Summary: Allegory: A story, poem or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning.
Concise Oxford Dictionary, tenth edition
Sometimes we think that things are the way they seem. Looking into ourselves can surprise us. But sometimes, looking beneath the surface isn't always a good idea, either. With grateful thanks to Joy for the beta.
"But you don't understand!"
Jim's ears pricked up as he heard the desperation in the woman's voice as she tried to explain something to the cop behind the desk.
"I understand, madam. Your son went for a break in the forest and came back acting differently. I just don't see what you want us to do about it. Has he committed a crime?"
"No, no, it's not that. It's just like he's been taken over by some sort of... oh, I don't know. Evil spirit! That's what it is."
Jim stopped walking (much to the annoyance of Blair as he smacked into Jim's back) and looked over at the desk sergeant. He could see the man's eyes rolling as he heard her words.
"And his eyes glowed. It was there only for a moment, but I saw it!"
At those words, Jim's blood ran cold. Ignoring his partner, who was currently looking rather strangely at him, he strolled over to the desk. Acting as if he was doing the sergeant a favour, he quietly guided the woman away, soothing her with words that explained that he'd listen to her. Grateful to have a willing ear, she didn't complain. The sergeant mouthed a 'thank you' in his direction and Jim knew that it wasn't going to do his standing with the uniformed police any harm to be seen as willing to take away the weirdoes from them. In the meantime, he knew his partner was going to want to hear this story.
"If you would just come with me, Mrs..., er...?"
"Forman. Polly Forman, Mr...?"
"Ellison. Detective Ellison. This is my partner, Detective Sandburg."
"Hello," she said, greeting Blair slightly distractedly. "As I was saying..."
"Why don't we wait until we get to the interview room?" Jim suggested gently. "We may as well go over this in comfort."
She nodded, saying nothing more, and followed him into the elevator, Blair close on their heels.
Blair hadn't heard any of the conversation at the desk and had no idea what was going on. Whatever it was, it had bothered Jim to the point that he felt he needed to do this, so he figured he'd go with the flow. Life was usually a lot easier if he did that, anyway.
Eventually, they got to the room, Jim looked in and saw that no one was in there and ushered Mrs. Forman inside.
"Chief, why don't you get us some coffee. Mrs. Forman? Would you like some?"
"Please," she agreed with a smile. "Milk, no sugar."
"Coffee. Right." Blair shrugged and headed off to get the drinks, hoping that Jim wouldn't let her start without him there.
Inside the interview room, Mrs. Forman wanted to get started, but Jim asked that she await the return of Blair.
"I know it sounds silly," she said. "I know it, believe me, I do. But I don't know who else to turn to."
"Don't worry about it," Jim soothed. "Believe me when I say we hear many supposedly silly things. Even if there isn't something we can do now, bits of information we gather can sometimes lead us to the perpetrator of a crime at a later date. Unfortunately, the law ties our hands when it comes to preventing crime. All we can do is offer advice on crime prevention methods, and only intervene with a specific criminal if we have detailed information that a crime is being planned. If we didn't have those constraints, certain less... restrained individuals in law enforcement might use the ability to arrest because someone's acting oddly on a permanent basis. Understand?"
"Of course I understand. But to be honest, I'm afraid. Eric is scaring me, Detective. He used to be such a sweet boy, but now..."
The door opened and Blair entered with the coffees. Handing them out, he sat down and pulled out a notebook and pen.
"Why don't you start from the beginning, Mrs. Forman?" he asked, smiling at her as if he was going to believe every single word. "Tell us how this started." 'Whatever it is', he thought.
"Okay," she said slowly, picking up the paper cup and sipping carefully. "It started like this."
Eric Forman kissed his mother and left for a weekend's camping on his own. His job as a shelf-stacker wasn't exactly what he was aiming for in life - it was only temporary, as he reminded himself, day after day. He was going to be someone. Make something of himself. In the meantime, he had to take whatever work came his way, save up as much money as he could, and then, when he got his chance, he was going to take it with both hands. It wasn't his fault that no chances had come in the last four years, was it? And at least it was honest work. Good, honest work. There was nothing wrong with that.
He was looking forward to his break. It was something he did regularly, but he hadn't done it for a while - not until the reports of people going missing in the forest had stopped. Word had got out that a rogue cougar had been killed, and seeing as no one else had gone missing since, he figured it was safe again. So, for the first time in months, he took some time off and headed off for his long weekend of solitude. He liked to think on his own, dreaming of things to come.
Arriving at the cabin used by the warden for that part of the forest, he called his mother to say he'd arrived, just as he always did. Then, he reshouldered his kitbag, pocketed the keys to his old Ford truck which he'd parked up near the cabin and strolled into the trees.
"So, he was perfectly normal the last time you spoke to him before the break?" Jim asked for confirmation.
"Perfectly. He's always so considerate. Always lets me know where he is. I knew I wouldn't hear from him for the next three days and that he would call me before he left, so that I would be able to start a meal for him. He's always hungry when he gets back from camping. That's when I knew that something was wrong."
"Excuse me?" Blair interrupted, feeling a little confused.
"He didn't call," she explained. "He always calls, but he didn't. I knew something was up when he turned up on the doorstep without my expecting him. I had no food ready for him!"
Blair lifted one of his hands to cover his mouth, feigning a cough but underneath his breath, he whispered, "Ellison, you are a dead man when I get you home."
Jim heard him and flicked his eyes over to Blair without moving his head. His eyes spoke volumes to Blair, who saw 'Just wait,' in them. Blair blinked slowly in answer; an 'okay, I will' reflecting back at Jim.
"Go on," Jim prompted. "Tell us what happened next."
"What are you doing home?" she demanded. "You didn't call me. I haven't anything prepared!"
"Uh, I..." he stuttered, looking a little confused. "I'm not hungry. I didn't sleep well. I need a rest."
His voice was stilted, as if he wasn't used to speaking. She worried, wanting to call the doctor but he snapped at her, telling her to leave him alone. Then he made his way up the wooden staircase and slammed his bedroom door behind him.
"Perhaps he really was tired?" Blair suggested sympathetically.
"I was prepared to allow him a little latitude," she sniffed, "but there wasn't any need to be so rude. It didn't stop there." Her voice changed to sound a bit more conspiratorial. "The next morning, it was like he didn't even know me..."
When Blair opened the door to the apartment, Jim at his heels, he was both exhausted and worried sick. Mrs. Forman's story had caught his attention not far into it. Glowing eyes, a massively inflated ego... it was all too familiar.
"Do you think that this has anything to do with... you know... the thing we can't talk about?" he asked as Jim shut the door and headed for the kitchen, a takeout bag in his hand.
"Sure sounds like it, Sherlock," he answered wryly. "That creature's eyes glowed for a moment and it seemed to think that we should know who it was."
"I'd better call Daniel," Blair sighed.
"That's what I thought. I get the feeling that we'll be in over our heads if we try to tackle this one on our own."
Blair looked a little surprised at Jim's admittance, but he had to agree. He knew that there was a hell of a lot more going on than Daniel had told him, and so did Jim. Which was why Jim hadn't taken official notes at the station, persuading Mrs. Forman that he'd look into her complaint seriously, but off the record, just in case her son turned out to be nothing more than a man with itchy feet, ready to grow up and move on. Accepting that if that were the case, she would look really stupid for making an official complaint against him, she agreed willingly, grateful at least that Jim had seemed to take her seriously. He didn't have to, after all.
"Okay. You put dinner out, I'll call him," Blair suggested. As Jim didn't know his number, he agreed.
He kept his hearing turned up as Blair dialled, registering the noise of an answering machine picking up after a few rings.
Sorry, but I'm not available at the moment. You know what to do after the beep.
"Hey, Daniel. Look, I need you to give me a call. Something's come up. Something to do with the... er... cougar. I think it had a kitten. I'll keep an eye on it until you call. Bye."
He looked at Jim and shrugged. "I guess he's off doing whatever it is he does," he said with a sigh.
"We'll just have to do as you said and keep an eye on this guy," Jim answered with a shrug of his own. "In the meantime, let's eat dinner."
Daniel entered his apartment, mainly to pick up the mail as he was about to go to Jack's for the night. Mission after mission had forcibly kept them apart and Jack was currently fretting because of Daniel's run-in with Osiris in Egypt. Daniel knew he was cursing himself for not being there for him, but surprisingly, Daniel understood. They'd had a number of missions recently where they had come to blows and the pressure was telling. Jack felt guilty for having a relationship with a member of his team - his gender being irrelevant - even if he was able to justify it in his mind. They both knew how Sam felt about Jack, too, and Daniel had been pushing Jack to draw a line in the sand with her, but he was reluctant to even bring the subject up. If it hadn't been for the fact that Daniel had been injured, and that it could have been fatal, Jack may have withdrawn from him even further. The scare had reminded Jack of how precious Daniel was to him and he'd appeared at Daniel's infirmary bed with instructions for Daniel to go to his house for the night. In fact, to make sure he did, Jack had taken him home and was currently waiting in the truck in the street below Daniel's apartment, so that Daniel could pick up his mail and messages and some clean clothes.
"Junk, junk... ah, I've been waiting for that," Daniel said, looking at an archaeological magazine as he sorted through his post. "More junk, junk..." As he looked at the large pile of letters, he walked towards his answering machine and looked to see if there were any messages there. A flashing light told him that there were eight, and his heart sank. Jack was probably going to have to wait a while. Continuing to sift out the junk mail, he pressed the button and listened to the voices as they took their turn on the tape. Three telephone salesmen, the apartment block's chief barrack-room lawyer calling him to an 'extraordinary tenant's meeting', which, Daniel noted with relief, he'd missed. Then, as he was about to give up and wipe the tape, he heard a familiar voice.
"Hey, Daniel. Look, I need you to give me a call. Something's come up. Something to do with the... er... cougar. I think it had a kitten. I'll keep an eye on it until you call. Bye."
"Oh crap," Daniel announced to the room at large, and he pulled out his cellphone and pressed speed dial, unwilling for some reason to disturb the phone with the answering machine attached. "Jack?" he called as soon as he heard his lover's voice. "You'd better get up here. Now."
He hung up, not letting Jack argue with him. He wasn't in the mood.
Jack sat with a thump on Daniel's sofa, the message heard and understood.
"What are we going to do?" Daniel asked, waving his hands in the air.
He still wasn't feeling too good and had been looking forward to a few days off.
"You're going to ring Blair and find out what he knows. Then, we decide from there."
Jack suddenly sounded very tired, as if the stuffing had been knocked out of him and Daniel figured that now would be a good time to reconnect with him. They'd barely touched each other in days. Sex was pretty irrelevant, but touch was needed by both of them. He sat next to Jack and, a little warily, slid his arm around Jack's back. He felt Jack freeze for a moment and sighed, pulling his arm back, but Jack quickly realised what he had done and shook his head.
"Sorry, Daniel. I..." He shook his head again and decided to let his actions speak for him instead.
In moments, Daniel found himself wrapped up in Jack's arms, being tilted so that he would lie on the sofa and before he knew it, Jack was lying on top of him and kissing him hard. Daniel knew what Jack was saying and he kissed him back, holding tightly onto him, urging Jack to do something.
They forgot about the phone call, forgot about their plans. All they knew was they needed to be together or else they may as well give up on their relationship. Shirts were undone, fly buttons and zips were dealt with and it didn't take long for Jack to start thrusting against him.
Daniel screwed his eyes tight shut, lifting his hips to clash against Jack's. No words were spoken, only grunts as they seemed to battle to be the first to finish.
It didn't take long under the circumstances. Emotions were running way too high. Daniel felt Jack stiffen and then the hot sticky fluid as it spilt on his stomach, prompting him to come straight after.
Lying there, their eyes barely open, Jack made the decision to move before they stuck together.
"Come on, shower then bed."
"What about Blair?" Daniel asked, hating it when he felt Jack roll off him.
"Tomorrow. We're too damned tired to do anything about it right now, anyway."
Thinking this was probably a bad idea, Daniel agreed. As Jack said, he was too tired to think and he was still feeling the after-effects of the ribbon device. Sleep sounded good right about now.
"Do you think that Daniel's ever going to call you?" Jim asked as they sat in his truck, watching Eric Forman as he went about his business.
They were off duty, unable to actually say to Simon that they wanted to observe a member of the public without a real reason, and had spent the last week or so doing just this.
"When he gets home," Blair answered with a yawn. "He won't let me down. The only reason he wouldn't call me would be if he was dead."
His final word was spoken very quietly, as if it was something that he had thought of as a possibility but a thought which scared him rigid. Jim picked up on Blair's tone and slid his arm around Blair's shoulder and hugged him briefly.
"He's probably on some mission or other. I dare say we'll get a phone call soon enough," he offered.
Blair nodded, though unconvinced.
"What if he is dead?" he asked plaintively. "I mean, setting aside the personal issues that this would throw up, if this guy has something to do with that creature, who would we turn to?"
"I'll try to contact Jack O'Neill," Jim replied, trying to sound decisive. Though he knew that if Daniel were dead, and that if he'd been on the same mission as Jack... He shook his head and ignored that little voice in his head. No way. He didn't want to believe that either of them were dead.
He'd come to like Jack immensely when they'd met. Understanding the man had gone a long way to trusting him, and nothing that Jack had done when they'd had the little mission of their own had belied that trust. But Jim was most afraid for Blair. Since they'd come home from the mission, he and Daniel had picked up their friendship, making the effort to contact each other whenever possible. He'd seen how close they were, how like brothers should be, and he knew how devastating the loss of Daniel would be to his lover. He wasn't prepared to accept that.
"What is he doing?" Blair whined, watching Forman as he went in and out of a warehouse.
"Setting something up?" Jim shrugged as he guessed, his hearing turned up and focussed on their target. "What for, I don't know. I can't hear anything in there except for the stuff that he's putting on the floor. He doesn't seem to be doing anything with it. God only knows what it is that he's putting inside there. I can't see inside the boxes and they're all boxes from the supermarket. Empty ones that they throw out so there's no clue as to their current contents."
"I'm afraid," Blair suddenly said. "I need to know what he's up to when we're at work."
"Chief, we can't go to Simon and ask him to sign off on us doing this when there are crimes to be solved. All we have on this guy is that he's acting oddly. Some people are plain odd to start with."
"I know, I know. How about we take some leave?"
"We've already had some leave, remember?"
It wasn't more than a few months since the break that they'd taken after the woodland foray, and Blair sighed. He knew how busy they were in Major Crimes and that taking unexpected leave now would not go down very well with the others.
"We can only hope that he's not up to anything during his working hours," Jim soothed. "Look, according to his mother he goes into work early, finishes mid-afternoon. By the time we've caught up with him in the evening, he's only had about four hours without us watching him, or not being in the public eye. We watch him till he goes to bed. We can't do any more than that."
Blair looked at Jim wryly. "A lot can happen in four hours."
"You just had to say that, didn't you?" Jim moaned.
Daniel woke to the aroma of coffee wafting around his bedroom. With only one eye open (which was about the limit of his energy at that moment), he looked for the source.
"Good morning," Jack said brightly. Too brightly.
"'ckoff," Daniel snarled.
"Not nice, Daniel. Especially to the man that brings you coffee. C'mon, sit up, open your eyes, in either order..." he started, getting a growl in return.
Jack knew that Daniel wasn't usually good in mornings, especially mornings when he wasn't going into work, but his foul-tempered demeanour told Jack something else was up. He put the coffee down on the bedside table, scooted into the bathroom and a couple of moments later, he was back.
Daniel grunted and downed the tablets with his coffee, then he crawled back under the covers.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Jack prompted.
"Thank you," Daniel muttered from under the quilt.
"You're welcome, but you've definitely forgotten something. You've got to call Blair."
Jack grinned as he heard a groan emerge from the bedding, but underneath it all, he was worried sick. He'd so damned nearly lost Daniel to yet another snake, and here he was, prompting him to go look for another one. Part of him wanted to run away, to protect himself from the potential of another broken heart. The rest of him, the good soldier, berated that part as a coward. No matter what, he wouldn't leave Daniel.
Daniel reluctantly sat up, eyed his coffee mug suspiciously, saw that it really was empty and hadn't miraculously refilled itself and sighed. Jack saw his cue and went to pour him another. Even more reluctantly, Daniel picked up the phone and dialled.
"I can't believe that Simon would keep us out all night on a stake-out of the wrong damned house!" Blair complained as he fell into the loft, his legs working on autopilot as his brain was already half-asleep.
"He did apologise, Chief," Jim soothed. "It wasn't his fault that his information said 145 Cascade Drive when it was 145 Cascade Road. It's an easy mistake to make."
"Sure it is," Blair harrumphed. "But you explain that to the little old lady in Cascade Drive who was surprised to see a bunch of strange men parked up near her house, watching her like a hawk. I don't blame her for calling the police. Man, we are so not going to live that down with the uniforms."
"True," Jim shrugged, steering Blair into the kitchen. It had been hours since they'd last eaten, the stake-out taking longer than predicted, and he knew that they'd be too hungry to settle properly. "At least we've gotten the next three days off."
"Two days," Blair corrected. "This first one is to let us sleep. And we weren't on duty for the other two days anyway."
A flashing light in the living room caught Jim's eye. The answerphone informed him that there were four messages on it. Probably salespeople, he thought with a grunt, but he knew that knowing there were messages on the machine waiting for him would bother him, so as Blair cobbled together some food, he wandered into the living room and pressed play. Like Daniel, he found that the first three messages were telephone salesmen, and he was about to wipe the tape when he heard the last message start up.
"Uh, Blair, it's Daniel." A very tired-sounding Daniel, Jim observed. "Just got in last night. Um, sorry I didn't call then but I was kinda tired. Anyway, call me when you get home. Bye."
"Typical!" Blair grumped as he listened in. "I wait for days and then I'm not here when he calls."
"You want to try now?" Jim asked. "The message was timed only about thirty minutes ago."
"Yeah, sure," Blair answered with a yawn. "We need to touch base if only just to pass on the information."
"Bring the food into the living room," Jim said sympathetically, breaking a house rule for once. "I'll bring the coffee."
"Man, I so do not want coffee and neither do you. I don't care about glowing-eyed creatures right now, all I care about is getting some sleep. Tea. Camomile tea."
Jim saw that Blair meant it for him too. He hated camomile tea, but figured he could turn down his sense of taste. There were times that being a sentinel was a real blessing.
Jim sorted out the tea as Blair dropped the two plates with split, stuffed onion bagels on them, taking a bite out of his own as his hand reached for the phone.
The phone rang four times and Blair figured the answerphone was about to kick in when he heard a breathless "Yeah?" from the other end of the line.
"Daniel? It's Blair."
"Hey! Sorry I haven't been around, Blair. You know how it is."
"Yeah," Blair replied, only able to guess what Daniel meant. "Anyway, we thought you should know something."
He explained about Mrs. Forman and then told him what they'd observed of her son. Daniel asked a few pertinent questions and then Blair (and Jim, who'd turned up his hearing) heard a groan.
"Okay. It sounds like a snake. Right. Do nothing other than keep an eye on him. Don't approach him, whatever you do. You stay away from him, you hear?"
Daniel's voice was so vehement in manner that it shocked Blair into agreeing.
"We'll be up there as soon as we can."
They made arrangements to meet then signed off. Jim prompted Blair to finish his food, then silently, he led him upstairs to bed. Whatever was to happen now, he knew that they'd both need to be rested.
"General," Daniel started, trying to explain why he was back on base when he'd been kicked off less than twenty-four hours before. "There's a Goa'uld in Cascade."
Hammond stopped dead and looked at Daniel's face, then at Jack (who shrugged in a defeatist manner), then he groaned.
"My office," he ordered. "Then you can explain how you know this."
Somehow there was a pot of coffee ready in the General's office. Jack figured that his secretary had a hotline to the guards. Anyone turned up unexpectedly and she'd know about it before the General would and be prepared. Daniel, naturally, homed straight in on the pot, the General just waving permission as he remembered to stop and ask.
"So, would you please explain," Hammond prompted.
Mug in hand, Daniel looked him in the eye and sighed. "It's like this, General," he started, then explained what Blair had told him. This in turn led to Jack being made to explain why the level of Blair and Jim's involvement in the previous 'joint' mission hadn't been fully explained.
"Ah," Jack stated, looking like a kid that had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Look, Sir, this is so off-the-record, I'm not telling you."
Hammond looked surprised but he nodded a 'go on'.
"Detective Ellison has some... abilities," Jack continued. "I don't really want to go into it, basically because we were asked to keep it a secret, but he's..." Jack looked at Daniel as he floundered.
"He's a sentinel, General. He has enhanced senses. Um, I can't really explain too much more as we've been sworn to secrecy and you really need to forget you heard that. Needless to say, if this knowledge got into the hands of the NID, he would be a target. He was a Ranger. He knows the need to keep things secret. Blair, his partner, also knows about keeping secrets as he's been working with Jim for years. We had to trust them with what they found out - we didn't exactly tell them too much, by the way. We're trusting you to not say anything about Jim, too." He reiterated the need for secrecy and Hammond picked up how strongly he felt about that. Daniel's voice was so intense that all Hammond could do was nod in agreement.
"Very well. You have my word that I will say nothing. What do you think we should do?"
This time, Jack spoke, "We need to go to Cascade, Sir. This time, I'd like Sam and Teal'c to come with us. What little Jim and Blair have found out leads me to think that he's up to something, and I want back-up."
"So, are you going to tell us why we've been called off medical leave and are being sent to the back of beyond?" Sam grumped as the plane levelled at its cruising height.
"Sorry, Sam," Daniel yawned, the drone of the Air Force plane's engines acting as a soporific. "A friend of mine called me up and described what sounds like a snake. We have to go see if it is one. And it's not the back of beyond this time, we're going to Cascade. I've been there before, it's full of things to do. Tell you what, when we've finished, I'll get Blair to show you around."
Daniel did his best to wake up but it was a losing battle. To help him, Jack stepped in.
"Daniel, why don't you shut your eyes? I'll explain everything."
He glared at Sam, then immediately felt sorry, his face apologising to her. She was still sore from being thrown against a wall and was currently grumpy because she'd been looking forward to recovering at home. Daniel was asleep in moments.
"Daniel's known Blair since he was a kid," he explained softly, trying not to raise his voice so that he wouldn't disturb Daniel. "They're like brothers. When we were in the forest a few months ago, Blair, who's a cop by the way, and his partner were looking for the missing hikers. We teamed up. They're good people, Carter, we can trust them."
She looked at him as if studying his face and then nodded curtly.
"Anyway, they've been watching a guy that's come back from the same forest. Turns out his eyes have glowed and his mother thinks he's become possessed. As soon as they heard that, Blair called Daniel. They don't know that we're dealing with aliens, by the way. Somehow, I doubt they'd be too fazed if they did find out, but they're better off not knowing."
"When did they hear about the man?" Teal'c asked, his voice extremely low as Daniel was by now fast asleep, his head tilted and resting on Jack's shoulder.
"Over a week ago. According to his mother, he'd been acting odd for a couple of weeks before that."
"So we're assuming that there was another snake in the forest, possibly inside an Unas, which has now taken over a human. If it's been inside him for a few weeks, there's no telling what he's gotten up to." Sam groaned as she spoke, realising that the next few days were going to be extremely busy.
"And that is why we're going, Carter. The mission brief is to take out the snake - preferably to capture it, but to kill if necessary. As it's inside a human, though, capture is definitely preferred. We'll get the Tok'ra to take out the snake and see if we can't help him forget what happened. Last thing we want is some guy wandering around talking about alien possession."
"It's not as if other people don't do that," Sam argued. "Only a few people really believe them."
"True, but if we can avoid it..."
He shrugged and she nodded. Then Sam looked at Daniel and couldn't help but smile.
"He looks peaceful."
"He's drooling on my shoulder," Jack grumped - not really meaning it, but he had to keep up appearances.
Then he looked at Sam and asked, "Just how close?"
He didn't have to ask any more. She knew he was asking how close he'd come to losing not only Daniel, but her and Janet as well.
"Too close. If Daniel hadn't managed to stab Osiris with that dart, she'd have killed him. He was losing consciousness when he did it, apparently. I was out cold. Jan and I were hurt, but not as seriously. Sometimes it amazes me how he's remained as smart as he has, given how many times his brain's been fried."
Jack shuddered as he imagined the scene and it took all his powers of self-control to not wrap his arms around his lover and hold him close.
"Remind me to kick his ass when this is all over," he grunted. "He keeps doing that."
"Wake up Sleeping Beauty," Jack teased as the plane taxied to a halt at McChord.
Unfocussed blue eyes stared at him as Daniel tried to get his bearings.
"We're there," Jack elaborated. "Come on, there's a staff car waiting. You'll need to be awake to give me directions."
"It's okay," Daniel yawned. "I'll drive."
"Not a hope in hell," Jack growled. "Now, move it."
Wearily, Daniel picked up his kitbag and followed the others out of the plane and across the field to the car. He ignored the official goings-on and got into the front passenger's seat, trying hard to keep his eyes open. Then he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and hit the speed dial for Blair.
