- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Jack shifted in his seat, ignoring the coffee Blair had placed in front of him as his gaze roamed the room. He also ignored the platitudes going around by the others about this trinket, or that statue, or whatever else caught Daniel’s or Carter’s attention. He did his best to be patient but the rash that just wouldn’t quit wasn’t really helping in that regard and neither were the not-so-subtle glances Jim kept shooting his way.
Actually, he was looking at all four of them with confusion, suspicion and, oddly enough, recognition. Jack really wasn’t sure what to make of that, because he was pretty certain that he had never crossed paths with the big guy in his life and he knew for a fact Teal’c hadn’t even if the other two might have at some point. After all, Teal’c rarely left the base at all and when he did it had always been in his company.
After what felt like hours – to Jack at least, though it was probably only about twenty minutes or so from the moment they entered the loft – Blair cleared his throat and focused on Daniel who was seated beside Jack on the couch. “So Daniel, why exactly did you call me?”
Daniel took a sip of coffee then carefully placed his mug down on the table, glancing briefly at Jack before answering. “Well, it’s… complicated, and it’s sort of classified.”
Blair’s eyes widened. “Classified?”
Giving his old friend a sad smile, Daniel nodded. “Yes, sorry. There isn’t a whole lot I can tell you right now, but we’ve,” he paused, glancing at Jack again, then taking a deep breath he continued, “actually, I think maybe that theory of yours wasn’t as far out there as people believe.”
Jim and Blair shared a concerned glance and Jack didn’t miss the tightening around the big guy’s eyes as he gave a curt nod. Biting his lip, Blair seemed somewhat uncomfortable, but also curious. “Why would you say that?”
“That would be part of the classified stuff I can’t tell you, I’m sorry. I was hoping to find out if you’ve found anything to substantiate your claims that Sentinels existed. I know about your paper, though I haven’t had a chance to read it just yet, but you refuted it. Why?”
The silence that followed was deafening, but the wordless conversation that seemed to take place between the two men from Cascade spoke volumes to Jack. Not that he fully understood what they were conveying, of course, but he could recognize the kind of shorthand that a team developed over time.
Jack was just about to break the tension when Jim huffed and shot a glare at Jack’s team. “This stays here,” he growled.
“Yeah,” Blair added nervously, shooting Teal’c an unreadable look. “You have to swear this will go no further.”
Again, Jack was about to open his mouth to offer a wisecrack response when Daniel laid a hand on his knee and effectively silenced and distracted him. He really wasn’t going to think about how it made him feel. He just wasn’t. Especially not right there and then.
Holding up his free hand, Daniel gave them a reassuring smile. “Trust me, we know how to keep a secret.”
Running his fingers through his curls, Blair nodded and sighed. “Alright. Jim’s a Sentinel. It took me years to find enough evidence to support my theory that Sentinels and Guides existed. What I found led me to believe that they hadn’t all gone extinct, that they had been brought to the brink but that some had simply retreated to the farthest reaches of the Earth.
“It was a stroke of luck that made me cross paths with this one,” Blair said, jerking his thumb at Jim, “but the minute I laid eyes on him I knew he was the real deal. He was having sensory spikes left, right, and center. He was a mess, didn’t know what was going on or why he was having issues. It… took some convincing, but I finally got through to him. Explained what I suspected, what it meant. We spent the next few months training. Figuring out what the range of his senses was. Learning along the way how to integrate his new abilities into his work without jeopardizing his cases.
“We also had to be careful because hell… if anyone found out it would create chaos. It did create chaos,” Blair added quietly, staring down at the floor, looking defeated.
“Your paper?” Daniel guessed, and Blair nodded. “It got published and it put you and Jim in danger. That’s why you refuted it, isn’t it?”
Blair nodded again, looking miserable. Jim reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze, looking far calmer than he had so far. “Yes,” Jim confirmed. “Between the mass hysteria from people about the unknown, to the journalists all trying to get their pound of flesh, to the various scientists and government agencies actually trying to get a pound of flesh and then some… it almost cost me my life, and Blair, too. He didn’t publish the paper, though I didn’t know that at first. His publisher or editor or whoever it was decided to ignore his wishes and got the thing out anyway, so Blair did the only thing he could think of to get people to back off: he claimed that his theory was bogus, took everything in the paper back. He saved my life.”
Right. Jack figured they had learned enough to warrant a chat with Hammond. Turning to Carter, he cleared his throat and jerked his head toward the door and gave her a speaking look. “Carter, think it’s time you checked in with the folks back home.”
She nodded, getting to her feet. “Yes, sir.”
As she pulled the sat-phone from her pocket, Blair piped up. “The hallway’s not covered by the white noise machines, just so you know.”
Carter and Jack exchanged looks before he muttered, “Kitchen.” With a glower to Jim, he added, “And no trying to eavesdrop on the conversation.”
