Sam blinked and pressed her fingers to her eyes as the computer screen began to blur. God, this just wasn't working. It was like thinking through quicksand. The faster she tried to go, the slower and more bogged down she got. Too tired. Too emotional, and she knew she shouldn't be. She should be cool and efficient and clever, and not feel like her insides were falling out every time she thought of him, alone, stranded on that planet...
Janet was right -- she just had to accept that this was going to take time. Running herself into the ground wasn't going to get the Colonel back from Edora any quicker. But it didn't make it any easier to just walk away from the lab and take a break. She couldn't seem to make herself stop, not until she knew they were in a position to mount some sort of rescue effort.
Assuming he was still alive enough to need rescuing.
"Dammit." She pushed away from the desk, stood and rolled her shoulders, feeling the slow burn as muscles that had seized began to stretch and complain.
Sam glanced at her watch -- 0300. The mug of coffee Janet had brought her -- wow, five hours ago -- was stone cold, half-drunk, and now sported an unappetizing milky film across the surface. The commissary would be closed for another couple of hours, but the hot-drink machine was always on. Some caffeine and a few minutes of letting her tired eyes stare into the middle-distance would be as good as a rest. Maybe after that her exhausted brain would kick back into gear again.
She wound her way down the endless passageways towards the elevator, following the colored lines painted on the floor, conscious of just how still and quiet it was. Her booted footsteps echoed off the concrete walls, and the steady hum of the base aircon system faded into so much white noise. Somewhere there was a skeleton crew on duty, tucked away in offices and observation rooms, but for the most part the mountain was asleep. No SF's trudging the corridors, no alarms going off, no Colonel O'Neill making smart-ass comments about Siler's attachment to that honkin' great spanner of his...
Her heart stabbed in her chest. It shouldn't hurt this much. This was the military. Officers went MIA all the time. She knew it going in; thought she was prepared for it. Not like she hadn't lost team members before.
She stopped, disoriented.
Her feet had wandered as much as her mind, and she wasn't anywhere near the elevator. She reached up and touched the black nameplate on the door in front of her. Colonel Jack O'Neill. Perhaps it would help to go in. To just stand for a few minutes in his personal space. To look at his stuff, sit in his chair.
Sam pushed the door open, slipped inside, and let it fall quietly closed behind her. The room was shrouded in darkness; the only light cast by the nighttime-dimmed hallway lamps spilling in through the rectangle of glass in the door. She paused to let her eyes adjust. Took in the dangerously leaning pile of paperwork on the desk, the battered Simpsons coffee mug, the dangling security camera that the Colonel had personally deactivated with a pair of pliers, a picture on the wall that might have been Abydos, and on a little coffee table by the door, his yo-yo. Bits of his personality scattered around the sterile room.
It was as if he were actually there, a presence so strong that a cold prickle ran down the back of her neck. She shivered, wrapped her arms around herself, and tried to ignore the fine-honed sixth sense that told her she was being watched. If anything, the feeling intensified -- and she froze, ears straining to pick up any hint of a sound in the dark shadows behind her.
Combat training kicked in and she whipped around, swinging low on her center of gravity, hands flying up in readiness. She nearly smacked Daniel right in the face.
"Jesus, Sam," he gasped, pressing back against the wall.
She dropped her arms, straightened and stood for a few seconds, waiting for her heart to return to normal speed. "Daniel, what...?"
He was seated on the floor, knees pulled up to his chest, back against the concrete wall. No glasses, rumpled BDU pants and standard-issue black t-shirt. His face was flushed, eyes hazy and red-rimmed, and his nose rosy. Had he been crying?
All at once she felt like an intruder, like she'd stumbled in on an intensely private moment.
"Still working?" he asked, using the same conversational tone he would if she'd just bumped into him in the corridor.
Sam shifted, uncomfortable, as those eerily unfocussed eyes burned into her. She knew what he was really asking. Had she made any progress? When were they going to get Jack back? She wanted to tell Daniel 'soon', but she really didn't know. "I was. But it's not going so great. What are you doing in here?"
He gave a strange little chuckle. "You know -- I'm not really sure."