He ignored the others as they got into the car and waited for the phone to be answered. Just as the answering machine kicked in, however, there was the noise of someone picking the phone up, fiddling with the buttons, cursing and generally sounding like he'd been woken up.
"Jim? It's Daniel."
"Oh, hi. Where are you?"
"McChord. We should be with you before too long."
"I'll wake his highness up then," Jim grunted.
"I woke you?"
"Don't worry about it. Uh, on stake-out allnight."
"Poor you," Daniel sympathised. "If you'd rather, we can go check into a motel first? Give you a few more hours?"
"No, you'd better come here. We can organise things better if we're together."
"Okay. Put some coffee on," Daniel laughed. "Make that, put lots of coffee on. You're not the only one that's tired."
"Will do. We'll see you soon."
He hung up and noticed that Jack had already started on the road to Cascade. It took all of his self-control to not fall asleep again.
Blair cursed as Jim woke him, apologised when Jim explained that Daniel was on his way and then cursed again as he stubbed his toe when he got out of bed.
"So much for a few days off," he muttered, aiming straight for the bathroom.
Jim had to laugh at the sight and retreated to the kitchen before he was called on it. By the time Blair had emerged from the bathroom, coffee was ready, as was some food.
"Come on, eat, drink... I think we're going to just organise ourselves tonight. Daniel sounded really tired on the phone. Not sure what's up with him but he doesn't sound too well. If we're sensible about it, we'll recover today and then go at it tomorrow."
"By which time, this creature could have gone and done something."
"True. But he'll do a lot more if we're not up to fighting him," Jim pointed out. "So far, there hasn't been anything out of the ordinary reported that I know about."
"And given that we're the ones that get 'out of the ordinary' cases, we'd have heard if there had been," Blair agreed.
"Surely this is more like one of Sandy's cases?" Megan asked as Simon passed a file to her.
Over the past week or so, a young man, proclaiming to be a messenger from God or something, had been encouraging young people off the streets and into his 'temple'. Unfortunately, after a few visits, they weren't being seen again.
"Sure it is," Simon replied, "but he and Ellison are swamped by cases as it is. Besides, they're off duty for the next couple of days and I want this looked into. I'll help you out."
"Hey, I'm a detective too, you know. And everyone else is up to their necks in cases. We're it, Connor."
Megan grinned. Despite her teasing and griping, she really liked Simon and working with him was usually fun.
"Cool! Come on then, let's get out there and find them."
"They're here, Chief."
Blair looked up from the sofa as Jim walked to the door, readying to open it and welcome the men. He noticed that Jim stopped dead just before it, obviously aware of something.
"What's up, big guy?"
"There's someone else with them. A woman. And another man. And... I don't know."
He started pacing a bit, as if he was unsure as to whether he should answer the door or not. He could sense some sort of danger, but then he knew that Daniel and Jack were out there and they sounded happy. He was so confused that he missed the knock on the door and Blair had to get up and open it, almost failing when Jim grabbed at him.
"What are you doing, man? Come on, it's just Daniel."
"No. There's something else out there."
"Let's look, shall we?"
Cautiously, Blair opened the door, Jim already next to his gun holster which was hanging up with his jacket. By the time the door was open, Jim had his gun in his hand.
"Daniel! Hey, it's good to see you, man," Blair greeted, letting him and his friends in.
Sam and Teal'c watched in amusement as Daniel swept the smaller man up into a big hug. They were watching them so intently that they missed the fact that Jim was pointing his gun at them. Jack, however, didn't.
"Ellison? What's wrong?"
With his words, the others turned and looked at Jim.
"Jim! Hey, buddy, come on." Blair walked towards him, his hand out, asking Jim to hand it over. "These are our friends."
"Not him!" Jim was pointing the gun at Teal'c, or rather at Teal'c stomach.
"Jim?" It was Daniel. "What can you sense?"
Sam and Teal'c looked on in amazed confusion as the big man was worked on by two softly spoken anthropologists. They were even more surprised when Jack didn't try to stop Daniel from disarming Jim. It was as if he knew that Jim wouldn't hurt Daniel.
"There's something dangerous there. I know that... it's the creature. I recognise the feeling."
"It's not the same," Daniel said quietly, urging Blair with his eyes to move to Jim's side and to put his hand on the gun so that it wouldn't be pointing at Teal'c. "This is Teal'c. He's a friend of ours. We need his expertise for this mission." He stepped closer, Blair closer still. They spoke quietly to him, surprised by the intensity of Jim's stare into Teal'c's eyes.
"Daniel Jackson is correct. I am able to assist you in your task," Teal'c announced. "I am also his friend. I should like to be your friend. I assume you are sensing my symbiote, even though I do not know how it is you are doing that. You are correct that it can be dangerous. However, it is still in its larval stage and is too young to do you or your friend any harm. I am not a danger to either of you... unless you prove to be a danger to my friends."
Teal'c's words seemed to shake Jim out of his zone-like state and Blair took the opportunity to disarm him.
"D, man, you have got some 'splainin' to do."
"I know. We wouldn't have told you about Teal'c's symbiote, but it would seem we have to. As before, you have to forget everything you hear."
"Sure, man. I'm kinda getting used to it. How about we have a coffee first, eh?"
"Thought you'd never ask."
Daniel turned and looked at Jack, nodding at him to take Jim into the living room, along with the others. Almost wordlessly, he and Blair headed into the kitchen and poured the ready-made coffee, Daniel finding some orange juice in the fridge that he'd give to Teal'c.
Drinks handed out, Sam gave into her curiosity. "How did you sense Junior?" she asked.
"Junior?" asked Blair.
Teal'c looked at Jack and on getting the nod, he stood up and raised his T-shirt. Jim and Blair couldn't help but gasp when they saw his pouch, the large cut X in his stomach blatantly obvious. Then they gave vent to a loud "EW!" when Junior stuck his ugly head out.
"That's what we're looking for," Daniel said. "When you met the Unas, it was possessed by a fully-grown version of one of these. Teal'c's people act as incubators for them. Um, thanks Teal'c, you should put it away now."
Teal'c bowed slightly to him and dropped his T-shirt, then he sat on the floor in front of the fireplace.
"You have many candles," he stated, looking at the grate. "Do you use them for meditation?"
"Yeah, sure," Blair agreed, nodding his head vigorously. "Most days. Do you meditate?"
"Indeed I do. I require meditation or else I will die."
"Wow. Man, I have so many questions..."
"Which will have to remain unasked," Daniel interrupted. "I understand your curiosity, B, but you can't ask anything else. Please, take it on trust. Teal'c's on our side. He'll do anything it takes to protect us. Jim, I know that Junior's freaked you out, but you have to accept that in the state it's in now, it won't be a danger. The only way it could become a danger would be if it left Teal'c, and that would only happen if something happened to him. He won't let it hurt anyone, he'd kill it before it possessed anyone, even though killing it would kill him."
Jim nodded slowly, only just about ready to trust Teal'c - and that was because Jack and Daniel seemed to know him well.
"You haven't answered my question," Sam said, rather abruptly.
"Sam, just as they can't ask us things, please accept that they have secrets too. Jim doesn't have naquada in his blood, if that's what you're worried about."
"Naq... nah, forget it," Blair shook his head. "I know. Don't ask."
Daniel beamed at him, then he said, "Please, Sam. They're on our side. Jack and I know how Jim sensed Junior and it's nothing sinister. All we're at liberty to say is that Jim has certain... talents which he will utilise for our benefit if necessary. Um, Jim," he turned back to the detective. "You can be assured that should your abilities become apparent, Sam and Teal'c will say nothing to anyone about it. We won't even discuss it among ourselves."
Blair nudged Jim, who sighed and then said, "Seeing as you've shared about the... creature," he shuddered, "I guess it's only fair that I tell you. I have enhanced senses."
"Wow," Sam replied, the scientist in her becoming very excited. "Which ones?"
"All of them."
"Carter, down!" Jack ordered with a grin. He looked at Jim and shrugged. "Another scientist," he said in explanation. "First sign of something interesting and she's champing at the bit."
Sam kicked out at him and caught his ankle, making the others laugh.
"Hey! Who's the superior officer around here?"
"Well, you're the ranking officer," Daniel replied, looking at his fingernails as if they held the mysteries of the universe. "Not so sure about superior."
"You wait, Jackson," Jack muttered. "I'll get you for that."
"Promises, promises," Daniel muttered, hoping that the others wouldn't hear. Jim did and grinned, then his face took on a question. Daniel read his face and shook his head ever so slightly. No, they didn't know about Jack and Daniel and they weren't to know, either. A tiny nod from Jim told him that the message had been received and understood.
"So, what sort of scientist are you?" Blair asked, unaware of the silent conversation.
"Physicist," Sam replied.
"Astro," she said. "Um, I'm a bit of an engineer, too."
"A bit of one? She's a brilliant engineer," Daniel put in.
"This team of yours is a bit strange, Jack," Jim said. "I had people with specialities, but a multi-skilled physicist, an equally multi-skilled anthropologist... and, er, Teal'c? What's your speciality?"
"I used to be First Prime to our enemy. I know their military tactics and other related information."
"First Prime?" Blair asked.
"Uh, a general," Daniel translated. "Which makes him the superior officer, Jack."
"Indeed it does," Teal'c put in.
Jack muttered, "Yeah, well, tell that to the Air Force."
With a deadpan face Teal'c replied, "I shall."
Daniel started laughing, the Jack and Sam joining in, leaving Jim and Blair amused but confused.
"Jaffa humour," Daniel explained. "Uh, it takes some getting used to."
"Jack, you still haven't explained why the abilities?"
"I can't. Just suffice it to say I need them all equally and leave it at that, shall we? Now, don't you think we should discuss everything you've found out and fix up a plan of action?"
"Of course. We've been watching him for the last week or so. Last night, we couldn't as we were sent on a stake-out."
Blair muttered something under his breath, making Jim laugh but the others missed it.
"It wasn't exactly successful," he explained. "Up until now, we've only been able to watch him in the evening. He works here," he handed them a piece of paper with some addresses written on it and pointed to the top one, "on an early day shift, then goes here," pointing to another. "Well, we think he goes there. We can't tell our captain that we're watching him and we can't get the time off to do it, either. We've been able to watch him throughout the evening and all we've seen him do is take things..."
"What things?" asked Jack.
"Boxes, bits of furniture, lots of stuff," Jim replied, then continued. "He takes them into an abandoned warehouse near the wharf. We haven't tried to get inside it yet. We figured that we should wait for you before we did that. Besides, he hasn't done anything wrong that we can tell, so we couldn't do it lawfully, with a warrant."
"Yeah, well, we won't worry about warrants," Jack muttered. "If this is a snake, we're going to have to take him out. Trust me when I say that lawyers will be the least of our worries."
With a sigh, Jim told them every single detail of what they knew and what they suspected, ending by showing them all pictures of the guy taken at the warehouse so they would know what he looked like if they met up.
Sam and Teal'c took the car to the nearest motel, Daniel hinting that he wanted to spend some time with his 'little brother'. Jim said he'd give Jack and Daniel a lift over later, so Sam said she'd book the rooms.
When they left, Jack reached out to Daniel and wrapped his arm around him, hugging him close.
"You can't tell them?" Blair asked, taking the beer bottle that Jim offered.
Jack took one too, Daniel taking one to be polite though he didn't really like beer.
"No," Daniel sighed. "And not because we don't believe they'd keep a secret."
Blair noticed the tension in Daniel's voice as he said that and questioned him.
Daniel shook his head, unwilling to start an argument with Jack at that moment.
"I'll tell her," Jack sighed. "Promise. I'll get it sorted out with her."
"Jack? What's up?" Jim pushed.
"Carter. She seems to think that there's something between us. Not that she's fantasising or anything... well, not exactly."
"I'm confused," Blair moaned.
"After a near-death experience," Daniel tried to explain without giving any details away. "She and Jack were... hypnotised." He figured that was close enough to the Tok'ra memory retrieval device's function and Jack nodded in agreement. "Jack, needing to say everything that was on his mind for reasons I can't go into, said that he wouldn't have left her behind because he cared too much for her. Which was the truth. I wouldn't have left her behind for the same reason, and neither would Teal'c. I mean, we were close by, too, and if that bomb had gone off..."
He tensed up and Jack hugged him even closer.
"I told you to get out of there," he muttered.
"Would you have gone?" Daniel whispered back.
Jack shook his head. "Course not. I couldn't leave you."
"Daniel? What happened then?" Blair asked, trying to get them past that moment.
"She read too much into it. She thinks he's in love with her. She's got a crush on him, has had it for some years in fact. I don't think it's anything more than that. She's far too professional to do anything about it, so I think it's just a harmless thing from her point of view. I thought she'd gotten over it, but it would seem she hasn't. But, given the laws and so on, if she were to find out about us, there's no telling how she would react. Either she'd shrug it off and be 'big sister' to me, or she'd be so jealous she would ruin Jack."
"You can't take the chance," Jim nodded in understanding.
"And it's driving a wedge between you?" Blair asked, surprising Jack with his perception.
"I guess. I don't want it to. But how in hell's name do I clear it up with her? What if she does do the woman scorned thing? She might start watching my every move! I wouldn't be able to see Daniel. As it is, she knows we see each other all the time and she won't suspect anything because we've always done it. I'm just worried that pushing the subject might make her look closer at us."
Daniel sighed, understanding Jack's position but still hating the situation they were in. Blair saw it and reached over, taking Daniel's hand in his.
"D, nothing in life that's worth having is easy. And if it's worth having, it's worth fighting for."
"I know. I'll put up with the situation for now. But we have to sort something out." He looked at Jack, his eyes pleading with him to agree. Jack just nodded, afraid to say too much.
"So, have you guys come out at work?" Jack asked, trying to turn the tables on Jim and Blair.
"Not exactly," Jim admitted. "It's easier for us in that everyone knows we live together. I'm pretty sure that our closest friends know we're together, too, but because we have rules about romantically involved couples not being able to work together, we can't say anything. It has nothing to do with us both being guys, it's a general rule. Simon, our captain, would do what he could to help us, knowing what he knows about me and so on, but it would put him in an awkward position."
There were sighs all round, followed by another yawn from Daniel.
"Come on, Daniel," Jack urged. "Let's go to the motel. We'll have an early night and then start looking for this guy tomorrow. We'll go to his workplace first and then watch him for the entire day. If Carter, Teal'c or Jim can get close enough to him, maybe they'll be able to sense if there really is a snake in his head."
The others physically shuddered at Jack's words but they said nothing. Daniel just nodded, then he stood up, getting ready to go.
"By the way, Daniel. How did you get that bruise or whatever it is on your forehead?" Blair asked, standing up next to him.
"Uh, on the last mission. Can't say any more than that, sorry. God I hate this secrecy shit!" he exploded.
"I know, Daniel," Jack soothed, on his feet in moments as he saw the tension running through Daniel's body. He held him close, knowing that touch calmed Daniel quicker than anything else. "I hate it too. But you know that the less they know, the more we're protecting them."
Daniel turned in Jack's arms until his head was laying on Jack's shoulder, letting Jack hold him even closer still.
"Yeah," he whispered. "I know. It's just frustrating, that's all. Sorry, guys," he offered.
They shrugged it off, then Blair put out his hands and Daniel broke from Jack's hug, stepping into the one offered by Blair. He relaxed a little more as the familiar sensation of a hug by Blair permeated through his body.
Jim and Jack stepped away from them, letting the old friends reconnect, surprisingly not jealous at their closeness.
"If it were anyone else," Jack started, grinning wryly at Jim.
Jim nodded. "I'd rip them apart," Jim finished. "I just can't get jealous about Daniel - and I've actually tried to."
"Me too," Jack admitted. "But Daniel's gotten few enough friends from his past, at least ones that would stick by him no matter what. No way would I deny him the ones he has."
Then Jack called out, "Come on, Daniel. Time for bed."
"Promises, promises," Daniel snickered, this time a lot louder.
He dropped a kiss on Blair's cheek and winked at him before letting him go.
"See you tomorrow."
Blair watched as Jim left to drive them to the motel. He went straight to the window and watched as they got into the truck, not taking his eyes off the familiar vehicle as it went down the road. Only when it was out of sight did he turn and go back inside.
"There you are," Sam said as they pulled into the motel's car park. "I've been wondering when you would turn up. We've got to share, guys. There were only two rooms, but they are twins and they're next to each other. Do you mind sharing?"
Jack had to fight down a smirk. Of course he wouldn't. Somehow, sharing always ended up like this, with him and Daniel together, and Sam with Teal'c.
"Not a problem, Carter," he said out loud. "I think that Rip Van Winkle here would sleep in a convention centre at the moment."
It was a mark of how tired Daniel was that he didn't even reply. The after-effects of the ribbon device were still there. It made him sleepy for days and he never seemed to be able to get enough rest. Jack was naturally worried about him, but he did his best to hide it. He knew that Daniel would do everything in his power to stay awake when needed, so he encouraged him to sleep in every spare moment.
Jim said goodbye as Jack took the key from Sam and they waved him off as the truck disappeared out of the car park.
"You hungry, Daniel?"
Daniel shook his head. "Tomorrow. I'll eat tomorrow."
"Okay. Carter, why don't you get something for the three of us delivered? I'll come into your room when Daniel's been settled in."
He wouldn't let Daniel argue, just led him into the room, shutting the door and then the blinds on the windows straight away. By the time Daniel had come out of the bathroom where he'd gone to quickly get ready for bed, Jack had unpacked what he would sleep in, unpacked his own sleep wear and put it on the other bed so that he wouldn't disturb Daniel later on.
"Let me help," he said quietly as Daniel fumbled with the buttons on his shirt.
"I can do it," Daniel growled.
"I know. But I like undressing you."
Daniel snorted, then said, "I'm sorry, Jack. I'm not up to..."
"Aht! Did I say I wanted more?"
"Well then. Let me, please."
Daniel sighed and then consented, letting Jack do whatever he wanted. He was just too damned tired to argue anyway. Besides, there was something wonderful about having someone take care of him.
He felt his top clothes come off, felt himself being pushed gently to sit on the bed, felt his shoes being undone, his zip lowered...
It was like he was dreaming. His eyes were shut, his body thrumming as Jack gently and reverently finished undressing him. He couldn't help himself, he got hard as he got naked. It was Jack's fault, he decided. He was running his lips over Daniel's legs, then up over his chest, barely touching him but making his skin break out in goose-pimples, his nipples hardening, his cock stiffening rapidly despite his exhaustion.
Jack noticed, of course, and he figured he knew just how to give Daniel a good night's sleep. He picked up Daniel's shorts and put them over his feet then pulled them almost all the way up. Somehow, he managed to get Daniel into a reasonably good sleeping position, then he started up with the soft kisses again. Daniel wasn't really with him, his mind was on a different plane. The only noises Daniel made were quiet grunts and groans as Jack hit particular spots on his body. When he got close enough, Jack struck. He lowered his head and took Daniel's cock into his mouth; slowly, inch by inch, bit by bit, he worked his way down, taking as much as he could inside him. Daniel gasped, his hands automatically stretching out and grabbing at the sheets, his knuckles whitening as he grasped them hard. Jack knew this would have to be quick, that the others would be waiting for him, so he worked hard. His tongue stroked the shaft, his fingers roamed, pinching Daniel's nipples with one hand, stroking the skin behind his balls with the other. As tired as he was, Daniel had no control over his body and it was only the matter of a minute or two before he started to pour down Jack's throat.
When it was all over, Jack slowly pulled away from him and looked up. Daniel was out for the count.
Mission accomplished and willing his own hard cock to subside, he hitched Daniel's shorts all the way up, pulled up the cover and, grabbing the key to the room (and checking himself in the mirror for any incriminating signs), he left the room, knocking on the next room's door a couple of seconds later.
"Daniel looks like shit," Blair said as Jim sat down on the sofa next to him. They had just finished eating a large meal to make up for the other meals they'd missed that day. "I'm really worried, Jim."
"I know, Chief. But Jack wouldn't have let him come if he didn't think he could cope."
"True. I wonder what happened to him."
"I have no idea. Best not speculate, either." He wrapped his arm around Blair's shoulder and then asked, "How are you? Still tired?"
"Not too bad," Blair replied, fighting down a yawn. They'd been working long hours all week and the lack of sleep the night before was still affecting him. Jim, too, was almost tired enough to go to sleep - almost, but not quite.
He stood up and put his hand out to his lover, Blair taking it automatically.
"What's up?" Blair asked.
"Me. Come on, let's make ourselves really sleepy, shall we?"
Blair couldn't help but laugh out loud, but he let himself be led up the stairs.
Lying naked on the bed, Blair looked up at Jim who was currently getting undressed. He had to agree with the part of his brain that was turning to mush as he watched. 'Damn', he thought, 'he is one hot man.'
"What were you and Jack talking about when Daniel and I were, um, saying goodbye," he asked, needing to take his mind off Jim's striptease or else he was going to come on the spot.
To his surprise, Jim blushed slightly.
"Uh..." Jim shook himself, realising that he had to tell the truth or else Blair would see through him. "We were just saying that we didn't get jealous about your relationship. That if you were hugging someone else - or Daniel was - both of us would go nuts." Feeling slightly stupid for admitting his jealousy, he shrugged, as if he was able to shrug it off.
"Jealous? You? Never!" Blair's voice was teasing and Jim was confused.
"Jim, don't you think that I know? Puh-lease, man, how long have I known you?"
"Oh." Jim didn't know what else to say. Instead, he sat down on the edge of the bed. Blair got up onto his knees and knelt behind him, rubbing his body against Jim's back.
"Jim, you've been jealous of anyone having anything to do with me since I moved in with you. It's okay. You don't go too crazy if I talk to someone else. I'm just glad you don't go nuts if I'm with Daniel."
"Yeah, well, I trust you with him. Not that I don't trust you," he added hurriedly. "It's the other people I don't trust."
"What other people, Jim?"
Jim turned in Blair's arms and looked sheepish. "Most of the rest of the world."
Blair surprised him by falling on his back, laughing his head off.
"Man, you have got it bad," he crowed.
"And you haven't?" Jim pointed at Blair's dick, which had stubbornly refused to drop, despite his laughter.
"I never said I didn't," Blair purred. "Why don't you come here and see just how bad I can be?"
Jim figured that was the best idea Blair had had in a while and joined him, lying over him but holding his weight off Blair, his arm muscles standing proud as he held himself up.
Blair looked at the tops of Jim's arms and shivered. Despite his distaste for bodybuilders, real muscles had always turned him on. Ones earned in life. He knew that Jim worked out in the gym but his strength was genuine, used in the field. He'd always had a thing for men that worked physically hard, like builders, firemen, cops... He shivered again as the sheer power that Jim exuded got him impossibly hard.
"Chief? What's wrong?" Jim asked, noticing the fact that Blair's body was shuddering and that he couldn't seem to take his eyes off his biceps.
"Nothing," Blair whispered. "Nothing's wrong. Just..."
He ran out of words, so he let his body do the talking. His fingers raised up and started to stroke Jim's muscles softly, then he lifted himself enough so that his lips could copy their actions.
"Have you any idea," he purred when he finished, "just how fucking hot you are? Look at you. Jeez, Jim..."
Jim got the message and holding himself up on his knees and one arm, he wrapped the other arm around Blair's waist and lifted him until they were face to face. Then he kissed him - possessed him. He wouldn't let Blair react, he just decided that that night, he was going to own him. Somehow, he knew that that was what Blair wanted.
Over the past few months, Jim had gone out of his way to not be too territorial. Blair was a fully-grown, independent man and, in Jim's mind, he would be denying that if he acted the way he wanted to. But now instinct was taking over. He wasn't sure if it was a sentinel thing or a lover thing, but he needed to own Blair, to mark him, to show the rest of the world that Blair belonged to him and that no one else could have him. A little bit of his conscience was fighting that idea, right up until the point where he'd stopped kissing Blair and was now staring in his eyes.
Blair looked right back, seemed to look into Jim's mind, his soul.
"I'm all yours, big guy," he whispered. "But remember. You're mine, too. No one gets to take you away from me."
Jim heard the words, but he understood the deeper level of Blair's meaning, too. By possessing Blair, he was being possessed by him. By owning him, he, too, was owned. The final barrier between the two men - the one they hadn't even realised was there - came slamming down and Jim pounced.
Pushing Blair back onto the bed, he attached his lips to Blair's neck, biting the pulse point hard so that there would be a huge mark the following day. Then he seemed to retreat into a haze, acting only on instinct, using his senses to guide him around Blair's body in a way he hadn't done up till then. He licked, sniffed, touched every single inch of his body, just turning Blair this way and that so that he could get where he wanted. Blair realised that a switch had been thrown in Jim's mind and that he was reverting to his basic sentinel state. He also realised that it was important that he just let it happen. Not that he wasn't enjoying it; far from it. This was turning into one of the most intense bedtimes they'd ever had.
He moaned, groaned, gasped and giggled as Jim explored his body. When Jim turned him face down and started to work on his ass he groaned even louder, using the pillow to muffle the noise. But when Jim ran his hands over his cheeks and pulled them apart, licking a stripe from behind Blair's balls and up to his back, he screamed. His reaction didn't seem to change anything for Jim, who carried on as if nothing was happening. He'd never rimmed Blair before, had in fact objected when Blair had done it to him; much as he'd enjoyed it, he was very leery of it. But now, now it was different. He needed to be there, to know every millimetre of his guide. Pushing his tongue past the ring of muscle, he started to soak the area with spit, loosening the ring, pushing harder...