Both Jim and Blair held up their hands in supplication and Carter went to the far side of the kitchen to place her call. Jack tuned in as much as he could but wasn’t able to pick up anything beyond her side of the conversation as she explained what they had learned so far, and who Jim was. Daniel was watching her intently as well, frowning when they heard Sam’s, “Yes, sir. I believe so. Really? Oh…”
While Carter talked, Blair shot Teal’c another glance as he rubbed his forehead as if staving off a headache. “Daniel, can you tell me what’s going on here? And what’s the deal with Murray? I can’t put my finger on why, but he feels… off, somehow.”
Jack and Daniel shared a look of shock, then turned in unison to stare at Teal’c who looked equally surprised. After a beat, Daniel got to his feet and strode over to Sam making grabby hands at the phone.
“General Hammond, sir, I think Daniel has something to add. Yes, sir.” Carter handed the phone over to him with an apologetic smile, then made her way back to her seat.
Jack watched as Daniel leaned against the counter as he listened to General Hammond.
“I see.” Daniel glanced at Blair and called out, “Does Naomi know about Jim?”
“Only insofar as she’s caught wind of the whole debacle around my paper, why?”
Waving him off, Daniel refocused on his conversation with the general. “I know, sir, believe me. Sir, he can sense Junior. I don’t know, that’s why…” He paused, listening. “I’ll vouch for him myself, for both of them, actually. Yes, sir, I think we need them. Oh, he does? Okay. Yes, I have copies of the agreement with me. I will. Thank you, sir.”
Disconnecting the call, Daniel walked over to Carter and handed the phone back to her before sitting down beside Jack. “Right. So General Hammond’s given the green light.”
“He did?” Carter’s eyes were wide with surprise. “But he said-”
Daniel nodded. “I know. Let me fill everyone in and I’ll explain.” Turning to the men from Cascade, Daniel continued, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we,” he waved at his team, “can keep this secret.”
Jim sprung to his feet, face reddening and his growl returning.
Holding up both hands in supplication, Daniel calmly went on. “We work on a classified project – highly classified, at that, it isn’t on any of the books – and in order for us to be able to continue our conversation we had to run a background check on both of you. As it turns out, Jim’s didn’t take long at all as he already had high clearance and a solid track record both during and after his time as a Ranger. Yours had a couple of red flags, Blair, mostly in relation to your mother.”
Blair groaned and let his head drop back. “Great. I don’t even want to know what she did to deserve that, but man…”
“How frequently are you in touch with Naomi these days?” Daniel asked quietly, gazing at his old friend.
Shrugging, Blair let out a sigh. “Whenever she gets it in her head to drop by, usually unannounced. Why?”
“Not changed much, has she?” Daniel grinned ruefully.
“Not really, no.”
“Right. So like I said, the red flags mainly pertain to her, though you have a couple of your own due to some of your travels.”
“Let me guess, Peru?”
“Among others. Digs?”
“Something like that, yeah.”
“Right, I figured as much. General Hammond was inclined to deny you being read in, but I don’t think we can do this without you or Jim. I vouched for you because I know you, and because of your work with Jim on his cases.” A small smile played on his lips as he added, “The general seemed rather impressed with that, actually.”
Blair and Jim both snorted in amusement at that. The big guy had long since resumed his seat and was listening intently to Daniel. Clearing his throat, Blair frowned. “Thanks, but… you never did answer my question.”
“Yeah, sorry. I couldn’t, and still, can’t. At least not until after you both sign these.” Pulling out two sets of nondisclosure agreements, Daniel handed one to Blair and the other to Jim and sighed. “Read them. Know what you’re signing, Blair, it’s important. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll want to know what I can tell you afterward.”
The two men shared a glance, then reached for the pens that Daniel helpfully held out to them and started to read. While they were busy, Jack leaned into Daniel and whispered, “So what’s going on?”
Turning his head so his lips were at Jack’s ear, Daniel spoke in hushed tones, his breath washing over Jack’s skin. “I think Blair’s a Guide. That has to be the explanation for him sensing Junior.”
Watching the two men closely for a moment, Jack tried to wrap his brain around that tidbit. He could understand why Daniel believed they needed both of them. If Sentinels were real, their enhanced senses could only be a boon in the field, though Jack still wasn’t a hundred percent on board with the idea of his being one himself.
If Blair was a Guide, and if a Guide was capable of sensing the Goa’uld, then that would be a priceless asset to have. His thoughts drifted back to his friend Kawalski and he wondered if it would have helped him if they had had someone like that around then. Maybe they could have done something different to try to save him.
He shook off that line of thinking. Water under the bridge after all. Kawalski was dead and there was no changing that now. They settled into silence, their shoulders still touching – something else Jack wasn’t going to think on – and waited for the two men to finish signing their lives and their firstborns away. At least that’s what it had felt like when he had had to read through the damned thing. Still, it was necessary so he wasn’t going to complain. Much.
