And there were a million reasons why this was a Very Bad Idea, the worst thing that could possibly happen between them, but right now Daniel couldn't think of a single one. The logical part of his brain, the part that balanced pros and cons before he did something, seemed to be on extended vacation with no forwarding address.
"This is bad," Jack said, as Daniel opened the fly of his BDU pants and began to tug them down. Jack lifted his hips to accommodate the movement, before dropping back onto the low bed, pants pooled around his ankles now, the tenting of his boxers a contradiction of every word he spoke. "Dumb idea. Dumb."
"You're right," Daniel agreed, his hands resting on either side of Jack's body now, palms itching to slide across warm flesh. "We should stop." He shifted position, leaning forward to suck at the juncture of Jack's neck and shoulder. The sound Jack made didn't sound like he agreed.
Jack's hips bucked; the erection he was sporting felt impressive at close proximity. That was a different sound Jack made as Daniel continued, using his teeth a little now, but it still bore no resemblance to 'stop'.
"What do you want, Jack?"
It took Jack a moment to respond to the question, as if he needed to reassemble his brain cells into some kind of order before he was even able to speak. Of course, the fact that Daniel was currently running one palm down his side, fingers slipping beneath the warm cotton of his boxers, probably didn't help with that.
"I... Jesus, Daniel, you know what I want!"
That was enough. If Daniel waited for more eloquently-phrased permission to fuck Jack O'Neill through the mattress he'd miss this chance by a mile. And it always took a lot of work to get Jack to this point...
Daniel shook his head suddenly as the room spun around him for a moment; it was a feeling like coming up from deep water, sunlight glimpsed far overhead.
Jack's groin was hot and hard against his own. His skin was warm silk beneath Daniel's palm, one small raised scar just below where his thumb was resting a stark contrast. Jack moved restlessly beneath his weight. He leaned back a little without moving his hand, back onto his knees. Jack let go of the bed cover and raised himself to his elbows - his eyes were dark and fathomless, the pupils dilated, and a small smile quirked Jack's mouth.
Daniel's hand slipped a little further down Jack's side, pulling the waist of the boxers askew. The thin material becoming tighter over the head of Jack's erection made the other man hiss with mingled pain and pleasure.
"And you say I talk too much," Daniel said. "Roll over," he continued , sliding Jack's boxers down over his ass as he moved.
Jack was all long lean muscle, none of the lush female curves he'd once been used to caressing in what seemed like another life completely. A thought slipped from Daniel's mental grasp, elusive as a snake sliding into the undergrowth.
There was something more than usually stimulating about doing it like this, still all but fully-clothed, only his erection freed from the button fly of his BDUs in his haste to be inside Jack. Daniel dragged one of the cushions beneath Jack's hips, taking the pressure off his much-complained-about knees, canting the paler skin of his back which seemed even lighter beneath the black t-shirt he still wore.
Daniel's hands moved to their accustomed places, fingers curling round Jack's pelvic bones with the familiarity of slipping into a pair of gloves. They were connected, the two of them, always joined closer than their bodies would soon be joined, part of one another's lives in a way that could never be severed.
Jack was tight, tighter than he remembered, the heat as he breached Jack's body making Daniel strain to hold back, every ounce of self-control required to stop his instinct to thrust from taking over. Sounds echoed around him, sounds Daniel was sure didn't come from him - he watched fascinated as Jack's hands tightened, fisted into the bed cover, Daniel's own fingers tightening into Jack's hips in reflexive echo of that movement.
"Do it," Jack said, again, his voice echoed by the movement of his body, pushing back against Daniel and taking him in deeper. "Fuck me, damn you."
There it was, the permission he'd been looking for earlier, the words Daniel hadn't expected to hear from Jack. They didn't do this, didn't talk about what they did, letting the actions speak for them as they danced around the subject.
He was able to slip one hand between Jack's hip and the cushion, the slickness of Jack's skin now helping Daniel's quest, his fingers circling Jack's cock and eliciting a gasp as Jack eased back onto his knees a little.
The rhythm was almost instinctive; hand and hips moved in counterpoint, Daniel driving into Jack's heated embrace and pulling him closer to the edge with every movement. Now Jack was gasping with every thrust, sweat darkening the black cotton that covered his back. They were close, so close; Jack was teetering on the edge, Daniel was sure of it, even as each of his own breaths sounded ominously loud in his ears.
