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Daniel stepped into the briefing room and stopped. Simmons was sitting at the table, in the seat to the General's left, the one Jack usually sat in. "General?" Daniel asked.
"You remember Colonel Simmons, Dr. Jackson."
"Yes." As if Daniel was likely to forget the man who'd thrown both Sha're's and Sarah's fates in his face.
"We have a few questions for you," Simmons said, smiling his oily smile. "Please, have a seat."
Daniel sat. "What do you want to know?" He didn't bother to keep the disdain from his voice.
"How would you describe your relationship with Colonel O'Neill?"
So NID was after Jack, again. Normally, he'd find fault with Jack's penchant for making enemies, but this was the NID and Simmons. Daniel crossed his arms in front of his chest. "We're friends."
"Friends," Simmons echoed.
Daniel doubted the man really understood the concept, but he repeated himself anyway. "Yes, we're friends and colleagues."
Simmons picked up the remote for the briefing room video screen from the table in front of him and pressed play. The screen displayed an image of Daniel's office. Daniel was sitting at his desk and Jack was standing behind him, rubbing his shoulders.
"Is that friendship, Dr. Jackson?"
Daniel blinked at him, repeatedly.
"Perhaps it would interest you to know that we analyzed thirty six point five hours and twenty-three seconds of security footage of you and Colonel O'Neill, and do you know what we found?" Simmons leaned forward, resting an arm on the table.
"That Jack's a lousy juggler?"
"During the time that we analyzed, Colonel O'Neill touched you forty-two times."
"And your point is?" Daniel asked in the irritating tone he'd learned from Jack.
"That you and Colonel O'Neill touch approximately once every fifty-two minutes."
Daniel considered that for a moment. Once an hour wasn't all that often. "And?"
Simmons rested both arms on the table. "Lets cut to the chase, Doctor. Are you and Colonel O'Neill involved in a sexual relationship?"
Daniel felt his jaw drop, actually felt it. He forced it closed only to have it fall open again. He and Jack…Jack and him…He began to laugh.
Simmons sat back in his chair. "I fail to see what is so amusing."
Daniel gulped, sucking in air, then the laughter started all over again. The muscles in his abdomen were starting to ache and he clutched at his sides.
The general rarely used that tone with him and it brought him up short. Laughter subsiding, he sat up straight and turned his full attention to General Hammond. "I'm sorry, sir."
"This is a very serious allegation. It could mean Colonel O'Neill's career."
"I understand that. It's just…" Daniel felt himself starting to giggle and pursed his lips together in an effort to stop. After a moment, he resumed speaking. "If Jack and I are lovers, someone might want to tell him, and when you do, can I watch?"
Jack glared at Simmons, but to Jack's annoyance the man didn't flinch. He should be intimidated. Jack was Black Ops. Simmons flew a desk—a Washington desk—but still a desk.
"Have a seat, Colonel."
Jack didn't disobey direct orders from General Hammond, at least not when the general was in the room, so he stepped closer to the table, his glare never wavering.
Simmons stood on the opposite side of the table, glaring back.
Jack narrowed his eyes, intensifying the glare.
The corners of Simmons' mouth twitched, and he sat.
His eyes never leaving Simmons' face, Jack slid into the chair opposite his nemesis. Hey, he knew what the word meant. He'd seen Star Trek.
Simmons looked at him. Jack looked back. General Hammond sighed and looked at his watch.
Jack leaned slightly forward. Simmons did the same. Jack rested his arm on the table. So did Simmons. Hammond muttered something about colonels and testosterone.
Both men turned to look at the general.
"In case it's escaped your notice, I have a base to run."
"Of course, General," Simmons said.
Jack hated his oily voice. It was almost as oily as his smile. Manfully, Jack resisted the urge to mock him. Daniel would be so proud.
"Colonel, can you define the term 'spacemonkey?'"
"Space—what?" Jack asked, shaking his head and raising his eyebrows.
"That's what I thought you said."
"Surely you remember."
Once again, he manfully resisted and the words 'don't call me Shirley' remained unspoken. "Uh, no."
Simmons pressed a button on the remote for the briefing room video screen and an image appeared of the gate room. It was filled with airmen and marines, but Jack could see himself smiling broadly, striding forward to pull Daniel into a hug. Even with the crowd, his voice could be heard saying, "Spacemonkey, yeah."
Simmons stopped the playback on an image of Jack cupping Daniel's face in his hands. "I'll ask you again. What is a spacemonkey?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
"How, exactly, did you get to be a colonel?"