It took Blair a little less half an hour to finish his confidentiality agreement and Jim another ten minutes or so longer. Either Blair was a very fast reader – not something that would surprise him, considering Daniel – or Jim was making it a point to be extremely thorough in his read through. Clearing his throat, Jack nudged the man beside him and tilted his head toward the two across from them, arching his brow expectantly. “Daniel?”
Daniel’s lips twitched as he held his hand out for the documents, gave them a quick scan, nodded, and passed them along to Sam before turning his attention back to his audience. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands, somehow managing to hold both their gazes and he began his story.
Jack only half paid attention to the man’s spiel, after all, he had heard it plenty of times already, not to mention lived with the reality for so long that it was much more interesting to him to watch Jim and Blair digest the news that aliens existed and that man had started to travel in space – just not quite in the way that people had always believed they would. Not to mention the fact that one of those aliens was standing in their living room.
Blair was nearly vibrating in his seat, looking fit to bursting with questions though he managed to stay quiet while Daniel told them about Gate travel and gave them a bare-bones idea of what they had encountered so far.
Jim, on the other hand, sat stoically, looking for all the world more like a statue than a man. Jack wasn’t entirely sure the man was still breathing for a while there, right up until Daniel finally mentioned what had happened after they had traveled to the Land of Light and they had all been subjected to “The Change”. Yes, in Jack’s mind that was how he was going to refer to it from here on, capital letters and quotation marks included, he decided.
“-didn’t really notice anything had happened beyond the whole taking on the more Neanderthalic aspects and once everyone had gotten the antidote, everything appeared to be business as usual. Except…” Daniel shot a glance Jack’s direction, then continued, “Jack started to experience symptoms over time. Nothing remarkable at first, at least not that he let on, but when we were on P93-47X,” at the confused looks that got him Daniel explained, “that’s the designation the planet was given. Major Carter can better explain that than me, but later.
“Anyway, when we got there things got a little… weird. It became apparent that Jack’s hearing was ramped up, that his rash had worsened, and a few other things. It sparked a memory of something we’d talked about back in college, Blair, which is how we ended up here.” Daniel took a deep breath, running his fingers through his hair.
Jim sat frowning down at the carpet, seemingly mulling everything over. Blair’s brow was also furrowed, but he gave Jack a speculative look though he addressed Daniel. “You think Jack’s a Sentinel?”
“I do, yes. I don’t really have any other explanation for what’s been going on. He isn’t the only one who’s been showing symptoms from what Dr. Fraiser’s told us, but his are by far the worst.”
Tilting his head, Blair narrowed his eyes, obviously thinking hard for a moment. “What symptoms, exactly, beyond the rash and hearing Daniel just mentioned?”
Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, it took a pointed nudge from Daniel to get Jack to open his mouth. He huffed in annoyance and rolled his eyes, but dutifully answered, “Rash, hearing feels like it’s trying to tune a radio. Sometimes I see things in extreme detail, or under light conditions I normally would be nearly blind in, I see with perfect clarity. I smell…” He trailed off, looking distinctly uncomfortable as he instinctively breathed in Daniel’s scent.
It was Jim who finished his sentence, “You smell everything. The good, the bad, all things in between. But there’s one scent that goes above all, isn’t there?”
The two men locked gazes for a moment before Jack gave a curt nod.
“Your Guide. You smell your Guide.” Jim’s eyes cut to Daniel, then gave Jack a knowing look.
Jack froze in his seat, unable to even move his head to look at his friend, though he could tell from the corner of his eye that the man was gaping at Jim.
“Me? Why would you think I’m his Guide? Or that I am a Guide in the first place?” Daniel sounded stunned.
Jim and Blair shared a glance, silently discussing which of them would do the talking. With an amused huff, Blair ran his fingers through his curls and rolled his eyes, apparently having lost the argument. “You sense him, don’t you?” he asked, indicating Jack. “How he is doing? You anticipate a lot of his actions, his emotional state, what he’s saying or thinking?”
With great effort, Jack turned his head toward Daniel whose gaze was bouncing between Blair, Jim, and Jack. Finally, he nodded. “Yeah, but I’ve always-”
“No, you haven’t,” Jack croaked. “Not the way you have lately.”
They stared at each other, both men at a loss for words. Jack was vaguely aware of Carter in the background, and Teal’c hovering somewhere to their left, but his focus was completely on Daniel.
Swallowing hard, Daniel turned his attention back to Blair. “Still, what made you say that?”
Blair gave him a wan smile. “Because it took me dying for us to realize that I was a Guide – moreover that I was Jim’s Guide.”
Daniel’s eyes widened in shock. “You died?”
His heart skipping a beat at the thought of Daniel dying too was enough to shock Jack out of his near paralysis and he gaped at Blair, then Jim who had grasped Blair’s hand in a death grip if the white knuckles were anything to go by.
