- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Fiddling with his pen, Jack tried to quash his nerves as he and the rest of SG-1 along with Janet waited for Hammond to join them in the briefing room. The team had been back in the mountain for less than an hour after spending the last three weeks in Peru and were about to give Hammond the briefing of a lifetime. Considering the kind of command the general had, Jack figured that was saying something.
Finally, the man came out of his office. Before Jack and the others had even gotten halfway out of their seats, the general waved them off. “At ease, people. Glad to have you back, SG-1.” Taking his seat he cast an appraising look at the group. With a nod, he settled his attention on Jack and Daniel. “So what have you found?”
Daniel straightened in his seat briefly, sharing a quick glance with Jack who nodded. They had already agreed that it would be best for Daniel to take lead, with Jack and the others filling in here and there. Leaning forward, Daniel held the general’s gaze and began to talk. “Well, sir, we’ve uncovered quite a bit, but there are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered – for now at least. As you know, we spent a few days at the Temple. The walls contained a lot of text in the alien language, but as we don’t know what language it is or how to translate it there’s little to be gained from that for the moment.
“We did make sure to record what we found, so we have it for future reference. We also gathered samples from the pools that were there because whatever is in them, it isn’t water. Or at least not just water, because it looks very much like the event horizon does in a way.”
The general blinked in surprise at this news. “What does that mean, Doctor?”
Daniel shrugged as Sam chimed in, “We’re not sure, sir. I’m going to run some tests as soon as we’re done here.”
Hammond nodded. “Keep me apprised, Captain.”
Pushing his glasses back up his nose, Daniel cleared his throat. “There really wasn’t much else in the Temple that we could find. Maybe once we’ve translated what was on the walls we’ll be able to discover more, as the temple was very reminiscent of the pyramids in Egypt or even the Aztec. They almost always have hidden rooms, but without the proper key, so to speak, it’ll be difficult to be sure.”
Again, Hammond nodded, and Daniel continued.
“Once we’d gathered what intel we could from the temple itself, Jim Ellison led us to the Chopec, which as you know was the tribe that saved his life when he and his team crash landed in the jungle during a mission. They also are the ones that taught him about being a Sentinel.”
“There are more Sentinels out there?” Hammond asked, sounding faintly stunned.
Jack shifted in his seat. “Yes, sir. They have a long heritage of Sentinels and Guides going back thousands of years, or so they claim. According to their shaman, there is always at least one pair among them, if not more.”
“How is that possible?”
“Well, sir, from what we’ve been able to gather, largely thanks to Blair I might add, the Sentinels and Guides never truly left. The Chopec have not kept a written history, so unfortunatel, unfortunately, e to corroborate their accounts, but according to them the Sentinels predate the Pharaohs by many years.
“They say that during the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs that there was much strife in the world. The Sentinels and Guides both fought for many years against a foe never seen before or since.”
“We’re pretty sure they meant the Goa’uld, sir,” Jack helpfully supplied.
“Right. Apparently, the God Ra feared the Sentinels and Guides to such a degree that he had them hunted down and shot on sight. While Earth had many Sentinels and Guides at the time, Ra’s forces were overwhelming in their strength and it didn’t take long before their population had been cut down to almost nothing.
“Somewhere along the line, the uprising happened, as you know. How much the Sentinels and Guides had a hand in that, there’s no way for us to know at this point. As far as we can tell, the few remaining pairs went into hiding, traveling to the far reaches of the Earth, among them, Peru where they continued their legacy unchallenged.”
“Do we know why they hid if Ra was defeated?” Hammond asked, looking both intrigued and a little distressed.
“Afraid not, sir,” Jack replied. “We know that the Sentinels and Guides’ purview is to protect the Tribe, and that they had been hunted to near-extinction.”
Daniel nodded. “We’re going with the assumption that once the few remaining Sentinels and Guides found a place to settle, they remained with their Tribes. If they all found people like the Chopec, who even now live very secluded from the world, then there’s no telling how many others have survived over the years.”
“I see.” Hammond looked thoughtful for a moment. “Should we search them out? Are they a threat we need to consider? Or would they be allies?”
Jack shook his head. “I don’t think it’d be wise to go hunting for them, sir. Like Daniel said, they’ve been isolated for this long, probably better to let them be. I do not believe they would be a threat if it came down to it, though.”
“Jack’s right, sir,” agreed Daniel quickly. “And I believe we have enough on our plate without adding a Sentinel hunt to the list. Especially since we currently only have two of them ourselves, if you count Jim.”
“Speaking of, where are Detective Ellison and Dr. Sandburg? I expected they would be joining you here,” Hammond asked, looking curious.
“They had to report back to their Chief. Something to do with a case Jim had been working on, as far as I understood. They said they’d like to come here as soon as they get things wrapped up in Cascade,” Daniel supplied. “Blair is especially curious about the SGC.”
