default style cream background and navy text

Quiet Strength 4

the last straw

Summary: The pressure builds on the triad and something has to give. Little things add up till they finally break the 'camel's back'.
Notes: Usual grovelling thanks to the fabulous foursome for betas, encouragement, kicks in the backside throughout the four stories...take a bow Joy, Danvers, Catspaw and Wadjet.
Special Note: The Servicemember's Legal Defense Network is a real organisation which are "Helping service members harmed by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass'." Click here to find out more. I have no idea if the post mentioned even exists. If I'm way off the mark, I offer humblest apologies. To those of you in the US, I urge you to support them and their work.

Sam couldn't believe her eyes. She'd been sent to DC with Daniel to present the latest report from the SGC. The flight up had been long. They'd been polite, but all the warmth had gone from their relationship. She was pissed with him for daring to risk an affair with the Colonel. And she was pissed with Jack for daring to be gay and not want her.

She hadn't reported them, though she had been tempted; the feelings that she'd had on the slave planet prevented it. Also Teal'c's words of rebuke to her had cut her deeply. For many nights after their return, she had thought on what he had said and she knew that he was right. So, she was trying to be okay about it, but failing miserably.

She'd never thought herself homophobic, but when she actually analysed her emotions, she also realised that that was how she was reacting. She was disturbed by her own feelings, knowing them to be irrational and immature, but still finding it hard to shake them.

Then there came the shock that she was currently receiving. Daniel and Major Davis had been talking in the corridor during a break in the meetings and Daniel had had the exact same smile for Davis that he had for O'Neill. No one else ever got that smile. Oh, they hadn't been kissing or doing anything wrong. In fact, she was sure that no one else would have even clued in to Daniel's secret smile. To the outside world, they'd looked like two friends sharing a joke.

But she knew that there was more to it than met the eye. So, she'd followed Daniel after their return to their hotel. He'd not arranged to have dinner with her, not that she was expecting it anymore, but he hadn't even mentioned it. She'd seen him leave his room through the crack in her door when she'd heard his open. Then she'd followed him out and down the street. He hadn't taken a cab, making it easier for her to watch. He'd turned a corner and then entered a restaurant.

Sam looked through the window and saw Paul Davis waiting for him. They greeted each other warmly as friends, sat and laughed together, doing nothing untoward at all. But again, she was sure that there was more than people would be seeing. After about thirty minutes of seeing them smiling and laughing, touching each other from time to time, she stopped watching and returned to her hotel room. Was Daniel having an affair with Davis? What should she do? If he was, he was cheating on the Colonel.

A small smile spread over her face. Revenge would be sweet.

A week later and the four teammates were sitting around a camp fire, many light-years from home. It was a quiet mission and they were due back the following afternoon. Daniel had found some ruins that were interesting but not important and Sam had little to do, as there was nothing scientifically interesting for her.

Jack and Daniel had been laughing it up earlier in the day, doing nothing that they hadn't done before, just acting as friends. As best friends. As a result, Sam was feeling out of the loop. Even Teal'c seemed to be closer to the men than before (though that was likely more her interpretation as she withdrew from them). It was time to throw a spanner in the works.

"So, Daniel," she said calmly, "did you enjoy your dinner with Major Davis in DC?"

Daniel cocked his head. He hadn't told her that he was going to dinner with him.

"Excuse me?"

"You know, at night. The two of you. At the restaurant?" she prompted.

"You were following me?" Daniel's eyes opened wide and his back stiffened.

Teal'c was curious as to where this was going but Jack didn't react. He'd known that Daniel and Paul would meet up.

Sam shrugged. "I suppose it's a shock to you, Sir," she addressed Jack. "Did you know that they were such good friends?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I did," Jack replied coolly. "Didn't Paul say that he'd enjoyed the meal, Daniel?"

"He did," Daniel said with a grin. "The best seafood he'd had since he and I vacationed in New Orleans."

"You went there?" Jack asked, turning his back on Sam for a moment to address Daniel.

"Didn't I tell you? Remind me when we get home." Daniel looked over at Sam. "She thinks I'm cheating on you."

"You were flirting with him!" she insisted. "I saw you."

"Yes, I was," Daniel admitted.

"He always does," Jack added.

"And you're all right with this?" she spluttered.

"Of course."

Teal'c smothered a snigger - he really wanted to laugh at her reaction but his schooling helped him shut down on his emotions.

Sam came out fighting.

"I don't believe this. He's not only persuaded you into a career-threatening relationship, he's cheating on you and you don't care?"

Jack had had enough. "Major Carter," he barked, "not that it's any of your business, but he's not cheating on me. I know precisely what his relationship with Paul is. Oh, and I didn't take much in the way of persuading. You see, I've been in love with Daniel for a very long time. While you were chasing after me a year or so ago? It wasn't you I was dreaming of at night, it was him."

"Bbbbut you said..."

"I said I cared for you more than I should. And that was the absolute truth. I did. I'm not so sure about that at the moment though. Your behaviour isn't doing a lot for my feelings for you. But you see, I was glad that Daniel hadn't been behind that force field because I'd have had to have admitted to loving him more than I should. Did you think that I'd have left him? That I'd have left Teal'c? You were the one that mentioned love, Carter, not me. I wasn't the one that went to your house, drunk and flinging myself at you. You did that to me. Remember? The night after that fucked up zaytarc thing? The night I had to ring the Doc to come out. The night you were screaming that you loved me. You had to be sedated and then taken to her house. Be grateful that I said nothing to Hammond about it, Carter. I gave you a break. You owe me that in return."

Daniel and Teal'c were stunned. They'd both known that she had fallen for him, but neither knew of her reaction to it.

"You never said," Daniel spoke quietly to Jack.

"No, because that was between her and me. Just as I never mentioned our relationship to her or Teal'c before it came out."

Daniel nodded. "Fair enough."

Sam was blushing furiously. She barely remembered that night, just remembered waking up at Janet's the next morning with a hangover to end all hangovers.

"You don't remember, do you?" Jack asked kindly.

"No," she whispered.

"It's why I never said anything to you," he said. "You weren't in your right frame of mind and I wasn't going to fuck up a career for it. Team work, Carter, that's what it's all about. Giving a damn about all your team. You made Daniel's life a living hell and gave me an excuse to do the same thing. I was afraid of screwing up my own career and because I knew that I'd never have an affair with you, it was easier to let it play. I shouldn't have done it and I'm sorry - to you all. But, I made up with Daniel a long time before you did. I also trust him. You don't. If you can't trust your teammates, maybe you'd be happier on another team."

"You're kicking me off SG-1?"

"No. I'm saying that if you don't trust us, you may prefer to do that. I'm not so sure that Daniel trusts you anymore."

Daniel shrugged, not wanting to answer that. He really wanted the team to go back to the way they had been, with the added bonus of being with Jack. It wasn't as if they had ever let Teal'c and Sam down because of it.

"Teal'c? Do you have a problem with Daniel and me?"

"None whatsoever, O'Neill. You have not changed your working methods. You do seem to listen to him more easily than before, however. This is not a bad thing. Daniel Jackson's advice is usually worth listening to."

"Thanks Teal'c," both men replied at the same time.

Teal'c also added, "If you did not have your relationship, it is quite possible that Daniel Jackson's pretence at being your slave would not have had such impact. It is reasonable to assume that that mission could have been our last. The people were warlike and uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, as we discovered during the discussions. They may have taken us prisoner or killed us as a result. I also do not believe that you would leave any of us behind, O'Neill."

"I wouldn't," Jack said definitely.

"No, he wouldn't," Daniel added. "And I wouldn't either."

Sam said nothing, but she felt even lousier than before. She'd allowed her own feelings to overrule her sense and she was angry with herself for that. It was so out of character for the career major. She was also ashamed at her past behaviour.

Sensing that Sam wanted this conversation to end, Jack announced that it was time for bed. He asked her to do the first watch, to give herself a chance to think over what had been said. Gratefully, she took what he offered her. And sat and thought while the others went to bed. One thing she realised was that she was still none the wiser as to Davis' relationship with Daniel, and why the Colonel was so accepting of it. Something strange was going on.

Brigadier General Alec Chase was enjoying his tour of the SGC. He'd been brought in to see the place as he had been given the task of going through the Air Force to pick out the best of the best to work there. It was thought that an understanding of the job they would be sent to would help him choose the right candidates.

A klaxon sounded and Chase turned to Hammond.

"What's going on, George?"

"A team's coming back. Come on, if we're quick, you'll see the gate in action."

They moved as rapidly as they could and made it to the gate room in time to see SG-1 coming through.

"Colonel O'Neill, welcome home," Hammond said jovially as he saw the team emerge.

"Thank you General, it's good to be back."

"Anything wrong, Colonel?" Hammond asked, as that was usually Jack's code for a fraught mission.

"Nothing, Sir, nothing at all." Then Jack froze as he saw the man standing to one side of Hammond, stopping dead in his tracks and causing Daniel (who was wiping his glasses and not looking where he was going) to bump into his back.

"Jack? Why have you stopped?" he complained, then he stepped to one side and saw the man. There was something about him that put Daniel's guard up straight away, though he didn't know why.

"Sorry, Daniel," Jack muttered. He shook himself and stepped forward, offering up a salute to the two generals.

"Jack," Chase said quietly, "good to see you again."

"You too, um, General? Congratulations on your promotion, Sir."

"I could say the same, Colonel." He turned and looked at Hammond who was looking confused. "I knew Jack when I was a major and he was just a raw lieutenant," he explained. "It seems like a lifetime ago. You look a lot different."

"You haven't changed much," Jack replied. "But I have. I'm a lot different." Jack's voice was firm, though polite. Those that knew him the best knew that his own guard was up, that he was upset by the sight of this man for reasons they weren't going to figure out. All except Daniel. He knew.

Hammond took advantage of the sudden quiet to send SG-1 to the infirmary and they made good their escape.

"Jack?" Daniel murmured as they made their way there.

"Not now, Daniel," Jack snapped back.

"Okay, but you will talk to me later," came the almost silent reply.

A nod was all he got in acknowledgement.

The check-up was routine, but the atmosphere was tense. Sam wanted to talk to Janet, but Janet wasn't on duty. Her frustration was swallowed down as she forced herself to be the professional that she knew she could and should be. She'd see her friend later that night and drown her sorrows in company.

Jack was staring at the walls and not looking Daniel in the eye. Teal'c was curious but said nothing. He was resigned to the fact that there were some things that O'Neill kept close. He could only hope that Daniel would force it out of him in private.

Up at the debrief, Jack held in a sigh of relief when he realised that Chase wasn't there. They got through the session. They went, they looked, Daniel found little, it was a bust. With a shrug, Hammond dismissed them, asking Jack to stay behind.

"Is something wrong, Jack?" he asked as everyone left.

"No, George, not really. The air has been cleared with the team. If there are any residual problems, they'll work themselves out."

"Good, good, I'm glad to hear it. But I was more concerned by your reaction to General Chase. What's the story?"

This was one story that Hammond would never hear.

"Just a blast from the past, George, threw me for a loop, that's all."

"Did he do anything to hurt you?" Hammond's voice was full of concern.

"No, Sir, it was nothing like that. Just remembering being a lieutenant, that's all. You know what it's like. Not all memories are good ones, but the General was always nice to me."

"If you're sure, Jack?"

"I'm sure. Thanks, George."

He was dismissed and headed straight for his office, got to the corner of the corridor on which his office was located and saw Chase standing outside it. He turned on his heel and moved swiftly to Daniel's office.


Without knocking, Jack entered the room, relieved to find Daniel there. He shut the door behind himself and sat on the cot without a word. Daniel studied him for a while, then poured a couple of mugs of coffee which he had just been brewing.

"Jack? Here. Drink this," he said as he sat next to him.

Jack looked up without moving his body, giving Daniel a small, grateful smile. "Thanks Danny," he said. Daniel cocked his head to one side and raised an eyebrow, and Jack knew he'd just been ordered to talk. "It's him all right, but you'd guessed that, hadn't you?"

"Yes. The minute he said he'd known you as a lieutenant, your reaction to him, it made sense. Why so tense, though? I thought you said he was good to you."

