a Stargate story
Author's notes are at the end of the story.
"Dammit," Jack said. He shifted; his dog tags swung to the left,
smacking Daniel in the eye.
"Jack," Daniel said, "could you try not to do that?"
"That," Daniel said, as the dog tags whacked him again.
"Look, it's not like I have a lot of options here," Jack said irritably.
"I can get them, sir." Sam leaned forward and grabbed the dog tags with
her teeth, then flung them away with a shake of her head. The tags
arced in the air and came down with a vicious thud on Daniel's eye.
"Sorry," Sam said, but she was grinning, and before Jack turned his
head Daniel could swear he saw a shark grin on Jack's face, too.
"Well, where did you think they would go?" Daniel said. He couldn't
feel his hands and his legs were asleep.
"I was trying to catch them in a loop of the net," she answered. "I
could try again...?"
"Uh, no. No thanks." Daniel peered through the tangle of fabric and
limbs toward the other side of their prison; the net had caught them in
a gigantic bundle, like forest prey, and raised them about twenty feet
off the ground. "I'm getting seasick," he said, and to prove his point,
his stomach growled loudly.
Jack's upside-down face loomed next to Daniel's forehead. "Oh no you
don't. Suck it up, Daniel. I'm not kidding."
"Can't we stop this thing from swaying?" Daniel asked. His glasses had
been knocked off in the violence of the up-sweep, and the gentle
spinning of the net was killing his equilibrium.
"Maybe if we stop trying to reach around," Sam said. "It doesn't seem
to be doing much good anyway."
"Seeing as how my arm isn't growing any longer," Daniel added, and
tucked his chin down to his chest to avoid Jack's death glare.
"Patience, kids. There's a way out of this."
"O'Neill." Teal'c's knee was wedged into the small of Daniel's back;
that much, he could feel quite clearly. An hour ago they'd tried to
shift positions in their prison, but that had only pressed the hard
bone deeper into his back. "My patience was exhausted some time ago."
"So you're at the crushing heads stage, then."
Daniel snorted a laugh and flailed his hand again, connecting with
Jack's ass. Under any other circumstances, that might have earned him a
sarcastic remark from Jack, but in this case he was working hard to get
Jack's knife from its sheath. The net swiveled with his motion,
provoking a cry of "Daniel!" from Sam, and a grunt from Teal'c. Jack,
though...Jack was laughing. Or at least, it felt like laughter; his
breath was huffing out against Daniel's ear. "Damn alien booby traps,"
Jack said, and then Sam giggled, and Jack and Sam were laughing out
Daniel kicked the toe of his boot in Sam's direction. "What about this
is funny? Teal'c's not laughing." He couldn't get the words out with a
straight face, though; all he had to do was picture Teal'c's
expression, his frown directed at some point right between Daniel's
shoulderblades, and he lost it totally, a full-on belly laugh.
Their tenth mission together - an anniversary, of sorts - and they were
trussed up like turkeys awaiting their turn in the oven.
When they all finally stopped laughing - Daniel didn't actually *hear*
Teal'c laughing, but he was sure Teal'c was distantly amused - and
caught their breath, Jack shifted around and said, "So. 99 bottles of
beer on the wall?"
When the Terellan Chancellor dropped the dog tags in Daniel's hand,
they were covered with blood - a fine spray of it, the kind Daniel knew
could have come from a man spitting out a broken tooth, or from a
slashed throat. No way of telling which this was. He stared at them for
a long moment before he moved his hand, before his fingers slid through
Jack's blood to reveal the name: O'Neill - John J.
"You will complete the negotiations for us," Chancellor Mirel said
quietly, "or we will kill your leader."
Daniel's thumb pressed hard against the imprint of Jack's name. The
metal warmed beneath his touch. "How do I know he's not already dead?"
"You do not." Mirel sat down at the long table opposite Daniel. "Nor do
you have any guarantee we will not execute the rest of your friends.
You have only my word on this matter."
Daniel's fingertips were sticky, smeared with red. He pressed his lips
together hard to give himself time to think before speaking. The only
words in his mind were lifted by anger. After several seconds had
passed, he said softly, "This is how you give your word?"
"I choose the method I believe to be most effective," Mirel said. He
looked Daniel squarely in the eye. "Not unlike your own leader, who I
believe to be a man of practical wisdom."
Daniel clenched the tags in a tight fist. "You're nothing like our
"Perhaps not. In any case, I do not require your agreement. I require
only your obedience. Will I have it?"