The glint of reflected light on glass caught her eye as he reached down into the shadows beside him, and raised a bottle to his lips. He took a large mouthful, held it for a second, then grimaced as he swallowed, and coughed as the afterburn of the alcohol caught in his throat. For a second she thought vividly of the Colonel doing the same when he tried Ska'ara's experimental moonshine, and her gut twisted again.
Daniel regarded her quietly, then patted the concrete floor beside him. "Care to join me?"
She stared at the bottle. When had she ever seen Daniel drink? Even at parties, the most he'd done was carry a beer around with him, but he never actually seemed to consume any. And now he was swigging -- what was that, whiskey? -- like it was water. No wonder his face was pink.
"Daniel, are you okay?" she asked, stepping closer, so she could see the label. It was Jack Daniels. The irony wasn't lost on her -- or him, it seemed -- by the way he ran his thumb over the label and smiled a crooked little smile.
"Am I okay?" he repeated slowly, still staring at the bottle. "I'm sitting in Jack's office in the middle of the night, drinking whiskey -- which I don't even like, by the way -- that I stole from his cupboard, and I'm thinking that's probably not a good sign..." he let his head fall back against the wall, and began to laugh.
Okay, he sounded a little unhinged. That was probably the whiskey. The bottle leaned dangerously in his hand, and she noted with relief that it was still over three-quarters full -- he couldn't have had more than five or six mouthfuls. Which was probably enough, given the decorative-beer-carrying that seemed to be the sum total of his drinking career with SG-1.
Daniel's laughter spluttered to a stop and he took another, smaller mouthful of whiskey. "I'm the one who's supposed to get shot, and lost. The problem child of the team. And he's supposed to be here to make jokes about it. Now there's just a big--" he waved the bottle in front of him "-- void."
Sam grimaced. "Daniel..." God, she wasn't sure what to say. This was personal stuff. And Daniel didn't do personal stuff. Not in public, anyway. Not unless he had anti-Goa'uld technology in his head driving him crazy. Usually he seemed to channel all his emotion into work. He could get up an excellent head of steam about a mission or an artifact, but after Sha're died, he hadn't even cried. Just crawled to his knees in that tent with an air of quiet acceptance.
Maybe this was the last straw. The Colonel was the closest thing Daniel had to a best friend. And now that he was gone, Sam figured she was next in line, buddy-wise. As busy as she was, as tired and frustrated, she couldn't just walk away and let Daniel drink himself into a stupor. Not alone, anyway. She wasn't going to achieve anything more tonight, work-wise, that much was clear. Might as well numb the pain, just a little. She turned and eased herself to the floor beside Daniel, planted her boots out in front of her in a mirror of his stance and reached for the bottle.
Daniel rolled his head towards her, watched her sip gingerly. His face wavered for a moment as her eyes teared up and her throat stung. Shit, what was this, pure alcohol? She glanced at the label. Holy Hannah -- 80 proof. Escape in a bottle. She took a larger gulp, and felt the warmth burn down her gullet, into her belly. Alcohol on top of no sleep, and no food. Yep, this was a great idea.
"When the Tollan told me they couldn't get there until next year -- God, Sam, he'll think he can never come home." Daniel took the bottle back and looked at it, hard, but didn't put it to his mouth. "I know what that's like."
Sam felt her eyebrows go up in surprise. "I thought you loved it on Abydos."
He shrugged. "I loved Sha're. I loved the people, the history. But what good was discovering the cartouche if I couldn't share it with anyone? I made possibly the greatest discovery in history beside the Stargate, and nobody there understood." He punched his fist against his thigh. There it was -- the passion, that tiny release of tension. "It was such a thrill to show it to you, to someone who appreciated the enormity of it. I missed that interaction, and books, and takeout food. I missed my home, Sam." He pinned her with a burning, blue gaze. "I had nobody and nothing to come back to, and I still missed it. Every day."
Wow. She'd had no idea. And none of it made her feel any better. Daniel had chosen not to come home, but the Colonel...
Her face must have betrayed the rush of despair that came with that thought, because Daniel passed the whiskey back to her, and this time she took a large belt. Two. Gulped it down like soda.
"I know it's worse for you," he said, studying her curiously.
"What do you mean?" she wheezed, as the fire in her throat began to spread. She could feel her nose starting to glow.