Blair couldn't help it, he came. His body thrashed around, the sensations seeming to take over every single nerve ending in his body. The noises from Blair and the smell of semen as it assaulted Jim's nose spurred him into further action. He reached for the lube - having just about enough wherewithal to remember to use that - covered himself up, lifted Blair up to his knees and pushed inside him.
Just as before, this wasn't really about getting off, this was about marking his territory. With one arm around Blair's waist, the other hand gripping Blair's leg hard, he fucked Blair harder than he'd ever been fucked before.
Blair wasn't really with it. He knew what was happening to him, the exquisite pain in his ass graphically illustrating it, but his head was elsewhere. He felt like he'd been drinking all night, at that state where you're aware of what's going on but unable to do anything about it. He didn't care, it was incredible. Amazing. Mind-blowing.
Jim finally couldn't take any more and he came with a roar that would wake the dead. He pulled out of Blair and flipped him onto his back, saw that Blair was hard again and dropped his head down, swallowing him whole. He poked two fingers inside Blair's already abused ass and looked for the gland, fucking Blair with his fingers as he sucked harder and harder. The moment he found it, he sucked again and got his reward.
Blair lay on his back, sightlessly staring at the ceiling. His arms were splayed wide, he was panting, but otherwise, he was unresponsive. Jim seemed to awaken, as if he'd been acting in his sleep. Seeing Blair like that, he panicked for a moment, then dialled up his hearing and heard the steady - if very fast - beat of his heart.
"Blair? You okay?"
His words seemed to get through to his lover and he saw a raised thumb from one of Blair's hands. He started laughing, sat back on his heels and then froze.
"Er, Chief, we need to talk."
Those words shocked Blair and he somehow found the strength to sit up.
"What's up? And if the answer is you, I'm afraid you're going to have to do something about it yourself. I'm way past helping out," Blair chuckled.
"No, it's not that. I... shit... I didn't use a condom, Chief. I don't know what I was thinking. Hell, I wasn't thinking. How stupid could I get?"
Blair shut him up by launching himself into Jim's arms.
"Jim. Honey. Sweetiepie." The use of endearments never before heard in the loft seemed to shake Jim and Blair then knew he had his attention. "That's better. Now, before you go off on your latest guilt trip, answer me this. Are you clean?"
"And so am I. I've never gone bareback in my life. Somehow I don't think that it's the end of the world, do you?"
Jim shook his head slowly.
"Jim, you weren't yourself. The primitive sentinel took over. You were acting instinctively, not logically. I'm not complaining, by the way. I've just had my brains fucked out better than I've ever had in my life. Who knew you could be such a brute?" His voice was light and teasing and Jim succumbed to his mood. He pulled Blair so that he was almost sitting on his thighs.
"Brute, eh? Didn't know you liked that caveman act."
"You can act as a caveman?" Blair answered, his eyes twinkling with mischief. "Great! A friend of mine's got a costume shop. I'll grow my hair again, you can rent the loincloth and we can play cavemen. You get to drag me off to your cave by my hair."
Jim burst out laughing, the image Blair was conjuring up in his mind overwhelming him.
"I'm crazy in love with a primitive throwback," Blair retorted, his lips right next to Jim's. "What do you think?"
"I think I'm crazy in love with a lunatic."
"Sounds good to me. Come on, let's clean up and hit the sack. We've got a long day coming up tomorrow."
Jim couldn't help but smile broadly as Blair made himself at home on his chest, the hair on Blair's body tickling him to the point where he had to turn his sense of touch down or giggle. He wouldn't let go of him, though. That was never going to happen.
Sam knocked on the door of Jack and Daniel's motel room not long after dawn broke. There was no answer, not even a shout, so she tried to look through the small crack between the side of the window and the beginning of the blind. As soon as she did, she realised that she shouldn't have looked. They were sharing a bed, Daniel curled up and being hugged by Jack. Shocked, she banged on the door again, finally getting Jack to wake up.
He shot out of the bed, realised that his own bed hadn't been slept in at all and his heart sank. There was no time to do anything to make it look like he'd been in it, especially as he was reluctant to wake Daniel up just yet. Thinking quickly, he opened the door, looking furiously at Sam as she came into view.
"Dammit, Carter!" he hissed, looking particularly rumpled in his nightwear. "You'll wake Daniel."
"That's the idea," she hissed back. Her tone of voice told Jack that she'd figured something out - something she didn't like.
"Look, go into your room, let me get some clothes on. I'll be there in a minute."
Not letting her argue, he shut the door on her, grabbed some clothes and got changed, then turned up on her doorstep moments later.
She opened the door, a look of fury still on her face.
"Carter? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
About to say 'nothing' to keep the peace, her mouth ran away with her.
"I saw you in bed with Daniel." Her tone was accusing.
Jack, however, was ready for it and he rolled his eyes.
"He was having a nightmare when I returned to the room after we had supper," he said calmly. "Now, seein' as he's recently lost another important woman in his life," he lied - Sarah hadn't been that important to Daniel, but Sam didn't know that, "and seein' as he's just had his brains fried again, I'm not surprised he was tossing and turning and calling out to Shau're, are you?"
She was brought up short by Jack's words and started to feel a little guilty.
"Now, Daniel and I have shared tents for years. He's stayed at my place on many occasions, and often after a traumatic mission. I know that the only way to stop him screaming the place down is to hold him close. I don't know who he thinks I am, but he calms immediately. I don't know about you, Carter, but I am grown up enough to accept being used as a teddy bear, if only to give him - and myself - a quiet night's sleep."
"Oh. I... I'm sorry," she stammered.
Jack saw an opening for him and he inwardly grinned. "If you were thinking that I was having some sort of relationship with him, you're way off the mark. I never have relationships with teammates. No matter what."
He knew he was lying. Sure, it was a rule he had always applied strictly, but Daniel was different. They were different. The only difference between them having a relationship and not having one was that they had sex whenever they could. Everything else was the same. Jack didn't love Daniel any more than he had done before - he'd loved him enough to die for him before they'd so much as kissed. It was the same for Daniel. They spent the same amount of time together, did the same sort of things together, still bitched at each other... If Jack had started up a relationship with Sam, it would have been very different.
Jack's words permeated her brain and the final nail in the coffin which held her fantasy about her and him was hammered in tightly. Sadly, she nodded.
"I'm sorry," she repeated. "It's early. Next time, I'll ask first."
"You do that, Carter. Now, is there any coffee or breakfast ready? I want to take it into Daniel before he wakes up. Don't know about you, but I don't like getting my head bitten off."
She smiled and agreed. One of the reasons she'd knocked at that time was that steaming take-out mugs of coffee and fresh bagels were waiting for the men. Gratefully, Jack took them and headed back to his own room, preparing himself to deal with Daniel the Dragon.
Gently, Jack nudged Daniel until he woke. He still looked dire, but better than he had done the day before.
"There's a coffee waiting, and some food," Jack said quietly. "It's time to get up, Daniel."
Reluctantly, Daniel sat up, grabbing the coffee and sipping at it.
"We'll have to be careful," Jack said evenly after Daniel had had a few mouthfuls.
"Carter saw us in bed together," he admitted. "She must have seen something through the window. I told her you were having a nightmare."
"Oh. Did she buy it?"
"I think so. I lied through my teeth..." He told Daniel what he'd said to Sam and Daniel was stunned, but happier.
"Good thinking, Jack. You're right, we'll have to be careful."
"We just have to be us, Daniel. Okay, no holding hands or kissing in front of her," he teased, earning himself a soft punch in the arm for his trouble, "but we'll just be the way we are. Friends."
"Sounds okay to me, Jack. If a little frustrating. Tonight, unless I really have a nightmare, you'd better sleep in that bed," he sighed, pointing to the unused one.
"That's the plan."
Daniel took a few more mouthfuls of coffee then asked, "So, what is the plan for today?" forgetting what they'd discussed the night before.
"We're just waiting for Jim and Blair to turn up, then we go on a snake hunt."
All six were ready to go, wondering what the day had in store for them all. They figured that having the talents and knowledge equally split would be useful, so Daniel and Jack joined Jim in the truck, Blair joining Teal'c and Sam in the car. Blair could give them directions if they lost sight of the truck and he'd be well-protected by the two warriors who were used to dealing with the Goa'uld.
The first place they were going to visit was Forman's place of work. It didn't take them long to reach it, either and soon they were sitting in the empty car park.
"How about one of us goes in there to see if he's there?" Daniel asked as they met outside the vehicles.
"I'd rather two went," Jack replied.
"We'll do it," Blair said, pointing at Jim and himself. "We can say that he's been mentioned as being in an area where a crime was committed and we want to know if he saw something. It's pretty innocent. Witnesses are sought all the time."
"But you won't know if he's really a snake," Jack put in.
"Yes they will, Jack," Daniel interrupted. "Remember what happened when Jim sensed Junior?"
"Okay, but what if he overreacts again?"
"I'll go with Blair," Sam said firmly. "He can show his badge, I'll know if he's a snake."
They weren't mentioning the word 'Goa'uld' as it was something the detectives hadn't heard, and on the grounds that the less they knew, even now, the safer they'd be later on.
"Fine. Keep your radio switched on," Jack started.
"Uh, Jack, they won't need to," Jim replied, pointing to his ear. He didn't want anything to so much as drop a hint to their target that Blair had a lot of back-up, just in case it prompted him to react and hurt him.
"What if you... what was it you called it?"
"Zone," Blair stated. "He shouldn't. Uh, Daniel, maybe you can stop him?"
Blair indicated that they should go to the other side of the truck, away from the others. Confused, Daniel followed him. He was even more confused when Blair pulled him close for a hug.
"He'll be able to smell me on you," Blair murmured. "Trust me, that should do it."
Daniel grinned and nodded, then he put his face next to Blair's and rubbed his skin on Blair's cheek.
"That should pick up some more scent," he whispered.
Blair laughed out loud, then let him go. In the motel room earlier, Daniel had taken him to one side and told him about Sam's reaction that morning, so he was trying to keep their history under wraps, too, to protect Daniel.
"Come on," Blair said as he reappeared from the other side of the truck. "Let's go see if there's anyone in."
The shop wasn't yet opened, but there were workers there, preparing the shop for the customers. Blair knocked on the door, holding up his detective's ID when someone appeared. The woman inside the shop indicated that they should go around the back, so they went, Blair giving a sotto voce running commentary for Jim as he went.
Daniel, meanwhile, was standing right behind Jim, his hand on Jim's shoulder as he'd seen Blair do. Jim managed to sort out Blair's scent on Daniel and he couldn't help but smile when he realised what the men had done. Blair was right, it was grounding him. It was also assisting him to keep tabs on his partner who was currently waiting at the back door with Sam.
"Come on, come on," Blair muttered impatiently.
Sam grinned as she watched him then decided to question him to keep him occupied.
"You've known Daniel a long time?" she asked.
"Uh, yeah. Over twenty years."
"Wow. Good friends, then?"
"The best. He's one cool guy."
"I've heard him described as many things, but never cool," she laughed.
"You'd be surprised," Blair retorted.
Sam was about to question his response when the door opened and she got a grandstand view of Blair at work.
The same woman opened the door and Blair smiled blindingly at her, flashing his badge as he did.
"Good morning," he said cheerfully. "My name is Detective Sandburg and this is my associate, Detective Carter." Sam smiled as sweetly as she could but offered no ID of her own. "I was wondering if you could help me."
"How?" asked the woman suspiciously.
To allay her curiosity, Blair came up with a cover story.
"I understand that one of your colleagues here was recently in the forest nearby. I really hope he's here as he may well have been an unwitting witness to a crime."
"Oh?" Her eyes opened wide and she was now wanting juicy details, but she wasn't going to get many.
"Yeah. Uh, his name is Eric Forman. Is he here?"
Then her face fell into a scowl.
"No, he left about a few weeks ago," she almost snarled. "Didn't turn up for work on his first day back from a weekend off and when the boss phoned him up, he acted like he was too high and mighty for this place."
"Why?" Blair asked, although he knew. "Surely working here is good, honest work. Nothing wrong with that, is there?"
"So you'd think," she agreed, glad that he saw it like that. "But all of a sudden, he was... snooty. That's the only way I can describe it. Well, that's the way the boss described it. The boss was really cross because Eric quit before he could be fired. Of course, we were the ones that paid for that little showdown."
Blair leaned in a little conspiratorially. "Tell me about it," he muttered. "If anything goes wrong at work, the Captain... sheesh," he shook his head and rolled his eyes, making her laugh. Then he asked, "So have you any idea where he is?"
"At his mother's?" she suggested. "He's a real mother's boy."
"Thanks," he answered brightly. "I'll try it. Sorry to have disturbed you."
"No problem," she shrugged, then she took her turn at leaning forward. "Are you sure you just think he's a witness? You can tell me if he's been up to something. I won't tell anyone. I've always thought that boy would be in trouble one day. He was always saying he'd be someone."
"'Fraid not," Blair chuckled. "He hasn't done anything that I'm aware of."
They said goodbye and when they stepped away from the building, Blair turned to Sam and asked, "What's up? You froze when she said he would get into trouble."
"I..." she started. "Hang on, let's get to the others. No point in discussing this twice."
Blair knew that the others would already know the news by the time they reached them, so he didn't bother filling them in. Instead he looked at Sam and raised his eyebrows, urging her to speak.
"I think that the snake's found himself the perfect host. At least a willing one," she moaned.
"Why?" Daniel asked, confused as to why anyone would willingly join with a Goa'uld.
"Think about it. We're assuming that he met up with the snake in its previous host. Maybe because that hadn't been anywhere near a... you know what," she said, looked with a pained expression at Jack, Daniel and Teal'c. "It needed a new host. If it talked to him, promised him that he'd be someone. Someone important. Maybe he'd have figured it was his way out of this." She pointed at the supermarket behind her and they got the message.
Jim, however, was as confused as Blair.
"What would it have been away from? And why would it need a new host?"
Daniel looked at Jack, his eyes begging him to let him explain. Jack's own eyes apologised for not allowing it, at the same time saying 'throw them a bone'.
"A device that extends the lifespan of the host and symbiote," he said carefully. "If used over a long period of time, it literally takes away the soul and only leaves the innate evil behind. The more the host is put in one, the more it needs one. Without one, it can survive only a matter of a short time. The creature had been here for about three years. It must have been desperate for a new host. Forman has never been... er... well, in the device," he explained. "So he won't need one. Not sure what it's going to do to the symbiote. At a guess, though, if the host it was in was beyond repair, there's every chance that the symbiote's going to be losing a certain grip on reality."
His companions went white at that, especially Jack. He remembered all too well Daniel's withdrawal from a few days' use of the sarcophagus. What would it have been like for the snake? Did they go through it?
"Where do we go now?" Blair asked, trying to get them to move past whatever seemed to be hurting his friend. "Do we try his mother or go straight to the warehouse?"
"I guess the warehouse," Jack answered. "Can't see him hanging around with his mother somehow. Besides, if she didn't know he'd quit his job, chances are he's been leaving the house early each day as he would have done and just going off and doing whatever it is he's doing."
The others shrugged and without another word, got back in the cars.
"Are you sure they were told to come here, Connor?" Simon asked as he watched the apparently empty warehouse. They'd been there all night and hadn't had as much as a bite.
"You heard the man, Captain," she sighed.
The previous afternoon, they'd pounded the streets in the area that the reports of the missing youths had come from and had met up with a young guy, about eighteen years old, who'd happily told them about the enthralling man who'd spoken to him earlier in the day. He'd given the jobless youth a vision of something better, a life worth living, if only he went to the temple at the old warehouses. Unfortunately, Simon and Megan had been called to another case as they were about to follow him down, so instead, they'd warned him off going there, saying that things that seemed too good to be true usually were, and only arrived at the warehouse after dealing with the call. By then, there was no one to be seen. It was dark, the doors were locked and there was no sound coming from it.
Simon had had a choice. Go try to get a warrant to enter it, with only circumstantial evidence that something was going on in there, or wait until he had more concrete evidence. Given that he had only himself and Megan with which to find the evidence, everyone else being too tied up or off duty, he'd resigned himself to a long night watching. They'd taken it in turns, staying awake for a few hours, sleeping in the back of Simon's car when the other was watching. It was morning now and they were both cold, hungry and tired, yet both were also unwilling to leave the place, detective's gut instinct telling them that they were right to stay.
Both were shocked when they saw Jim's truck pull up across the way, another car stopping right next to it.
"Uh, Captain? Is that who I think it is?" Megan asked, her voice thick with sleep.
"Well, if you think that it's Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, you're wrong," he retorted.
She climbed over the seat and into the passenger side of the front and poked him in the arm.
"If they're here..." she started.
"They know something's up," he finished for her. "What I want to know is, who in hell's name are those people with them?"
"Guess there's only one way to find out," she muttered.
"Is that Simon?" Blair asked, pointing towards the captain's car.
Jim looked across the way and saw what Blair was pointing at, focussed his vision and realised who was there.
"Sure is, Chief. And Connor. I wonder what they're doing here?"
"Maybe it's the same thing that we're doing?"
"I don't know. Heads up," he called out. "We've got company." He told the others who it was and they relaxed a little, knowing them now to be friends and not foes, though they were as confused as their friends.
Simon's car pulled up by theirs and then stopped. All six waited for them to emerge from the car, standing together as one.
"Captain," Blair called out as Simon shut the door. "Megan. What are you doing here?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing," Simon said warily, looking at SG-1 curiously. "Who are your friends?"
"Uh, I'll introduce you all," Blair answered. "Captain Simon Banks, Inspector Megan Connor, these are Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Sam Carter, Teal'c and Doctor Daniel Jackson," he said, pointing to each in turn. "They're investigating something on behalf of the Air Force and they've asked for our assistance. Um, Daniel and I are old friends," he added, by way of mitigation.
"May I ask what you're investigating?" Simon asked, his back going up at the mention of the military. Since Oliver's attack on Jim, he was wary of government organisations suddenly turning up in his backyard, yet he was also confused as Jim's body language told him that he was relaxed with them.
"Uh, that would be a 'no'," Jack replied glibly.
Daniel nudged him in the ribs.
"I'm sorry, Captain Banks, but it's classified. Even Jim and Blair don't know the whole story."
He looked at Jim, turning his head away from Simon and whispered, "Do they know about you?"
Jim nodded slightly and Daniel relaxed.
"Now you see, that's something that strikes me as being odd," Simon said. "Ellison not questioning your need for his help? Nope, doesn't sound right to me."
"It's okay, Simon," Jim soothed. "I know enough to know that I don't want to know any more. Why are you here?"
Stunned by Jim's apparent acceptance of the 'classified' argument (even though he knew about Jim's background, his distaste for covert ops had grown over the years and Simon knew it), Simon answered him without thinking.
"Some youths have been disappearing. Apparently they've been going to a temple here and then not been seen again. Okay, they're often street kids, so they could be turning up somewhere else, but..."
"But they haven't," Daniel sighed. "And they won't. He's looking for a retinue."
The others looked at him in confusion; Simon and Megan because they hadn't got a clue what he was talking about, Jim and Blair because they didn't understand why. The rest of SG-1 moaned.
"Seth," Jack spat.
"Yeah. It's going to be that all over again if we're not careful." Daniel turned to Simon and smiled so sweetly that he got in under the hardened captain's radar. "We'll take it from here, Captain," he said. "Now we know what he's up to, we should be able to rescue them. If it's any consolation, I'm pretty certain they're all alive, if a touch, er, brainwashed. We've dealt with this before. We know what to do."
Simon looked at him suspiciously. "I'm sure you could do with some help," he tried.
"Captain, the fewer we have, the safer," Jim argued. "This isn't going to be a case of flooding the area with cops... is it?" He turned to look at Jack who nodded in agreement. After the problems he'd had with the ATF before, he wasn't keen on the idea of involving another force.
"No, we'll call in our own people if we think we need back-up."
"We promise not to tread on your toes more than necessary, Captain. I know it's your turf," Daniel added. "I know you don't want things going on that you don't know about. I understand that. We all do. But you have to believe me. Having you here is going to make things more difficult. We know what we're up against. Jim and Blair have their own... abilities..." He waved his hands in their direction. "They'll be safe. I know you're a trained man, and I know you're more than capable of taking care of yourself, but this is different. This man isn't a criminal, Captain. Not in the way you imagine. No law can be used against him."
"If he's abducting people," Simon started.
"No, Captain," Blair interrupted. "He isn't. Exactly. Is he?" he looked at Daniel who shook his head in agreement.
"There is something you could do," Jack suddenly put in. "Uh, Captain, Inspector..." Assured he had their attention, he continued. "Can you check out the background of the guy we're watching? Eric Forman. Uh, Ellison? You got his address there?"
"Yeah, 458 Olympic Street. His mother made an initial report about him acting strangely, which is why we're involved in this."
"Why didn't I hear about it?" Simon demanded.
"Because we didn't make an official record of it. She didn't have anything other than a mother's instinct that something was up with him. We promised we'd keep an eye on him."
Simon nodded slowly, almost accepting that explanation.
"Well," Jack got their attention again. "If you could check out his house? Maybe he's still there? Don't under any circumstances confront him if he is. The safest option for all concerned will be if you can speak to his mother alone to see where he is. If you find anything out, call Ellison or Sandburg. If there's no joy there, see if you can find anything out about credit card actions, bank statements, phone records... anything that may tell us what he's doing."
Simon and Megan didn't look too happy about it so Daniel urged them.
"Please," he begged. "It may give us the clue we need."
Reluctantly - and under the pleading gazes of Blair and Jim - Simon backed down. It wasn't as if he didn't have other crimes to solve, and if his best team were prepared to do this on their day off, who was he to complain? It would keep his overtime spending down.
"Are you in a rush for this information?" he asked. "Only Connor and I were on watch all night."
"Go get some sleep," Jack ordered. "You won't be much use to anyone if you're dropping on the spot. Just give us a call when you have something. We'll let you know if we find anything out in the meantime."
Almost mollified, Simon nodded and nudged Megan towards his car. The six watched them as they beat a sleepy retreat, Jim and Blair worried that they wouldn't get home safely if Simon was as tired as he appeared.
"So, what now?" Sam asked.
"Now we try to get in there and see what's going on," Jack replied. "Anyone got any ideas how we're going to manage that without alerting Forman to the fact that we're here?"
He looked around and saw five heads shaking a 'no' at him. With a sigh, he started to walk around the building, the others taking the hint and setting off in different directions. Daniel went with him, Sam and Teal'c headed in the opposite direction and Jim and Blair decided that going up the outside metal staircase that seemed to lead up to an upper floor would be a good idea.
"I'm not getting a good feeling about this," Daniel murmured as they rounded a corner.
"No, me neither. I can't put my finger on it but the building is giving me the creeps," Jack agreed.
"I guess it's because it looks abandoned, yet we know he's been in here."
Halfway around the warehouse, they saw Sam and Teal'c appear around the other side.
"Found anything?" Jack called out.
"No, Sir," Sam replied.
"There is no apparent entry other than the locked door, O'Neill," Teal'c added.
"I guess we go in that way. Unless the guys have found anything."
The four made their way back to the staircase, looked up and didn't see the others.
"Blair? Jim?" Daniel called out.
There was no answer for a minute and Daniel was about to rush up the stairs when he saw Blair's head suddenly appear over the railings.
Without waiting for Jack's permission, Daniel hared off up the stairs, ignoring the sighs of impatience from his teammates. To keep him safe, they double-timed it after him.
"Daniel, how many times have I got to tell you to wait?" Jack scolded.
Daniel looked at him in confusion.
"Jim and Blair are here," he replied. "What could go wrong?"
"Ya know, that's a really stupid question," Jack growled. Then he turned to Blair and asked, "So. Found anything?"
"Not yet. Just a way in. The door's lock wasn't exactly difficult to pick. Jim's inside and looking around now. It's too dark for me to see anything."
"There are flashlights in the car, O'Neill," Teal'c reminded him.
"Great idea. Could you go get them?" he asked Sam and Daniel. "Teal'c, you can see better in the dark than I can. Have a look in there and see if you can see Jim. I'd rather we didn't go anywhere alone."
"I shall." Teal'c stepped inside and soon disappeared into the shadows.
With a shrug, Daniel made his way down the rusty staircase, Sam at his heels. When they reached the ground, Sam surprised him by stating, "You and the Colonel seem to be getting on really well again."
Daniel froze for a moment, then forced himself to answer. "You know how it is," he replied, not looking at her but heading directly for the car. "One minute we're friends..."
He hoped she'd leave it at that, but he should have known better.
"I know that," she insisted. "But it's... more."
"What do you mean?" He stopped and looked at her as he reached the car's boot.
"I don't know. It's just... When you fight, the fights are more intense. When you're not fighting, you seem closer than ever. Inseparable, even."
Daniel nodded slowly, thinking his answer out very carefully before he spoke.