"He was, Daniel, he was. I guess I'm afraid that he's going to see the need in me again."

"You're not going to him, Jack. I know I said you could walk from me and I wouldn't stop you, but I can't in all conscience let you walk to him."

"You got that feeling too, huh?" Jack grinned back at Daniel. Sometimes his lover was all too perceptive.

"Yes. Did you ever get that look before? The almost predatory one that he had in his eyes."

"No. Never. He was always kind and gentle, Daniel. Always. His restraint was nearly as great as yours. He never scared me before."

"He's scaring you now?"



"I don't really know. I'm not going back to him..."

"But you're afraid that he's got a hold over you? That one word and you'll be pulled back?"

"Could be. I'm not sure. All I know is that my radar went off the second he spoke."

"Mine too, Jack. Try to avoid him while he's on the base. Don't go home, stay at my place. In fact, try not to be alone at any time. I know that's going to be hard, Jack, but you'll have to try."

"Yeah, you're right."

"Do you think he's going to come after you?"

"He was at my office door when I turned the corner. It's why I came here. I knew I'd be safe here," Jack added shyly.

Daniel beamed at him for that, and looking up to check that his camera was off, he kissed Jack on the cheek.

"I don't think I've ever been paid a greater compliment," he whispered.

Jack stayed in Daniel's office till it was nearly time to go home. Daniel understood, feeling as nervous about the general's presence as Jack was. He grabbed his keys and got ready to go home, ushered Jack out of his office and locked up. Then they headed to Jack's office to pick up his things. There was no sign of Chase for which they were both grateful. Finally, they headed to the lockers to put their civilian clothes on.

"Damn, Daniel, I have to go home," Jack said. "I need to get some washing done. I forgot, but this is my last shirt. Is that okay?"

"Of course. You do know you can wash your stuff at my place if you need to?"

"Sure I do, but I usually have my mind elsewhere when I'm there," Jack replied with a grin.

"I'll come with you," Daniel assured Jack, detecting the nervousness in Jack's voice, despite the happier look on his face.

"If it's no trouble?"

"Jack," Daniel smacked Jack gently on the arm. "If you want, we can stay there," he said in a lower voice, "get some pizza in, drink beer, watch a game..." He let his voice trail off as his words reminded Jack of an earlier time in their friendship. He was rewarded with a beaming smile from his lover.

"I think that would be wonderful. C'mon, let's get going. There's a particularly good game on tonight. It's the play-offs you know."

"I know," Daniel retorted, his voice drawling as he said it making him sound for the world like a long-suffering 'sports wife'.

Laughing, the two men headed for the door, but pulled up sharp as it opened just before they got there.

"Jack, I've been trying to find you," Chase announced.

"General. What can I do for you?" Jack's reply was painfully formal and Chase looked confused.

"Aren't you happy to see me?"

"Of course, Sir, it's good to see you so well. Will that be all?"

Chase's eyes nearly popped out of his head at Jack's attitude. Daniel picked up on it.

"General Chase," he said quietly, causing the older man to snap around and get a good look at him. "I don't believe we've been introduced. I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson, Jack's teammate. We're just off home. It's been a busy couple of days for us and we're tired."

"You make it sound like you live together, Doctor," Chase said with a hint of amusement.

"Of course not," Daniel sighed. "But Jack is my best friend and we do spend a lot of time at each other's homes. Tonight for example, it's hockey night. And we need to get a move on or we'll not have time to get the pizza and beer in before it starts. I'm sure that any questions you have concerning the project can be answered tomorrow. Now, if you'll excuse us?"

Before Chase could say anything, Daniel ushered Jack out of the locker room. Chase was intrigued by Daniel. Nothing Daniel had said had been untoward or hostile, but Chase felt like he was protecting Jack. Could he be with him? But then he'd said that Jack was his best friend and teammate, perhaps he was just that. Perhaps he didn't know about Jack? This could be interesting. He left the locker room and collared a passing airman, then got the directions to the personnel office.

Having stopped off at the loft for Daniel to start some washing of his own and to allow him to call Paul to let him know what had happened with Sam and where he'd be overnight, they pulled up at Jack's house, weary but looking forward to that night. They'd not had a 'proper' hockey night in ages and were going to make the most of it. Jack had called the pizza place from his car as Daniel had been getting the beer. They had enough time for Jack to get some laundry on before the doorbell went.

"That must be the pizza guy, Jack," Daniel called out and went to open the door as Jack was still in the basement. It wasn't pizza, it was Chase.

"General," Daniel drawled, "what are you doing here?"

"Just come to visit my old friend, Jack," came the almost innocent reply.

Daniel's warning bells went off. He saw a depth of hunger in the man's eyes that had nothing whatsoever to do with food. He knew that if he was given a chance, Chase would take Jack from him, something that Daniel could not and would not allow. He knew that people changed, people's tastes could and frequently did become more extreme. Perhaps this man had moved on from simple domination to sadism? Whereas Daniel mentally shrugged that under controlled circumstances, it was essentially harmless, he also knew that the guy on the receiving end had to be totally willing to play, or else it was no more than abuse and rape. Somehow, Daniel thought, this was more likely to be the situation, that Chase would use his past control of Jack to dominate him into doing anything he wanted. Jack was no wimp, no vulnerable man accepting whatever was thrown at him, but this man had a very strong hold over him.

Before Daniel could answer however, the pizza delivery boy pulled up. Daniel took the boxes and paid the man, then he looked Chase in the eye.

"We told you back at the mountain that this is our night. If you wish to see him, do it there. Not here."

"I don't think you understand, Doctor Jackson..."

"Oh, I understand. I understand everything. I understand that Jack doesn't ever want to lay eyes on you again. I understand that if you do a thing to hurt him, I will kill you."

"Danny? Why haven't you come in? That pizza will be getting cold by... oh, Alec. What are you doing here?"

"Just come to see you, Jack. May I come in?"

"For a moment, I suppose," Jack said. "Danny? Why don't you take those and put them in the kitchen. I'll be with you in a minute."


"It's okay, Daniel. Do it."

Daniel backed down, but he hurried to the kitchen, putting the oven on to keep the pizza warm. Then he stood at the entrance to the living room, knowing that Jack would feel him there.

"So, Jack, you don't seem pleased to see me? Why is this? I thought we were friends. It's not as if we parted on bad terms, is it?"

"No, we didn't. But it's more what you represent to me. I don't do that anymore, I'm not like that anymore. I want to forget it."

"But it was good, wasn't it?" Chase circled Jack, more or less whispering as he spoke. He trailed a finger around Jack's neck. Soon, he was facing the same way as Jack, his lips close to Jack's ear as he murmured his words - but his back was turned to Daniel. Daniel saw this and took advantage of it. He kicked off his shoes and then got what he wanted. Then he returned to watch the interaction of the men, all the while creeping closer.

"You still need, Jack. I can see it in your eyes. Back then, you needed discipline, order. But now? What is it you need?"

"To be left alone, Alec. I'm not interested."

"You don't have to be interested, Jack. You just have to do what I say. Kneel down."

"No, I won't."

"Afraid your friend will see you as weak, is that it?"

Jack actually laughed, but he kept looking ahead of him, not turning a bit as Chase pawed softly at him. "You don't know Daniel," was what he said in the end. "You don't know him at all. In answer to your question, I'm not afraid that he'll see me as weak. I'm not afraid at all."

"Then what is it? I know you need Jack."

"I don't need you, Alec. Go home."

"No, not until I get what I came for."

Even though Daniel knew that Jack was more than capable of taking Chase out himself, he decided that the time had come to act. Before Chase had drawn his next breath, Daniel had placed a knife against his throat.

"Yours wouldn't be the first I'd cut," he lied convincingly.

Chase froze.

"Jack, step away from him, please," came the gentle request. "Now come behind me. You see, Chase, you missed a major player in your little plan. Me. Jack is my friend. I told you at the door that I would kill you if you hurt him. You just threatened him. In my eyes, that's as bad as a hurt. So, I think I'll kill you."

"Danny, no, don't. He's not worth going to jail for."

"Who said I'd go to jail? They'd have to find the body, Jack. Before they'd even know that he was missing I could have disposed of it very, very easily, as you well know. Besides, you know as well as I do that the Pentagon would never let me go to jail. After all, how would they get me to work for them if they allowed it?"

"You think you're above the law?" Chase sneered, then he gasped when he felt a nick in his throat.

"Don't move," Daniel said. "This is my knife. And as such I keep it extremely sharp. One twitch and I will cut your throat. Believe me, I know what I'm doing with it. Don't I, Jack?"

"Yes, Daniel, you do. Is that the knife you used on me?"

"Yes. I was afraid that he'd come here, you see, and you know how much I dislike guns. Noisy things that they are. The neighbours might hear something."

"You trusted me to keep that still?" Jack had now seen the blade in its raw state, not having seen it before as he'd been blindfolded. He was in awe of Daniel's still hand, not so much as a twitch was allowed to get to his fingers.

"Of course, Jack. I trust you implicitly, you know that. As you trust me. You have to understand something, Chase. Jack and I have something that you will never, ever get from anyone. Total, all-encompassing confidence in each other, the certain knowledge that we will not harm each other or allow harm to come to each other. You threatened Jack. How could he ever trust you with anything again?"

"How did I threaten him?" Chase whispered, afraid now to speak louder.

"You didn't stop when he said stop - you didn't go. You said you wouldn't go till you got what you came for. That is a threat. And when I tell Hammond that that was the reason I killed you, he'll understand. No one threatens his people and lives. He'll be glad I did it for him. Of course, if Teal'c found out you'd threatened Jack, he'd disembowel you. Takes longer to die than having your throat cut," Daniel said casually, "but it's much more satisfying to watch for the executioner. Am I making myself understood?"

"Yes." Chase said, but he was now more confused than ever. Daniel's bringing in of Teal'c and Hammond to the picture had thrown him. Whereas he'd been sure that Jack was with Daniel up till that point, now he was no longer sure. His mind raced. If Hammond was that protective of his people, it would explain a lot as to why his people would walk through fire for the man. The more he thought about it, the more he believed Daniel's threat.

Daniel saw the light dawning on his face. "We have a game to watch, you are spoiling it. Will you go now? Will you leave Jack in peace?"


Daniel withdrew the knife but kept it in his hand, using it to point to the door. Without another word, Chase left, but the look on his face said that this wasn't finished.

Neither man moved until they heard his car pull out of the drive. Then Daniel went back to the kitchen, returned his knife to its sheath and put it back in the small backpack that he habitually took everywhere with him. Jack said nothing but got out a couple of bottles of beer. Daniel retrieved the pizza and the men went to sit in front of the television.

They sat apart at first, quietly eating and drinking, watching the game, occasionally making comments about the state of play. Then, when the pizza was gone and another break for commercials came on the screen, Daniel got up and closed the blinds on all the windows, his symbolic shutting out of the outside world. Jack fetched some more beers, then sat on the sofa next to Daniel. Daniel sat at the edge, turned his legs so that he lay on the sofa, then directed Jack to lay back against him in the same position. Enclosed in Daniel's arms, Jack started to relax.

"You better now?" Daniel asked after a little more of the game played out.

"Much. Thank you, Daniel," came the calm reply. Jack paused, Daniel waited, knowing that there was more to come. "You would have done it, wouldn't you?"

"He threatened you, Jack. Of course I would."

"But you don't kill unless you have to."

"True. I detest violence."

"So why?"

"Do I really have to explain, Jack? If the tables had been turned, and he was threatening me, wanting to make me submit to him, what would you have done?"

"Probably not given him the chance that you did."

"There you go then. I meant what I said, Jack. If he tries anything on again, I will kill him."

"What was all that about Hammond? Teal'c I understand. He gets the honour thing. He can kill and see it as right. But Hammond?"

Daniel grinned as Jack turned his head to look at him. "Got Chase thinking, didn't it?" His blue eyes were twinkling with mischief as he said it and Jack fell about laughing.

"You are a devious bastard, Dr. Jackson."

"Thank you, Colonel O'Neill. I think that's the nicest thing you've ever called me."

