Disclaimer: Don't own anything except a car I can't drive, and a bike that I can't ride. This story was written for entertainment purposes only; no monetary gain was my reward for all my hard work (Snort! Grin! Hysterical laughter...).

Truth

by Linda Bindner

Daniel stood on the other side of Jack's front door when he had jerked in open, expecting to see all three members of SG-1. Like they did most everything, the three subordinate members of the team tended to arrive at events together, as one big group. But this time, only Daniel had arrived for the scheduled team night.

Where's everybody else? Jack instantly asked as he peered at the single man on his front step.

Daniel pushed past Jack, and stood beside the open doorway as his coat slid down his arms. Sam said that you would wonder, and that very sentence would be the first thing out of your mouth, he said.

Jack grinned then, and shut the door on the cold air of an early evening in November. She knows me well, then, was all that Jack said. After a minute, when Daniel had taken the silent opportunity to hang up his coat, Jack sarcastically asked, Okay, what's everyone's excuse this time?

Daniel led the way into Jack's living room while he spoke. Teal'c's training session with the staff weapon got started late, so it will end much later than he expected it to.

And Carter? Jack inquired.

Daniel snorted to himself; it figured that Jack would wonder about her, but not ask about her first, even though she was the person he had to be most interested in on their entire team. But Daniel didn't say anything about that for now. We were on our way to the surface of the mountain, honest, when the dialing program went fritzy, he explained. The tech crew was all gathered around one terminal in the Control Room, talking 'bugs,' and 'hacks,' and who knows what all...

Ah, the Sam Carter fan club, Jack said, as if he had personal experience with what he was talking about. He added, A bunch of geeks standing around, gawking at a computer. He shook his head as he followed Daniel down the steps, and into the living room. Not my idea of a good time.

Well, Sam was in Seventh Heaven when I left... She said that she would come by when she was done... something about how working with a computer tended to take a lot longer than expected, and that she'll bring Teal'c on over when she's done.

Jack snorted aloud. Then, I'll expect to see them sometime around 1900. Should we save some pizza for them? Jack wanted to know. Then he studied Daniel. We are still getting pizza, aren't we?

Daniel nodded. I say we buy two, put one in the fridge, and then eat the other one. One pizza should be enough for Sam and Teal'c, right? Daniel asked.

Sounds good to me, Jack seconded. He picked up the phone to order, then paused to grin wickedly. Should we get something like Veggie Lovers', or somethin' they'll be sure to hate, but they'll both be so hungry by time they get here that they'll dig in anyway?

Daniel appreciatively smiled. Jack, he said, I didn't know that you're so evil.

Grinning as well, Jack ordered a Meat Lovers', and a Veggie Lovers'. Once the pizzas had been delivered, Jack stuck one in the fridge, then carted the other into the living room, where Daniel was patiently waiting for his food.

The archaeologist took two slices, and put them on the plate that Jack gave him. He took a bite, smiled in ecstasy, then chewed. Once he had swallowed, he started speaking. Okay, Jack, it's just the two of us, going to be just the two of us for the next several hours, so... Answer truthfully... What do you really think about Sam?

Jack choked on the bite of pizza in his mouth, and had to very inelegantly spit it onto his plate before he could wipe his mouth, and say, Geez, Daniel, let a guy eat first, why don't ya? You know, the pizza sauce burned the roof of my mouth, right?

But Daniel was relentless. No good, Jack, he said, and shook his head. I'm not buying it... You can't distract me from my question... Not this time... Tell me the truth... What do you really think about Sam?

Daniel! Jack hollered. I'm not telling you anything until you tell me something first!

When Sha're and I had been married for four months, she got pregnant, Daniel quickly said, as if this particular truth still pained him. We waited to tell anybody about the baby for three months. Actually, we waited three and a half months. Then, when we were sure we were safe to tell everybody... I mean, we were going to tell her father the next day!... she miscarried that night.

Jack was stunned to hear this news. God, Daniel, I had no idea.

