Summary: Three months later and Jack's still trying to get his head around everything
It wasn't a long walk from the stargate to the Seberus, but they were carrying full packs, Carter's naquadah generator, a plastic trunk holding additional equipment and their dress uniforms (which Jack had no intention of ever unpacking), and another full of something heavy that Daniel had listed in the mission inventory as 'diplomatic supplies.'
It had been about ten in the morning when they'd left the SGC, but it was close to sundown here. They hurried through the cooling evening to Warrick's ship and gathered in the control room to watch take-off. A space ship. Jack had done this before, on bigger, badder ships than this. But still, it made him want to smile. He could remember reading Heinlein as a kid, watching Star Trek, playing with a toy ray-gun. He'd never thought he'd make it, not for one moment. Hadn't hoped. Hadn't kept up with science fiction. Hadn't thought about it.
And, weirdly, here he was.
Getting used to the stargate had been easier than getting used to bona fide space ships; the stargate was utilitarian, not romantic. And gate travel was, he had to admit, a lot more convenient. But ships! Kirk had been able to take home with him, wherever he went. And Kirk had almost never had to spend days at a time sleeping on the ground. And there had been a lot less walking. Even the pathetic shmoes on Lost In Space hadn't had to do lots of walking.
They broke orbit in less than fifteen minutes. Warrick climbed out of his seat and led them back into the passenger section, pointing out the food dispenser and telling them to take their pick of empty compartments. Then he and Carter disappeared back into the cockpit, deep in a discussion of naquadah physics.
The Seberus was more roomy than Jacob and Selmac's little cargo ship--which made sense, since the Seberus often carried human cargo. The individual rooms, though, were small and very plain. "The beds are quite narrow," Teal'c said distastefully.
"Ah, but no bugs, no rocks, and no rain," Jack answered.
"How 'bout this one?" Daniel was pointing into a compartment slightly larger than the others, with four slim beds set bunk bed style into the wall. Without comment Jack and Teal'c began to stow their gear.
"So. Five day trip. That's gonna be nicely stultifying." Taking the privilege of age and rank, Jack claimed one of the lower bunks. "Is that five days, our days? Or five days, their days?"
"There's only forty-three minutes difference, Jack." A sigh. "You should have brought a book."
He had, but didn't say so. "Looks like you brought a whole library. What is this, anyway?" Jack nudged the diplomatic case with his boot.
Daniel rolled his eyes. "No. Diplomatic gifts. That means, 'cleverly disguised samples of things we could trade.'"
"Oh, right. Because we have, you know, so much they would want. Our advanced and powerful technology, for example."
"No, other stuff. I don't know what will appeal to the Hebredians, of course, so I brought a selection; European chocolate, sugar, caviar, spices, samples of music."
"Spices? Like for cooking?"
"Hey, they stimulated unprecedented expansion in trade on Earth for centuries. Maybe the Hebredians will like cinnamon."
"Well enough to trade us weapons?" Mom's cookie recipe or some spicy peppers surely weren't going to buy them anything useful, like, for instance, surface to orbit missiles that could take out a mothership's shields. But Daniel seemed almost optimistic.
"If they don't have an urgent need for technology, they might not want to trade for it anyway. You don't trade for things you have, you trade for things you need--or luxury items that you can use to show off to your neighbors."
"So...you've got chocolate in here?"
"Leave that alone. It's not for you."
Jack dug his gameboy out of his back pack, scowled at it and tossed it on the bed. "I'm bored."
"We've only been here half an hour!" Daniel looked pleadingly at Teal'c, who shrugged. "Well, you know, Jack. There are other ways of passing time."
Jack pushed down the threatening smile. Daniel always could take a hint. "Not on a mission. No hanky-panky off planet."
Teal'c looked up. "I believe that directive refers only to hanky-panky with aliens." Well, yes, that directive. Jack remembered that one just fine, thank you very much, the directive and the sexually transmitted nanites that motivated it. There was also a directive that prohibited fraternization within SG teams, but they were already breaking that one. There wasn't a prohibition on doing on missions something that shouldn't be happening anywhere.
"This isn't about regulations," he said primly, trying not to overplay it. "This is about safety. We can't afford to be distracted."