Another glance passed between them and Jim’s jaw twitched as he nodded, allowing Blair to continue. “Yeah. Long story short, we ran into another Sentinel – a female one, Alex. She was twisted, but we didn’t realize it at first. She seemed to have her sights set on Jim in the beginning until she and I crossed paths. From that point, I became her sole focus. At first it was manipulations to try to sway me to join her over Jim, but when I refused her advances she kidnapped me. Took me to Peru to the temple of the Sentinels, and basically offered me up in some ritual.”
Jim’s voice was hoarse with emotion as he took over the tale. “I didn’t know he was missing until he didn’t show up for work. She had a head start and it took all my resources to find where she had taken him. A colleague of mine from the force came with me – she knew what I was and wanted to make sure I had back up, that I wouldn’t go feral if worst came to worst.
“When we finally made it to the temple Alex ambushed us. I fought her while Megan went to look for Blair. She found him in one of the pools, dead. She tried CPR but got nowhere so she gave up in order to help me fight Alex. I don’t remember much after I saw her come out of the temple with that look in her eyes – grief and anger and determination – but in the end, I killed Alex and went inside. I don’t know how, exactly, but Megan says I picked up his body and held it to me. Growling at her when she tried to come closer. According to her, I started chanting under my breath in some language, neither of us knows which.
“I held Blair to my chest, rocking back and forth and chanting all the while for close to an hour. I vaguely remember a blue jungle, my spirit animal, and a gray wolf, but not much beyond that.”
Blair nodded, squeezing Jim’s hand. “That’s what I remember, too. A blue jungle. It was weird, but also strangely familiar. Incacha was there, too, talking to me but… it wasn’t me? I don’t know. The wolf was there, too, and it felt kind of like Incacha was talking to it, but me? It was strange.”
Daniel nodded quietly, entranced and horrified in equal measure. Jack was simple stuck on horrified, the idea of something like that happening to Daniel was more than he could bear.
Blair cleared his throat. “Jim’s panther showed up and between him and Incacha, they brought me back. I have no idea how or why, but I know with everything that I am that I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for them. It was Incacha who told us what we were to each other, though we’re still figuring out exactly what it means for us.”
“Why’s that?” Carter asked, sounding far too intrigued by it all for Jack’s comfort.
Giving her a small smile, Blair shrugged. “Because all this only happened a little less than a month ago. We’re still adjusting, and coming to terms with what happened to me. It’s sort of surreal that I was actually dead, you know?”
Carter nodded, glancing at her team. “So who is this Incacha you mentioned?”
Jim’s smile was sad, as was his voice. “He was the Shaman of the Chopec, the tribe that took care of me when my helicopter crashed during a mission gone bad in Peru. They put me back together, taught me a little about Sentinels. Enough to survive, at any rate, but unfortunately I was rescued before I could get any further training. That time had been so out there for me that it ended up easier to explain it all away as weird shit that happened in my head due to injury than something that was really real.”
“He basically buried his Sentinel and ended up paying the price years later when he reemerged, complete with sensory spikes, which is when we met.”
Jim snorted. “You can say that again, though I wouldn’t change things for anything. I would never have met you otherwise.”
That earned him a fond smile from Blair, who leaned into him briefly. “Thanks, big guy,” he whispered.
“You’re welcome, Chief.”
“What are these spirit animals you spoke of?” Teal’c asked.
Jack glanced at the Jaffa who stood as before, hands clasped behind his back, his head tilted in that way Jack knew meant the man was intrigued.
Blair seemed to be chewing the inside of his cheek when Jack turned his attention back to the man. Finally, Blair said, “The way Incacha explained it was that every Sentinel and Guide has a spirit animal. They look like animals you would find here on Earth, I guess, but they aren’t real in the sense that everyone can touch them. Most of the time they aren’t even visible to us, let alone anyone else.
“They primarily live on the Spirit plane, which we’re assuming is where the blue jungle fits in because really, what other explanation can there be. Anyway, they are our connection to that plane, and supposedly play a role in our abilities as well as our connection to each other, but we haven’t quite figured all of that out yet.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c murmured. “Most intriguing. I have never heard of such a thing.”
Blair bit his lip, then sat forward, his gaze flickering between Daniel and Teal’c. “So, is the whole you feeling ‘off’ thing because you’re an alien?”
Daniel chuckled. “I guess in a way? Hang on, easier to show you. Teal’c, why don’t you introduce them to Junior?”
Teal’c pulled up his shirt and stuck his hand in his pouch to retrieve the snake.
“I don’t think-” Jack started but was interrupted by a sudden growl soon followed by a crash. A quick look showed him that Jim had jumped up and pushed Blair behind him with enough force to knock the man out of his seat and into the little table, causing the lamp on it to fall to the floor.