Jack jerked beneath him then, a wordless groan slipping from his mouth as he reached his climax, taking Daniel along for the ride as his own rhythm faltered a little. Daniel continued to thrust, riding Jack's movement, hand momentarily trapped beneath Jack's body, his fingers still curled around the other man's cock.
Daniel's own climax happened then and he followed it down into a velvet darkness that swirled around him, embraced him utterly and took him under.
"Jack? Can you hear me?"
He'd recognize that voice anywhere; the worried tone was also familiar. His eyes felt like they had lead weights placed on them, but after a moment's thought he was able to open them. A face swam into view, blurred at first but increasingly sharper as long moments passed.
"What hit me?" Jack asked, as he tried to sit up and immediately regretted the decision.
The familiar walls of the SGC's infirmary swooped round him, a wave of nausea threatening to make him more than a little unpleasant company. Daniel had taken a step closer to where Jack lay when he wavered, hands outstretched as if to steady him though the expression on his face was less now worried than it was confused. Jack filed that contradiction away as something to think about later.
"What do you remember?"
That comment was in the running for understatement of the year, but it was the truth. This mission was supposed to be a standard meet-and-greet, had gone to plan at first and then... nothing.
"Me neither." Daniel didn't look at him when he did speak, seemed to be avoiding his gaze in fact, but that wasn't enough for Jack to warrant starting an interrogation. The last thing he needed was Daniel more on edge than he already was. "Apparently we were having dinner with our new friends the Alosians when you started having convulsions."
"I did?" Jack swung his feet down from the bed, wincing at the pull of muscles that had been in one position too long - he ached all over, in muscles he didn't know he had. But at least whatever meal he'd eaten last wasn't threatening to come back for a visit. That had to be good. "That can't be good."
"I don't remember any of that, though," Daniel continued. "According to Sam I started having them too."
The bed was much less comfortable now he was sitting than it had been when he was lying down and that was saying something. Jack shifted his weight slightly, trying to find a more comfortable position, but without much success.
"Good to see you finally awake, colonel," a voice from behind him said. Jack turned his head a little, wincing at the stiffness he felt in his neck. "We were starting to wonder if you'd ever wake up."
Dr Fraiser's professional manner, though allied with her usual smile, made Jack feel a little better already. There wasn't much she couldn't deal with, even if the dealing usually involved large needles. Sacrifices had to be made.
"What's the good word?"
"We're keeping the two of you under observation for the time being," Janet replied, picking up a chart from the end of Daniel's bed and flipping over a couple of pages. She seemed pleased with what she saw there. "So far, so good. No further convulsions or vomiting..."
"Don't ask," Janet said, as she returned the chart to its place. "In fact, be glad you missed it. It looks like you suffered from some kind of ergot poisoning."
"A fungal infection of cereal crops," Daniel said. "Some people think it was responsible for the events leading up to the Salem witch trials."
"It causes convulsions, hallucinations, because the chemicals produced by the infection are alkaloid."
"Meaning they're similar to LSD."
"You mean we had a bad trip?" Jack asked. Janet smiled at that even as Jack could see Daniel was gearing himself up for more questions.
"Twenty-four hours under observation, that's all."
Daniel found himself looking anywhere but at Jack once Janet left them alone again, wondering just what was real about the memories than played in an endless loop through his mind. Except he now knew they weren't memories, didn't he? They were hallucinations of some kind, the product of chemicals and his own twisted subconscious. He knew Jack had to have experienced delusions too, those symptoms were indicative of ergot poisoning, but who knew what went on in Jack O'Neill's mind at the best of times?
He couldn't exactly ask Jack whether or not he'd experienced something similar, since there was really no good answer to that question and not that many good ways to ask it. Just asking the question would let more things slip than Daniel was comfortable with and if he turned out to be the one who was going crazy where one of his teammates was concerned then he really was out of luck in more ways than one.
If he'd been in his right mind he'd have realized that something was not quite right about that encounter - he would have known it could never have happened like that. But he'd been a little too preoccupied by the memory of sex with Jack to take much notice of how they'd got to that point - apparently in his fantasies the two of them had skipped any kind of foreplay and got right down to it. Which was a pleasurable delusion but hardly something that was ever likely to happen. Not that he hadn't fantasized about it along the way, but Jack had never given any indication that he was interested in more than friendship, or if he had then Daniel had missed all the signs completely.
