Explorations in Custom: Chapter 3

Three days after the wedding, Teal’c finally decided to approach his friends.  Mostly, he was concerned.  The only time either of them had been seen since that night was once, when Daniel went to consult Frasier about stitches.  Apparently he’d cut his hand on a broken glass.

That had been the beginning of Teal’c’s concern, but he trusted Jack, and he was very fond of Daniel.  And he respected them both, so he’d refrained from poking into it.  However, the general was getting impatient, and Ferretti wasn’t nearly as personable a leader as Jack.  If you could get away with calling Jack personable, that was.

Mostly, Teal’c missed them.  And he was worried.  So, at ten in the morning, he knocked on the door.  Inside, he heard a thunk, and a burst of laughter, followed by muffled cursing.  “Not funny!” Daniel’s voice drifted out.  “Get the door, you jerk!

The familiar snicker drew near the door. “Why am I always the bad guy?” was cheerfully shouted back as the locks unlatched.

“Because you’re a jerk!” Daniel shot back as it swung open and Teal’c quirked a brow.  “I am pleased to see you in good humor, Jack,” he said neutrally in greeting.

“Big guy!” the colonel returned with a wide grin. It was strange to see the man in anything but fatigues; Jack was wearing a plain black shirt and faded blue jeans. His feet were bare. “Come in! We’ve got popcorn somewhere… Daniel? Did you eat it all?”

Daniel, whom was dusting himself off, looked up with a frown.  “No, Jack, you did,” he replied.  Paused.  Grimaced.  “We did.”

Smiling faintly, the Jaffa nodded.  “I would be honored to accept your invitation, provided I am not… interrupting.”  He didn’t want to be an inconvenience, though experience told him that Jack rarely minded.

Rolling his eyes, Jack stepped back from the door and waved him in. “If you were, I wouldn’t be answering the door. Nah, we were just watching a movie. Hey! There’s an idea. Start the show from the beginning! Teal’c! Ever seen any of the Alien movies?”

“I do not believe so,” Teal’c replied, brows lifting again.  Alien movies?  “You have mentioned them before.  The name sounds familiar.”  He glanced around the room, amused as he watched Daniel quickly set about straightening a few things.  Not that it was messy… but it was a bit cluttered, mostly with books and papers in one corner of the room.

The door closed behind him with a snap and the colonel was striding forward. “I guess my first question should have been: ‘do you have a few hours to spare?’ Because if you see the first one, you have to see the second. The third is optional.”

Teal’c returned his attention to his friend and commanding officer.  “I see.  I do have the time,” he agreed calmly.  “However, I also have a message from General Hammond.  He wishes to see the both of you tomorrow morning at o’eight hundred hours.”

“Oh!  Right,” Daniel said, sheepishly.  He set the bowl in his hand down on the table in the corner (in the only spot not covered in paper).

The older man only shrugged. “I guess the honeymoon is over then.” That said, he moved purposefully for the area designed for food preparation. “Anyone else want a beer?”

“Yes, please,” Teal’c replied, at the same time Daniel shook his head and said, “Not finished with mine, but thanks anyway.”

Head disappearing into the stainless steel fridge, Jack issued orders, “Take a seat, Teal’c. Relax. Ask Daniel about married life!” There may or may not have been a snicker tacked on at the end.

The Jaffa turned his gaze curiously onto the man in question.  To his amusement, Daniel’s face paled, and then flushed.  “Don’t.  Ask.”

Teal’c wasn’t about to argue.  He did, however, seat himself on the end of the couch, watching the two move around.  Daniel was now stacking the rest of the papers and books about the room onto the table in the corner, presumably so it didn’t look as cluttered.  And Jack was, of course, opening beers by the fridge.

In all the domestic movement, there was still, of course, the ever-present banter. “So what’s it like out there, Big Guy? Has Ferretti gotten himself shot in the ass yet?” the colonel asked as he returned, the necks of two brown bottles dangling from one hand as he balanced a bowl of peanuts in the other.

“The shoulder,” Teal’c corrected, accepting one of the beers with a nod of thanks.

“What—Is he okay?” Daniel asked, pausing in his fidgeting.

The Jaffa shrugged.  “It was superficial.”

Jack, too, was frowning as he handed over the bottle. “Anyone actually hurt and when did that happen?”

“On a mission last night,” Teal’c responded.  “No one else was injured.  We were ambushed by a group of Goa’uld on the planet we were investigating.”