"Sam. Jack and I have known each other the longest on this team. We are close. We became close on the first mission. You don't know the whole story behind that mission and to be honest, it's probably best you don't know it all. Let's just say that Jack understands my... mood swings, I guess, better than most. We fought together. I killed for the first time to protect him. It means something to us, that's all. I know that since then, I've killed to protect you and Teal'c, and that means something to me, but the first time..." He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not a soldier. You are. Teal'c is. I know that Jack is but somehow he understands me better than you guys do. He and I have a lot in common."
She laughed out loud at that.
"You don't think so?"
"No. You're nothing alike."
"We're very much alike. Believe me, if I'd joined the Air Force instead of Jack, and he'd pursued an academic career, I would be just as he is and he would be just as I am. We're both stubborn. We're both single-minded. Despite everything, we even have the same sense of humour. We have the same political views for the most part. Hell, we even like the same food! Yes, he drives me up the wall and I do the same to him, but he's my best friend. Friendships can grow as easily as they can fall apart. We're just going through one of those phases where we're resetting boundaries, that's all."
She nodded slowly, almost understanding him.
Daniel made good his escape as she pondered his words and opened the car, passing a couple of lights to her as he took them from their kit.
A few minutes later, they were back up the stairs, handing out the lights to the others. Teal'c and Jim were still inside the building and Blair was practically being restrained by Jack to prevent him from rushing after his lover.
"Teal'c will watch him, Sandburg," Jack insisted. "He'll call you if he thinks your presence is needed. Just wait, will ya?"
"You know I have to be with him," Blair argued and Jack looked to Daniel for help.
"Blair, we'll go in in a moment," Daniel soothed. "There's no point in entering a building that hasn't got anything in it, or maybe has dangerous walkways in it. Too many of us on a platform may make it collapse. I mean, look at the state of this place. It's been abandoned for a long time."
"Ya know," Jack suddenly said, "I've got a problem with this warehouse being the place that he's holing up in."
Blair stopped arguing and looked at Jack strangely.
"Why? We've seen him bringing things into this building. Day after day. Carton after carton. Some big, some small... God only knows what he was bringing in here. Jim couldn't see it."
"What, no X-ray vision?" Daniel teased gently.
Blair laughed. "No. He thinks he's Superman but I have to keep reminding him that he isn't."
"Does he have a cape?" Jack joined in with Daniel's teasing, but it only earned him a gentle punch on his arm.
The next thing they knew, a shout had gone up from Teal'c and the four piled through the door and into the dark building. Torches on, they carefully followed the walkway that seemed every bit as rickety as Daniel had imagined. They could see as they swept their lights around that the men were on the ground floor and looking at what appeared to be nothing in the centre of it. Confused, they made their way down the metal stairs and eventually all got down.
"What have you found?" Jack asked as they arrived.
"Transporter rings," Teal'c announced.
"HOW?" Sam demanded. "He would need naquada to build them. And the amount of time it would take..."
"Sam, we don't know how much time it would take," Daniel reminded her. He started to walk around the room, looking in boxes and discovered some empty packaging. It would seem that a few chemicals had been in one, some more general supplies in some more. Tools and other engineering items had appeared to be in some others. Forman had used supermarket boxes to hide the contents and probably hadn't wanted the empty packaging at his new place so he'd taken everything out and moved it.
When he got back to his friends, he sighed. "Khepri said he came here in a glider. I don't think he did."
"What do you mean?" Jack demanded.
"He didn't tell us about the other snake," Daniel shrugged. "What makes you think he was telling us the truth about how he got here? What if he was in a teltac instead?"
Blair was bursting with curiosity but a look from Jim was stopping him from asking the questions he so wanted to ask. Transporter rings? He couldn't see anything. Teltac? What was that? And wasn't that naquada stuff in Teal'c? What the hell was it anyway?
"And if he was in a teltac, he may have had other... supplies," Sam answered with a groan. "That's going to make this more difficult."
"Why?" Jim asked. "We could just wait here for him to come back."
"If he comes back," Daniel sighed. "If my suspicions are correct, he's somewhere else right now and might not need this place anymore." He sat on the floor, surprising the others, but soon they joined him.
"So, what are we going to do now?" Jim asked.
"We need to know what he's been up to," Jack replied. "The more we can find out about that, the more likely it is we get a chance to figure out what he's planning."
"Well, we know what he's had here," Blair pointed out to the boxes.
"And that isn't very encouraging," Daniel replied.
Blair got up and looked in the boxes, calling out the names of the chemicals when he got to the packaging. They were mainly ones available without licence, but some weren't. How had he got them? How had he paid for them?
When he returned to the others, he looked at Sam whose face was screwed up in thought.
"Major Carter? Er, Sam?" he prompted.
She looked at him in bewilderment and then burst out laughing.
"No," she giggled. "Nishta. It's the name of a... well a drug, I guess. It's a chemical compound that makes the recipient more open to suggestion."
Daniel and Jack looked at the floor, at the walls, at their hands... at anywhere but at Sam. She reached out and squeezed Daniel's arm in comfort.
"Why do you say that, Major Carter?" Teal'c asked.
"Some of the chemicals are found in drugs used..." She shut her mouth as she realised she was about to say 'on Earth', regrouped and rephrased her thoughts. "Er, like the date rape drugs."
Then she winced as she thought of Hathor.
"God, I'm sorry, Daniel," she whispered.
He shook his head. "It's as good a description as any."
"D?" Blair's voice was firm, a bit angry too. He was getting fed up of all the secrets and Sam's last words had hinted at something violent towards his oldest friend.
"Don't worry about it, Bug," Daniel replied with a grin. "Old news, I promise."
"If you're going to tell me it's a secret..." Blair argued.
"I'm sorry. I know this is hard for you."
Blair was getting really mad now and he stood up and stomped away from the group, Daniel following him quickly.
Sam couldn't hear what was being said, but she figured that Jim could.
"What are they saying?" she demanded of him.
"I'm not listening," Jim replied. "I know when Blair doesn't want me to hear things, and I respect his wishes for privacy when he makes them."
"You were raped?" Blair asked fiercely.
"I wasn't really with it, B. I don't really remember it."
"Who did it." Blair didn't even ask that, it was a demand to know.
"A woman," Daniel shrugged.
"Doesn't make it right."
"No. No, it doesn't. But I was under the influence of this drug. Believe me, B, I wasn't overly aware of what was going on. No, it wasn't a pleasant experience and it's not something that I want to repeat, but I'm over it."
"As over it as I'm ever going to be," Daniel admitted. "I don't get nightmares about it anymore."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"How could I? It happened within a top secret environment. You shouldn't even be hearing this now."
Blair was beyond furious that this had happened to Daniel but was unable to articulate his feelings. In the end, he settled for putting his hands out and pulling Daniel into a hug and holding him closely.
Daniel returned the hug, frustrated by not being able to share everything with the one person in the universe that he would share everything with if he had the chance. Not even Jack got everything from him. Oh, Jack had tried to be there for him after the 'episode' with Hathor as he liked to think of it. But he hadn't known what to say, either. Daniel never used the term 'rape' for that time, even though he intellectually knew that that was what it was. It certainly wasn't consensual and he had never told anyone exactly what happened to him. He'd just done his usual thing and denied it, even to himself. In his mind, it was the equivalent of a drunken one-night stand with someone that he wouldn't have wanted to wake up with. It was how he coped with it. Perhaps, if it had been a male host, he may have been able to deal with it as a rape, but like most other men, an element of his personality wouldn't accept that sex with a woman could be called that. After all, he was the 'top' in that case. Wasn't he?
Dammit, he was. It was just a mistake. Sex with that bitch had been just that.
His body stiffened and he dropped his arms away from Blair, saying, "Come on, we need to think what we're going to do next."
Then he walked away from his friend - the one person that could make him face that time and tell all.
Jack knew better than to question Daniel when he returned. Oh, he wanted to. He really wanted to. But he didn't. While Daniel had been speaking to Blair, he'd quietly informed the others to say nothing when he got back. Nothing that would add to the memories of that time. Nothing that would upset him. He didn't blame Sam for saying the words, he knew she had to say them, but he wished she hadn't.
"We need to get inside his... whatever it is he's got," Daniel said as he sat back down.
Blair sat back down by his side, his body language telling the rest of SG-1 that he wasn't exactly happy with them.
"We don't know where it is. Unless you know how to operate the transport rings?" Jim asked.
"We would need a, well, a button," Jack replied. "You know, like in an elevator. Can you see anything here that would be the panel to activate them?" he asked Teal'c.
"No!" They turned to look at Daniel as he called that out. "Dammit, Jack, you know that if we were to suddenly use them, we'd get caught straight away at the other end."
"True. But unless we use them, we can't find him."
"There is a way," Blair shrugged.
"No way," Jim argued. "You're not doing that."
"Jim, it's the only safe way."
"Safe? You call that safe?"
"Gentlemen?" Jack interrupted. "What are you talking about?"
"He's picking people up off the street, isn't he?" Blair shrugged. "Let me hit the streets, see if I can get him to take me with him. Jim can track me pretty much anywhere."
"Not if he's got a teltac," Jack muttered, pointing upwards towards space.
"I doubt it's in orbit, Jack," Daniel argued, getting so fed up of the secrecy that he wasn't going to even hide it anymore. "If he could get up there, he'd have left the system by now."
"Not necessarily," Sam put in. "It could be that the hyperdrive crystals were burnt out. Or there isn't even one there."
"Or he really has a glider and cannot get that far," Teal'c reminded them.
Jack thought for a minute and looked at his team.
"No one goes in alone," he announced. Taking his - and Daniel's - life in his hands, he said, "Daniel. You go with Blair. We'll be on your tail all the time. This is the only way we're going to do it. Can rings work in any direction or do they have to be vertical?" he asked Teal'c.
"It is possible to place them at differing angles," Teal'c said thoughtfully. "However, that is not easy. My suggestion would be that he is underground. Is there a sewer system under this building?"
"I don't know. There is a series of old, no longer used sewers in the dock area, but I don't know exactly where they are," Blair answered.
"Then we find out if that's where they are. Having a clue as to his whereabouts will be a big help. If Daniel's blasted with nishta again, he won't be affected by it, will he?"
"Assuming it has the same chemical composition as the ones to which he's already been exposed, no," Sam answered.
"How about making the shock things again?" Jack suggested.
"I wouldn't recommend it, Jack," Daniel. "Seth knew when we'd come round from the nishta."
"But he knew we weren't on his side to start with," Jack argued. "Perhaps he said we were lying because of that?"
"Do you want to take that chance?" Daniel urged. "Look, Jack. The way I see this going down is this. He's got a place nearby. It can't be too far, I'm sure of that. The rings will take us there. If Blair and I get into his compound, Jim can locate us and then it's up to you guys to get us out. He hasn't had the amount of time that Seth had to acquire weaponry, so it shouldn't be as dangerous as that time."
"Doesn't something strike you as odd?" Jack suddenly said.
"Well, Seth's place was in this area. In the forest just north of Seattle. What is it about this place and snakeheads?"
Daniel couldn't help but laugh at that. "I don't know, Jack. Perhaps it's a snake vacation ground? Lots of people in the cities, lots of places to hide out... greenery. You know how much they seem to like trees."
Jack poked him in the arm.
"Yeah, but what's wrong with Hawaii?" he asked. "Or Florida. Somewhere hot. With good fishing."
"We've got great fishing," Jim informed him.
"You have? Hey, Daniel. Feel like a fishing trip when we've sorted this out?"
Daniel let out a low groan and turned to Blair. "There's no point in asking you to get me out of that, is there?" he asked.
"Nope. I'm with the big guy," Blair replied with a grin. "Nothing like a good day's fishing here."
"There is nothing like a good day's fishing," Teal'c announced. "There is only boredom and mosquito bites."
Jack pretended to be annoyed but to be honest, he was glad for the temporary change of subject. He so didn't want to think of Daniel facing up to a snake again, but in his heart of hearts, he knew he had to. Daniel could make himself look very young, as could Blair. Sam, the only other one that could have pulled off a young look, was automatically ruled out because of the trace of Jolinar in her body. Seth had spotted that straight away.
He let the light-hearted conversation go on for a while before finally urging them all to get up and leave. He had noticed that there appeared to be no temple of any description in the warehouse, despite the reports. That meant that either the snake had taken them somewhere else using the transporter rings for each 'service' or he had shut it down and moved it to his new place. If that was the case, there was every chance that he wouldn't even be looking for more followers. The only thing they could do was get out on the streets, look for him and hope that a clue landed in their laps.
Knowing that they needed more information, Jack sent Jim off with Sam to the council offices to see if they could find a plan of some sort to the old sewers underneath the dock area. Daniel and Blair went shopping to buy clothes that would make them look even younger than they already looked. With the snake apparently going for the young people of the district, that would be their best chance to catch him. Meanwhile, he and Teal'c were dropped back off at the motel so that they could contact Hammond and let him know what was going on and make some arrangements for back-up if it was required.
"You are not happy about sending Daniel Jackson into this situation, O'Neill," Teal'c stated.
"Of course I'm not happy about it," Jack snapped. "Are you?"
"I am not. However, I agree that this is the only way. To use a fishing term, he and Detective Sandburg will be the bait."
Jack couldn't help but smile at that.
"Yeah. And when we've snagged him, it's up to us to reel him in."
Teal'c thought for a moment and then said, "We must make sure that our line is strong and our net is large enough to capture him. This one must not be allowed to 'get away'."
"No. No, you're right. We can't allow that." Adding to himself, 'and I can't allow Daniel to be taken from me, either'.
Simon woke up reluctantly after a few hours' sleep. He was still tired but he knew he had to get going. Despite Jim's warning that he didn't want Simon or Megan on board, he was determined not to be left out of this curious situation. There was something about it that was bugging him.
However, he'd promised to help them out and he was going to do that. While he waited for his kettle to boil for his coffee, he called up Megan.
"Hello?" Her sleepy voice came down the phone after it had rung about six times.
"Connor. Time to get up," he replied.
"Captain? Oh God, what time is it?"
"One in the afternoon. I think we need to get on with the research that Ellison's new friend asked us to do."
"Okay. Let me get dressed and have something to eat. Where do you want to meet up?"
"You go to the precinct. I want you to check up on the financial records and anything else that you can find out in a paper trail. I'm going to call Ellison and meet up with him and Sandburg. I think he's going to need to know everything that we know and we didn't give him much to go on earlier."
"And you're going to try to find out more of what's going on?" she asked, amusement in her voice.
"Despite what you think, Connor, I do understand the meaning of the word 'classified'."
"Right, Captain. I'll see you back at the precinct."
They signed off and Simon made his coffee. As he drunk it he ran over the morning's events in his mind. He still didn't get it. Ellison and Sandburg were not lovers of the military, for obvious reasons. So why were they accepting this? Could it have something to do with the episode in the forest a few months back? No names had been given by the men but they had dropped hints that they'd had help from another source in tracking the cougar. He hadn't really given it a second thought at the time, even if the DA's call to him to accept their explanation of the rogue cougar at face value had seemed odd. The call had come at a time that he'd been swamped with cases and he hadn't had the luxury of time to think about it. Knowing that the men were both honourable, he also had been able to accept that when they told him something was so, it really was so. But what if they'd lied to him? Why would they do that?
He couldn't believe that they had a nefarious purpose. That just wouldn't sit right with their personalities. So they had been told to tell him that. By whom? This colonel?
The more he thought about it, the more Simon was convinced that something odd was going on. Did the colonel have something over Ellison? Did he know about his senses? The hint from the doctor, the one that Sandburg had said was his old friend, was that they knew about them. If that was the case, was Ellison being blackmailed into keeping quiet and helping out?
Even if there was a logic to that argument, there was a logical rebuttal. If the military knew about Ellison, no way in hell would they leave him alone. He'd have been back in the Army before his feet had touched the ground. It must be personal, then.
If it were personal, then maybe it was as Sandburg had said, that they were just helping out some friends. Maybe the price of O'Neill's silence was Ellison's assistance from time to time. That seemed possible, but the relaxed body language of Ellison spoke of something deeper. If he'd been forced into helping out, even if the threat had been minimal, he would have been radiating tension. But he wasn't. He gave every indication of liking the colonel and the others.
If he were confused before, Simon was even more confused now. He had to find out what was going on. To make a start on that, he picked up the phone again and called Jim's cellphone.
Jim switched off his phone and looked at Sam who was happily photocopying some blueprints in the bowels of the council's planning office.
"Sam," he called out, using her name as she'd told him to. "That was my captain. He wants to meet with me to pass on what he already knows."
"Couldn't he do that over the phone?" she asked not looking up at him.
"Maybe. But I think his curiosity's getting the better of him again."
This made her look up, an eyebrow raised in question.
"Don't worry about it," he assured her. "You can trust him."
"So you say," she grinned. "Who's to say I trust you?"
"Point taken," he conceded. "Answer me this. Do you trust Jack and Daniel?"
Her initial reaction was to say 'of course' but part of her stopped her mouth running away with her. Did she really? She knew that something was going on between them that she wasn't going to find out about. That wasn't helping her feelings about them. Then she remembered Daniel risking his life to save hers on many occasions, Jack doing the same...
"With my life," she finally answered quietly. "And I have done. Frequently."
Jim was curious as to why it had taken her so long to answer, but he didn't call her on it. Instead he crossed the floor to her side.
"Jack trusts me," he said softly. "As does Daniel. Daniel trusts Blair with more than his life. He trusts him with his soul. If you can trust them, can't you trust us?"
"Can you trust me?" she asked.
"I already have."
She nodded, saying nothing more. If Jim trusted his captain that much then she could try, too.
Jim had arranged to meet Simon back at the loft, but he was reluctant to meet with him alone in case his friend tried to probe deeper than before. So he'd called up Jack and told him to get over there and then called Blair to hurry him and Daniel up. By the time Simon arrived, Jack and Teal'c had taken a taxi to the loft and Blair and Daniel were in the bedroom getting changed.
Simon was a bit annoyed when he saw that he wouldn't be alone with Jim but swallowed down his frustration, just accepting a coffee that Jim handed to him as soon as he walked through the door.
"Okay, Captain," Jim said as Simon took a seat in the living room. "Tell us what you know."
Simon looked around the room and saw Sam and Teal'c sitting on the floor by the fire, Jack on an armchair and Jim standing against the window. There was no sign of Blair and Daniel but he could hear them upstairs and he was wondering what they were doing, especially as there were giggles coming from that direction from time to time.
"Connor's back at the precinct and she's checking the paper trail. She'll ring you to let you know what she finds out as soon as she finds it."
Jack smiled warmly at him and thanked him for that.
"I figured you'd want to know where the kids were being taken from and maybe some information on the victims, if that's what they are. You know, see if there's a connection between them."
"That would be great, thanks," Jim replied. "So, what do you know?"
The others listened intently as Simon told them the street names, the dates the youths were last seen, the ages of them, how they looked... He was curious as to why they weren't taking notes but it dawned on him that they may not need to. Brains used to taking in lots of information could sometimes just absorb new data - a skill found in many a good detective.
"So, let me see if I've got this right," Jack said when he'd finished. "The kids are all male, aged mainly 18-25 years. They're from different racial backgrounds so we know that he's not picking on one racial group specifically." Getting nods from the others, he asked, "These streets. Where are they? Do you have a street map of Cascade?"
Jim got up and pulled out a map from one of the book cabinets and spread it over the floor. Groaning about his knees, Jack got down next to it and looked at the streets as Jim pointed them out.
"Where did you say this guy lived?" Jack asked.
When Jim pointed out the street, Jack and the others saw the connection immediately. Each place that the youths had met with Forman was within a five street radius of his mother's home, so it was territory he knew well. Despite the arrogance of the Goa'uld, it was playing its cards carefully, sticking to what its host knew best to cover for itself. This marked it out as a smart one, and therefore more dangerous than some. Jack's blood ran cold at that thought and he prayed that Daniel would keep his cool and not bait the snake when they met.
A noise from the stairs had them all turning to look and Jack's jaw dropped - as did everyone else's, including Teal'c's.
"Don't you dare say anything," Daniel warned as he descended, Blair right behind him.
Jack didn't know how he'd done it but his lover had managed to make his thirty-five year-old body look like that of young man in his early twenties. The clothes they wore were inspirational, as if they were young men trying to look older and failing, instead of being older men trying to look younger and succeeding. Each item was a cheap copy of a fashion item, showing that they wanted to be wearing designer labels but weren't earning enough money to manage it, just yet. Daniel had carefully covered up his arms to hide his strength, wearing a shirt that was a couple of sizes too big which made him look smaller than he really was. His jeans were tight, as were Blair's, taking the eyes of the observers far enough south so that they weren't able to say much about their looks above the waistline.
Only if you looked closely could you see the lines in their faces that said that they were older than they at first appeared. They were hoping that the Goa'uld wouldn't look that closely. Without the glasses that made Daniel look older, and a spiky haircut, the effect was complete. It hadn't been quite so difficult for Blair to lose some years, but he'd had his hair cut a bit and that had dropped off any years that he'd wanted to lose pretty much immediately. The clothing had just helped and he really did look like he was an eighteen year-old trying to be ten years older.
"Wow, guys," Sam said. "You look..."
"Careful, Carter," Jack butted in. "Daniel bites, remember."
She grinned. "No, Sir, that's me. I was going to say they look hot."
Her voice was light and Daniel knew she was teasing Jack as much as him but he played up to it.
"Hot, eh?" he said, moving to her side and bending over. Then he wrapped his arms around her waist, hauled her to stand up and turned her around. "You making a move on me?" he joked, winking at her as he spoke.
"Carry on looking like that and I might just do that," she joked back, giving him a hug.
Laughing at her, he dropped a kiss on her forehead and let her go, then he joined her sitting on the floor. Jack noticed that he had his trainers on his feet, which were scuffed and a bit dirty and somehow it added to the overall effect. Why they should do that he didn't know. Normally they just looked untidy.
"Where should we go?" Blair asked as he, too, sat on the floor next to Daniel.
"To pick this guy up."
Everyone noticed when Jim winced at those words.
"Jim? What's up?" Jack asked.
"Just wish he'd rephrase that," Jim muttered. "Makes them sound like a couple of hookers."
Daniel cracked up at that, Blair joining him moments later. The others couldn't help but laugh at them, their laughter being infectious.
"Wonder how much we'd get, eh, D?" Blair called out.
"Dunno, but it would have to be worth our while, pal."
Sam reached over and poked him in the ribs. "Be serious, Daniel," she scolded. "This could be dangerous."
"Sam, I'm always serious," he replied. "Especially when I'm in danger."
"You were not when we faced the M'ktani," Teal'c reminded him.
Daniel looked at Teal'c and then cracked up again, remembering the time when he'd had a fit of the giggles as he'd tried to negotiate with a tribal chief. They had needed to get permission to check out a statue which Daniel had seen on a UAV film as he'd thought he'd seen writing on it belonging to the Ancients. However, the naked chief had been covered in tattoos, some of which were probably extremely symbolic to the people but were exceedingly pornographic to SG-1 and it was just one of those days where the serious anthropologist in Daniel had taken a hike and the thirteen year-old that resided inside every adult male had taken over. It hadn't helped that Sam had continued to blush throughout the encounter and Jack hadn't been able to look him in the eye at all.
"Indy?" Blair asked, teasing him with his old nickname.
"Uh, I'll tell you what I can later," Daniel replied through his laughter.
Jack, too, was laughing hard. He remembered that day, but Daniel's helpless laughter was so rare that he couldn't help himself.
When Daniel regained some equilibrium, he looked at Simon and apologised. "I'm sorry, it's just an anthropologist thing," he explained.
Simon groaned. "Having one of those in my department, I understand that," he replied. Then he added, "Unfortunately."
They figured out which streets to go to. All of the missing kids had gone from an area around Forman's house, but there was one small block of streets from which none had disappeared. It was as if he was working around the house, block by block, taking at least one from each block, in a clockwise direction.
Jack didn't want Sam or Teal'c anywhere near that block. If by some chance Forman's Goa'uld walked past either of them, he would immediately detect them and would back off. So they were given instructions to go back to the warehouse and keep it under observation. They could only hope that he hadn't already taken a kid from this block.
A check with Megan confirmed that no other disappearances had been reported yet, so they continued with the plan. She had more information already and relayed some of it to Jim who in turn, passed it on to Jack. He wasn't happy to receive it.
Over the past few weeks, Forman had maxed out his credit card, taken a couple of others on and maxed them out in a hurry and emptied his bank account. Credit card records showed that he had been purchasing small arms and many other items, but she didn't mention chemicals. Which meant he was either doing that under an assumed name or he had stolen them. Jim sent Megan off to check up to see if there had been any thefts of chemicals or other hazardous materials, or any murders of chemists or pharmacists - a tangent offered by Daniel as he knew that the snake would have no qualms about killing.
Simon sent Rafe and Brown to check up on Mrs. Forman, just to make sure she was all right. Something about all of this was making him uneasy and he knew that he had to do that.
Daniel and Blair, meanwhile, were heading off down the streets in the block they were hoping that Forman would choose next. Jack was watching Daniel like a hawk, Jim with Blair likewise. Despite their better judgement, they knew it would increase their chances of being in contact with Forman if they split up.