Snorting, Jack rolled his eyes. “Understatement if ever there was one,” he muttered, then cleared his throat. “Ellison seems a little more on guard about things, but that’s only natural, I figure. Not every day you learn that aliens are real, after all, let alone that you’re descended of one.”
Leaning forward, Hammond nodded. “Very well. I look forward to meeting them. Now, how did things go with the Chopec? I believe you mentioned something about training when we talked on the phone two weeks ago.”
Jack’s neck flushed as he remembered the training involved and he shot Daniel a quick glance. “Yes, sir. Training. Lots and lots of… training.” At Hammond’s expectant look, Jack heaved a sigh and straightened in his seat. “Long story short, sir, they tested us – me and Jim, something he wasn’t happy about I might add – on all of our senses. Every which way you can imagine and a few I hadn’t been able to up until then.”
Daniel chuckled lightly as he picked up the thread of the conversation. “Basically, they had them do a baseline first, no stressors. They had them use taste and scent to find certain foods, and even poisons. For touch and sight, they learned to identify different textures, and even injuries to an extent. Then for hearing, sight, and scent, they had Blair and I go out with a few of the Chopec and hide while Jim and Jack had to ‘hunt’ for us with their senses. Over and over again, each time farther away than the last.
“They also had them hunt for Teal’c and Sam a few times, and Teal’c was used in a variety of scenarios. They’re aware of Junior in a broad sense, since their Guide picked up on him. Blair and I worked with him to try to hone that skill, and-”
“You?” Hammond interrupted, eyes widened slightly in surprise.
“Ah, yes. Guess we never got that covered over the phone.” Daniel blushed slightly as he shared an uncertain glance with Jack before focusing on the general again. “It seems I’m Jack’s Guide, sir.”
Sitting back in his chair, Hammond gave them a scrutinizing look. “What does that mean, exactly, gentlemen?”
There were few times when Jack wished the Earth would swallow him whole – in fact, he could count those instances on one hand – but now certainly was one of those times. What happened next was make-or-break as far as Jack was concerned. Either he would be dishonorably discharged, or Hammond would accept them and make accommodations for their situation. Taking a steadying breath, he resolutely took Daniel’s hand in his own, though he locked eyes with his commanding officer. “It means, sir, that we’re a package deal, more so now than before. It means that Daniel and I are an item in just about every sense of the word, because the Sentinel in me won’t tolerate anyone else. I know there are rules against fraternization and DADT and all that, General, but-”
Holding his hand up to stop the flow of words, Hammond gave a small smile. “At ease, Jack. You’re in no danger here, I promise you. While you’ve been gone I’ve been doing a bit of reading of my own. I managed to get my hands on Dr. Sandburg’s paper about Sentinels and I’ve read between the lines. Given what we now know, I can safely assume that he is indeed, Ellison’s Guide?”
“Yes, sir.” Daniel nodded, squeezing Jack’s hand. “Also, I feel I need to add that Jack won’t be the last Sentinel in this command. I think he’s merely the first. We already know that I’m not the only Guide to arise from that whole mess.”
“No, sir. I’m one, too, or will be,” Carter chimed in. “According to Jim I still feel ‘half-baked’, as he put it. The Chopec feel I’m on the cusp of coming online.”
“I see.” Folding his hands over his stomach, Hammond gazed thoughtfully at the team. “That makes things a little easier in a way, and harder in another.”
“Sir?” Jack asked with some trepidation.
With a hint of a smile, Hammond nodded. “Easier, because you won’t be singled out and we can set a precedent. Harder, because we will have to set the right precedent and get things set in motion with the President on getting rid of DADT much sooner than he had planned.”
Just like that, the weight that had been on Jack’s shoulders lifted and he breathed a sigh of relief. “I can’t think of a better person to lead the way than you, General.”
“Thank you, Jack.” Tugging at his shirt a little, the general shifted forward and leaned his elbows on the edge of the table. “Was there anything further you wanted to share, Doctor Jackson?”
“Oh, um, no, not really. Nothing that won’t be in the report at any rate. Both Blair and I got training, for as much as we were able to. A lot of it we still need to work on because we as Guides are somewhat more dependent on our bonds with our Sentinels, at least, that’s how I understood it. It’s a learning curve, sir.”
“Understood. Is there any way to estimate when the other Sentinels and Guides will… emerge, if you will? Or how many?”
Shaking his head, Daniel hummed for a moment. “Not really. The Chopec did keep calling Jack an Alpha Prime, but we’re not entirely sure what that means, exactly. It sort of got lost in translation, I’m sorry to say.”
“I see.” Hammond turned to Jack with a glint of amusement in his eyes. “You never do things halfway, do you, Colonel?”
“You know me, sir,” Jack quipped.
“That, I do. Very well. Colonel, Captain, Doctor Jackson, I expect you three to put yourselves at Dr. Fraiser’s tender mercies and get a full work up done. Dr. Fraiser, I need you to run a comparative diagnostic on your findings, see if there are any markers that might help in identifying Sentinels and Guides. I’d like to be able to have as much information as possible before bringing this forward. For now, this is classified as Need-To-Know.