"Just answer the question, Colonel O'Neill."
Jack waved vaguely in the direction of the screen. "Daniel is a spacemonkey."
Jack shrugged. "That he went into space and came back."
"So you're claiming it's not a term of endearment?"
"Maybe you should ask Daniel if he found it endearing."
"Fine." Simmons picked up the remote and the image changed to one of Jack and Daniel in Daniel's office. "Would you care to explain this?"
"This," Simmons said, pointing at the screen.
"It's me and it's Daniel and we're in Daniel's office," Jack answered in his 'wow, you're even dumber than me' voice.
"I can see that. How do you explain the rubbing?"
"The rubbing? You really want me to explain the rubbing?"
Simmons nodded slowly.
Jack sighed. "Daniel puts a piece of paper over an engraving and rubs it with a pencil, making a copy of the image. It's called frottage."
"I'm more interested in your rubbing."
Again, Simmons pointed at the screen. "Of Doctor Jackson."
Jack shrugged again, mainly because he knew it annoyed Simmons. "He'd been working on that translation for close to fifteen hours. He was tense, stiff from sitting. I was just helping him relax."
"Do you often help Dr. Jackson relax?"
"I try, but he's a pretty tense guy."
"And do you often describe him as orgasmic?"
Jack frowned, his protective instincts kicking in. "You think Daniel's orgasmic?" Jack demanded, the consequences of an affirmative answer clear in his voice.
"You apparently do." Once again Simmons fiddled with the remote control. This time the image was of Jack walking into Daniel's office and tossing him a candy bar. Then leaning against the desk to watch while Daniel ate it. "Since the cameras in Dr. Jackson's office do not record sound, I had a lip-reader watch the tape and write down what you said." Simmons flipped open the file in front of him. "Your exact words were: Geez, Danny, you look positively orgasmic." Simmons closed the folder with a flip of his wrist and rested his linked hands on top of it. Leaning forward slightly, he said, "Would you care to explain exactly how you know how Dr. Jackson looks while having an orgasm?"
Jack leaned forward, his eyes narrowing menacingly. "Why don't you get to the point?"
Simmons pulled a photo out of the file and tossed it onto the table. "This is Dr. Jackson arriving at your house at exactly 8:13pm on May 14th." He tossed a second photo on top of the first. "This is Dr. Jackson leaving your house at 9:36am on May 15th."
"Does Dr. Jackson often stay the night?"
"It had been a tough week. Daniel came over. We watched cheesy movies and polished off a bottle of scotch. Daniel was in no shape to drive so he slept in the guest room. And now I really think you should get to the point."
"The point, Colonel O'Neill, is that you are violating regulations. The point is that you are having a sexual a relationship with another man, a man under your direct supervision."
"You think that Daniel and I?" Jack turned to General Hammond. "Sir, that's absurd."
"The evidence says otherwise," Simmons said smugly.
"You want evidence? Fine. Give me a lie detector."
"You're ex-Special Forces, Colonel. We know you've been trained to fool lie detectors."
"Then test Daniel."
Simmons looked at the general.
"We'll test Dr. Jackson," Hammond intoned in his always serious voice.
Jack smirked and leaned back in his chair, confident that he'd be cleared. After all, he was innocent.
"Provided," Hammond continued, "that he stops laughing long enough to answer the questions."
Daniel looked up from the pile of papers on his desk and smiled. "Hey, Sam."
Stepping into his office, she closed the door behind her. "So give."
"I assume you're talking about Simmons."
Sam nodded and sat in the chair next to his desk. Leaning toward him, she said quietly, "Does he know?"
Confused, Daniel frowned. "Know what?"
"About you and," pausing, she glanced around her before whispering conspiratorially, "the colonel."
He leaned back in his chair, causing it to roll a couple of inches. "You think Jack and I?"
"Well, yeah." Daniel stared at her and Sam sat back, no longer leaning toward him. "You mean you're not?"
"Of course we're not. Jack's military. There are regulations," he reminded her in the tone he usually reserved for those times when Jack was being especially obtuse.
"Like the colonel never violates regs when he thinks it's important."
Daniel was pretty sure she hadn't meant to imply that he wasn't important. "Then there's the fact that I'm straight and so is Jack."
"I know. I just…" She shrugged.
"Just assumed that you wouldn't let a little thing like gender get in the way if you found the right person."
Daniel wasn't so sure that Jack's penis qualified as a little thing. "And you think Jack's the right person?"
"Why just for me? Why not for you?"