Besides, could Jack really ever be quite as relaxed as that about having sex with another man? While he wasn't as relentlessly macho as some of the people at the SGC, the Marines in particularly being a tough act to follow, he'd always seemed much more interested in women, when he was interested at all. Most of the time Jack seemed to have perfected 'clueless' as a response to any overtures that might be made to him, regardless of their source.
That Jack, the one he'd come to know so well over the years they'd been together on SG-1, didn't quite fit with the Jack who'd all but begged to be fucked in the mental images now running through Daniel's mind. Still he couldn't help being aroused by the memory, no matter whether it was real or not, the possibility alone enough to make him hard.
Daniel's head snapped up at his name, memory and current circumstances clashing together as he tried to remember where they were. The infirmary. With Jack. Right, that was it.
Did that sound casual enough? Daniel looked across to where Jack was sitting, not quite meeting the other man's eyes. He didn't want to arouse Jack's suspicions, make him think something was wrong, otherwise Jack would dog him till he admitted something was going on. And that was a conversation he had no idea how to have.
"How long have we been here?"
"I don't know, Jack," he said, after a moment's consideration of the opportunities that question presented him. "I wasn't awake all that long before you were."
The side room they occupied held their beds, two small cabinets and little else other than a large expanse of gray concrete wall.
"I'm not hungry," Jack said. It wasn't really the non sequitur it seemed. The last thing Daniel remembered before the things he didn't completely want to remember, was sitting down to dinner with their hosts. Before the post-dinner entertainment started, with the two of them convulsing all over the place as the main attraction. "That must mean something."
"And neither of us need to shave," Daniel pointed out, running a hand over his jaw line as he considered that fact.
The whole thing must have happened in a matter of hours, delusions and all - he wasn't completely sure how he felt about that. A little disappointed, maybe. A movement from the corner of his eye drew his attention back to Jack, who had shifted uncomfortably on the bed once more.
For the briefest of moments Daniel considered telling Jack the truth, no matter what the consequences. But try as he might, he couldn't figure out a way to start that conversation, so silence grew between them.
Jack supposed he shouldn't have been surprised at all the different things Daniel could do with his mouth, since he was so good at talking - he'd been inspired by the number of times he'd seen Daniel chewing the end of his pen as well, wondering just how that mobile mouth would feel in closer proximity to something much more responsive. And it looked like he was about to find out, up close and personal.
He'd started by mouthing Jack's erection through the thin cotton of his boxers, making Jack harder than he could remember being for a very long time. Daniel had raised his head then, just looked at him and run his tongue over his lower lip, the familiar gesture getting exactly the response he probably knew it would.
"What do you want, Jack?"
It took a moment for Jack to decide how to answer that question, for the blood to return to his brain enough to form any words. He wanted everything, he'd always wanted everything but had no idea how to let Daniel know, particularly when for the longest time he'd been sure that Daniel was still so wrapped up in Sha're it wouldn't have been right to say anything at all. He couldn't help reacting after Sha're's death, though, just the thought of Ke'ra beating him to the punch enough to make him want to put a bullet in her.
"I... Jesus, Daniel, you know what I want!"
Daniel's smile was seductive, a trace of the innocent and unworldly scholar he'd met in what seemed like another lifetime still lurking there on his face despite everything they'd been through, together and apart.
He slipped back off the bed, kneeling between Jack's outspread legs, as he leaned over and pulled down at the waistband of his boxers with the other. Jack's erection sprang free and Daniel's sheer proximity made him harden a little more as those talented hands helped pull his pants completely out of the way around his thighs. He could have hammered in nails by now, he was sure of that, and Daniel didn't look like he was planning to do something about it as quick as Jack would like.
"Come on," Jack said, wincing at the combination of need and nerves he heard in his voice.
"Patience is a virtue," Daniel replied, the tone of his voice completely at odds with the current situation.
His hands came to rest on Jack's hips, their warmth sending shockwaves through his system. Daniel breathed on the head of Jack's cock; the warm breath made his hips jerk with the sensation. His grip on Jack's hips tightened a little and Jack found himself tensing in anticipation, not wanting to go off like a teenager on his first date the moment Daniel's mouth made contact.