He dropped a kiss on Jack's cheek. "Aren't we watching this?"

"Watching what?" came the distracted reply. Jack was wriggling against Daniel, so enjoying being wrapped up in his arms that he was only thinking of that.

"Oh. Okay. It's late. Shall we go to bed?"

"Hmm. I think that might be a good idea."

Both men had innocent looks on their faces as they spoke. They got up, turned the television off and went upstairs. As matter-of-factly as they could, they got ready for bed, politely took it in turns in the bathroom, with Daniel getting to the bedroom first. He sat on the bed and waited for Jack to come in. When the older man entered, Daniel saw Jack's body language change.

"Jack - no."


"I'm not going to ask anything of you tonight."

"What? Don't you want to..."

"I didn't say that," Daniel replied with a smile. "I just want us to be, um, normal I guess."

"Normal." Jack drew out the word as if testing it in his mind.


"Um, Danny, don't take this the wrong way but are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Look, you said you'd be there to help me let go, to not have to be in control all the time."

"I meant it. If you're sure."

"I'm not sure what's going to happen. I need you to promise me something though."

"Anything. Name it."

"If I do anything that you're not comfortable with, not happy with, anything that hurts you at all, tell me. Please Jack."

"Of course I will. Listen, Daniel. You know I trust you with my body, don't you?"

"Yes, but you trust him. The one who's in control."

"No, Daniel. I trust you. I trust you when we're out in the field. I trust you to give me the right information. I trust you to watch my back - hell I trust you more than I trust Teal'c or Carter to watch my back. In all the teams I've ever been in there has never been anyone I trust more to watch over me than you."

"But I'm the only true civilian you've ever worked with."

"You are. But that doesn't matter. I often wished that I'd had you as a seventeen year-old."

"Had me?" Daniel asked, his eyes dancing. He put his hands out to Jack and gently pulled him to the bed. They got in and under the covers, snuggling up together before Jack explained.

"Not like that. Sheesh. No, I meant as a raw recruit. I'd have given my eye teeth to have someone like you on my special ops team."

"Why?" Daniel was genuinely confused.

"Simple. You'd have thought your way through our ops. You'd never have let us kill unless you thought we stood no chance of doing our jobs otherwise. Then you'd have killed to protect us if you had to. I also think that you'd have made a brilliant agent. You have incredible natural skills when it comes to infiltration. Your ability to walk totally silently has Teal'c open-mouthed in amazement at times. How do you do it? You can even do it in Air Force issue boots for cryin' out loud."

"I guess I learned early on to keep quiet and unnoticed."

"See, natural talent," Jack laughed to hide his pain at Daniel's statement. "Anyway, we're digressing. What I was trying to say is this. I love you. You Daniel. Whichever you you want me to see at any given moment, it doesn't matter. I love you. I trust all of you. In the bedroom, in the field. You won't hurt me. You say you trust me the same? Trust me to lead you? Trust me to trust you and submit to you?"

"Of course I do."

"Well then. We can't go wrong, Daniel. You won't hurt me, no matter how crazy you go. I won't let you. Just as you won't let me. There's no need to impose restrictions on us. You can take me any day you want. I could do the same to you. We're equal."

"What about Paul?"

"What do you mean?"

"He's smaller than me, not as physically strong. He is strong, but he's built differently. If I lose it when he's there, I could hurt him."

Jack sighed. Getting Daniel to lose the need to be in control was going to take a lot of work.

"Daniel, remember the other week, when the three of us were together and he and I took over?"

With a wicked smile, Daniel answered, "I'll never forget that night as long as I live. I came so hard I was still seeing stars the next morning."

"What do you think would have happened if you'd shouted 'Shau're'?"

"You'd have stopped."

"And remember Chicago? What we did for Paul?"

"Like I'm going to forget that."

"If he'd shouted 'rainbow', no matter at what stage?"

"I'd have stopped it."

"And if I ever shout 'cubs'? If I'd called it when you tied me up?"

"You know I'd have got you down."

"Well then," Jack said again, this time with a really smug grin. "Does it have to be a safe word for when we 'play'? Can't our words be for everything?"

"You're right," Daniel said, a note of surprise in his voice. "I guess I'd only ever associated them with what we were doing, the more elaborate moments if you like. But we're conditioned to stop if we hear them, aren't we? It's perfect, Jack. It gives me my safety net, gives you the protection that I need to give you."

"You're not going to stop being you, Daniel. I think you'd have threatened Chase tonight if we'd only been friends. Hell, I think you'd have done it when I was being a bastard to you. You protect. It's what you do. You control in many ways. You are the most controlled man I've ever known. But you've let your need to be in control take over your life. It's not necessary."

"I think," Daniel said quietly after a little pause, "that I would find it a lot easier to let go of that need for control if I wasn't working at the SGC. I was never so desperate for it before. I didn't need it when I was on Abydos, partially because I was officially 'in charge' of Shau're. Not that I ordered her around or did anything nasty," he added hastily, "but she would always ask me if we could do something or defer to me in the choice of what was to be done. I tried to get her to fight back sometimes, but she wouldn't. She was a total traditionalist in some ways and that meant she did as her husband told her. For the most part." The final part of that statement was added with a grin. "Don't think she was a pushover."

"Oh no. One thing she wasn't was a pushover," Jack laughed. "She was one hell of a lady, Daniel. One hell of a lady." He thought for a moment and said, "I'm guessing that your position there helped you let go too, you know, the fact that you were the teacher, a leader in a way. They respected you and treated you as someone to look up to. It must have limited your need to be in control."

"Yeah, you're right, I'm sure. And I never was as domineering with women as I have been with men anyway. It didn't sit right with me."

"No, it wouldn't. I see what you mean about leaving the SGC. You're not the only one. I'm fed up, too. We get one kick in the teeth after another. I'm still gutted by Carter's attitude to us, though Teal'c's has mitigated it a bit. Now that Chase is going to be there on a more regular basis, I'm not sure I want to be there."

"Add to that the fact that the NID are always around and that the Pentagon is always hounding us to get more weapons..." Daniel's voice trailed off. "But if we leave, it's going to be hard for Paul to see us."

"You're right. We should talk to him."

"He'll think we want to split with him."


"Sort of. You know what I mean, Jack. I know he's technically my boyfriend, but as you know, he and I come as a package deal for you, as you and I do for him."

Jack kissed his head. "I know. I understand. I'm still stunned that I accepted that, ya know? I'm too damned possessive to share."

"It was your choice, Jack. Paul was with me first. I love him and I'm not giving him up, any more than I'd give you up at his behest."

"I think that's what swung it for me," Jack replied thoughtfully. "I could see that you two were crazy about each other, but I knew back in that tent on that first night that you loved me. I was shocked by Paul's presence, but as he was able to accept me in your life, I figured I could accept him. Better that than not having you at all, anyway. You really told him you wanted me from the early days?"

"I did. Do you know how long he and I have been together?"

"Um, no, I don't. Guess I've never asked. How long?"

"Over two years, Jack. From the time we got back from Bedrosia. I told him that first night."

"Wow. I had no idea."

"That was the general idea."

"How did you know what he wanted?"

"He was looking frustrated and cross about something. He and I had got on well from the time we first met the previous year, so I grabbed him and took him to my office. I made him sit, gave him a coffee, he accepted everything I offered. I guess I could see it in his eyes."

"The need?"

"Yeah. He needed to let go, to let someone else take control. I told him I was taking him out for dinner. He was about to question me when I saw something in his face. He understood straight away what I was offering. I needed to take control, Jack. I'd been so out of it in that fucking cage, so unable to control a thing. He needed me, I needed him, we already loved each other as friends and were attracted to each other, so it was an easy thing to slip into. But I told him that night that one day I'd want you to join us, when the time was right. I told him that before we even kissed."

"I don't know what to say. That's pretty overwhelming."

Daniel laughed a little and then snuggled in closely. "Jack?"


"Would you mind if we just slept tonight?"

"No, not in the slightest. I think it would be right. C'mere, rest your head on my chest, huh?"

"I'd love that." Daniel dropped a kiss on Jack's lips then he made himself comfortable, enjoying the fact that Jack had wrapped his arms around him and held him tightly. Despite the worries of the day and the day previous, or perhaps because of them, they fell asleep almost immediately.

Earlier the same day:

Paul Davis came out of a building in DC with a smile on his face. He was sure that his little 'chat' had gone very well indeed. He went back to the Pentagon to make some arrangements.

The next morning, the phone went at Jack's house. Jack answered it as Daniel appeared sleepily in the kitchen behind him. He poured himself a coffee, listening in to Jack's side of the conversation.

"Hey Paul, how's it going?... Good... Sure, he's here... I'll get him for you. Are you sure you're okay?... All right then, hang on."

He turned, holding the phone out to Daniel. With a nod, Daniel took it.

"Hi, what's up?" he asked, picking up on Jack's slightly agitated body language.

"Dan, can you come to DC?"

"What now?"

"Um, well, as soon as. I need to talk to you about something. You and Jack really, but you specifically. It's important. I can't leave here as I'm waiting for confirmation about it. I don't want to talk over the phone."

Much as they were almost sure their phones weren't bugged, they never spoke of their relationship directly on it, just in case.

"Okay, I'll call Hammond and see if I can get the time off. We're okay, aren't we?" A knot of nerves suddenly sat in Daniel's stomach.

"Of course! Nothing bad, I promise. But it's a biggie, Daniel."

"Phew. Okay, I'll be back in touch as soon as I can."

They said their goodbyes and Daniel put the phone down.

"He wants me in DC, you too if you can make it."

"I won't be able to, Daniel, not unless he's in trouble or something, then I'm sure I can work something out."

"No, I don't think it's that. He said it was something big though and that he wants to tell me to my face."

"Call Hammond then, it's not as if we've got any briefings scheduled. I'll okay it if he wants me to." All of a sudden, Jack's face dropped and Daniel saw it.

"Jack, if Chase is there, stay away from him. If he touches you, if he speaks to you on any subject other than business, go to Hammond. Tell him that you need to keep away from him and that you'll explain at a later date. He'll do whatever it takes to protect you. The reason my bluff worked yesterday was because George is that protective of us. And if it's too much for you, you can fill in your retirement papers. I'll back you up in whatever you decide."

Jack nodded, giving Daniel a grateful look. "I know. Look, I'll go get dressed, you call the mountain. If you've got any problems, call me and I'll talk to him."

With that, he left the kitchen and Daniel started to dial. Hammond was already in the office, mercifully, so Daniel got straight through to him. He asked for the day off, explaining that a friend had need of him but that he should be in the following day. Hammond, being the kind man he was, allowed it, but said that Daniel really had to be in the next day as there was a briefing. Daniel had one last thing to say.

"Um, George," he started, intimating that whatever was said next wasn't necessarily on the record, "is General Chase there today?"

"Not to my knowledge, Daniel. As far as I know he's finished up for now. Why, is there a problem with him?"

"I'm not sure," Daniel answered, not wanting to give anything else away, "but if he is, could you keep an eye on Jack, please? I'm afraid for him."


"I wish I could explain," Daniel replied, sounding like he was confused rather than withholding information, "but I can't. I just don't trust Chase further than I can throw him."

That was enough for Hammond. "Shall do, Daniel. Hope your friend is all right."

"So do I, George. So do I. And thank you."

Daniel phoned Paul and told him to wait at his apartment for him, he'd be there as soon as humanly possible. Then he got dressed and ready and after kissing Jack goodbye, he headed off for the airport near Pikes Peak.

An hour later and $1500 lighter, Daniel had a return ticket to DC, grateful in a way that he had partial first-class seating, at least his long legs would get a stretch, and it was for the longest part of the journey, from Denver and across. In his mind he was trying to ignore the fact that he was still a little worried by Paul's need to see him face to face. Instead he was concentrating on the fact that it would take him nearly five hours to get to Paul and that he'd only have about four hours in DC before he'd have to be flying if he were to get any sleep that night.

The short flight to Denver didn't allow him to sink into his thoughts, but the longer one to DC did. He was concerned by both his lovers. Jack was tired. Tired of the SGC, tired of hiding, tired of getting hurt and watching Daniel get hurt... tired of people's attitudes. He needed a change. A holiday just wasn't going to cut it anymore. Neither was Daniel taking over for him.

