Disclaimer: Own nothing... Made no money... I need a lawyer... Or a job... Probably in that order, too.

A/N Takes place in 10th season.

The Secret That's Not So Secret Any Longer

by Linda Bindner

The thirtieth birthday part for Captain Jason Sallinger was in full swing. It was being held in the Commissary of a base that was dry enough to get someone court-martialed for even thinking about having alcohol on the grounds (though that had never stopped either Colonel O'Neill or General Hammond from bringing alcohol onto base, but who wanted to argue the matter now?). Still, someone had clearly spiked the punch according to the red haze that was already falling over Daniel Jackson's features. He stood with Colonel Samantha Carter on the fringes of the party to better observe his coworkers, though the one who had his attention the most was standing right beside him at the moment.

It only took a few more sips of the spiked punch before Daniel had screwed together enough of his courage to blurt, I don't know who you think you're fooling anymore with this silly charade.

Excuse me? Sam had turned to face him, and her surprised expression widened her eyes until they looked as big as saucers on her face.

Daniel sighed, appearing aggrieved. I know all about it, and so does everybody else, so stop trying to cover up all the time.

This surprised Sam so much that her expression traveled from her eyes to the rest of her features. What? she asked. What are you talking about? Then, she peered more closely at his face. Daniel, are you drunk already? Isn't that only your second cup of punch? If he was drunk already, it would certainly explain his last unnerving statement!

But... Irritated, Daniel glared at her. This is my third cup, I'll have you know, and no, I'm not drunk. Yet. He turned away from her, then turned back almost immediately to regard her in their corner of the room. But this... this... whatever's in this punch... It's given me the courage to finally say something that should have been said a long time ago.

Sam tried hard not to look annoyed at her friend. He was, after all, a little tipsy, she firmly believed, no matter what he claimed. This information bolstering her sense of patience, she sighed, and asked in a long-suffering tone of voice, Okay, you've got me... What should I have heard a long time ago?

Then Daniel blurted, You and Jack are married, aren't you?

That question caught Sam's attention, all right. Her eyes grew wide again for just a second before she was able to strangle her natural reaction of horrified surprise, and quickly cover her response. I don't know what gives you that idea, she cooly said to him, and took another drink of her own punch. She had the feeling that she was going to need its particular kind of kick very soon.

'Soon' came sooner than she thought. Daniel gave her a rather sickening smile, part smug, part humor, one that looked a whole lot better coming from a certain General that they all knew, and very casually, he leaned against the wall behind him, then mentioned, Have I ever told you that Siler happens to know a lot of people around the country?

What did Siler have to do with her supposedly being married to Jack O'Neill? But deciding to play along with who she considered to be a seriously inebriated friend of hers, Sam shook her head, saying, No, Siler's never mentioned it, to Daniel, all the while glancing over the heads of the gathered personnel, looking for Teal'c to help lead their drunk friend back to his quarters in order to sleep it off. But Daniel stopped her when he went on.

Yep, Daniel said, still casual. He knows the guys in the Security Department.

Is that so? Sam asked, only half her attention on what he was saying. Just where had Teal'c gone now?

Daniel was continuing again, though. He knows the guys here, he said, and he also knows a guy who works across the country.

Sam commented, That's the way it is in the military. When I came to the SGC, I knew many people at many bases. It's a bit different now that I've been in one place for so long; I kind of lost touch with a lot of them.

Yeah, having friends all over the place is what Siler claimed to have, too, Daniel told her. So I asked who was the person farthest from here that he knew, you know, kind of like a contest to see who he knew, from where. That was when he mentioned that he knows some lieutenant in Security at the Pentagon.

For another second, Sam's eyes widened again, but she hid this reaction, too, and was able to calmly ask, Isn't that a coincidence? But her heart was pounding painfully against her ribs, and she couldn't quite manage to order it under her rigid control again.

Daniel studied his raised punch cup as if it were a precious artifact in his lab. I said it was a coincidence, too, he told her. And that's when he said that he had a very interesting security tape to show me, if I wanted to take a look at it sometime... I figured that it would be some embarrassing bit about some obscure person I couldn't care less about, but it got me out of my lab, and Doctor Lam from the Infirmary was on my back to get out more at the time... So I told Siler that sure, I would give it a glance... He stared slyly at Sam then, and she realized that he wasn't drunk at all. Imagine my surprise when I saw you, a team member whom I'm very familiar with, approach an office, where I watched another person whom I'm very familiar with, hug said previous team member, then lay a lip lock on her that made even me blush to the roots of my hair. And I've even been married! Daniel retorted. That was when my original team leader, one Jack O'Neill, settled a wedding ring on the third finger of my other team mate, one Samantha Carter, and it was all caught on the video tape that's currently resting in Siler's locker. Daniel faced Sam while she tried to absorb his bland commentary through the haze of shock numbing her mind. You owe him big time, ya know.., Daniel conversationally went on. It's because of the fact that he's refused to share that tape with very many people in the SGC that has kept you from having the reputation of a porn star, according to the kiss Jack gave you.

Well, this was something of a surprise to hear. Feeling slightly sick to her stomach, the birthday cake she had eaten not an hour before curdling into a blob of sugar in her intestines, Sam tried to force her features to conform to the mask she typically wore, but those features were strangely frozen by her state of shock at what Daniel had said to her. All she could manage to mutter was a stuttered, Uh... Uh...

Speechless? Daniel asked, suddenly smiling brilliantly at her. That's how Vala said that you would react.

Sam choked on her punch. Vala knows, too? Now, she didn't even pretend not to be hiding something.

Daniel smirked, an unusual reaction for the peaceful archaeologist. Vala knows, he confirmed for her. That woman can smell sex a mile away.

This statement stunned Sam even further, until she ascertained, She can smell it?