"You like him."
"And you don't?"
"Sure, but you like him more."
"I do not." Daniel protested, suddenly grateful that he hadn't had friends as a teenager if it meant that he'd gotten to avoid conversations like this one.
"You think he's funny."
"No, I…" Daniel stopped. Actually, Jack was pretty amusing, although not even torture could make Daniel admit it, at least in front of Jack. "Okay, maybe I do, but how do you get from Daniel thinks Jack is occasionally mildly entertaining to Jack is Daniel's soulmate?"
"You think alike. You even finish each other's sentences."
"We fight like cats and dogs."
"Or an old married couple."
"Sam," he reprimanded, trying to get the image of he and Jack old and bent, shaking their canes at one another out of his head.
"Come on, Daniel, can you really blame us? There's always been something about you and Jack."
"Us? Please tell me Teal'c…"
She winced. "Sorry."
"You've talked about it?" He had not just squeaked, Daniel told himself firmly.
Sam had the grace to look embarrassed. "You and the colonel in one tent. Teal'c and I in another, we had to talk about something."
"So you talked about us?"
"Not all the time."
"That makes me feel better." Daniel flinched, realizing the sarcastic tone was one he'd learned from Jack.
"What did you guys talk about?"
She flushed. "You didn't."
"Two straight guys, beautiful woman…" Daniel lifted his eyebrows meaningfully.
"Relax, Sam, mostly we talked about…I don't know, everything."
"You don't like sports."
"Jack talked. I listened. Sometimes the stats are kind of interesting."
Sam pursed her lips, clearly thinking over this new intel. "Anything else?"
"The colonel talked about ideas?"
"He has some," Daniel protested, wondering at his own defensiveness. "Mostly I talked and Jack listened," he conceded after enduring Sam's 'fess up' stare for all of thirty seconds.
"Did he say 'yadda?'"
Daniel looked down at his desk. "No."
Sam smiled. "Not even once?"
Did she have to rub it in? "No."
She leaned forward, moving in for the kill. Daniel swallowed and licked his lips. "What else did you talk about?" She was an Air Force major. How could she sound so guileless? She wasn't guileless.
"I don't know. Cars. Beer."
"You don't like beer."
"That's what we talked about."
"What else, Daniel?"
"Feelings?" she suggested.
"No," Daniel sputtered. "We're guys. We don't…No."
Sam crossed her arms in front of her chest. "If you say so." It was the same tone of voice in which she said 'yes, Colonel, sir.' Daniel wondered if Jack hated it as much as he'd just discovered he did.
Tray in hand, Jack looked around the room. Teal'c had a table to himself on the far side of the commissary and Jack moved to join him. "Hey."
Teal'c glanced up at him. "O'Neill."
Jack took the seat opposite Teal'c's. He could feel the looks being directed his way, but no one looked for too long. Ignoring the looks, he picked up his sandwich, stared at it, and then put it back down. Pushing the plate aside, Jack picked up his spoon and desert cup.
"Is something wrong, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
"No. Why?" Jack answered, his voice muffled by a spoonful of chocolate pudding.
"You are eating chocolate. I have observed that, like Daniel Jackson, you eat chocolate when stressed."
Jack put his cup and spoon down. When had chocolate become his favorite comfort food? Oh, yeah, when he'd fallen off his bike when he was six and his Mom had made him chocolate pudding. "I'm not stressed." He wasn't. Daniel would take the polygraph and then he'd be cleared. He had nothing to worry about.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"I have heard that you met with General Hammond and Colonel Simmons, as did Daniel Jackson."
Jack leaned forward. "Simmons thinks…" Jack glanced around them and leaned closer. "That Daniel and I."
"I have often feared what might happen if your relationship with Daniel Jackson became public knowledge."
Jack sat back in his chair and stared at the man opposite him. Teal'c looked impassively back. Teal'c? Teal'c thought that he and Daniel? Had everyone in the SGC gone mad? That had to be it. He stood, nearly knocking over his chair in his haste. "I have to see Hammond." He started for the door, wondering what the cause might be, some sort of alien device, maybe a virus…
Jack barreled into the general's office, his usual casual saunter forgotten in his haste. He began speaking as soon as Hammond looked up from his desk. "Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I believe we may be under some sort of alien influence."
"Alien influence?" The general repeated, studying Jack closely.
"Yes, sir. I was just speaking with Teal'c and he thinks that Daniel and I are, you know…" Jack's voice trailed off and he gestured meaninglessly.
"I hardly think that means he's under an alien influence."
