Old Dog, New Tricksby devra
With so many things wrong with this scenario, Daniel was unsure of where to begin. First and foremost, he hadn't gotten any sleep for almost seventy-two hours. He'd stepped through the wormhole after assisting SG-12 with some sticky negotiations, and barely had time for a shower, post-mission physical and changed to civvies before jumping into a crowded car, filled with SG-1, including Vala, on their way to a military transport to attend a "smile and kiss ass reception" in Washington. He started to yawn and embarrassed, buried it into his shoulder.
Vala squished even closer to him, reached up and patted her left shoulder in an invitation. "It'll be no inconvenience if you want to rest your head right here, darling."
"No thanks," he snarled. Sticking his hands under his glasses, Daniel furiously rubbed at his gritty eyes.
"I hope this teaches you not to stay up all night." Vala lightly patted his knee.
"Please," Daniel pleaded. "Don't take this the wrong way, but could you just shut up?"
"I'm so glad that you and I have never spent the night together."
"We really did spend the night together, remember, when we used the communication device?"
"That doesn't count, because they really weren't us." Vala preened, proudly smoothing down the creases in her new pants. "Okay, they really were us, but now that I think of it, you were quite cranky there as well. If this a permanent personality trait—"
"I do believe that Daniel Jackson has requested silence on your part."
"See?" Vala said jabbing at the air in front of her. "Now why can't you be as polite as Teal'c, Daniel? Silence sounds much better than shut up, don't you agree?"
Defeated, he just nodded.
* * *
Springtime in Colorado had made an appearance during the three days he'd been offworld, which prompted him to sneeze the second he stepped foot out of the car and onto the tarmac.
Sam flung an arm around his shoulder and pulled him close. "You packed your antihistamines, right?"
He thought for a moment, kicking himself that he hadn't even had a chance to take a pill before being dragged to the car. Toothbrush. Toothpaste. Deodorant—Daniel ran a mental visual of himself packing before being called offworld, stopping when he saw his hand stuff a new blister pack into a side zipper pouch of his suitcase. He'd perfected organizing a backpack over the years, but suitcases? He'd find things stuck in every nook and cranny from previous trips. "Yeah. They're in my luggage, though." Daniel sneezed again.
Vala appeared on the other side of him, shoving a tissue under his nose. "I think you might need this, sweetie."
* * *
All it took was a rough airplane ride for Daniel to appreciate the smoothness of 'gate travel. He jumped and grabbed Vala's fingers as she expeditiously worked on imbedding her nails though his jeans. "Ow," he whined, plopping her hand back into her lap.
"Are you sure this mode of transportation is *safe*?" She eeped in alarm, grabbing his arm as the plane dropped.
"Turbulence. Nothing to worry about." Mitchell shuffled the cards in his hands. "Now let Jackson sleep, otherwise he's going to be pissy and cranky and ruin this party for all of us."
"Not pissy." Daniel yawned, leaning his head against the window. "Only cranky."
The four passed the time by playing cards while he drifted, skirting sleep, jerking awake every time the plane pitched.
* * *
He managed to snatch onto and enjoy twenty minutes of uninterrupted sleep in the car from the airport to the hotel.
"Rise and shine, Jackson." Mitchell tugged on his shirt, encouraging him to slide along the bench seat and out the opened car door.
"Awake. I'm awake." Daniel lifted his head from his resting place, and it wasn't until he opened his eyes, that he realized he'd been using Teal'c's shoulder as a pillow. Wiping crusted drool from the corner of his mouth, he tried to ignore the heat of blush. "Sorry about that." Using his hand, he attempted to sop up any extra moisture.
"There is no need to worry. The label of the shirt states—"
"Drool and wear, yeah, we know. Move your ass, Jackson." Cameron awkwardly leaned back in through the open door and made a show of glancing at his watch. "Based on my calculations, if we time this right, you'll be able to grab about two hours of zzz's before tonight's gala." He tapped his watch. "Tick. Tock. Time's a wastin'."
