Compromising Positions | Into the Black | Contact

Step Aside

Notes: Dedicated to dirty_diana, without whom, you would have been subjected to lightning fast, inexplicable switches in POV.

Sequel to: Step Back

Series: Steps

Hammond knows there’s something wrong with SG-1 the second they file into the meeting room for their debriefing. Colonel O’Neill is quiet, something nearly unheard of, with a small frown creasing his brow and Daniel, usually right behind him, enters after both Major Carter and Teal’c with his ‘get away from me’ body language turned up to high. Sam has a look of puzzlement on her face; and for all Hammond knows, so does Teal’c – he doesn’t have Jack’s skill at reading the Jaffa’s stoic expressions – but he does note the way Teal’c watches the two men.

The team takes their seats; Daniel hanging back until after Jack is seated, then sits down carefully across the table from him. Hammond catches the look of concern Jack directs at Daniel, who for all intents and purposes, ignores it, which only increases Jack’s frown.

Preparing himself for the worst, Hammond says, “Colonel O’Neill, report.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack says and begins the debriefing, quickly outlining their exploration of PX-975. Sam and Teal’c had been left on the surface collecting rock samples while he and Daniel had begun investigating the nearby tunnels. Daniel had found some interesting glyphs, indicating that however desolate the planet was now, it had once had some type of civilization. Determining that it was safe to continue, he and Daniel had followed the symbols further into the caves.

It was not until they were deep into the system of intertwining tunnels that they had realized that some quality of the rocks prevented radio transmissions. In an effort to return quickly, they had made an error and gone down the wrong passageway and found themselves at an underground spring. It is at this point where Jack’s description of events gets fuzzy.

“Let me get this straight, Colonel. You knew you were overdue, but you stopped and decided to have a dip in the spring anyway?” Hammond interrupts.

“Yes, Sir, that’s what I’m telling you,” Jack replies.

“But you have no idea why you stopped?”

“None whatsoever, General,” Jack answers, scrubbing his hands through his hair. “Look. I don’t know what happened. All I know is that for some reason, Daniel and I both thought it would be a great idea to get into the water, so we did. The next thing I know, we’re waking up a few hours later with a big hole in our memories. End of story.”

“Do you have anything to add, Dr. Jackson?” Hammond turns to Daniel, who shakes his head and mutters no, not looking him in the eye.

“All right. I guess we’ll have to wait for Dr. Fraiser’s test results,” Hammond declares, letting it drop for now. He turns to Sam. “How about you, Major Carter? Did you find anything interesting on the planet?”

“I won’t know until I’ve tested my samples,” Sam replies.

“Looks like that’s a wrap then, people. Dismissed,” Hammond orders, closing the folder in front of him. The team gets up to leave, Daniel practically leaping out of his chair in his rush to leave. “Jack, if you’ve got a minute?” Hammond states as his 2IC reaches the door. It is not a question.

“Sure, General,” Jack says closing his eyes briefly in defeat, before opening them and turning to face his boss.

“You going to tell me what’s going on?” Hammond asks.

Jack looks at him, all innocence. “Going on? I’m not sure what you’re getting at, Sir.”

“Don’t bullshit me, Jack. Something happened out there that you’re not telling me. Do I have to order you to give me full disclosure?” Hammond threatens.

Jack shoves his hands in his pockets. “I’d rather you didn’t, George. It’s personal. Look, Daniel and I will work this out, okay? We had one of our stupid arguments and he’s pissed at me. Give him a few days to calm down, I’ll apologize, he’ll forgive me, and you’ll see, everything will be back to normal.”

Everything about Jack tells Hammond that he’s not being entirely truthful, but decides not to press the issue – yet. Hammond looks at him skeptically, and then says, “All right, Jack. I’ll trust you on this one. But if things aren’t worked out before your next mission, I’m calling you both in here for a good, long chat.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack answers, salutes, and barely waiting for the return salute, leaves the room.

“Daniel, wait up!” Sam calls, trotting to catch up to Daniel’s long-legged stride, Teal’c keeping pace with her.

Daniel stops and sighs quietly to himself and then plastering a fake smile to his face, turns to Sam. “Hey, Sam, what can I do for you?” he asks blandly.

“C’mon, Daniel, it’s us,” Sam says, putting a hand on Daniel’s arm. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sam. I’m fine,” Daniel lies.

“You are indeed not fine, DanielJackson,” Teal’c says. “You and O’Neill have been acting most peculiarly since you rejoined us on the surface.”

“No, really, guys, I’m fine. Just a little tired and worried about what Janet might find in my blood work. It’s not like Jack and I to break protocols like that, we were obviously affected by something down there.”

