"Daniel, you dog. Keep this up, you'll have a girl on every planet."
As time has gone on, and I've become more accustomed to the teasing tone that most of Jack's comments to me come wrapped up in, I find he's got this idea about me. He seems to think I'm a bit like a magnet, that's the impression I get - in his opinion, I attract trouble, and women, and sometimes the two together.
Not quite the reputation I was looking to develop here in the SGC.
After all, even months on, with a host of successful missions under my belt, I often still get the feeling that I'm here on sufferance.
Sure, they respect my expertise, my knowledge of ancient languages and cultures, but I'm still the outsider, the civilian - that's driven home to me in countless ways.
I never thought I'd want so desperately to fit in somewhere like I do at the SGC - these people's opinions matter to me, and, if I'm honest with myself, one more than the rest.
Even now as I think back over the time I've known Jack O'Neill, I wonder if I've ever done more than scratch the surface where he is concerned. It's true that we spend quite a bit of time together, even when we're not working, but there's a distance to Jack that I can never quite seem to bridge.
We'll be talking, I'll be trying to feign interest in the hockey game we're watching, and this look will come into his eyes. Often there'll be no warning, no obvious word or phrase that triggered it, but the look itself is one I recognise. I've seen it often enough when I've looked in the mirror.
The only word I can use to describe it is 'desolate' - a word, I know, that conjures up imgaes of ghost towns, birds calling in the deserted streets, dust blowing through the doors of abandoned buildings. Somehow, that word fits the look completely.
When I see that expression, it grabs at my heart, and the words are almost on the tip of my tongue.
How many times have I stopped myself from saying them, or some variation on them?
I lost count months ago.
I want to say "you're not alone" and "I understand what you're going through", but the prospect of what might happen next terrifies me.
I thought I knew what scared was - after all, I've even died a couple of times since Jack and I have known each other, but even the knowledge that I was facing death never scared me as much as the thought of how Jack might react to those simple words.
When I knew I was dying, in those moments before consciousness slipped away, I still had hope - something positive could still happen, it could all still work out. But if those words ever escape me, there's no way back - no sarcophagus can heal the breach that those words could make.
So, I keep my mouth shut, smile and grimace appropriately at Jack's comments, and life rolls on.
Maybe one day....
"I'm talking about Samantha. You just stay away from her, ok?"
The number of times I've been injured on a mission, over the years I've been doing stuff that ranges from crazy right through to idiotic, I've had lots of time to think.
Not that thinking about what's done changes things, I know that, but I've got to hope I can learn from my mistakes. If I'm honest, all I probably do then is go out and make a whole new set.
Still, there's one conversation that runs through my head more often than I would like to admit - Daniel thinks I don't even remember what happened in the control room between us and I've decided not to clue him in.
Don't want Daniel to get his razor-sharp brain working on this little scenario, no way, no how.
It turned so quickly, I think that's what frightens me the most.
There. I said it to myself. I'm frightened by what's going on, what I think has been going on for months, whether Daniel's noticed it or not.
Anyway, this conversation I pretend I don't remember - well, I was a bit confused, I was coming down with the virus, the one that turns you into a neanderthal, but there was enough of my higher brain working to remember it all with appalling clarity.
Isn't that the way? Things you want to remember, they fade and blur, while events you'd rather consign to the background remain crystal-clear. Every word, every facial expression, every action as fresh in your mind as the day it happened.
We were talking about what had happened between me and Carter - I had the bruises to prove that I'd resisted her, bundling her down to the infirmary for treatment.
Was I tempted not to resist? No comment.
Daniel commented on what had happened, a little insincerely for my liking, then innocently said he would go and see if Carter was alright.
My emotions did a complete 360º turn - from contemplating Carter, my hormones raging at the thought of her, protective instincts on over-drive, suddenly something else took their place.
"You just stay away from her."
Well, my only hope is that those six words can be interpreted in two different ways - I wanted Daniel to stay away from Carter as well as Carter to stay away from Daniel.
As the shrinks would probably say, I was conflicted.
Since when did I start feeling possessive of Daniel? And since when did I start thinking of him like that?
I can't deny it to myself, I know that - what's important is how I react as a result, not leaving tell-tale clues behind me for a certain archaeologist to pick up on.
After all, he may come across as being a little other-worldly, a little naive, but no-one I know can put two and two together like Daniel.
So, I have to be careful, watch myself.
Daniel's got enough to worry about at the moment, with this quest he's on to rescue Sha're, the long hours he works when he thinks I don't know what he's up to - the last thing he needs is for me to complicate things for him.
And for myself, too. After all, what I'm feeling is not exactly standard Air Force issue, no matter what the 'don't ask, don't tell' people might say.
Maybe, one day....
This page created by Graculus - last changed 30/4/2000.