* * *
Vala stood next to him in the mirror-enclosed elevator. "You look like crap, Daniel." She flipped her hair over her shoulder, turned around and examined herself with the aid of the mirrors. "While I, on the other hand—"
It was hard for Daniel *not* to spare a glance at Vala or any of his other teammates as their reflections bounced sickeningly at him from all angles. Begrudgingly, Daniel had to admit Vala was right. They look well rested and chipper, while he, on the other hand, from every single angle, looked tired, drawn and old. He backed into the corner of the elevator and yawned. What happened to the Daniel Jackson who could survive on little or no sleep with only an endless supply of coffee keeping him coherent? Daniel yawned again, trying to ignore four solicitous, sympathetic Sams gazing at him in concern. He gave her a thumb's up and winked at her, actions which were lost when the elevator doors opened just as Mitchell was leaning forward to pick a speck of something from between his front teeth.
"Damn!" Mitchell walked backwards through the opened doors, baring a mouthful of teeth at Sam and Vala. "See anything?"
Vala leaned into Mitchell's space as she walked forward, closely examining the man's pearly whites. Sam focused her attention on the room numbers and Teal'c stayed glued to Daniel's side.
"There. Right there." Vala pointed at Mitchell's front tooth. "Looks like one of those black things from the bagel—"
Mitchell sucked at the spot indicated. "Poppy seed." He used his tongue to swipe across his teeth. "Better?"
* * *
He didn't care who got which bed, which room or the bed closest to the bathroom. Daniel couldn't have cared that they were hungry or that some of Sam's luggage ended up in their room. All he wanted was a bed, pillow and one hundred and twenty minutes of uninterrupted shuteye.
Daniel picked the bed closest to where he was standing, toed off his shoes, crawled up the mattress, stuck his glasses on the nightstand then closed his eyes.
* * *
Daniel moaned. His dream was so real that he could actually smell the coffee he was teasingly being tortured with. "Please." Reaching out, he met just empty air and turned over, frustrated.
"Oh no, you don't, Jackson."
Daniel opened one eye. Mitchell was standing over him, a white bag in one hand, a cup of Starbuck's in his other, wearing his dress uniform pants but no shirt. "Don't what?"
"Go back to sleep. You had a two hour nap. I have in my hand a cup of the strongest Starbuck's coffee. Sam made them put in something like three shots of espresso and Vala picked out some decadent chocolate pastry."
Daniel reached out for the items. "Hey," he growled when Mitchell stepped away from the bed and put the bag and the coffee on the tiny table by the window.
"I'm just letting you know, Teal'c's already waiting. Watching some bad boy cop show on TV." Mitchell pulled out one of the chairs. "Have your shot of caffeine, your chocolate fix—"
"I'll be ready on time."
Mitchell laughed. "Sam says you're never on time."
* * *
Daniel withstood the indignantly of Sam adjusting his bow tie. "Why did you tell Mitchell I'm always late?"
"Because you are. Eh." She silenced him with her index finger. "Just the mere mention of a meeting in Washington and your time becomes skewed, Daniel, admit it. All one has to do is show you a tux…"
Vala appeared by his side, linking her arm through his. "Late is fine. All the important people make a grand entrance."
* * *
Daniel tried not to laugh when Mitchell hummed an off key rendition of "I Feel Pretty," as Vala strutted around the elevator, running her hands up and down her tightly fitted gown.
"Vala." Daniel pulled her away from the opening doors, pretending not to see the ass or finger waggle she gave to the middle-aged couple just entering the elevator.
"What?" she hissed loudly, as Daniel tightened his hold on her forearm. "I'm just being friendly."
Teal'c stood in front of Vala, effectively cutting off the balding man's ogling.
"The dress," Daniel whispered. "Where did you get the dress?"
"I look great in it, don't I?" Vala leaned around Daniel, who tried to ignore her bound breasts overflowing onto his tux jacket, but he didn't miss the conspiratorial smile she gave to Sam, who turned and began to fixate on her reflection in the elevator walls.
