which was why they wanted to look. No life-signs had been detected when the place was first discovered.

Paul sighed as he waited, his stomach once again in knots. He looked at the accompanying teams. SG-3 were alert and looking around. His own team were watching anxiously, assessing as he was. Sam was pretty much doing the same as him and SG-9, but threat-assessing from a technical point of view. Teal'c's face looked like thunder - the big man was not a happy guy at all. And Jack? One look at Jack told Paul all he needed to know. Even though his face was blank, Jack was on edge, scared for Daniel, and ready to start shooting at the first thing that blinked.

"Colonel," he approached him with caution, "my radar's off again."

"Same here, Major. Watch your back."

"You too, Sir. I wouldn't want to face Daniel if you got hurt, he'd be way scarier than going into battle."

Jack looked at him and grinned.

"Yeah, you're right. So, how are we going to play this?"

Paul knew where he had had the same feeling once before - a hostage negotiation, somewhere that even Jack didn't need to know about. It was not pretty. He'd brought the hostages home, but they were in a bad way. He also knew that Jack had been in the same position as Daniel and SG-11 were now - just waiting for release or rescue. He went with what he knew.

"Let me talk, Sir, let me find out as much as I can. Do not under any circumstances let them get the upper hand. They will ask us to relinquish our weapons. If we do that, we will die. Best course of action in those circumstances would be to keep your handgun and give your P90 to the marines. If nothing else, it gives them extra ammunition with which to come to our rescue if need be."

Jack agreed with his assessment and slipped his handgun into his pocket, giving the belt to one of SG-3 so that no one could tell that he had had another weapon on him. Paul and Sam did the same, Teal'c said he would rather stay with the marines than give up his staff weapon.

Eventually, the natives came.

"Your people," spat the leader, "desecrated our temple. They will pay."

"I'm sure we can come to some arrangement," Paul started smoothly. "It was unwitting damage, they believed it abandoned. Surely you will be amenable to some reparations?"

The leader scowled and said he needed to consult with his council.

"Before we make any offer," Paul added, "we have to see our people. If they're already dead, there is no way we are paying you a penny."

Paul's stomach lurched at the toothless grin that he got from the leader.

"You and you," he pointed to Paul and Jack, "the rest stay here."

Jack looked at the others and with a nod, told them to comply.

"Major Carter," he said with a grin, "remember the Wrath of Khan? If we're not back in a day, come and get us."

Sam fought a smirk and agreed. One hour was all they had. Thank heavens Teal'c had worked on Jack to watch sci-fi films.

Jack and Paul followed the leader, closely followed themselves by some guards. They had been told, as predicted, to leave behind their weapons and had reluctantly given up their bigger guns. They were taken down to the biggest cliché in the book, as far as Jack was concerned. A dungeon.

"Your people are in here," the native leader sneered.

There was little light but they were able to make out the fact that the members of SG-11 were hanging by their arms on the walls, chained up as if in a mediaeval prison. As they approached each team member, it became clear that they had all been badly beaten. Jack got very angry and he shot a glance at Paul who was standing in front of a barely conscious Daniel. The vibes he got from the Major made him rush across the room. He put his hand on Paul's shoulder and was shocked by the stone cold look he got. Paul shook himself, marched across the cell and up to the leader.

"You have been torturing them," he stated coolly.

"We wished information," the leader replied as if it was nothing.

Something inside Paul snapped. He'd seen precisely this before and he had been sorely afraid of it. In a flash, his gun was in his hand and at the leader's head, his other arm around his neck.

"Let them go, or I will redecorate the cell walls with your brains. Understand?" Paul's voice was so cold it left everyone there in no doubt that he would, in fact, carry out his threat.

Jack got onto his radio and called the team. Sam, Teal'c and SG-9 were to come, SG-3 were to take up defensive positions. Jack grabbed at the gaoler, who struggled but went down as soon as Jack pulled his own gun. Jack demanded that he release the prisoners, but he refused. Jack shot him in the arm from close quarters. The resulting mess and screams of agony from the man scared the leader of the natives further. He gave the order to release the prisoners loudly, yelling over the howls of the injured man.

"Should any of you even have the slightest thought about resisting us," Jack snarled, "I will shoot you too. Believe me, what you've done to these people here is as nothing. Bunch of fucking amateurs. I can cause you a lot more pain before you die."

Jack's voice was every bit as cold as Paul's had been and the natives agreed. They quickly went around unlocking the chains, the poor members of SG-11 falling to the floor with thuds.

"CAREFUL!" Jack howled as the first few had screamed in pain as they hit the floor. "Get them down carefully!" he ordered.

They had reached Daniel by the time Sam and Teal'c arrived with SG-9. They were shocked to see what had happened, but switched to their military training straight away and took care of the victims, leading them out one by one. Sam was ordered to watch them and make sure they got out of the dungeons without being attacked. Paul stole a glance at Daniel, who was being helped gently to the floor by Teal'c. He pushed the leader out and marched him in front of the victims, showing the natives that he meant business. He felt nothing for this man and would kill him without compunction.

Some of the victims had to be virtually carried, leaving SG-3 to be the complete military back-up. Sweeping a path before them, they took the leader with them as a hostage of their own. They left the compound carefully, watching out for an attack at any moment. A radio call to the gate as soon as they were in range had the medical teams ready and coming through. More back-up came, fresh men because they wanted to get back before dark settled again.

After a couple of hours' route marching, Jack realised that Daniel still hadn't spoken or moaned once. He must have been in agony, but not one noise came from him. He wanted to go to him but had to keep watching out for a possible attack. Somehow, the members of SG-11 were bearing up, keeping on going even if they weren't walking as fast as they thought they were. SG-9 held them up and Teal'c was still virtually carrying Daniel as they made their slow and painful progress. In the daylight Jack could see that Daniel's face was black and blue, more so than the others. He wondered why, but knew that he couldn't stop to find out.

A noise from ahead made Jack call out for them all to take defensive positions, but it was only the reinforcements. The medical team appeared with stretchers and each victim was gently laid on one while all of the remaining troops formed a circle, facing out, to give 360 degree cover. Still nothing - and still Paul had a gun to the leader's head. He wanted to go to Daniel, but knew that if he touched him, he wouldn't be able to stop. He was still shaking with anger and just wanted to blow the head off the bastard that had ordered the torture. He also knew that he couldn't do it for a number of reasons. One, they needed him to have as safe a passage as they could to the gate... and two, Daniel would never forgive him for doing it, and he knew it.

It seemed to take forever to get going again, but they finally arrived at the gate. Sam dialled up and sent the code, giving the order to go when she got the green light. The medics and stretcher bearers went first, leaving the rest to watch their backs. Jack and Paul were the last to go through.

"Colonel?" Paul sent the question - unasked, but understood.

"I wouldn't - you won't be able to face him if you do, Paul," Jack answered quietly.

They saw the native's men closing in, they had been shadowing them all the way.

"Time to go, Major," O'Neill said.

Paul pushed him forward, and the two men dived through the wormhole, Jack yelling at them to shut the iris as soon as he emerged.

A few dull thuds were heard before the wormhole disengaged.

Jack looked at Paul and shrugged. Paul nodded in return. They could only hope.

Daniel wouldn't lie on the bed. He didn't say a word, but Janet couldn't make him lie down. In the end, and in despair, she took him to a side room and shut all the blinds. Then she called Paul in, who entered, followed closely by Jack. Paul wanted to ask him to leave, but the look on his face said he wasn't going anywhere.

"I can't get him to lie down," she complained, "he only gave in and went on the stretcher because I told him he'd put everyone at risk if he didn't."

Paul threw caution to the wind and went to Daniel's side. He had a suspicion as to why Daniel didn't want to lie down.

"Dan? I'm going to help you get undressed, okay? I'll try not to hurt you, but you have to let me do this."

Daniel looked at Jack, his eyes pleading with him to go away. Jack wasn't about to leave him now - he knew that whether Daniel realised it or not, he needed his friends. He knew that better than most.

Despite her pretence of being Daniel's girlfriend, Janet knew that she would be surplus to requirements for a while and she left.

Paul undid Daniel's jacket (which was really Teal'c's as his had been taken from him) and with Jack's help he removed it gently. They both hissed as they saw that the bruising on his face went down his neck. Rather than put him through the agony of pulling the T-shirt off (his overshirt had long since gone), Jack called Janet and asked her for some scissors.

Daniel's eyes opened wide when he saw the implement coming his way and he looked like he wanted to run.

"Shh, Danny, it's okay, pal. I'm going to cut off your shirt, okay? I won't hurt you, I promise. You have to trust me, Daniel. Please trust me. I promised I'd never hurt you again, didn't I? Let me prove it."

Daniel took a deep breath and nodded, swallowing hard. Paul saw the fear in his eyes and spoke gently to him.

