The slave auction raised intriguing possibilities for O'Neill, not least the opportunity to mend fences with his archaeologist. Over the past few months he'd driven a wedge between them. Deliberately. Beginning when he'd realized that their friendship, which - almost unnoticed - had grown closer and closer over the years, had become way too close for comfort. He told himself that he was just maintaining a proper distance between himself and his subordinates - or in Daniel's case, insubordinate.
Recently, he'd become aware that that slight distance had opened up into a large gulf between them. It wasn't what he'd intended at all. Now, before it was too late, he wanted that friendship back. It was the next best thing to what he really wanted, but that was never gonna happen. So he'd better fix things, or he might have to do without the friendship too.
Mentally, he blessed the pocket Napoleon. Her fund-raiser was going to give him the chance to put things right, because he was going to 'buy' Daniel, whatever the cost. If only No, don't even think about it, O'Neill. Don't raise false hopes. Although a little fantasizing wouldn't hurt - would it...?
"No, Janet! You don't know what you're asking."
"Please Daniel. It's such a good cause."
A pair of soft brown eyes gave him a look of gentle reproach.
"And it's not as if you'd be parading down the catwalk in loincloth or something," Janet reassured him as Major Carter joined them in the commissary."
"Well, if you're wondering what to wear, Janet and I'll be happy to take you shopping and give you a new image. Heaven knows, you need it!" Sam smirked.
"Behave, Sam!" Janet protested as Daniel's expression become even more adamantine. "You only need one casual and one smart outfit, Daniel."
"Colonel O'Neill's wearing his dress blues," Sam said, eyes lighting up.
"Well, if Jack's taking part"
"And I am," Sam chimed in.
" then I don't see why you need me."
"No, you wouldn't," Janet remarked, sotto voce.
"Janet needs you because it would probably double the takings..." Sam said earnestly.
"Oh, that does it. I'm out of here," Daniel said, pushing his chair back with an angry scrape and walking off.
Over the next few days, it seemed to Daniel that he was the object of a campaign by the entire base to persuade him to take part in the event. Mostly they played down the 'slave' aspect once word got around that he had 'issues'.
The one who leaned on him most heavily was Colonel O'Neill, which he found difficult to comprehend. He'd made it plain, he thought, right from the outset that he hated the idea, yet at every opportunity, Jack pursued the subject. He used every argument under the sun and then some. Knowing how Daniel felt about slavery, he constantly played up the charitable aspect. He kept pressuring him to change his mind - lecturing him, luring him, and finally reassuring him with accounts of having been involved in similar events in the past. He recounted his own 'first time' many years before, at a fund raiser for one of Charlie's friends who'd had leukaemia.
"It was no big deal, Daniel," he said. "Just twenty-four hours - officially. An old lady a couple of blocks along wanted her loft sorting out - couldn't manage to get up the ladder any more. It was a pretty big job actually. I... Well, I was - concerned about her, so... I went back the next coupla weekends to finish it off for her. That's what it's all about - helping the neighbors."
Daniel could feel himself weakening - or was it just that his resistance was being worn down like a rock under the steady drip, drip, drip of water? He certainly felt exhausted by the continuous emotional blackmail. Maybe he should put his misgivings - and his memories - aside and go help someone.
"Why not go along and tell Doc. Fraiser now? I'm sure she'll be delighted. Who knows, maybe she'll go a little easier on your butt for while..."
Again The Smile. Was there something going on that Daniel didn't know about? He pondered about it on his way to the infirmary - wondered if it had anything to do with Sam's remark about his presence doubling the proceeds - wondered why she and Janet thought he needed new clothes for the event if he was just going to end up cleaning out someone's loft or garage. Oh, there was the mention of squiring a lady to a dinner for the evening. Maybe that was it.
Unfortunately, when he arrived in Dr. Fraiser's office to inform her of his change of heart, she wasn't there but her draft inventory of the various lots was on her desk. He cast his eye down the list to see who else had had his or her arm twisted. His own name was already on it... Reason to see red #1.
He was down as Lot 13, and was to be announced embarrassingly as 'archaeologist, linguist - babe.' Babe?! So they'd all assumed he'd cave eventually andthey were not just planning on selling him as a slave, but as a sex slave? Reasons to see red numbers 2 and 3.
Worst of all, a memo from his commanding officer - offering a further fifty dollars to the cause if Janet would add the word 'babe' - indicated who was responsible for that description. Reason for seeing red, scarlet, crimson, and flaming vermilion #4!
He also noticed O'Neill's name on the list. Lot 14. There were no pejorative epithets attached to that name he noticed. Right, if that was the way he wanted it! Daniel had a little under two weeks in which to prepare...