"Sam got you the dress?"
"Of course not, silly." Vala playfully slapped his arm. "Sam showed me how to shop online. *You* actually bought me the dress. I used your—what's that called again, Sam?"
"American Express," she said with an apologetic smile.
As Daniel exited the elevator, the middle-aged man tugged on his tuxedo jacket. "She bought that dress with your American Express?" The man closed his eyes and sighed orgasmically, totally ignoring his dour faced wife. "Money well spent, mister, thank you."
* * *
"So no one ever answered me." Vala wiggled closer to Daniel in the back seat of the limo, who in turned moved closer to the window. "How does everyone like my dress?"
"My dress," Daniel snarled.
"Not your color, Jackson."
"Why?" Vala inquired. "The blue is a perfect match for his eyes."
"Indeed, you are correct—"
"Et tu, Teal'c?"
"I was not implying that you should wear the dress, Daniel Jackson, I was merely agreeing the color is a perfect match for your eyes."
Miserably, Daniel wondered if the driver would enjoy some company behind the soundproof glass barrier.
Daniel hung back when they arrived at their destination. He snagged Sam's arm. "Be afraid," he whispered into her ear. "Be very, very afraid because I want to know how she managed to get her hands on my credit card."
* * *
Daniel stopped the first waiter he saw, grabbed a glass of champagne, and promptly lost sight of his companions in the crowd.
"Was it intentional that Vala's dress color matches your eyes?"
"If you're asking if we went shopping together," Daniel said, turning to face Jack, "that's a matter of opinion. On line. I'm sure it was my computer. My American Express card, does that constitute shopping together?"
"In today's world, yeah, that's shopping together." His gaze raked over Daniel. "You look exhausted."
"Tired. Not exhausted. I took a nap." Daniel raised his glass in a salute as he permitted his own gaze to drink in Jack and his dress uniform. "You clean up quite nicely, General."
"Daniel! There you are. I thought I'd lost you." Vala stopped dead in her tracks, a lascivious, wicked grin taking over her concern as she stuck out her hand in greeting. "I'm Vala. Vala Mal Doran. And you're—" She looked eagerly towards Daniel for an introduction.
"Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. Vala Mal Doran." Daniel stepped back to watch the show. Jack had seen photos of Vala, but never had had the pleasure of meeting her. In person. Larger than life.
"Brigadier General O'Neill." She looked at Daniel and smiled. "So is this the *Jack* everyone's always talking about?"
"Used to run the SGC. Leader of SG-1. Yeah, that's me." Jack's grinned smugly.
"I can certainly see why you're a topic of conversation," Vala purred, latching onto his arm as she stroked his stars. "Daniel doesn't have these."
"Daniel doesn't get these, Vala, because he's just a civilian."
"Just, Jack?" Daniel wagged his eyebrows. "Just?"
"Not military. Daniel's not military," Jack answered with a glare. "And what do you mean Daniel's always talking about me?"
Vala pushed aside Jack's question with a wave of her hand and proceeded forward with her own agenda. "You mean Daniel doesn't have one of these magnificent outfits in his closet?"
"No, sadly enough, I don't."
"Help me," Jack mouthed as Vala walked behind him, examining how well the jacket fit over his rear.
Daniel finished his drink and exchanged it for another glass from a passing tray, then handed it to Jack. "I think you're going to need this."
"Where are you going, Daniel?" Jack took the drink, and though his voice didn't crack, his eyes widened in panic.
"Mingle. I'm going to mingle. Isn't that what one is required to do at these command performances? And Jack—" he winked. "A word to the wise—never let them see you sweat."
* * *
Jack made the rounds with a smile pasted on his face. SG-1 hadn't been thrilled to discover they'd been separated, each placed at different tables, but, as always, adaptability was their strongest point. Carter gave him a look of annoyance, barely acknowledging his disruption, engaged in an incomprehensible conversation with a geeky looking scientist.