“Teal’c, put Junior back, would you?” Jack shuddered as he got to his feet, planting himself between the Sentinel and the Jaffa. Holding up his hands he tried to project as much calm as he could. “Calm down, Jim. Junior’s no threat – at least not right this second.”
“Jack’s right. The infant Goa’uld is dependent on Teal’c to survive and vice versa. Remember what I said about the bad aliens we’ve encountered? The Goa’uld are one of them. They’ve enslaved the Jaffa, forcing them to bear their young until they are old enough to take a host. Teal’c is no threat, he’s… well, he’s a freedom fighter, I guess you could say. He’s saved our lives several times over, and more than that he is our friend.”
“Thank you, Daniel Jackson.”
Daniel smiled over his shoulder at the Jaffa before turning his attention back to Jim who was still growling and hovering in front of Blair in a protective crouch. “I’m sorry, Jack’s right, that probably wasn’t the best idea but you have to trust us when we say there is no threat here at this moment,” Daniel intoned with as much sincerity as Jack had ever heard from him.
“Jim,” Blair said quietly, getting to his feet and cupping the big guy’s elbow. “Calm down. I’m okay and I trust Daniel. If he says there’s no threat then I believe him, so dial it down a bit, please?”
It took a couple of minutes for Jim to regain his composure and everyone had taken their seats again. The man kept a furtive eye on the Jaffa, however, but the growls had subsided at least.
Quirking a brow at Blair, Jack huffed. “So I’m guessing it’s because of the whole you getting kidnapped and dying stuff that he’s all Growly McGrowlerson?”
“Jack!” Daniel’s voice held a touch of horrified amusement, but no real alarm so Jack figured he was okay.
Jim glared at him but Blair snorted a laugh, running his fingers through his curls and scratching his scalp. “Yeah, pretty much. Like I said, this is all still relatively new and, well… Considering how things played out it’s only understandable that Jim’s a little over protective of those he considers tribe, and especially me as his Guide.”
Daniel nodded, looking thoughtful. “I’m glad you’re okay, Blair,” he said softly. “And not just because of our current situation.”
“Thanks. I have to say, it’s good to see you again after all this time. How weird is it that both of us turned out to be right?”
Chuckling, Daniel nodded. “Right? And we can’t tell anyone!”
“I know! At least we have each other now.”
“True. Hey, you mentioned a temple earlier?”
Nodding, Blair sat forward with an all too familiar gleam of excitement in his eyes as he began to talk. “Yeah, it was amazing.”
Jack glanced at Jim who sat stiffly, his eyes firmly on his Guide.
“It was as you would expect an Aztec temple to be, only not quite? Outside, yeah, inside not so much. There were a couple of blue pools not far inside the structure and there was writing on the walls but nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I made Jim take me back the following day because I needed to see it – you know, without the threat of impending death.” Blair reached for Jim’s hand, squeezing it lightly and resumed his tale.
“There were tunnels leading deeper into the temple but we didn’t go very far. Jim got too antsy and I didn’t want to push him too far. I took some pictures, though.” He got up and went to the bookshelf to retrieve a journal and returned to his seat, handing the book over to Daniel. “These are all my notes from that trip and the time we spent with the Chopec to recover. The temple turned out to be relatively close to the tribe.”
Jack leaned in and read over Daniel’s shoulder as he flipped through the pages. His breath caught at the rubbings Blair evidently had taken of a section of wall. “Is that what I think it is?”
Finger gingerly tracing the markings, Daniel nodded. “Yes, it is.”
“Wait, you’ve seen this before? You know what it is?” Blair looked stunned.
Again, Daniel nodded. “Yes… and no. I’ve seen writing like this before, but I don’t know what it means or what language it is.”
“Where?!” Blair demanded, now sitting at the edge of his seat, gaze intent on Daniel.
Jack and Daniel shared a look. Clearing his throat, Jack answered, “Tantalus.” Waving off both Daniel’s huff and Jim and Blair’s confusion, he added, “Not the proper designation, I know. I don’t care. Basically it boils down to us going to a planet to rescue a guy who’d gone through the Gate back in the forties and was stranded there. We didn’t know about it until recently, hence the long delay in recovery. Anyway, we get there and the place turns out to be some sort of library that four different races put together. ‘Meaning of Life’-stuff as Daniel put it. One of the languages we found looked like that.
“The whole place was falling apart and there was a big storm coming, so we ended up getting the hell out of dodge. Nearly didn’t make it back home in one piece. We tried dialing back to the planet but…” Jack trailed off with a shrug.
“You… wait… what?” Blair sputtered, blinking rapidly as he seemed to process what Jack had said.
Daniel sighed as he removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I still hate the idea that all of that knowledge was lost,” he muttered.
Jack nudged the man’s arm gently. “I know, Danny, and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. Not sorry I made you come back, though.”