Jack's stomach was churning more than normal as he watched Daniel who was wandering down the street, apparently window shopping. Daniel looked down at heel, downcast... down in general. If anyone was looking for a soft target to pick up off the streets, the drooping shoulders and lowered head would act as an invitation. Jack couldn't help but think back to Daniel's encounter with Osiris. He hadn't been there for him then. He knew he'd never forgive himself for that, either.
There was no sign of Forman in that one street, so, following a route worked out with Blair and Jim, Daniel turned off down an alley, Jack never taking his eyes off him even though no one would have associated the two men as being together. Jack's training in covert surveillance was more than paying off.
For Jim, the covert surveillance was easier. Blair was quietly talking to himself as he walked down his first street, a ploy which put off others from striking him in conversation and constantly reassured Jim. The only thing Jim was afraid of was zoning, which was a possibility. To try to stop that happening, Blair had given him a few things to hold. One was a hair-band of his - which he didn't need anymore but still had a few of - which Jim twisted around his fingers. Another was a handkerchief which Blair had placed under his arm for a few minutes to pick up his scent. Concentrating now on four senses, Jim was less likely to zone on one. His eyes never left Blair, his ears were attuned to his voice, his touch and his smell concentrating on the items in his hands. He would have been a bit miffed about having nothing for his tongue, but Blair had kissed him long and hard before they'd left the loft and he could still just about taste his lover.
It seemed to go on forever. Blair and Daniel walked each street about five times apiece. Alleyways were explored, main roads practically committed to memory and they were about to give up and go home when Blair called out to Jim as he looked into yet another shop window.
"Hey, big guy, I think I see him. Behind me."
Jim looked around and saw what Blair was pointing out and knew he was right. Quickly, he picked up his cellphone and called Jack, relaying the information immediately. Jack ran after Daniel and told him where to go then followed him after waiting a few minutes.
Blair's heart was racing. He was looking at Forman in the reflection of the shop window. Forman was definitely looking at him as if he was trying to make up his mind about something. To help him make up his mind, Blair sighed, trying to sound both bored and frustrated.
Forman moved closer and Blair turned as if to move off. He needed to push the guy into talking to him.
"You look sad, friend," came the first words.
Blair turned slowly and looked at him wryly.
"You know how it goes," he answered with a shrug. "You want things but you haven't got a job..." He nodded back at the designer labels in the shop window.
"Have you been out of work long?"
Blair shrugged. "Haven't long got out of school," he replied, hoping his disguise was going to work. "Haven't had a proper job yet. And now my parents have told me to get a job and move out. They say I'm too old to live at home."
"You sound like you need a friend."
"I've got friends," he insisted. "Some good ones."
He managed to sound like he was trying to convince himself and further drew the Goa'uld into his story. The snake was speaking with Forman's voice throughout, not the harsh voice that Blair had heard the Unas speak with and he wondered if the snake just used the voice of the host normally or if it had some influence on how it sounded. He'd table that to ask Daniel later.
"Of course you have. But does it hurt to have more?"
Blair looked down at his feet and scuffed his toes against the pavement, his hands now firmly in his pockets, his sullen tone making him look even younger than before.
"Guess not." Then he looked back up at the man and his face looked a bit suspicious - in just the same way a teenager would as he looked at an adult. "What's in it for you?"
Forman smiled warmly.
"Why don't you let me buy you a drink?" he suggested.
"Hey, I'm not a rent boy," Blair warned. "Don't you think you can pick me up."
Forman put his hands up in mock surrender. "Of course not. I promise, we will stay in public view at all times. I just want to talk."
Blair looked like he was thinking about it then he nodded. "There's a coffee shop over there," he said, pointing at it. As he turned to look at it, he saw Daniel walking down the street.
"I see one of my friends," he said suddenly. "Do you want to talk to him, too?"
Forman looked down the street and saw Daniel who appeared to be homing in on Blair. With a shrug, he said, "Sure. My message is for all the youth of today, not just the few. The more the merrier."
"Daniel!" Blair called out. They'd decided to stick to their real names on the grounds that this would be less likely to lead to mistakes later.
"Hey, Blair. Who's this?" Daniel asked, nodding in Forman's direction.
"Yeah, who are you?" Blair asked.
"My name is Eric," Forman replied. "I was about to take Blair for a coffee. You're welcome, too."
Daniel looked at Forman in much the same way as Blair had done. Suspicion plastered over his face. Playing a hunch, Daniel put his hand on Blair's shoulder in a proprietary manner and he saw Forman smile a little, as if he was reading more into their relationship.
"Okay," Daniel said cautiously. "Coffee."
His tone said 'coffee and no more' and Forman nodded in surrender, leading the way to the coffee shop moments after.
Outside the shop, Jim and Jack had met up and were watching the doorway intently from across the street. Sam and Teal'c had been informed that they'd made Forman and they'd gone off to get something to eat, making the most of the downtime.
Megan, meanwhile, had completed her search of the paper trail and had reported everything to Simon first, then Jim. Jim had then sent her off with Simon to look for possible other locations for a 'home' for Forman. A look at the blueprints had told them that part of the abandoned sewer did indeed run underneath the empty warehouse and while they'd been chatting to Simon, Daniel - knowing that Goa'uld were devious by nature - had wondered if he made them walk down it to another set of rings which would take them up into another building; not that he used that term, just saying things like 'entry' and 'exit' in relation to how they'd get out of the sewer. They'd figured he wouldn't want to walk too far, so Megan was set to locating every building within a ten minute radius of the warehouse that sat on top of the old sewer. She'd found about six that fitted the bill so far and there appeared to be more.
Rafe and Brown had reported back to Simon that there was no sign of the mother. More to the point, there was no sign of anyone or anything at the house. It was completely empty and looked like it had been abandoned for some time. With a heavy heart, Simon sent a forensics team back to the house with a cadaver dog among their number. Just in case. He still had to hear back from them. Questions answered by the neighbours had told the guys that she hadn't been seen for over a week and from what he could work out, her disappearance almost coincided with her reporting of her son's behaviour to Jim. Perhaps he had found out and reacted? He got the men to check up to see if she had any relatives in the area. Before he decided for definite that this was more than a woman that had left the area, he should check to see if she was staying with someone.
"It's taking an age," Jack complained to Jim.
"He's trying to convince them to visit his 'temple'," Jim replied with a shrug.
"Hope they're not sounding too keen."
"No. If anything, they sound sceptical."
"Hope they're not sounding too sceptical."
Jim laughed. "I think they're doing a good job. Somehow, between them, they've managed to convince him that they're not much more than a pair of sullen teens. He's been reeled in, Jack."
"Not surprised," Jack sighed. "Did you see them? Shit, Ellison, I knew they looked young but this is ridiculous."
Jim flushed slightly, surprising Jack.
"Jim? What's up?"
Jim was silent for a moment then he shrugged.
Again Jim said nothing as he thought then he said, "You've got to understand, Jack. Blair's the only guy I've ever felt like this about."
Jack shrugged. "Know what you mean. None of the guys I was ever with meant anything to me."
"No. Blair's the only guy."
"You mean he's the first..."
"Yeah. Didn't want to before. Never saw anything in them," he shrugged as if he was trying to dismiss it. "But he's different."
"You mean the guide thing?"
"That too." He stopped speaking for a moment then said, "You've seen him, Jack."
Jack laughed out loud. "Sure I have. He's a bit special. I can't help but like the kid."
"He has that effect on people."
"I'd noticed. So, what's up?" he pushed.
Jim flushed a bit more but he eventually answered.
"When he came downstairs. When they both came downstairs..."
"You felt attracted to them?" Jack asked kindly.
Jim nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Jack realised that he wasn't completely comfortable with this idea so he knew that he would have to say something. What, he didn't know. This was more Daniel's thing.
"That's cool," he blurted out. "I mean, I know you're not going to try to run off with Daniel or anything."
"No! Of course I wouldn't. I didn't mean that."
"I know. So, what, you're accepting that side of yourself better?"
"You know, the side that likes guys."
"Not getting you. I told you, I've never liked guys like that."
"Or perhaps you did and you didn't let yourself look."
"What do you mean?"
"Come on, Ellison. Think about it. You've spent your life in one male-dominated environment after another. You couldn't look at guys. Not without asking for trouble."
Jim's face crumpled to a frown and then he nodded slowly.
"What about you? You say you weren't looking but you did do something about it."
"Just a bit of light relief," Jack answered casually. "I guess I've always accepted I'm bi, but never put a name to it till I got together with Daniel."
"Do you notice other guys now?" Jim asked softly.
"Not really. It's still not safe to advertise if you get my drift. Besides, Daniel's the only one for me. I'm not interested in others."
"It should be the same way for me," Jim replied sadly. "But seeing Daniel come down the stairs. Dammit, Jack. If it had just been him and me there, if he wasn't with you and I wasn't with Blair..."
"You'd have made a move."
"Damn right I would have. I don't get it. I really don't get it. I work with loads of men, some of whom the women say are really great-looking. Hell, from an aesthetic point of view, I can see they're good-looking. They don't do anything for me though. But today, it was different."
Jack thought for a while before answering.
"I think I know what it is. Daniel is very much like Blair. Not in looks, but in personality. Perhaps you're attracted to that side of him rather than just the physical. Combine the two things together and you're to be forgiven for feeling like that."
"So you forgive me?" Jim asked with a grin.
Jack snorted and then said, "As long as you keep your hands off of him, sure. Touch him and I'll fucking kill you."
His voice was so calm and even that it made Jim laugh, even though he knew that Jack meant every last word.
Before he could reply, however, he heard something.
Forman walked out of the coffee shop and went one way, the guys left and went in the other direction. Daniel's hand immediately found a place on Blair's shoulder which to strangers could have looked either like a pal steering his friend in one direction or like a lover taking care of him, depending on how you read it. To Jack and Jim, it looked like the latter, but somehow neither were bothered by it.
They followed them away from the area until Jim was absolutely positive that Forman couldn't see them then they caught up with them.
"So, you okay?" Jack asked.
"Yeah," Daniel replied, nodding that they should turn down the next alleyway.
All four went down it and when they were out of sight of anyone, Daniel put out his hands to Jack and soon found himself engulfed in a hug.
"What do you think?" Jack asked when they broke apart.
"He's a snake. I'm sure of it. There's something about him..." Daniel shook his head in sorrow, thinking that yet another human life had been taken over by the hated Goa'uld.
"What's the plan?"
"Didn't Jim keep you informed?" Blair asked, his voice muffled as he was being held tightly by Jim.
"Uh, no, we were talking about other things."
"So much for being watched," Daniel muttered.
"I was listening in. I was just listening and talking to Jack, too," Jim replied.
Daniel shrugged. "We go to the warehouse tomorrow morning. He said he is having a meeting there. Don't believe him, of course, but we have to be there for ten o'clock."
"Good. That'll give us a night off before we have to go into action," Jack said. "In the meantime, let's go and get some rest. We're going to have a busy day tomorrow."
The loft was busy that evening. Sam and Teal'c had been recalled. After the meeting in the coffee shop, they'd seen Forman go into the warehouse again, using the door on the ground floor, so he didn't see where they'd entered it earlier. After waiting for about thirty minutes, they'd gone to the building and quietly climbed up the stairs, Teal'c looking into the dark and recognising that Forman wasn't there. He'd obviously used the rings and had gone off to his other destination.
Simon and Megan were there, as were all the men and all information that could be exchanged was exchanged as they ate a takeout meal. Eventually, a few yawns from Blair had let everyone know it was time for bed. Simon and Megan went first with Sam and Teal'c standing up and getting ready to go not much later. When Jack and Daniel didn't make a move, Sam looked a bit cross.
"Are you staying late again?" she asked, plastering a smile to her face but no one was convinced.
Daniel looked at Blair in panic. He needed to spend some time with Jack where they could just be them, even if they weren't doing anything. Blair saw that in his face and came up with a plan, hoping that Daniel was going to be okay with it as he was about to out him.
He moved across the room and took Daniel's hand in his, staring into his eyes and flagging a 'play along' look at him.
"Er, yeah," Daniel replied. "Just for a while."
He stood up, his hand still in Blair's and then he pulled Blair so that their bodies touched. She looked at Daniel in shock.
"Daniel? I... I..." She looked at Jack. "Colonel? Did you know?"
"Of course I knew, Carter. They don't get much time together. It's okay by me. Jim and I were just going for a drink, weren't we?"
Jim couldn't look at Blair at that moment, instead he nodded. "Uh, yeah. Drink."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Sam demanded.
"Because it's nobody's business but my own," Daniel snapped back. "Jack found out when we found the Unas. I didn't tell him."
"How long have you been together?"
"On and off, fifteen years," Blair replied, hoping she was going to buy it.
"On and off?"
"We don't get much of a chance to be together," Daniel shrugged. "Please, Sam, we just want some time tonight. Can we talk tomorrow?"
"Major Carter," Teal'c announced. "We should leave now. I will see you tomorrow, Daniel Jackson. O'Neill."
"Yeah, g'night Teal'c," Jack replied. "Take the staff car. Jim will drop us off later."
With a scowl aimed at Daniel, Sam let herself be led away.
"You think she's a 'phobe?" Blair asked after a few minutes' silence.
"No. I think she's pissed because I didn't tell her before."
"Did I do the right thing?"
Daniel nodded. "If nothing else, she's not going to be pairing me off with Jack now." He looked at Jack who shrugged in agreement. Then he looked at Jim and saw that he was staring out of the window.
"They've stopped down the road. They're going to be watching to see if we're going out for a drink like we said."
"Dammit!" Daniel snapped. "I only want to be able to spend some fucking time with Jack."
Jack put his arms around him and held him closely. "We'll take some time off," he promised. "God knows you should still be on medical leave. I'll talk to the General when this is over. It'll be okay, Daniel."
"I'm sorry. I just get frustrated. I want to be able to show the world, Jack."
"I know. Me too. One day, eh? One day we'll tell the whole fucking lot of them."
Daniel twisted his head and his lips found Jack's and they spent the next few minutes kissing hard. Blair grinned as he watched them and then he looked up at Jim, thinking that a couple of minutes with him wouldn't go amiss. He was a little surprised to see Jim zoned.
"Hey, big guy. You going to come back to me?" He stroked Jim's back and talked to him quietly until he had his attention again. "Man, we need to talk," he muttered as Jim blushed beetroot-red as he realised what he'd done.
"Not now, Jim. Later."
Jim nodded slowly then called out, "Jack. Come on, we'd better get down to the bar across the street. It's the one they'll be expecting us to go into."
Reluctantly, Jack broke away from Daniel and headed to the door without another word. Jim grabbed his jacket and followed him.
On their way into the bar, Jim had looked down the street and seen that Sam and Teal'c were there and on extending his hearing, he noted that Teal'c wasn't happy about spying on his friends.
"We should leave, Major Carter."
"Why? I just want to make sure that they're telling the truth. Dammit, Teal'c, Daniel's kept something big like this from us and he expects us to trust him?"
"Tell me, Major Carter. How does this affect you? Do you wish to mate with Daniel Jackson?"
Jim had had to hide his laughter as he heard Sam's spluttering denial.
"It's not that. It's a matter of trust. He didn't trust me to tell me that about him."
Jim's estimation of the quiet man went up when he heard his next words.
"Can you blame him? After all, you do not trust him, neither do you trust Colonel O'Neill. If you did, you would not be spying on your friends. As Daniel Jackson said, his private life is nobody's business but his own. If O'Neill is happy for him then so am I. If you truly were his friend, so would you be."
Sam hadn't been able to reply to that while Jim was out in the street and when he entered the bar, he nearly forgot to dial down his hearing. The noise of the bar threatened to overwhelm him until he heard Blair's voice say, "Dial it down, man."
He stopped in the doorway and looked up at the balcony to the loft and saw Daniel and Blair looking down at him. Blair had obviously guessed that he was listening in. With a wave to his friend, he turned and walked into the bar.
"Why can't you look me in the eye?" Jack asked over his beer.
"What do you mean?" Jim asked, looking at his nose.
"You were watching us. Daniel and me. Now you can't look at me."
Jim knocked back his beer, announced that Jack was going to have to get a cab to the motel later and went to the bar and came back with a bottle of Scotch and two glasses.
"I can't tell you."
"Yes you can."
"No... God." He dropped his head in his hands.
Jim knocked back his Scotch and poured another.
"I saw them together. Not you and him. Them."
Jack grinned. "Some kind of fantasy image?"
"Daniel and Blair... It's an easy enough image to conjure up," Jack agreed. "Hot, too."
Jim looked up in shock.
Jack laughed. "You gotta understand, I've got a... a thing for watching."
"You have? Since when?"
"Since something happened on a base."
He leaned over and told Jim what he'd told Daniel that first night together, about the foursome in the showers. Watching and being watched just went straight to his groin.
When he pulled back, he saw that Jim's eyes had widened, his face was flushed, and, Jack would bet, he was as hard as nails.
"I'm never going to get used to this," Jim finally moaned. "Look, we need to get back."
"Uh, yeah. I'm..."
"Tired." Then he looked at Jack with a grin. "But horny works, too. By the way, there's a futon in Sandburg's old room under the stairs if you want."
"You don't mind?" Jack asked.
"Not if you mind me listening in."
It was Jack's turn to swallow hard.
"What do you think they're talking about?" Daniel asked as Blair tucked himself under his arm. If Daniel couldn't snuggle with his lover, he was going to make the most of it and snuggle with his friend instead.
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe about you and me?"
"Why would they do that?" Daniel asked with a laugh, not really meaning it.
"Why indeed?" Blair chuckled. Then, more seriously he said, "When you guys were kissing, Jim zoned from watching you."
Daniel covered for his surprise by saying, "Well, I knew we were hot, but making him zone? Damn, I'm good."
Again, Blair joined in the joke, then he twisted around and knelt across Daniel's lap, his lips not quite touching Daniel's.
"Do you think he's been thinking about us?"
"You mean, about watching us?"
Daniel didn't answer immediately. He knew that if it were him, Blair and Jack there, Jack would find a way to get the two of them together to satisfy his kink. He'd often asked about the two of them. Their first time, their second... wanting graphic details. The more graphic Daniel got about his past exploits, the hornier Jack got. If he wanted to get laid with no holds barred, he made up the filthiest, most perverted, hottest scenes he could imagine, talking about them as if they'd really happened and only admitting when he'd come round later on that he'd made them up. Not that Jack cared.
"Could be," he finally admitted. "What do you think about that?"
"About being with you again? Or being watched?"
"I'm with Jim, man," Blair sighed, sitting back a bit. "Don't think I don't still love you and want you, of course I do."
"I know, I feel the same way about you and Jack. What about if they wanted us to get together? A private show. One night only."
"You think they'd want to join in?"
"Eventually, I think they'd want to fuck our brains out." Daniel knew that for a fact about Jack but he imagined that Jim would be the same. He gave off the same possessive aura that Jack did with him.
Blair swallowed hard, reached down and picked up Daniel's hand, then placed it over his groin.
"You tell me."
Daniel laughed and returned the favour, placing Blair's hand on his own groin.
"Man, we have got it bad," Blair moaned, dropping his head on Daniel's shoulder.
Daniel hugged him close, loving the feeling of having Blair back in his arms, even if it were just for a while.
Somehow, Jim and Jack managed to wait for an hour before returning to the apartment. Jim checked out the street first and saw that the staff car had gone, so he figured that Teal'c had persuaded Sam that it was time to leave. Carrying the half-empty bottle of Scotch, he ran across the road, Jack on his heels, and then ran up the stairs inside the building, unwilling to wait for the lift. When he entered the loft, he looked across at the living room and saw that Blair was kneeling across Daniel's lap, the two men fast asleep.
Jack nudged him and indicated that they should go into the kitchen.
"We have to wake them," Jim sighed.
"You still want to...?"
"Want to, yes. But my guilty conscience says you should take Daniel back to the motel."
"Maybe after the mission is over?"
"Do you think you could stay?"
"I don't know. Possibly."
Jim nodded this time. He couldn't get the image of the two guys out of his head. It was crazy and he knew it. Part of him felt like he was whoring Blair but the rest of him just said that he would never see anything hotter in his life. He tried to imagine Blair with Jack, then Simon, Rafe, H... all that got him was a feeling of jealousy and anger. So it was only with Daniel.
"It's only them," he whispered without explanation, but somehow Jack knew what he meant.
To make sure, Jack stood behind him and wrapped his arms around Jim's waist, pulling him till they were touching head to foot.
"You sure? This doesn't do anything for you?" He ran his hands up and down Jim's body, especially over his dick which was still hard from the images of earlier.
"Uh, no. Not really. Sorry."
Jack stepped away.
"Don't be sorry. I just wanted to help you make your mind up, that's all."
Jim laughed softly. "If any other guy had felt me up, I'd have knocked his head off."
Jack shrugged, leaned in a bit closer and kissed him briefly on the lips.
"You sure?" he pushed.
Jim let him do it, getting what Jack was trying. He trusted Jack, he liked Jack a lot. He understood Jack. If any other guy was going to do anything for him, it would be him. But there was nothing. No spark. No desire.
"Absolutely. It's just them."
"Maybe we'll get that time off."
"You think they'd go for it?"
Jack looked over at them and grinned. "Yeah, I think they would."
"Fuck." Jim's voice was strangled and Jack nearly burst out laughing.
"Come on, let's wake them up. We'll talk again sometime."
Daniel was positively on edge by the time they got back to the motel. He'd woken up when the others had turned up at the loft and had watched them through nearly shut eyes, listening into their quiet conversation. He hadn't picked up much but their body language had spoken volumes to him. Seeing Jack touching and kissing Jim hadn't made him feel jealous, but it had made him want to join in. He knew what they wanted but couldn't see how they could pull it off without potentially damaging their relationships. He'd seen how jealous Jim was of anyone that touched Blair, except for him. If Jack touched him, there would be trouble. And kink or no kink, Jack would be more jealous than he'd let on if Daniel went off with Jim, even if it were right under his nose. No, this would be better kept as a fantasy, something to imagine at bedtime.
And it was bedtime now, but with Sam in the room next-door and obviously in the mood to check in on them.
Jack paid for the cab as Daniel fumbled with the key to the room. As soon as Jack entered it, he made sure that the curtains were covering every inch of the windows, but he still wasn't happy. Daniel took Jack by the hand and led him to the bathroom. In there, he shut the door, made sure the window was shut, warned Jack to keep quiet and then pushed him against the wall.
Jack let it happen. He was still feeling the effects from the evening and needed some sort of relief. Without hesitation, Daniel opened his trousers, pulled them down and dropped to his knees at the same time. He didn't try to get the clothes off Jack, just yanked his boxers right down, took one look at the hard cock in front of him and swallowed him whole.
Jack was stunned by the passion with which Daniel was blowing him. It was the nastiest blow job he'd got in a long time. Nasty - but nice. Very nice. Hot. Heavy. Daniel's hands were roaming, his tongue was moving up and down the shaft, his head was bobbing, he was alternately sucking hard and soft... Out of the corner of his eye, Jack spotted a complimentary bottle of moisturiser on a shelf and grabbed at it, passing it down to Daniel straight away. Daniel got the message and opened it while still working on him. He covered up a couple of fingers and without further ado pushed them inside Jack, thrusting almost violently.
Jack loved it; loved every second of it. Loved the pain, loved the pleasure, loved being marked and owned by Daniel. He allowed himself to picture Blair and Jim there, himself on the side of the room, his hand on his dick as he watched Daniel blowing Blair and Jim fucking Daniel, the three of them performing just for him. That image did it for him and he spilled down Daniel's throat, forcing him to swallow or be choked.
"Fuck," he growled.
"Going to," Daniel gasped back. He stood up on wobbly legs, Jack grabbing at his flies and almost ripping them open in a desperate attempt to get at his cock. Daniel sighed with relief as he felt his tight jeans being pulled down.
"You didn't wear underwear?" Jack complained.
"In those jeans? There's no room," Daniel replied.
"You're not going to wear them tomorrow," Jack insisted as Daniel turned him to face the wall.
"No choice. Just think, Jack," he said as he covered his cock with the remaining moisturiser. "You'll know. Only you will know. Oh, and Blair, too. You like that thought, don't you?"
Jack gasped as Daniel pushed inside him and just nodded in response.
"I was awake when you got back to the loft. I saw you. I heard you. You want to watch us together, don't you?"
"Oh fuck," Jack squirmed. "I'm sorry."
"Why? I know you, you get off on this, don't you?" He thrust in as he spoke, slamming against Jack's already abused gland and making Jack gasp again.
"Yes. So fucking hot."
"You too," Daniel taunted. "I saw you kiss him. I saw you touch him. You want him?"
"No. Just helping him decide."
With each sentence, Daniel pulled out and slammed in, using the words to help him hold off as long as he could, but the images the words conjured up weren't helping much.
"What did he decide?"
"Wants to watch you and Blair. Wants to see you together. Just you two. Not me. Not him, just you two."
"What do we have to do?"
"Fuck. Fuck each other. One after the other. Then fuck again and again till you can't go on."
