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Colonel Robert Makepeace considered himself to be a simple man. He didn’t want much from life; to contribute something meaningful and sex, that was all. Throw in a good beer and he was set. Hell, even a not so good beer would do.

He sat at the bar of his favorite Colorado Springs watering hole picking the label off a long-neck Coors Light. Normally he would be back with the rowdies at the pool tables, but he wasn’t in that kind of mood. He would probably start a fight and break somebody’s head if he tried it. Yup, he was definitely in the mood to break somebody’s head, just not the local yokels’.

This was the third day since the human part of SG1 disappeared. Teal’c lay in the infirmary, not expected to make it through the night. It was just a damn shame, and it showed what was wrong with the Stargate program. While the SG teams were tiptoeing around making nice with one group of aliens, another could snatch the premier team and disappear them with no trace whatsoever, and did those ‘friendly’ aliens give a fuck? Not a one.

He gave a fuck. It was such a stupid waste.

While Robert could take or leave Colonel O’Neill and his comedian routine, he had to admit the man was good. If he could believe half the things they said about him, and Makepeace did, then O’Neill was as deadly a soldier as he would ever care to meet. SG1 seemed to get into the freakiest shit in the universe, and he’d always brought them back one way or another. Until now, anyhow. You gotta respect that.

Blue-eyed Captain Carter was about the smartest person alive. It seemed like there was nothing she couldn’t figure out. She’d had her part in saving the planet more than once, so he didn’t deduct any points for being a woman. Things were changing, and if this was the type of female officer he was going to be working with, then that was okay by him. There weren’t many like her, though, and she would be hard to replace.

Makepeace could understand why O’Neill would want Teal’c on his team, alien or not. Having Teal’c as his enforcer gave his orders and even his whims extra gravity. He didn’t think he’d ever seen a man bigger or stronger, which as a Marine was saying something. He knew the Jaffa was a significant plus on off-world missions, though if it were up to him the tattoo would go. It kind of gave the wrong impression to the natives. Anyway, sayonara big guy.

What really stuck in his craw was losing Daniel Jackson. He knew it wasn’t rational, but it felt like a personal attack against him. He’d had his eye on the scientist for a while now, and more than that, had been setting up a pretty fantasy around him. Sure, the guy was brilliant, a real national treasure, but what got his blood pumping was the angelic face and sinful ass. Robert wanted him bad, and now was never going to have him. That hurt more than it should, like it meant more to him than just something to jack off to.

Yeah, he believed in what they were doing and would make whatever sacrifices were necessary to get the job done, but he was human, too. There was this one thing he wanted for himself, not much to ask. One personal goal to work toward that would make him happy. Now it was gone.

If SG1 weren’t dead already, they soon would be. Or they would wish they were. Anger flared in him again as he thought about what those damn aliens, whoever they were, might be doing to them. To Daniel.

He tapped on the bar to signal that he was ready for another beer. That was the good thing about light beer. It may taste like cold piss in a bottle, but you had to drink a lot before it affected you. He wanted to drink a lot tonight.

As he chugged down half the new bottle, someone sidled up and sat on the stool next to him. A sardonic voice growled, “Evening, Colonel Makepeace.”

“Maybourne.” The NID officer was dressed in casual jeans and a checked shirt. Not a good look for him. All that was missing was the gimme hat to complete the hick wanna-be disguise.

“Shame about SG1, isn’t it?”

The other man obviously hadn’t noticed that Makepeace wasn’t looking for company.

“Yeah, I was just thinking that. But you can’t tell me you care.”

“But I do! Hey, even I recognize talent when I see it, even if we do have some… philosophical differences. And the worst is that it’s going to keep happening. The enemy is going to keep picking our people off one at a time, one team at a time, until there’s no one left to defend the planet, then they’re going to walk in like they own the place.”

“Not gonna happen, Maybourne. They’re not going to get past us.”

“Oh? And how do you plan to stop them? We’ve been lucky so far and you know it. If the enemy realizes just how vulnerable we are, they’ll be here in a minute. Frankly, we don’t have squat to defend ourselves. What are we going to do, ask our ‘friends’ out there for help? We’ve seen just how willing they are. Take the Nox and the Tollans, for example. They’re very happy to take care of each other, but us? We’re on our own.”

“I’m not saying you’re wrong, Colonel, but thinking that way won’t get us anywhere.”