"You're doing fine, Dan, just fine. As soon as I can get Jan to clear you, I'll get the General to let me have some days off and I'll stay at home and take care of you, okay? I won't let anyone hurt you, I promise."

The remnants of the already tattered T-shirt fell off and both men gasped when they saw the mess on his body. It was now patently obvious why he didn't want to lie down, he was one big bruise. Fortunately, there were few cuts, mainly minor grazes. But Daniel looked like he had been badly beaten. There were tears of anger and sympathy in both men's eyes as they gazed on his battered body.

"Oh Daniel," Paul cried out, "what did they do to you, hun?"

He froze when he realised what he had said, but Jack carried on as if he hadn't heard a thing. He had, they both knew he had. And they both knew now that he was okay with it. Paul let out a breath he didn't realise he was holding and carried on doing his job.

"I'm going to have to help you get your pants off, Dan, we need to look at your legs, okay?"

Daniel still said nothing, didn't make a single sound. They couldn't figure this out at all. At one point, Jack even asked Daniel to open his mouth so that he could make sure that he still had his tongue - which he did, fortunately.

"Colonel, may I ask a favour of you?" Paul said as he knelt in front of Daniel, undoing his boots.


"Could you ask some of the others if they know why Daniel isn't talking, please?"

"Sure. I know I was always trying to get you to be quiet, Danny, but I'd give anything to hear you talk now. I'm going to go and ask, okay? I'll be back before you know it."

He made to move away but Daniel's hand shot out and grabbed him.

"Okay, I won't. I'll call the Doc and ask her to go. I won't be further than the door."

Daniel let go. That had been the largest show of emotion yet.

Jack went to the door and saw a nurse, he got her to call the doctor, but he didn't leave the doorframe, letting Daniel see him at all times.

Janet came rushing to them, "Colonel? Is he all right?"

"He's one big bruise, Doc. To my untrained eye, I think that's all it is, but I wouldn't want to touch him to find out. He's got to be in agony, but he still won't make a sound. Can you ask one of the others on his team what happened to him please?"

"Of course. Most of them are just battered too, but they're all talking. They're all asking about him, they're worried sick."

"Yeah, he kinda has that affect on people. Look, would it be okay if we washed him? I don't think he's going to want a nurse anywhere near him at the moment. He's got bruises and cuts and grazes, nothing deep. They need cleaning up, along with the dirt on him. I have no idea what happened there."

"Yes, it would be a good idea - it might make him feel better - but not until I've looked him over, okay? I'll send a nurse to ask and then I'll come in. Daniel should trust me, shouldn't he?"

Jack grinned and nodded.

Janet shot off, found one of her more sympathetic nurses and passed on the instructions, then she turned on her heel, knocked the door to let the men know she was there, and entered the room.

Daniel was standing in his boxers and nothing else, looking sheepish.

She grabbed a curtain and pulled it around. "Just in case anyone comes in," she said, "don't want to make my nurses faint, Daniel. They can get too much of a good thing, you know."

Daniel looked at his body and then cocked his head in a questioning manner.

"Not only do you have a body to die for," she teased, "you look like an Impressionist painting - two works of art for the price of one."

If she had said that to anyone else, Janet would have wanted to cut her own tongue out, but Daniel's gallows humour was renowned and he let out a snort - the only sound he had made. Then he looked terrified and shrunk back.

"Hey, Daniel, it's okay, you can make as much noise as you want," she soothed.

Before the nurse had come back with the explanation, Jack understood what had happened.

"Danny, can you sit?"

Daniel shrugged.

"C'mon, try and sit by me, okay? If it hurts, you can stand up again."

Daniel nodded and then moved carefully to the bed, each movement hurting him and it was plain to see on his face. He gingerly sat, wincing as he did, but not making a fuss. Jack took one of his hands in his own and held it.

"They beat you for talking, didn't they?" he suggested. "Every time you tried to negotiate they hit you, didn't they?"

A shallow nod came his way. Janet spat out "Bastards!" and Paul wanted to cry out, but somehow reined in his anger.

"Dan, can I sit on your other side please?" he asked.

Again a nod in response. Paul took his other hand and held it gently but firmly.

"Was it bad, babe?"

Janet's eyes opened wide, Jack looked up at the ceiling and at the walls, indicating that he wasn't paying attention to what Paul was saying. Janet grinned and nodded back at him when she caught his eye.

Daniel looked into Paul's eyes, his own ones saying 'the worst ever'.

"You can tell us, hun, talk to us. We won't hurt you, honestly. You trust us, don't you? You know we'd never hurt you. I love you, Dan, I'd rather die than hurt you. You know that, don't you?"

Daniel cocked his head, his bottom lip came out - not to pout, it was a sympathetic, 'I know' look, his eyes adding to that. He squeezed Paul's hand to emphasise it. But he couldn't bring himself to speak.

"Hey, Danny, I know I've not done much to make you trust me recently, but it's what he said for me too, you know. I never meant to hurt you before, I promise."

He got a small smile and a squeezed hand for that.

"Daniel, will you let me check you over, please?" Janet asked as there was a knock on the door. Jack said he'd answer it, leaving Paul to keep holding Daniel's hand. Daniel nodded shallowly, but Janet could tell that he wasn't keen on the idea. He stood up, still not wanting to lie down.

"I'll be as quick as I can, Daniel," she promised. "And if you are not as bad as you look, I'll let you go home, but I'll tell the General that Paul has to go with you. Would that be all right?"

Another nod, slightly more enthusiastic than the last greeted that.

As quickly as she could, she ran her hands everywhere, carefully checking over the bruised areas and came to the conclusion that he didn't have anything broken. She was worried about his head - his face was a mass of bruises, but she was reluctant to order him to have a scan, his mental state might not be conducive to him being co-operative.

"Daniel, apart from the bruises, does your head hurt?"

He slowly shook his head.

"Can you see well enough?"

He pointed to his eyes and they realised that he was without his glasses.

"Okay - double vision? Do you have that? Or anything that is different from your usual myopia?"

Another slow shake.

"Good. Despite everything, I think you struck lucky. The bruises should start to go down in a few days. The guys want to clean you up, I don't think you can face a sponge bath though. Paul, grab a bathrobe and you can take him to the shower. I think that gentle warm water will be less painful. I'll give you something to dull the pain now, Daniel and then I'll go and talk to the General."

Paul thanked her on both their behalves and found a bathrobe. While Janet was dealing with his medication, Paul checked on Jack, who was propping the doorframe up and just refraining from smacking his head on the door.

"Later," he hissed, not wanting to talk about it just yet.

"I'm going to take him to the shower, Sir," Paul started. Jack put his hand on his arm.

"Jack... at least when we're just us," he instructed. "I figure we're too involved to stick to ranks in private."

Paul smiled brightly and sighed, "Jack. Thank you. Would you want to come and help me? With Daniel's shower, I mean."

"Are you sure you don't want to do that alone?" Jack asked quietly.

"I think that Daniel would prefer it if you were there too."


They slowly led Daniel to the showers attached to the infirmary, one either side of him to protect him from accidental knocks. Daniel had taken some strong painkillers by mouth, allowing them a little time to do this before they kicked in and tired him out anymore than he was already.

Jack stripped off first and went into the shower to make sure that the water was just right. Paul helped Daniel off with his robe and then his boxers, quickly shucking his own clothes to join them. When they got a good look at him all over, both men had to bite down on their resurfacing anger.

As gently and as quickly as they could, they washed him down, clearing off the dried blood from the small cuts and grazes. Daniel winced as the soap touched the raw skin.

"Dammit, Daniel, you can howl if you want to," Jack told him. "We're not going to do anything to hurt you."

Still Daniel reined in his desire to yell, unable to utter a sound.

Paul found some shampoo and washed Daniel's hair for him, his own muscles far too tired to allow him to reach up to his head. He let out a low moan as Paul's fingers sensually massaged his scalp and this pleased both men no end.

"Hey, none of that, Danny Boy, at least when I'm with you," Jack teased gently. "Wait till you're home with Paul before you go there, will you?"

Jack laughed when Daniel smacked him gently. Perhaps he wasn't as badly affected as they had feared.

Jack talked to Hammond alone - the General had allowed the respite before the debrief because of Daniel's state. He'd talked quietly to each of the other members of SG-11 and felt sick as they told him about Daniel. He discussed it with Jack and they also talked about what to do.

"Every time he tried to intervene they hit and kicked him," Hammond stated as calmly as he could.

"Yeah. I heard that. I also heard that every time they went anywhere near one of his team, especially the civilians, he spoke out to deflect the attention. Major Gray was already unconscious by then - I guess he'd been doing the same thing. They dragged him off at one point and nobody knows what happened then. Did they tell you what else they used on him?" Jack asked, his voice not at its usual clear level, but quiet.

"They did, Colonel. It sounds like one of those Goa'uld devices you call the cattle prod."

