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Sam moved silently through the trees. It was training, she supposed, since there was no need for silence. They were the second team to visit the planet, brought in when the writing on the nearby ruins had eluded SG-6's linguist. Daniel had, of course, been sent to figure it out. Daniel Jackson, Super Linguist. Smiling, she made a mental note to buy him a red cape for his next birthday or maybe just for fun.
It was Daniel's fault she was wandering through the trees in the darkness. The four of them were sharing a tent, and Daniel had woken her when he was cajoling the Colonel into going outside with him. He had grabbed both of their sleeping bags and dragged the Colonel out of the tent, where he no doubt intended to remove whatever it was the Colonel had shoved up his ass. She'd seen Jack O'Neill exhausted, injured, and scared, but she'd never seen him like this. Since the beginning of the mission Jack had been, well, an asshole. He hadn't interacted with any of them except to snap out orders. What should have been a relaxing mission on a lovely planet with a nice, moderate climate had become a trial.
She was glad Daniel had hauled the Colonel off for a little attitude adjustment. She was less glad that he had awakened her in the process, making it impossible to ignore her full bladder and sending her out of her warm sleeping bag to the latrine. Although she couldn't deny that the night was beautiful. She drew in a deep breath and looked up at the branches overhead. They should have seemed sinister in the moonlight. Instead, they seemed welcoming, even reassuring.
A quiet laugh brought a smile to her lips. Daniel's treatment must be working if the Colonel was laughing. She moved in the direction the sound had come from. It was silly and unnecessary, but she couldn't resist the urge to check up on them.
She spotted them easily. They were in the middle of a small clearing, lying on top of their sleeping bags and looking up at the sky. The undergrowth was thick enough to hide her from their view and Sam kept behind it, not wanting to interrupt.
The Colonel pointed at the sky and Daniel shifted so that his head was close to Jack's. "I see it," he said.
The Colonel turned his head so that he was looking at Daniel. "You're humoring me, aren't you?"
"No, I see it." Daniel pointed at the sky. "That's the tail, right?"
"Yeah. So what do you see?"
Daniel moved his hand. "There. That's the glyph for boat."
"Hieroglyphics? Come on, you can do better than that."
"Okay." Daniel studied the sky, and then pointed. "There. A cow."
Jack tilted his head. "A cow?"
"You have to use your imagination."
Jack chuckled, but the sound faded quickly. "This was one of Charlie's favorite games. We used to play it on camping trips."
"What did he see?" Daniel asked.
"Shapes, animals, superheroes. You name it, he saw it."
"Sounds like he had a good imagination."
"Yeah." Jack was quiet for a moment. "He'd have liked you."
"I'm sure I would have liked him too. Assuming he wasn't anything like you."
"Cause then you would've adored him."
Sam waited for the sarcastic rejoinder, but instead Daniel was quiet. Then he said softly, "Yes, I would have."
The Colonel didn't say anything and the two of them lay there for several minutes, looking up at the sky. Sam knew she should go, but something held her in place. The Colonel was full of bravado and humor, both of which he used to keep people at arms length. He rarely let anyone close, rarely talked about anything that mattered. Seeing him like this, open, willing to share, it made her want more.
"Do you ever think about what our lives would have been like?" The Colonel asked, still looking up at the sky.
"If they hadn't died?"
"Sometimes," Daniel said, rolling onto his side and lifting himself up so that he was looking down at Jack. "Not often. This is my life. It's not second best, or second choice. You're not second best."
Jack didn't say anything and Sam couldn't see his face well enough to decipher his expression. At last he spoke, "I'm sorry."
"For what? Wishing your son was alive?" Daniel's voice was gentle, understanding in a way only Daniel could be.
"It hurts." It was more of an admission than Sam had ever heard the Colonel make.
"The only time it stops is when I'm with you."
Sam could only echo Daniel's reaction. To hear that you made someone's pain stop, that you made Jack's pain stop…
"Please." It was said in a tone Sam had never heard from the Colonel, a tone she hadn't ever expected to hear from him. The Colonel didn't plead, didn't ask. He wasn't raw and exposed, not ever, not like this.
"Anything," Daniel said, his voice rough with tenderness, "Anything for you."
She should leave. Sam knew this. What was happening between her CO and her friend was none of her business. She remained rooted in place, eyes widening as she watched Daniel lean down and kiss the Colonel. The Colonel wrapped his arms around Daniel, pulling him close, and his hands began stroking Daniel's back.
There were noises, the soft sounds of two people kissing, and tiny gasps. The Colonel's hands slid under Daniel's shirt.
Daniel shifted so that he was lying on top of the Colonel. She couldn't see what he was doing, but the Colonel's groan made it clear that he was enjoying it.
The Colonel pulled Daniel's shirt up and Daniel stopped whatever it was he was doing long enough for Jack to pull it over his head. Daniel resumed his previous activity while Jack caressed his back and shoulders.
Sam swallowed. She was watching the Colonel touch someone else, touch Daniel. She wondered what it felt like to have those strong, callused hands moving over you. She wondered if his touch was firm or light and how long they'd been together. Did the Colonel know Daniel's body, its reactions and sensitive places, or was he still exploring, still learning?
They resumed kissing and the Colonel rolled them so he was on top. She watched his hips as he moved against Daniel, causing her friend to gasp.
It was Daniel's turn to remove clothing and he pulled Jack's shirt up and off with practiced ease, letting it fall to the ground beside them.
The Colonel's face was buried in Daniel's neck and Daniel seemed to be arching into him.