Of course you didn't! Daniel earnestly ground out. I didn't tell a soul!

How unusual for you, Jack had to quip. He was referring to how Daniel couldn't keep a secret even if his life depended on it.

That's not funny! Daniel retorted. I know when to keep my mouth shut. Then, he amended, Or at least I know when it's really important that I tell no one...

Oh, come off it, Daniel! Jack berated. I'm real sorry that you lost a kid... I know what that feels like...

No, you don't! Daniel told him. When Jack looked at him with danger written all over his features, Daniel explained, You know what it feels like to get to know your kid, then have him disappear. Daniel turned around to morosely stare at the wall. I never even got the chance to know my kid at all.

The room was silent for a moment. The clock ticking from the kitchen was loud in so much quiet. Finally, Jack said, I'm sorry, Daniel... You have my sympathy, of course, and I won't tell a soul...

Not even Sam? Daniel harshly inquired, his breathing a tad abnormal. He tried to regulate it by taking another bite of pizza.

Jack grimaced. Are we back to her again? he whined. No, he then emphatically said. I won't tell Sam... uh, Carter... unless you want me to. The same goes for Teal'c, too, he promised.

Daniel sighed, then dispiritedly rubbed his eyes behind his glasses. No, that's all right. If it comes up in conversation, then go ahead and tell them, he said into his fingers. I don't want to be the cause of stilted conversation.

Jack gazed at his friend across the room. He said, All right... If it ever comes up... But no one else, I promise.

Daniel wearily sighed. It was a long time ago. He looked around the room, not seeing the furniture, the pictures hanging on the walls... I guess it really doesn't matter, anyway; Sha're's dead, he said in a monotone voice.

Jack swallowed the bite of pizza he currently had in his mouth. It always matters, he said softly.

Suddenly, Daniel began to laugh, a sound with no humor in it. What a sorry lot we all are! he exclaimed. Three of us have been married, and only Teal'c has anything to show for it! The rest of us are either widowed, divorced, or hopelessly in love with someone we can't have.

The slice of pizza paused half way to Jack's mouth. What? he asked.

You and Sam, Daniel said, as if those three words explained everything.

What about me and... Carter? Jack asked right back.

Daniel rolled his eyes. Oh, come on, Jack! he exclaimed. Everyone knows that you two... He halted his words.

Jack's voice lowered to dangerous levels. Everyone knows what? he asked.

Daniel blinked. Was Jack really gonna pretend on this one? he wondered. You, he said. And Sam...

Jack glared at the younger man. We what?

Daniel glared back at Jack. He'd always been one of the few people who refused to be cowed by Jack's anger. Now, he simply ignored his team leader's dark expression, and said, Everyone knows, Jack, that you're in love with Sam, and that Sam's in love with you, and that neither of you can, or will, do anything about it because of the regulations, which I think is pretty dumb, by the way, and...

Have you been drinking Drano again? Jack wanted to know.

It was a common belief that if a person were to ever drink Drano, it was a good bet that that person would probably die. As Daniel was still alive and kicking... No, I don't think Drano has been part of my diet lately, Daniel stated.

Jack continued to glare. Then you've been hit on the head, or something?

Daniel sighed again. Jack, why are you denying this to me? he wanted to know. It's just the two of us... And I'm not going to tell a soul...

Oh, sure! Jack sarcastically blurted. Do you tell yourself that before, or after, you tell Doc all about this conversation?

I won't even tell Janet, Daniel promised. Now, are you, or aren't you?

Am I what? Jack was stalling for time now, and it probably showed. But he did it anyway.

Daniel looked less than amused at Jack's stalling technique. In love? Daniel inquired. With Sam?

Jack let the pizza he was holding drop back to his plate. This is ridiculous... he started to say.

It's not ridiculous, Daniel argued. It's a simple enough question... All it takes is a 'yes' or a 'no' answer.