"I'm guessing that they literally shocked him into not making a sound, General. He's going to need lots of TLC - and away from here. The Doc says he can go home because he's basically just one big bruise with a few cuts here and there. She's got him patched up as best as she can, though she was reluctant to cover the cuts because that would mean touching the bruises. She doesn't want to cause him any more pain than is necessary. He cannot be left alone, Sir. I think that Major Davis should be asked to stay with him. I'm sure that he can take work home, treaties and stuff. Maybe he can get Daniel to help him, it might bring him out of himself."

Hammond studied O'Neill carefully and suggested that they take a walk. They left the cameras and any personnel, and headed without a word to the surface. Hammond waited until they had reached the trees before he spoke.

"We are not having this conversation, Jack," Hammond started, his use of Jack's first name indicating just how not official the chat was.

Jack nodded. "George."

"Is there something going on between Major Davis and Dr. Jackson?"

Jack said honestly, "They haven't said anything to me. As far as I know, Daniel and Paul are as close as Daniel and I once were, and hopefully will be again. Our own estrangement was completely my fault, I've acknowledged that and I'm trying to put it right. Daniel turned to Paul when I turned from him. They have a lot in common," he said, echoing Daniel's words to him. "If there were anything more, would it be a problem?"

George studied Jack hard before answering. "Not to me. Daniel is happier now than he has been in a long time. Did their friendship interfere with Major Davis' conduct in the field?"

"No, Sir, not at all. He was cool, collected, professional throughout. He held off on his desire to blow the leader's head off," he added with a hollow laugh. "He didn't even go to Daniel until we got him home. He took the leader hostage and didn't let him loose till we were good to go: an action that took hours, yet he didn't even loosen his grip once. I'm sure his actions saved many lives that day. I think if they were ever going to allow their friendship to interfere, it would have been on that mission. I know I wanted to go to Daniel, that's for sure. I have no doubt that whatever their friendship, they will always put others before them."

"Good. I was hoping you'd say that. I'd hate to have to lose either of them. Send Major Davis home, he can take care of Daniel there. Would you be able to visit?"

"Yes, Sir. I'm working hard on getting back on track with Daniel. Maybe one day he'll want to rejoin SG-1," his voice trailed off as he said that, and Hammond understood the pain that Jack was going through.

"I hope so too, Jack."

Daniel carefully walked into his house, propped up yet again by the two men as he was nearly out on his feet.

"Dan, you're going to have to lie down, you can't sleep standing up," Paul told him gently. "Come on, let's get you into bed, shall we?"

They led him to the bedroom and Jack left Paul to undress him.

"Would you prefer to sleep naked, Daniel?" Paul asked, getting a questioning look from Daniel. "I wouldn't have thought you'd want any more clothes touching your skin than is necessary," he elaborated.

He received an understanding nod from Daniel and helped him remove the clothes he had on. Then, very carefully, he laid him down and pulled the cover over him.

"I have an idea," Paul said suddenly, "I'll be right back." He shot off and returned with a little bell - a souvenir that Daniel had collected on his travels.

"If you want me, shout. If you don't feel you can do that, ring the bell. I'll be in the living room, hun, I won't be far from you at all, I promise. Not going to leave you ever. Believe me?"

Daniel reached out and took Paul's hand in his, squeezed it tightly before relaxing his grip. Paul sat by his side till he heard Daniel's breathing evening out and then he retrieved his hand, leaving his sleeping lover in peace.

"He's in a bad way," he said to Jack as he flopped on the sofa. Jack handed him a drink of Scotch, getting a weary smile in return.

"Yes, he is. He's strong though, he'll get over it. I've seen him in a worse state," Jack sighed. "WHY?" he suddenly cried out. "Why does this crap always happen to Daniel? It's not fucking fair!"

Paul put his hand to his face and squeezed the bridge of his nose as if he was fighting off a headache.

"It's not," he answered quietly. "No one deserves that sort of treatment, but Daniel deserves it less than anyone else. He'd never hurt anyone, Jack, so why must they hurt him?"

"They think he's an easy target?" Jack queried. "It's the only explanation. Just because he's got a quiet nature doesn't make him weak though. He's the strongest man I've ever known."

Jack got up and poured himself another drink and then he sat down opposite Paul and looked him in the eye.

"Hammond asked me about you two." His statement chilled Paul to the bone. Hammond had more or less hinted that he had a clue, but he didn't think he'd go that far.

"Oh. What did you say?"

"I told him you hadn't said anything to me," Jack replied. "You haven't. And you're not going to. I couldn't give a shit, Paul. I want Daniel to be happy. Hammond wants Daniel to be happy. You make him happy, so as far as we're concerned, you're friends, nothing more. So, how long have you been making him happy?" Jack added with a grin. Well, he wanted to know.

Paul snorted. "Two years."

"Shit. I had no idea."

"That was the general idea."

"Yeah. Look, Paul, don't worry about it. My conversation with the General was on top of the mountain, it was that off-the-record. You're very discreet, what with getting the General to ask if you would live here and even getting the girls to cover for you and all..."

Paul flushed a little but recovered to say, "It was their idea. They, um, guessed about us and wanted to protect us. Sweet of them, isn't it?"

"Very," Jack answered suspiciously, but he left it there, not really wanting to dig any deeper.

They made some supper, chatted for a while and then it was getting late and Jack made 'leaving' noises.

"Um, Jack, would you mind staying? I've dealt with Daniel's nightmares, but I'm afraid that he'll have a bad one tonight. You can have my bed," he pointed to the adjoining door. "I'll get some of Daniel's things for you, you're closer in size to him than to me."

"Okay, if you're sure. You're going to sleep with him?" meaning only that he didn't think that Paul would want to risk touching Daniel's bruised body.

"Well, yeah, but to tell the truth I am scared to touch him. I don't want to hurt him."

"Somehow, I doubt you would, Paul," Jack reassured.

Paul found him some sweats and T-shirt to sleep in and then headed off to his own side of the house. Jack followed him and when he got to the bedroom he put his hand on Paul's arm and drew him up short.

"How are you coping with this?" he asked seriously.

"Not as well as I want people to think," Paul admitted. "I want to hold him tightly and not let go. I want to break down and cry. I'm not going to, it's not my way to do that, but this is the closest I've ever come to losing it."

Jack understood all too well.

"If it makes you feel any better, Daniel's the only guy I ever get like this about too. You did well out there, Paul, and I told the General that too. Go easy on yourself, okay? Your gut feeling got us to Daniel much sooner than we would have done. Your assessment of the situation was spot on and it saved their lives. It saved a lot of lives. If you hadn't done what you did, we'd have been launching a military rescue. People would have died."

"I wanted to kill that bastard," Paul whispered through gritted teeth.

Jack saw how close he was to losing it and he pulled him close, holding him tightly in his arms.

"I used to do this for Daniel," he said, "when he was so strung up with anger or fear, and he was afraid to let go. It's okay to let go, Paul. It's all over now."

He felt Paul's reluctant arms creep around him and then they tightened. Paul rested his head on Jack's chest and the two men said nothing for a few minutes. They both needed this contact. Then, without another word, they released each other and Paul left Jack to go to bed.


Daniel didn't stir as Paul climbed into bed, the drugged sleep he was in was deep. Paul sighed, relieved that his lover was home but was left wondering just how long before he'd hear his voice again.


It wasn't as long as he suspected. Around 3 a.m., Daniel started to stir. At first, low moans were all that came. Paul stroked his hair, talked quietly to him and tried to calm him. But the noise got louder. Paul hit the buzzer on the phone by the bed - an intercom between the two bedrooms left over from when the house had belonged to the previous owners and kept by Daniel.

By the time Jack arrived, Daniel was howling. Still asleep, he thrashed about the bed. Paul tried to calm him but he had never dealt with a nightmare so bad. Jack didn't think twice but dived into the bed on the other side of Daniel from Paul. He wrapped Daniel in his arms, trying not to hurt him or aggravate the bruising, but needing to let Daniel know that he was safe and not alone.

"Hush, Danny, we can talk about this in the morning. I know I said I wanted you to make noise, but not like this. I'm here for you. Paul's here for you. You're not alone anymore, Daniel. You'll never be alone anymore."

Paul was stunned by the way Daniel's body stilled and he started to calm down just at the touch of Jack's body and sound of his voice. He irrationally felt jealous about it too.

"Paul, here, hold him tight," Jack whispered, "I think he'd feel better waking up and facing you in the morning, don't you?"

They manoeuvred Daniel till he was on his side and pointing in Paul's direction, and on as few bruises as possible. Jack made to leave, but Paul said, "Please, stay. At least for a while."

"You don't think that he's going to get the wrong idea when he wakes up?" teased Jack quietly.

Paul smiled and shook his head.

"You are the one that can calm him when he's screaming, Jack. He knows that - he'll understand."