“I expect your reports on your trip to Peru within the day, people. Dismissed.”
Much to Jack’s dismay, he once again found himself in the infirmary not long after. At least this time he wasn’t alone, though that didn’t make him feel particularly better about the situation. Somehow, Jack had ended up in the middle bed, with Carter on his left and Daniel to his right. Teal’c stood sentry, making sure to stay out of the doctor’s way as she directed her people through the series of tests she wanted done on the team. As Janet waved her little penlight of doom into his eyes, Jack groused, “I ask you, what could you possibly hope to gain from this torture?”
Janet’s lips twitched briefly into a smile. “The general said a full workup, so that is what you will get, Colonel.”
Scowling, he asked, “So how are you going to do the comparative diagnostic thingy he mentioned?”
“I would assume Janet’s going to be looking at your bloodwork from before and compare it to now. Will you go so far as a DNA comparison, too?” Carter asked.
Nodding, Janet tapped the inside of Jack’s elbow as she searched for a vein. “Yes, I don’t really know that there’ll be anything to find, but if Daniel is correct in his assumption that something got triggered during the whole Neanderthal episode, that would be my best bet.”
That actually made some sense to Jack and he lapsed into silence as he endured the battery of tests Janet had in mind. After the main ones were done, Janet returned and narrowed her gaze at him. “Colonel, I would like to run you through your paces myself. I know you’ve said the Chopec trained you and tested your abilities, but I would prefer to do some of my own and keep a record of any changes. Not just now, but on an ongoing basis.”
Jack groaned, flopping dramatically back onto the bed. “Do I have to?”
“Yes,” she said simply, and when Jack glanced at her it was to find her grinning. She tilted her head toward Daniel and Carter and added, “They will be given their own tests, as well, and a regular fMRI so we can hopefully track any changes, but for now I’d like to start with you.”
Daniel leaned against the side of Jack’s bed. “I think it’s a good idea, but maybe we can set up a plan for it? After we’ve written our reports. I think it might help you in determining what to be on the lookout for, too, Janet.”
She appeared to give it some thought and nodded. “Very well. For the time being, you all seem to be in excellent health, even your rash seems to have disappeared, Colonel.”
“And thank God for that,” Jack muttered darkly.
“That said, I would prefer it if you remained on the base for the time being, and no gate travel until we know more about what’s happening to you. All of you,” Janet added with a stern glance at the three of them.
“What of me, Doctor Fraiser?” Teal’c asked from behind her.
Half-turning, she gave him a warm smile. “You’re cleared for full duty, Teal’c. I’m sure if you asked the general you could temporarily join another gate team, or you could remain here with SG-1, that’s up to you.”
“Thank you, Doctor Fraiser.” Teal’c dipped his head slightly. “I think I shall remain here in case I can be of assistance.”
Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack. “C’mon, Jack. We’ve got reports to write.”
“Yay,” Jack muttered under his breath. He hated paperwork almost as much as he hated politics. Getting tested, poked, and prodded came a close third in his book.
Carter and Teal’c headed off to write their reports – Teal’c had opted to use one of the desks in Carter’s office/workshop not long after joining the team. Jack wasn’t sure why, but it seemed to work out better that way, though he would have thought that Daniel might have been the more patient in explaining how to do all the paperwork. Carter didn’t seem to mind, though, and had done an excellent job in guiding the Jaffa into new and previously uncharted territory of using computers, as well as reading and writing English.
Jack had his own office but was rarely ever there. He always hung out at either Carter’s workshop or Daniel’s office and lately always at the latter. Daniel had gone so far as to clear him some workspace which had amused Jack, but neither man had ever commented on it before. For some reason, that struck him and when they arrived at the messy office with the overflow of ancient texts and paraphernalia – mostly from Egypt – Jack paused in the doorway.
Glancing back at him, Daniel quirked a brow. “You alright, Jack?”
He nodded. “Yeah, just… How long do you think we’ve been tapdancing around…” he waved a hand between them.
Daniel turned his head slowly, taking in his office before stepping close to Jack, pulling him fully into the office and closing the door behind them. Grasping his hand, Daniel gazed at him thoughtfully. “I don’t know. I told you I’d been attracted to you before all this,” he reminded Jack gently.
“You did, I just never… Aw hell, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, Danny.”
“What do you need, Jack?”
“You,” he admitted, his voice more hoarse than he cared to admit as he pulled the other man closer.
Wrapping his arms around Jack’s waist, Daniel tilted his head to the side in offering. “I’m yours.”
As it always seemed to, those simple words sent a shiver up his spine. With a shuddering breath, Jack burrowed his face into his Guide’s neck and breathed in his scent, grounding himself. His hands found their way under Daniel’s shirt, searching out skin. It was the most he dared do, though by far the least he wanted to. Being back in the mountain had Jack feeling a little unsettled if he were to be completely honest with himself. Not least of which because of the unknown, though he was glad that Hammond seemed to remain in their corner.