“Yes it will, Colonel. If you want to join me someplace a bit more private, I’ll tell you how.”

Robert turned toward the other man. “So you have all the answers, do you?”

“Not all of them, no. Let’s just say I can offer you a more proactive way to serve your country and your world. People like you will make the difference in whether we win this war or lose. I’m going to ask you to make a decision, and I think you’re going to say yes, because you’re a man who isn’t afraid to do what’s right. You’ve got your eye on the prize, Colonel, and so do we. Do you want to hear more?”

It wasn’t that he trusted Maybourne; he knew what kind of man he was. But maybe this was the kind of man the planet needed right now. Playing fair wasn’t getting them anywhere. Just ask SG1.

“I’m interested.”

The other officer slapped him on the shoulder. “Let’s get out of here. I have some things to show you.”

~~*~~

It was pretty much of a miracle to find SG1 alive, at least part of them. Jackson was damn cute with his hair cut off like that. Who would’ve guessed that the man could look any better? He didn’t seem quite right, though. Sort of glassy eyed and out of it. Well, who could blame him after all that time with that witch Hathor. The shot he took to the leg couldn’t be helping either.

They were in an active battle situation, but part of Makepeace’s mind was on the archaeologist. It was like a hormone switch was turned on when he saw him, and that, together with the adrenaline, had him hard as a rock. At least he hoped the kid thought it was a rock pressing into his thigh the time he had to throw himself on top of the civilian to protect him from falling debris.

After Carter went back into the complex he kept Jackson close. The scientist was going through the motions of wanting to escape, but Robert didn’t think his heart was really in it. He had an idea why, too. During a rest stop he sat down right up against the other man and asked, “So what exactly happened to O’Neill?”

Jackson turned his face away. “Hathor put a snake in him. What else do you want to know?”

“Damn. Are you sure? You know the Colonel has a way of getting out of things.”

Jackson looked at him with surprisingly cold eyes. “Am I sure? I stood there and watched a Goa’uld burrow into my best friend’s neck and you ask me if I’m sure? I think, Colonel Makepeace, that that isn’t something I’m likely to be mistaken about. Do you think that Hathor’s gloating about how the Goa’uld was going to make Jack kill Sam and me would have distracted me from a small thing like Jack’s miraculous escape? No, I probably would have noticed that. So I think that yes, I’m sure Jack is now a Goa’uld.”

The Marine refused to wilt under the onslaught of the kid’s temper, but he was glad he had his training to help out. Those Goa’uld were better men than he to make an enemy of Daniel Jackson. At least the archaeologist was showing signs of life.

“Look, I’m sorry. O’Neill was a good man. He deserved better.”

That took some of the ice out of him. Daniel slumped and said, “Yeah. Jack deserved a lot better.”

Then they heard Jaffa marching toward them and were on the run again.

Robert thought they were done for when they got captured. It went against the grain to give up rather than go down fighting, but there was still hope that Carter could pull something off. Of course, they threatened to kill Daniel first. He definitely was the trouble magnet O’Neill was always saying.

He kept an eye on Daniel as O’Neill walked toward where they were kneeling. At first he thought that the younger man was going to keel over, his face went so white. Then it all turned around when Jackson asked in stunned amazement, “Jack?” It was nice to know that he was right and the genius was wrong. The colonel did pull off a miraculous escape.

Makepeace was never so angry in his life as when he found out that General Hammond had had to come after them on his own, that the brass had decided to cut them dead. He respected the general, but the others had their heads so far up their asses they could check their own necks for snakes from the inside. It reinforced his belief that he was doing the right thing by agreeing to help out Maybourne’s team. Military channels were all well and good in a conventional war, but the Pentagon didn’t have a clue what the planet was really up against.

After they were all inspected thoroughly and patched up in the infirmary, they settled in for a long debriefing. Makepeace continued to be fascinated by Daniel Jackson’s behavior. Well, his face and body first, but his behavior, too. He noticed that Daniel could hardly bring himself to look at anyone. He just sat staring at the table most of the time, barely saying two words. Makepeace noted that on the rare occasions he did look up, it was at O’Neill, then his glance would slide away again uneasily. There was definitely something going on there. He wasn’t the only one to notice, either. O’Neill was watching Daniel like a hawk.