"Okay - just for a while then," Jack agreed and lay flat on his back. As he lay there a thought entered his mind unbidden. Just how had Daniel coped all those nights without Paul, or without him? He knew there had been days when Daniel looked like he hadn't slept a wink when he'd turned up for work. He mentally kicked himself for letting Daniel down when he needed him most and determined that he'd be there for him whenever he needed him in future.


Daniel woke up and it took him a little while to work out where he was. He was happy to see Paul right next to him and placed a small kiss on his head. Paul opened his eyes and smiled at him.

"Hey, Dan, you going to talk to me today?" he asked gently.

Daniel's eyes were pained and he opened his mouth as if to speak, but nothing came out. Then his face scrunched up into a confused look and he moved his hand behind him. He jumped when he felt Jack's body, making Paul laugh.

"You had a big nightmare last night, hun. He came to help calm you down. You only responded to him," he added.

Daniel looked sorry about that and Paul reassured him that it was okay.

"Hey, he's used to it, isn't he? Anyway, are you in pain? Do you want some painkillers?"

Daniel sighed and nodded. Paul kissed him and shifted himself out of bed and Daniel tried to get up too, but his muscles hurt, especially his arms and shoulders from where he had been hung by them. He let out a wince and tried to hide the shudder that he gave at the sound he made. Paul was quick to say, "Hey, make whatever noise you want, Daniel. It's okay now. I know you're hurting, I know you're afraid, but you have to know you're home now and you're safe. Those bastards that did this to you are on the other side of the galaxy, they can't hurt you anymore. Listen to me, Dan. They only had you there for a day, didn't they? Are you going to let them beat your thirty-seven years of talking, teaching..."

"Lecturing," Jack's voice added with a humorous tone. "I can't wait to hear you again, Daniel," he added and reached out to him. Daniel turned and looked at him, giving him a sad smile.

"Yeah, I know, I used to tell you to shut up, and I'm sorry about that. I'd give anything to be forced to listen to you lecture me."

Daniel smacked him gently on the shoulder for that, making Jack smile wider.

"C'mere, Danny," he said and pulled him gently into a hug.

"Paul, why don't you go and run Daniel a bath? I'm sure his muscles would appreciate soaking in warm water. What do you guys think?"

Daniel nodded and Paul shot off to the bathroom.

"Paul knew something was wrong," Jack confided to Daniel. "He came to see me, took a chance that I'd listen and wouldn't question him. You guys must be very close."

Daniel nodded again and looked a little shyly at Jack.

"It's okay, Daniel. I don't care about your relationship. I don't know officially about it, okay? But I want what you want. He makes you happy, doesn't he?"

A more enthusiastic nod greeted that.

"Then that's all that matters, Daniel. He loves you, you know. More than his job - more than his pension certainly. And quite possibly more than his life. I'd say you've got a keeper there," again the teasing, but it was so sweet and gentle that Daniel let out a little laugh.

"That's much better," Jack told him. "I'm looking forward to hearing you laugh out loud."

He kissed Daniel's forehead. "Come on, let's get you up and into that bath, and then I'll make you some coffee."

Daniel frowned.

"Oh, it's like that is it? Only Paul can make you coffee. I dunno - don't you like my coffee?"

An innocent shrug.

"It's okay but if you have the choice...?"

A broad grin.

"Ach. Fine, that gets me out of making it."

Jack stood up and walked around the other side of the bed before reaching in to help Daniel get up.

"At least you don't have to get undressed for the bath," he stated as he got the naked man upright.

Daniel just shrugged. He was unsteady on his feet, so Jack guided him to the bathroom and he and Paul helped him in. Daniel nearly cried out as the water stung the grazes and cuts on his body, but he bit his tongue rather than make a sound.

"Daniel doesn't want my coffee, Paul, he only wants yours. Apparently I don't make it so well. So, I'll stay here with the Monet canvas, and you go put a pot on. Undoubtedly he'll want to drink the whole lot himself though."

Paul snorted at Jack's teasing of Daniel, which was getting the colonel a glare from the linguist. As he left the bathroom to go and fix the coffee though, he realised that he was amazed by how well Jack knew Daniel and his moods. He shouldn't have been, he knew, but the realisation was there none the less, and he wasn't sure how to take that at all.


By the time the coffee was ready, Paul had kicked himself - figuratively speaking. He had been the one to insist on Jack staying, he had been the one to need him to help out. Daniel hadn't asked for him - not that he was talking, but Paul knew that Daniel didn't need to talk for Jack to understand him. He sighed, gave himself a shake down and reminded himself that Jack and Daniel had been every bit as close as he and Daniel were now, and for longer. Sexual relations not withstanding. He poured three mugs of coffee and went back into the bathroom. Jack had put the toilet seat lid down and he was sitting on it and talking to Daniel, actually getting quiet sounds in return.

"Hey Daniel, I've got you some coffee," Paul announced as he walked in. He handed a mug to Jack and then put one on the side of the bath for Daniel. Jack stood up and patted Paul on the back.

"Why don't I go and cook some breakfast? You must be starving, Daniel," he suggested. Daniel nodded carefully, his neck really aching now from his bruises.

"When did you last eat?" Paul asked, thinking that Daniel wouldn't be able to give him a yes/no answer to it. Daniel shrugged.

"Were you fed yesterday? While you were being held?"

A shake of the head.

"The day before. Was it late when you were taken?"

Another shake.

"Just after the contact in the morning?" Paul asked carefully.

A nod.

Paul sighed. Daniel hadn't likely eaten in getting on for forty-eight hours; he hadn't wanted any food when they'd returned to the SGC.

"Please cook a big breakfast, Jack," Paul asked. "He's got two days to make up for."

Jack agreed and left the bathroom, and Paul sat down by the side of the bath and talked to Daniel for a while, getting a few quiet grunts as responses. He reached up and gently stroked Daniel's face, smiling all the while.

"You won't know hurt here, Dan, I promise. Come on, drink your coffee and then we'll get you out of here and dressed and ready for breakfast, what do you say?"

Daniel looked into Paul's eyes - he wanted to communicate with him, needed to communicate with him, but still the shock of what had happened to him was foremost in his mind. He reached to Paul's face and copied his actions, gently running his fingers down Paul's cheek, then he leaned forward and kissed him. It was the only way he knew how to tell Paul how he was feeling.

"I know, baby, I love you too," Paul replied, getting a huge smile from Daniel, the biggest he'd seen since his return to them. Paul had understood him and it meant a lot.

He knocked back his coffee, taking the pain meds that Paul had brought in for him as he did, then they carefully got him out of the bath and into his robe.


Not long later, all three were dressed and sitting around the table, tucking into a huge cooked breakfast.

"Oh my GOD," Paul announced as Jack placed a huge pile of pancakes, Daniel's favourite breakfast, on the table. "We're going to eat ALL of them?"

"You haven't seen our Daniel when he's really hungry, have you?" Jack teased. "He can eat more than most teenagers I've ever known. Forgets to eat a lot of the time, but when he remembers, he can give SG-3 a run for their money."

"I've seen him tackle the dessert trolley at Mrs. Lovett's tea rooms," Paul joined in the joke. "The triple chocolate fudge and caramel ice cream sundae stands no chance when he's about."

"Well, duh," Jack said, "chocolate and ice cream - a no-brainer as far as Daniel's concerned. He's always got room for one of those."

"On top of the half-pounder with cheese and double fries at Burgers 'R' Us?" Paul added.

They both looked at Daniel who tried to look innocent and shrugged. He'd been hungry that day. And as Jack said, he always had room for ice cream. Even the one that was four times the size of a normal portion.

There was a knock on the door and Jack went to answer it. Janet was there, wanting to check on Daniel before she went to work.

"Colonel," she said in surprise.

"I stayed over," he explained as he let her in. "We figured Daniel would have a nightmare," he added quietly.

"Did he?"

"Oh yeah. It took the two of us to calm him down. If the MPs had come in last night, naked Daniel in-between Paul and myself on the bed - sheesh, we'd both be heading to Leavenworth, even though it was completely innocent. Jan," he said quietly, taking her to one side before allowing her in, "I know you know I know about them, but I don't, if you see what I mean. I'm okay about it, honestly. I know you know about them too, and that you and Sam are covering for them. You don't have to do it in front of me, that's what I'm trying to say."

Janet nodded, put her hand in Jack's and squeezed it tightly.

"Daniel will be as right as rain before you know it, Jack," she said, "with two people that love him as much as you guys do, how can he not be?"

"Not just us two, Jan. You and Carter, Teal'c too. It's going to be as important to him that you three are there for him, you know. I know his new team love him to pieces, but..."

"You guys are his family - we all are."

"Yeah. We may need to remind him of it though."

They went through to the kitchen and saw something that made them laugh. Daniel had been desperate to tell Paul that he loved him, that he had nothing to worry about concerning his relationship with Jack - and the only way he could do that was to kiss him. So he'd stood up, taken Paul by the hand, pulled him close and was currently melting Paul's brain with a hot and sizzling kiss. Jack and Janet laughed out loud at the sight, a friendly laugh, but enough to embarrass both the guys.