He smiled again, secretive. That intense gaze was starting to make her uncomfortable. "I know how you feel about him."
"What?" Jeez, did everyone know? Had she been that obvious? "He's my friend too, Daniel. Of course I miss him." Another swig, and now she felt the dizzy rush as the alcohol filtered into her bloodstream.
"It's okay, Sam," he said, and took the whiskey back for another hit. "If there's anyone on this planet who can work this out, it's you."
Anger surged, sudden and irrational. "Stop it," she snapped. Why did everyone automatically assume she could do this? Good, clever little Sam. She's so brainy. Nothing's ever too hard.
Right now she didn't feel worthy of their expectations -- of her own.
Self-doubt was something she hadn't felt in a long time, and she hated it.
Daniel's eyebrows worked up and down, his face a picture of bewilderment. "Um -- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to --"
"No, I'm sorry," she sighed, feeling like a prize jerk. He was only trying to boost her spirits, and here she was biting his head off. "It's just -- I'm trying to recreate technology built by a race so much more advanced than us, with no instructions, no fancy Goa'uld components. Just good old-fashioned Earth ingredients. It's going to take ages. It might not even work."
Daniel stared at her for a second, his face soft and sympathetic. "Then we'll try something else. You don't have to do it alone, Sam. One way or another, we'll get him back. We don't leave people behind."
Jack's mantra. Hearing it triggered a sudden hot rush of tears that caught her by surprise. Damn whiskey. She swiped impatiently at her cheek with the back of her hand.
"Hey," Daniel said, putting a hand on her knee. "It's all right."
"No, it's not," she sniffed. What had she been thinking? That she could be one of the boys? Just slip into the yawning gap that the Colonel left in Daniel's life and make it all better? She'd wanted to comfort him, and instead she was the one falling to pieces. "This isn't helping. I have to get back to work." She pushed up from the floor, felt her head spin as she got to her feet.
"Hey, wait," Daniel said, struggling upright as she started towards the door. His hand went out, bracing against the wall, and he frowned. "Whoa. Odd how your legs get drunk before the rest of you."
Despite everything, she felt a smile pull at the corners of her mouth. "Get some sleep, Daniel. It's late."
"Uh -- that's what I was about to say," he said, taking an experimental step away from the wall. "Please, Sam, take a break. You can't help him like this." He reached out and brushed a tear from her cheek with his thumb.
Much as Sam hated to admit it, he was right. That was the whole point of coming here, wasn't it? To give her mind a rest. To get some perspective. She put a hand on Daniel's arm. "You win, Doctor. I'll have a nap, I promise. You sure you'll be okay?"
He smiled, not the standard Daniel Jackson subdued grin that sneaked out occasionally, but a genuine full-beamer. It happened so rarely that she felt it like a physical blow. And then he shocked her again by reaching out and wrapping his arms around her.
For a second she was too surprised to react, but as his arms tightened around her waist, it was like taking a tranquilizer, as if her whole body let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding, and she melted against him. He smelled wonderful. Cologne, subtle and citrussy, mixing with the smoky aroma of the whisky, and his own personal scent.
He was a good hugger. Not afraid to really put some muscle into it. Strong, hard arms holding her close, his shoulder rock-solid beneath her chin, and his voice barely a murmur. "Don't worry, Sam. I'll be fine."
"Good." She squeezed back. Damn, it felt great. How long was it since someone had wrapped her up like this in a full-body embrace and just held her? There was something so elemental about simple physical contact. Deeply comforting in a way words could never get close to. Warmth and empathy. A shared connection of anguish and hope, humming between them.
His hand gently rubbed her back, and she felt him drop a light kiss into her hair. "It'll all be okay." He sounded so sure now. His conviction as strong as the arms encircling her.
She held him tighter, didn't want to let go. Didn't want to lose that safe, protected feeling. Put a hand into his hair and stroked gently. Felt the warm puff of breath on her neck as he pressed his face to hers and sighed, and the faint prickle as his five o'clock shadow rasped against her cheek.
Endless seconds ticked by and all that existed was the silky feel of his hair between her fingers, the hypnotic rhythm of his breath, the steady thump of his heart.