Mitchell and the men at his table were deep into the merits of this year's football players, while their wives looked bored out of skulls. Teal'c had the opposite effect; the men were drooling in boredom while Teal'c and the wives were discussing Oprah versus Jerry Springer. Vala, Jack decided, could draw even a dead person into conversation, as Jack observed even the sourest faced military big wigs at her table smiling.
He watched Daniel before approaching him, and while he wasn't being rude, strangely enough he wasn't speaking unless he was being spoken to. Jack managed a step towards Daniel's table before being waylaid by the President's aide, informing him that dinner was being served and his presence was requested.
* * *
From Jack's vantage point, he had a bird's eye view of every single member of SG-1, and while he nodded at all the right places when the President and the dignitaries spoke, Jack's gaze slid around the room, watching their sixes.
Daniel stood, nodded to the people sitting around his table and hurriedly left the ballroom. Jack finished chewing then washed his last mouthful down with a gulp of water. "Excuse me." Jack smiled solicitously as he placed his napkin to the side of his empty plate. "Duty calls."
Even though he hadn't left that far behind Daniel, the ante room and adjoining hallway was empty. Jack paused, assessed the situation then made a hard left down the hallway, followed by an immediate right. Bingo.
"Daniel?" Even in the dimly lit hallway, there was no mistaking Daniel's distress. He was standing spread eagle against the wall, as if waiting to be searched by a police officer, head bent between his shoulders. His wheezes were loud enough to kick Jack's concern into overdrive.
"Bad enough you looked like crap, now you sound like crap," he said on approach.
Daniel turned his face and smirked at Jack. "Flowers. Table," he gasped. Coughed, then continued, pausing for breath every few words. "Add to that…" Daniel cleared his throat. "Two heavily perfumed women book ending me."
"And you're in a hallway because—"
"I needed to—" Daniel swallowed.
"Puke? You do look sorta green." He squinted in the poorly lit hallway, then grabbed Daniel's arm and tugged him away from the wall. "The bathroom's around—"
"Not. Puke. Breathe."
"Outside. Outside is this way—"
"Front lobby. Flowers. Spring. Bad idea."
"What would be a good idea?" Tenderly, Jack pushed the hairs stuck to Daniel's sweaty forehead to the side, then scraped his knuckles down an equally sweaty cheek.
Daniel squeezed the hand caressing his cheek. "This is not," he inhaled sharply, "a good idea."
"No?" Jack fiddled with Daniel's bow tie. "Seems like a good idea."
"Breathing is a better one."
"Excellent point. Necrophilia isn't my thing."
* * *
The harsh lighting of the elevator moved Jack's worry up even more. "You looked better in the lousy lighting of the hallway."
Daniel shrugged. "I feel better, though. Sorry if I looked sexier in the dark."
"You're an ass."
"Hey." Daniel rubbed his chest and drew an experimental deep breath. "That's my line."
"I'm going to call the hotel doctor."
"No, you aren't, I'm going to call room service."
"Room service? The government just paid an outlandish price for your dinner."
"Never ate," Daniel said sheepishly, clamping a hand over his stomach when it growled on cue.
"I drank." His brow furrowed in concentration. "Had bread and butter. Then had problems breathing, which kinda put the kibosh on chewing and swallowing."
* * *
He was standing so close to Daniel as he swiped his pass key though the lock, that the little hairs on his nape moved in sync to Jack's breathing. Daniel tried twice to open the door, shrugging away Jack's attention, until Jack snatched the pass key from Daniel's fingers and opened the door himself.
The two of them walked into the room and Jack kicked the door closed, his eyebrows lifting in surprise when Daniel opened the door again. "Are you telling me to leave?"
"I need an antihistamine. A Tylenol and a shower to blast this perfumed smell from my body."
Jack sniffed in Daniel's direction. "I can help you."
"No. You're going to go downstairs, extend my apologies to the President and all concerned, and then sit, finish dinner and enjoy yourself."
"I finished dinner." Jack grabbed onto Daniel's bow tie and tugged hard enough that it finally came undone. "And for your information, I thought I was enjoying myself."