“You sure? You can talk to us, you know,” Sam assures him, her eyes wide with concern for her friend.

Feeling sick about having to lie to his friends, Daniel smiles and pats Sam’s hand, before saying, “I’m sure, Sam. I’m fine. But I’d really like to get back to my office and try to translate those glyphs that were inside the tunnels.”

Knowing a dismissal when she hears it, Sam removes her hand and replies, “Yeah, I should get back to my rocks, too. Talk to you later, Daniel.”

“Of course,” Daniel answers and makes his getaway.

“What do you mean, it’s just water?” Jack asks incredulously, his voice rising, his arms flapping around in annoyance. “How could it possibly be just water?”

“I’m sorry, Colonel. I’ve run every test I can think of,” Janet Fraiser replies calmly. “There’s nothing but H2O in that canteen. And there’s nothing in the blood work either. I’m as puzzled as you are.”

“I doubt it,” Jack mumbles under his breath before saying louder, “So there’s nothing left to try?”

“Not a thing. As much as it irks me, I think we’re just going to have to add this to the pile of unsolved gate related mysteries.”

Sighing with frustration Jack thanks Janet before leaving the infirmary and heading back to his office to brood some more. He had hoped he could blame the direction of his thoughts on after-effects from whatever alien creepy crawly had invaded his body, but it looks like that wasn’t the case.

Face it, O’Neill, Jack thinks to himself, they’re your thoughts. You’re not being influenced by some alien mind control, YOU are the one that can’t stop thinking about Daniel. Jack sighs again and flops into his chair and grabs a big stack of paperwork, hoping to use it as a distraction. He needs something to take his mind off how nice it was to wake up with Daniel in his arms. He tries not to dwell on the fact that it felt so good that he had lain there for at least ten minutes just holding the other man before rousing him with a slap to the shoulder instead of giving in to the desire to run his fingers through Daniel’s hair.

“Shit,” Jack mutters tossing a pen hard against the wall when he realizes his thoughts are circling back to Daniel once again. What the hell is he supposed to do now?

Daniel walks into his office and shuts the door behind him. He walks over and closes the other one, as well, and then sits at his desk, staring into space.

He’s at a loss. He needs to process what happened, the feelings that are threatening to overwhelm him, but he can’t do it here at the SGC. He can’t do it with Jack, just THERE, in his face, because every time he sees Jack, he’s reminded of how it felt to wake up in his arms – warm, protected, safe. He’s got to get out – get out and get his act together. He needs to push all these feelings back into the Pandora’s box that they had sprung out of. He’s not sure if that’s even remotely possible, but he knows he has to try for his own sanity’s sake.

As though Jack's thoughts have conjured him, there’s Daniel, bending over to pick up the pen he’s just flung to the floor. Jack’s eyes track the long, muscular line of Daniel’s back and he averts them the second he realizes it. “Lose something?” Daniel asks before he turns and closes the door behind him. “Jack, we need to talk.”

Jack nods sharply and gestures to the chair across from his desk. He sees how gingerly Daniel lowers himself into the chair and winces in sympathy and then feels guilty, knowing that he is the cause. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asks solicitously. “Maybe you should get Fraiser to...” Jack stops dead at the cold look in Daniel’s eyes.

“To what, Jack? Have a look at it? What exactly am I supposed to tell her, Jack? By your stupid military rules I *can’t* tell her what happened, can I? Not if I don’t want to jeopardize your career, or my own for that matter.” Jack has the sense to look contrite. “Besides, I’m fine, just a little sore, maybe a pulled muscle or two, so stop worrying, okay?”

Jack scrubs his hands through his hair. “Christ, Daniel, what are we going to do? Hammond already knows there’s something going on.”

“Sam and Teal’c, too. Jack raises a questioning eyebrow and Daniel continues, “They cornered me in the corridor, wanting to know what was wrong with me. I told them nothing happened, that they were wrong. I think they bought it, but I’m not sure. You know how Sam can be.”

Jack nods and then says, “I lied to George, told him we had an argument.” He fiddles with a pen. “Daniel, we have to fix this or he’s going to question us more closely. I don’t think I can evade a direct order, but I really don’t want to tell him what happened, especially when I don’t really know myself.”

“I know, Jack. I know. That’s why I’m here. I need a couple of days. I’m going to ask Hammond for a short leave, just to get my head on straight – so to speak,” Daniel manages a weak smile, while Jack snorts.

“Whatever you need, Daniel,” Jack says sincerely.

“Thanks,” Daniel says as he gets up to leave. He stops at the door. “Don’t worry, Jack. We’ll get through this, we always do.

“That a promise?”

“Definitely.” And then he’s out the door leaving Jack staring at the space he once occupied, hoping that his friend is right.