Jack looked downright belligerent. And if I say 'yes,' you'll blab it all over the SGC until even General Hammond hears it, and both Sam and I will be court-martialed, and thrown out of the military. If I say 'no,' you can bet your bottom dollar that Carter will somehow find out about this, and...

No! Daniel said. Sam won't hear a thing from me...

Then you will tell Doc, who will be overheard by one of her nurses, who will let it slip to Carter... No way, I'm not gonna be reduced to Base gossip...

This isn't about gossip, Daniel said. This is about how you feel...

And how do you feel, Daniel? Jack asked. What is it like to...

Did I ever tell you that I was married before I met Sha're? Daniel asked.

That question stopped Jack's inquiry right in the middle of that inquiry. His eyes grew wide. Uh... No, you left that part out of your Team Biography, he said.

Daniel peered at Jack through the lenses of his glasses. Yep, for three hours, I was a married man... Course, I was also drunk at the time...

How many beers did you have? Jack sardonically asked. Two?

I'm being serious, here! Daniel hollered. Here I am, spilling my guts to you, and all you can do is joke about it!

You're right, Daniel, Jack immediately said, looking contrite, now. I'm sorry. He threw his pizza slice back onto his plate, then gave in to the urge to rub his hands up and down his face. I'm sorry, he said again. What happened? he asked.

Daniel actually laughed a tiny laugh. Her father threatened to shoot me if I didn't agree to an annulment... A shotgun is most persuasive when you're staring down its barrel, and the chamber is loaded, and you know it.

Jack winced, reminded of loaded weapons. Yeah, guns are like that, Jack said.

Anyway, Daniel went on, If anyone ever finds out about that, I'll be teased to my dying day about two-timing Sha're, or something like that.

You'll never hear any two-timing jokes from me, Jack promised. There's no two-timing involved in a second relationship, anyway...

So, you admit to this, then... That you love Sam? Daniel asked.

Jack sighed, his explosive exhalation of breath sounding loud in the silent room, and he leaned back against the chair he was sitting in front of. It ain't that easy, Daniel, Jack told him.

Yes, it is, Daniel answered.

Jack glanced at the younger man. No, it ain't, he repeated.

Then, explain how it isn't, Daniel demanded.

Jack sighed again. Because... Because... Jack paused to scrub his face again. I would never do anything to hurt Carter's career, he said. She's worked so hard to get where she is, and I don't...

That's a load of crap, Daniel said, then went on, and you know it.

Jack looked up at Daniel. Excuse me? he politely, sarcastically, said. Are my ears deceiving me?

Your ears are just fine, and you know that, too, Daniel said. I think you're just using that 'career' thing as a convenient excuse.

We are not, Jack retorted.

Then, you admit it, huh? Daniel inquired.

Jack sighed once more. Daniel...

Admit it! Daniel wheedled.

Jack threw his head into his hands. God! he snapped. You're impossible!

Thanks, I know, Daniel said back. They take you aside in Chemistry class, and teach you how to be a relentless nerd...

Daniel, if anyone calls you a nerd, I will personally deck them, Jack said into his hands. Now, I've known you to be nerdy a time or two...

You love me anyway, Daniel told him in an offhand manner. But we're getting off topic, here. Remember... Sam?

Jack groaned. I don't often forget her, he said.

So..?

Yes, Daniel, yes! Are you happy, now? Geez!

Wow, Daniel noted. I didn't think you would tell me.

You tell me what the hell I'm supposed to do about it, and I'll nominate you for the Pulitzer Prize, honest, Jack said.

Well.., Daniel began.

I've thought and thought about those damned regs more times than you can count, and I just don't see a way around them, Jack told him. Then, he looked up, beseeching. Do you?

Well... Daniel's voice trailed off till there was no sound in the room again. The clock from the kitchen was loud once more.