The first touch made him cry out, but with frustration rather than desire as Daniel's tongue licked a heated trail across his stomach, avoiding Jack's erection completely. He was just about to complain when Daniel took him into his mouth with one smooth movement, the heat and suction even better than he could have imagined.
Even as Daniel's hands held down his hips, stopping the reflexive jerk the increased sensations created, a thought slipped through Jack's mind and then disappeared. The sight of Daniel on his knees, head bowed over Jack's erection, that same intensity he'd marveled at when directed at a line of half-indecipherable text now doubly marvelous when focused on making him lose control.
Jack closed his eyes, concentrated on breathing through the sensations; it had been a long time since he'd shot his load like a horny adolescent and he'd be damned if Daniel could make him do it that easily.
Daniel hadn't realized he'd dozed off until he jerked awake again.
Jack didn't seem to have noticed, though, he was still lying on the other bed, his back to Daniel, though he wasn't sure whether Jack was asleep or not. He studied the back of Jack's head, wishing that he could know what was going on inside it. That wasn't the first time Daniel had wished that in the time they'd known one another - Jack could be downright opaque when he wanted to be and most of the time he was hardly someone who wore his heart on his sleeve.
The memories seemed even more real, now, than they had before, even now he knew they were just a delusion brought on by some alien fungus. Except that there was something about them, something that made it difficult for Daniel to believe the events he was remembering hadn't really happened. He couldn't exactly up and ask Jack if they'd had sex, though he could almost picture the expression that question would probably conjure up if he managed to get the words out in one piece.
If those had been true memories, things between him and Jack had gone far beyond what could reasonably be expected from a first encounter - Daniel wasn't exactly the gauche academic some people seemed to think he was, but he had no idea what Jack's history included. For all he knew, Jack had never been involved with another man, which made the likelihood of that kind of encounter even slimmer than before.
It amused Daniel a little to think of himself as the adventurous one, despite the fact that Jack at times seemed to think he needed protecting from himself. If he knew the kind of things Daniel had got up to in college, before archaeology took over his life completely, Jack's eyebrows would hit his hairline in no time at all.
Janet was probably right and they weren't memories, since the passage of time that kind of intimacy would probably require from the two of them wasn't something that seemed to have happened. Daniel rubbed a palm over his chin again, starting to feel the new growth of beard. Fantasies, maybe? Long-buried desires come to vivid life?
"I'm asleep." Jack didn't move for a moment, then seemed to accept the inevitable and rolled over on the bed anyway, so they were facing one another across the room. "What?"
It would have been so much easier talking to the back of Jack's head. Jack was good at a lot of things, though he hid his light under a bushel to say the least, and one of those things was making you believe he knew exactly what you were thinking about. It was unnerving at the best of times, let alone when hot sex with your teammate was something you were trying hard not to think about.
Daniel made himself meet Jack's gaze.
"You know I asked you earlier if you remembered anything?" Daniel began, hoping the words would get easier if he at least started to speak. "I remember things."
He had Jack's attention now; he was sitting up, eyes intent on Daniel, which always unnerved him a little. Somehow he'd always felt much more comfortable with the way the Unas did things.
"I know they're not real memories." He still wasn't sure how to explain it, the not-quite-wrongness of what he'd experienced. It wasn't that he was ashamed of the idea, or of wanting that with Jack, but Daniel wasn't completely sure how Jack would react if he put two and two together. "They can't be."
Jack's eyes moved away, suddenly, an evasive gesture that spoke volumes. Till then he'd been curious, trying to figure out what it was Daniel wasn't saying and suddenly his attitude had changed.
"These 'not real memories'," Jack said, then stopped as if lost for words. The gesture he made instead was an effusive one, all-encompassing enough to take in a multitude of possibilities, but Daniel got the picture.
"Oh." Jack was looking at his feet now. "You too?" Still silence. "That's..."
"Embarrassing?" Jack said, finishing his sentence without looking up. "Imagine how I feel."
"I can," Daniel replied, feeling his face heat a little as he recalled the explicit nature of his own memories, the sense memory of Jack's heat all around him. He paused for a moment, realizing he was making some major assumptions, ones that might get him into a world of trouble if he wasn't sure about their common ground. "Your memories, do they involve someone else? Someone on the team?"