They stood like that for a moment while Jack regained his equilibrium. Daniel seemed to know the exact moment Jack was ready to let go and patted him on the back gently before pulling away and smiling up at him. “Better?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Heaving a sigh, Jack ran his fingers through his hair. He was about to go to his desk when a thought occurred to him. “Hey, we never really discussed the logistics of this.”
“What do you mean?”
“You, me. Us. Needing to be close-thing. I mean, when we’re here in the Mountain what we just did works, but…” He trailed off, biting the inside of his cheek, unsure whether he wanted to speak the words because it would make everything more real. Like Peru hadn’t been this weird side-trip to la-la-land or something.
“But you need more, and you want to still be able to sleep with me like we did in Peru,” Daniel finished calmly, a small smile playing on his lips.
Jack’s cheeks flushed and his dick stirred at the suggestion. They hadn’t had sex while in Peru, they hadn’t done more than kiss, really, because there hadn’t been any real privacy and the very idea of sharing Daniel like that was enough to cool his desires. But they had shared a bed while in the jungle – not just a tent, but a bed – and that was something he didn’t want to give up.
The Shaman’s words also echoed in Jack’s ears, that their bond would grow and that they would both be more for it as a Sentinel and a Guide once they had completed their bond; and by complete the man had meant: have sex.
He had to tamp down hard on the desire that suddenly flooded him as the image of a naked Daniel popped into his head. Now was not the time for that, he sternly reminded himself, but he couldn’t quite keep his reaction in check. Either that, or Daniel was doing that voodoo thing he did now that he was a Guide, because before Jack could do or say anything further the man was back in his arms and kissing him for all he was worth and all rational thought fled his mind.
Daniel pulled back with a far-too-smug expression on his face as far as Jack was concerned – though he could admit the man deserved to feel a little smug for having thrown Jack completely off-kilter and leaving him burning for more. “Whatever you want, Jack. Your place or mine, I really don’t care. I’ll go where you need me to.”
“Just like that?” Jack asked, barely able to recognize his own voice.
Daniel nodded. “Just like that. I don’t think it’s wise for us to be apart for very long, do you?” When Jack shook his head, Daniel continued, “Besides, you’re not the only one who feels this, you know. The need to further the bond.”
Blinking stupidly, Jack opened and closed his mouth a couple of times but couldn’t quite get his brain to engage because it was all he could do to stop himself from hauling his Guide off to have his way with him.
Chuckling softly, Daniel placed a chaste kiss to his lips and murmured, “I promise, Jack. I’m not going anywhere, and we will explore where this is going, but later. We need to get through the day first and finish our reports. When we’re done, we can figure out where we’ll stay. Remember that we’re not allowed to leave the mountain just yet; Janet’s orders.”
Closing his eyes, he groaned, having forgotten about them essentially being grounded.
“Something else to keep in mind, too,” Daniel added quietly. “They warned us that once we started, we would need to be secluded for a while, so we’ll need to talk to Hammond about that first.”
“Great,” Jack muttered, scrubbing his fingers through his hair. At least that reminder was enough to curb his need for the time being. “I get why we didn’t mention that in the meeting, but that is one conversation with the general that I refuse to have alone.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll go with you.” Daniel grinned, cupping Jack’s cheek. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine for a while, I think. Let’s get this over with.” With a long-suffering sigh Jack swung himself into his seat and booted up the computer. Part of his attention remained on Daniel, listening to what he was doing, tracking him whenever he moved around the office to look for something. Cataloging all the little noises the man made as he worked.
A couple of hours had gone by before Jack hit save on his work, shut down his computer, and turned around to face Daniel who was engrossed in typing up his report. “Daniel? Time for lunch.”
“’m Fine, Jack,” Daniel mumbled distractedly.
“No, you’re not. You need food. I can hear your stomach rumbling from here.” He wasn’t going to allow his Guide to get so caught up in what he was doing that he neglected his body. He had always tried to keep an eye out for that behavior with both Carter and Daniel, but now that he had an edge on knowing how Daniel was doing he would make use of it. And for the last half hour or so the man’s body had signaled hunger. Not that Jack wasn’t hungry, too, not to mention ready for a break from writing this report of epic proportions.
Glancing up, Daniel pushed his glasses back up his nose with a bemused look. “This is going to be a thing now, isn’t it?”
“Yep.” Jack said simply, popping the p. “Come on, before all the pie is gone.”
Shaking his head, Daniel laughed but dutifully hit save and closed down his computer. “Fine, you win. God forbid we miss out on your pie.”
They walked a little closer together than they used to, hands occasionally brushing together as they made their way down to the mess hall. After filling their trays in comfortable silence, they took a seat in the far corner of the room, allowing them a modicum of privacy. They had just started eating when a thought occurred to Jack that turned his stomach and he lost all appetite for the loaded baked potato he was working on. “Sha’re,” he whispered, the name almost bitter on his tongue. How could he have forgotten about her? Or the fact that Daniel – for all that he was his Guide – wasn’t his?