Daniel finally set down his things and went to sit down on the other end of the couch, leaving the center for Jack.  “Oh.”

Swapping the peanuts for the remote control, Jack thudded down in the proffered spot. “Damnit… that’s probably why the meeting tomorrow morning.” With a grumble, the colonel pointed at the TV and clicked a few buttons. “I knew things were getting too easy lately.”

Smiling faintly, Daniel nudged him.  “You were getting stir crazy anyway,” he pointed out.  “It’s just as well.”

There was a snort and a hand wave at the piles of research heaped on the table. “Me? Nuh uh. You’re the one dragging your work in here. I’d be happy if I never saw another snake ever again.”

The colonel may say those words, but they all knew he was lying.

Daniel rolled his eyes, clearly telegraphing his disbelief.  “Uh huh.”

Eying them both, Teal’c smiled.  “It will be nice to have you both return to the field,” he offered.  “Captain Carter and I have both missed you.”

That brought Jack’s head around. “You, I believe. Sam… she just wants to see for herself that I haven’t broken anything delicate,” he grumbled. “And just for the record, I’m not ignoring the emails from Fraser as much as I’m ignoring anything labeled ‘work’.”

“Fraser?” Daniel asked, blinking.  “You’ve been ignoring emails from the doctor?  Why?”  He looked baffled.

Teal’c said nothing, but from the way Jack shot him a silencing look, he didn’t need to.

“Labeled ‘work’, Daniel. If you haven’t noticed, I’m on vacation,” was the muttered reply. Jack lifted the remote with grim determination. “Now shut up and watch the movie.”

Smiling to himself, Teal’c pretended not to notice Daniel pinching his new husband, and peered at the screen as the credits began.

xXx

Amidst the sterile organized chaos that was her domain, Dr Fraser held near god-like authority, answerable only to the general and her moral code. Lives passed through her hands, either to live on to perform their duty or to slip away into the unreachable ether that every medical practitioner had learned accept eventually.

It was a doctor’s prerogative to ensure that those under her care were healthy, mentally and physically. Officially, Janet had no say on their state of psychological health—that was McKenzie’s area—but that didn’t stop her from doing what she could. And she didn’t care if that meant stepping on that man’s toes.

So when she heard about Daniel’s engagement to Jack her first thoughts were not that it was a homosexual affair, but that the colonel would break the poor younger man within the first five minutes of intimate contact. Hadn’t Daniel had enough stress in his life?

As the months went by, she held her peace. There was no point cornering Jack if Daniel called the arrangement off before the wedding night. It would be a moot point that had the potential to be awkward. Jack already had little love for the medical ward.

The two certainly seemed to get along as usual, despite the change in their relationship. It was entirely possible that she was misjudging the older man or misreading the whole situation. There was a rumour circulating that all this was simply a botched joke on their end that went too far. Further credence was given to the gossip as Jack was a joker and prior to this, there had been no previous interest shown on either side.

So she waited.

Until the day of the wedding, when she threw caution and prudence to the wind and decided that she had better set Jack straight now, rather than keep her peace and risk Daniel’s peace of mind and health.

Jack had seen her coming, but he was a soldier, and so met her head on. He heard her out, nodded his acknowledgement, and promptly told her to ‘mind her own fucking business’.

Hmm… Alright, she may have deserved that.

And she was willing to do just that, and had been…

“… until Daniel shows up with a four-inch gash across his palm!” she finished, slamming the butt end of her beer bottle down on the gurney with a clang. “And he won’t tell me anything about how he got it!”

Across from her, sitting in another office chair, Samantha made a face.  “Did he look upset?” she asked, concerned.  “I mean, it may have been an accident…”

Shaking her head, Janet waved a hand in the air. “No! He looked smug! So the only thing I can think of is that Daniel got Jack back even worse, but that man hasn’t been in to be treated.” She paused to take another swig, then paused again before imbibing. The bottle lowered… “What if Daniel had to tie Jack down to a chair?”

Sam smacked a hand over her eyes.  “Oh, please, stop right there.  I don’t need that mental image,” she groaned, and slapped the other hand on top of the first.  “Augh.  Too late.  Ewwww.”

Grimacing, Janet made a sound of disgust. “Really, Sam. I didn’t mean that. And I’ve seen both men nude. Jack has more scars than a shrapnel-mine survivor. Back to Daniel though!” she insisted, ignoring the cringe from her friend. “Has he talked to you at all? Jack isn’t answering my emails and his phone is turned off.”