Jack slid downward, kissing or licking Daniel's chest; Sam couldn't tell which. He reached a nipple and Daniel let out a soft moan, burying his hands in the Colonel's hair. After a few moments Jack switched to the other side, bringing his hand up to caress the freed nipple. Daniel was making a low, almost whimpering sound. Apparently, he liked having his nipples sucked.
Sam spun around and sucked in a breath. Daniel liked getting his nipples sucked. She should not know this, not about a teammate. Except the Colonel knew it. He shouldn't know it either, but he did. He knew other stuff too, like how Daniel kissed and how Daniel tasted. What kind of blowjobs he liked and what kind he gave. She wondered if Jack knew what it was like to fuck him and the malicious tone of her own thoughts brought her up short.
She wanted it to be her. She wanted to be the one on the ground with Jack over her, wanted to be the one he talked to, the one he confided in, the one who got to be close to Jack O'Neill. She had imagined it so many times, the way his hands would feel on her skin, his kiss, the sound he'd make when she took his cock into her mouth for the first time, the way he'd move inside her.
Sam had imagined other things, too, like how it would feel to sleep beside him, the way he'd look and sound when he talked about all of the things he kept so carefully hidden, the ways in which she would comfort him.
They were a lot like the ways in which Daniel was comforting him.
Sam pulled in another breath. She should go. Spying like this, it was wrong, unconscionable. It wasn't as if she'd ever really believed her imaginings would come true. She was too military, too much like Jack. Or maybe too much like Sara.
Or not enough like Daniel.
Jack loved her. She knew he did. But what he needed she couldn't give him. She was a grown woman; she could accept that. It would stop hurting, eventually.
Sam closed her eyes. Jack, she answered silently. She took a step forward, away from the Colonel and Daniel, but she couldn't resist a look back. Jack. She wanted to see him, wanted to know how he looked, how he sounded, even if she didn't have the right.
Turning slowly, she moved back to where she had been. They were both naked now. Jack was on his back and Daniel was beside him, resting on one arm, stroking Jack's cock with his free hand. Sam bit her lip to keep from moaning.
Jack reached down and took hold of Daniel's hand, drawing it away from his cock to his lips. He slid two of Daniel's fingers into his mouth and Daniel groaned. His eyes were wide as he watched his own fingers moving in and out of Jack's mouth. After a few minutes, Jack guided Daniel's hand downward, between his legs.
Sam couldn't move. She was riveted by the sight of the man she desired parting his legs, silently asking another man to touch him, to penetrate him.
Daniel's fingers slipped inside.
Daniel leaned down, kissing Jack as he slowly moved his fingers in and out. Jack drew his legs up, placing his feet flat on the sleeping bag and lifting his hips in time with Daniel's movements.
It was the sexiest thing Sam had ever seen.
Daniel drew back, breaking their kiss, and Jack raised a hand to cup his cheek. Daniel leaned into the touch, and then pressed a kiss to Jack's palm. He moved, settling between Jack's legs, his back to Sam, blocking her view.
"Love touching you," Daniel said so quietly that Sam almost couldn't hear him. "Feeling you, seeing you like this. So open."
His words cut into her. She would never know Jack like that.
Daniel leaned down and Sam didn't need the telltale movements of his shoulder and arm or the bobbing motions of his head to know what he was doing. She could see it in her mind, Daniel's mouth and the Colonel's cock. The sounds didn't help, Jack's whimpering groans, the subtle slurping…
She didn't know how long it continued, how long she watched, mesmerized by the muscles in Daniel's shoulder, the bobbing of his head. She resisted the urge to slide her hand into her pants. She felt dirty enough as it was.
Jack cried out and Daniel stopped moving. Sam wished she could see Jack's face more clearly, but knew it was probably better that she couldn't.
Daniel shifted, moving up to lie beside Jack, his head on Jack's shoulder. They shared a brief kiss.
"My turn," Jack said.
"No need. I, uh, came when you did. No idea how we're going to explain the stain on the sleeping bag."
Jack chuckled softly. "We'll think of something."
They fell silent and Sam tried to collect herself. She needed to get her emotions under control and leave before she was caught. She drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, repeating the action several times before taking a step away.
Jack's voice stopped her. "I forgot." The pain in those two words cut her to the quick. "When Hammond told me the mission schedule, I didn't think, didn't remember. I forgot Charlie's birthday."
"No you didn't," Daniel said gently. "You just didn't remember at that moment."
"But I'm not there. I'm here, light years away."
Sam didn't turn back, didn't look. Hearing his pain hurt enough, she didn't want to see it.
"Charlie knows you love him, Jack. He always knew."
Jack didn't answer and Daniel continued, his voice still gentle, but urgent as if he was willing Jack to believe him. "I know he knew. He knew the same way I do. He saw it every time you smiled at him, felt it every time you hugged him."
"I wasn't there, not like I should have been."
"After my parents died, I thought that if I had been better behaved, less disobedient…"
"You were a kid."
"And you were an adult, but Charlie wasn't the only person who needed you. You had duties, responsibilities."
"I wasn't there," Jack repeated, but there was less conviction in his words and more pain.
She didn't need to look to know that Daniel was holding him, comforting him, being what she couldn't. And she loved Jack enough to be glad that he wasn't alone.
Moving quietly, she made her way back to the tent. She wondered if Teal'c knew and what he thought. She wondered how long it would be before the image of Jack on his back with Daniel's fingers in him left her. She wondered how she'd look at them in the morning without blushing.
She wondered when it would stop hurting.