The look Daniel shot him sent an odd thrill through him, but Jack pushed any thoughts aside as he cleared his throat. He could feel a bit of heat creeping up his neck and firmly scolded himself. He was not blushing. Colonel Jack O’Neill did not blush.
He was so focused on what he was not doing or thinking that Jack almost missed Daniel’s whispered, “Neither am I.” Giving himself a shake, Daniel cleared his throat and turned his attention back to Blair. “You said there were more markings? Were they all in this language?”
Blair shrugged. “No way to know. Like I said, we didn’t go much further than the front door so to speak.”
Glancing at Jack, Daniel frowned slightly. “I need to see that temple.”
“Daniel,” Jack groaned, though he wasn’t surprised by the statement. Of course he would want to check it out. Didn’t mean he had to like the idea, or look forward to putting in the request with Hammond.
“No, Jack. We need to find out as much as possible and that temple seems to be the best – if not only – place to do so. I think we also need to go to the Chopec.” He paused, turning to Jim. “If you think we’d be welcome there?”
Jim nodded. “Shouldn’t be a problem, especially not with Jack being a Sentinel and you and Major Carter being Guides.”
“What?!” came from both Daniel and Sam.
“Are you serious?” Sam exclaimed, wide-eyed.
Tilting his head, Jim seemed to taste the air for a moment before nodding. “Absolutely.” Indicating Daniel with a jerk of his chin, he added, “He feels further along but not as far as Blair, but there’s no doubt that you’re also a Guide. You’re just not Jack’s Guide.”
“But… how?” She looked completely flummoxed, and in all honesty Jack wasn’t that far behind in that.
Jim gave a slight shrug. “Not sure. You feel like a Guide to me. Blair?”
Giving himself a moment, Blair eventually nodded his ascent. “You all feel different to me. Teal’c because of … Junior.” He shuddered briefly then continued on. “Jack because he’s a Sentinel, if a bit uncooked if you will, and Daniel and you both feel familiar in a weird way. And not because I’ve known him for years, but more like a…” he paused, then added, “kinship would be the way I’d put it.”
“Kinship?” Sam asked, her tone clearly disbelieving.
Casting his thoughts back over the last couple of months, Jack tried to put the pieces together that had been bugging him for a while now. “That would actually explain a few things,” he murmured.
Everyone’s attention immediately turned to Jack who shrank back in his seat a little at the scrutiny.
“What do you mean by that?” Daniel asked quietly.
“Well…” Jack ran his fingers through his hair and heaved a sigh. “Remember during ‘The Change’, after Carter had attacked me and then you and I…” he trailed off, really hating to even think about what he had done to Daniel let alone bring it up. “You know…”
Daniel nodded, motioning for him to continue.
“Anyway, I felt very protective of her. Like, insanely so, but not with you. At least, not until after you’d Changed, too. Then, after we were all back to normal again, I started to feel all sorts of Mother Hen when it came to you, but to a lesser extent to Carter as well – and Teal’c, really.”
Jim nodded thoughtfully. “Makes sense. From what Incacha told us, a Sentinel’s instincts are to protect his Tribe. Actually, he said that they put their Guide first, Guides in general second, Tribe third and everything else comes after. For the Chopec the whole ‘tribe’ concept is fairly obvious but for us here in the first world things are a little different.
My Tribe consists of my friends and coworkers, and the people that fall within my jurisdiction to protect. Back when I was still a Ranger, Tribe was my team and the Army itself.”
Jack thought about it for a moment, then grinned slightly. “Yeah, sounds about right.”
“Interesting,” Daniel murmured, a far away look in his eyes.
With a heavy sigh, Jack made grabby hands at Carter who gamely handed over the phone. He would have been amused at her quick reaction at the unvoiced command but his gut was churning too much to really go too deeply into it. Without a word he got to his feet and walked over to the kitchen, already dialing the Mountain. “This is O’Neill,” he said as soon as the call was answered, not giving the other person a chance to speak. “I need to talk to General Hammond.”
Leaning against the counter he folded his arm across his chest as he waited for the call to be put through. After a minute, Hammond’s voice interrupted the quiet of the apartment – apparently everyone was paying very close attention to Jack.
“This is Hammond.”
As quickly and succinctly as he knew how, Jack informed the general of what they had learned, ending with Daniel’s request to go visit the temple as well as the Chopec.
“He’s absolutely certain that the language from that temple’s the same as from the library you found?”
“Yes, sir. No doubt. I recognized it, too.”
Hammond gave a small huff. “Very well. Permission granted. Get yourselves geared up. I’ll make the necessary arrangements. I’m assuming that both Dr. Sandburg and Detective Ellison will be accompanying you?”
Jack frowned. “I’ll check, sir, one second.” Tucking the phone against his chest he looked at Jim, who immediately nodded.
“I’ll clear it with Simon.”