"From what, Jack? We're in a space ship. Who are we posting a guard against?"
"I don't know. That's the point. If we knew we wouldn't have to be alert." Daniel had always considered Jack way too cautious. When it was just the two of them, he had only felt the situation was secure enough for...hanky-panky off-planet twice, and one of those times, they'd been guests of the Asgard. You don't get safer than that.
"Oh, here we go." Daniel sounded sour, but his eyes were enjoying baiting Jack.
"We're on. A mission."
"Do you mean you've never, ever had an encounter while you were deployed?" Another old argument.
"We sleep, while deployed," Teal'c said thoughtfully. "We eat, we dance. We play video games."
He had meant to keep up the game a bit longer, but while it was easy to tease Daniel, Teal'c was just too...Teal'c to rag with a straight face for very long. "Ok. But only because you asked nicely." He shoved away the tiny thread of guilt that wasn't funny. They were on a space ship. If a mother ship popped up in front of them, there wasn't that much they could do, no matter how alert they were. And if the three seconds it took to stand up was going to make that much difference, well, they wouldn't be safe sleeping or taking a dump for the whole trip either.
Teal'c pounced like a large kitten, sweeping Jack off his bunk and pinning him against the door. He was several inches off the ground, so that Teal'c had to tilt his head back to kiss him. Teal'c had been doing that a lot here lately--taking every opportunity he had to toss Jack around, proving to himself that he still could. It was getting old--hell, being tossed around by Teal'c had always been old, but whatever. Right now, Teal'c was looking up at him, grinning with affection and amusement. Teal'c had been grinning a lot lately, too. It made up for the manhandling.
A heat rose in Jack, and he found himself smiling back. Teal'c lowered him slowly, still pressing him against the door with the weight of his body. Heavy and hard against Jack's groin, his chest. Strong, it turned out, was really...hot. Their bellies were together; thank God that Junior was gone, the empty symbiote pouch scarred and ruined. An infant Goa'uld in bed with them would have been the ultimate turn-off.
Jack slid a hand up under Teal'c shirt. Skin like silk, with lean, springy muscle underneath. Five days. Five days on a small ship with nothing to do. Life didn't get better than this. Well, a little better. Bigger beds would be better.
Jack woke alone on one of those narrow beds. His body was heavy and relaxed and ever so slightly sore. He smiled to himself, the memory of Daniel's and Teal'c's bodies still clinging to him, although there hadn't been room to sleep piled together. Sharing a bed was better, but this was still very good.
The room was dark, but there was movement somewhere--and then Carter, whispering, "Oh, come on, Daniel. You guys seem to like it."
"Yeah, but...the physiology's a little different."
Soft kissing sounds, Carter wheedling. "I know there are women who do it. What can it hurt to try? Teach me."
Jack kept his breathing deep, trying to sound asleep since a mad dash for the door was clearly out. He was thankful for the darkness. There was no way he was getting involved in this conversation. NO WAY.
"I'm dying to know what the attraction is. You guys do it."
"I would also like to learn, Daniel Jackson."
Carter giggled. Daniel hissed, "Shhh. You'll wake Jack."
A silent shadow, Teal'c slipped from the bunk over Jack and swung lithely onto the upper bunk across the way. "I would also like to attempt this practice." He was speaking very softly now, but Jack could hear him just fine.
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I was not sure of the etiquette surrounding such a request. This practice seems to be regarded with some ambivalence by your culture."
A smothered giggle from Carter. Jack rolled his eyes and silently eased back towards the wall. He was very, very glad for the darkness.
From across the way came soft sounds--the slide of skin, a swallowed sigh. Quiet and unhurried. "I'm sorry to be leaving you guys alone so much. I hope you don't feel abandoned."
"Let's see: Us, physics; us, physics. Tough choice, there, Sam. Ow, hey."
"This is a fantastic opportunity. We can use this technology--"
"Shhh. Shhh. We understand. It's fine."
Yeah, right, Daniel. What you understand is that physics, alien engineering, and fast ships make her all hot and bothered.
"So you're ok?"
"You got us five days as passengers. Not to mention the return trip. We're very ok. Just, you know, visit sometimes."