"They might," Jack admitted, as he fiddled with the edge of his t-shirt for a moment. At least Janet hadn't had them forcibly stripped and shoved into those backless hospital gowns like so often happened - that was one small mercy to be extremely grateful for. Daniel stared at the top of Jack's head, going back to his former pursuit of trying to guess what was going on in there. "Did yours?"
Jack looked up and their eyes met. What Daniel saw there told him that there really wasn't much point in pretending, even as he felt his face redden. He'd never thought Jack could read him like a book, no matter what he might say, but this time Daniel was sure he wasn't that hard to decipher.
"Whatever happened to 'don't ask, don't tell'?"
All Daniel could hope was that his voice didn't shake too much when he asked that question. He was sure there was a certain amount of damage control still possible, even at this late stage in the game.
The expression on Jack's face was unreadable even as his eyes told another story.
It wasn't fair to take advantage of Daniel this way, even if it was entertaining while they waited out their Janet-enforced confinement. The things he remembered doing, being involved in, had been entertaining too even if they weren't real. If the real Daniel was half as flexible and open-minded as the one he remembered sucking him off then maybe he was really missing out on something special? Jack wasn't sure whether he should be relieved or disappointed at the realization they couldn't have done what he remembered. Odd though, that the two of them should experience something so similar.
The expression on Daniel's face, let alone the lobster impersonation he was currently threatening to do if Jack asked one question too many, didn't leave a great deal to the imagination either. He didn't have to be a rocket scientist like Carter to put two and two together - all he wondered now was how explicit those false memories of Daniel's were. The look on his face when he'd even hinted at them gave Jack the answer to that question as well.
"If they're not real memories," Jack said, tamping down on the temptation to tease Daniel a little more, for now at least, "then what are they?"
"Some form of hallucination?" Daniel suggested. "You heard what Janet said."
"A shared hallucination?"
That was a stab in the dark, but the way Daniel reacted told him it was an accurate one. What he remembered didn't bother him that much, but then he'd always been pretty thick-skinned.
"That's kind of bizarre." Daniel's eyes went straight to the door as if he expected it to open. It stayed closed. He looked back at Jack. "Or not."
"We deal with bizarre on a daily basis, remember?" Jack said, getting up from where he was sitting.
He could feel Daniel watching him as he crossed the room and tried not to wonder just what his other self had been doing in Daniel's fantasy. Because that's what these memories had to be, fantasies of some kind. In Daniel's case, whatever outlandish thing that genius brain had cooked up had to be something special to make Daniel blush that way. Then again Jack couldn't say he'd ever given much thought to the idea of Daniel sucking him off before now, but now he came to consider it there was a lot to be said for the idea.
Jack peered out of the door but saw nobody around. He hadn't wanted much of an audience anyway, since this conversation looked like being bad enough for just the two of them.
"The locals didn't give you any idea they were up to something?" Jack asked, as he returned to his bed. He didn't want to get back in, but the room wasn't exactly well-stocked with alternatives, so ended up perching on its edge.
"Yes, Jack," Daniel said, having apparently regained his composure. "They warned me they were going to poison us both and then play with our minds but I just thought they were joking."
"And people say I'm the sarcastic one of the team."
"It wasn't deliberate," Daniel continued. "I can't see how the Alosians would take that kind of risk."
In the end, Jack was glad of the excuse his bladder gave him to get away from the conversation he'd been having with Daniel. The one virtue of this side room, other than its isolation from the bustle of the main infirmary, was that it had a small bathroom attached and Jack headed for it gratefully.
If only he could stop his mind turning over the images of Daniel on his knees as easily as he could deal with this particular need.
When he headed back out to the room, he could see Daniel was still where he'd left him, sitting on one of the beds and looking like he didn't know which way was up - the expression looked strange on Daniel's face and Jack wasn't sure he liked seeing it there. Not that he knew what to say to get rid of it, so the uncomfortable feeling it gave him wasn't likely to be going away any time soon.
Their day was punctuated by meals and the long-expected appearance of the rest of their team.
Sam was full of news about how the ergot they'd been infected with was nothing like anyone in the botany section had ever seen before and it took Jack reminding her that both of them had experienced its effects up close and personal in a variety of ways to take the edge off her enjoyment of that news. Teal'c had been terse, as usual, but had eventually admitted to threatening the Alosian head man with serious harm if the two of them did not recover. Business as usual, really.