And that was something else that Daniel was thinking of. His own need to dominate was becoming fuzzy around the edges. Could it be as simple as Jack had said? That it was his need to protect that was overwhelming him and manifesting itself as 'Daniel the Dominator'. He fought down a little giggle as an image of him in the stereotypical dominator gear flashed through his mind, with pictures of Jack and Paul on their knees before him, licking his boots, whilst wearing the harness and so on. That in turn led to a shudder when he remembered some of the other 'bits of kit' that a dominant he had known had had.

This guy had as much in common with the S&M lifestyle as with the D&S one. Sometimes, the difference between the two was difficult to see. Gags with balls for putting into the sub's mouth. A sling to put his sub into, feet in stirrups, so he'd lie open, ready to be fucked. The plugs and other toys that Daniel had paled into insignificance compared to some. The guy he knew would put his sub into a leather ball stretcher with pins in which would stick into the wearer's balls. He said it was to encourage his sub to learn self-discipline. Just the thought of that put tears of sympathy into Daniel's eyes and made his own balls retreat for safety's sake. But, as he thought, some people actually liked that, liked pain with their pleasure. Much as Daniel loved rough sex, he couldn't go there. The 'double dicking' that Paul had received was the furthest he'd ever gone down that line, though he had played with hot wax once in the past.

Like everything in the D&S or the S&M world, it all had to be done by people that knew what they were doing. The old mantra of 'safe, sane and consensual' came back to him. He knew that the subs would never allow the more extreme toys to be used if they didn't want it and that a dom that followed the strict code of conduct would never actually harm a sub. But sometimes he wasn't convinced that having one's balls pulled apart and then weighted down was necessarily sane.

Shaking himself, he returned to his thoughts of Paul. Paul had said that he was considering leaving the Air Force the last time he'd seen him. Perhaps that was it? Paul had sounded shaken on the phone though, unsure as to how Daniel was going to take the news that he was going to impart.

Ah well, whatever the news was, Daniel wasn't going to know for sure till he saw him. He stared out of the window and watched the clouds go by underneath him as they flew, trying to shut all thoughts from his head. He nearly succeeded, but Daniel's head was never a quiet place.

Jack entered the mountain with trepidation. He was berating himself for being, as he thought, a bit of a wimp. He was Air Force. He was a colonel. He was second in command of the most important military base on the planet. He was ex-special operations. He'd killed with his bare hands.

He was submissive.

Normally that last bit didn't bother him. The first time he'd been in that sort of relationship he'd been away from home, away from the comforting nature of the Academy, which whilst it had been hard work, had still been like a safety blanket thrown about him. He'd known that no matter how bad things could get there, he'd be protected. But at his first posting, the officers had for the most part been bastards. He'd been yelled at, ordered around, and for the first time in his life he could have been in real danger. He knew that he could be sent anywhere at anytime and ordered to die. Then along came Alec, who had given him hope, comforted him, gently persuaded him to his way of thinking and he'd been a lifeline that Jack had clung to with both hands.

Jack wasn't weak by any stretch of the imagination. He just hadn't realised how strong he'd been to give up control of his life to Alec. Alec had told him what to do, what to wear, where and what to eat... sort of like Daniel did. But Daniel's way of doing it was different, less of an order and more a request that Jack couldn't turn down. At the time, Jack had been grateful, needing the discipline that Alec had imposed on him. And the Jack of that time was not the Jack that Daniel had first met. He'd been wild and unruly, he'd needed discipline, both internal and external. Alec had taught him that.

He'd had that discipline when he and Alec had broken up and he'd thought that he'd no longer need to be submissive. He'd gone through life, facing one battle after another, coping with one disaster and then the next. He'd been moulded by life and turned into a hardened man. It had been how he'd coped with the months of torture, dealt with the rapes and overcome the physical addictions. It was how he'd shut his wife out when he'd got back, allowing himself to love only his son wholeheartedly. He'd wanted to shut Charlie out too, to prepare his boy for the day his daddy didn't come home. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. So he'd prepared Sara instead.

The death of Charlie had nearly been his undoing, would have been if he hadn't met the younger wide-eyed idealist that was Daniel. He'd seen something in that young man, seen an inner strength that all the others had missed, and understood that Daniel's life had been as bad as his own without even knowing his story. It was the respect for Daniel that he'd begrudgingly come to acknowledge that had allowed him to let Daniel take the lead on the first mission. He should never have allowed it. But there was something about Daniel's manner that let him accept it. Thinking back, Jack nearly burst out laughing. Daniel had been dominating him even then. Over the years, he'd quietly 'persuaded' Jack to do things his way. So, when the time came for Daniel to take him home, to make love to him in the way only he could, Jack had accepted it almost without a fight.

Whereas that thought amused him, it also scared him a little. His guard had been down. Daniel had found it relatively easy to break down his remaining barriers.

Maybe Chase would be able to do it again.

Jack knew one thing. If he left Daniel, it would destroy his lover. And if he cheated on him, it would destroy Jack. Daniel would forgive him, he knew that for a fact. But Daniel would be upset and disappointed in him, and Jack couldn't face that. So, he was afraid. Afraid that Chase really did have that hold over him. He was unsure how he'd have reacted the previous night if Daniel hadn't been there for him.

Even if Chase wasn't there that day, he would be back in the near future. Jack had seen the look on his face, the one that said it wasn't over. He could not deal with that, not without cracking. No, it was time to go. Daniel had said he'd back him up to the hilt and Jack had no doubt that that would happen. He went straight to Hammond's office without even stepping foot in his own.

Before he could say anything after being called in, he saw a dour looking Hammond on the other side of the desk.

"Come in, Jack," came the tired voice. "We have a problem."

Daniel arrived at Paul's apartment in a taxi, paid the man and quickly got out. He'd have three hours only at Paul's place before having to turn around and go back. He didn't knock, just used his key and called out as he entered. Paul appeared from the kitchen with a huge smile on his face, but he appeared a little jittery.

"Paul? Will you tell me what's wrong?" Daniel asked quietly, putting his hands out to him.

"Um, wrong? Nothing," Paul replied, "it's just I'vedonesomethingandI'mnotsurethatyou'regoingtolikeitandI'msorry.."

"Whoa!" Daniel tried to get Paul to put the brakes on, but he wasn't sure that he was getting through to him. When in doubt...

"Paul. Go to your bedroom, get undressed and lie down on the bed. Do not speak unless I give you permission. Get the handcuffs out."

Paul's face took on a grateful countenance, glad that Daniel was going to take over. He quickly did as he was told, Daniel casually strolling behind him and stripping his own clothes off as he went, dropping them when he entered the bedroom. Paul was naked in moments.

"Put the cuffs on, Paul. Hook them to the bedstead as you do."

Daniel sounded totally cool and calm as he spoke, hiding his own nervousness at what Paul's news would be as he pulled the Astroglide from the bedside table. When he turned to look, Paul was on his back, his hands cuffed to the headboard as he'd asked.

"Good. Now, we don't have time to play, unfortunately, as I have to be back at work tomorrow. So, we'll just go for it, shall we?"

His only answer was a smile from Paul.

Daniel got on the bed and knelt between Paul's open legs, showing him the fact that he was hard and covering himself with lube. Paul fought down a moan of longing but didn't quite stop it all from escaping. This encouraged Daniel to continue with his actions. He was trying - as a tease - to make it look one-sided, but Paul knew that it wouldn't be, that he would feel incredible by the time this was over.

Daniel lifted Paul's legs and put them over his own shoulders, then he shuffled forward on his knees, positioned Paul's ass in place and gently pushed in. He was relieved to find Paul relaxed and opening up to him as he carefully entered him. Inch by inch he worked his way inside his lover till there was no more.

"You okay?" he asked when he arrived. He got a smile and a nod in reply as he'd not given Paul permission to speak yet. He smiled back at him, then pushed Paul's legs till they were wrapped around his waist, making it easier for him to lean forward and kiss him.

And kiss him he did. To coincide with a rather brutal thrust, he captured Paul's mouth with his own and plundered it with his tongue. Paul shut his eyes and let the sensations overwhelm him. Hard stabs inside him combined with passionate kisses, leaving him breathless as Daniel's hands roamed all over him. He knew nothing other than what was happening to him at that moment. Daniel was leaving him in no doubt that he loved him, wanted him and owned him body and soul. He let out an involuntary growl as Daniel's hips pulled back, leading to an incoherent yell into Daniel's mouth as he felt his lover slam back inside him. He was nearly there, nearly at the edge, but still Daniel wouldn't touch him.

"Don't come, not yet," came the order he'd been dreading.

He fought back the feelings, trying to block the amazing vibrancy with which his nerves were reacting. Then Daniel's head snapped away from him and he saw that wonderful sight, the one Daniel got when he was coming. Mouth open, eyes wide and wild, head back and looking up as he howled out his climax.

As soon as he'd stopped, Daniel pulled out and slid down Paul's body, engulfing his dick with his mouth, still panting from his own ending. He sucked hard and fast, furiously working Paul till he got the message he was finally allowed to come. So he did.

When Paul opened his eyes, he saw Daniel's were still blackened and that he had semen trailing down the side of his chin. Paul sniggered, but said nothing.

"Paul? What's up?"

Still nothing.

"You can speak. Please."

"Chin. Just don't run your hands through your hair, please," he added with a giggle, setting Daniel off as he wiped his face.

The laughter grew as Daniel undid the handcuffs and gently massaged Paul's aching shoulders before folding him up in his strong arms.

"I missed you," he whispered, dropping a kiss on Paul's head.

"Missed you too, Dan. Thanks for coming."

There was silence for a moment, then both men fell about at that last phrase. They knew what he meant, but...

"Ack! What am I going to do with you, baby?"

"You just did it, didn't you?" Paul retorted.

"Come on, shower, then we'll talk. And this time at a normal pace and not nintey miles an hour, please?"


They got off the bed and into the shower, taking it in turns to clean each other up. Paul still hadn't said anything by the time they'd appeared in the kitchen with towels around their waists. Waiting for the coffee to make, Paul started to explain.

"You know you said Sam was being awful about you and Jack, and then I said that I had other ideas in case things went wrong," he started.

"Yes," Daniel drawled, in a 'get on with it or I'm going to kill you' manner.

"Well, I applied for a job."

"Paul!" he exclaimed in exasperation. "Just tell me please."

"Okay. You know the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network, don't you?"

"They're the ones that fight for victims of the 'don't ask' failure. Yes, of course I do."

"Well, they needed a co-ordinator, someone that could raise money, awareness, help publicise and so on."


"They offered me the job Dan."

"That's great! Oh wow, well done. I'm really happy for you, Paul. Just think of the freedoms for you!"

"For us. If you want it," Paul added almost shyly.

Daniel inexplicably felt extremely angry with Paul for that remark. He felt an overwhelming need to discipline him for it too, something that he didn't usually do. Crossly, he took hold of Paul and bent him forward, putting his hands on the table in front of him. Then, his face in a fierce scowl, he removed Paul's towel and smacked his ass hard. Twice, once on each ass cheek. Then he rubbed them softly to mitigate it. "I know I said I'd never spank you, but dammit you deserve that. How dare you think I wouldn't."

Paul was seriously contrite. That spanking, though short, had hurt, but he understood why Daniel had done it. He apologised to Daniel for upsetting him, his head bowed as he couldn't look Daniel in the eye. Daniel lifted his head gently and kissed him.

"I'm sorry, Dan, it's just I know what an upheaval this is going to be. In a way we'll have to be more circumspect. You can't really have a relationship with someone outside the mountain, even a friendship is hard."

"If I stay at the SGC."


"Jack and I were talking last night about leaving, Paul. We were reluctant to do it because it would have made it hard to see you. Don't you see? This is perfect for us. Hang on, I'll call Jack. Tell him to put his retirement papers in. How long have you got before you finish?"

"Technically, thirty days. But I've got so much vacation and sick leave time I could pretty much go straight away."

"And how long before Jack's retirement goes through?