"Aw, that was sweet," Janet ribbed the guys. "Hey, Paul, you takin' my man away from me?" she added, her voice dropping to remind them of her Louisiana origins. Daniel looked at Paul and got a wicked nod back from him. He put his hands out to her and she stepped closer, not sure where this was going. Then he laid a huge kiss on her before breaking it off and grinning a filthy grin at her. Jack was howling with laughter, Paul joining in.

"If you weren't so bruised, book boy, I'd smack you for that," she screamed.

His eyebrows hit the roof.

"Just think, if you'd kissed me like that years ago, you'd be with me and not with him. No way in hell would I ever let a guy who can kiss as well as that away from me."

Daniel held her close, loosely though as he didn't want to press against his bruises. He looked at Jack who said, "Kiss me like that, Danny Boy, and you and I will have to have serious words," he added with a wink.


Janet took him to the bedroom and checked him out without company.

"Still don't want to talk sweetheart?" she asked gently as she looked over his bruises.

Daniel shrugged. He wanted to talk, he just couldn't.

"You weren't really with us yesterday, darling, I just wanted to get you home and away from all the noise of the infirmary. Tell me, did you get badly hit in the head? Do you think I need to scan you?"

Daniel shook his head. No way. He was fine. It was something else.

"So, what else happened? I know they beat you and used that prod thing whenever you made a sound. Is that why you're not talking?"

Daniel stared hard at her. He needed to tell her something so he made a signal for paper and a pen. She smacked her head.

"Why didn't we think of this before?" she growled.

Daniel held out his hand and showed her the bruises. This was going to be painful for him, but he needed to do it.

"How about typing?" she asked.

He shrugged in a 'it might work' way.

"Paul, bring Daniel's laptop in, will you? He wants to tell us something."

Paul came quickly in, followed closely by Jack who also wanted to know. The laptop was powered up and Daniel opened up his WP.


"They shocked you?" Jack asked.

more than that

It was hurting his fingers to even type so he was keeping his message brief.

"Daniel? Did they use some technology on your mind?" Paul asked quietly, afraid that he already knew the answer.


"Daniel, I know this hurts you, but you have to be as specific as you can or we can't help you," Jack encouraged.

Daniel took a deep breath and sighed and then returned to his WP.

they made me talk. didn't say anything about the sgc. hurt me. hurt the others so i tried to stop them. major gray was out cold. then they laughed. hurt me again and put machine to my head. won't let me talk. want to talk. not afraid of you. can't talk.

"Daniel, did they put anything inside your head?" Janet asked.

He shook his head.

"Describe it if you can, Daniel. Maybe the Tok'ra know it?" Paul urged.

Daniel let out a sigh and started typing again.

it was a hat but had probes to my head. they hit me and made me make a sound and then they switched it on. it hurt my head. when i went quiet they switched it off. then they started again.

All three of his friends got very angry indeed, Jack looked like he wanted to go back to the planet and nuke it, Janet wanted to sweep Daniel up into her arms and hold him. Paul was the quietest one there. He was beyond angry. So mad he was afraid to say a word because he didn't think he'd be able to stop.

It took every ounce of self-control that they had to keep calm.

"We'll find a way to overcome it, Daniel," Janet said, "you wait and see."

Daniel was of the opinion that he would have to wait as he couldn't see how they could get past this at all.

It was late. Sam and Teal'c had been over in the day to try to talk to Daniel, Jack had returned to the mountain to report the latest news to Hammond, and Janet was fussing over Daniel whenever he would let her. Paul had been around all the time but felt a bit out of the loop.

Finally everyone else had left and the two men were in bed.


He got a grunt in reply.

"Oh God, this is going to sound selfish and awful."

Another 'go on, tell me' grunt.

"Okay, look, do you need me around?"

The look of hurt and confusion that flashed over Daniel's face made Paul feel worse than he had done before.

"I'm not leaving you," he reassured. "It's just the others, they seem to be able to get more from you than I can. I guess I'm just feeling mmmmfffffllll."

Daniel shut him up by kissing him. The strong painkillers had numbed his pain enough for him to do this, and he knew that he'd have to do it now before he fell asleep. The kiss was long and deep, Daniel putting every ounce of feeling he had for Paul into it. By the time they broke for air Paul was left in no doubt that Daniel wanted, no needed, him around.

"I love you, Dan," he murmured, getting a sweet smile in return.

Daniel pointed to himself, then to his heart, then to Paul. Paul kissed him back.

"I'm sorry, hun, I didn't mean to sound so self-absorbed. I'm worried about you, okay?"

He got an understanding nod and a small smile back.

Daniel wanted to tell him that he'd never stop trying to talk but he only succeeded in getting more frustrated than before. He put his hands out and pulled Paul into a hug.

"Careful, Dan, I don't want to hurt you," Paul warned.

Daniel knew, but he also wanted more. He took Paul's hand in his and moved them between their bodies. Fingers entwined, they took hold of their cocks and together they worked them, kissing softly as they moved. Daniel let out a low moan, Paul adding to the basic noises as he felt himself building up and up. Their breathing shortened as their movements quickened, firmer, faster, harder, more intense. Lips clashed and tongues battled, moans and groans increased until the sensation threatened to overwhelm them. Daniel was starting to tire, so Paul took over, finally pushed them both over the edge. He felt Daniel stiffen in his hand and pushed his hips closer, the feeling of the pulsing dick and the hot liquid sending him out of his mind and he, too, came hard, crying out Daniel's name.

"I love you," he gasped and was stunned to get a croaky "love" back.

"Dan? You spoke!"


"Can't you say anything else?"

"Uh huh."

"Damn. Perhaps this is significant though. We'll tell Janet tomorrow."

Daniel's eyes opened wide at the thought.

"Dan, we have to tell her. I'll censor the information though, she's not going to find everything out."

Daniel got the giggles and started to laugh louder and louder. Paul joined in - this was the loudest he had been voluntarily since they got him back.

"Oh God," he gasped, "I can see this now. Every time we want a word from you I'll have to get you off. Can see that in a briefing." He was panting now through the laughter, Daniel in a similar state. Somehow Paul got out "Dr. Jackson, can you please tell us about the findings," in his best 'Hammond' voice - then added in his own, "Just a minute, General, this is going to be a biggie - I'd better go down on him first."

The two men were rolling about on the bed now, screaming with a laughter that far outweighed the joke. But it was good for them, a release from the tension and they knew it. When they finally calmed down, Daniel held Paul tightly and said, "Paul."

Paul buried his head in Daniel's chest for a minute and then looked up, Daniel noticing that he had tears streaming down his face. His own threatened to join in. Paul's dam finally burst and he allowed himself the luxury of a damned good cry - something he hadn't done in a very long time. He'd come so close to losing Daniel, felt jealous of his friends on his return, but the first words were for Paul and only for him. He finally understood just how much Daniel did love him and it was too overwhelming. Daniel held him close, stroking his head, kissing his hair, telling him with his body language that it was okay, good to let go, and that Daniel loved him and wouldn't leave him either.

The next day, Jan and Jack called before they were due at the mountain to see if any progress had been made. Both were excited by the fact that Daniel had spoken two words. Paul didn't go into too many details about how he'd got them out of him, leaving it to their imaginations.

"So, it's an emotional response?" Jan queried.

"Ye-es," replied Paul slowly, wondering where Jan was going with this.

"It sounds almost like a stroke," she explained. "Daniel's not showing any other side effects of a normal stroke, such as paralysis down one side or such like, but what can happen with stroke victims, especially ones who have their speech impaired is that the first words to come back are ones which the victim doesn't have to think about. It's like their subconscious is speaking for them. Now, we know that an alien device caused this and that it's probably like hypnosis - suggestion rather than a physical cause. He's been... programmed, for want of a better word, to not speak. But his subconscious is trying to break through the programming to overcome it. What we need to do is find a way to 'rewrite' the programming to allow Daniel to push past it and start to speak again. We know you can still communicate, Daniel, that you still have all of your language skills, so I think that we can help you now." A thought struck her and she asked excitedly, "Can you still remember your other languages? Can you say anything in your other languages?"

Daniel had a think about that. He ran through a number of the languages stored in his brain and realised that they were still there. Then he tried to speak.

"Oui, Janet," he replied, getting a huge grin from Jack, a squeal from Jan and a hug from Paul. He smacked himself on the head for not thinking about that himself in the first place.

"Je t'aime," Paul murmured.

"Moi aussi," Daniel replied with a grin.

"This is wonderful," Janet exclaimed. "You were speaking English to them so they only programmed you to not speak English. Daniel, I have an idea, but you're not going to like it."

Daniel's face dropped. He had a good idea about what she was going to say next.

"Hypnosis," Janet elaborated. "It helped Sam overcome the programming that Nem forced on her, it might help you."