When they left, having been persuaded that smuggling in some decent food later on would earn both of them good reports from their CO, the silence they left behind them was almost tangible.
"What happens now?" Daniel asked, more to break the silence between him and Jack than because he wanted to start up that conversation again. Jack didn't even look up from the fishing magazine Teal'c had brought him. "I mean, those hallucinations..."
"Let's not talk about it, okay?" Jack turned a page. He was clearly hoping that would make it apparent he had no interest in pursuing the subject.
"Ignoring the facts won't make them go away," Daniel continued. He ought to shut up, he knew that he should, but there was something about Jack's behavior that made him want to keep pushing, need to keep pushing no matter what. "You know that."
"So what if I do?" Jack asked, looking away from the magazine if only to glare at Daniel. "What if I want to ignore them? Like I want to get out of here." He looked back at the magazine again, the movement clearly designed to show Daniel this conversation was over.
Daniel closed his eyes, trying to think of nothing in particular; the images of Jack, the sense memory of warm cloth and warmer skin haunted him. It wasn't real, it had never been real, but right at that moment it was the only thing he could think about.
Janet had been as good as her word, letting them out of the infirmary just over a day after Jack had woken up. She'd expressed herself pleased with their current conditions and Jack had been more than happy to get out of there, heading straight home for beer and his own bed, much more comfortable than the one in the infirmary.
He didn't know where Daniel had gone and told himself he was happy not to know. It felt as though Daniel had been watching him constantly the past couple of hours - every time Jack looked up, Daniel would look away, his face suddenly a picture of innocence. There was no way he was going to admit to Daniel what he'd imagined, though - that was never going to happen. He kept telling himself it was bad enough that he remembered it and he’d believe it if it wasn't for the guilty certainty Jack had that those particular mental images would be getting a work out next time he needed a little 'assistance'.
He didn't see Daniel again till they were together in the briefing room and it seemed as though Daniel was now ignoring him. Or at least trying to pretend he and Jack hadn't been stuck in the infirmary together long enough to almost have a conversation that never needed to happen in the first place.
Jack took his customary seat. He wasn't really listening to what Hammond was saying, since he was trying to ignore the way Daniel was playing with his pen, but the last few words the general spoke drew Jack's attention.
"Back to Alosia, sir?" he asked. "Is that a good idea?"
"The head man has requested your presence, Colonel," Hammond said, in a tone that clearly said this was an order, not a request. "And Dr. Jackson of course."
"Of course," Jack echoed, certain he didn't like the sound of this already.
"They want to be sure you're okay," Carter said.
"In fact, they made it a condition of the treaty we wanted them to sign." That was Daniel, giving Jack a clear picture of just what he'd been up to in the time Jack was relaxing at home. It figured, really. "It sounds like they were really concerned.
"About what Teal'c might have planned, maybe." Jack glanced across at Teal'c, who was giving him a look he knew from long acquaintance to be 'slightly annoyed'. "No offence, big guy."
"None taken, O'Neill."
"You leave in one hour, SG-1," Hammond said, signaling that the discussion was over.
The other side of the Stargate, the Alosians were as effusive as they'd been the first time their visitors from Earth had joined them, even if Daniel detected an undercurrent of concern this time around. Teal'c's silent presence at his back didn't help matters much, though he was sure the headman looked relieved to discover that their illness had been short-lived.
"You will drink with us?" Out of the corner of his eye, Daniel caught the expression on Jack's face at the offer. He had to hand it to Jack, though, he'd got a little more diplomatic since they'd first started doing this kind of mission; the worried look disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. "In honor of your visit."
"Of course," Daniel said. He took the cup, giving the contents a surreptitious examination while pretending to examine the workmanship of the cup itself. It looked like wine of some kind. "To our friendship." It was wine, that was certain, with a bitter aftertaste that was almost familiar.
"Daniel?" Jack's voice was closer to his ear than he expected and it took an effort for Daniel not to react to the proximity. "Are you sure that was a good idea?"
"We don't want to be rude," Daniel replied, equally quietly, without turning his head. He handed the cup back to the headman, who smiled widely at him. "And now, we have much to discuss..."