"Same applies to him. How much leave he's owed though, I don't know."

"Well, I'll hand in my notice when I get back. I'll work till you're both finished. I doubt I've got to work the entire time either. By the way, where will you be based?"

Paul sniggered. "San Francisco. There are so many military bases in that area that it makes sense."

Daniel grinned. "Is San Francisco ready for the three of us?"

"Probably not," Paul sighed over-dramatically. "We'll have to behave."

With a giggle, Daniel reached out for the phone, just as it decided to ring. He snatched his hand back and let Paul answer.

"Hello?... Jack, good to hear from you... Yes, he's here... What's wrong?... Shall I come too?... Okay, I'll hand the phone over to him and then I'll call my office. I'll arrange transport straight down."

He handed the phone to Daniel with a worried look on his face, then took off for his bedroom where he got dressed. Minutes later, just as he was leaving the bedroom, Daniel entered it and grabbed his own clothes, hurriedly putting them on. Paul dived for the phone by his bed and called his office, saying that even though this was his day off, he'd been called into the SGC and would his secretary please arrange transport for both himself and Dr. Jackson from Andrews to Peterson as soon as possible. There was an emergency.

Unlike the flight up, this one was done directly and took less time. It was also done in a military owned 'private' jet, available for generals' uses only as a rule, though during emergencies, Paul had frequently used it. He actually had the use of the plane which became Airforce One if the situation demanded it and it wasn't already in use, something he kept to himself with a lot of secretive pleasure. There were aspects of his job that he would miss. But this being called in on his day off was not one of them.

They said little on the way there, not really needing to. Every so often, they'd cast sly smiles in each other's direction, but little more.

By the time they reached the SGC, the place was buzzing.

"General," Paul called as he marched into the briefing room. "We came as soon as we could. What is the problem, Sir? What can we do to help?"

Sam sat open-mouthed as Daniel walked in behind the uniformed major; he was in jeans, T-shirt and leather jacket, the same clothes he'd worn to DC in the morning. He didn't usually dress like that.

"Major Davis," Hammond greeted him with a smile, hiding the fact that he now knew that Paul had been the friend Daniel had rushed off to see. "Doctor Jackson, thank you for coming back as quickly as you could. Sorry to do this to you on your day off."

"That's okay, General. How can we help?"

"Well, as Colonel O'Neill explained on the phone, Major Carter's father has been taken prisoner again. This time, however, they are amenable to negotiations. It is not the Goa'uld holding him. But they are a very barbaric race."

"Forgive me for asking, but what was he doing there in the first place if they're so dangerous," Paul asked.

"Minerals," the Tok'ra that had come to report the problem said. "He was there to negotiate to buy mining rights. They have access to a rare mineral, something that we need for various... devices."

"What happened?" Paul's totally professional manner was taking over. Sam watched him at work, then watched both Daniel and Jack as they sat either side of him. Daniel joined in every so often, asking cultural questions, trying to draw a picture of the natives in his mind. Paul was asking more political ones. Jack, the military ones.

"So, if you don't mind me asking," Jack drawled, his tone acting as a warning to those that knew him that he was not happy, "but why aren't you out there negotiating for his return?"

"I'm afraid that we are too few to take any chances. Of course, we want Selmac back," Sam scowled at that so the Tok'ra added, "and Jacob, naturally. But if many more of us get taken, there will be too few of us left to resist the Goa'uld. Quite simply, Colonel O'Neill, it comes down to numbers. There are a lot more humans than Tok'ra."

"And if we say no?"

"Then they will execute them tomorrow. We have thirteen and a half hours as of this time to rescue them or negotiate for their release."

"Last time we were prepared to rescue them, you lot were prepared to let us die." Daniel's statement was blunt and unexpected. Sam's head jerked and she looked at him with sad eyes. He wouldn't even look at her.

"Daniel? Please?" she whispered, pleading with him to help her out. He turned his head slowly and looked at her, then cocked his head to one side and looked at Jack. He got a pair of raised eyebrows in return. Then he looked the other way at Paul and got a shrug. Another look at Teal'c got little more than a blink in acknowledgement.

"General," he said, "we should take Major Davis with us. He can negotiate. If that fails, we'll find another way or we'll die trying."

Sam looked at him with gratitude and got a small nod in reply. She now knew that he was doing this to say thank you for not reporting his relationship with Jack, as if his acceptance of all that she had done to him before and after that hadn't already more than repaid her.

Hammond gave the go-ahead. SG-1 and Paul stood up and walked out of the room. It was only as they left, with Sam trailing the men, did either Sam or Hammond realise that Daniel and not Jack had made the decision to go.

The five were in the gear up room getting ready. An order for a BDU set for Paul had been sent out and one turned up as SG-1 were almost changed. Paul quickly got his on and Daniel sniggered.

"Okay, loudmouth," Paul snapped, "what's with the giggling?"

"Nothing," Daniel lied.

"Dan, out with it. Or else." Paul was almost growling and Jack was laughing at him.

"Oh, I don't know. It's just I've seen you in blues, dress or otherwise. I've seen you in a flight suit. But I've never seen you in BDUs. It looks... odd."

Paul snarled. "I'll have you know I've worn these a lot more times than I would have wished to."

"I know, I know, it's just that I'm not used to seeing you in them, okay? I'm sorry, Paul." Daniel's voice was placating, but there was an air of flirtiness there too.

"Guys, behave," Jack warned.

They pulled themselves together and started out of the room and towards the armoury. Given the nature of the enemy, they were going in armed to the teeth.

"So where are SG-9?" Paul asked Jack as they briskly walked down the corridor.

"On another mission, with some very touchy aliens. If they'd come back we could have waved goodbye to a naquada mine."


"Yeah, well, you know what the Pentagon's like for putting tech above people," Daniel snarled.

Sam's eyes opened wide, thinking that he'd just insulted Paul.

"Oh, I know, believe me I know," Paul agreed, again surprising her.

They arrived at the armoury. All took out a zat, handgun, and the four humans took P-90s and knives, whereas Teal'c took his trusty staff weapon - and knife, of course. Extra rounds of ammunition were placed in belts and as much C4 as they could carry was placed in their packs. They had been told that Jacob was only about a mile away from the gate, so apart from water and medical kits, they took no other supplies. This was an 'in and out' job. In their heart of hearts, from the information gleaned, they knew that Paul would be at best a distraction.

The gate dialled up and Daniel cast Paul a glance.

"I've never actually been through it," he said. "I was supposed to go through but you diverted that asteroid in time - something I should thank you for again sometime," he grinned at Daniel. "So, is it as bad as I've heard?"

"Worse. It's been a few hours since you ate anything though, hasn't it? You'll be fine, Paul. Trust me?"

"No further than I can throw you," came the snappy remark, but Sam noticed him winking at Daniel as he said it.

There was no one to meet them as they exited the gate, something that they were grateful for. They'd been told that the people there were not technologically too advanced, but they did have weaponry that was almost the same as the Tauri's guns, and therefore dangerous.

"Teal'c and Carter, you'll find Jacob and see if you can get him out without trouble. Do nothing until you've spoken to me," Jack said. "Daniel and Paul, you find the people you need to talk to and see if we can get him out without a fight. Again, agree to nothing until you've spoken to me. Try not to let on that I'm around. I'll be nearby at all times. If any of you get into trouble, I'll come and get you. Hide one of your radios, just have the other handy. If they only see the one between the two of you we may get away with not losing both if you're captured. Any questions?"

They all answered in the negative, though Sam was curious about one thing. Jack was calling her Carter as normal, but he called Davis, Paul. Why?

She was brought out of her reverie when they were closing on the settlement. Jack gave the signal and she and Teal'c headed off to where they suspected Jacob was being held. Daniel and Paul were left standing as Jack disappeared into the background.

"He won't take his eyes off us," Daniel assured Paul. "I can feel him watching us."

"Let's just hope that we can talk our way out of this, Dan."

"You're right. Talking of talking, I could see that Sam was itching to ask about you in the context of Jack and me."

"Seeing as we're going to quit when we get back, I don't care if she finds out. Could be fun. If she's freaking at the thought that you and Jack are gay, let alone in a relationship, just how will she react when she finds out about our little triad?"

"I have no idea, Paul, none at all. I'm not going to say anything though, at least not until we're all gone from there."

"Are you sure about this, Dan? I mean, Jack and me getting fed up I understand. I've been in the Air Force half my life. I've had to spend all that time hiding out, not allowing anyone to find out my sexuality. It's a killer and I've had enough. Jack's been in even longer, and whereas he had the advantage of bisexuality, allowing him to have a relationship out in the open, I think that's not the reason for him being tired of it. I think he's just hurt too long. But you? This is still exciting for you. What will you do?"

"Oh, don't you worry about me, Paul. I have some ideas. I won't be idle, that's for sure. How about we look at some houses on the net when we get back, give us a chance to find somewhere suitable to live. You do want that, don't you? I mean, the three of us living together?"

"I think we'd manage that just fine, Dan. No problems. As long as we have our own space. Perhaps we can build Jack a workshop outside?"


"His pottery? Telescope? Give him somewhere to escape to when he wants."

"Nice thinking, Major Davis. I like your style. As long as I have somewhere to read in peace I'll be happy."

"I'll have a job, so it won't be so important for me to have my own space. I won't be there as much as you."

"Heads up, we're there," Daniel warned as they got closer. Both men automatically put their hands on their weapons, their own internal warning systems alerting them to the fact that things didn't feel right. They stopped outside the gates and called to the guard to send out someone to negotiate with them. Neither man wanted to enter the compound.

The gates opened after about twenty minutes and a man on an animal that looked like a cross between an ox and a camel came out. He was surrounded by flunkies, armed with projectile weapons similar to rifles.

"I've got a bad feeling about this, Dan," Paul whispered.

"Me too." Daniel fingered his radio, trying to look nonchalant as he did. Jack, he whispered, don't speak. Be ready to grab Sam and Teal'c and get out of here. We're getting bad vibes.

He got a quick squeak on his radio by way of a reply and then silence.

Teal'c had tracked down Jacob's holding cell quite easily. However, there were a number of guards in the area around it, so it wasn't going to be easy to take them out if they had to. Creeping out of the cell area, they called Jack and told him of the situation. He gave them some orders and left them to carry them out, never taking his eyes off his lovers as he spoke.

The negotiations were not going well. The native leader was asking for an extravagant ransom for Jacob, something that was unlikely to be paid by the Tok'ra. They were talking planetworths of gold, something that the Tok'ra just didn't have. Paul and Daniel were doing their best to negotiate, but even after long talks, they were getting nowhere.

"If the Tok'ra will not pay for their agent," the leader sneered, "perhaps your planet will pay for you."

"No, they won't. They'll invade and you'll lose everything," Paul countered.

Both men's trigger fingers were itching now, just knowing that they were about to get into a fight. More and more of the natives poured out of the compound at a signal from the leader and the men were about to be surrounded. They pointed their P-90s more or less simultaneously.

"BACK OFF!" Daniel yelled.

Jack acted. He gave the signal to Teal'c and Sam and soon the air was filled with the noise of explosions and the sight of wooden buildings splintering. Daniel and Paul took the cue and whilst firing blindly at the natives, they turned and ran towards the gate.

Jack was already near the cells, waiting for Teal'c, Sam and Jacob. He called out on his radio. "COME ON! We have to GO!"

He was relieved when he finally saw them emerging from the debris, Jacob being held up by the others. He lay down covering fire so that they could get free.

They weren't making very good time to the gate, Jacob was holding them up, so Teal'c grabbed him and threw him over his shoulder and started to run. This allowed Sam to fire at the oncoming natives too. Many were going down, but many more were following. They got closer and closer to the gate, but the natives were coming closer still.

Daniel had reached the gate and dialled up, sending the code through and trying to get Paul to go too.

"No way, Daniel, not without the others."

They waited and waited, nervously holding the gate open for them. Eventually they saw them, Teal'c stumbling with Jacob, Sam and Jack firing rapidly with everything they had. Daniel ran forward, firing his own gun to aid them. Jack's gun ran out of ammunition and he had to change the clip. In the few moments it would take to change it, his life would be changed forever.