To all outward appearances, Daniel was still going along with the whole charade - allowed Sam and Janet to take him on the promised shopping expedition for some suitable new gear. 'Babe' gear, he realized. He'd never taken any great interest in fashion, but before the trip round the clothing stores, he'd scanned through a couple of trendy magazines. That told him all he needed to know. While they were there, he took advantage of their greater knowledge of such things, and bought several new shirts and pants, and a couple of jackets. Those weren't the only things he bought that week.
Friday - the great day dawned and Daniel was nowhere in sight. Information was non-existent. Rumors abounded. At midday, General Hammond received an unexpected 'phone call from the Pentagon stating that Dr. Jackson was required in Washington. Daniel had called in a marker from Major Paul Davis. Gloom descended over Cheyenne Mountain.
"One thousand dollars," the matron bid, to cheers from the hall. O'Neill blenched.
"Eleven hundred," called Bond-girl. She obviously wasn't going to give up too easily.
"Fourteen hundred dollars." The matron was beginning to look a little hot and flustered.
"Fifteen hundred." Bond-girl matched the matron without a hesitation.
"Fifteen-fifty." The matron seemed to be cracking.
"Sixteen hundred." It looked as if the blonde had him.
"Going once," Janet declared, "going twice..."
"Two thousand dollars," came a deep voice from the side of the hall.
"Teal'c?" O'Neill exclaimed in surprise.
"Going once, going twice... Sold to Mr. Teal'c." Janet cried.
Teal'c stepped up to the desk and handed over two thousand dollars in cash. O'Neill went over to join him.
"I do not know. The bidder wished to remain anonymous."
"Oh. Great. Just... peachy."
O'Neill looked a little nervously around the room. No one seemed to wish to claim him so he joined the remainder of his team to watch the end of the proceedings. They were all waiting to hear the final total when an announcement came over the P.A.
"Cab for Colonel O'Neill - cab for Colonel O'Neill."
"Oh-oh. Better go, folks. See you Monday. Have a good weekend!"
The sky was black above. The road below was black and shiny with rain. Street lights reflected from the slick surface. The car was black too, with tinted windows - more like a limousine. The cab driver - chauffeur? - opened the rear door for O'Neill to enter. Car doors slammed and he was on his way he knew not where.
After a while, the street lights petered out. O'Neill was a little surprised. He hadn't expected to leave the Springs. After half an hour or so of driving through the darkness, he tapped on the glass to attract the driver's attention.
"Say, driver, where are you taking me?"
The microphone clicked on.
"I'm sorry, Sir, I'm not at liberty to say."
"Well, who booked the cab, then?"
"I'm sorry, Sir, that information is classified."
The microphone clicked off.
Classified? O'Neill was beginning to feel distinctly edgy as he considered the possibilities - threat assessing... It occurred to him that the N.I.D. weren't above using an innocent charity event as a subterfuge - and he'd certainly made a few enemies among them over the years. After a while, he recalled that Daniel had been unexpectedly called away to Washington. It couldn't be involved with that though, surely? They'd have reached the airport by now if that were the case, and anyway, there hadn't been any sign of habitation for quite a while now.
Or maybe it was the N.I.D. and they already had Danny for some nefarious purpose? O'Neill didn't like the thought of that one bit. Whatever was going on, there didn't seem to be much he could do about it right now except stay alert and ready for action when the journey came to its end. Which turned out to be well over another hour away.
The car seemed to be crawling along a narrow trackway off the main road now, with grit or gravel crunching under the wheels. Journey's end? The car stopped, the driver got out and opened the door for him without saying anything. O'Neill stepped out into the rainy night putting his peaked cap back on, and walked towards the black sprawl of a single storey building some twenty yards away. Behind him, the black car slipped away into the darkness. He wished he was armed, but who takes a sidearm to a charity social function?
The front door of the building stood a little ajar and the light from inside spilled out on to a veranda. O'Neill cautiously went up the steps, still threat assessing. Standing to the side, he gently pushed the door further open - saw a polished wood-block floor leading through glazed double doors - open - and a creamy-white wall with a framed papyrus hanging on it. Daniel...?
"Come in, Slave, and close the door," came the familiar voice.
"Oops, sorry - master."
"Ye-es, we're really going to have to work on that one."
Daniel rose from the couch where he'd been reading a hefty tome, and took in the magnificence of a U.S.A.F. colonel in dress blues, albeit a little damp now.
"Say, whatcha doing here? I thought you were in Washington."
"And then we'll have straighten out the whole master/slave relationship."
O'Neill raised an eyebrow at that.
"Come into my bedroom, Slave," Daniel said, leading the way.
Taking in the decoration and furnishings of the place, Jack casually sauntered after him through a wide archway at the rear of the room that led into a corridor, and turned left.
The bedroom was... interesting. The room was very large and hence didn't look overcrowded by the six-foot wide bed with its brass bedhead, two black-japanned storage units and a Pennsylvania Schrank.