They followed the headman into the building they'd visited before, passing the doorway into the ornate dining room as they headed down the corridor towards the back of the structure. The headman held the door open, allowing both Daniel and Jack to pass him before he followed them in.
"The room is small," he said, apologetically. "Perhaps the others can wait outside?"
Jack eyed the headman for a moment before he nodded. They couldn't hear Carter and Teal'c walk back down the corridor to the entrance, since their boots were silent on the well-worn stone, but they could tell the three of them were alone now.
"I am glad to see you are both well," the headman continued. "We did not think your reaction would be so... violent."
"You knew what was going to happen?" Jack hadn't raised his voice, but the menace in his tone was clear enough to make the headman take an abortive half-step towards the door. "We could have died!"
"No, Daniel. You know I'm right."
"At least give him the chance to explain," Daniel said. "I get the feeling that's why he brought us in here."
The headman nodded, his eyes still on Jack in readiness to respond to any sudden movement.
"Go on, then," Jack said. "Explain."
Jack had relaxed a little but it was clear he'd moved to position himself between the Alosian and the single exit from the room. His stance spoke volumes about what might happen if he wasn't happy with the explanation he got - when he put his mind to it, Teal'c had nothing on Jack where menace was concerned.
"We did not mean you harm," the headman said. "The potion does not harm those who drink it, but shows them what is meant to be. It was necessary."
"Meant to be?" Jack said. "What the hell do you mean by that?"
"Necessary?" Daniel asked, moving to stand between the headman and Jack, just in case. He glanced over his shoulder and was pleased to see Jack hadn't moved, despite the obvious provocation. "Why was it necessary?"
"So that we could decide whether to make alliance with you. The potion gives true seeing."
"True..." Daniel paused, considering that. "You use it for religious purposes? To foretell the future?"
"It has always been so."
"It was toxic to us," Daniel said. "Harmful," he continued, when it was clear the headman had no idea what he meant by what he'd said before.
"But you dreamed, yes?"
Daniel found himself glancing at Jack once more. They'd dreamed, that was certain, dreams neither of them would forget in a hurry if the heavy hints Jack had dropped were anything to go by.
"Did you dream of another?" the headman asked. "That dream is especially blessed." Jack's snort at that statement was enough to tell Daniel what he thought.
"I've been there," he said. "All this 'meant to be' doesn't mean squat." He looked at Daniel when he spoke - he wasn't sure whether Jack was ignoring the headman deliberately or just didn't care any more. "Don't tell me you're swallowing this crap?"
"You know rituals usually have something of significance behind them, even if that something has now been lost," Daniel began, knowing even as he spoke that the words would irritate Jack more than they answered his question. He was irritated too, though, by Jack's refusal to admit that something beyond the ordinary was going on.
"I've been there," Jack said again. "Trust me, 'meant to be' doesn't hold much water when it comes down to it."
He couldn't forget that either, remembering as he did the first time he'd met Jack, the lack of life that had been in his eyes even as he'd committed himself to their first mission to Abydos. Even when things had been at their worst since then, and that had been more times than Daniel cared to think about, he'd never seen that kind of despair again and hoped he never would.
"You dreamed of one another!" That was the headman, his face delighted even as Jack turned to glower at him again. "The alliance will be signed. You are people we can trust."
Daniel couldn't quite see how the headman had gone from one conclusion to the other, not while his head was still spinning with this unexpected confirmation of what he'd always suspected. Jack's face gave little away but he wouldn't be all but snarling at the Alosian if his words hadn't struck some nerve.
"Could you give us a moment?" Daniel asked, his hand resting on the headman's sleeve as he escorted him to the door, past Jack and out into the corridor. The door closed behind him, leaving the two of them alone again. "So, is there something you want to tell me, Jack?" he continued.
"So he's right, so what?" Jack's tone was flippant but Daniel had known him too long to be taken in by a glib response. "'Meant to be', my ass."
"You know this isn't over, don't you?"
"And you know I'm not that kind of guy, don't you?" Jack asked, meeting Daniel's eyes this time. The flippancy was gone from his voice, replaced by a quiet certainty. "I admit I might have thought some stuff but that doesn't mean I've ever..."
"It's okay," Daniel said, interrupting Jack before he dug himself too deep a hole to ever get out of. He couldn't help the smile he knew was growing on his face, even at those hesitant words. "Trust me, it's going to be okay."