Robert planned to make sure the poor man had someone to talk to when this was over. He tuned out the captain’s rambling explanation of the cryogenic unit and played the scenario out in his head. He would casually meet up with Jackson outside of the locker room and offer him a ride home – he happened to know that SG1’s cars had been removed from the lot more than a week before.

He would suggest they stop for a drink to help them unwind after all the tension. Daniel would be in a bad mood, but would agree because he wouldn’t really want to be alone. They would find a nice, quiet place, and after a couple of drinks Daniel would begin to unload whatever was bothering him.

They would go back to Daniel’s place, or his own, and he wouldn’t have to say anything. He would just remove the shirt from that sexy chest and drop it to the floor. When he was unzipping Daniel’s pants he would get a good feel of his package and gauge how aroused he was. They would both be hard and aching for it.

He was just getting to the part where he had two hands full of tight ass when the general interrupted his train of thought with a question. Makepeace was proud of how cool and professional he sounded as he recounted the rescue. O’Neill had to razz him about it being unsuccessful, but hey, they were all there, weren’t they?

True, not all of them were. Good men lost their lives freeing SG1, but they had volunteered knowing the risks. If they had had better intel or better weapons, maybe they all would have made it back. The stuff Maybourne’s people were bringing in would start cutting losses as soon as they could begin using it.

Afterward Makepeace loitered in the hall waiting for his prey to come out of the locker room. The man appeared, but O’Neill got there first. He saw the colonel stop Daniel in the hall and watched the blue eyes drill holes in the floor. He saw O’Neill actually crook a finger under Daniel’s chin and lift his face so they were looking into each other’s eyes. Damn! Robert wanted to be the one to make a move like that!

He couldn’t hear what the colonel was saying, but Daniel shrugged and tried to turn away. O’Neill didn’t let up until the scientist nodded in agreement, then they headed down the hall to the elevator together. Double damn! It just wasn’t fair that it was going to be him and his right hand after all the trouble he’d gone to to get his future lover back.

Gratification was delayed again, but Robert was used to it. At least he could pick up his fantasy where he left off, knowing that it was only a matter of time before it became reality.

~~*~~

This was supposed to be an easy assignment, a way to get SG1 back in the saddle after their unintended vacation on Hathor-world. Right. He was beginning to believe that with SG1 involved nothing was ever going to be easy.

It had started as simple new-recruit training exercises. There were about 30 people from all parts of the organization, from nineteen-year-old airmen to fifty-year-old civilians. Several of the old-timers had taken the group to a safe world, divided them in two, and were running them through a series of drills. Some of the newbies had thought it was part of the game when the Jaffa showed up.

The last thing Makepeace remembered was one of the warriors throwing some kind of glowing ball at them. Now he was laid out on a hard stone floor with his ankles manacled and chained to a metal ring on the floor, his wrists similarly bound at his sides. There was no way he was going anywhere.

He lifted his head to look around and found Jackson trussed up the same to his right, with O’Neill and Ferretti after that. They were in a bare room with torches burning in the corners; the stereotypical dungeon setting.

O’Neill was already awake and frowning at the situation. He met Robert’s eyes and asked, “Do you know if both units were taken, or is the other one still out there?”

The four of them had been in charge of one group of recruits, while Carter, Teal’c, Reynolds, and Scali directed the other.

“I don’t know any more than you do. If they were captured too, it could be a long time before the SGC realizes anything’s wrong.”

“Peachy.”

Between them, Daniel moaned slightly and rolled his head from side to side. Then his eyes flew open and he exclaimed, “Jack!”

The Air Force officer answered, “Right here, Daniel. Take it easy.”

The scientist looked around, squinting without his glasses. “What the hell happened now?”

“Oh, you know. Jaffa, capture, chains, waiting for it to get bad. The usual.”

Ferretti grumbled from the far end of the row, his voice sounding rough, “Damn, that happened fast. Didn’t even see them coming. And we’re supposed to be training the greenhorns in how to avoid just this kind of thing.”

Robert called back, “Yeah, this might be a little bit too realistic. Then again, after this they won’t let their guards down.”

Brows pulled down and lips pursed, Daniel added, “If they live long enough to learn the lesson.”

There really wasn’t much to talk about so they mostly waited in silence, an occasional chain rattling as one of them tried to find a more comfortable position on the stone floor. O’Neill asked Daniel a few things about the Jaffa that had taken them, but he hadn’t gotten a good look at the tattoo symbol.