The clatter of a fork on the table forced Jack’s eyes up from his plate to Daniel, who looked pale and pained. “I’m sorry,” Jack started, half-reaching for his Guide.
Shaking his head, Daniel took a measured breath, briefly closing his eyes before meeting Jack’s gaze. “Don’t, please. It’s okay. Well, it’s not, but… You know what I mean.”
Strangely, Jack thought he did, at least somewhat. Sha’re was alive, but with Amunet controlling her she might as well be dead. They still didn’t know if they might be able to save her, though in truth Jack held little hope after what had happened to Kowalski. He couldn’t give up hope altogether, though. Not with Sha’re and Skaara still breathing. He just had no idea where that left things between them.
Carefully picking his fork back up, Daniel cast a quick glance around the mess hall. “This isn’t the place for this. We’ll talk later, okay? I promise I’m okay – that we’re okay. Just… not now.”
Jack took a moment to get a read on his Guide, then slowly nodded. “I’ll hold you to that,” he murmured quietly before resuming his meal. It still tasted more like ashes than food, but he dutifully finished his plate and even consumed his slice of apple pie, though he didn’t enjoy it as he normally would have.
As soon as they were back in Daniel’s office, he closed the door again and grabbed Jack in a crushing hug. A little startled, it took Jack a moment to respond but once he had wrapped his arms around his Guide he could feel the man relax slightly. “Talk to me, Danny.”
“Jesus, Jack. I’m the one that’s sorry. We should have talked about this sooner, but I-” heaving a breath, Daniel gathered himself and pulled away far enough to look at him. “I wasn’t sure how to bring it up. Or how I even felt about it all. I love Sha’re, Jack, and she’s out there somewhere.”
Swallowing, Jack nodded. “I know you do.” Something inside of him twisted painfully. He did know how much Daniel loved Sha’re. How deeply he cared for her and all of her people. How much it pained him when she and Skaara were taken from their midst. Jack knew and yet he had been selfish and now he felt like both an idiot and a jerk and would gladly kick his own ass if he could for being so thoughtless.
“Knock it off, Jack,” Daniel grumbled, shaking him a little. “I feel guilty enough for both of us already, so don’t you start.”
As if burned, Jack jerked out of Daniel’s grasp, muttering, “I’m sorry, I should’n’t…”
“Don’t be an idiot.” Crossing his arms, Daniel glared at him, which shocked Jack enough to stop in his tracks. “It’s complicated, okay. This thing that’s happening between us? We can’t deny it and I don’t want to deny it. You’re my Sentinel, Jack, and I’m your Guide. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.”
“No buts.” Removing his glasses and dangling them off his pinky finger, Daniel scrubbed his face and growled. With a heavy sigh, he gestured for Jack to sit even as he pulled his own chair opposite him. “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought ever since this all started playing out the way it did,” he admitted. “Blair and I talked several times during your ‘tests’ because he was pretty much the only person who could give me some perspective on all of this.”
Jack winced, but Daniel waved him off, not allowing him to dwell as Daniel continued. “I wanted his opinion on something and due to our shared fields of interest and education he was the only one I could ask, Jack.” Daniel stared off to the side for a moment as if lost in thought. “I asked him what he knew of divorce in Ancient Egypt.”
“You what?” Startled, Jack straightened up and stared at his Guide.
With a rueful smile, Daniel shrugged. “Things were different then for men and women. The concepts of marriage and divorce were, in many ways, much more lax than they are today – and in some incredibly backwards, too. Since the Abydonians descend from Ancient Egypt and still hold many of their laws, things are a little different than what you or I might be used to.”
“O-kay.” Jack frowned, wondering where all this was going.
Staring at his hands in his lap, Daniel remained silent for a moment, then gave a quiet chuckle. “We were in the middle of the jungle, covered in mud in order to disguise our scent and hidden away in a hollow. Blair gave me this weird look as if questioning my sanity and asked ‘Why the hell do you want to know about that now?’ So I explained what had happened with Sha’re, from how she had been given to me as a wife to how she had been taken by Apophis.
“It boils down to this, Jack. There are many ways to interpret the laws, but in essence – whether she did so willingly or not, and we both know she didn’t – Sha’re left me. It’s the equivalent of a no-fault divorce if I choose it to be. And… I choose it, Jack. I choose you. You becoming a Sentinel, me turning out to be your Guide, it’s given me a different perspective on life and while I still love Sha’re, it isn’t the same as what you and I will have.”
“How can you even know that?” Jack found himself asking almost in spite of himself.
Taking Jack’s hand in his, Daniel smiled softly. “Because I talked with the Sentinel and Guide of the Chopec. I watched them and their bond is profound. I watched Jim and Blair, too, and while they’re still trying to find their groove, they already have this intensity about them that I admire. I know you, I care a great deal for you already, you’ve been my best friend for a long time and that is only growing as time goes on. I believe in you, and above all, I trust you – I trust us and what we are becoming.”