And then the energy changed. His hand stilled on her back and his breathing hitched. She felt every muscle in his body tense, and then his forehead dropped to her shoulder. "Oh, God. Sam -- I'm sorry."
Sorry? What --? And then she felt the hard nudge against her hip, and the room began to spin. Oh boy. Don't panic. He was drunk, vulnerable, and here she was pressing up against him, touching him -- it was just a natural physiological response. He couldn't help it. Didn't mean for it to happen, obviously. There was no need to be embarrassed.
And no way to ignore how her body called back to him -- the rolling, aching wave of heat that burst to life deep inside. A chemical reaction. A flash-fire, ignited by booze and grief and the irrationality of the over-tired. Stoked by the fact that he was aroused -- the evidence of which was getting more and more obvious by the second.
A voice that didn't sound like hers said, "Daniel, it's all right." Low, hoarse, sexy.
He drew back just enough to look at her, eyes like giant blue saucers. His face a picture of conflict. "Sam?" His hand came up to cup her cheek, and she leaned into it without thinking. Long fingers, sliding round into her hair, drawing her closer. His lips, baby-soft, just millimeters from hers. "We -- we shouldn't --"
"I know," she whispered, as the full flush of desire burst in her chest. What the hell were they doing?
He swallowed, hard. "You're drunk." Their lips brushed. One electric split-second. "And I'm, ah, also -- drunk." Again, longer this time. "And we're both upset --" A third touch, and now he put some pressure into it, moving his mouth over hers, coaxing her lips apart, and as his tongue slipped in, heat bloomed in her cheeks, and between her legs.
Oh boy, he kissed like he hugged. Strong, comforting. Deep wet whiskey-flavoured kisses that stole her breath and weakened her knees. In them she found the real Daniel -- not the gentle stammery archaeologist most people saw, but the determined, stubborn, fiercely loyal Daniel with an inner strength that left most soldiers for dead.
The hand in her hair slipped to her neck, those nimble fingers tracing patterns of fire over her skin. His other hand slid down over her ass and grabbed hold, pulling her harder against him. He felt huge against her, and another flash of lust had her gasping into his mouth. She dragged her hands down his back, hauling the black t-shirt from the waistband of his pants, delving beneath it, and his grunt resonated through her as she finally touched bare skin.
His lower back was a hard and warm. Well-defined muscles twitched beneath her palms, and as she pushed higher, taking the shirt with her, she wondered hazily how she'd never noticed just how nicely built he was. Daniel let go of her, raised his arms, and broke the kiss so she could strip it off. It flew across the room and disappeared into shadow.
His chest was amazing. More unexpected muscles -- smooth pectorals, and a ladder of abs that led the way down to the belt on his BDU trousers, where his hips were still pressed against her. He'd kept all this hidden under black tees and rumpled green shirts for the last three years. No wonder Sha're had been so taken with him.
He was watching her stare.
It wasn't enough, she had to touch. Those incredible eyes followed her fingers as they explored his collarbones, his nipples.
And then his mouth was on hers again, and his hands on her back, one low, one high, crushing her against his chest, his lips. She freed her arms and let her hands wander, over his shoulders, down the long "V" of his sides. He groaned, slipped one hand to her waist, up her side, and stopped with his thumb just grazing the lower curve of her breast.
"Sam, can I...?" he murmured against her lips. Oh, God, he was asking permission. She grabbed the hem of her t-shirt, and in one swift movement it was gone. His eyes went wide, and one trembling hand closed over her breast. She felt him twitch against her stomach as he thumbed her nipple through the sensible cotton bra. Just once she wished she owned more exciting underwear.
It didn't seem to matter to Daniel. He used both hands, filled his palms, lowered his face to her flushed chest. His lips, hot and wet, skirted the edge of the fabric. That talented tongue darting out, leaving a cool, moist trail on hot skin.
It still wasn't enough, and Sam reached up behind herself, and with a deft snap, released the catch. He took the hint, sliding the straps down her shoulders and letting the soft, white cotton fall to the floor at their feet. He drew her into his mouth, rough tongue rasping over her nipple, bullet-hard and aching. So, so good. So long since anyone had held her this way, touched her there, made her feel so --
They were overbalancing, and she put out a hand, steadying them against the Colonel's desk. Daniel, greedy, pushing against her, knocked them back a stumbling step, and her butt hit the wooden tabletop, knees flying up as her feet left the floor. He wriggled in between her legs, kept that contact between their hips, began to lower her down.