"No." Daniel pushed Jack towards the opened door. "You were entertaining yourself and annoying me. Big difference."
* * *
Jack and room service arrived at Daniel's room at the same time. Using the pass key he'd conveniently forgotten to give back to Daniel, he held the door open and gave the young man a tip for his troubles. Lifting the silver dome, he peeked underneath, shaking his head at Daniel's simple tastes when tired. Grilled cheese and fries. Side order of apple pie. Chocolate shake as opposed to coffee.
Jack grabbed the tray and stepped through the sliding glass doors out onto the balcony. "Nice view." He put the tray on the table, opened the lid and handed the plate with the sandwich and fries to Daniel. Jack snagged the apple pie, the fork, then sat down on the lounge chair next to Daniel, who was so busy tucking into the grilled cheese, he didn't notice Jack had stolen dessert until he looked up.
"Ketchup—hey, that's mine."
Jack balanced the cake plate on his knees, grabbed the ketchup bottle and managed to smother Daniel's fries, then put the bottle down between their two chairs. "Pie's good."
"That's *my* pie."
"I didn't have dessert."
"Neither did I."
Jack waved at Daniel. "Eat and I'll give you the chocolate shake for dessert."
Daniel opened his mouth as if to protest, his eyes widening when Jack stuck a forkful of pie into it. "Mmmmm." He chewed, swallowed, his tongue tracing his lips, chasing down an errant piece of crust. "Good pie."
Jack used his thumb to capture the crumb hiding in the corner of Daniel's mouth, slipping it onto the waiting tongue. "Very good pie, thank you." He finished the pie, but Daniel's attention was focused on the lights of Washington appearing in the skyline rather than his food. "Enjoying the view or sleeping with your eyes open?"
"A bit of both," Daniel answered honestly. "Sorry." He leaned across Jack and placed the remainder of his dinner onto the table, then slumped down, resting his neck on the back of the chair.
The long jean clad legs were too hard to resist, and Jack ran his hands along the taut thigh muscle. "On edge?"
"No," Daniel said, unable to stifle the sarcastic tone, placing his hand atop Jack's. "I left tonight without acknowledging the President. I'm so tired that even carrying on this conversation is an effort. When I saw you standing there tonight…" he looked at Jack, smiling wickedly. "Tonight. Dressed—" Daniel sneezed, then waved his arm over Jack's body. "Like that, all I could think of was that I too exhausted to even think of—"
"The President wasn't annoyed or upset. He was concerned. Promised at tomorrow's White House barbeque shindig there'll be no flowers. Or perfume. He even promised all the plastic plants—hell, he loves you so much, that he's even moving the barbeque indoors."
"Oh god, Jack. No." Daniel groaned, embarrassed. "You didn't—"
"Didn't what? Tell him springtime in Washington was putting a severe cramp in your ability to draw a deep breath without choking or sneezing? Why would I do that?" He shrugged. "You'll see tomorrow when you visit the barren White House."
Daniel slunk even lower in the chair, then sneezed again. "Now you're babbling, Jack."
"Oh. And you're still sneezing." Jack rubbed a hand down Daniel's bare arm. "Did you take your antihistamines?"
"I'm antihistamined. Showered. Tylenoled. I ate dinner. You ate my dessert. I'm good."
"Me. You. Here?" The antihistamine and a few glasses of champagne aided his uninhibited chuckle. "I'm thinking that might be an tad inappropriate when—" Daniel pushed his glasses to the top of this head, rubbed his eyes, then slid them back down. He craned his neck to see through the opened door. "Where *is* everyone else?"
Daniel answered with a cavernous yawn and squinted at his watch. "Yeah?"
"It's not late. Not late at all." Jack checked his own watch. "Right about now they're setting up for dessert. Chocolate fountain. Espresso bar—"
"How do you know this?"
Jacked crossed his index and middle finger together. "The President and I are like this. He always consults me before deciding on his menu."