“But what about Sha’re?”
“Like I said, I still love her, but it isn’t the same, Jack. For one, I’ve changed. There’s no guarantee that we’ll ever find her, or if we do, whether we can free her from Amunet. And then if we do manage to free her, Sha’re won’t be the same, either. I won’t ever stop looking for her, I owe her and her family that much, but as far as our marriage goes… we’ve been divorced for a while now.”
Jack struggled to process everything Daniel had said, but he wasn’t sure he would ever be able to understand it all. He remembered his own divorce from Sarah all too well and while his experience had been heavily tinged by Charlie’s loss, the divorce itself had hurt a lot, too. Frowning at their hands, Jack couldn’t keep from asking, “How are you so calm about all of this?”
“Probably because I’ve done most of my grieving already. With everything that’s happened, I’ve had a lot of time to process my feelings. The hardest part of all of this is pretty much that I’m not finding it hard at all to let her go, if that makes sense.”
He pondered about that for a while. Jack could sort of get that, he figured. Squeezing Daniel’s hand, he sighed. “I’m sorry, Danny.”
He stopped his Guide with another squeeze to his hand. “I meant that I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with all of this alone. I wish you would have talked to me about this sooner, but I get why you haven’t.”
“Right. I’m sorry, too. I know I probably should have, but this was something I had to come to terms with on my own. I mean it, though. I do choose you. Us. Everything that we are going to be.”
Smiling tenderly, Jack cupped Daniel by the back of his head and pulled him forward, brushing his lips against his Guide’s. “Same here, Danny. And you know I won’t stop searching for her, either. Her or Skaara.”
“I know. Thanks, Jack.”
With one last brush of lips they parted, intent on finishing their reports. As before, Jack’s attention was split between that and tracking Daniel – he simply couldn’t seem to help himself. Oh, he’d tried, but every time he ignored the need to do so he got agitated, so he simply gave in to the impulse, feeling more settled as he did.
It took Jack another three hours of writing before he was done. After a quick re-read he grimaced briefly, nodded to himself, and hit both save and print. He wasn’t really looking forward to what came next: handing in the reports and having the “Sentinel’s birds and bees” talk with Hammond. Daniel was still typing away as the printer spit out Jack’s report, so he contented himself by spinning in his chair while Daniel-watching.
Lips twitching in amusement, Daniel murmured without looking up, “Give me another five minutes and I’ll be done.”
A few minutes later and both reports were printed and put in the appropriate folders, and a feeling not unlike he recalled from his teenage-years settled on Jack. The one from when his dad had sat him down for ‘the talk’.
Shooting him an amused glance, Daniel rolled his eyes. “You’re a big boy now, Jack. Time to buck up and go chat with the general. Unless you’ve changed your mind, of course,” he teased.
Scowling, Jack gripped his file tighter in one hand while grasping his Guide’s sleeve and hauling him along to Hammond’s office. He wanted Daniel in no uncertain terms and if he had to suffer through the next however long it took to discuss the matter with his superior officer then he would do it. Not alone, but he would do it.
Snickering softly, Daniel easily kept pace, muttering, “Didn’t think so.”
Squashing the impulse to stick his tongue out at the man, Jack instead knocked on the general’s door. The command to enter soon followed and the two made their way inside the office, only for Jack’s nerves to make themselves known again. Taking a steadying breath, Jack held out his report.
“Thank you, Colonel, Dr. Jackson,” Hammond said as he accepted the files from them. When neither man seemed inclined to leave, he sat back in his chair with a searching look. “Anything I can do for you, gentlemen?”
“Yes, sir.” Daniel glanced briefly at Jack, who nodded gratefully.
“Have a seat.” Hammond waited another long moment, but when neither man spoke, he quirked a brow. “Was there something you wanted to discuss?”
Clearing his throat, Jack frowned down at his hands before meeting the general’s gaze. “Actually, yes, sir, there was. It’s about…” he faltered, turning to Daniel with wide eyes, uncertain how to proceed.
Taking pity on him, Daniel patted his arm and took over the conversation. “You’ll be able to read about it in my report if nothing else, General, but we wanted to discuss this with you in private first. As you know, Jack and I are, well, the Chopec called it a bonded pair. The thing is, our bond isn’t complete.”
Hammond seemed to blink at that, a pensive look on his face as he absorbed the words. Finally, he absentmindedly tapped a finger on the reports as he asked, “What exactly does that mean, doctor?”
Blushing, Jack took a deep breath. He could do this. He wasn’t about to let Daniel do all the heavy lifting. “It means, sir, that right now we only have a partially formed bond. I’ve grounded most of my senses on Daniel and he’s formed a tether to me, but it isn’t everything we’re supposed to be or have. As things stand, we can function but won’t be able to reach our full potential.”
Tilting his head slightly, Hammond nodded slowly. “That makes sense. What would you need to do to complete the bond?”
“Well…” Jack gulped, then plowed on. “Sex, sir. We would need to have sex. Lots and lots of… sex.”