That was it for Daniel. The idea of that so real to him because they'd done that when they were younger and been able to recover in minutes rather than hours. One night, they'd done nothing else except fuck, and there was no other way of describing it. The love they'd felt for each other hadn't even come into play, just sheer animal desperation to scratch an unscratchable itch. Only total exhaustion in the early hours of the morning had stopped it. He'd felt the after-effects for over a week, unable to sit without remembering it.
He came, trying to keep it quiet by latching his mouth onto Jack's neck and biting into the T-shirt that covered it.
"God, Jack..." he whispered.
"I know. I love you, too," came the equally quiet reply.
Daniel pulled out of him carefully and turned him around, then they spent the next few minutes reconnecting in a more loving manner.
"Love you so much," Daniel whispered. "Do anything for you."
"I know. Me too."
With a mischievous grin on his face, Daniel asked, "Would you fuck Jim? Or be fucked by him for me?"
With a filthy look on his face, Jack replied, "What do you think?"
"I think you'd lay anything."
"Not anything. Most anyone, but not anything."
Daniel laughed and pulled away, getting undressed as he did. Jack couldn't help but 'help' him with his task.
As they lay in bed - their separate beds - both men were too hyper to sleep. Daniel told Jack a 'bedtime story', the time that he and Blair had spent all night at it like a pair of crazed rabbits on speed. Halfway through it, Jack shot out of bed and grabbed the travel pack of tissues he always carried in case Daniel had forgotten his antihistamines and took a handful out, passed the pack to Daniel and then lay on the bed, his hard dick in his hand.
"Carry on," he gasped.
In a low voice, Daniel did, aping Jack's actions and stroking himself slowly.
Sam knocked on the door loudly in the morning, a bit frustrated that the curtains were completely covering the windows that day. Again, Jack was the one to open the door, but this time, Daniel was awake as she entered it. Jack noticed her eyes flicking over to his bed and had to smother a grin. She was carrying the breakfast this time, obviously wanting a cover to check up on them. He said he was going to the bathroom and wandered off, leaving it to Daniel to deal with her. Daniel, knowing what she was up to, pretended to look away for a moment as he sat up. As he did, she sat on Jack's bed and put her hand on the sheet, trying to detect the warmth of a body on there. Satisfied that Jack had indeed slept in there on his own, she spoke.
"I've brought you some coffee," she started, then stopped as Daniel was looking at what she'd brought, so it was fairly pointless in going on.
"Thanks," Daniel replied, picking up one of the covered polystyrene cups and removing the lid.
"I'm not going to tell anyone about you and Blair," she offered.
He froze for a moment then nodded.
"Thanks. We're not in a proper relationship," he said with a shrug. "We don't get the chance. But when we get together, sometimes we want more. We can't be seen to be together in Cascade, either, because of Blair's job. Sure, most cops are fine, but they're human beings like everyone else. It'll only take one bad cop for back-up to not arrive when Blair needs it most. Which is why Jim and Jack cover for us."
"I had no idea."
"What, that I'm bi?"
She shook her head.
"I don't advertise it," he said casually.
"You're not 'out' then?"
"I am now," he laughed hollowly. Then he looked at her more seriously. "I was never in," he said quietly. "But the SGC... well, you know what it's like. It's bad enough that some of the guys think I'm gay. If they knew I liked guys, I'd have a lot of trouble."
"I get that, Daniel, but you could have told me. I wouldn't have said anything."
"Sam, since we got here, you've already told me you thought that something was going on between Jack and me. If you'd known I was bi, God knows what you'd be thinking. Jack and I are close, it's just how we are. You've got a suspicious mind and sometimes you put two and two together and come up with the square of ninety six." He didn't sound angry with her and that helped her feel a little less guilty.
"I see what you're saying," she said miserably. "I suppose I'm just feeling left out of the loop. You always tell Jack everything."
"No, no I don't. There's a hell of a lot about me that he doesn't know. The only person that knows nearly everything about me is Blair, and even he doesn't know everything." With a grin he looked into her eyes and asked, "Tell me, Sam. Do I know everything about you? Do I know who you want? Do I know who all your past lovers have been?"
She blushed furiously and shook her head. He teased her further.
"For all I know, you and Janet could have a good thing going. Heaven knows you do more together than Jack and I do."
She went even redder at that and nearly spat out the coffee that she'd just sipped.
"No? It wouldn't matter to me if you were, you know."
"No!" she squealed. "She's just my best friend."
"Jack's mine, Sam."
She nodded, understanding what he was saying.
"It's okay. Forgotten?" he asked.
"Yeah. Forgotten. Thanks."
"No problem. Now, I've got to get up and get dressed, so..."
"Oh! Of course. I'll see you in a few minutes."
She took her coffee and retreated to her room. Inside was Teal'c who had been sitting this meeting out. He'd had a feeling that she was going to confront Daniel and he didn't want anything to do with it. When she returned, she still had some colour to her cheeks and Teal'c had to hide his amusement at the sight. Daniel had obviously dealt with her without assistance from him.
"Janet?" Jack asked as Daniel joined him in the bathroom.
"Had to turn the tables, Jack." He let himself be pulled into a hug then he asked, "Do you think she's going to drop it, now?"
"I hope so. I think so. Every time she's brought up the subject, she's been left red-faced. It's not how I'd want to tackle this, Daniel, but it's for the best."
"I know. I wish we could tell her, too, I hate lying to her. One thing's for sure, we have to make sure that while we're working at the SGC, she never finds out about us. If she does, this new, relaxed version of Sam will change back to the bitch from hell."
"Don't I know it," Jack moaned.
Daniel met Blair a few streets away from the warehouse. The others went to get themselves into position. Jack was at one building, Sam, Teal'c, Simon, Megan, Rafe and H were all watching others. None reported anything suspicious, which was a shame as they were hoping that they could pin down the location quickly. Jim was near the warehouse with a plan of his own to track Blair and Daniel as they were transported elsewhere. With one person at each likely building, there would at least be some instant back-up for him wherever he ended up. If he got a clue as to the direction the guys would be going in, he'd report to the watchers (Simon had given out radios to the three SGC teammates so that they would have the same connections as his people). They would then home in on his directions, and hopefully they'd all be at the same place in the end.
This was, of course, the theory. In practise, anything could and probably would go wrong.
"You're walking a little awkwardly," Daniel said lightly as they made their way to the warehouse.
"Yeah, well, after we got woken up last night, Jim went alpha on me. Again. Second time in two nights, man."
"Ouch." But, he added with a grin, "But fun."
"Lots of fun. I'm not complaining. Have no idea what they were talking about but hell, Daniel, Jim was so wound up it was like he was about to blow."
With a wicked grin on his face, Blair replied, "Oh yeah. And he's good at it, if you know what I mean."
"I do. Boy, do I."
"What about you guys?"
"What about us?" Daniel asked innocently.
"D, man, you were hard when I woke up. You were hard when I'd fallen asleep for that matter. I saw that look in your eye, the one that says you're going to nail the next ass that comes into range."
Daniel laughed out loud.
"I did. I don't think he's complaining, either."
"What about Sam?"
As they walked along the final street to their destination, Daniel explained everything to Blair, thanking him for covering for him as he did.
"It's not like we're really lying, is it?" Blair said when they entered the car park next to the warehouse.
"Well, we are. Technically. And I don't like lying to her. But you have to be careful what you tell Sam. I think she's going to deal with me being bi without any problems. She just wouldn't deal with Jack being bi. I think that would freak her out."
"Heads up, we're here," Blair announced as they got closer. "We'll talk more when it's over."
Daniel shut out the idea that they may possibly be doing more when it was over and concentrated on the job in hand.
Jim had been listening in carefully to their conversation as soon as they'd come into his vision. It didn't hurt for him to know what was going on with Sam so that he could cover for Jack and Daniel.
He'd already done an aural sweep of the warehouse and knew that Forman was inside it. His heartbeat picked up as Blair neared the door and on listening to his guide, he realised that Blair's heart was starting to race, too. He had to fight down on his desire to go and take him away from the danger - an urge he had had every single day since they'd met, and an urge that he had long since learned to ignore. For the most part.
Daniel knocked on the door and Jim heard Daniel mutter that he wished he knew who the snake was. Why that would make a difference, Jim didn't know, but apparently, it would.
They waited nervously outside, Blair slipping his hand into Daniel's, as much for Daniel's comfort as his own. No matter how many dangerous and potentially dangerous situations they'd been in, nerves always struck at moments like this. The nerves didn't dissipate when the door opened, but mercifully, they didn't get any worse.
"Blair. Daniel. Welcome," Forman said, or at least it appeared that the host was talking. Daniel was starting to wonder if the host was in cahoots with the snake after all, there was something about him...
"This doesn't look much like a meeting place," Daniel said warily.
"No, of course it doesn't. Don't worry, I'll be taking you directly there. It won't take long."
Blair's stomach dropped to his boots when he heard the door behind him slam shut, a lock obviously coming into action soon after.
"Jim, he's locked us in," he whispered, praying that Jim would hear him.
"Jim, he's locked us in."
"It's time," Jim said over the radio. "Stay alert."
None of his police colleagues had been informed as to how they would be taken from the warehouse, Jim's only words in that direction was that Forman had a route down and into the sewers. He knew that when the mission was over, Simon would enter the warehouse and look for it. He still wasn't sure how he was going to explain it when Simon came looking for that explanation, but he'd deal with that when it happened. After all, he only knew them by name, not how they worked.
The next thing he heard was "What the fu..." and some crashing noises.
One of two things had happened, he was sure. Either the transport rings had been activated, or they'd been attacked. The question was, which one?
Blair was stunned when he reappeared inside a dark tunnel and he turned to look at Daniel for reassurance. Daniel, meanwhile, was pretending to be stunned as if he'd never been in the rings before and so wasn't reassuring Blair very much. All he could do was reach for Blair's hand and squeeze it.
"I'm so sorry to surprise you like that," Forman said, but his tone of voice wasn't sorry at all. It was, in fact, the vibrating tone of the Goa'uld.
"What's going on?" Daniel demanded.
"Just as I told you. You are my final supplicants. So come with me."
He started to walk down the old brick-lined tunnel, just expecting the others to follow him.
"What if we don't want to?" Blair called out.
Forman - or whoever he was - turned back and looked at them. "Look behind you," he said.
They turned and looked and saw that the tunnel behind them had been blocked off. There was no way out without the ability to operate the rings. They had no choice. Follow the man with the light, or stay in the dark until they were rescued. If they were rescued. Reluctantly, they followed him down the tunnel.
Jim listened out to see if he could hear them speaking, knowing that Blair wouldn't be able to keep quiet if he was nervous, and also that Blair would know to inform him of what was going on if he could. His plan now was to walk above ground to trace the direction. All he needed now was for Blair or Daniel to speak. Surely they wouldn't keep quiet for long?
Daniel called out to Forman as they walked along the dark and still fairly smelly tunnel.
"Who are you really? Why is your voice so odd?"
Forman stopped and looked at him oddly then answered, "Why must you ask so many questions?"
"Because I'm curious. You sound different. And don't tell me it's the acoustics down here, I won't believe that."
"You will find out everything soon enough. I will explain to you why you should willingly follow me."
"And if we don't?" Blair asked, his voice as loud as he dare make it.
"You will," came the chilling reply.
"They're heading north from the warehouse," Jim called out on his radio. As he did, the others looked at the sketch map they'd drawn for each of them so that they would know where to go. Megan saw that her location was the most northerly, but Simon, Rafe and Jack were also fairly directly north with Jack the most easterly of the three. Sam, Teal'c and H were east and around to the south - the sea was to the west so they hadn't had to go there.
Henri, being the one furthest south called out that he would move up to the next location, where Teal'c was. He would stay there until they went past Teal'c and the two of them would then move up to Sam and so on. Jim knew the plan and kept walking at a 'Blairspeed', hoping that he wasn't going to quicken his pace.
All he could do now was listen for more conversation. It wasn't easy. As they moved, Blair's voice moved in and out of his range, probably affected by the geology or the thickness of the ground.
"I don't like this, man," Blair complained to Daniel. It was only a few minutes into the walk, but he had realised that there was no escape route if Forman suddenly turned on them.
"Neither do I, B, but we have to keep going."
They chatted like that, trying to sound normal - human - to the man that was leading them. A person brought down to these depths would be nervous and Forman was acting as if he was expecting them to behave in this manner, so he wasn't telling them to shut up. Without Jaffa to back him up, all he had was the fear of those around him to keep them under control. The more they talked like that, the more nervous they would become - the more he had control.
"The tunnel seems to be moving north-east," Jim called out. "Possibly towards Rafe."
Teal'c and H moved on to pick up Sam and then went directly to Jack. Until Jim was level with him, they wouldn't move on from there.
Each step took them further from the rings, further into insecurity but also, closer to the trap that was being set above ground. If the trap was in the right place, they had him. If not...
Jim didn't go there. He couldn't.
"Man, how long are we going to be walking?" Blair called out. "This place stinks!"
"Not long, now. It is unfortunate that I had to do this. I would much have rather taken you directly to your new home, but I could not take any chances."
"What do you mean?" Daniel asked.
"Please, everything will be explained and will become clear when we emerge," Forman said.
Jack looked at the near derelict building in front of him and wondered if that really could be the place that a Goa'uld would choose. Surely not? It wasn't their style. They liked tacky. Gaudy. Posh.
But then Forman - the host, rather than the snake - had no money. Jack tried to put himself into the snake's position. He would want one of the houses that Megan or Simon was watching. Behind high walls and with guarded gates. He'd want that, but without gaining access to the owners of one of the houses and getting control over them, he wouldn't get it. This place was abandoned. If he used that, he could probably do what he liked with it until whomever really did own it came back. By then, it would be too late. He'd have a small army working for him. If the regular authorities dealt with it, it would be Waco all over again.
But why the tunnels? Why not come straight into the building? He looked around him and saw that the building was on the end of a street, an old street, with an unadopted road and 'old family' houses spaced evenly down it to the main road. Old families and old money, he guessed. Where things could happen with no questions being asked, but where new things would be noticed. New people would be spotted. Curiosity, at once the best and worst human trait would take over. Van after van being driven up the road would raise that curiosity. Someone, one of the old families, would no doubt know the owner of the abandoned house. That someone might make a phone call. That phone call could bring people down there, snooping. So, by taking boxes into a warehouse - not exactly a suspicious activity - and then by putting the rings inside the house...
"It's my place," he called on the radio. "I'm sure of it."
"Why?" He heard Sam's voice come over the airways, just as he'd have known if he'd thought about it.
He grinned wryly as he considered how he'd worked it out.
"Let's just say I've been spending too much time with Daniel and leave it at that, shall we?"
Jim heard Jack's call on the radio and was puzzled, but somehow reassured at the same time. He called back, telling Sam, Teal'c, and Henri to hurry up and join him, but for Simon, Megan and Rafe to stay put for the moment. If Jack had a gut feeling, he was prepared to go with it but he wasn't taking too many chances. The blueprints to the tunnels had shown that there were any number of offshoots; some larger, some smaller, some so narrow that carrying furniture down them would have been impossible, which was why many buildings had been crossed off the list. Only those sitting directly on top of the tunnels which allowed that sort of access were being watched, and that number was surprisingly few.
He kept listening in to Blair, using his voice to guide him. He had a nervous moment when he had to cross a busy road on foot, one on which pedestrians weren't usually found because of the vast amount of traffic. Taking his life into his hands, he spotted a gap in the oncoming traffic and ran full speed to the centre, then waited impatiently for a gap on the other side. He didn't dare listen in to Blair at that moment. If he zoned in the traffic he could be killed and that would leave Blair in danger with possibly little or no way out.
When he eventually got out the other side, he concentrated hard on finding Blair's voice, his heartbeat... anything. To stop himself from zoning he used every trick Blair had taught him. Then, remembering a trick when he still couldn't hear anything, he piggybacked his sense of smell onto his sense of hearing and working together, the two senses located a moving target. It had to be Blair. As Jim approached the location of the scent, he realised that an old flood drain was still open, allowing air to come up as well as to go down. Thanking God for lazy planners and council workers (all the other drains had been closed off for safety's sake), he continued to follow his guide.
A quick check of his compass told him where they seemed to be heading. And it was right towards Jack.
"Jack, I think you're right," Jim called out over the radio. "See if you can find a way in without being spotted."
"Already done, pal," Jack called back.
As soon as he'd worked out the likely plan, he'd been all over the front of the building's perimeter like a rash. A small gap in a hedge, out of the line of sight of pretty much every window in the building, seemed to be perfect. He knew his team would manage to infiltrate the grounds, knew that Jim would manage it too, but he wasn't sure about the other cops. They seemed to be a nice bunch, that was for sure. Not like some others he could mention. Jim seemed to trust them to cope with whatever the snakehead threw at them, but then Jim wasn't sure just what that would be. So thanks, but no thanks. This was an SGC trip from now on. Having the help up to this point had been great and Jack would make sure that sufficient thanks would trickle back through the powers that be to the Captain and his crew, but no further.
He picked up his phone and dialled a prearranged number.
"Colonel Greyson?" Jack asked as soon as it was answered.
"It's O'Neill. We think we've found him."
"What do you want?"
Jack gave him a list of things - mainly numbers of people - that he wanted and where and when he wanted it. Then he shut off the phone and waited for the others to turn up.
"You're absolutely sure they're in there?" Sam asked as the whole team gathered around the hole in the hedge.
"Yes. I can hear them," Jim confirmed. He no longer kept quiet about his abilities in front of any of his friends and Rafe and Brown knew about them now. As he'd arrived at Jack's side, he'd heard the same crashing sound he'd heard in the warehouse and knew that they were now above ground.
"So, what's the plan?" Henry asked.
"I'm sorry, but you guys are going to have to stay here," Jack answered.
"Why?" Simon complained.
"Simon, please. Jack's got help coming from the Air Force, any minute now," Jim informed him. "That's right, isn't it?"
"What, some sort of special ops?"
"Again, that would be on a need to know basis," Jack shrugged. "Look, I don't want to piss you off, Captain, but I know what we're dealing with in here, and you don't. If this was a drugs bust or a bank robbery, I'd defer to you, but this is my job. I know that one of your men is in there. So is one of mine. My primary intention is to get them and the civilians out, the secondary one is to get the target, one way or another. I'd prefer to take him alive, but I'm not above killing him if I have to." He looked at Simon and said calmly, "Don't tell me that you've never been in that position."
"I wouldn't dream of it," Simon replied, equally calmly. "Are you taking Ellison in?"
Jack nodded. "Under the circumstances, I figure it would be a good idea. Don't worry, my back-up is mainly going to be for the perimeter and to help us get the civilians out. They won't be asking any questions of how we got here, if you get my drift," he added, nodding at Jim as he did.
That soothed Simon a little bit, but not much.
He was about to answer with a half-hearted complaint when his cellphone rang.
"Banks... You did?... Damn... Yeah, thanks... Let Homicide know we'll be dealing with it, will you?"
His words attracted everyone's attention and when he switched off the phone he said, "They found his mother. What was left of her, anyway. Forman would seem to have cleared out her bank account, all her savings, taken all of her furniture, sold anything he didn't want..."
"Oh shit," Sam sighed.
"That could mean he's more heavily armed than we thought."
"What do you mean?"
Megan twigged straight away. "Remember the small arms purchases on his cards? He'd have used his cards in places that would have accepted them. He was already licensed for handguns and given the addresses of the gun shops... let's just say they're not always above board, even though we keep checking up on them."
"Granted," Jack replied, "but what's that got to do with heavy arms?"
"Cash. You can get big guns illegally for not a great deal of cash if you know the right people."
"How much money was in her accounts?" Teal'c asked calmly.
"Not huge quantities, about ten thousand in total," Simon replied.
Jim let out a low whistle. "Not huge quantities of cash, admittedly," he said. "But that will buy a lot of bullets."
"Uh, Sir? Did you ask for kevlar jackets and helmets?" Sam asked quietly.
"All ordered, Carter. And some for Ellison," he added, mainly to calm Simon's fears.
It worked. When Simon heard that Jack was taking Jim's safety as seriously as he was taking his own team's, it became easier to step back.
"Is there anything else we can do?" he asked.
"Yeah, if you've gotten any idea of where he would have bought the weapons, you could go ask what he's got. It would help to know what we're up against. Last time we did this, the guy had a regular army in there. But then he'd had a lot more time to build it up."
"I'll call you as soon as I find anything."
"You've got an hour," Jack shrugged. "Sorry, but if you don't find anything within that time, it'll be too late."
At his words, all of the detectives took off and headed to the various lowlifes they knew in pursuit of the answer.
"Who are you really?" Daniel demanded. They'd been in the house for about half an hour and had been locked into a room on their own throughout that time. Now the snake had come back, Daniel wanted answers.
"My name is Khem," Forman's symbiote replied.
"Khem... Khem..." Blair said, mulling the name over in his mind as he spoke.
"Egyptian god of fertility of all things, recognised as Pan by the Greeks and generally represented by a human mummy," Daniel said without thinking. He looked oddly at him. "You don't look like a god."
"Perhaps not. Not yet," replied Khem. "But later, you will worship me as your god."
"I don't think so," Daniel snapped. "I'm a paid up agnostic."
Khem looked at Blair. "Don't look at me!" he stated. "I'm a Jewish Pagan with Buddhist leanings. If I take on another religion I'll spend my life in a state of permanent confusion."
"And you don't now?" Daniel asked sweetly.
"Nah, I've got it pretty well sorted. It's cool. I get Jewish holidays, Pagan holidays and when it gets too much I meditate to calm down."
Daniel burst out laughing, something which surprised Khem.
"You are not afraid?" he asked.
"Nah," Daniel replied, echoing Blair's answer. "If you're a god, and I don't believe in gods because I don't believe they exist, you can't possibly exist because I say you're not there. If you don't exist, you can't hurt me, so why would I be afraid?"
"What are they doing?" Jack demanded of Jim as the other detectives disappeared down the road.
"Talking to the snake."
"What are they talking about?"
"Uh, gods and the very existence of them."
"Because Forman, who's now talking in a weird voice like the Unas did, is insisting he's a god."
"You seem calm about that, Jack."
"It's normal for the snakes. They all think they're gods."
"What's happening now?"
"Daniel's told him he doesn't believe in him."
"What do you mean?"
"Yeah. Winding them up until they strike. He hates them so he likes getting them mad."
"Because it's a Daniel thing to do. He loves confusing people, too."
"He's certainly doing that to the snake now."
"We're going to have to move in sooner rather than later if he keeps this up."
"Because what normally happens when he baits the snakes is that they'll strike."
"What happens when they strike?"
Jack looked blankly at Jim as he replied. "They usually try to kill him."
All colour drained from Jim's face as he heard those words.
"And you let him go in there?" he finally demanded.
"Somehow, he always gets out of it."
"Enough!" Khem was feeling totally confused as Daniel and Blair played verbal tennis with him as the ball. All of his plans seemed to be going to hell in a hand-basket. "You will come with me."
"Nope. Won't," Daniel insisted.
"Yes. You will." Khem pulled out a gun and pointed it in Daniel's general direction.
"Now that's rude!" Daniel said, not looking at the gun. "Do you see that, B? He wants us to worship him as a god and what does he do? Pulls a fucking gun on us. Not what I would say would be a good way to get converts, would you?"
Blair thought that Daniel had gone mad, but hell, why not? If he did this sort of thing for a living, it would be enough to drive anyone insane. He decided to follow one of his tenets; i.e., when all about you is going belly up, join in, go nuts and enjoy the ride.
"No. I agree Daniel, this is definitely not the way to get me on board. I need... wooing."
Daniel smothered a laugh. Khem was looking more and more confused, more and more angry as the moments went on. He'd had no idea what he was letting himself in for when he'd taken these two and he was starting to buy a clue.
"Wooing?" Daniel replied, waggling his eyebrows in Blair's direction. "Hmm, I like the sound of that. How about we get out of here and I will do the wooing."
"Oh yeah?" Blair sidled up to Daniel, dipped his head and twisted it so he could still look up through his long eyelashes. Daniel thought he looked cute as a button, but he had far too much sense than to say it. "How?"
Daniel was about to answer when Khem decided that enough was enough and struck. He lashed out and Daniel felt Khem's fist connect with his face, the force behind it enough to send him flying into the wall.
Blair ignored Khem and rushed to Daniel's side, kneeling beside him within moments and checking him over until he was assured that Daniel was stunned but basically unhurt.
"That wasn't nice," Daniel spat. "If you think I'm going to worship you now, you can think again." His voice was cold. Calculating. Despite being a 'god', Khem's blood ran like iced water through his veins.
"Jack, the snake just hit Daniel. He seems to be okay. At least he's still threatening Khem."
"The snake's name."
"Ah. You sure he's okay?"
"Pretty sure. Blair would have said out loud if Daniel had any injuries. He's really good at letting me know what's going on without it looking like he's wired or anything."
Jack nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He could see himself having to give Daniel the 'No snake-baiting' lecture when he got him back. Again. Of course, Daniel would just look at him over the top of his glasses and give him the 'pot, kettle, black, make a sentence, Jack', answer.
"O'Neill. Do you wish to enter before the forces arrive?"