Daniel stood up and strode to the kitchen. He didn't want this. He was afraid of what he would say under hypnosis. Knowing that both Paul and Janet were pretty fluent in French, he felt he should explain his feelings. First though, he poured himself a coffee, his movements a little easier as some of the bruising was starting to go down.

*I can't do that,* he said. *I might say something that will incriminate Paul without meaning to. I will not do that. I'd rather cut out my tongue.*

Paul sighed.

"Daniel, I'd rather leave the Air Force than watch you get frustrated. No, you must do this."

*I will not allow that quack anywhere near me.*

"Daniel, we can get someone else to do it," Janet urged.

*No. There has to be another way.*

"Will someone please explain to me what's going on?" Jack asked in frustration. Paul explained what Daniel was saying and Jack shook his head. No way was MacKenzie going anywhere near Daniel.

Jack looked at Daniel and saw that he was getting upset at the thought of the man.

"Daniel, listen to me," he ordered. "MacKenzie isn't coming within a mile of you. I promise. I know I fucked up big time before, but I won't allow it, not now. You have to believe me."

Janet and Paul glared at Jack, but Daniel smiled at him.

"Merci," he said.

"Welcome," grinned Jack. Then Jack smacked his head.

"I've got it! We call Jacob. He can come here, to the house. He can bring the memory retrieval doohickey. He's cleared so that anything he does learn won't come as a shock to him. And he's no longer military, so he doesn't have to say a damned thing. I'll sound him out first, make sure that he's okay with you two. I can't see him being prejudiced, but we'll have to make sure. What do you think, Daniel?"

"Oui," Daniel kept his reply simple.

Janet and Paul shrugged. At least Daniel wasn't fighting this. Jack got on the phone to call Hammond and explain what was going on. Janet moved into Paul's side of the house to see if Sam was at the base. Janet needed to explain things to her - given their circumstances.

While Janet was on the phone explaining everything to Sam, Jack was trying to find out more.

"So, guys, what's the story about you and the girls?"

"Friends, Jack," said Paul. Daniel cocked his thumb in a 'what he said' manner. They were not going to say a thing. They didn't expect Jack to turn them in of course, but it wasn't their place to say a word.

Daniel whispered something to Paul making him laugh.

"Daniel said that Jan's his bit on the side," he snorted.

"Hey, I heard that," Janet howled as she came back in. "Bit on the side, eh? You wait till those bruises have gone down, Daniel Jackson, I'm gonna put some more on you."

*Uh huh,* he grinned seductively at her, *it's your birthday soon, honey, I'm going to be taking you out and treating you right. You want that?*

"Oh boy, do I ever. Where are we going?"


"Ach. It better be good, book boy, or I'll have your ass at the next exam."

Daniel laughed out loud and made a comment about her being too damned late for that, Paul already had dibs. Paul translated it for Jack and he joined in the joke.

The phone rang about twenty minutes later - it was Sam. Hammond had called up her father and he had come through for them. He had listened to the problem and then called to the Tok'ra to send the recall device through. They'd be with them within the hour.

Daniel was afraid. He called Janet and took her to his bedroom.

*Jan, I don't want to drop you and Sam in it. Can we do this, just you and me? I'll try not to say anything about you guys, but I can't guarantee that I won't. You know I won't hurt you on purpose. And to tell you the truth, it's Sam I'm most worried about. Jack won't say a thing, but Jacob will be here. He might not be bigoted about Paul and myself, but his own daughter... well, that's something else.*

Janet could see that he was getting anxious about this, so she promised that she'd try to get him on his own.

*There's something else,* he added. *It was bad, Jan, it was really bad. I don't want Jack or Paul to know how bad it was. They're already upset on my behalf. If they find out what really happened...*

"Oh God, Daniel, what did happen?"

*It was as I said, but it was more than hurt Jan. If I'm to recall the pain too, I'm going to get noisy.*

Janet dropped her head in her hands and said she'd see what she could do, but she couldn't promise him anything. In the meantime, she got out her medical bag and gave him a sedative, not enough to knock him out, but enough to dull any pain he may be in - and he may have coming to him.


While Daniel lay on his bed resting and trying to build up his mental strength for the repeated torture that he knew he was about to go through, Janet returned to the others.

"He wants me to be there with him, no one else," she said quietly.

Both men replied with indignant statements.

"Hush," she admonished. "He doesn't want you to see what happened. And there's other stuff that he's afraid will come out... personal issues. Things he wants to keep to himself."

"What things?" Jack asked, then he kicked himself realising that Jan wasn't going to answer that one.

Paul got up and went to see Daniel.

"Hey," he said quietly as he entered the room.

He got a smile from him and Daniel put his hand out, indicating that he wanted him to lie down next to him.

"Daniel, you have to know that there's nothing you need to keep from me. Nothing will send me away."

*I know. But Jack can't be in here. What if I said something about Jan and Sam? Sam had problems when it was used on her when we went to Netu. She got stuck in a personal time - a bad time for her. I cannot and will not drop them in it - especially with Jacob. It's up to them to say something. Their relationship is new, Paul, it may not be strong enough yet for them to deal with the fallout. You and me, we're solid, aren't we? If the worst came to the worst we could leave the SGC knowing that we're meant to be together. But I'm not so sure that they're at that stage yet. The thing is, if I allow you in here, Jack's going to want to be in here too. I know he wouldn't say anything to hurt them, but...*

"I understand, Dan, honestly I do. But if you want me, if you need me, I'll come running, okay? Don't think that you have to protect me from what happened to you. The more I know, the easier it will be to help you through it. I once had to negotiate some hostage releases... somewhere I can't talk about. It was a secret mission and our people were captured and tortured. I saw them in their cells. It was horrific. I had nightmares about it. I kept in touch with one of the hostages when he was released and for a while after. He was grateful that I'd helped get him out of his hell. It was too much for him though and he committed suicide a few months down the line. I will not allow you to get that bad, Daniel. If you need to talk, to tell me about what happened, then I'm prepared to listen. I want to listen. I need to do this, Dan, I need to help you."

*You already did, and you are helping me, babe. Believe me on this one. You got me out of there. Jack told me about what you did. That was so brave,* he said with a grin. Then he teased Paul, *My hero*.

"If you weren't so bruised I'd tickle you for that."

*I'm so glad I'm incapacitated,* Daniel giggled, *what with all you guys lining up to get me when I'm better. I think I'd better go book myself a ticket through the wormhole.*


There was a knock on the door and Jack opened it. Jacob and Sam were there, Teal'c too, the big man not wanting to be left out of this. Daniel was his friend... his brother, after all.

Jack explained Daniel's request to Jacob. Sam tried but failed to completely cover up a sense of relief. She understood what Daniel was trying to do even now.

"I'm just going to talk to Daniel before you do this," she said, "I want to prepare him for it."

They all knew about her previous experience so she went in without any questioning. She saw the guys lying on the bed together and laughing softly.

"Hey Bro, I hear you're talking again," she said gently. "Do you think you can speak German slowly for me?"

*I can,* Daniel replied with a grin.

"Good. It was a long time ago, but I spent a couple of years posted there when I was a lieutenant, I picked up some of the language. Keep it simple and we can communicate. Um, Paul, can I talk to him alone, please?"

"Of course. I'll be in the living room if you want me."

He dropped a kiss on Daniel's head and got off the bed, getting himself a hug from Sam before he left the room.

*Hey, he's mine,* Daniel complained, as he put his arms out for Sam to take Paul's place. She lay on the bed with him and they snuggled up together, something they had often done in the past.

"Thank you, Daniel, I know what you're doing and why. I just want you to know that I'm not ashamed of my relationship with Jan, and that if it comes out, it's okay. I'd rather it didn't, obviously, but if it does I won't regret it. She makes me happy."

Daniel smiled broadly at her and kissed her head.

*I'm so happy for you, Sam,* he whispered. *It's about time you found someone. Jan's a great woman, I love her dearly you know.*

Sam took a moment to process what he had said and then she grinned.

"Hands off, she's mine," she teased.

*Oy. I couldn't take Janet on. She's too much for me. She would wear me out.*

Sam started to giggle and poked him in the ribs, one of her favoured means of getting her own back on him. He winced.

"Oh God, I'm so sorry Daniel. I forgot. How stupid can I get."

Daniel's response was to hold her tightly and kiss her head again.

*Shh, love, it's okay. Still love you too, you know.*

"Yeah, love you, but if you tell anyone I'll have to kill you," she reverted back to her teasing mode and made him laugh. It was an old, and bad joke.


While the sibs were laughing it up, Paul was talking to Jacob. Jack had told him that Daniel only wanted Janet in there and he was not happy.

"Jacob," Paul said in his best diplomatic tone, "Daniel has some issues that he wishes to keep private. One of which is about him and myself. I am talking to someone who is no longer military, aren't I?"

"Go on," Jacob encouraged.