For a moment, it seemed to Jack as if time itself had frozen, so still had the room become that the only sounds he could hear were their beating hearts, their breathing, and the ticking of the clock. The general stared at them, unmoving for what felt to Jack as a lifetime.
“Way to go, Jack,” Daniel murmured Soto-voce. Turning to the general, he took a deep breath and added, “It’s a little more complicated than that, sir, but in essence Jack and I have to… well, to put it bluntly… we have to glut ourselves on each other in every way possible. According to the Chopec, platonic bonds were extremely rare among Sentinels and Guides and they were never as strong as those who have sexual bonds.”
After a beat, Hammond seemed to regain control of himself and nodded. “I see.”
“They also warned us that once we start the bonding process, we’ll need to be isolated for about a week in order for the Sentinel to complete his sensory bonds. If anyone were to encroach on his territory, for lack of a better term, the Sentinel might go feral and that isn’t something to be desired. A feral Sentinel, I’m told, is extremely dangerous and unpredictable to an extent, and almost always lethal.”
“I see,” Hammond said again, eyeing Jack closely. “I take it the sooner you complete the bond, the better?”
Nodding curtly, Jack cleared his throat, clasping his hand together as he relaxed a little in his seat in an attempt at nonchalance. “Yes, sir. I’ve been able to maintain, but I’ll admit that the need for more is becoming harder to resist as time goes on.”
“When you say territory, Dr. Jackson, I assume that you’re not just referring to yourself?”
Daniel shook his head. “No. That said, I’m not really sure how to interpret it. It’s one of those things that got somewhat lost in translation, as it were. The Chopec have huts specifically for bonded pairs that is on the outskirts of their village. None are too close to the other. I’m not sure whether we could or should attempt to proceed within the confines of the Mountain.”
“I see. That leaves me with a bit of a dilemma, gentlemen. Dr. Fraiser’s report says that you are confined to base until further notice. While I’m willing to allow an exemption in this particular instance, I am not comfortable letting you leave on your own recognizance. We have no way of knowing what might happen, gentlemen. If I were to permit this, then it would have to be on the understanding that you will have guards.”
“But-” Daniel started.
Holding up a hand, Hammond continued. “I’m aware that Colonel O’Neill will be territorial. If I’m not mistaken, your house is situated away from the population, correct, Colonel?”
Sitting straighter, Jack nodded. “Yes, sir. Nearest neighbor’s a couple of miles away. What are you thinking?”
“I’m suggesting that you and Dr. Jackson go there, and that we set a perimeter around the property as a precaution. You will check in several times a day with Dr. Fraiser. Fail to do so and I will send someone in. I want both of you to get an fMRI done before you leave, since Dr. Fraiser mentioned in her report she wanted to subject both Dr. Jackson and Major Carter to undergo one regularly.”
“Both of us, sir?”
“Yes, Jack. If I understand things correctly, you will both be… experiencing changes, shall we say. At this point we have no way of knowing what kind or how they will play out. If this is something we can expect to have happen again, I would prefer crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s now while we have the chance.”
“Yes, sir.” Jack could see the wisdom in that, even if he didn’t like that it meant even more poking and prodding.
Leaning forward, Hammond folded his hands together on his desk and pinned them down with a hard look. “I will give you two weeks, just to be safe. I expect reports from both of you, updated daily if possible, and video interviews of how you are doing as you progress.”
Jack spluttered and Daniel cleared his throat, frowning as he pushed his glasses up. “Er, video, sir? Is that really necessary?”
“Since we cannot have you under observation, I feel this is the next best thing.”
Jack shared a look with Daniel, who nodded slowly.
“Sir, I’m all for making the attempt but with all due respect, there’s no way to know what’s going to happen and whether we’ll even be able to do that. I think even checking in several times a day is going to be a stretch,” Daniel admitted.
Seeming to give this some thought, Hammond eventually nodded. “Very well. If at all possible, I would still like for you both to do the video interviews. We’ll have everything set up in the event that you can, but I understand if you are unable to due to… circumstances,” he allowed.
“Thank you, sir,” Jack murmured, feeling a little ill at ease at the idea of going on record.
“Now, under no circumstances are you allowed to go anywhere without my prior authorization, nor are you allowed to discuss any of this with anyone until we have things in place for the program as a whole. Is that clear?” When they both nodded, Hammond added, “I’ll make sure that you have plenty of provisions to see you through without needing to leave the house or ordering in. Please refrain from starting the bond until that has been taken care of. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
The general dismissed them and before Jack really knew it, they were standing outside of Hammond’s office and he had to take a second to catch up, as it were. “Did we really just-” he started, frowning slightly.
Daniel placed a hand on his arm. “Yes, Jack. Come on, let’s go let Janet have her fun so we can get out of here.”
Clearing his throat, Jack straightened his jacket and nodded. “Right.”