Yes. No. Options raced through Daniel's mind. He bowed his head
to avoid giving away anything via the expression on his face. The
Terellans had slaughtered an entire village of civilians as the opening
gambit in their 'negotiations' for the territory of the Mingosians.
Jack's instructions to Daniel had been clear: no services offered by
the SGC, no help, no translation, no diplomacy. They'd bunked down on
the open ground with Sam on watch, since it was a full day's hike back
to the gate.
Sam. Daniel forced himself to relax, to display an open posture.
"Are they all still alive?"
Daniel's heart skipped a beat. This planet's internal problems were no
concern of theirs; Jack was right on that point, and they'd agreed, for
once. But the game had just changed. He sorted it out, piece by piece.
By cooperating, he stood to lose nothing - he wouldn't be giving
technology away; the Goa'uld weren't involved, so there was no threat
to security. The SGC was a third party, nothing more. It was only the principle
of the thing that disturbed Jack, and until their capture, Daniel had
found the irony rather amusing.
Jack, more than anyone, should understand the shades of grey in this
situation. Daniel wouldn't be harming Earth's interests. There was no
question that he'd have to agree, even though Jack's exasperated
expression was crystal clear in Daniel's imagination.
He raised his head. "I'll do it."
"I was certain you were a reasonable man," Mirel said. "We will begin
Two days - two long, difficult days, filled with misunderstandings and
accusations. Whenever Daniel looked into the eyes of the Mingosian
minister, he wanted to crawl into the nearest corner, or explain
himself - the desire to apologize for helping the Terellans was hard to
resist. But he had nothing to offer, no excuse to give. The price for
honesty would be too high.
At night he laid awake, eyes fixed on a single point in the golden
ceiling, and tried to track back to the point where principle had
become just a word, just a point on a line that constantly shifted and
disappeared from sight in the darkness. Principles were all he had in a
culture of regulations and orders and death. They had proven
surprisingly easy to abandon. Daniel thought Jack might see some irony
in that, too, if they ever got off Terosia alive.
Once the negotiations were concluded, they brought Jack out first, with
promises Teal'c and Sam would be along soon. Daniel guided him to a
bench and looked him over. Jack's right eye was swollen shut, his upper
lip puckered around two gashes. He looked at Daniel steadily, until
Daniel looked away. Daniel fished in his pocket and pulled out the dog
tags, still stained with blood. He couldn't explain - wouldn't - why he
hadn't cleaned them.
"Jack." It was impossible to keep the relief from his voice.
"I'm guessing you disobeyed my orders."
"Yes." Daniel's hands were shaking, but not because of Jack's question.
Jack nodded; he was watching Daniel carefully, and Daniel wished Jack
didn't know him quite so well. "We're going to talk about this, later,"
Jack said, in a tone Daniel was all too familiar with. There were many
answers he could have given, but instead, he took Jack's hand in his
own and turned it palm up. When the tags and chain were safely returned
to their owner, he finally met Jack's eyes.
"No. We're not."
The first time, it was an accident. Daniel's hands were everywhere,
slipping over Jack's skin, and his fingers tangled with the chain
around Jack's neck. Jack gasped and pushed back against him violently,
provoking a harsh moan from Daniel; he was buried deep inside Jack's
body, and the little control he had left wouldn't last against that
kind of pressure.
"Fuck, Daniel," Jack growled, and Daniel struggled to get his hand free
of the chain, but Jack shuddered beneath him and unleashed a string of
"Jack," Daniel whispered. He tried to match the erratic, frantic rhythm
of Jack's hips, but Jack wouldn't let him; he was wild beneath Daniel's
touch, and it still wasn't enough. Daniel wrapped his arms around
Jack's waist and pulled him up, body to body, his chest pressed against
the length of Jack's back. He ran his hands up Jack's chest, steadying
him, and twisted his hand through the chain.
"Yes, oh Christ Daniel..." and then Daniel moved, and Jack
moved with him, perfect unison, hard and fast and they were almost
close enough together to be one person. Daniel stroked into him, aware
only of the taste of Jack's sweat, the skin of his shoulder beneath
Daniel's lips and teeth, the messy slick feel of his come against
Daniel's palm as he arched into his orgasm.