"Oh." Daniel paused a minute, his thought processes definitely slowing down.
"I knew that."
Jack pulled Daniel towards him, planting a gentle kiss on his temple. "You're so—"
"If you say cute or any derivative of the word—"
For good measure, Jack kissed him one more time, then stood, leaning over Daniel's chair, legs spread, his arms locked as they anchored Jack's hovering body. "I wouldn't dare refer to you as the "c" word or even the "a" word—"
Daniel suddenly sat up straight, nearly clocking Jack in the chin. "I'm warning you—"
Jack silenced Daniel with a kiss to the nose and before the man could work up a vehement protest, he shut him up by capturing his opened mouth.
"Don't do that," Daniel said the second Jack broke the kiss.
"This?" Jack said, kissing him again on the lips.
"No, not that." Daniel licked his lips, savoring Jack's taste. "The nose thing." He touched his nose for emphasis.
"Why do you hate when I—" Jack bent to plant another kiss on his nose, meeting the palm of Daniel's hand instead, which he'd stuck between Jack's lips and his nose.
"You smudge my glasses." He shoved Jack away, then took his glasses off and wiped them on his tee shirt. "And it makes me feel infantile. I'm a grown man. Who just happens to be tired and stuffy, but who managed to survive without sleep for over seventy-two hours without falling flat on his face. *And*, believe it or not, I've even managed to survive without you making sure I eat dinner. Sleep. Take my antihistamines or bring an umbrella when it rains."
Jack smiled at Daniel. "I miss you, too."
Quick as lightning hands fisted the front of Jack's shirt and pulled him down into Daniel's kiss. He floundered, the special ops military man caught seriously off balance by Daniel's response to missing him. "Daniel." The name was a hollow sound reverberating in Daniel's opened mouth. "Daniel." This time, as much as his cock was calling him all sorts of stupid names, Jack extricated Daniel's fingers from his shirt, and broke the kiss.
"Not this trip," Jack said sadly, squeezing Daniel's hands. "Besides, I thought you said you were too tired—"
"I miss you."
"I noticed." Jack tugged Daniel into a standing position, stepping back to give him room. "End of month. Cabin. Me. You."
"I'll write you into my calendar. I think I can squeeze you in around Ori invasions. Reappearing Goa'ulds. Viruses…"
"You know, Daniel, no one likes a smart ass archaeologist."
Daniel kissed Jack on the nose. "You do."
* * *
The next day's gathering at the White House was much less formal. Much more relaxed and Daniel looked a million times better than yesterday. He was animated, hands going a mile a minute, driving home his opinions and the President and some scientist whose name Jack had forgotten were enthralled, nodding emphatically in agreement. Teal'c and Mitchell had moved into a media room and were sitting side by side with the President's children. The two grown men had regressed to the preteens' age level, playing some shoot 'em up game on the oversized TV, booing and hissing as they got their asses kicked. Carter was surprisingly chatting with the First Lady over a recent best seller cookbook, and Jack cautiously stepped away from that conversation with a curt wave and a tight smile.
This was relaxed as relaxed was going to get in the White House and Jack nodded at the Secret Service as he passed them in the hallway, trying not to be too obvious as he kept an eye out for Vala. Short of shouting, "Here Vala, Vala. Here Vala," wandering around was the most inconspicuous way Jack could think of trying to locate the woman. Based on conversations with Daniel, Mitchell, et al, as well as reading reports, there was no way the woman should have free rein here.
"Looking for me, Brigadier General Jack?" She grabbed his arm.
"Vala! Fancy meeting you here." He pointed towards the other rooms down the hallway he'd just come from. "Everyone else is engaged, it seems that it's only you and me, left to our own devices." Jack opened the ornate double doors at the end of the hallway. "Want to go outside for a walk."
"A walk would be nice." Vala cocked her chin at the two men not that far behind them, complete with dark suits, white shirts, and ear pieces. "Are those two men going to be joining us?"
"The Mr. Smith clones?" Jack gave them an okay sign. "Naw. They're on hallway duty. I'm sure their carbon copies are outside."