"I'm going to the kitchen," Jack said, still wanting to feign innocence should he be questioned on the subject.

Paul waited till he was out of earshot and then said, "Daniel and I have been together for two years. Obviously, this is highly secret information. We're trusting you to not say a thing. Daniel is afraid that more, er, personal moments may come to light during his session with the recall device. Now, I'm sure that you have no prurient interest, but I'm also sure that you would rather not be subjected to our more, er, intimate moments?"

"I understand," Jacob sighed. "I had no idea about Daniel. I don't really know you that well, Paul, so I hadn't given your orientation a second thought. I don't have a problem with it," he added hurriedly. "I knew a lot of gay servicemen when I was in the Air Force - not officially of course. I really couldn't give a damn. Are you guys happy?"

Paul beamed back at him. "I've never been happier in a relationship in my life," he said vehemently. "Daniel's the most important thing in my life. I'd rather not leave the Air Force as I love my job, but I would and happily, rather than lose him."

"I wish you well then," Jacob said kindly. "You have my word, nobody will find out from me. But I heard on the grapevine - George if truth be told - that you were seeing my daughter."

"Ah. Sam and Janet ambushed us and forced the truth out of us." He looked at Janet and winked. "They're protecting us. Neither of them wants any hassle from the other men on the base, they're more interested in their careers. So, Jan pretends to be Daniel's girlfriend and Sam pretends to be mine - in public. Something we both love them even more for. I promise, Jacob, I only treat your daughter with love and respect. She's one of my best friends. And, well, she's safe with me," he added with a snort.

Jacob laughed out loud, approving of Paul's friendship with her. Then he sighed. "Had we better get on with this?"

Janet stood up, Paul too. Jack left the kitchen and everyone headed into the bedroom to set up the equipment.

*No pictures,* Daniel said as he saw the extra equipment.

Jacob looked confused.

"I thought you said he couldn't speak?"

Janet explained. "He can't speak English - at first he wouldn't make a sound at all. Somehow, he found the strength to overcome that, but English words are incredibly difficult for him. However, we discovered that he can speak other languages. We think it's because he was thinking in English when they tortured him. It's a guess, but it fits the facts."

"Just as well you speak so many languages, Danny," he said with a grin. "Anyway, put my daughter down and we'll get you set up."

Sam extricated herself from his arms, kissed his head.

"Don't worry Daniel, it will be fine."

"Daniel," Janet said, "we'll need the pictures. If I'm to understand, to help you out, then it would be easier for me to see what happened. You may not be able to tell me if you're remembering the pain."

Daniel sighed and then nodded. Jacob tried to find an unbruised part of his head in which to insert the device, failed, apologised and put it as quickly into his temple as he could. The pain in Jacob's eyes when he saw the state in which Daniel had been left spoke volumes. He knew that Sam was probably closer to Daniel than her own brother, and he understood why. And if he was honest with himself, Daniel brought out the paternal side of him.

"I'm sorry, son," he said quietly, his eyes conveying his affection to the younger man. Daniel reached out and grabbed his hand and squeezed it.


"You're welcome. Come on, let me show Janet how to operate this and we'll have you chatting away in next to no time."


Jack, Sam, Jacob and Paul sat anxiously in the living room as Janet helped Daniel through his memories. Teal'c was anxiously hovering in the hall, unwilling to be too close to the others lest his emotions surface. A few giggles came from the bedroom leaving them wondering what on earth was going on. Then silence. Nobody said a word, waiting to hear from Janet just in case she needed them.

Moans came and everyone tensed up. Janet's voice pierced the silence.

"You can't give in to them, Daniel. Talk to me!"

Jack got up and paced up and down, Paul dropped his head into his hands. Sam sat next to her father on the sofa and they held hands in comfort.

More silence from the bedroom which was eventually broken by a scream. Jack and Paul couldn't take any more and they broke into a run and were in the bedroom in moments, followed closely by everyone else. They were all horrified by what they saw. On the screen they saw four of the aliens beating Daniel, a helmet on his head, a shock prod on his back. The silence from the remembered scene was frightening. Daniel on the bed however was writhing around, screaming his head off. Both men wanted Janet to shut the device off but she refused.

"That's it, Daniel, make as much noise as you want," she encouraged, drowning out the memory of the aliens telling him to be quiet. Jack and Paul saw what she was doing and why, understood it but felt sick.

"Enough!" Jack ordered after more torture and screaming. "Give him a break for fuck's sake!"

Janet switched it off and Paul dived onto the bed and took Daniel in his arms, raining kisses over his face, telling him that he was okay now and that he was safe.

They waited until Daniel had stopped shaking before they asked him if he could talk. He tried hard and found that he could whisper, keeping the noise level very low. He pulled Paul close and whispered to him.

"He spoke English, but he's very tired by this. He needs a rest." Another whisper. "Oh God, he says he'll do that again when he feels better."

The others left them and Paul got as close to Daniel as he could without hurting him.

"You don't have to do that again, Daniel. You were in agony. We can't ask you to go through that again."

Watching Daniel's torture had been nearly as painful for the watchers as it had been for Daniel.

"I have to," he whispered, "or I'll not be able to go back to work."

"Daniel, how can you even think of that? The only thing that matters is you. Don't you dare hurt yourself, babe."

"I'll be fine," another whisper came Paul's way. "Sleepy now," he added.

Paul kissed his head and held him until he fell asleep.


"That was terrifying," Jan said, shaking like a leaf. She was glad that she was there for him, Hammond having given her strict instructions to 'Make sure our boy's all right, Doctor', but to actually see what Daniel had gone through... well it was painful to say the least.

Jack sat next to her on the sofa and pulled her into a hug. He could feel how badly she was affected by the whole thing, and understood too, as he was feeling the same. Teal'c was pacing up and down the living room, trying to control his anger at what had happened to his brother.

"I can't believe he volunteered to go through that torture again," Janet added.

"Daniel Jackson is an incredibly brave man," Teal'c said.

"He is going to do it yet again when he's rested," Paul's voice rang through. "He wants to overcome this and do it now. He is not going to give in to this. His opinion is that this is not a physical thing, and that his mind is strong enough, his character is strong enough to overcome it."

"Dammit," Jack spat, "what is he trying to prove?"

"What do you mean?" Sam asked. It was the first she'd spoken, the shock of the events affecting her more than she would want them to.

"I'm afraid he's worried about what people think about him," Jack sighed.

"He said he wanted to be able to return to work," Paul argued.

"That too," Jack agreed, "but tell me, do you think he'd want to go back, unable to speak English out loud? How do you think he'd feel?"

"Shitty," Paul conceded and his heart sank. Daniel was going to go through it again and Paul wouldn't be able to talk him out of it.

They were right, Daniel did do it again. This time Jack and Paul insisted on being the ones to be in there, but Daniel refused to allow them there until they had got to the worst bit. Janet showed Paul how to switch the device off and left them to it.

Daniel's screams were just as loud this time and he was fighting hard to battle the memories of his torture. Jack and Paul encouraged him, even though the noise was scaring them rigid. Finally, in a clear voice, Daniel yelled "ENOUGH!". Paul quickly shut the device off and gathered Daniel into his arms.

"It's all over," he comforted.

Daniel was shaking hard and Paul motioned for Jack to also get on the bed. In moments, Daniel found himself in-between the two men that loved him most in the world, safe, sound and secure. For the first time that day, he started to relax.

A week later, Daniel was back at work, still bruised, but now a rainbow of colours instead of black and blue. He didn't hurt as much as he had done and he was determined to try to put it all behind him. He wasn't admitting to the nightmares and Paul was under strict instructions to not tell anyone about them; something he'd agreed to reluctantly. Jack had insisted that he return to SG-1 so Jack could, quote, keep a fucking eye on you, unquote. Daniel had caved, secretly thrilled that Jack wanted to take care of him as he once had. He knew he was more than capable of taking care of himself, and Jack knew it too. It was just that for the first time in ages, Jack's protective streak was as it had been back at the beginning, and Daniel welcomed that as it signalled that they were back to where they had been. Best of friends.

It was Janet's birthday that day and the guys were taking her out that night after work. There had been one or two rumours about Daniel and Paul doing the rounds again and they were determined to put them to rest once and for all.

Together, the men went to the cafeteria to meet the ladies. Daniel was tired, but ready to do this for a number of reasons. Partially to end the rumours about him and Paul, and partially to thank Janet for her support. He and Paul were dressed up to the nines; black dinner jackets and trousers, white shirts, ties, the works.

They were gently teased by the ladies behind the counter about how gorgeous they looked, Daniel making derisive comments about himself and the state of his face. Paul wanted to reassure him that he still looked like a god, but figured that it would be a lot better to keep quiet.

They sat at a table waiting for the girls to join them, and chatted quietly until Paul saw Daniel's jaw drop.

"Wow," he moaned.