Daniel continued his smirking. Yep, she smells all sorts of odd things... Says it's one of the easier odors if you know what to look for... Kind of like a really strong flower... Or a musky perfume...

Sam turned abruptly to face forward, away from Daniel. That piece of cake she had eaten was really curdling now. Who else knows? she gasped.

Daniel smiled. Oh... Let's see.., he drawled. Then, in a firm tone of voice, he informed, Colonel Mitchell...

Cam? Sam squeaked. Oh, this was bad!

Teal'c, Daniel said, going on as if she hadn't spoken. But you must have already figured that one out... He looked up at the ceiling, appearing to be thinking harder than he really was. General Hammond, he said, still in the same sly tone. Major Davis, General Landry...

That shocked Sam enough for her to gulp, The General knows? 'Worse' was an understatement.

Again Daniel ignored her. Walter, the President...

That information utterly horrified Sam. Hayes?

Daniel sighed. The Joint Chiefs...

Oh, God, Sam intoned, leaning back against the wall behind her in total agony. There goes my career. Jack's career... And things were going so well, too...

That was when Daniel took Sam's hand in his own. Come on, I have something to show you.., he said, appearing to change the subject.

Sam was too shocked at his news to resist him. There's more? she asked on a grunt. How could there possibly be anything else for him to show her? She numbly followed him down the empty SGC corridor to his lab.

Daniel let go of her hand and crossed to his desk. There, after taking out some keys and unlocking the top drawer, he pulled out a folded piece of paper. You never know about thieves around here, he told her. It's better to keep the drawer locked, and be safe rather than sorry, he recited, quoting something that Colonel O'Neill had drummed into their heads at every opportunity he'd had over their previous years together. Now, though, Daniel handed the paper over to Sam for her perusal.

Sam took it from him, still numb, still feeling shell-shocked, and stunned. Slowly, she unfolded it, and tried to focus her eyes enough on the typed words to read. Her eyes scanned the words ever faster, then slower, as she forced herself to read through it all a second time. Then she peered at Daniel, even more surprised. How..? How did you get this? she asked on a rush of air.

Daniel smirked again, an expression that was becoming alarmingly familiar to see on his face. Merry Christmas, Sam, he said.

Sam blinked. Christmas? In May? she asked.

Daniel shrugged. A little early, he said then. Or it's a little late. Or, it's Happy Birthday, or Happy New Year, or... Quietly, his voice trailed away. Finally, he commented, Do us all a favor, Sam, and wear your wedding ring, or buy a new one, he instructed her. Wearing it will be a really nice thing to do on this base of mostly male personnel.

Her mouth sliding open now in obvious shock, Sam stared at the Air Force decree in her hands. When she didn't react to his words, Daniel gave her a bit of a nudge. He reached into the pocket of her trousers, and pulled out her cell phone. He looked up Jack's current number in Washington D.C., hit the speed dial, and held the instrument to his ear.

Daniel only had to wait for two rings. Sam? came a familiar voice over the line. It sounded worried. This must be an emergency for you to interrupt a meeting with... Are you all right?

Jack, it's Daniel, Daniel told him. I'll give the phone to Sam now. I think she's able to talk, finally. Hold on. He thrust the phone into Sam's waiting, numbed fingers. Here.

Slowly, Sam raised the phone to her ear. Uhhh.., was all she could say, a grunt from the back of her throat.

Sam? What is it? Daniel heard Jack say over the phone in an unnaturally loud voice. What's wrong?

Uh.., Sam said again. Then she made a monumental effort to pull herself together again. Uh, Jack! she announced brightly into the phone.

Her tone must have sent off instant warning bells in his mind, for her cautiously inquired, What's wrong?

Um, Jack, Sam said again, still rapidly blinking against her recent discovery. How do you feel about wedding rings?

Wedding rings? he repeated, sounding bewildered. You know that we can't do anything about that.

Sam grimaced, and held the Presidential decree even tighter in her hand. Oh, yes, we can.

Jack was silent for a telling moment. At last, he inquired, Does that comment mean what I think it means?

Sam nodded, then added, Yep.

Oh boy, Jack muttered in her ear, now in a voice that was so low that Daniel had a hard time hearing him over the phone practically glued to the side of Sam's head.

Daniel pulled the phone away from a surprised Sam. Not to worry, Jack. Sam's holding a Presidential Exemption right now, he told him.

Daniel? Jack grunted once in a tone of voice that was so harsh that it was familiar, one that Daniel was very intimate with. What's going on?

Daniel replied, Don't worry, Jack. Sam's on her way to Washington right now, and will be at the Air Force Base there on the edge of the city... I can't quite remember the name of it at the moment...

I'll write it for you in some ancient language, Jack offered. Then you'll be sure to remember it...

Very funny, Jack, Daniel snorted into the phone in a tone that indicated he was not amused. She'll be there around 10:00 our time, he said in an offhand way, then added, We all had to pool our leave together in order to get her a spot on the troop transport plane, ya know, so you can think of this as a late team wedding present, or something. But be prepared to go shopping tomorrow, he told him. Oh, and congratulations. He snapped the cell phone shut, then, and steered Sam out the door, to the waiting elevator. Go, and you better give him a kiss from us. He grinned. Kind of like that one from before...

With that, Daniel pushed Sam into the elevator car, and then sighed in satisfaction. Now we can finally relax around here, he said. Then he grinned again, and rubbed his hands together. Project Twitter-pated was a definite success. Even though Teal'c gave the name to the project as a whole, that was a job well done, if I do say so myself, Dr. Jackson. And, whistling a jaunty tune to himself, he strolled down the corridor to rejoin the party that was still in full swing. He decided to celebrate this new state of affairs with another glass of punch. He figured he'd earned it.

The End

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