After what Makepeace thought to be about two hours, the cell door opened and three of those Jaffa swaggered into the room. He was immediately wary of the gleam in their eyes. They were high on their success in capturing the Tau’ri party and ready to make the most of it.

The three clumped over in their heavy boots to stand peering down at Robert. They made a few guttural comments to each other, and then one squatted and felt him up, pinching biceps and squeezing pecs.

After he couldn’t help but quip, “Hey, not on the first date. I’m not that kind of guy,” he decided that he had definitely been spending too much time with SG1.

The Jaffa made what even he could tell were a couple of disparaging comments, then moved on to give Jackson the same inspection. He seemed to meet more with their approval. At least Makepeace assumed so, as the Jaffa doing the inspecting lingered a bit longer than necessary at the younger man’s thighs.

O’Neill provoked a number of jocular outbursts. The colonel demanded, “What? Daniel, what did they say?”

“They were just, er, remarking on your maturity.”

“They said I’m old?”

“Not to put too fine a point on it, but yes. You see, by the time a Jaffa goes grey he’s likely to be well over a hundred.”

“They take these chains off and I’ll show them old.”

Robert couldn’t see what was happening, but he heard Ferretti hiss with pain. The major struggled briefly, protesting, “Shit, that’s a little too personal!”

The Jaffa laughed. Makepeace couldn’t imagine anything good coming from this. These guys might be aliens, but they were sort of human, too, and power tended to make humans aggressive.

The three shuffled back down the line of captives until they stood over Daniel, and one big bruiser who looked kind of like a Klingon sat down straddling his thighs. He immediately pulled the T-shirt out of Daniel’s pants and pushed it up under his arm-pits, exposing the smooth, muscular chest.

The linguist uttered something in the weird Jaffa language, but the one sitting on him just backhanded him across the face. Daniel blinked as he recovered from the blow, and the blue eyes locked with Robert’s.

Makepeace wanted to say something, but his mind drew a blank and the other man turned away. He berated himself for freezing up like a schoolgirl with a crush and losing out on a good opportunity to connect with the man he had been obsessing over. Then he felt a little bad for thinking about putting the moves on anyone under these circumstances. What a jerk.

Urged on by the other two Jaffa, the one on top of Daniel bent down and began licking and biting a small nipple. Daniel squeezed his eyes shut, his body tensing in rejection of this attention.

As the alien sat back and began using his hands to explore down the bare torso, O’Neill spoke in a quiet voice. “Daniel. Daniel, look at me.”

The handsome face turned away so that Makepeace couldn’t see it anymore.

O’Neill continued, “Just keep looking at me. Hold my eyes and ignore anything else. Nothing they can do to you matters. Our goal here is to survive, that’s it.”

Daniel gasped as the man began to fondle his genitals through his pants.

At the other end Ferretti murmured, “Oh, man. This sucks.”

The steady stream of words continued. “You’re doing fine, just concentrate on me. I’m right here with you, no matter what. You’re Daniel Jackson, scholar and soldier. They can’t really touch you.”

Makepeace couldn’t keep his eyes off of what the Jaffa was doing with his hands. He felt strange, because a couple of his favorite fantasies concerning Daniel were bondage related and he had imagined doing much the same thing to the young man himself. This, though, wasn’t erotic at all. This was just…nasty. It made him nauseous that he had thought about doing it himself. There was a big difference between fantasy and real brutality.

The Jaffa began pulling at the waistband of Daniel’s pants, apparently unfamiliar with how to work the zipper. Daniel choked out, “Jack!”

“It’s okay, just keep breathing. Open your eyes, Daniel, and look at me! Think about that program we watched on Discovery, where the pseudo-archaeologists were jumping to all those unsubstantiated conclusions about Tutankamun. Tell me again why they were so wrong.”

It took Jackson a moment but he started to reply, which impressed the hell out of Robert. Both of them did, really. How had O’Neill known just what to do and say to keep Daniel from freaking out as he was being sexually assaulted? While he was glad that their connection allowed O’Neill to give the other man the strength he needed, at the same time Makepeace felt sad that it wasn’t him, and that in fact he couldn’t even imagine it being him.

At that point the cell door banged open and another Jaffa came in, standing at attention just inside and making some kind of formal proclamation. The attacker jumped up and the three shuffled into a hastily formed line to one side.

The Marine could hear the all too familiar sound of Jaffa approaching and wasn’t surprised when another contingent entered the room. He really hated lying on the floor looking up at the ugly bastards. He hated it a lot.