Daniel caught his breath; the chain snapped, and Daniel shattered with
it, not quite who he had been, before; when he slipped from inside
Jack's body and curled up in the circle of his arms, he was more alive
than he had ever dreamed he would be. He touched the welt on Jack's
neck where the chain had dug into his skin, kissed it, watched Jack's
eyes darken before Jack kissed the question away.
The second time, it was deliberate.
"This is not up for debate, Daniel." Jack shoved the dog tags down over
his head; the chain scraped across Daniel's nose. Immediately Daniel
reached up and tried to pull them off again, but Jack caught his hands
and held them immobile. He pushed then, and Daniel slammed into the
tree trunk behind him. "Don't."
"I won't let you do it!" Daniel was fighting him in earnest now;
desperation gave him added leverage. It took all Jack's strength to
subdue him without tossing him on the ground.
"This is an order, Daniel. I know you still recognize an order
when you hear one."
"They'll make you a slave," Daniel hissed. "Don't you
understand that? They think these are a mark of your status among your
people. The amulets of leadership are the only thing protecting
"So you'll be the leader and I'll be the slave. I have an idea how that
works," Jack said. "I'm career military, remember?" The flimsy joke
didn't get through to Daniel; it broke apart against his furious
desperation. "You need to get into that hall of knowledge or
whateverthefuck it's called and get that Ancient tablet. And then you
need to go get help." Jack shook him, just enough to get his attention.
"My knees can't take all that kneeling."
"Jack," Daniel said. So much he didn't add; the memory of the slave
being tortured to death in the middle of the square was still vivid for
Jack as well. All the more reason to make sure Daniel wasn't their next
target. "I should have figured it out - I should have realized what the
amulets meant. I could have --"
"We don't have time for this." Jack straightened the chain. Like
miniature armor, his name settled against Daniel's chest, a barrier
between Daniel and harm. Those tags were a part of him, like his left
arm. It wasn't much protection, but it would have to do, for now.
Laira's hands were gentle, her touch more soothing than erotic. She had
a way of stripping Jack down to the essentials - removing his
illusions, his inhibitions, his hopes - until finally, he was only
flesh and blood before her, a man in need of a home she could not
When she reached for the chain around his neck he caught her hand and
moved it away from his skin. In the semi-darkness, the flame of the
candle caught the question in her eyes, but he had no answer for her.
Clothes could be removed; this was a part of him, like blood or bone or
a name, and he couldn't just strip it away.
She nestled next to him in the bed, warm and willing, and her
fingertips curled against his chest. "Will you not remove these?" she
asked. It was a simple, reasonable request.
He smiled to take the sting from his refusal, but her dark earnest look
made him pause. These were his past, but she was all that remained of a
future. This is what he ought to believe, accept; he knew it. Even so,
the touch of her fingers against his chest was delicate, too gentle.
"Not yet," he told her, knowing she would not understand.
Later, as he moved inside her, she clutched the tags in her hand and a
swift pain settled in Jack's heart. She was strong, determined; she had
made up her mind what she wanted, and she had taken it. He admired her
for this, and for many other reasons, but there were some barriers she
was not strong enough to break past. Even if he grew old with her, gave
her children - even if he died on this peaceful world -his heart would
never belong to her.
When he kissed her, the chain slipped from her grasp.
Choices. Obligations. Daniel strained against them, helpless to prevent
anything that had come before, or was yet to come. Oma perceived his
question: what may I do to help him? Her answer was always the
same: you may not interfere.
He fashioned himself into a semblance of what he had been, in case Jack
should wake, in case he needed a familiar friend to cling to. This, Oma
would permit, although he felt her disapproval. It was her school, her
universe; he was but a child, still learning. Jack was pale, his
heartbeat slowed to a pace Daniel could perceive, but faintly.
Daniel became a shadow -- listening, observing, hovering near.
"He is improving," Thoran said. "Kanan may yet save him."
"I fear for Kanan when O'Neill wakes." Elosha - a Tok'ra Daniel hadn't
seen in many years - stared down into Jack's face, her expression a
mixture of curiosity and disgust.
"I was assured he agreed to the implanation. We will have a little time
to extract the information we require from Kanan before O'Neill insists
dissolution of the blending."
"He may have agreed, but this is O'Neill. You are aware of his history
with the Tok'ra."
"Yes." Thoran reached down suddenly and tugged something from beneath
the blanket - a chain. Jack's dog tags. "Remove these immediately."
"Those are the identification marks of his Tau'ri rank," Elosha said.