"Teal'c knows I'm straight," Jack persisted. "When we were on Tollana I didn't even want to hold his hand."
"You held Teal'c's hand?"
"Only way we could both use the same walking through walls thingy."
"Perhaps Teal'c felt that you simply didn't want to hold his hand, or maybe he believes that you dislike holding hands with anyone but Dr. Jackson."
"I do not hold hands with Daniel."
"Yes, Colonel, you do."
"I—" It occurred to Jack that arguing with a two star general while under investigation for a court martial able offense might not be the best idea. "When?"
"In the infirmary, whenever Dr. Jackson is injured or ill. In fact, you frequently refuse to leave his side."
"I do the same thing when Carter and Teal'c are injured."
"Not to the same extreme."
"What are you saying, sir? That it's reasonable for people to think…" He raised his arms in an encompassing gesture. "That Daniel and I are…"
"That is what most of the base believes, Colonel."
"And you, sir?"
"To be honest with you, Jack. I have made an express point of not examining your relationship with Dr. Jackson too closely."
Jack rubbed his eyes. "In other words, you weren't asking."
General Hammond nodded.
"Dr. Jackson's laughter alleviated any suspicions I may have had."
Daniel's laughter. Daniel had laughed at the idea of being Jack's lover. Jack was honest enough to admit that he wasn't quite sure how he felt about that.
Daniel glanced at the machine on the table next to him and then away. He hated being attached to machines, but he was willing to endure it for Jack. Truth was he was willing to be attached to just about anything for Jack.
"Are you ready, sir?" the technician asked, sitting behind the machine and picking up a pencil.
"All of the questions will be yes or no, and that is the only answer you need to give, yes or no. Do you understand?"
"I've seen these on TV." People tended to think he didn't do anything but go through the Gate and hole up in his office translating stuff. It wasn't true. He had a life. He did normal things.
The technician was staring at him. Daniel tried to smile. "Yes."
"Right. Now, lets begin."
Daniel started to speak, then nodded.
"Is your name Daniel Jackson?"
The tiny pens moved rapidly across the paper. The technician frowned and made a mark with his pencil.
"Were you born in Egypt?"
The pens moved even more rapidly this time. The technician's frown deepened. That couldn't be good. Daniel sat up straighter, trying to get a clear look at the paper.
"Do you work with Colonel Jack O'Neill?"
This time the pens barely moved. Daniel breathed a sigh of relief. He was pretty sure they weren't supposed to move rapidly. Well, fairly sure. Maybe he should have paid closer attention to those cop shows Jack was always watching when there wasn't any hockey on. Or curling. Of course, Daniel was forbidden to ever mention curling on base. Apparently, it wasn't considered a manly sport. Daniel was fairly certain it was because of the brooms.
"Do you have a doctorate in linguistics?"
Daniel forced his attention back to the technician. "Um, yes, and one in archeology as well."
The pens moved rapidly again. Daniel sighed, wishing they'd just ask about Jack. It was a lot easier to talk about Jack.
Jack leaned back in his chair and lifted his feet onto the briefing room table. Now that Daniel had had his lies detected, Jack was confident that he'd—they'd—be cleared of any and all sexual activity. Daniel was in the chair across from him and Jack smiled at his friend. Daniel smiled back. He had a really nice smile, sweet and just a little shy.
The briefing room door opened and Jack rose to his feet as General Hammond entered, pleasantly surprised when Daniel did the same. "Hello, sir," Jack said as Hammond moved to take his customary place at the head of the table.
"Sir," Daniel echoed Jack.
"Colonel, Dr. Jackson."
General Hammond sat, allowing Jack and Daniel to do the same. This time Jack kept his feet firmly on the floor. "Colonel Simmons will be here momentarily."
Jack nodded. Daniel nodded. Silence descended. Jack started to drum his fingers on the table, but stopped when Daniel kicked him. Clasping his hands in front of him, he began twiddling his thumbs, five times clockwise, five times counter-clockwise. Daniel scowled at him and then began pointedly studying the far corner of the room.
Simmons opened the door. "I apologize for the delay, General. I was having Dr. Jackson's results analyzed by a third expert."
'Third' Jack mouthed at Daniel.
Simmons waived a manila folder in the air before tossing it onto the table. "Apparently, Dr. Jackson is lying about his name, his residence, his academic record, everything except his relationship with Colonel O'Neill."
"Meaning?" General Hammond prompted.
"Dr. Jackson and Colonel O'Neill are not having a sexual relationship."