“Right.” Pulling the phone back to his ear, he confirmed that they would indeed be joining them.
“Very well. Check in as soon as you reach the temple. Good luck, Colonel.”
“Thank you, sir.” Hanging up, Jack walked back to the group, handing the phone back to Carter. “Alright campers, we have a go. We’re cleared to leave as soon as we’re geared up.”
“I’ll call Simon now. Blair can pack our things and then we’ll be ready.”
Both men got up and left to get ready, leaving the team to their own devices. Jack was glad for the plane being at their disposal already, and for having had the foresight to bring their gear along for the journey. They would be set to go as soon as the two returned.
Within an hour they were aboard the plane headed to Peru. They had only had to stop by the supermarket on their way to the airport, which had baffled Jack a little until he saw Blair’s haul: varying kinds of good quality chocolate, several notepads, extra batteries for the cameras, and bottles of water. At Jack’s inquisitive look, Blair had grinned and said, “Trust me. We’ll need it.”
Settling back into his seat, Jack folded his hands over his stomach. “So which is first? The Chopec or the temple?”
Blair and Daniel shared a look. “What do you think, Jim?” Blair asked.
“Temple. I have a feeling that once you get to the Chopec we won’t be going anywhere for a while. Might want to give your general a heads up.”
“I’ll pass that on,” Jack assured, shifting uncomfortably. That rash just didn’t want to go away. He wasn’t looking forward to trecking through the jungle with it but it wasn’t like he had much choice in the matter.
“Oh!” Blair jumped up and went over to his bag, rummaging for a moment before exclaiming, “Aha!” and holding up a small jar. He held it out to Jack who quirked a brow at him in question. Blair’s lips twitched. “I made this for Jim, figured it might help you, too.” At Jack’s continued look of confusion he added, “For the rash?”
“Oh!” Jack flushed. “Um, thanks, but… I can’t exactly reach everywhere,” he admitted grudgingly.
Hopping to his feet, Daniel took the small tub from Blair with one hand while dragging Jack to his feet with the other. “Thanks, Blair. Come on, Jack.” When Jack objected, Daniel huffed in annoyance. “Don’t be such a baby, Jack. Go on, into the bathroom with you, I’ll do your back and then you can take care of the rest yourself.”
Mortified, Jack groaned but obeyed the man. This was going to be several levels of torture, he was sure. Not because he didn’t want the relief from the rash or didn’t like the idea of Daniel helping him. No, he liked the idea just a little too much and it took everything he had not to let it show.
The tiny bathroom really was too small for the both of them but they made do. As soon as the door closed behind them Daniel started tugging at his shirt and before long Jack was standing with his bare back to the man with his pants open and halfway down his hips.
As much as Jack tried to ignore the feel of having Daniel crowded so close to him especially in his current state of undress, he couldn’t help the soft moan of pleasure as soon as the man’s hand smoothed the lotion onto his skin. “Oh God,” he muttered under his breath, focusing on his breathing and on keeping his body’s reactions to a minimum.
“Feel good?” Daniel asked softly.
All he could do was nod. Whatever Blair had put in that stuff was working miracles on his irritated skin. The itch and burn receded quickly much to his relief. Jack’s breath stuttered to a halt when Daniel’s hand rested on his hip, thumb caressing his flesh absently. “Daniel?” he breathed, closing his eyes and swallowing hard.
Placing the tub next to the sink Daniel took a measured breath. “Are we going to talk about this, Jack?” he asked quietly. Calmly. Infuriatingly.
“Talk about what?” Jack croaked.
The pressure of Daniel’s hand increased. “This, Jack. Us. Me apparently being your Guide.”
He shook his head stubbornly, still not convinced of it all – at least that’s what he kept telling himself. He wasn’t sure how long he could continue to deny it, though, not with how he could feel the man’s heat against his skin even where they weren’t touching. How he could smell that particular scent that was all Daniel. Hear the man’s heart beat steadily behind him.
“Jack,” Daniel murmured, the sound so soothing it made Jack shudder.
Hanging his head, Jack tried to just breathe. “What do you want me to say, Danny?”
At that, Daniel’s hand slipped away as the man sighed. Jack could hear him shift behind him, leaning against the opposite wall. Hear him push his glasses up his nose and fold his arms across his chest. He was certain that if he looked, Jack would see the all too familiar disapproving – no, disappointed – frown directed at him.
“I don’t know, Jack. How about how you feel about you being a Sentinel for starters. Or that your Guide is male, and me to boot. We don’t have much time here and I think it’s important we at least talk about it.”
“How are you so okay with all of this?” Jack opened his eyes and raised his head enough to meet Daniel’s gaze in the mirror. He was still in the stages of denial himself and even knowing Daniel, he was surprised by how the man was going with the flow the way he seemed to be.