"He is Tok'ra now." Thoran dropped the tags, then turned away, without
ever looking too closely at Jack. Daniel drifted nearer; a fraction of
thought was all he required to transport himself. The lines on Jack's
face were deep and heavily drawn; he looked old. Too old. It was as if
all his energy, all that made him what he was, had been trapped inside
this shell of a man.
You may not interfere.
But I see the light within him.
Be that as it may. You will abide by the parameters.
Elosha held Jack's tags in her hand a moment more, then slowly tucked
them back beneath the blanket. "There is yet time for you to be as you
are," her host said, though Jack could not hear her.
Daniel traveled the path of Jack's body, through him, around him, over
him, begging him without words: wake up. The absence of sound
and touch made him long to be as he was; hope and desire were phantom
pains in his formless body. He was everywhere, and nothing; near enough
to touch, but forever apart.
Of all the cures available in the universe, Jack had found stretching
out on the hard planks of the dock to be the best thing for his back.
He sprawled under the late afternoon sun, a beer in one hand and a
piece of cold chicken in the other, and let the dock do its magic on
his aching spine. He felt...free. No shirt, no shoes, no uniform, no
He wasn't sure yet whether or not he liked it.
"Want another beer?" Daniel's voice sounded from somewhere above and
behind. Jack could have opened his eyes, but it would have required too
"Sure." He gnawed the last of the meat from the thigh bone, then gave
the bone a gentle fling toward his feet. It plopped into the water off
the edge of the dock, which caused an involuntary smile. This, of
course, attracted Daniel, since Daniel was a sucker for smiles and beer
Warm kisses, and a warmer body pressed over the length of his own. His
dick was up for the challenge, despite the fact that they'd been at it
on and off all day, but Daniel stole a couple more kisses and pulled
away. He pressed a cold bottle into Jack's hand and sat up cross-legged
beside him. "Why did it take you so long to invite me up here?" he
"Hey," Jack said, and sat up so he could see Daniel's face. "I invited
you up here years ago."
"Only because you knew I couldn't actually take you up on it at the
time." The half-smile on Daniel's face took the sting from his
accusation. "You were afraid, weren't you?"
"No, I wouldn't say I was afraid...exactly..." Jack rolled the
beer bottle between his palms; after a moment, the truth popped out
like a layer of skin falling away. "Okay, yes."
Daniel nodded, still looking out at the water. Jack watched Daniel's
bare feet, his toes wiggling against the warm dock. Eventually he
shifted his attention northward, to Daniel's tousled hair. There was
still plenty of it, even if some silver was creeping in. He set his
bottle aside and scooted back to wrap his arms around Daniel's body,
then waited for the sigh of contentment this invariably produced. His
legs were longer, so he was able to find Daniel's toes with his own and
wiggle with them.
They sat that way until the chill of twilight chased the last of the
warmth from the air. Daniel stretched. Jack kissed the nape of his
neck; he had half a hard-on, and nothing sounded as good to him right
that moment as crawling into a warm bed with Daniel and sleeping for a
week. Or fucking for a week. Whichever Daniel was into.
Daniel's fingers slid down the back of his hand and laced through his
own. "I'll get a fire going," he said. Jack grinned at him, a little
lopsided, and it was enough to bring Daniel right to him; Daniel
half-sleepy and horny, with his hands traveling beneath the waistband
of Jack's sweats, and gentle laughter in his kiss. Jack loved that -
loved the way he only had to touch his lips to Daniel's for Daniel to
open to him, loved the way his tongue teased along Jack's, the sounds
he made when Jack deepened the kiss.
"Go ahead," Jack said. "I'll be there in a minute."
Daniel nodded. He collected the beer bottles and stuffed them in the
cooler, then headed back up toward the cabin. When he walked away, he
walked on the outside edges of his feet, protecting the soft bottoms
from the splintery old dock.
Jack turned back toward the water. He bowed his head and slipped off
his dog tags. They were light as a feather in his hand, lighter than
they'd ever been before. He tossed them once or twice to listen to the
slink-noise of the chain, to make sure they were actually there. Too
light to sink; too heavy to float.
The faint smell of woodsmoke drifted through the air. Jack hung the
tags on the left post of the dock; after some time had passed, he
imagined he might forget about them. In the meantime, Daniel had a
tendency to build his fires too small. Jack's expertise was required.
All comments are welcomed. firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's notes: This set of themed vignettes based around Jack's dog tags was a present for X, but she said I should post it, and so I did.
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