* * *
The day was beautiful. Slight breeze. Sun. "Please, call me Jack."
"Jack." Vala said the name as if she was testing out the sound. "Jack." The second time it was spoken with a bit more oomph. "Good. Since we're on a first name basis I need to speak to you." She looked over her shoulder. "In private."
Jack sat on one of those white cherub decorated iron benches while Vala paced back and forth. The design was digging into him; because there was no away this wrought iron bench was meant for a 6 foot 2 man to be sitting any length of time. "Vala?"
"Yes?" She appeared shocked that Jack would interrupt whatever she was hard at work doing.
"The talking?" He shifted, trying to find a spot where the bench's metal swirls wouldn't poke him in the ass.
"Do you love Daniel?"
Vala took a breath, opened her mouth. "Do you—" her voice was at least twenty decibels higher than the first time she made the query and Jack had horrific visions of the windows of the White House quaking and shattering with the intensity of her voice.
"Keep your voice down," he ordered.
"You didn't hear me the first time, so given your age—"
"Well, admittedly you've held up extremely well." She reached up to touch Jack's grey temple and gave him a look of surprise when he gently slapped her hand away. "Such a waste," she sighed. "Though very visually enticing, I must admit."
"Hold it." Jack felt as if he'd walked late into a movie. "What the heck are you talking about?"
"What. Am. I. Talking. About?" She walked the length of the bench, dragging her finger along, tracing the curves and outlines. On the first pass, Vala plucked a flower from a nearby bush and teasingly tickled Jack's ear.
"Stop it." He flicked at the flower. "Do you know they can arrest you and throw you in jail for picking a flower in the White House garden?"
"Do you know," she leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "you can get thrown in jail for having sex with Daniel? I looked it up on the computer in my hotel room, so, if you don't tell anyone *my* secret about the flower, I promise I won't tell anyone *your* secret." Quickly, Vala whipped around the rest of the bench and sat next to Jack.
"I have no secret."
"No?" Vala skimmed the flower up the length of Jack's thigh. "I guess you're not the kiss and tell type. I respect that in a person. Now," she asked, plastering her body against Jack's, "let me repeat my question. Do you love Daniel? And," she tapped him impatiently with the flower, "you better answer me honestly because I have friends in high places."
"Higher than the President of the United States?"
"Does it count that my daughter is head Ori?"
"Only if you're an Ori." Vala had to pulling at straws, 'cause there was no way she knew. Their relationship wouldn't be something that Daniel would disclose, especially not to her.
"I saw you," she said, reading his mind. "You and Daniel, last night."
"Yes," Jack said in his best Romper Room teacher voice. "And I saw you. And Carter and Teal'c and Mitchell."
Vala's brows knit together in confusion. "Not there." Slowly, she placed the flower on his lap, the bud resting on his groin. "In the hotel room…"
Jack tossed the flower over his shoulder before Vala could stop him. "You've got an overactive imagination."
"It was a very passionate kiss, and even though I pride myself in being fairly imaginative, my visuals don't usually run in that direction, if you get my drift. I never thought it could be so... hot." She sighed. "The way he grabbed the front of your jacket, pulled you towards him..."
Jack remained silent, but he was pretty damn sure the sweat forming under his collar wasn't because of the heat of the afternoon sun, but due to the woman stuck to his side. Daniel trusted Vala, but based on the mission reports that appeared on his desk, Jack didn't share the same faith and would have had no qualms, had a zat been available, to fire the weapon three times.
"I was worried, you see," she explained, very sincere. "Daniel just up and disappeared during that fancy supper. He looked horrible."
He couldn't help but glare at her, very suspicious of her concern.
She shrugged in the face of his disbelief. "I know you may not believe me. Alien wristbands and all—but I was concerned. So I asked Mitchell if I could borrow the key to the room to check on Daniel." She patted Jack's knee. "And when I got there, it appeared that I wasn't the only one concerned with his well being. Though I must admit, your actions give new meaning to the words… what is it that Sam had once said?… Ah yes… 'to kiss and make it all better'."