Paul's head snapped around and he could see why. Sam had just slinked into the room, a figure-hugging midnight-blue strappy dress on and she looked stunning. And behind her, Janet. A red dress, equally figure-hugging, no sleeves or straps, she was relying on her cleavage to defy gravity.

They stood up, aware that everyone in the room was watching them and their reactions.

"Paul, you'd better play it up," Daniel whispered and Paul slipped into 'hetero' mode. As the women came close Paul slipped his hands onto Sam's waist, winked at her, kissed her cheek and told her that she looked wonderful. She gave him a blinding smile and wrapped her arms around his own waist.

"You," she said with a grin, "are looking edible."

Daniel couldn't take his eyes off Janet.

"Damn," he said, "you're dangerous."

"I could say the same about you, honey, the bruises just add to your air of menace. So, where are we going?" she asked as he pulled her into a hug.

"Ah, surprise. But I have something for you before we go. Happy birthday, baby," he said, loud enough for some others to hear. He handed her a box, about five inches long and an inch and a half wide. She took it, wide-eyed with excitement. She unwrapped it and saw that it was a jewellery case. Inside it was a choker necklace, gold with hieroglyphs and set with a few rubies. She squealed with delight and threw herself into Daniel's arms. He tried to hide the wince he inadvertently let out. Paul and Sam noticed, but fortunately, Janet didn't. He didn't want to spoil this for her.

Daniel dipped his head and kissed her on the lips, emphasising his supposed relationship with her.

Paul put his hand into his pocket and handed her a smaller package as Daniel put the choker on her. She thanked him eagerly and opened it, letting out another squeal when she saw a pair of ruby and gold earrings that matched the choker. She kissed his cheek, getting an, "Oy, hands off he's mine!" from Sam.

The four left the cafeteria, safe in the knowledge that any gossip would now be 'safe'.

Dinner had been superb. The guys took the ladies to the most romantic and expensive restaurant in town. What made it better was they had passed a group of colleagues who were out for a night on the tiles. Daniel and Paul each had their arms around their respective 'girlfriends' and had been seen that way, emphasising exactly what they wanted. Jack had volunteered to 'baby-sit' Cassie that night, even though she was too old for that. He and Teal'c had gone to Janet's house armed with pizza, ice cream, and video games, the arrangement being that they'd keep her entertained and would stay over, so that Janet could be out all night.

The four crashed through Daniel's front door, laughing and joking. As soon as Daniel got into the living room, he shut the front curtains - shutting out the outside world and allowing them to be themselves. Paul slipped to his place and repeated the action and then went back to Daniel, and into his arms. They stayed together for a while, drinking water to counteract the dehydration likely from the champagne they'd been guzzling all night. Eventually they were all ready to retire.

Sam and Janet got up, headed for Paul's place, gave the guys a hug and kiss in thanks for a wonderful evening and then they left the men to their own devices.

"So," said Daniel.


"So what now?"

"Now we go to bed?"

"Hmm, sounds like a good idea, Major D."

"Well then Dr. J., lead on."

Daniel took Paul by the hand and led him to the bedroom. Once there they turned to face each other and fell into a kiss. Lips touched, hands running over each other's bodies.

Paul broke away. "Am I hurting you?" he asked full of concern.

"Shh, babe, I'm fine. Numb from the champagne, I guess. I want this, Paul. I need this. Love you so much. I really enjoyed tonight, flirting with Jan is a hoot, but I would give anything to be able to do that with you out there."

"I know. But for now, we have to keep it quiet."

Daniel got a wicked glint in his eye.

"Don't make a sound, Paul," he said and kissed him. Then he pulled back, took hold of Paul's tie and undid it, then he started on Paul's shirt. With each undone button, he planted a kiss on his freshly bared skin, lingering at the points that made Paul moan.

"Shh," Daniel admonished with a grin.

"Uh huh, I can't keep quiet with you doing that, Dan," Paul complained.

"You're going to have to try," came the teasing reply.

Paul's shirt was off now, and Daniel caught his left arm, softly licking and kissing the inside of his wrist and elbow. Paul tried to keep quiet, but the air was charged with eroticism, making it particularly difficult for him. He wanted to regain some sort of control, not to take charge, but just to stop himself from ending the whole thing before it had really begun.

"Dan," he gasped, "shall we take this to the shower?"

Daniel's eyes glistened at the thought and agreed. The kissing was restarted, the passion growing with every moment. Clothes started to hit the deck, but every time Paul tried to make a noise Daniel would tell him off, giggling as he did. Finally their clothes were off and they nearly fell into the bathroom, still kissing and touching, Daniel doing everything he could to ignore the effect of the touches on his sore skin.

He reached in to the shower and switched it on, grabbed some lube from the cabinet and put it on the shelf in the shower. Then when the water was the right temperature they entered.

"Daniel, what would you like?" Paul asked. "Tell me, anything you want baby, I want it too."

"Anything?" Daniel asked with a grin.

"Anything," Paul confirmed, his own face betraying the excitement of the moment.

"I want," Daniel said, running his fingers through Paul's wet hair, grabbing the shampoo and returning the favour that Paul had done for him, "I want you to take me, Paul. I want you to go down," his fingers massaged deeply, Paul moaning low and sensually. "And then I want you to turn me against the wall and fuck me, slow, deep, hard, leaving me in no doubt that I am yours and you are mine."

"Oh Daniel," came the breathless reply, sending shivers down Daniel's spine.

The shampoo gone, Paul took over the action as Daniel had asked. He pushed Daniel back against the tiles and faced him away.

"Just for the moment," he said when Daniel questioned him. "Trust me Dan, you're gonna get everything you wanted... and more."

Daniel let out a quiet gasp when he felt the hot tongue of his lover trailing a path down his spine, adding to the already hot, wet skin caused by the shower. He knew where Paul was going and the anticipation was nearly overwhelming. He had to rein in his desire to scream out loud when he felt Paul push his buttocks apart and plunge his tongue inside without warning. The sensation was incredible, driving him insane.

"God, please Paul, stop, I'm gonna come if you keep that up."

"You're going to come all right, baby," Paul replied huskily. "Turn around."

Somehow, Daniel found his legs and turned to face his kneeling lover.

"Look at me," Paul whispered and Daniel felt his breath hitch as Paul took him in his mouth. He saw the green eyes looking up at him through the long black lashes and was amazed at just how overpowering his emotions were. He was also struck with one of those mundane mid-sex thoughts that he was glad he'd put his contacts in so he could see the man he loved so very much, water-streaked, looking like some sort of god to him. He passed Paul the lube, reached up and turned the water low. He watched as Paul popped the top and coated his fingers, trying to distance his mind from the amazing sensations that he was receiving. But the fingers that breached him sent him hard over the edge and he came hissing Paul's name through gritted teeth, still trying to keep the noise down.

Daniel collapsed to the floor, his legs unable to hold him.

"Dan? Are you all right?"

"Fine, you were fucking incredible. Now, Paul, here and now," he begged.

Daniel's knees were now bruise free, having been one of the few areas that had been hardly touched. He turned as quickly as he could onto his hands and knees and Paul moved behind him.

"Do it!" he ordered, "I'm ready, Paul, just do it please."

Paul gritted his teeth, terrified that he was going to hurt him, but he did as he was asked. He was in awe of Daniel and his strength and wanted to prove to him that he believed in him. He sheathed himself in one firm stroke and gasped.

"Oh God, Dan, you feel so good."

He watched as the low trickle of water ran down over Daniel's back, and he saw the bruises still there. He wanted to take the pain away and he realised that so did Daniel, and the way he wanted to do that was to be fucked till he couldn't think. So Paul obliged, nailing him harder and faster, panting hard with the exertion.

"God Paul, so good," Daniel groaned, concentrating purely on the amazing feelings that flooded his mind.

No way was Daniel coming again, he was too tired and too tipsy, but he was so enjoying himself. His impassioned quiet moans and groans and his arched back did it for Paul and he came hard, burying his face in Daniel's back to muffle his yells.

"God I love you," he panted.

"Love you too," wheezed Daniel.

As carefully as he could, Paul pulled back and sat on the floor of the shower. He reached out and pulled Daniel to sit in-between his legs, wrapping his arms around his waist and kissing his shoulders.

"How're you?" he asked, very concerned that he had added to the hurt.

Daniel twisted his back and looked into Paul's eyes with a smile before replying, "Fucked."

Paul giggled, setting Daniel off too. The two men sat under the slow water, laughing until they were too tired to carry on.

The next morning, the girls came into their bedroom bearing mugs of coffee.

"Hey," Paul smiled at them as they sat on the edge of the bed handing out the mugs.

"Hey back," grinned Janet. "So, you guys just went straight to bed, eh?" she teased.

Paul and Daniel looked at each other and laughed. "Something like that," Daniel replied.

"Well, we didn't hear anything, even though the two bedrooms are near by," Sam put in.

Paul just smirked.

"We're used to keeping quiet."