"Indeed. We are indebted."
"And the colonel?"
There was a short, ominous pause, and Jack deeply regretted not letting them know that he was awake. While he was trying to work out if it was too late to join the conversation, it already was.
"Jack's...ok." That sounded more like loyalty and wishful thinking than anything else. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Danny.
"O'Neill believes it is only a matter of time before we are defeated by our enemies."
Okay, kids. That's about enough. How 'bout we all get some sleep.
"He--he seems almost normal to me," Carter said uncertainly.
"O'Neill is often quite cheerful in the face of certain doom." True enough. It was only grief Jack couldn't handle. Certain doom was a cakewalk.
"So you agree with him?" Daniel said softly.
"Our victory has never been assured. But even if we should fail, the attempt has been worth while. Many thousands of my people are no longer deceived. My son is not a slave. I no longer nourish my enemy within my body. When I die, I die free. This is much more than I had ever expected. And there is hope for yet more, if we are fortunate."
Jack pushed his face into the squashy alien mattress, desperate to make no revealing sound. Not thinking. Not thinking about hope or Teal'c. Not thinking about Ry'ac.
I can save these people.
Many have said that. But you are the first I believed could do it.
Could they do it? Put an end to the Goa'uld? Did it matter that he didn't know, when this moment was good? Carter was having a great time--physics heaven, plus this whole space-ship race thing. If the Goa'uld were going to enslave the Earth, surely it was a good thing that Carter got to have her space ship races and ion engines first.
He was thinking too much. It was never a good thing for a soldier to spend so much time thinking. Teal'c, for example, had never been under any illusions about their situation or their chances, but that never seemed to bother him. As for Daniel, whatever he was doing at the moment always seemed more important than little things like failure or fear or dying. Daniel always just kept on, with neither resentment nor panic.
One way or another.
On the bed above, Carter was panting almost silently. "Daniel, yes, right there." No pet names, nothing that would give them away if they were to call it out under fire.
"Softly," Teal'c murmured. The walls were solid--he was protecting Jack's sleep, not their privacy. Bad idea or not, hopeless or not, they loved him.
"Daniel, please. Daniel, please."
"Sam--I just--I don't think it's a good idea." Daniel, forgetting as all of them sometimes did, that while Carter was a girl and that was fine, she was also The Girl, and she didn't like the little exclusions that came with that. "Let's just--"
"Oh, for Pete's sake, Danny. She's a grown-up."
There was a short, awkward silence, and then Carter called thinly, "Colonel? A little help here?"
"Yeah, yeah. Can't manage by yourselves..." Jack rolled onto his feet and took the four steps across the aisle. Their gear was stowed at the back of the room, so there was nothing to trip over in the dark. As he fumbled against the bed on the other side, Teal'c caught his wrist and hauled him up into the already-crowded pallet. Yes, Teal'c, you're still stronger than me. But Jack didn't mind. Teal'c had spent almost two months not touching any of them, barely speaking. This was better. "I'm an old man, you know. I need my sleep."
He found the soft, round curve of her hips, the slight swell of her belly. Soft and sleek, so much smaller than Teal'c, so much more give than Daniel. Sudden desire made him sway slightly, and he teetered a bit. There was very little room on the squishy mattress on which to balance. Jack slid one hand around Daniel's waist to brace himself while he continued to investigate Carter with the other.
"Jack...I don't want to hurt her!"
"You won't." He had to locate them by Braille, his hands fumbling over softness and slickness in the thick shadows. Carter gasped and pushed against his hand. "Here, like this.... Have you got it? Now she's in control. Ok." He stroked that soft belly, leaned slightly against Daniel's solid shoulder. "Just relax Sam. You're ok."
She grunted softly, a longing sound in the darkness. "Love you, guys. You know that, right?"
Jack swallowed. "Yeah. We know."
He couldn't see them, but he could hear the soft rustle of their bodies, Daniel's soft sighs. They smelled of sweetness and heat and sex. Petting Carter, Jack's hands brushed against Teal'c's. It was good, very good. He lifted Teal'c's hand, turned it palm-up, and kissed it. "Dibs," he breathed. Teal'c made a soft sound, like purring, and squeezed his hand.