Jack snorted. "I wish to enter, Teal'c. However, I can't. If we're going to stand any chance of getting everyone out alive and taking care of our situation, er, permanently, we'll need manpower."
"How are you going to work this, Sir?" Sam asked.
"Okay, plan A is this. When the forces get here, they'll enter the grounds at this point and fan out. When they're in position - to wit, covering the entire grounds - we'll go in, sneak up to the building, find a way in and get our people out. Preferably taking this... what did you say his name was again?"
"Thanks. Preferably taking Khem alive. Note, I say preferably. I'm not going to be too upset if that's not possible."
"It's not much of a plan," Jim complained. "Get up there, find a way in, get out?"
Jack looked at Jim in confusion and then at the others.
"What's wrong with it? It's always worked before."
Sam fought down a laugh, settling for putting her hand on Jim's arm.
"What's plan B?" Jim asked.
"Uh, haven't got that far yet," Jack admitted.
"Don't worry, Jim. It'll be okay. You just keep on listening in for clues. The more you can give us, the better it will be," Sam soothed.
He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly then tuned in again.
Khem pushed Daniel out of the room, making the mistake of more or less ignoring Blair. Blair was confused - he wanted to stay by Daniel's side to watch over him but at the same time he needed to give Jim information. He knew Jim was out there. He had to be.
As a compromise, he followed behind and used the opportunity of not being watched too closely to take in his surroundings and let Jim know what he could. He had no idea where he was but they were obviously in a big house, abandoned but once probably very grand. It was thick with dust and cobwebs in parts, in desperate need of maintenance. He heard voices from where they seemed to be heading and listening in carefully, he heard that they were chanting, apparently happily. Were they under the influence of the drug that Sam had mentioned?
"Jim, man, I hope you can hear me. We're being taken somewhere. There are others there. This place hasn't been lived in for years. I can't see an easy way in yet."
He whispered his words, hoping against hope that Jim could hear him.
A door opened and Khem pushed the now silent and fuming Daniel through it. Then he turned and looked at Blair in a manner which Blair found distinctly uncomfortable. As Blair cautiously approached him, Khem reached out and stroked his face. It took all of Blair's self-control to not flinch as the hand made contact.
"My host thinks that you are most attractive," Khem said. "I do not see the attraction in humans myself, but keeping my host happy means he isn't fighting me for control. That is so tiresome. You will keep him happy."
"No!" Blair shouted. "No fucking way."
Khem laughed. It wasn't a nice laugh.
"Oh you will. And you will do whatever he wants willingly or your friend will suffer the consequences."
Blair snapped. After hearing what he'd heard in the warehouse, any more attacks on Daniel or threats of them were too much for him. He lashed out, laying his best right hook on Forman's chin.
Forman barely moved. Instead he just shook his head slowly and then spoke, in his own voice.
"You're making a big mistake. Why would you want a loser like your friend when you could be with someone like me?"
Blair suddenly understood that this was the host speaking, not Khem. Sam's prediction that he was a willing host - albeit one that hadn't really understood what he was letting himself in for - had seemed to come true.
He decided to answer carefully.
"Because Daniel's my best friend and I love him," he said calmly. "No matter what you take from me, that's all it will ever be. You'll be taking. You'll never be given my love freely. The more you demand, the less you will get. And if you hurt Daniel in any way at all, you will never get anything from me."
He pushed past the stunned host and went straight to Daniel's side. Daniel had been forced onto his knees by some of the others in the room. Blair looked at them and saw that they had a dazed look, something that he'd seen on users of some of the more mellowing drugs, but they weren't mellow in themselves. Daniel struggled a bit as Blair entered the room but he was pushed back down. To stop him fighting more, Blair dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms around him.
"Man, don't fight," he whispered. "I need you to stay in one piece for me."
"Okay, okay," Daniel agreed reluctantly.
His hands were pulled behind him and moments later, he felt the all too familiar sensation of being tied up. Daniel was relieved to see that Blair wasn't being tied up. It would seem that Khem was making the mistake of not believing that Blair was dangerous. And why should he? The way the two men were dressed, Blair looked like a teenager playing dress up, not a thirty-one year-old cop that had travelled the world and dealt with a lot of bad guys. He nearly smiled at that. He knew that Khem saw him as the slightly older, bigger friend, the protective one, and therefore the most dangerous. What Khem didn't know was that there were older, bigger friends still, just waiting to take him out, once and for all.
As soon as Khem was convinced that Daniel's hands were secure, he called his other followers to attention.
"We have two new supplicants," he informed them, reverting to the Goa'uld's voice to command the room. "But it would seem that they need a little convincing. Adam, fetch me the red jar."
A young man got to his feet quickly and left the room. As he did, the others started to chant and - as soon as Blair had finished giving Jim a quick rundown on where they were - Daniel took the opportunity to speak to him.
"I think we're going to be drugged with nishta, which is like a virus rather than a regular drug. It depends on what sort it is, but I may be immune to it."
"Is there an antidote?"
Daniel nodded, but didn't tell him just what the antidote was.
"If you become... infected with it," he said, "we have to wait until it's permeated through your entire body before we get rid of it or else we never will."
"Like what happens with a superbug and not taking the whole course of penicillin?"
"God, I hope the guys get here soon."
"Me too, Blair. Me too."
Adam returned with the jar and after dropping to his knees, presented it to Khem.
"My lord," he said. "The jar."
Daniel observed that the young men were all nervous - no, not nervous. Unsure. As if they were in a situation where the rituals they were going through were so new to them all that they didn't have anyone to follow. No instruction. They were making it up as they went along. The nishta was making them devoted to their leader, but they didn't know how to be devoted to their leader. It was a fascinating anthropological exercise and he wondered if Blair had noticed. About to ask if he had, he was forestalled when Khem ordered them both brought before him.
They were in the one room which seemed to have been cleaned with restoration already starting. It was a cheap imitation of a throne room, a leather armchair, probably taken from Forman's home acting as the throne. Daniel knew that given time, more nishta and more followers, he would acquire more money, making this place into a regular palace - and fortress. Seeing this 'cult' at the beginning of its life was so interesting that Daniel forgot to be nervous.
Forced to their knees once again Khem leaned forward, the jar in his hand.
"I said you would follow me willingly," he growled. "And so you will."
Both men couldn't help but struggle, both as a natural reaction to what was going on and to put on a show. It was taking all of their faith in Jim and Jack to stop them from freaking out about this, especially as Daniel knew precisely what would happen if they didn't get them out.
"We have to go in," Jim ordered. "He's drugging them with that... stuff!"
"Wait. Tell me exactly what you've heard," Jack countered.
Jim had been giving a running commentary where he could. The last direct information from Blair had given them an idea of what room they were in. It was on the ground floor and the view from it was not the front of the house, and probably wasn't the sides. So out the back. Blair had said 'French doors' which hinted at a living room, facing onto what was once the vast expanse of lawn behind the house but was now overgrown with grass and weeds. This gave Jim hope that they would have cover when the time came to launch the attack.
"They're arguing with him but he's making them sniff a gas of some sort."
"Nishta," Sam agreed.
"Carter, set your watch," Jack ordered just as he made a note of the time on his own. He wanted back-up just in case.
Jim looked at Jack oddly. "Why?"
"We can't attempt to treat them for, what was it, Teal'c? An hour?"
"At least. The nishta must enter every single fibre of the body."
"What is the treatment?" Jim asked warily.
"Electric shock. Just a mild one," Sam answered. "Last time we did that a short circuit from an earpiece was enough. If we don't have those handy, a zat will do." She put her hand to her mouth after mentioning zats.
"Forget it, Carter," Jack said. "Jim's seen one in action and besides, he knows to forget everything he sees and hears."
"What happens if they get shocked before the hour?" he asked, a little nervously.
"That would not be good," Teal'c replied. "The treatment will fail and there is no other cure. The nishta will have a permanent hold over the victim."
"So whatever happens, they can't be shocked beforehand?"
"Shit! Jack, we need to..."
"Calm down, Ellison. We'll get there in time."
Jim grabbed Jack and held him, his hands on Jack's jacket, his nose close to Jack's nose.
"We'd better," he spat.
As discreetly as a force of thirty men could, Colonel Greyson's men made their way up the private street in a couple of large vans. Jack was praying that Khem hadn't got as far as Seth had on the home security front and didn't have lookouts posted. He hadn't seen any, neither had Jim, but that didn't prove anything. It had been thirty minutes since Jim's announcement that the guys had been drugged and Jack wasn't willing to do anything for another thirty. If Khem had a zat - a distinct possibility if there had been a teltac - he might be spiteful enough to zat them for the hell of it. Of course, he might do that if he wasn't under attack, and Jack knew it. All he could do was order everyone into position and hope that Jim would be able to hear if anything seemed to be going wrong.
He kept Jim away from the forces, having given Teal'c the instructions of what he wanted and where and leaving him to co-ordinate with Greyson. As with Seth, Teal'c couldn't enter the house without Khem detecting him and now, they knew, Sam couldn't, either. But Jack was unwilling to enter without them so he figured that he and Jim would go in first, calling for the others as soon as they needed them.
"There's nothing, Jack," Jim said, his voice filled with worry. "I can hear Blair's heartbeat but he's not saying anything."
"It's okay, Jim. When we were first exposed to this stuff, we were knocked out for a while. If Daniel is faking it, he's having to stay apparently asleep as long as Blair."
"And if he's not faking it?"
Jack shrugged. It was possible. A variant on the nishta could happen.
"Then he's out cold, too. While they're unconscious, at least they're not getting into trouble."
Jim conceded that point then reminded him. "We don't have a choice but to get them as soon as possible, though. Forman wants Sandburg."
"Yes. And no fucking way am I going to let that scum-sucking bastard get his hands on him."
"No, I wouldn't let him do that either. What about Daniel?"
"He's going to use him to force Blair. If the drug doesn't make Blair pliable, he's going to hurt Daniel if Blair doesn't give in 'willingly'." Jack could hear the quote marks as Jim said that and nearly laughed, though he understood precisely what he meant.
"Do Daniel one favour, Jim," he warned as Sam approached them.
"Don't get too mushy with Blair when you get hold of him. Leave that till you get home."
Jim nodded in agreement then waited for Sam to speak.
"They're all in position," she said. "We're just waiting for the word."
"We're going to wait until the guys have woken up," Jack informed her. Then he asked Jim, "I wonder if your people have found anything out yet?"
Trent Branin, gun dealer, was a bit surprised to find himself pinned to the wall of his shop by a rather irate Australian woman. Hey, it wasn't as if he could remember everyone that passed through his shop, was it? She held him with one hand, her other hand holding a copy of the photo of Forman in the other.
"Well? I know he bought handguns from you. What else did he buy?"
"Only what's on the records!" he insisted.
"Do you think I was born yesterday?" she snarled. "I know he had cash. Look, if you don't want me to bring the ATF crashing down on you right NOW, you will tell me what he bought off the record. Tell me that and I'll walk away. There's a cop being held by this bastard and if he gets hurt, you will pay for it!"
As soon as he heard those words, he caved. ATF? A cop kidnapping? Shit, that would bring the heavies down on him. If the gangs heard that the cops were getting information off him though, the ATF raid would look like a kiddies' tea party.
"You'll keep your mouth shut?" he asked her.
She nodded. "Yeah. But if you've got any sense you'll shut down your business and move somewhere warmer. For your health, if you get my drift."
He swallowed hard and nodded. Given the look in her eye, the gangs were a bunch of teddy bears compared to her.
"Over there," he pointed tentatively, breathing a sigh of relief when she let him go. He moved across the room and picked up another book, one which was unmarked. Opening it, he found the brief note he'd made for his own records, written in code so that others wouldn't understand.
"AK-47," he said. "Just the one."
"Just the one?" she yelled. "Have you any idea what one of those can do?"
He shrugged. It wasn't his fault if the man on the other end of the gun was an idiot, was it? Guns themselves weren't dangerous. Morons with the finger on the trigger were. It was only business to him.
He shook his head. Nothing except for a couple of Berettas that had been registered legally.
With a look of disgust, Megan left him, pulling out her phone to let Jim know straight away.
"So far we have reports of five handguns, one AK-47 and a shotgun. Not a huge amount of armoury but still enough to make some serious holes in us if we get on the wrong side of it," Jack sighed. "So, we want to overwhelm them before they get the chance to shoot us."
He was watching the time pass on his watch and saw that he had five minutes to go. Should he take the chance and order the initial advance or wait? Jim was itching to go, hell, so was he. He looked over at his other teammates and saw their fingers inching towards their own triggers. The longer he left it, the more twitchy they were going to be.
"Greyson. We're going in," Jack announced suddenly, putting his hand on Jim's arm to stop him going off too quickly. "Remember, the people in there may well be armed. However, they are not in control of their actions and despite being a threat to you and your men, they are not to be engaged unless absolutely necessary. They are innocent civilians. There is only one threat in there, the man known as Eric Forman, and you have seen his photograph. We'd rather take him alive, but I'm not so bothered about that. No matter what, do not let the civilians escape. They will need to be treated and debriefed before being returned home."
Jack had already said all of this, but he needed to say it again, if only for his own sake. If nothing else it had passed another minute. As he spoke, Jim phoned Simon to let him know that it was happening now, then he shut off his phone so that he wouldn't be disturbed or rung up at an inconvenient moment.
"Carter, T, give a two minute count and then follow us in. Hopefully, Jim and I will take out Khem before he strikes. We're heading for him. Your task is to get in there and extract the civilians and the guys if you can."
"You got it, Colonel," Sam replied, running her fingers over her gun.
Teal'c nodded, wishing that he had his staff weapon but making do with the zat in his pocket. He knew why he and Sam were going after the guys. They'd succumbed to the nishta so zatting them would be necessary.
"Come on, Jim. Let's get in there."
Jim followed Jack through the hole in the hedge and the two men crawled through the grass and up to the building.
"Around the back and straight into the room they're in or in the front or one of the sides and creep through the house?" Jack asked as they got closer.
Jim looked around and noticed that a window on one of the side rooms was a little bit open and he pointed it out. Jack nodded and the two men made their way to it as quickly and as quietly as they could.
Jim listened out to see if anyone was in the area of the window when they arrived. Moments later, he signalled that it was clear. Jack indicated that Jim should lift him up so that he could access the latch easier, which he did with ease, impressing Jack no end. With consummate skill, Jack had the window open wide in moments, silently allowing them access into the building. Jack hauled himself inside the room which turned out to be a dilapidated bathroom. Cautiously he entered it, pulling the toilet lid down softly for Jim to put his foot down safely. Reaching out of the window, he put out his hand and Jim caught it, using Jack to help him lift himself up. Within a minute, he was inside and listening against the door.
It took him no time at all to fall back into military signalling and methods and Jim let Jack know that the corridor outside was clear. With a grin, Jack acknowledged him and carefully opened the door.
Sam and Teal'c took a different direction, going straight round the back, though continuing to hide in the long grass. Teal'c figured that the others would make their way into the room from the one side of it, having seen them enter the house from the side. If he and Sam launched a simultaneous attack from the outside, hopefully there would be sufficient distraction for them to complete their tasks.
Meanwhile, the special forces brought in for the operation were closing in. Having encircled the entire property, they were now moving closer and closer to the house, tightening the net to lessen the chances of escape.
"Get ready, Major Carter," Teal'c whispered as they got closer. "We will attack as soon as we see O'Neill or Ellison inside the room."
Sam only just managed to acknowledge him. She could see in through the windows and visible were Daniel and Blair, on their knees in front of Khem. They were both looking up at him as if he was some kind of god.
"Dammit," she cursed and took out her zat and primed it. Teal'c did the same with his.
"Major Carter. Use your weapon and shoot out the lock on the window if you can."
Sam acknowledged him and picked it up again, leaving the zat on the floor next to her, ready to grab at a moment's notice. Lifting the P-90, she aimed it at the lock and spent the next minute or two staring down the sight, ready to react to Teal'c's signal.
"He's making a move on Blair," Jim whispered as they crept up to the room wherein their target resided.
As far as Jim could tell, all of the occupants of the house were inside that room. So far, he could count thirteen heartbeats. He could sense the Goa'uld, too and it was making him edgy.
Jack signalled that they would go in on five.
Five, four, three...
"My Lord, I think I saw someone in the garden."
Khem was really annoyed at the interruption. Blair was finally looking up at him with love in his eyes. Daniel was... different, he thought. No love there, but no real hate anymore, either. Just a blank look. Perhaps he'd given him a little too much of the nishta. Perhaps not enough. There would be time to find out later. For now, it was enough that he wasn't fighting him.
To be on the safe side, Khem turned and looked outside. He couldn't see anything. His followers must be getting jealous that Blair had been chosen by his host and not them. Just as he was turning back, something caught his eye. Movement in the long grass, a slight flash of light...
"I do believe that we are about to be attacked," he said, surprisingly calmly.
He looked Daniel straight in the eye and asked, "Do you know who's out there?"
"No, Lord Khem," Daniel replied in a monotone voice.
"Hmm. Perhaps. We shall see if you are truly loyal to me. Are you?"
"Of course, Lord Khem."
Khem didn't quite sound like he believed him. He made his way to a box at the side of his 'throne' and opened it, pulling out the various weapons and handing them out to some of his followers. He took a zat for himself and then a Luger, shut the lid on the box and moved back out of the way.
"Blair. Come here."
Blair stood up and walked directly to his side.
"Good boy. You will be loyal to me, won't you?"
"Yes, my lord."
Khem watched Daniel's reactions as he started to run his fingers over Blair's face. There was nothing there. No anger. No love. No nothing. He held the gun and pointed it at Blair's head. Still nothing. Daniel didn't blink when he took off the safety. There was hope for this one yet, he thought, putting the safety back on and removing the gun from its last position.
"Daniel. Come here."
Daniel walked directly to him.
"We've been made," Jim informed Jack, stalling the countdown. "They saw someone outside."
"Then they won't be expecting this, will they?" Jack shrugged.
In his hand was a smoke grenade. From his pack, Jim took out a mask, Jack doing the same thing. As soon as they were on, Jack resumed the countdown.
Two, one... NOW!
"Now Major!" Teal'c yelled as he saw the smoke grenade go off.
She reacted instantly, shooting out the lock, the impact of the bullets forcing the doors open. As soon as she'd done that, she shouldered her gun and picked up the zat. She and Teal'c were on their feet and heading to the door moments later.
Loyal and drugged up or not, Khem's followers still needed fresh air. As soon as the grenade went off they were all heading for the French doors, playing right into the hands of their soon to be captors. As each one stepped outside, Sam or Teal'c hit them with a zat blast, knocking them temporarily unconscious and undoing the work of the nishta, their guns hitting the deck and being removed from the fight without a shot being fired. Greyson's men moved in, extracting each follower as he fell and dragging him off to the waiting vans. Sam waited impatiently for Daniel and Blair to emerge, but they didn't.
On her radio, she called, "Colonel! Daniel and Blair aren't with the others!"
A weird sounding message came back to them and Sam realised that Jack had his mask on.
"Leave it to us, Carter. Take care of the others."
With that, he and Jim crashed through the old oak doors to the living room and looked around for their friends.
There was too much smoke to see clearly but that didn't stop Jim. He homed in on his guide within seconds and grabbed Jack, pulling him in their direction.
They were on the other side of the room, away from the gas. Obviously distressed by it, they were coughing occasionally and their eyes were watering, yet they still didn't move from Khem's side. The snake seemed to be unimpressed by the Tauri weaponry on display and yawned.
Jim froze when he saw Blair at Khem's side, staring blankly in front of him, a zat pointed directly at his head.
"As you can see. One move from you and I will kill him," Khem said to the men.
Jack and Jim had been hoping that Daniel would have been unaffected by the nishta and would have come to their aid immediately. Now, they had to do as Khem ordered. As soon as he told them to drop their weapons, they did.
"Daniel. Are you loyal to me?" Khem asked again.
"Yes, Lord Khem," Daniel replied.
"Will you kill the intruders?"
"Yes, Lord Khem."
"Have you ever fired a gun?"
"Yes, Lord Khem."
"Have you ever killed?"
"Yes, Lord Khem."
Each time he answered, his voice was the same, his expression unchanging. Khem seemed to believe him - almost.
"If you fail me, I will kill Blair."
"Yes, Lord Khem."
Khem handed Daniel (whose hands had been untied after his exposure to the drug) the Luger and Daniel took it, checked the chamber to see that it was loaded and stepped forward.
Jim ripped off his mask, the dissipating smoke giving him just enough air to breathe.
"Daniel," he called out. "Do you know who I am?"
Daniel said nothing.
Jack did the same with his mask, his face imploring Daniel to recognise him. There was absolutely nothing there.
"Time to pull the trigger, Daniel." Khem's voice was calm but an air of impatience told Daniel it was time to hurry up.
"DANIEL. PLEASE!" Jack called out.
Daniel raised his hands, Jim could see clearly that they were shaking. He aimed directly at Jack, his trigger finger starting to pull back.
Jack's heartbeat ran fast, sweat broke out on his brow and he swallowed hard. He and Daniel had faced death together many times but despite Daniel's threats to kill him on many occasions, he had never believed he'd actually do it.
"Teal'c, we need to get in there!" Sam yelled.
"We should wait until we are called for."
"What if they can't call for us? It's taking too long."
Teal'c sighed. "There is still too much smoke near the doors. You do not have a mask. You will become incapacitated quickly. I shall enter the room. The smoke will not affect me."
"Hurry up then!" Sam ordered.
With a small bow, Teal'c entered and looked around.
Teal'c's voice rang through the air and it was the trigger for the events of the next second or two. Just as his finger got to the point where a bullet would be released, Daniel spun around on one foot and fired.
There was silence for the next moment or so and then a very surprised-looking Khem dropped the zat, his hands fell to his sides and then he landed on the floor with a thud, blood pouring out of the hole in his forehead.
"What have you done?" Blair screamed. "My lord!"
Before he could react any further, Daniel pounced on the zat, lifted it and shot Blair once. He fell to the floor in a crumpled heap.
"Daniel?" Jack moved right up to him. "You okay?"
Daniel was stroking Blair's hair, regretting having to hurt him, even if it was the only thing to do.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Remember what I said about flying pigs?"
Daniel laughed hollowly and looked up at him.
"Get us out of here, Jack."
It was a most unusual debrief. Greyson and his men had been thanked and they took the victims with them to a prearranged destination for their own 'debriefing'. Simon had been informed of the success and the demise of Forman, a result which would shut down the investigation into his mother's death pretty quickly, saving him some work. He passed on the thanks of both Jim and Jack for the help of the others. Jack made sure to thank him profusely, knowing that having the police on his side may come in handy in the future. He had no desire to annoy Jim's boss, either.
The rest retreated to the loft having picked up their things from the motel. Now, they were all sitting in the living room and drinking coffee, trying to pick through the bones of the events of the past few days. Blair was still stunned by the after-effects from the zatting and wasn't saying much at all. Daniel was sitting next to him, one of his arms wrapped tightly around him and holding him close.
"Were you affected at all?" Jim asked of Daniel after a while. "By the drug, I mean."
Daniel froze. He didn't want to answer that one.
Looking around, he saw five pairs of expectant eyes and he knew he would have to. A flood of guilt threatened to engulf him and he let go of Blair and stood up, looking for all the world like he was about to run.
"Danny?" Jack called out.
He straightened his back, looked directly at Blair and said, "No. I wasn't. I'm sorry."
"Uh, Daniel? What have you got to be sorry for?" Sam asked, truly confused.
Daniel couldn't answer, he just grabbed his jacket and headed for the door. "I'm going for a walk. Alone."
The door was slammed shut before anyone could reply.
"What was that all about?" Sam demanded.
"I think I know," Jack said softly. "He had to pretend that he was under the influence, which meant he had to let some things happen that he didn't want to happen."
Sam shrugged. That wasn't really any news to her.
"So? What happened?"
Blair shook his head, unwilling to speak, unable to, really as his memories of the events were hazy at best.
"Carter, I think you can leave it at that," Jack almost ordered her. "We'll sort it out. Take it from me, Daniel has nothing to feel guilty about and we'll work it out with him." He looked at Blair and added, "Right? We will?"
"Yes," Blair answered evenly. "Of course we will."
Jack knew that something serious was up and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. However, he also knew that he wouldn't manage that with Sam and Teal'c there. It would be hard enough without them.
"Okay. Carter, Teal'c, you take the staff car and head back to McChord. I'll call Hammond and tell him you're on your way home. I'll make a request that you can return to the medical leave you were supposed to have, hopefully we'll get a couple of extra days tacked on. Thanks for your help on this one, guys. I didn't want to do it without you and I'm really glad you were here."
Teal'c took the hint straight away and stood up.
"I will retrieve your luggage from the car, O'Neill. I take it you are staying in Cascade?"
"Uh, yeah. I'll book in somewhere else a bit later. You know anywhere good, Jim?"
"Of course. Er, if you want, you can stay on the sofa?" He was still keeping up with the pretence of Daniel's relationship with Blair. "I'll go down to Blair's room and he and Daniel can have my bed upstairs."
"Uh, maybe," Jack grinned. "But maybe I'm a bit old for that."
Blair looked up at Jim and spoke quietly.