A native gunman fired low, sending a hail of bullets through Jack's legs. Jack went down, surprisingly silently.

The whole of space and time seemed to slow right down for Daniel. He heard Paul yelling his name as if he was underwater, Sam was screaming for the Colonel. He threw his gun at her and saw her firing it as he dived to the floor. He heard the rat-a-tat-at of Paul's gun as it fired to his other side, the speed of the firing seeming to have slowed to that of an old Bren gun. Without checking Jack's condition, he grabbed him and picked him up, slinging him over his own shoulder as Teal'c had done for Jacob. He yelled at the others to come and they ran for the gate. He wanted to make sure that they were with him, but he had to take it on trust that they were there.

"We're coming, GO DANIEL!" Sam yelled.

He dived through the wormhole, crashing to the ramp as he emerged with Jack on top of him. He twisted Jack underneath him, covering his body against the bullets that were flying through the open gate. He didn't dare breathe till he heard two more thuds and a "CLOSE THE IRIS!"

It was Paul's voice.

Daniel breathed.

Hammond knew better than to question Daniel whilst Jack was in surgery. He was standing against a wall, his arms wrapped tightly around himself, scowling fiercely at anyone who came nearby. Hammond had got a rundown of the events from the other four, so he didn't really need to get any more information just at that moment. The good news was that Jacob, whilst bruised and battered, was okay. Teal'c and Sam were physically fine, though Teal'c was tired and Sam was emotionally exhausted. Paul had received a small bullet wound to his arm, but it had gone straight through and missed everything that was major or dangerous. A couple of closing stitches and a shot of antibiotics and he was going to be fine. He'd just need the dressing changed and the wound checked on, but no surgical intervention.

Jack, however, was in a bad way. There were some exit wounds, but not enough to match the entry wounds. His knees and parts of his various leg bones had been shattered. He could be 'rebuilt', his bones would heal and artificial joints would eventually be put in when he was strong enough, but he would never go out on an active team again. Not that he'd had any intention of it, but no one but the three men knew that.

"Daniel," Hammond said gently as he approached him. "He's going to be okay. He can still work here if he wants. His expertise counts for a lot in my book."

"He'll retire, Sir," Daniel replied calmly. "We've been discussing it. I wish to tender my resignation immediately. I know I'll have to work my notice, but if I can use as much leave and sick time as I have owing me so that I can leave sooner, I'd appreciate it."

"There's no need to jump to conclusions, son," Hammond tried, but Paul turned up at that moment.

"General Hammond," he said, making Hammond jump. "Colonel O'Neill will retire. Doctor Jackson is going to leave. As am I. I have just put in my own paperwork."

"Major? What has brought this on?"

"Well," Paul said with a smirk, "seeing as I am officially out of the Air Force as of this moment - I'm actually owed about four weeks of vacation and something like six months of sick leave - I can tell you. I'm going to work for the SLDN. I was offered a job this morning. I was going to resign when I was called in."

"I'll be very sorry to lose you, Major," Hammond said sincerely. "All I can do is wish you well. I can assure you that not all brass are in favour of that stupid law. The sooner it's ditched, the better. It's their gain and our great loss."

Paul offered him a beaming smile and thanked him for his kind words.

"I am confused though. What does your leaving have to do with Doctor Jackson and Colonel O'Neill?"

"They're my best friends," he said hiding a smirk from Daniel. "And as such, I know them and their plans. Please, Sir, accommodate them. In fact, I have an idea that may be beneficial to both sides. May we go and speak in your office, please?"

Daniel looked confused but Paul put his hand on his arm and said, "I'll be back soon. And don't you worry, he'll be fine. Grumpy, a pain in the ass, but fine."

"Nothing new then," Daniel replied with a smile.

"Nothing new then," Paul echoed. "Now, go, sit, maybe get cleaned up before he sees you? You're a mess, Dan."

"So are you."

"True, but I can't shower, so I'll wait till I get home to have a bath. Can't get this arm wet."

Daniel grinned. He knew that Paul meant his home in the Springs, not DC. "'Kay. Don't be long."

Daniel went straight to the showers. He'd had his usual post mission check-up done already so he didn't have to wait to be allowed to go. He wasn't looking at the sign when he went in and didn't realise that Sam was still in there. She was crying as she sat on her bench.

He didn't know what to do. Once, he'd have gone to her, comforted her. But now? In the end he compromised on his desire to run with his natural inclination to help.

"Sam? What's up?"

Her head snapped up and she looked at him in surprise.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't realise that you'd be in here. I can go if you want?"

"No, it's okay," she sniffed. "Um, thanks for helping Dad," she went on. "They really were going to kill him."

"It's all right," he said, "we like him. Of course we'd help. That thing in the briefing room was to piss the Tok'ra off, not you."

She gave him a watery smile. "What's the news on the Colonel?"

"Not much yet. One of the nurses was sent out to tell me the X-ray news before they started to operate. It doesn't look good for his legs. They're not going to have to amputate, but he's never likely to walk without a limp again."

He stripped off his jacket and shirt, threw them into the laundry basket and then removed his boots and placed them in the locker. His socks went to the laundry, then his pants. He was left with his boxers and nothing else. He grabbed his robe and slung it on, pulled them off and put them in the locker, then grabbing his wash kit, he headed to the showers without another word.

Sam was sitting in stunned silence. The news would mean that the Colonel would retire, she just knew it. She followed Daniel into SG-1's showers, not having had her own yet and numbly got herself clean.

Sitting at Jack's bedside and waiting for him to wake up was nothing new for Daniel, but this time he was more anxious for reasons he couldn't work out. He'd had no sleep and as it was now nine in the morning he was running on fumes. Paul came into the ICU where Jack had been placed just to be on the safe side and saw the exhausted look on his lover's face.

"Dan, you need to sleep," he said softly as he approached him.

"I will. Just not until he's woken up."

"That might not be for a while."

"Then that's as long as I'll stay here. You know that, don't you?"

"I do, hun, I do."

Daniel's head snapped back to scowl at Paul for saying that, but the grin on Paul's face told him that it had been deliberate.

"I'm out of the Air Force, Daniel. Hammond's allowing me to hang around till I can persuade you to go home."

"I need to put in my resignation papers, Paul," Daniel suddenly remembered.

"Um, no, not quite. You see, I've had a long chat with him and told him about me and you. Don't worry, I didn't mention Jack's part in our relationship, just that he was our friend and as such we'd be taking care of him. He's come to accept that Jack will retire and he's putting forward the paperwork so that he's medically discharged. He'll get his pension and all the benefits that he's entitled to, Dan, so don't worry about him." He stepped closer and put his hand over Daniel's shoulder, hugging him to his own body and holding him close.

"You said something about me not leaving?"

"Yes, this is the good bit," Paul answered with a smile. "We all know how much you know that other people on the planet don't. For example, only you and Teal'c can speak fluent Goa'uld. We're pretty certain that Teal'c will leave if Jack isn't here, so your knowledge must be saved. You're going to be allowed to leave the SGC but remain as an employee on the understanding that you write two books. One, for SGC use, will be a grammar and dictionary of Goa'uld words and writings. You'll have access to all your notes and any further information that's brought back to Earth. That way, any linguists here will be able to learn the language in future. You'll be required to record the words so that the sounds are passed on, allowing the linguists to become fluent in speech as well as writing."

"But I've been trying to do that ever since Argos!" Daniel exclaimed.

"We know. But while you're here, Dan, you're never going to get the peace and quiet you need to do it. This is important, hun. We all recognise this. Hammond said that seeing as Jack and I are both more than au fait with all the facts and the need to keep the SGC quiet, it's going to be okay that you do it in our house as long as the usual security precautions are taken. Given both Jack's and my backgrounds, I don't see that as a problem in setting it up."

Daniel beamed back at him, "No, I don't think so either. You said two books, Paul, what's the other one?"

"When you've done that, it may be a good idea if you suddenly 'crack' Linear A, which is after all, a Goa'uld dialect, isn't it?"

"It is, but what..."

"Dan, if you publish what you could say was a possible interpretation of Linear A, using Goa'uld as your base but not telling them that, the academic world will become familiar with it. They may have difficulty in seeing how you could have come up with it and will possibly question its authenticity, however, the translation will be there and will become known. They'd also have difficulty in disproving the decryption as the words will make sense. Of course, you can't say it's alien, but we're sure you can come up with a plausible explanation as to how you cracked it. As and when new civilians are brought into the project they'll be able to use it and adapt to the idea of the Goa'uld language that much more easily. Of course, when the stargate finally becomes public knowledge, you'll be a hero and welcomed back into academia with open arms."

Daniel laughed at that.

"Somehow, I doubt that would happen. Thanks Paul," he said, his eyes full of love and gratitude. "You come up with the most amazing ideas."

"Hmm, and I've got a couple of really good ones for when we get home."

Daniel was about to answer that when he heard a moan from the bed next to him. They both looked and saw Jack, awake but still not really with it. Paul slipped out and called Janet while Daniel talked to Jack.

"It's all over, Jack," he said quietly, stroking his hair and holding his hands. "We're out of here. Paul's resigned, I'm sort of staying but that's a long story..."

"I heard," Jack croaked.

Daniel got a cup of water and put a straw in it, then he held it so that Jack could drink.

"Good, then you'll know that things are going to work out, won't you?"

"Danny? My legs?"

"You've still got both of them, Jack. They'll need to operate again to rebuild your knees, they were both shattered, but then you needed the ACL work on them anyway, didn't you? And the other bones need to heal. After that, we'll have to see. Whatever the outcome is, we'll be there for you. We're moving to California, Jack. Paul's got a job out there."

Jack's eyes opened wide in surprise and delight. He knew as well as the others that they all needed the change. Daniel explained Paul's new job to him and that pleased Jack no end. Then Daniel told him that Paul had explained to Hammond about him and Daniel, but not about Jack.

"He's going to have a shock when he finds out then, isn't he?" Jack sniggered.

"Probably won't be a good idea to tell him, don't want to give the old guy a heart attack."

Janet entered the room and ordered Daniel to go home. She didn't even blink when Daniel bent over and kissed Jack's forehead.

"I'll be back," he intoned getting a groan from the others.

Paul looked around at the grey of the SGC for the last time. Then he saw Daniel emerging from Jack's room and went to him with a smile.

Sam turned a corner and saw something odd. Daniel leaving the Colonel's room, a happy-looking Major Davis and... Daniel being held tightly by him and then kissed?

"Daniel! What's going on?" she demanded.

"I'm going home," he replied. Then he slipped his arm around Paul's waist, found Paul's own arm around his, and they walked together to the elevator.

Many weeks passed. Tearful goodbyes had been said to their friends at the SGC. Teal'c had indeed gone back to the Jaffa rebellion, Hammond was considering retirement himself. It was only his fear that someone from the NID would take over that was keeping him there - until he could find someone suitable to take his place. He had a fair bit of influence with the president, after all.

Jack had had the operations needed, and though he'd been 'rebuilt' and taken on the nickname of Steve Austin, he was still in a lot of pain. Out of plaster at last, he had some days when he'd be able to walk on crutches, others when he stayed in a wheelchair, much to his annoyance. Paul was settling into his new job, enjoying the challenge of raising money to defend the gay servicemen and women that were being pursued and harassed in defiance of the law, and of raising awareness in the general public to get a change in attitude throughout the civilian populace. He felt alive for the first time in a long time.

Daniel, meanwhile, was busy. He was trying to sort out the new house, a lone place on the outskirts of town, set in its own grounds for privacy's sake. Jack was sorting out the security arrangements and generally getting under Daniel's feet as he did. Somehow, between the three of them, they were getting there.

Daniel's need to be dom was diminishing, though every time Jack got bossy, he let 'him' take over. The result was usually startling. Jack would change from being his usual brash, pain-in-the-ass self to the most perfect sub in moments. Daniel was quietly getting a kick out of that. They were settling into a more 'routine' form of D&S, where 'scenes' would be played out, though they were rarely planned. It wasn't the entire time that they were awake now and Daniel was actually pleased about this. Without the need to be in control all of the time, he felt more relaxed and freer than he'd done in his entire adult life. And of course, not having a job in which there was the constant threat of not going home alive and well at the end of the day was a huge help.