“No, he hasn’t mentioned it,” the blonde replied, shaking her head and pausing to sip her own drink.  “He emailed me the day before yesterday, but that was about something he’s researching.  Didn’t mention Jack at all.”

A fantastic idea occurred to Janet. She almost chided herself. She was a doctor, she shouldn’t be thinking things like that! But still… “Maybe Jack’s dead?”

“Janet!” Sam scolded, looking appalled.  “Don’t say things like that!”  Pause.  “Besides, if he is, then that would make Daniel the murderer—or the person that hid the body.  And he just wouldn’t do that sort of thing.”

Aw, Sam was so sweet, but… “I’m pretty sure… that if Jack fell down, hit his head, and died, while Daniel was in one of his books, our wonderful researcher wouldn’t notice until several hours later.”

xXx

“At which point he’d tell someone,” Sam insisted.  She really couldn’t say anything about Daniel’s observational skills, but… he would notify someone that Jack was dead.  Then she recalled something Teal’c had mentioned.  “Oh, and last time I saw Teal’c, he said he was going to go see them!”

Twisting around, the doctor peered at the far wall behind her. “When was that?” she asked absently, before turning her attention back to the alcohol in her hand. A smug expression crossed her features as she tilted the bottle.

Shaking her head, Sam glanced toward the clock too.  “That was this morning,” she replied.  “I haven’t seen him since then.  But he’d definitely have said something.”

“Hmm… maybe they’re having a private wake in the church,” Janet mused, then pouted. “I would have gone if invited.” It occurred to Sam that Janet was on her fifth bottle… and had only started at half past seven.

“Janet, I really don’t think he’s dead,” Sam pointed out, giving her friend a worried look.  Maybe I should stop her from drinking any more.

The other woman sighed and almost in direct defiance to Sam’s best intentions, drained the rest of the bottle. “Pity,” she muttered as she set the empty container down with surprising accuracy. “Ugh, I need water,” the redhead announced abruptly. “I’ll be right back.”

Shoving the chair back, the doctor rolled across the linoleum to the water dispenser in the corner. “Do you want any?” she called back to Sam.

Grimacing, Sam nodded.  “Yeah, sure, please,” she said, brow furrowed as she thought about Daniel and Jack.  Maybe I should ask Teal’c… just to be sure…

Standing from her chair, Janet was slowly walking towards the office. “I forgot to change the jug… Water bottles are in the fridge. Hope you’re okay with distilled.”

Sam blinked, but shrugged.  “Oh, yeah, that’s fine.  Thank you,” she said.  “Okay, so anyway.  Maybe we should ask Teal’c?  I mean, he was there earlier.  He could tell us how they’re doing.”

“Sam…” Janet said from the doorway. “I am very drunk. I am not seeing anyone tonight. Much less anyone who still sees me in a respectful, responsible light. You can go visit him. I should probably go to bed.”

Twisting around to look at her friend, Sam’s brows furrowed.  “Oh.  Alright.  I should go, then.  I’ll let you know how it goes.”  She climbed to her feet and smiled at the other woman.  “You get some rest.”

Lifting a finger, the doctor shook her head. “Hold on a moment.” She disappeared into the office and the sounds of doors and cupboards opening reached Sam’s waiting ears. When Janet reappeared, she held out a bottle of chilled water. “Drink that before bed.”

The blonde accepted the bottle with a smile.  “Thank you.  I will.”

“Thanks for coming by,” Janet smiled back, “and listening to me rant. I’m sure I’m just worried over nothing, but… I’m still worried. It’s just so unexpected, you know?”

“I know,” Sam agreed with a nod and a twinge of guilt.  “But it’ll work out.  I promise.”

The shorter woman sighed. “I hope so.” Then she straightened with a snort. “Oh, they’ll be fine. Or else Jack really is getting the special prostate exam I’ve been promising him. Complete with ice-cold stainless steel probes.”

Snickering, Sam nodded as she turned away.  “I’ll even help you catch him!  Goodnight, Janet.  Sleep well.”

The doctor chuckled and escorted her to the door. “Goodnight, Sam. Good luck with Teal’c!”

As she left the medical ward behind, Sam found herself wondering what was with that tone of voice.

xXx

The next morning, the team met in the debriefing room at 10am, directly after Jack and Daniel’s meeting with Hammond.  Daniel waved when Sam and Teal’c joined them, and offered them both a smile.  “Hi, guys.”

Across from the linguist, the colonel merely tipped his head.