"Jim, where is he?"
Jim headed to the window and looked out. It took him a while but he spotted Daniel walking down the street, hands in his pocket and still looking like a sullen teenager.
"Down there," he said, pointing in Daniel's direction.
"I'm going to get him," Blair answered, his tone of voice not allowing any argument.
Reluctantly, Jim nodded. He didn't want Blair out of his sight, but whatever was going on needed to be cleared up and soon. Jack, meanwhile, was desperate to get rid of Sam. He had the feeling that if only Teal'c had been there, he wouldn't have minded, but she was sometimes just that little bit too nosey for his liking.
"Carter, I know you think we're leaving you out of things," he started when Blair left the loft. "But we're not. I'm going to stay here to keep Jim company, maybe do a little fishing... but mainly to make sure Daniel's okay and to bring him home. He and Blair need to sort out whatever it is that is bothering them. They're not going to do that if we keep questioning them."
Sam remained silent for a moment, thinking it over. She remembered each time she'd jumped to conclusions over the past few days and decided that thinking further would probably result in her being left red-faced again. Discretion being the better part of valour, she finally nodded and stood up.
"A couple more days off, eh, Sir?" she said hopefully.
"At least. I hope. Shall do my best, Carter. That's a promise."
With a small, wry smile, she said, "I wouldn't expect anything less of you, Sir. I'll see you soon. Give Daniel a big hug from me."
"Will do. Take care."
Sam bade Jim goodbye and left the loft, Jack at her side as he went to help Teal'c out with the luggage. He met him halfway up the stairs and took his bag off him. Sam continued down as Teal'c carried on up with Daniel's bag.
Inside the loft, Teal'c put the bag down and looked at Jim.
"Detective Ellison. It was a pleasure to work with you."
Jim smiled warmly at him and put out his hand to shake it, surprised when Teal'c gripped him by the arm instead.
"The pleasure was mine," Jim replied. "I'm sorry I was so... inhospitable to you at first. Jack and Daniel's faith in you is obviously not misplaced. Should we meet again..."
"I understand," Teal'c said, bowing slightly. "I hope we shall meet again. Under less stressful circumstances. But not fishing."
Jim laughed. He couldn't help it. Despite Daniel's warning that Teal'c's humour took some getting used to, he'd become accustomed to him very quickly.
"O'Neill, I will see you soon."
"Sure will, buddy. Thanks again for your help."
"I fear I did little."
"But what you did, you did with your usual panache," Jack teased.
"Indeed," Teal'c deadpanned. "There is no other way for me to behave."
"Daniel! Wait up, man!"
Blair chased after him, desperate to speak to him. Reluctantly, Daniel stopped and waited.
As Blair caught up with him, he turned to look at him.
"I didn't think you'd want to see me again," Daniel murmured.
"Dammit, Blair, you know why not."
"No, I don't."
Pain was etched in Daniel's face.
"I had to let him touch you," he said, his voice barely audible. "I had to watch him feel you up. If he'd decided to fuck you I would have had to let him because there was nothing I could do to stop it. It wasn't because I was afraid for me, Blair. You've got to believe that. I would rather he'd have killed me than hurt you. But I've become too much like them."
"Them? Who's 'them', D?"
"Jack. The others," he replied. "The mission was the important thing. The only thing. My need to get at every fucking snake overwhelmed me." He looked sadly into Blair's startled eyes. "I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I won't blame you if you don't forgive me. I won't forgive me for that."
Blair didn't care who was looking at him, didn't care what anyone else thought. He wrapped his arms around Daniel and pulled him close, ignoring the looks of the passers-by.
"Listen to me, Daniel. I love you, man. You did the right thing. You would have continued to do the right thing. I don't remember any of it, not really."
"That doesn't make it right, Blair."
"Me not remembering it doesn't mean it didn't happen, Daniel. But nothing really happened."
"It could have."
Blair let out a laugh. "And I could have ham and eggs, if I had the ham."
Daniel looked at him, a little bewildered, then he fell about laughing.
"And you aren't?"
They hugged a little more then Blair said, "Come on, man. Let's go home."
Jack was putting the phone down as the two entered the loft. He turned and looked at them, smiling as he did.
"Good news," he said. "Hammond's given us till the end of the week. In fact, we don't have to be in until next Monday. I figured we'd stay here, if you want to, that is."
Daniel gave him a small smile and he nodded.
"That would be great, Jack. Thanks."
As Jack stepped away from the phone, Jim picked it up and dialled his favourite Chinese restaurant and ordered the works. He was feeling particularly hungry and he figured the others would be too. When he put down the phone, he saw Daniel being hugged hard by Jack on the sofa, Blair at Daniel's feet, holding his hand, and he couldn't help but smile.
But when he re-entered the living room, Daniel looked sadly at him.
"I'm sorry I didn't take better care of him for you," he said quietly.
"Hey, I can take care of myself!" Blair argued.
Internally, Jim was on Daniel's side of this particular argument. Part of him wanted to blame Daniel for not stopping Khem. However, he had spent far too long with Blair to allow that side of him to become public, so he said, "You didn't let anything really bad happen to him, Daniel. And I know you wouldn't have let it go too far. As Blair says, he's big enough and ugly enough to take care of himself. He's okay."
"Hey, less of the ugly!" Blair interjected, getting himself a laugh.
Jack decided to lighten the mood.
"No, definitely not ugly. Neither of you. I'm not surprised Khem wanted you," he said to Blair. "You look... cute dressed like that."
The others couldn't look Blair in the eye.
"Well, you don't usually look cute," Jim offered. "I mean, you look great. Handsome. In a macho, rugged kind of way, but not cute. It's just these clothes."
Blair looked up at Daniel, stretched his arm out until his hand was on the side of Daniel's head. He looked like he was going to stroke his face lovingly but he surprised the hell out of everyone by smacking him instead.
"And you," he warned Daniel. "If you don't get off this guilt trip right now, I'll show you just how not cute I am. I may be smaller than you but I can inflict some severe damage on you, and you know it."
Daniel put his hands up in a surrender.
"Are you sure you don't mind this?" Jack asked as Jim changed the bedding on the big bed upstairs. "I've seen the size on that futon and it's not exactly what I'd call big enough for two."
Jim shrugged. "We've put the mattress on the floor. The futon's closed up. There's plenty of room."
"We can sleep in there," Jack offered.
Jim shook his head. "Nah. Besides, you guys are older than us. Well, you're older than me, Daniel's older than Blair... I figured you'd need the comfort."
Jim shrugged again.
"Don't think you have to, um, hold back on our account," he added. "Everything you might need is in the top drawer."
This time, Jack laughed, a low, filthy laugh.
"I get it. Same for you. Leave the door open. Sleep in the living room if you want..."
He opened the drawer and found an opened bottle of lube and some condoms, picked them out, then he handed them to Jim with a smirk on his face.
Jim couldn't believe it but he was getting hard just from this conversation. Jack noticed and moved next to him. In a whisper, he said, "Sleep up here. With us."
Jim shut his eyes and swallowed hard.
"Dammit, Jack," he warned. Then he shook his head. "I can't. It's been hard enough for me to accept this side of me. I can just about deal with this new-found kink of mine. Just about. But I know that if you were to touch Blair, even accidentally..."
"You'd skin me alive?"
"Got it in one."
"I understand. Believe me, Ellison, I understand."
Jack put his hand out as if to shake with Jim then he changed his mind and drew him into a hug instead.
"Listen in as much as you want," he whispered. "Look as much as you want. And do yourself a favour."
"Don't be afraid of what you want. If you repress that, you'll become a surly bastard."
"I've always been one of those."
"Not now, you're not."
Jim stood back and nodded. He got it. He'd faced what he wanted when he got Blair. By hiding away further desires, he might revert to type and make Blair's life a misery. And, Jim reckoned, Blair would probably be more open-minded about his kinks than he was.
"I'll try," he replied. "Have a good night."
"Yeah, I'll try," Jack said with a wink. "You too."
As the older guys were changing the bed, Blair and Daniel were on the balcony, drinking wine and looking out across the city.
"You okay now?" Daniel asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine. You?"
Daniel took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yeah. I will be." He looked at his fingernails and then said apropos of nothing, "I wonder what the guys are talking about?"
Blair laughed. "Us?"
Daniel joined him, laughing softly. Then he said, "We can't do it. Even if they ask us to. God knows I want you, B. I always will, but..."
"But you want to keep Jack to yourself. Just as I want to keep Jim to myself. Don't worry, Jim's far too jealous to let it get that far. Doesn't mean we can't tease them a bit, does it?"
"And just how do you propose doing that?"
"Watch and learn, Jackson," replied Blair with a wink. "Watch and learn."
He heard them coming down the stairs and indicated that they should go back inside. As Daniel stepped back indoors, Blair went with him, deliberately touching Daniel as much as he could without making it look deliberate. Daniel twigged straight away and let it happen, casually sitting in front of the fire which had candles lit in the grate. He put up his hand and took Blair's, pulling him to sit down with him without looking in his direction. They acted so in sync that it looked natural. Jack and Jim sat on the sofa opposite.
Daniel couldn't help but think they looked good together and had to smother a grin and fight off the beginning of a hard-on as a result. He started up a casual conversation, occasionally shooting lusty glances in Jack's direction, loving ones in Blair's and even more occasionally, downright smouldering ones in Jim's. It wasn't that he wanted to get Jim into bed, but he did want Jack to get jealous - so damned jealous that he would mark him tonight. He wanted to be branded. Fucked. Bitten. He needed the pain to make him feel alive. He knew that by staying, the others would be listening in and he didn't care. His own exhibitionist side was crying out for an airing and tonight, it was going to get one.
"Damn, it's getting hot in here," he complained after a while. "Must be the wine. It always makes me feel the heat. What about you, Blair?"
Blair had been doing his own slow burn. He'd figured what Daniel had and though he didn't think he had an exhibitionist side, the idea of having the others listening in to him that night was turning him on beyond belief. What was turning him on more was the fact that he knew that Jim would be sensing his torrential hormones, that he would smell his excitement and that it would be exciting him. That in turn was turning him on even more, becoming a vicious circle of rampant libido feeding a raging sex drive. He was as hard as nails.
"Uh, yeah," he answered, his voice not much more than a squeak.
"You should stick to beer," Jack said. "Oh no, not you, Daniel. I know what happens when you drink beer."
"Jack. I was, er, jet-lagged," Daniel argued. "I hadn't slept in thirty-six hours, I'd travelled God knows how far and my wife had just been kidnapped. And you were surprised that one beer put me out?"
"Maybe not then, but even now..."
"I don't like beer. At least not the crap you drink. Now, if you were to drink the decent stuff."
"Ha!" Jack threw a cushion at him, making Daniel spill some wine on his T-shirt.
"Dammit, Jack," he growled, but he was secretly glad. He'd been waiting for an opportunity like this.
Putting down his glass, he hauled his shirt over his head. When the cooler air hit his hot skin, he sighed happily.
"That's better," he said. "At least it's not so hot now."
He noticed that Jim's eyes went straight to his abs and arms as if surprised by the strength there. Jack just grinned, as did Blair. They'd both seen him naked recently and knew how good he looked.
"Just as well you didn't spill any on your jeans, D," Blair teased.
"I did," Daniel threatened.
"Don't take them off!" Jack insisted. At Jim's curious look he added, "Apparently there's 'no room' for underwear in those jeans." He did the air quotes as he spoke, making Daniel snort into his wine.
"There isn't," he argued, standing up and running his hand over his ass and turning around. "Come on, you'd see every line if I wore them."
He looked down at Blair who was having a hard time keeping a straight face. The others were just having a hard time.
The teasing went on until Jim couldn't stand it anymore. He stood up, hauled Blair up and dragged him into the downstairs bedroom, slamming the door behind them.
Daniel burst out laughing then he looked over at Jack.
"You knew that would happen, didn't you?" Jack accused, standing up and putting his hands out.
Daniel took them in his and allowed Jack to haul him up. They stood nose to nose for a while before Daniel answered.
"And just what did you hope it would do to me?"
"For you, Jack," Daniel purred, rubbing his hand up and down Jack's groin.
"Ah. And for you? What do you want, Daniel?"
Daniel trailed his lips from Jack's ear and down his jaw-line.
"You," he whispered. "All of you. I want your cock in my ass. I want your mouth on my dick. I want you to bite me, fuck me... mark me. Dammit, Jack, I need you to hurt me."
"Make me feel you, Jack. I need to feel you next fucking week. Don't hold back." He held Jack's face in his hands. "What will it take to make you do that?" he demanded. "Tell me."
Jack thought he was about to spontaneously combust. He kissed Daniel to take his mind off this dick for a moment or the night would be over sooner than later. A wicked thought crossed his mind.
"Tell me a bedtime story. A really filthy bedtime story."
Daniel grinned back. "Deal. Then you won't hold back?"
"Trust me, Daniel. I'm going to fuck you so hard you won't sit down for a month."
Daniel shuddered at those words and ran to the bathroom to get ready for bed. He was already excited, knowing that Jim was going to listen in to whatever he said. It was going to have to be a good story.
Blair lay panting on the mattress on the floor. He was naked, hard and desperate to get off. Jim had taken him in there, flung him to the floor and stripped him quickly. Now he was standing up, ripping his own clothes off, barely taking his eyes off his lover as he did. Blair licked his lips hungrily as he saw Jim's cock standing upright, ready for action.
As soon as he was naked, Jim knelt down and pulled Blair up to join him.
"I was so scared for you," he whispered.
"I know. I was pretty scared, too."
"Are you sure you're not hurt?"
"Promise, Jim. Daniel is the only one that got hurt. Not that he will accept that," he added sadly.
"He's very protective of you."
"Daniel's a protective guy. It's his nature."
Blair ran his lips over Jim's bare shoulder and then asked, "Why did you zone when Jack and Daniel were kissing?"
Jim froze. No way could he tell Blair about his fantasy.
"Not going to tell me? Hmm. Well, you know, I have a theory."
"Sandburg, you always have a theory."
Blair snorted then said, "Maybe so. Do you want to hear it?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"You always do."
Jim nodded. "Go on."
"I think you want to see Daniel and me together, don't you? You weren't seeing Jack, were you? You were seeing me. You got turned on by the thought of me with him. How did you see it? Was he fucking me? Was I fucking him? Hmm?"
Jim couldn't answer. Blair's words had put that image back in his head and he was stuck there.
"Jim? What do you want to do?" Blair whispered.
Jim shook his head as if he was dislodging his brain.
"What is it, Jim?"
"Daniel," he whispered back. "He's uh, telling Jack a... don't know what to call it."
"Ah, one of his infamous bedtime stories?" Blair responded. "I know them all too well. He's good at them. Come here, big guy. Tell me what he's saying. Maybe it'll inspire us."
He lay back on the mattress and crooked his finger. Jim was with him in moments.
"There were four of us," Daniel said, laying flat on his back and looking up at the skylight. "Me, my boyfriend Mike, my best pal Joe and his partner Andrew. We were young. Fit. Quick to recover if you know what I mean."
Jack chuckled, sounding positively dirty as he did. He knew.
"Anyway, Andrew, he was new to this. He'd only just accepted that he was gay and wasn't happy about it but he was crazy about Joe. He got jealous of anyone who gave him attention. Hell, he only really accepted me because Joe and I had known each other for a while. Whenever Joe wanted Andrew's attention, he'd flirt with me. There wasn't anything in it but it was guaranteed to get Joe fucked hard."
"What was your boyfriend like?" Jack asked, recognising the story for what it was already and curious as to where Daniel was going with it.
"He could get jealous too, but he had kinks that kind of overrode that. I didn't mind his jealousy, really, he wasn't too overpowering with it. He used to tell me how he wouldn't mind seeing me with Joe, in fact, he'd get off on it. Maybe seeing me with Andrew, too. Both at the same time would be even better."
"Did it happen?"
"Hey, who's telling this?" Daniel teased.
"Sorry. Go on," Jack replied with a grin, his hand reaching for his hard cock. Daniel smacked it away. He didn't want Jack coming too soon.
"Anyway, Andy got really tetchy over time. Every time Joe and I touched each other, he would stare at us. Every time Mike touched me, he would stare. I'd see him getting hard easily and I knew he wanted the same as Mike but he hadn't realised it. It had been hard for him to accept he was gay, accepting he had kinks was even more difficult. I knew I needed to push him or else it might pull them apart, his jealousy might take over and hurt Joe. I couldn't allow that."
"No, of course you couldn't."
Jack felt he needed to say the odd thing now and then, partially to let Daniel know he was hanging on every word but tonight, it was mainly to reinforce the message that was going to Jim.
"So one night, we all got together, just as we usually did and had a few drinks. Joe was looking good, as ever, and I was feeling really horny. I pulled Mike to one side and told him what I had planned and he damn near came on the spot. He agreed it would be a good idea, a great idea, so I set to work."
"He's talking about us," Jim said, having relayed every word to Blair. "Isn't he?"
"Probably. Shut up, listen and tell me what else he's saying," Blair insisted.
Jim did as instructed.
"Daniel and 'Joe'," Blair nearly laughed at the verbal quotes he could hear, "started to mess around, play fighting. 'Andy' watched them closer and closer, unable to take his eyes off them. Daniel saw he was getting harder all the time and nodded at Mike to make his move."
Jim shuddered when he heard the next words and it took all his powers of self-control to relay them.
"Joe and Daniel started to kiss, just kidding around at first but the alcohol and the atmosphere made things hot and they started to really mean it. They practically ripped each other's clothes off as they wanted to touch each other's skin real quick."
As Jim spoke, Blair rolled over him, letting his bare skin connect with Jim's and rubbing his whole body over Jim's. He wasn't trying to get off, this was just to build up the tension - and boy, was it working.
"Mike wanted to join in, but he knew that Andy would freak if he touched Joe. So he went a different track. He stood behind Andy and started to run his hands over Andy's body, kissing his neck, undoing his shirt. Andy was frozen like a deer in the headlights. He didn't want Mike, but he didn't want him to stop. He wanted Joe but he didn't want me to stop what I was doing. He seemed to forget to breathe, to think and, I guess, for the first time in his life, he just gave himself over to feeling, forgetting stupid moral barriers and just deciding to enjoy himself for once."
Daniel stopped for a moment, taking a breather. He needed to, his own imagination was threatening to run away with him. When he was back under control, he continued.
"When Mike got Andy's shirt off him, he stripped his own off pretty quick. I heard Andy gasp when he felt Mike's chest touch his back, but he still didn't stop watching us. I wanted to up the ante and got Joe naked fast. My clothes were off moments later and I went back to what I was doing. We kissed, we touched everywhere and eventually I couldn't take any more. I pushed him onto his back and went down on him."
Jack shivered at those words, imagining what it would look like to watch Daniel sucking Blair off.
"Oh fuck," he gasped, then he felt he had to do something about this. He kissed Daniel hard then broke off and trailed more kisses down his stomach, finally reaching his dick and swallowing it in one go. Daniel wasn't sure how he managed it but he held off from coming immediately. He grinned when Jack stopped sucking, looked up and said, "Carry on."
"Jack's blowing him," Jim groaned. "I can hear it, I can smell it. God, Chief..."
Blair copied Jack's actions and slid down Jim's body, quickly reaching his goal and taking his time with his favourite 'lollipop'. Jim rapidly turned down his sense of touch and carried on with his narration, his eyes almost rolling into the back of his head when he felt Blair's fingers stroking behind his balls.
"Andy started to get worked up. Not angry or jealous, but thinking he was. Mike held onto him, pulled him down on the floor, stripped him off and rolled him onto his back. Joe came, Daniel swallowed him down, Mike kissed him, touched him... God, I can't," he gasped.
Blair wondered if he could get away with something and picked up the bottle of lube and put some on one of his fingers, then cautiously, he slipped it inside Jim. He hadn't done this yet with him, hadn't wanted to scare Jim off. It might have been a step too far, but given Jim's apparent new desire to go further, he figured it would be worth a try. Jim could say 'no' and he'd stop straight away. Jim didn't. He groaned louder and pushed down on him, urging Blair to give him more.
"Joe got onto his hands and knees for me. Andy could see everything - his ass, my dick and he knew what I was going to do and he didn't stop me. So I did it. Andy fucked Joe whenever he could so Joe took me easily. He loved taking it. What Andy didn't know, though, was that he loved giving it, too. Joe didn't want to freak Andy out so he never asked. Mike didn't give a damn, he grabbed the lube off me and greased up a finger. He sucked him, took his mind off things and then started to finger him. Mike wasn't going to fuck him but he wanted Andy to like it."
"Did he?" Jack squeaked.
"Yes. He loved it. Begged for more. I said only Joe could do that, I wanted Mike."
Jack sucked again, harder, more desperately. He pushed two lubed fingers inside Daniel, searching out the gland immediately.
"I fucked Joe harder, he was crying out, getting hard again, wanting me to go faster, nastier..." Daniel panted to regain some breath and continued. "Mike hit the spot with Andy and he came hard, yelling his head off."
Jim stiffened, his back arched and he poured down Blair's throat. He knew that Blair had two fingers inside him now and he didn't care. Daniel was right, he wanted more. Hadn't known that Blair wanted him though. Felt like shit that Blair hadn't been able to ask. He wouldn't have to ask tonight, he'd just give it to him. Had to do that.
"Chief," he moaned. "Please. Do it."
Blair knelt back gingerly, painfully hard and desperate to get off. He knew what Jim was saying and he was stunned. He'd shown no interest in bottoming before now.
"Yes! Dammit, Blair, do it."
Not waiting for a second opinion, Blair grabbed a condom quickly and with fumbling fingers, he rolled it on.
Daniel came with a roar, his abused gland triggering him off when Jack hit it again. He didn't care how abused it was, he wanted more abuse, more pain. Needed it.
Jack didn't need prompting, he knew how Daniel got, knew his needs by now. He flipped Daniel onto his hands and knees, Daniel's favourite position, and quickly made himself at home.
"Keep telling me what happened," he demanded, going slowly as if to threaten Daniel. Talk, or else.
"I came. Inside him. Filled him. Andy was going nuts and grabbed at Joe, pulling him away from me. Mike crawled over to me, didn't hang around, just fucked me so damned hard." As he said that, Jack let loose, making it difficult for Daniel to think, let alone speak. He had to finish the story, though. Knew he had to.
"Andy begged Joe to fuck him. He had to feel him, had to know how damned good it was. Joe did what he could to be gentle, to not hurt him, but Andy was feeling dizzy, almost drunk. He didn't care about the pain. He just wanted all of Joe."
"Move it!" Jim demanded. Blair had taken his time entering him, unwilling to hurt him and put him off wanting this. In response, Jim had turned down his sense of touch until he was all the way in, equally unwilling to be put off. As soon as Blair was there, he turned it back up, revelling in the sensations that he felt.
Taking his lover's words at face value, Blair moved it. Starting slowly, he built up and up until he had a good rhythm going, pushing in as deeply as he could go, angling himself to hit the gland whenever he could.
Jim tried to listen to Daniel but found it more difficult as the moments went on. It seemed that Daniel was having more difficulty, too, his words coming in gasps and broken up.
"Fuck... deep... Mike... jealous... love..."
He shut off the heightened hearing and concentrated on Blair instead and on how he felt. And he felt better than he ever had done. He'd had no idea this could feel so good. Why had he waited? Why had he fought this side of him? No way was he ever going to fight that again.
"Oh fuck, Jim," Blair gasped. "Can't hold on."
Just seeing Jim on his knees for him was enough. He couldn't get over the gift that Jim was giving him. Overwhelmed, he fell over the edge, dropping onto Jim's back moments later.
"Oh God, Jim," he whispered in awe. "Love you so much."
As Blair pulled carefully out of him, Jim twisted his head back and grinned.
"I had no idea you were so selfish, Chief," he teased.
Confused, Blair replied, "Huh?"
"Why didn't you tell me it was that good? Keeping it to yourself, eh?"
Blair chuckled as he watched Jim flop onto his back.
"Man, you were so not paying attention to me. Haven't you seen how much I love it?"
Jim shrugged. "Guess I didn't realise just how much."
"Well, you do now. Am I going to have to arm wrestle you to see who bottoms?"
"Oh yeah," Jim grinned smugly. "And guess who's going to win that?"
"Oh no," Blair countered. "You haven't seen me when I'm that motivated."
Daniel lay flat on his face, gasping for breath, unable to feel his arms or legs. He'd been fucked as hard as he needed and Jack was lying next to him, exhausted from the effort.
"Thank you," he whispered. "I needed that."
"Me too. You're right. I do get jealous."
"I know. It's okay. Love you," Daniel muttered sleepily.
"Love you, too," Jack replied. "Get some sleep."
Daniel didn't hear that last sentence, he was already out for the count.
Daniel sat at the table with a wince and Blair had to hide a smirk. Jack and Jim were arguing about what was going to be cooked for breakfast and they decided to let them fight it out. It was easier to stay out of it. Besides, it got them out of cooking, too.
"You okay?" Blair mouthed.
"Yeah," Daniel replied as silently.
"Thanks for the story," he continued, looking directly at Jim's ass with a grin.
"You're welcome," smiled Daniel. "Very welcome."