"Well that's a relief," Daniel commented with a smirk.
"Hey! You could do worse than a good looking guy like me."
Daniel snorted in a manner Jack found more than a little unattractive.
Hammond glared at them both. Getting to his feet, the General directed his attention to Simmons. "So your accusations were baseless?"
"I wouldn't say that. There was plenty of evidence."
"There's rarely more direct evidence in these cases, although I suppose I could have interviewed Dr. Frasier."
"You will not be interviewing anyone on this base again. Not while I'm in command."
Jack began to whistle. Simmons saluted and started toward the door.
Hammond glared at Jack. "That applies to the two of you as well."
"Yes, sir." Jack was on his feet and moving for the door, with Daniel a step behind.
"Hey!" Jack scolded as Daniel snagged a piece of pizza from his half. "I thought you didn't like sausage."
Daniel grinned and began picking the sausage off of the pizza. "I don't."
Jack couldn't help but return the grin. He liked this side of Daniel, the playful, slightly snarky side that only he got to see. Besides, this was their 'we made a fool of Simmons' dinner. Jack was hoping it would be the first of many. Watching Daniel take a bite, he took a drink from his beer. "I can't believe you laughed."
"You think the idea of—" Jack moved his beer back and forth between them.
"Us having sex?" Daniel suggested.
"Is funny?" Jack was trying for outraged, but feared he'd only managed petulant. He hated sounding petulant. He wasn't very good at it. Unlike Daniel. Daniel's petulant even worked on Jack.
"Come on, Jack. Can you actually picture us kissing?"
"We're guys. What makes you think there'd be kissing?"
Daniel took a bite of his pizza while muttering something that sounded like asshole.
"Then again, after watching you with Shyla, not to mention the security tapes of you and Kira…"
Daniel swallowed. "Tapes?"
Jack grinned. Daniel had actually squeaked. "So you did kiss her."
"Let me repeat: asshole." Daniel tossed the crust from his pizza into the box and leaned back against the couch. "You can picture us kissing."
"But can you picture us naked?"
"Lovers generally spend at least some of their time together sans clothing."
"I know that." Jack knew that. He'd had sex. Once upon a time. He gave Daniel his best 'aren't you the clever boy' smile. Daniel naked. Naked Daniel. He could picture that. It wasn't as if they hadn't shared a locker room at the base for years. Daniel didn't have any chest hair, but those arms… He had some serious biceps. All those workouts with Carter were clearly paying off. And shoulders. The last time Daniel had borrowed one of Jack's shirts he'd stretched it.
Well that pretty much ended that. There was no way Jack could imagine having sex with someone whose shoulders were broader than his.
"You can't do it. Can you?" Daniel was smirking.
"Can you?" Jack asked, raising his beer nonchalantly to his lips.
"Sure. Right up until the blow job."
Jack choked, barely managing to keep the beer in his mouth.
Daniel patted his back. "I may like you, but not enough to have your dick in my mouth."
"Daniel." His voice was raw from the beer. He swallowed and tried again. "I'm hurt. Really hurt."
"Sure you are." Daniel picked up the remote and lifted his feet onto the coffee table, using them to push the pizza box to the far end.
"And you call me a Neanderthal."
"Sam thinks we're together, you know."
"So does Teal'c. And Hammond. The game's on twelve."
Daniel dutifully turned the channel.
"He claims half the base thinks we're doing it."
Daniel shook his head. "I don't get it."
Jack lifted his feet onto the coffee table next to Daniel's and settled into the couch, his shoulder resting comfortably against Daniel's. "They're nuts."
Daniel looked at him over the top of his glasses.
Jack hated that look. It always meant trouble. "You don't think—"
"That they know something we don't."
Their eyes locked. Daniel really did have the most amazing eyes. A heartbeat passed, then another. They spoke at the same moment.
"You want popcorn?" Daniel asked. The pre-game commentary never managed to hold his attention.
"You ate more than half of the pizza."
"I'm a growing boy."
"If you pop it, I'll eat it."
"I'm a guest."
"You spend more time here than I do."
Putting a hand on Jack's thigh for leverage, Daniel stood. He was partway to the kitchen when he stopped and looked back at Jack. "They're nuts, right?"
"Certifiable. Every last one of them."
Daniel nodded and resumed his journey to the kitchen.
"Make it real popcorn," Jack called after him. "None of that kettle corn stuff."
"I like kettle corn."
"I heard that."
"I know." Jack took a drink of his beer. Certifiable. They were all certifiable.