“Thank you for coming,” Hammond said, and shook his head.  “I’m sending your team out in an hour to investigate P3X 299.  Air is within Earth standards, jungle environment begins barely two feet from the gate, and extends indeterminably.  Deserted, judging from the recon report received.”  He nudged a folder across the table to Jack with a nod.  “Hopefully, it’ll be a simple mission.”

With a wry smile, Jack rapped a knuckle against his own temple as he flipped the manilla envelope open with his free hand. “Final words,” he muttered.

“How long will we be assigned, sir?” Sam asked, brows furrowed.

“Well, depends on what you find,” Hammond replied.  “We’re hoping to find naquida on the planet.  Dr. Jackson—?”

“Oh!  Right, um…”  The archaeologist reached over to a thin stone tablet that had been sitting on the table, and picked it up.  “Uh, well, this was found by SG-5 on their most recent trip to P5N 322.  It was part of what seemed to be some sort of exhibit—Uh, that is, when P5N 322 was inhabited; it’s deserted now.  Apparently the people there all died out, somehow—”

Hammond gave him a look.  “Dr. Jackson.”

Sheepishly, the translator redirected his attention.  “Um, anyway.  It’s one of the Goa’uld languages—a list of mining planets that had plentiful sources of naquida.”

“So we’re going in… picking up a few samples, and then getting back,” Jack summed up, head cocked to the side. “Is that it?”

From further down the table, Sam also raised her voice. “Pardon me, sir, but wasn’t that Ferretti’s mission a few days ago?”

Hammond nodded.  “That’s correct.  Your team will be investigating the next planet on the list.  You’re to watch for hostiles, Goa’uld and natives alike.  If there are any.”

“Sir, what if we find natives?” Daniel piped up.

“The usual.  See if there’s anything to be gained from possible trade, including naquida.”  The general paused and eyed all of them closely.  “Also, I feel it’s my duty to remind you… make sure to consult Dr. Jackson before accepting food from the natives.”  This was said with a look at Jack, and then Daniel.  “And no more ‘incidences’ like the last one.”

The colonel actually ducked his head and shot the linguist a sly smile. “Aww. But I think we came out on top with that one, didn’t we, Daniel?”

To his credit, the man across from him barely twitched.  He did, however, glare.  “That’s not funny,” he scolded, but wasn’t able to keep his frown under the force of Jack’s smirk.  “Uhg.  Understood, sir.”

Teal’c’s brow quirked, while Hammond pretended not to know about the undertones to that one.  “Good.  Read over the report and be ready to leave in an hour.”

“Yes sir!” Echoed the responses around the table.

“Dismissed, then.”

xXx

Hammond was the first out the door, followed by Teal’c, while Daniel lingered, frowning down at the tablet.  He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand on his shoulder.  He looked up.  “Oh, uh, Sam.  Hi.  Right, I’ll be along.”  He smiled at her as he scooped the stone up.  “How have you been?”

“I’m good, but do you have a minute?” Sam asked in her most sincere voice. “I’d like to catch up.” The blonde focused on Daniel, but he could also see Jack standing just behind her, eyebrows furrowing.

“Oh, sure,” the archaeologist said, looking surprised.  “What is it?”  He gave her a faintly bemused look.

Giving him a smile and straightening, she stepped back … and into Jack. “Oh! Colonel! Excuse me. You don’t mind do you? I’m just stealing Daniel for a coffee.”

“Of course, I don’t mind,” Jack grumbled, one hand half-raising to smooth over his stomach. “I was only planning on—Never mind. Go have your coffee.” He gave her a narrow-eyed glare, but still nodded to Daniel as he stalked out the door. Daniel was pretty sure he heard a ‘Damn nosey, overbearing…’

Dismissing the colonel, Sam beamed at the last man in the room. “Ready?”

Daniel’s brows lifted, but he nodded.  “Sure,” he agreed slowly, wondering what that had been about.  “Coffee sounds good.  Uh, but we have to make it quick—I have to stop by my old quarters for tissues before we leave.”

Gesturing to the door, Sam tilted her head. “Your old quarters?” she asked as she followed him out of the room. “Does that mean you and the colonel are rooming together? Permanently?”

“We’re married,” Daniel pointed out as they walked.  “Of course.”

Her tone was hesitant as she answered, “Some couples sleep in different bedrooms… And considering that there aren’t many facilities in the base for couples, it may be inevitable to have different quarters.”