Daniel shrugged. “I don’t know that ‘okay’ is the word I would use. I’m open to the idea, though.”
“The idea? Of what? Being a descendant of a different kind of human? Or maybe even alien?” To himself, he added, of being with me? The smile that drifted across Daniel’s lips drew Jack’s attention.
“Can’t do much of anything about any of the above, Jack. If I am, I am. Just like I can’t do anything about being attracted to both men and women – or to you in particular,” he admitted, calm as you please.
Jack’s jaw just about fell to the floor at the admission. “What?” His voice was hoarse, his heart racing as Daniel’s words resonated in his skull.
Apparently ignoring Jack’s reaction, Daniel continued with a pensive look. “It’s actually kind of weird. It’s never really been about gender for me, and there’ve been many moments where I felt drawn to you but these past few weeks it’s like there’s been this… pull? Like, I want to be – need to be – close to you. Which I guess sort of makes sense if what Jim and Blair said is true and that I’m your Guide. But I still can’t help but wonder how much of the attraction was choice and nature and how much can be attributed to the whole Sentinel/Guide thing.”
Turning around, Jack stared at the man in front of him, for once actually trying to pay attention to his babbling but not really processing his words. Forgotten was the fact that he was in a state of semi-undress as he tried to wrap his mind around what he was hearing. Daniel felt the same about him? Had that same inexplicable pull to him as he did to Daniel?
His breath hitched again as he took the small step toward his friend, closing what little distance there was between them. As if without his consent, Jack reached his hand up to Daniel’s face. “Danny? Shut up.”
Daniel, whose eyes had followed his Jack’s every move and who hadn’t attempted to stop him or shy away from him, simply smiled. Cupping the back of Jack’s neck he tilted his head and leaned in as if to kiss him. “Sure, Jack,” he murmured against his lips before sealing his mouth to Jack’s.
Something inside Jack shifted. There was no real way to better describe the sensation than that. Daniel came into sharper focus for him in every way – sight, sound, smell, touch and something else beside for which he had no comparison. A tiny voice in the back of his head reminded him that this was the mother of all bad ideas since they were team but it was quickly quashed by the rightness he felt having his Guide in his arms.
Jack froze for a moment as the reality – the unequivocal reality – of it hit him like a brick. Breathing raggedly he held Daniel in place, refusing to let the man even budge an inch. They stood wrapped up in each other for what felt like an age before Jack finally took a shuddering breath and whispered, “Guide.”
He could almost feel it in every fiber of his being when Daniel answered reverently, “Sentinel.”
The mutual acknowledgment further shifting something inside both men. How Jack knew it was the same for Daniel he had no idea, but he was as certain of it as he was of the sun rising in the East and setting in the West.
“How are you doing, Jack?” Daniel’s voice was barely above a whisper but to Jack it rang clear as a bell.
He took a moment to really consider the question, then nodded slowly. “Okay, I think.” Furrowing his brow, he let his muscles play along his body, assessing himself. “Rash is almost completely gone,” he noted with some surprise. Their eyes met and Daniel’s fingers trailed across Jack’s face so lightly it made him shiver.
“It’s strange,” Daniel murmured absently. “It’s like I can feel you, like you’re… a part of me in a way. It’s distant, but you’re there. I wonder if Blair can sense Jim like this as well.”
Jack huffed, rolling his eyes though his fond smile betrayed any annoyance. “How about we not ask that in front of the kids, eh?”
Daniel’s eyes widened in amusement. “You really think Teal’c or Sam are going to have an issue with us? Especially since she’s apparently a Guide as well? Eventually she’ll have a Sentinel, too, you know. At least if I’m right about what’s happening she will.”
“And what’s that?”
Taking a deep breath, Daniel stated with a reassurance that Jack could feel resonate inside of him, “I think that whatever got triggered is affecting everyone at the SGC. I don’t have an explanation for how Jim ended up a Sentinel, but I think that every single person who’s shown symptoms like yours will end up a Sentinel at some point. Why you’re the first and why your symptoms are the worst I have no idea, but I’m hoping that the temple’ll give us some answers on that front.”
“Jesus.” Jack didn’t doubt that Daniel was right, but he didn’t envy Hammond having to deal with this particular bag of crazy. He frowned suddenly. “You haven’t had any symptoms, have you?”
Daniel shook his head. “No, I haven’t. Neither has Sam to my knowledge. I’ve been more aware of you, though, as I said. I guess we really never talked about what we were feeling,” he mused.
“So how are we going to figure out who’s a Guide?”
“I have no idea,” Daniel admitted with a slight shrug.
“Great.” He sighed, running his fingers through his hair as he stared at the wall to where he knew their teammates to be. “This isn’t going to go away, is it?”
“No. Would you want it to change?”
Shifting his gaze to Daniel’s, Jack shook his head. “No. I don’t think so. Not sure I could at this point.”
“We’ll figure it out.”