Suddenly, his mouth, his body was gone. "Daniel?" she gasped, opening eyes she hadn't realized were screwed shut.
"Sorry, sorry, I just -- just a second," he said, breathless. That gorgeous chest heaving. He clenched his fists, gave them a little shake, and turned to the pile of paperwork on the desk. Carefully he lifted it, placed it on the floor against the wall. Scooped up the photos and notepaper and stuffed them in the top drawer. Set the phone and coffee mug down on the chair. She bit back a smile. So typically Daniel.
He came back to her. Flushed, still panting, hair rumpled, bare-chested. Glorious in the half-light. Taking her in with a sweeping head-to-toe gaze. And doubt flashed across his face. "Sam, you sure you want to do this?"
She nodded. "You?"
"You have no idea how much," he said, leaning back into her, lowering her down onto the polished wooden surface.
"Oh, I've got a pretty good idea," she replied, as he pressed, rock-solid, against her thigh.
His hands went into her hair, holding her head as he kissed her, and oh, God, he was rubbing himself against her and she wanted him so badly...
Those pants had to come off.
She reached between them, fumbled with the belt, and he jerked upright, his hands covering hers, holding them still. "Damn, damn!"
"What?" she gasped. Surely he wasn't going to get cold feet now.
"I don't have a, uh -- there's no --" he shut his eyes and took a deep breath. "I don't have a condom."
Shit, shit. Her mind reeled. They couldn't stop now. She'd just -- die.
No, it was okay. They were tested on a weekly basis for everything under the sun. Sam knew they were both clean. And she was -- protected. "It's okay. We're safe. It'll all be safe. Please, Daniel." She couldn't believe she was begging for it.
He let out a long, slow breath, and removed his hands.
These things weren't meant for speedy removal. The belt rammed tightly through metal loops. So many damn buttons. And undoing them not made any easier by Daniel returning his attention to her breasts. Mouth on one, hand on the other, driving her slowly crazy. She finally got the last button free, with a grunt of triumph, and yanked the drab green trousers down to mid-thigh. Beneath them, marle-grey boxers. With more buttons, but hallelujah, an elastic waist.
Daniel straightened and rested his hands on her shoulders as Sam curled her fingers into the waistband, inched them down, until they sat low, low on his hips, just revealing the dark thatch of hair. His abs were tight, quivering, and she ran her fingers over them, down, over the column of his cock encased in washed-soft cotton. He moaned quietly, deep in his throat, and pressed into her palm.
Oh, God. I'm touching Daniel's --
There was a sudden flurry of movement as he grabbed for her waist, whipped the belt free, feverishly popped buttons, and she wriggled as he dragged her trousers down, over her hips to her knees, pulling her panties with them. She toed off her boots, heard them bounce off the floor, and used her feet to shuck the clothing and her socks free.
Daniel's mouth crashed against hers, and her back hit wood as he went down with her, one hand cradling the back of her head to soften the impact. The other trailed down her side, short fingernails tracking the dip of her waist, her hip --
She gasped as his fingers delved between them, seeking out her sweet spot, and finding it in an implausibly short amount of time. His name ghosted from her lips as he worked a finger inside her, then another, and pumped them gently. In moments she was quivering against his hand. It was so damn good, but she wanted -- needed -- more.
Sam lifted her legs, planted her feet on Daniel's hips, and shoved. The boxers joined his pants, bunched around his thighs, and his erection sprang free, into her waiting hand. It was so hard, like marble under satin-soft skin, and his pulse beat against her palm.
"Oh," he gulped, as she slicked her palm over the tip, and dragged it down his length in a long, slow slide.
"C'mon Daniel, now," she said, her breath coming in small, sharp bursts. She had to have him, all of him.
He withdrew his fingers, grasped her waist, held her steady against the desktop, and let her guide him in. A low groan vibrated through him as he pushed in, all the way, and finally stopped, panting, buried deep.