The walls were a faintly creamy white, as was the carpet. The bedding was black satin. The quilt cover, which matched the floor-length drapes, was also black, relieved by small clumps of tiny gold stars, randomly scattered. There were a couple of black Chinese Chippendale chairs and a small table by the window. Another door, slightly ajar, led to an en suite bathroom to judge by the glimpse of wall tiles.
"Ok, leave your clothes on my bed - all of them. This is what you'll be wearing for the duration."
Daniel held out a carrier bag to Jack who took it, looking a little nonplused.
"So how do I look?" he asked, grinning and doing a twirl.
Daniel didn't look amused.
"Like a disobedient slave. I told you to leave all your clothes on my bed. That includes your underwear. You won't be needing your watch either. And where is your collar?"
"Aw, come on, Daniel, don't you think that's going a bit far?"
"Go back to my bedroom and do as you were told. Now!"
"Ok, master," O'Neill said a little sourly, turning to go.
He felt a sharp sting as Daniel pinged a thin metal switch across his buttock.
"And be quick, Slave. I want my supper."
With the Master following closely behind, the slave did indeed make haste. He was a little concerned that Daniel was acting out of character. Payback for the hard time he'd given Daniel over the auction?Maybe he had gone a little too far along the path of coercion, but two grand seemed a hell of a lot of money just to make a point. He removed his boxers, folded them and laid them with his other clothes, then removed his watch and put it in his jacket pocket.
"Now put on the collar, Slave."
O'Neill looked mutinous but obeyed. Part of him accepted that it was his own fault.
"Well if it's revenge you're after," he growled, fastening the buckle, "you got it. I feel like a complete and utter prick in this outfit."
"This isn't about revenge," Daniel said coldly. "Now turn round, Slave."
O'Neill did, and felt the switch across the other buttock.
"That's for insolence."
The slave scowled at his Master but managed to bite back a sharp retort.
"You need to know your place in the - ah, master-slave relationship, so I'll tell you the ground rules," the Master went on, pacing up and down the room. "That way punishment will be entirely your own choice. Firstly, you will obey every order instantly and to the letter. Secondly, you will speak only when spoken to, for instance to acknowledge my orders by saying, 'Yes Master'. Thirdly, you will not raise your eyes to my face unless I tell you otherwise. Keep them - uh - modestly averted. Is that clear?"
O'Neill looked him in the eye and nodded. Daniel glared at him.
"So far, you've managed to break all those rules. Don't do it again, or I'll make you very sorry. Eyes down, Slave. Go to the kitchen. It's at the other end of the corridor. You'll find a tray on the counter. Bring it into the lounge. And don't touch anything else."
"Yes, Master," Slave sighed.
Daniel settled himself on the couch again while O'Neill went in search of the kitchen. Several minutes later, he returned carrying a tray laden with an assortment of snacks, a bottle of single malt whisky and a crystal whisky glass.
"Put the tray on the table and pour me two fingers of whisky."
Daniel then had him getting up and down every few minutes to pass him something from the tray which he could just as easily have reached for himself. O'Neill didn't think that bitching about his knees would go down too well just right now and sullenly held his tongue.
At long last, a singularly tedious programme on neolithic culture came to an end. Daniel yawned, stretched and stood up.
"Slave, follow me," he ordered.
O'Neill followed him through into the kitchen. Daniel went to the second door along the nearside wall and flipped a switch beside it. Summoning his slave, he opened the door. A flight of steps led down into the basement.
"You'll be sleeping down there. I've provided - ah - basic amenities. There's also a bell which will sound when I want you. Down you go, Slave."
Thankful for a respite, Slave set off down the steps. At the bottom, he looked around.
"'Basic amenities'... Gee, thanks," he muttered.
There was a thin mattress on the floor in one corner. It had a single sheet. Beside the 'bed' was a bowl, a ewer of water, soap, a small towel and shaving gear. At the end of the bed was a chamber pot.
~ Remind me never to piss off an archaeologist again ~
Up above, Daniel had gone into his bedroom and checked through O'Neill's possessions. He made sure that everything was there, cellphone, wallet, the lot. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the room was an old sailor's chest made of oak, iron-bound, and with a sturdy triple set of locks to keep the long-dead sailor's belongings safe. Daniel stowed O'Neill's clothes and valuables in the chest and locked it. One key he placed in a vase on the window ledge of his bedroom, another he taped behind a black wooden mask of a Masai warrior in the lounge and the third key he hid in the bathroom at the bottom of a bowl of pot pourri.
He returned to his bedroom, checked his watch and pressed a button beside the bedhead. He'd previously timed the trip from the basement to his bedroom - thirty seconds at a moderate walking pace. Add a generous fifteen seconds reaction time. Forty-five seconds. Slave made it in forty.