"Carter?" Jack choked on her name.
"Different incident," Vala hurried supplied. "Your secret is safe with me."
"It's no secret," Jack reiterated.
"Look." Vala sighed and turned sideways. "I know what I saw, I'm not an idiot. I may be jealous but I'm not stupid."
"Oh, come on." Her voice was full of impatience. "Daniel is incredibly sexy. And before he was *your* Daniel, he was *my* Daniel."
"He was?" Jack answered with a knowing smile.
"He wasn't?" Her face fell.
"This *thing* between you and him—" Vala peered at Jack. "A long time?"
"We've been friends for ten years."
"I see. And this is what the military means by 'don't ask, don't tell'?"
It was now Jack's turn to shrug.
Vala was silent.
Jack was silent.
"You're telling me I don't stand a chance?"
Jack patted her knee. "Not a snowball's chance in hell."
"That means no?"
"A big N.O."
"Will you answer me one question?"
"One question." Jack prayed it wouldn't have to do with sex.
"Do you love him?" Vala dropped her head, and stared at her shoes. "I need you to love him."
"You looked… the two of you looked incredibly hot together. Did you know that?"
"You said one question. I answered your one question," Jack teased, feeling very magnanimous.
"Please don't gloat."
"Were too," Vala insisted, pouting.
"You don't have to worry. I adore Daniel too much to share this secret with anyone, and though I'd rather it be me Daniel was having sex with, it obviously had to do with me lacking certain body parts as opposed to him finding me unattractive. So," she preened, playing with her hair. "If Daniel were to open up your *friendship* to include someone else, would I be in the running?"
"Daniel!" Jack and Vala said simultaneously.
"Yeah." Daniel cocked his head, confused. "What are you doing out here?"
"Discussing male versus female attributes with regard to placement on one's team." Vala stood, checking her watch. "Didn't realize we'd been gone so long."
Jack stood also, trying to rub out the wrought iron design imbedded in his ass. "Yeah, we've been just sitting and talking."
"Was it an interesting discussion?"
Jack and Vala both nodded. "Let's go," Jack said. "Don't want insult the President."
"Do you think the President would be interested in what you were discussing?"
"Ummm... no, Daniel. Vala and I sorta discussed the issue to death."
Daniel acquiesced with the slightest raise of his shoulders. "The President wants to play poker. I don't know, there's something about gambling with the President—"
Jack shoved Daniel forward along the brick pathway and the doors and was walking to keep pace with him when Vala pulled him back to her side. "You lucky dog, you," she admitted, her eyes glued to Daniel's ass. "Since you never answered my question about me joining you, do you think there would be *any* possibility of sharing pictures? Videos? Because visuals would work very nicely. I'm sure we could ask Siler to help with the camera placement."
Daniel turned around. "Jack, are you alright?" He narrowed his eyes. "Vala?"
She threw up her hands. "I'm perfectly innocent."
"Jack?" Daniel eyed Vala suspiciously. "Is there a problem I should be aware of?"
Jack just shook his head, but Vala walked up to Daniel and grabbed his elbow. "You've known Jack a long time?"
Daniel stopped. "Ten years, why?"
Vala pulled him forward. "Do you know he doesn't like to share?"
"Tell me about it," Daniel agreed. "He hates to even give out pencils or paper from his office."
"Maybe I can work on that fault of his, what do you say, Daniel?"
"Good luck," Daniel said. "Jack's kinda set in his ways. There's a saying 'can't teach an old dog new tricks'."
Vala looked over her shoulder and winked at Jack. "I'm going to make it my mission." Don't you think this will be a wonderful project for me to undertake? Maybe, now that I have the motivation, Daniel, I can even get Siler to capture some sharing on a security camera or two."
Jo, owner of the ever sharpened red pencil, the halo and the bottomless well of patience, thank you for your beta, though any and all mistakes are mine. To those closest to my heart, thank you.
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