It didn’t make him any happier when a Goa’uld slinked into the room. He looked like an average young man, blond haired and green eyed, dressed up for Halloween in gold lame. It was the fucking glowing eyes and the smirk that gave him away.

The Goa’uld surveyed the captives, his eyebrows rising slightly at Jackson’s deshabille, but moving on quickly.

The regal figure spoke. “I am your Lord Hiero. You are Tau’ri slaves and will worship me as your new god. One of you will be honored to become the instrument of my child, and the rest will serve me as I see fit.”

The Jaffa next to him reached into his slimy pouch and pulled out a fully mature Goa’uld. The disgusting creature hissed and waved its head in the air.

Beside him, Robert heard Daniel mutter, “Oh god. Oh no. Not again.” He looked over and saw that O’Neill was even paler than the scientist. That’s right, the colonel had been Goa’ulded just last week. Talk about rotten luck.

False-god Hiero took the symbiote from the Jaffa and approached Robert, cooing to the snakelike thing, “Take a look, my adored child. Do any of these vessels appeal to you?”

He held it down until Robert got a much more close-up look than he ever wanted of the ugly maw and extended crest. The creature brushed his cheek and he felt a rush of fear. He had never seriously considered that it might happen to him. He couldn’t conceive of what it must be like to be trapped in your own body, controlled by an alien entity, but the very idea scared the shit out of him. He froze, praying to the true God that he wouldn’t be chosen.

Thankfully, the head pulled away and the Goa’uld moved on to Daniel. The young man was trying to control rapid breathing that could have signified anger or fear, Robert wasn’t sure. A slender forked tongue danced across the skin of the exposed chest and Makepeace found out which it was.

Daniel hissed at the alien parasite, “You god damned slimy, scum-sucking piece of shit.”

O’Neill snapped, “Daniel!” but the scientist was on a roll.

“You’re not a god. You’re a thief and a murderer and you can die. I’ll kill you myself. All you filthy, worthless mud-wallowing worms will die.” He added a few more choice phrases that weren’t in English, the meanings of which were clear enough just the same. Quite a mouth on that Dr. Jackson. Who knew?

The worm in question seemed bored by the specimen it was inspecting and leaned toward O’Neill, who taunted, “That’s right, just a little bit closer. I’ll bite your snakey little head off.”

What a pair, those two. Brave or stupid or both at the same time. Personally, the last thing Makepeace wanted to do was call attention to himself. Sure, these two together had killed more Goa’uld than anyone living, but that didn’t make them invincible.

Baby snake indicated its disinterest in O’Neill as well and was carried to the last option, Ferretti. He imagined that the poor man must be peeing himself at this point.

The major didn’t speak to the Goa’uld, but he said quietly, “Sir, if it comes down to it, I wouldn’t want to live. You know that, don’t you?”

O’Neill answered gently, “I know, Lou.”

Makepeace could just see the symbiote rub its head under Ferretti’s chin and slide around the bobbing Adam’s apple. The major looked wound-up like a guitar string, but he was holding himself together. Good man.

Unbelievably, the snake pulled away and bent back toward the Jaffa. Hiero purred, “Ah, my darling. You find these slaves inadequate? There are others to choose from. Younger ones, prettier ones. We shall find one that will please you.”

Once the creepy little monster was safely stored inside the Jaffa, the Goa’uld and his entourage swept from the room without another look at the bound men, who lay silently in relieved shock.

After a moment O’Neill asked no one in particular, “Have I mentioned lately that I really hate those things?”

Makepeace started at a sudden noise to his left. They had forgotten the original three Jaffa. They had their heads together in the corner, but he couldn’t make out the words much less understand them.

When they all turned as one, Robert groaned. Their attention was firmly fixed on Daniel again.

O’Neill saw it too and swore, “Crap.”

As the Jaffa started toward him, Daniel stated conversationally, “You know, this really has turned out to be a very bad day.”

The same Jaffa as before squatted over the scientist and wrapped his large hands around his neck, pushing Daniel’s head back with both thumbs under his chin. It was a demonstration of who held all the power and how easily he could end their lives. He growled something and squeezed a bit.

Daniel gasped, his face turning slightly red. When the grip loosened sufficiently, he spat, “Fuck you, asshole.”