He felt huge. She was so out of practice, it was like being split in two.
And then he moved, and sparks flew behind Sam's eyes. She wrapped her legs around his waist, the soles of her feet resting on the strong muscles at the back of his thighs. He drew back, almost all the way, painstakingly slow.
"Ah, Sam," he gasped, closing his eyes, and drove back in. Hard, hot. The desk creaked under the strain.
His hands found hers, fingers interlaced, and he squeezed tight, keeping her from sliding backwards as he set up a steady rhythm.
It felt incredible. The release of years-long tension, the warm hum of the whiskey, the sensation of Daniel, moving inside her with a grace and authority that surprised and thrilled her. His face, a picture of concentration, sweat beading on his forehead, eyes squeezed shut, and those powerful arms, braced either side of her head, trembling with each thrust.
Then his eyes snapped open, and she felt a warning throb inside her. He froze at the deepest point, and his face contorted with the effort of just staying still. He dropped to his forearms, and put his mouth to her ear. "Drank too much," he whispered. "Don't think I -- I don't think this will last very long." He sounded devastated.
"Hey, it's okay. Don't worry," she said, trying to mask the disappointment. God, it was amazing he'd been able to get it going at all, considering.
"Not okay," he replied, and his voice was sharp, thick with that trademark Daniel Jackson determination. It made her break out in gooseflesh.
He began to move again, still deep inside, with slow, careful, shallow thrusts. Freed one hand from her grasp and slid it between them, to the place where they joined. Pressed his thumb against her and began to rub in tiny circles.
Sam's head spun, tremors racing up the inside of her thighs. God, he was barely moving, cock or thumb, and it was more than enough to start the swirling, rising pressure. She felt his lips, moist against her ear. Heard his voice, whispering in Abydonian. She didn't understand any of it. Didn't need to.
Sensory overload, as his chest brushed her nipples, his thumb stroked her relentlessly, and that beautiful, lyrical language echoed through her head. When she cried his name, felt the cascade begin, he arched up, drove in for one long push, and toppled her over the edge.
Whiteout. Roaring along her nerves. Every muscle convulsing as she jerked against him, she slapped her free hand on the desktop again and again, and rode it out.
When she came back to herself, he was still moving. Fast erratic thrusts, bottom lip caught between his teeth. The hand holding hers gripped hard, harder. "Sam, ah God, I'm -- aaah!" he gasped, and with a long, shuddering groan, exploded inside her.
He slumped against her, forehead touching hers, his breath hot and damp on her face.
She felt exhilarated, weightless, all the frustration and anxiety just bleeding away. And when she thought about what drove her there, the particle generator and all that work she had to do, she felt confident. Hopeful. "Wow," she breathed.
"Really?" Daniel said, his face lighting up for a moment. "I didn't think it was my best work." He tilted his head up and pressed a kiss to her temple.
"Did the trick." She smiled.
He pulled out, took a step back and pulled up his boxers, then his BDU's. "No argument about that." He leaned down, and passed up her clothes.
While she wriggled back into her trousers, hooked her bra closed and shrugged on her top, he turned away, buttoned up, pulled his t-shirt back on.
When he turned back to her, he wore that sly little smile again. "I'm never going to be able to sit across that desk and look Jack in the face again." He picked up the whiskey bottle, and held it up to the light. Two-thirds full. "Was this a bad idea?"
Yeah, probably. It broke a dozen regulations, not to mention what it could have done to their friendship, but she couldn't regret the result. "No, I don't think so," she said, toeing her boots on. "Do you?"
Another spark of a smile. "Desperate times, Sam." He collected the bottle cap from the floor, and screwed it back on. "I'll leave the rest for Jack."
She laced her boots and waited quietly while he replaced the items that belonged on the desk, and returned the whiskey to the cupboard. It could have been so awkward between them, but Daniel was behaving as if they'd just shared a gym workout, or a game of cards. In a way it was a relief. Something they both needed, and now it was over.
Finally, he held open the office door for her and she walked out into the corridor, blinking in the brighter light. He pulled it closed behind them. "What do you say to a cup of coffee? I think I need one."
"I'd love one." She smiled.
They headed towards the commissary in comfortable silence.