The linguist chuckled.  “Your concern is noted, but I’m actually going to be asking the general about it, after we get back.  Jack figures we should do a mission first, you know, to show that it won’t get in the way.”

At this, Sam gave him a searching glance. “So, you two are really okay with this? It’s not too awkward? I mean, the two of you… aren’t really a couple… really. Are you?”

His step faltered, and he blinked at her.  “Oh.”  Pause.  “Actually… yeah.”  He shrugged.  “We’re trying.”

Several steps behind—he actually had to turn—his friend was staring at him with huge eyes. “Back that up… what do you mean by ‘trying’?” she demanded.

“Well, uh…”  He reached up and ruffled a hand through his hair, sheepish.  “When two people like each other… and they’re both consenting adults… sometimes… stuff happens…  and they decide to do more stuff.”  Pause.  “And sometimes more.”

Judging from the strangled sounds emitting from behind the two hands Sam had slapped over her mouth, she understood what ‘stuff’ meant. Her eyes were still huge. Slowly, she lowered her hands. “Daniel?”

Barely managing not to wince, he nodded.  “Yeah?”

A visible shiver worked its way from the top of her crown to her toes. “You are never—Hear me?—never to speak of this again. Not to me. Understand?” She waved a hand as she looked away. “Even if I ask!”

He couldn’t help a grin at that.  “Sure?” he teased.  “Because you did ask.”  And he really hadn’t known she could turn that color.

“Oh, so positive,” she assured him. “I got my answer, thank you very much…” Trailing off, Sam paused, and turned a helpless look on Daniel. She stared at him for a moment.

He stared back, waiting.

Then she shuddered again and shook her head. “Nope. Don’t wanna know! We’re going for coffee. Nice, black, hot caffeine. Obviously, I haven’t had enough of it yet.” Flustered, the woman made the hand motions for ‘Go that way’. “Ignore everything I say. I don’t know what’s good for me right now.”

Daniel chuckled.  “Actually, that reminds me…  I don’t suppose you know who’s going around threatening Jack on my behalf, do you?”  His brows furrowed.  “Apparently, someone’s decided it’s necessary.”

“Just one?” she asked absently, then abruptly blurted: “Coffee!”

He slowed his step as they walked, eying her closely.  “Sam… You realize I can take care of myself, right?” he asked slowly.  “I’m a grown man.  I’ve been married before.  Hell, I spent most of my married life on another planet.”

The woman carried on for a few more paces before sighing. “We know you’re an adult, Daniel. And generally… yes, you can take care of yourself.” She smiled weakly in the face of his darkening expression. “That’s not the issue at all.”

“And Jack isn’t going to hurt me,” he added, brows furrowing.  “Ever.  He wouldn’t do that.”

Chewing her lip, Sam dipped her head, but didn’t respond immediately. “In any other situation, I would agree with you, but…”

He threw up his hands.  “What?  What is it?  Why are you people so worried?!” he demanded, fed up.

“We just care, alright?” Sam burst out. “Jack has never been a caring person and even if he’s a fantastic leader, well, I just don’t see him being gentle!”

“And who said I want gentle?” he retorted automatically.

The blonde woman went red, then white, then red again. She covered her face with a hand and gave a low sound of distress. “Look, if Jack hasn’t gone in… in that direction, then this conversation is just moot. Just… Aaauugh. I can’t believe I’m having this conversation.”

Daniel scowled.  “I can’t believe it’s necessary,” he replied irritably.  “Honestly, I think you are being completely unreasonable.  You and… and whoever else it is that… that’s been threatening my husband.”  He shook his head.  “I don’t have time for this.  I have to get ready.”  He frowned at her.  “I’m going to ask you nicely, because you’re my friend, Sam.  Please stay out of our business.”

Cringing back, Sam nodded quickly. “Sorry, Daniel. It’s just… Okay, no. We were being ridiculous.” She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “Can I at least get that coffee for you? We can go over the material together, and, I swear, I’ll think before opening my mouth next time.”

“No, really don’t have time,” he muttered, and sighed.  “Later, though.  And… and apologize to Jack!”  Because his husband was definitely going to be sulking.  “He’s a good man.”  He didn’t deserve the threats.

A very contrite Sam nodded once more. “Okay, I’ll do that.” Lifting her chin, she added, “Right now. I’ll see you later then.” She gave him a tight-lipped smile and marched off… back to the meeting room.

Daniel made a face and turned around, heading his own way.  He really needed to get ready!

xXx

Chapter 2 | Table of Contents | Chapter 4

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