O’Neill cautioned, “Survival, remember? You do whatever you have to to live through this, which probably doesn’t include provoking him.”

“I’m tired of this, Jack. I want them to leave me alone.”

“Daniel…”

But he was interrupted by the three Jaffa reaching to unlock the restraints from Jackson’s arms and legs. Before the human could even bend his knees they pulled him to his feet and shoved him toward the wall at Robert’s left.

Daniel turned his back to the wall and glared at his attackers dangerously. Beside Makepeace O’Neill murmured, “Crap, Daniel, don’t do it.”

He did it. When the first Jaffa approached him Jackson kneed him in the groin and hit him in the face with a respectable right hook. After that, whatever sexual gratification the Jaffa had been anticipating was subsumed into the immediate joys of physical violence.

At first two of them held Daniel while the third worked him over, but the victim was soon on the ground curled into a ball trying to protect his vulnerable parts from attack. The savage kicks to the spine and kidneys couldn’t feel good.

Makepeace was surprised at Jackson’s response to the situation. He knew that he himself would have tried to fight it out too, no matter the consequences, but he would have expected Daniel to ‘go along to get along,’ as O’Neill seemed to want. He respected the guy’s guts, but regretted the damage that was being inflicted on that sweet body.

Frustrated at their powerlessness, as each subsequent blow landed O’Neill let out an expletive and Makepeace flinched. Just as he was beginning to worry that they weren’t going to stop until Daniel was dead, the door opened and a Jaffa came in, setting an earthenware jug and plate of food down on the ground. Before leaving he barked something that stopped the other Jaffa mid-swing. Snarling, they each gave Jackson one last kick and backed away.

One of them went into the hallway and brought back two staff weapons. Handing them off to the other two, who trained them pointedly at the prisoners, he began releasing the manacles.

The soldiers remained still until the Jaffa had taken the chains and backed out of the room, locking the door behind them. Robert was the first to reach their fallen colleague. He touched Daniel on the shoulder and called his name.

Then O’Neill pushed by to kneel in front of them. As he checked the damage he tried to brush the hair out of Daniel’s face as though it were still long.

“Daniel? Can you hear me? Open your eyes for me, buddy.”

There was a groan and a slight stirring, but not much more. Ferretti reached in and ran his hands along Daniel’s back, arms and legs.

“Come on, Dr. J, let us know you’re in there.”

Jackson started to sit up and the other two supported him until he was leaning against O’Neill’s chest. Robert moved back a bit, feeling like a third wheel.

Daniel began insisting that he was fine, protestations that were ignored by the others as they continued checking him out, and Robert was reminded of how much history the three men had. They had all been on that original trip through the Stargate. Makepeace would have given anything to have that on his resume too, and who knew, maybe Jackson would be aware he existed instead of only having eyes for O’Neill.

He carried the jug of water over to the group and then retreated to stand by the door, watching as they tended to the injured man. Jackson was clutching his side in a way Robert suspected meant broken or cracked ribs. He knew from experience that that hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.

He saw how gentle O’Neill was with the civilian, and the thought returned. Jackson only had eyes for O’Neill. Was that it? Was that why Robert couldn’t seem to make any time with the object of his desire? Because they were more than just friends?

He was surprised that it hadn’t occurred to him before. The two men certainly were tighter than most teammates, or even most buddies, but somehow Makepeace couldn’t quite believe they were lovers. Regardless of O’Neill’s iconoclastic façade, he knew that the Air Force had the colonel by the short and curlies. Even if he felt that way toward Daniel, he probably wouldn’t do anything about it.

Robert didn’t have reservations about violating those particular regs, and he wasn’t ready to give up when the competition wasn’t even aware of the contest. Daniel didn’t act like a man who was getting it regularly and he was determined to change that.

He carried the plate of bread and meat over and made sure everybody got something to eat, even Daniel, feeding the younger man with his fingers when necessary. Soon the eyes in that bruise-covered face began to close, and O’Neill guided him down so that his head rested on the colonel’s thigh.

The three officers huddled around the sleeping man, O’Neill’s hand protectively on one shoulder, and tried to come up with a plan. They had very little to go on, only that they were being held by a Goa’uld and that there were other captives there somewhere.

Eventually they all settled against the wall to rest.

Although he hadn’t intended to sleep, Robert jerked awake as the cell door clanged open. Three Jaffa that he didn’t think he had seen before, though it was hard to tell them apart, came in with staff weapons primed. As Daniel pushed himself into a sitting position the guards looked them over, then apparently decided on O’Neill.