"Good, Slave," Daniel said with the minutest of smiles.
The Master was sitting on the edge of the bed then, and held out one foot.
"Take my shoes and socks off."
Slave knelt down and did so. The Master stood up.
O'Neill's eyes flew to his face, as Daniel had known they would. Then his left cheek flamed where it met the back of Daniel's hand.
"Don't you dare raise your eyes to my face again!" he growled.
O'Neill was completely taken aback. This was so not the caring Daniel he knew and There had to be something more to this than taking out his irritation for - well... bullying Daniel, he supposed - into taking part in the damned auction. Which, now he came to think of it, Daniel hadn't done anyway. Thinking back, Daniel had said it wasn't about revenge. What then? Some murky part of Daniel's unknown past that he'd unwittingly disturbed?
"I said undress me, Slave!"
O'Neill obviated the possibility of looking in the Master's face again by stepping around behind him. Daniel loosely held his arms out to his sides to facilitate the removal of his clothing. Slave unbuttoned the cuffs of the Master's new blue shirt, then carefully reached round to unfasten the rest of the buttons and slipped the silky material down off the broad shoulders. Daniel had filled out over the past few years. One sometimes forgot about that during missions, when he was enveloped in a baggy B.D.U. Then one returned to the locker room and refreshed one's memory. Jack turned away and went to the Schrank for a clothes hanger.
He returned to stand behind Daniel and put his hands around his waist, a little uncertainly, to unfasten the new light-colored chinos. The Master obligingly stepped out of them and Slave hung them up too. Next, the silk boxers... Slave suddenly felt very warm despite his scanty clothing. Somehow he managed to remove them without touching anything sensitive.
"Take my socks and underwear to the utility room and wash them, then go to bed. When I ring in the morning, fetch me coffee then cook my breakfast. Your food is in the cupboard to the left of the 'fridge. Now go."
Slave bent down to pick up the discarded clothing, which made a useful cover for an otherwise very obvious hard-on, and made to leave the room.
The naked archaeologist leapt off the bed and followed him. Slave stopped instantly. The Master took hold of a handful of buttock and squeezed.
"What should you say?"
"Ow! Er, yes Master."
"Better. Now run along..."
~ Three bags full, Master. Daniel, you are so going to pay for this...! ~
O'Neill awoke at 0600hrs. as was his wont. He felt cold, cramped and disorientated. The memory of the previous night snapped back with unpleasant haste and clarity. The crick in his neck and the ache in his knees made him regret ever having heard of the damn' charity auction. Not only had he failed to get Daniel where he wanted him, he was now in Daniel's power and he didn't like the way he was wielding that power one little bit. Had it been the other way round, it would have been - well - sweet. Certainly comfortable. This was anything but!
Jack knew Daniel would probably be dead to the world for several hours yet and so felt inclined to take a look around. First off though, he would find the bathroom. Chamber pot, my ass! he mentally grumbled. Then he'd investigate the kitchen and find something to eat before Obersturmbannführer Jackson awoke.
It was a nice place Daniel had here, he thought - wherever 'here' was. And assuming it was Daniel's place. All the bits of archaeological stuff dotted about kind of suggested it was his. He was very well paid and didn't get much opportunity to spend much of it and Jack didn't think he had any friends left in the archaeological world who were close enough to loan him the property. So, an investment then? Somewhere to retire to? If he lived long enough to retire which, Heaven knew, didn't seem all that likely...
In the quiet greyness of the morning, Jack suddenly felt very sad - imagined a new day dawning without Daniel Jackson in it. Daniel had temporarily died several times and each time had been bad. Very bad. Each one had been worse than the last because it seemed to bring him closer to a permanent state of death.
No. Didn't want to think about that. Daniel was such a live vibrant creature whom he wanted to keep in his life. Didn't want to outlive him too, as he'd outlived Charlie. Didn't particularly want to outlive Carter or Teal'c either - although, technically, Teal'c was older than he was. Daniel was different, though. Special. He belonged in Jack's life - as close as Daniel would allow himself to be. Jack realized that now... now that he'd fucked up.
In the tastefully designed bathroom, Jack found more little bits of Daniel - knick-knacks picked up on his travels, anti-bacterial hand-wash, hypo-allergenic shampoo... After he'd flushed the toilet, he turned on the shower. The water infused warmth into him, lifting the mood of melancholy and soothing away the aches that a night in the damp cellar had generated. A brisk rub down with a clean fluffy towel made him feel much brighter and more sanguine. Now for some breakfast.
Jack trailed slowly back down the rest of the steps, clutching his belt and sandals. Near the bottom, he half-turned as the bolt was drawn back again and the door opened. The studded leather collar was hurled after him with some force. It bounced painfully off his shoulder. With nothing more said, Master slammed the door and bolted it again.
And that was that. For another four hours.