Even though the three of them shared a bed (two doubles that they'd bolted together so they wouldn't fall apart and which gave them more room than Daniel's old king-size), they hadn't had much sex in it. Jack was in too much pain to get 'athletic', so he tended to be more passive. The others wouldn't have more energetic sex in front of him, not wanting him to feel bad. So, frustration was setting in and Daniel had a plan to overcome it.

It was the weekend, something that Paul actually had off as a rule (barring fund-raisers and so on) so they were together for two uninterrupted days, and three nights. Daniel had done the shopping and got in enough food to last ages; they had a huge freezer and storeroom in a cellar, not to mention a large fridge for beer as well as one for food. This meant that they didn't have to leave the house at all. He'd also bought a few extra items.

As soon as Paul came in from work on the Friday, Daniel struck.

"Paul. Take off your jacket and shoes and put them away," he said softly.

Paul had stopped dead, then turned to look at Daniel. He hadn't heard that tone of voice in weeks. A small smile spread across his face. This would be fun. He did as he was told and then returned to Daniel's side, getting a smile in return. Jack was surprised, but his conditioning to Daniel's dominant side took over and he prepared himself for his own orders.

"Jack. Go to the bedroom and sit on the bed. Do nothing else."

Jack made his way to the bedroom on his crutches and putting the hated things to one side he sat on the bed as ordered.

"May I speak?" Paul asked before they entered the bedroom.

"One question."

"Why now?"

"We need it."

Paul now understood that Daniel had seen something that he and quite possibly Jack hadn't, so he nodded and accepted it. Daniel gave him the same order that he'd given Jack, then, without looking to see if it had been carried out, he went into the bathroom to take a leak. Then he entered the bedroom and went to a drawer at the bottom of a tallboy they had, pulling out some toys that he may want later, placing them on the table. The drawer in the table held the stash of lube and he got that out as well. His final preparation was to turn on the CD player and put some soft jazz on in the background, then he lit a lot of candles that he had placed around the room, then he turned off the lights. With the curtains closed, the evening light didn't do much to illuminate the room and the atmosphere became quite erotic.

Without a word he stood in front of Jack and started to undress him, pulling his T-shirt off first and then knelt down in front of him. He undid Jack's belt and then glanced at the men, hoping that they'd pick up on his desires. They did. Paul held Jack and carefully helped him to lay back. As he did, Daniel undid Jack's jeans and as cautiously as he could, he pulled them off him. Jack now lay naked and not a little nervous. The pain in his legs had been so great that he'd not been feeling particularly horny at all. He wondered if he was even capable of physically loving the men again.

His query would soon be answered.

"Paul, help Jack sit back up, please."

Soon he was sitting and able to see everything. Daniel directed Paul to stand and undress. Paul did it as slowly and as sensually as he knew how and soon Jack's dick started to wake up. Then it was Daniel's turn. He did a real striptease for Jack, never taking his eyes from his lover's as he inched his clothes off. By the time he was undressed, both Jack and Paul were hard and ready.

Daniel knelt again in front of Jack, flicked his eyes at Paul and wordlessly instructed him to take care of their lover. Paul got on the bed and shuffled behind him, kneeling and then plastering his skin to Jack's, allowing his hard dick to jab Jack in the back. He kissed Jack's neck, trailing touches from his ear to his shoulder, nibbling and biting at the places that would make the best impression.

In the meanwhile, Daniel was kissing Jack's knees and all of the new scars on his legs. He was treating Jack with such reverence that the older man thought he was going to cry. He was about to say something when he felt a stripe being licked down his spine. He let out a shudder. When, without warning, Daniel engulfed Jack's dick with his mouth, he howled.

Jack knew that he was going to be allowed to come as soon as he wanted - this time. Daniel was working him purposefully, stroking his thighs with barely-there touches as his tongue squashed Jack's cock against the roof of his mouth and he sucked hard.

Paul's tongue had gone down as far as it could given Jack's sitting position, but he still felt good as he licked along the small of Jack's back. Jack couldn't take too much more; he allowed himself to just feel the touches and he accepted the sights and sounds in the room. The overall effect was amazing and he started to come.

"Ohmyfuckinggod," he moaned as he continued to come. It seemed like it was taking forever and by the time he was spent, Jack was shaking from head to toe.

"Jack? Are you okay?" Paul asked in concern as he helped him lie down, fluffing a pillow before letting Jack lay his head on it. Jack felt Daniel lift his legs and place them on the bed.

"Fine, incredible, amazing. Am I still alive?"

Daniel chuckled. "I hope so. Necrophilia is so not my thing."

"Get out of here!" Paul complained. "You are disgusting."

"Um, yeah. Got a problem with that?"

"Nah. Not really."

Daniel lay one side of Jack and Paul the other.

"You sure you're okay, Jack?" Daniel asked as he nibbled along his jaw line.

"Sure I'm sure. What about you two, not going to do something about these?" He reached down with both hands and grabbed their dicks.

"No. You are," Daniel answered with a grin. "Hold tight, Jack," he added with a purr.

Both men kissed him, and then let out involuntary groans as he got the message and changed his hands' positions, wrapping his fingers around them, rubbing his thumbs over their heads. They moved, thrusting their hips into his hands, their own arms grasping Jack and each other, fingers digging into the bed linen as they sped up. Jack felt his own spent dick stirring again as the hot pants of breath from his lovers wafted over his neck and throat.

"God Jack, love you," Daniel moaned as he felt his climax build.

"What he said!" Paul gasped as his own hit him. He let out loud grunts as he thrust hard into Jack's hand and Jack felt the hot liquid spilling over his fingers, then his other hand was being coated as Daniel joined Paul. They were holding him close, both men burying their heads in his neck as they rode it out.

Jack lay there with a big grin on his face. He may not be in a position to get on his knees and fuck them, but he'd still managed to get two guys off at once. Couldn't be bad.

Twenty-four hours later, Paul and Jack found out what else Daniel had in mind. They'd showered and ate the night before, Paul and Daniel fucking on the bed before they went to sleep. Jack actually enjoyed watching them even though he didn't feel like joining in. In the morning, Daniel had informed both men that they would not be allowed to do a thing that he didn't give them permission to do. He'd only allowed them to wear boxers all day. They'd only eaten what he'd given them, sat where he'd put them, they'd even had to go outside dressed only in their shorts. It was summer and they were away from prying eyes, but it was still strange for them. He'd had total control at all times, even though he'd not once demanded anything. He hadn't had to.

Jack's right leg, his worst, was playing him up, and though he would normally use that as an excuse to have a mope, Daniel refused to allow him. They had a hot tub out in the back garden and Daniel insisted that he go in it early in the evening to help soak away some of the pain. Every time Jack went to complain, Daniel clamped down on him hard.

When he was in the water, Daniel had got in with him (as had Paul) and turned him to face the edge, making him stand up in the tub, his hands on the edge and his legs spread.

"You haven't been fucked in ages, Jack. It's about time that changed."

He only got a hungry groan in reply.

With the water holding him up and taking the strain, it was easy for him. Jack loved Daniel even more for this. They all knew that this sort of sex on a bed would be painful for Jack, just as standing on hard ground would be. It would be some months before they reached whatever normality would become for them. But in the meantime, this was terrific, and Daniel, by not allowing Jack to become 'an invalid' and 'making' him submit, was respecting the man he knew he was and should be. As Daniel pushed inside him, Jack easily opened to him, welcoming and wanting him there.

After dining later that evening, they were sent to bed, with the instructions that Jack could strip off and get into bed, but Paul was to keep his boxers on and stand in the middle of the floor. The bedroom had been returned to its candlelit state and Paul was getting hard at the thought that tonight was his turn at the hands of Daniel.

Daniel entered the room wearing his jeans and nothing else. They were button-flied jeans and the top ones were now open, revealing the top of Daniel's bare dick. No boxers. There was nothing on his feet either and he silently padded across the wooden floor. His new body piercings of nipple ring and navel bar were glistening in the candlelight, causing both Paul and Jack to gasp. Daniel was carrying three tumbler glasses and a bottle of Southern Comfort.

"Jack, be a dear and pour us some drinks, please," he said distractedly as he placed them on the table.

Jack did as he was asked as Daniel moved Paul to a specific spot.

"Paul, look up."

Slowly, Paul tipped his head up and saw a quick release 'panic' hook, one used for safe play in bondage scenes. It could take a lot of weight but could also be released very easily.


Daniel looked at Jack. "You said it would be all right. I'm asking you for the last time. If you have any reservations about this, tell me. I'm not going to suggest for one moment that I tie you up, but last time I was tied up it upset you. I do not want to do that."

"I don't have a problem with it at all, Daniel. Not for one moment. And should you wish to tie me up, I think I could enjoy it. I don't know of anyone more trustworthy than you two."

Daniel beamed at him and then kissed his lips. "I love you so much, Jack O'Neill. And I'm so proud of you too."

"Hey, we're proud of you," Jack countered. "You've learned to give up control, Danny. This is only play now, isn't it? You don't really need it, do you?"

"No, not really. If you two ever want this to stop you ..."

"DAN! Will you please come over here and do it! I think we've analysed this to death and I just want to get off now!"

Paul's frustrated voice rang out and made both the others laugh out loud. Daniel acquiesced, then slipped back into character, carrying on with his plan.

Paul was made to stay in his shorts, much to his annoyance, but he kept that hidden. Daniel took two leather wrist bands and tied them onto Paul. They were then buckled together in three places so his hands were in a slightly crossed position.

"Hmm, leather, a good look on you, Paul," he teased. Paul opened his mouth to speak but Daniel snapped. "Not a word."

Daniel brought out a small stool and stood on it. Then he ran a rope through the hook. One end of the rope was already threaded through metal hoops on the five inch wide wrist bands. It had a solid knot in it to stop it sliding through. The other end of the rope was threaded through the hoops on the other band and then pulled. Paul's hands went up until they were high enough, not so high as to pull his feet off the floor, in fact it allowed him to spread his legs a little. But he had no real freedom of movement. Daniel secured the loose end of rope in a knot which then was hooked behind another clip. Paul saw that if the clip was released, he could get out of it in moments, no matter how secure it all looked. He was still in his boxers and wondered if he'd ever get out of them.

The drinks were poured and Daniel thanked Jack, then took one to Paul. He dipped his finger in it and put it in Paul's mouth, enjoying it when Paul sucked his finger in response. He slowly pulled it out and dipped it again, then painted lines on Paul's chest and back with the alcohol. As it dried it cooled the skin in the patterns that Daniel had drawn. Standing about eight inches away from him, Daniel blew cool air onto Paul's body. Paul gasped at the sensation and his dick started to jump violently.

"Now, now," Daniel mock-scolded, "we can't have that, can we?"

He took something from the table and stood in front of Paul, pulled his shorts down a little and then grabbed his balls and deflated his erection.

"Not yet, baby. You will come if you please me, but not yet."

He slipped on a thick leather cock ring and tightened it to an appropriate setting. Then he covered Paul back up. His next thing out of his 'box of tricks' was a feather, which he lightly brushed up and down Paul's entire body. He was amused to see him getting hard almost straight away. Certain areas of his body made him react more than others. As soon as he felt the feather over the back of his knees, Paul nearly went into meltdown. Daniel upped the tension by taking a small sip of Paul's drink and then kissing him, letting the liquor fall into Paul's mouth. As Paul was enjoying the warm drink trickle down his throat, Daniel moved behind him and took another sip, then with as much of it on his tongue as he could manage, he licked the back of Paul's knees, covering them with the alcohol. Further strokes with the feather had Paul howling in pleasure. It was almost painful for him, it was certainly exquisite torture and by now he was as hard as nails.

Daniel repeated the trick with the small of his back and then moved around and 'treated' his nipples.

Paul was almost delirious by now. He really needed to get off, but he knew that he was not going to be allowed to yet. He wondered how he'd do it. He hoped that Daniel would suck him off, or maybe he'd fuck him so hard that he would just get off that way.