Jack laughed, a painful sound. You've been married, Danny-boy, he said. Twice, apparently... What am I supposed to do? he asked. I can't do anything about this... God... How did this happen? Jack queried. I've only loved two women in my entire life... And the second time, I wasn't even remotely looking to fall in love... And I fell so hard... And, so help me, if you say one word about any of this, I'll...

I know, I know, Daniel said. You'll knock my block off.

I mean it, Jack said. Not a word! Not to Carter, or Teal'c, or Doc...

Suddenly, Daniel sat up. Have you ever asked if the regs can be rewritten? he asked. Or if you can amend them for your situation? He was on a roll, now. Or have you asked General Hammond if you can be excluded from them, or something?

Jack scowled again. Daniel! I can't ask to be excluded!

Why not? Daniel inquired. You've saved the world a time or two.... thousand. I should think that counts for something!

No! Jack frowned. It doesn't count for anything if I'm just doing my job!

But other SG team leaders are married, Daniel protested. They have families. And they haven't saved the planet time and time again, like you have.

Daniel! Jack yelled in exasperation. Those married people aren't in direct chain of command situations! he pointed out.

Is that the only problem? Daniel asked.

It's a pretty damned big problem if you ask me! Jack retorted.

Maybe... Have you spoken to Hammond about any of this?

Daniel! Of course I haven't! If I speak to him about any of this, he'll have to report what I say, and...

But he doesn't have to report what I say, Daniel said, then. I'm a civilian, and even though he's my boss, he can't order me to keep my mouth shut...

Jack drew a deep breath. Daniel, I...

Abruptly, the doorbell rang, cutting him off in mid sentence. Jack rose to answer the door.

Sam and Teal'c stood on his front step. Hi! Sam said. Found the problem in record time! She responded to Jack's wave inside by stepping into the front entry hall. I bet you thought you wouldn't see us till 1900 or so!

Uh.., Jack mumbled.

Sam turned to her companion. Didn't I say that, Teal'c?

You did indeed, MajorCarter, Teal'c replied, and smiled before he pulled his coat off.

Now, do you guys have any leftover pizza? Sam asked.

It's in the fridge! Daniel called from the living room.

Sam smiled. Cold pizza... My favorite!

You can heat it up if you want, Jack then said.

Naw! Sam shook her head. I kinda like cold pizza.

Teal'c followed her into the kitchen. It makes a nice addition to breakfast, he noted.

Phooey! It makes a nice breakfast! Sam negated. Now, where..? Oh, here it is... I'm starving!

There was silence from the two for a second, then Sam yelled, All right... Who ordered a Veggie Lovers'?

Daniel and Jack smiled, then bit into their still warm Meat Lovers' pizza. Told you she'd freak, Jack said as soon as he swallowed.

Sam called back, Okay, who wants my onions?

Just bring the whole damned box in here! Jack called. I love onions!

I know! Sam yelled. A minute later, she appeared in the living room, carrying a pizza box, and a beer. Here, they're all yours, she said, and handed Jack the box. He proceeded to pick off the onions that she didn't want.

Leave some, O'Neill, Teal'c instructed. I have no problem with onions.

Picky, here, has problems with everything, Jack said under his breath. But it was the most affectionate side comment that either Daniel or Sam had ever heard.

So, said Sam, taking a seat beside Jack so that he could pull the onions off her pizza slices more easily. What are you guys talking about?

Jack looked at Daniel, and Daniel looked at Jack.

Truth, Daniel said then. Nothing interesting.

No computer code, Jack added. Nothing going on here. Just guy talk.

Oh? Sam stared at the two men a moment. Guy talk? Is that kinda like girl talk?

Without the girls, Jack quipped. They're hiding in the closet right now.

Sam laughed, and slugged him with a couch pillow.

Jack slugged her back... not as hard.

Pillow fight! Daniel yelled, sending one look Jack's way, letting him know that he knew that Daniel was distracting everyone for him.

Grateful, Jack grabbed another pillow, and threw it at Teal'c.

And all was right again with the Universe as feathers slowly got mixed up with the pizza... yet again.

The End


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