All in all, it was another two hours before they were finally on their way home. Granted, they were in a caravan, since Hammond insisted they be escorted the whole way. The general had stopped by the infirmary as they were wrapping things up to assure them that the provisions had been taken care of and were waiting for them on Jack’s porch, along with a couple of men he had sent ahead to secure the premises.
Jack still wasn’t sure how he felt about it all. Rationally, he was grateful that Hammond was so easygoing about everything, and that he was doing everything he could to make this all go as smoothly as possible. His instincts, however, were warring with his rationale, not liking the fact they wouldn’t be able to seclude themselves completely. The fact that there would be at least ten people on his property made his skin crawl and at the sight of the men guarding his front door he had to fight to not snarl at them – or worse.
“Easy, Jack,” Daniel murmured as they got out of the car. “They’ll be gone as soon as we’ve gotten the supplies inside.”
Taking a couple of steadying breaths, Jack nodded. Apparently knowing that they would finally be able to complete their bond was all it took for Jack’s patience to spread thin enough to break – or very nearly, at any rate. “Right,” he agreed, wincing at the roughness of his voice. He had to keep it under control, he reminded himself. It wouldn’t do for things to go pear-shaped now, it would ruin everything. Hammond might be on board with what was going on, but there was only so much the man would be able to do for them if Jack lost it and hurt these men.
“Colonel, Doctor Jackson,” Feretti greeted them as they walked onto the porch, saluting Jack. “We have orders to help you get situated and then retreat to the outer perimeter, sir. We won’t take long,” he promised.
Something told Jack that Feretti either knew or suspected more than he had been lead to believe by Hammond, which was fine with him. “You in command of this rabble, then, Feretti?”
Grinning, the man nodded. “Yes, sir. General Hammond felt it would be best if the detail consisted of men you were familiar with. Don’t worry, Colonel, got your six as always.”
“Thanks, Feretti.” Unlocking his door, Jack ushered Daniel inside and out of the way before allowing Feretti and his fellow guard to follow them. He was grateful that the general was being so considerate, all things considered.
The men made quick work of putting the groceries away some quick guidance from Jack. When Daniel tried to help in order to expedite the matter, Jack had nearly growled and made sure that his Guide stayed well clear of them. It was imperative to him that his Guide didn’t smell of anyone else – at least not any more than he already did, and he was set to make sure that changed pronto. It was getting harder and harder to retain control over his urges, but Jack did his best.
Finally, finally they were done and headed out the door one last time. As Jack herded them out of his house, Ferriti turned to him with an inscrutable look on his face. “There’s a box on your coffee table, Colonel. With regards from General Hammond.”
Jack frowned. “O-kay,” he muttered, not quite sure what to make of that.
Flashing him a grin and a salute, Feretti took a few steps backward. “Do what you gotta do, sir. We’ll make sure no one disturbs you. There’s a radio on the counter in case you need to reach us.”
Closing the door and locking it, Jack turned to Daniel who stood in the same spot he had parked him earlier. The man looked both bemused and puzzled by the exchange. “Let’s go look,” he said simply in response to Jack’s questioning brow.
Side by side they walked into the living room. Jack sniffed uncertainly in the air as he eyed the nondescript box warily. Unable to figure out what he was smelling, he shrugged and opened the box, started to lift the content out… and froze.
“Jack?” Daniel asked cautiously, concern obvious in his tone. When he got no response, he leaned over and stammered, “Oh…”
Dragging his eyes away from the large tub – and where the hell had the general drummed that up, especially on such short notice? – and met Daniel’s gaze. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
Clearing his throat, Daniel’s eyes practically danced with humor. “Guess he took your words to heart, Jack.”
“Seriously?” Was all Jack could manage, lifting the tub of lube all the way out of the box.
Shrugging, Daniel stuffed his hands in his pockets and grinned. “Well, you did say we would have to have lots and lots of sex, and the general did promise to make sure we would have plenty of provisions.”
“Provisions. Yes, but this wasn’t quite what I thought he meant by that,” Jack lamented, though he wasn’t entirely sure why. After all, he was quite sure that he didn’t have much left of his own supply and there was no doubt that they would end up needing it. Still, to have one’s superior officer, especially one he liked and respected as much as General Hammond…
“Christ,” he murmured, scrubbing a hand through his hair as he glanced down at the tub again.
Daniel peered into the box and chuckled as he picked up the little pump that came with it. “Okay, then.”
Shaking his head, Jack let out a breathy laugh. Really, could his life get wackier? There was just no way that any of this was really real. Was there? He startled at Daniel’s gentle touch to his cheek.
“You okay, Jack?” he asked quietly, eyes searching his.
The smile on Daniel’s face could be called beatific, he supposed, but to Jack it was everything.
“Mhmm. Think maybe we need to move this somewhere more comfortable, don’t you?”
“Oh.” Jack’s eyes widened, and the urges that had faded upon the discovery of the lube came rushing to the forefront again. Grip tightening on the tub in his hand, he grabbed Daniel with the other and dragged him toward his bedroom. They had bonding to do.
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