He didn't expect Daniel to back off for the moment and just stand in front of him. He saw mischief in Daniel's eyes, no matter how much of a straight face his lover was keeping, he knew that Daniel was getting off on this torture. He also knew that with one word he could stop it. But he didn't want to.

Daniel took another swig of his drink and 'forced' it into Paul's mouth, kept doing it until the glass was empty. He licked up the dribbles that had spilt down the side of Paul's mouth and then got his own glass and emptied that in one go.

Jack, meanwhile, was getting hard again and lazily stroked himself. Daniel looked at him and grinned, nodding his permission for Jack to come that way if he wanted to. He'd been fucked into getting an orgasm earlier in the evening, so Jack was happy just to watch the 'boys' play.

Paul swallowed hard when he saw the next item come out. It was Daniel's knife. Jack had told him about the night Daniel had used it on him and he had wondered if he'd ever see it himself. He wasn't blindfolded though. He could see the blade and just how sharp it was. Daniel looked at him in question. Paul said nothing. Permission granted.

Jack smiled as he watched the exchange of total trust between the men but wondered why they'd not gone this far in the years they'd been together. Maybe it was purely because Paul had never needed to know just how much Daniel trusted him in the way that Jack had.

Paul held still as Daniel carefully slid the flat blade down his chest. When he got to the top of Paul's boxers, he twisted it slightly and nicked the band. Both Paul and Jack held in a gasp as they saw it going straight through the elastic without any effort. Daniel removed it and then dropped to his knees. He placed it at one leg entrance and tugged, again easily tearing the thick cotton. Again he repeated the movement with the other leg. Then he flattened the blade and ran it up the length of Paul's dick. Paul didn't dare breathe and he willed his cock to stay still as it slid slowly along the covered shaft. He let out his breath when the knife was removed and replaced in its sheath.

Daniel stood up, placed his hand at the crotch of Paul's boxers and smiled. Paul gasped. He knew what was coming now. A quick pull and the sound of tearing cloth filled the air, drowning out the sounds of the music playing in the background.

Paul's cock stood upright, tightly encased in its binding and leaking profusely. Daniel smothered down a smirk when he heard Jack's hand speeding up and the quickening of his breathing as he jerked off. Daniel ran his thumb over the leaking cock head and then suckled on it, tasting his lover. Paul growled in impatience.

Daniel stood back and deliberately slowly, undid the remaining fly buttons on his jeans and ran his hand seductively over his dick. Then he dropped them and stepped out of them, showing Paul that he, too, had a ring on to keep him going. Somehow Paul smothered a moan of frustration as he wondered how long Daniel would keep him waiting now.

"You have got to get one of these," Daniel told Paul as he then played with his piercings, sending the sensation of pain and pleasure straight to his groin. He ran his hands over his cock again, getting his own pre-come on his fingers. He offered the tips of his fingers to Paul who sucked on them greedily.

Jack didn't think he was going to hold out much longer, so he tried to slow his hand down, but it wasn't co-operating with his wishes. Daniel picked up on this and decided to give Jack something to get off to. He left his fingers in Paul's mouth and moved behind him, then put his other hand between Paul's legs and grabbed the last bit of the crotch to the boxers and pulled hard. He tore them right up to the waistband.

Pulling his fingers slowly out of Paul's mouth, he moved over to the bed and picked up the lube. Stopping to kiss Jack fiercely for a moment, he covered his dick and then went back to his previous position. He lined himself up and found Paul already open and waiting for him. Slowly but surely he pushed inside and then started to pump his hips.

He was able to keep it up for quite some time, till a certain moan came from Paul that told him that it had to stop. It was the one he made when he was getting too sore to go on. Quickly, Daniel undid his ring and continued to thrust, reaching around and flicking the quick-release catch on Paul's too. Paul came and came hard, covering the floor and the chest of drawers with his semen. His cock hadn't been touched once. Naturally, Daniel couldn't hold out after that sort of assault and he gave in too.

A few minutes later and they were still there, Paul hanging from the ceiling and Daniel with his head on Paul's shoulder and his arms around his waist, still trying to get his breath back.

Jack, who had come whilst watching them, creaked out of bed and moved to them. He gently pulled Daniel from Paul and lay him on the bed, then he got Paul down from the hook and started to undo his bindings. A few wipes later and he'd cleaned them up, then he urged them under the covers, Daniel in his customary position in the middle, holding tightly to his lovers.

"Daniel," Jack whispered, "you don't have to hold on so hard, hun. We're not going anywhere."

Somehow, Daniel found the strength in him to let go.


A year later, there was a knock on the door. An Air Force staff car had pulled up and deposited its passenger outside the house. This wasn't unusual in itself. Daniel's job had meant that packages were often delivered for him and some taken away. Paul opened the door and stood back in confusion.

"Sam? What are you doing here?"

"Um, hi Paul. I, er, have some information for Daniel. For his book."

"Okay, come in."

He ushered her in and called out to Daniel to come. He led her to the wide, open-plan kitchen and offered her a coffee from the continuously on coffee pot. She accepted and put the package that she had brought on the table.

"So, how are things?" she asked him.

"Good, we're having a great time out here. It's much easier on us."

"What is?"

"Not being in the military anymore, not having to watch everything we say or do," Paul answered carefully.

Daniel entered the kitchen, closely followed by Jack. He now only had to use a walking stick, his legs had healed well but he still got a bit stiff and sore from time to time.

They saw Sam and greeted her, as confused by her presence as Paul had been. They usually only had an airman turn up for the deliveries.

"What are you doing here?" Daniel asked, echoing Paul.

"I brought some information for you," she said. "And, um, I wanted to see how you were doing. It's not the same without you guys there," she added miserably.

Jack picked up on her mood and took her to sit in the more comfortable living room. She looked around and saw the beautifully decorated room, with comfortable armchairs and a very large and soft sofa, a widescreen TV with all the electronic gismos that she'd expect for a professional couch potato. It was very homely but at the same time, very chic.

"Nice place you have here," she said honestly.

They thanked her and then started to talk about the SGC. Hammond had finally found a good general to take his place and retired, but the new guy was under tremendous pressure to downsize the science side of things and concentrate on weaponry. Daniel's linguistics efforts were still being encouraged because they would help in the translation of blueprints and so on, but the cultural side of things was being wound down. All three men were angry at the news, but not really surprised. The good news was that the Goa'uld were now in an internal struggle against Anubis and so Earth was being spared their attentions for the time being.

Eventually, she asked about them, and got what was the best answer she would get.

"We're us," Jack shrugged. "Technically, Daniel's with Paul, and he's with me. But Paul and I are growing on each other," he added with a warm smile.

"I knew you loved me really," Paul teased.

"Of course I do. It's just..."

"Jack, it's okay. It's the same for me," Paul rescued him before he had to say any more. "It's simple, Sam. Daniel and I have been together for the best part of three and a half years. He and Jack have been together for about eighteen months. I knew about Jack from the beginning, Jack knew about me. There was no secret, no hiding or cheating. It's a polyamorous relationship, that's all. I love Jack, but I'm in love with Daniel. Same for Jack, he's not in love with me but he is with Daniel. Dan's in love with us both, poor guy," he added dramatically. "Most relationships like ours usually include one member of the opposite sex, but if he brings home a woman I'm leaving. If he brings home another man I'm leaving." He giggled as he added that because Daniel hit him with a cushion.

Sam saw how the three of them interacted and didn't spot any jealousy there at all. She couldn't understand it so she changed the subject.

"So, Paul, what are you doing?"

"Oh, I'm working for the SLDN," he said quietly, thinking that her attitude would not have changed. However, he was in for a surprise.

"Good," she said, rather definitely. "Look, I'm sorry about before. I was out of line. I was wrong. I've had a lot of time to think about this. It gets pretty lonely in that mountain without your friends. I know what I did was wrong, and I'm sorry. I just hope I haven't screwed this up forever."

When none of the men interrupted, she continued, but she did notice the sympathetic look in their eyes and appreciated it.

"I don't know why I did what I did, why I said what I said. I can't even blame my biological clock as I have never wanted to have children. I think that maybe I was feeling a little left out. Anyway," Sam stopped and cleared her throat, looking slightly embarrassed. "I've given myself a good kick up the ass. I've changed. For the better. I want to put things right. I can't excuse my behaviour, but I want you to know I've changed. If I could turn the clock back, I would."

"Kind of a moot point, Carter," Jack said kindly. "The legs had nothing to do with our relationship, so I'd never be coming back anyway. Daniel would have left because of my injury too, he wouldn't stay without me there."

"No, I wouldn't. We were all in it together, Sam. You didn't really have anything to do with our decision. There were lots of reasons, but Jack's injury was the final straw, so to speak."

"I'm glad. I'd hate to have been the reason for it," she replied. "So, Jack, I know what Daniel's doing, but what about you? I don't see you as some sort of house slave," she teased.

"You'd be surprised, Carter," he answered with a grin. "Actually, I'm having the time of my life with my pottery. I make and sell mugs and, er, things."


"Yeah, sculptures."

Sam was confused when Daniel and Paul fell about laughing as he said that.

"Oh? Can I see some?"

Now they lost it totally, rolling on the floor and holding their sides (and each other's).

"I don't think you want to, Carter," Jack blushed.

"I do! Why shouldn't I? Especially if you sell them."

Jack got annoyed at the others' growing hysteria and shrugged. "Okay then, but don't say I didn't warn you. They're for a particular section of society."

"What, you mean the gay section?" she asked, trying to sound accepting and 'cool' with the idea.

"Yes," Jack admitted, but he said nothing more.

He led her to the workshop that they'd all built not long after they'd moved out, explaining what he did. "I make the designs and the mugs and glaze and fire them as per the requirements, then a friend of ours, Dizzy, comes and takes them and she paints them. We have some of the finished designs here as a sort of show collection for when prospective customers come out. We don't make that many but they all sell," he added proudly.

They entered the workshop, Daniel and Paul at their heels, and Jack took her to the mug display.

"What are these designs?" she asked.

"That one," he said pointing to a black and blue striped mug with a heart shape, "is the symbol of the leather guys - mainly the gay male S&Mers."

"Oh! I see what you're doing. Making things like our Air Force mugs, really. Something that means most to the people they're for."


"Hang on, that mug that I had in the house had this design. What is it?"

She pointed to a mug that looked like a three-way yin yang design, sort of yin yang and the 'y'other. "Does it symbolise your relationship?"

The three men looked at each other and then shrugged. "Yeah, Sam," Daniel said. "It does. It's the symbol for the BDSM crowd."

"BDSM? Doesn't that stand for a lot of things?"

Daniel was pleased that she'd seemed to have read up on the subject and he smiled. "Yes, it does. In our case it means the D&S side of things."

"Domination and Submission?" There was a little hesitancy in her voice as she asked that.

"Yes, Carter," Jack answered. "And before you ask, Daniel's the dom."

He blushed a bit, not really sure how she'd react to that news.

"Well, I couldn't see him taking orders," she muttered.

Paul and Jack looked at each other and then at Daniel who was spluttering at that remark and they laughed out loud. Daniel glared at them but it didn't shut them up.

"So, Sam," he said, his voice a little dangerous. "Do you want to see what else he makes?"

"Sure!" she said rather joyously, thinking that it wasn't so bad after all.

He led her to another part of the display and she stood there mouth opened wide, eyes matching, soundlessly trying to articulate what was going on in her mind.

In a glass case there was a very, very precisely detailed, glazed and painted row of china penises. Various sizes and shapes, some erect, some not, some with balls and others just the shafts. A few had what appeared to be piercings in them.

"Daniel?" she finally squeaked.

"Jack does them as commissions," he said, happy to get one over on his lover. "They're all taken from life, so to speak. Wax moulds are made then he makes the china equivalent which again, Dizzy paints. They're very popular."

"I'll bet they are," she gasped. Then she turned around and looked at Jack who was bright-red, as was Paul, but he was red from still laughing too hard.

She wasn't really sure what to say. Instead, she slid an arm around Daniel's waist, gratified when he returned it, and looked into his eyes with a smile.

"So," she said wickedly. "Which one's yours?"