They threatened the group with their weapons and shouted something at the colonel.

O’Neill asked Daniel without looking at him, “Let me guess, they want me to take a little trip with them?”

Daniel nodded, answering miserably, “Interrogation.”

“Right.” O’Neill steeled himself. “See you guys around.”

As the tall man stood to accompany the guards, Daniel called, “Jack!”

Looking back briefly, the colonel reassured, “It’s all right,” and ordered, “Look for a way out.” Then he was gone.

Ferretti sat down next to Jackson and said, “You know he’ll be okay. The colonel’s one tough cookie.”

Daniel leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. “Sure. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Robert briefly checked Daniel’s forehead for fever, which thankfully he didn’t find. He urged, “You should get some more rest. The stronger you are when it comes time to get out of here the better.”

“I am resting.”

He and Ferretti moved away a bit, both watching Jackson with concern. Ferretti said softly, “He won’t sleep while the colonel is gone, not unless he really can’t help it. I’ve seen it before. It’s like they hold each other’s lives in their hands and take the responsibility very seriously.” The major shrugged, “Weird, but it seems to work for them.”

Great, Ferretti, rub salt in the wounds.

Makepeace found himself pacing restlessly, increasingly frustrated by captivity and powerlessness. He was a Marine! They didn’t just sit around and wait, they took matters into their own hands. He couldn’t even use the time to make points with Daniel, as Ferretti had apparently appointed himself mother-hen in the colonel’s absence. The kid was of course oblivious. He just sat there, looking like death warmed over, thinking whatever planet-hopping archaeologists thought at a time like that.

About to go seriously stir crazy, Robert almost welcomed the interruption of the door flying open and a body being unceremoniously dumped inside. O’Neill, looking rather worse for the wear.

Jackson called, “Jack!” and started to get up.

Ferretti stopped him. “Stay here, we’ll bring him over.”

Makepeace knelt and rolled the unconscious form onto its back, revealing an array of bruises and abrasions to match his teammate’s. O’Neill was also liberally coated with wet, warm blood – obviously a recent injury.

He grabbed one shoulder and the major the other, and they dragged the man over to his friend. Despite his own wounds, Daniel shifted to his knees and began shoving the bloody T-shirt out of the way to find the source of the blood.

His search revealed an inch-wide puncture just to the left of the colonel’s navel.

“Shit! He’s been stabbed.” Daniel tore a large section off of his own T-shirt, wadded it up, and pressed it against the still bleeding gash. He ordered, “Give me strips of your shirts to use as binding.”

Both he and the major complied, ripping the bottoms off their shirts. Daniel tied them together, then reached under the colonel’s inert body to pass the cloth around him, tying it tightly over the makeshift dressing.

The young man pleaded, “Jack! Jack, can you tell me if you’re injured anywhere else? I mean more injured than what I can already see, because you don’t look so good. What about internal damage? Broken bones? What about…”

One of O’Neill’s hands clamped on Jackson’s forearm, stopping the flow of words. They all leaned closer as the colonel started to speak, his voice barely audible.

“Tell Hammond. This is a Jaffa and Goa’uld breeding ground. Making a new army. Must wipe it out now. Not a lot of Jaffa, would be easy. Two or three units. Tell him.”

Daniel choked, “You’ll tell him. You can give him all the intel when we get you back. You’ll be all right, Jack.”

The other man tightened his grip on Daniel’s arm but went on, “Next cell, some of our people. Have to get them out.”

Makepeace and Ferretti looked at each other. That was easier said than done. When they looked back, O’Neill had passed out again.

Daniel checked the dressing to find it saturated with fresh blood. The bleeding wasn’t stopping. Not a good sign.

The civilian sat back on his heels and, to Robert’s surprise, took charge.

“Okay, we have to get out of here now. If we don’t, Jack could bleed to death. We’ll have to take out the next guards that come in.”

Robert frowned. “I’m all for escaping, but they’re heavily armed and there are only two of us.”

“Three,” Daniel corrected.

Ferretti backed Makepeace up. “Daniel, the shape you’re in you don’t count for quite half a person in this equation. Jack wouldn’t want us to commit suicide.”

Feeling that he needed to point out all the difficulties with the proposal, Makepeace added, “And even if we did get out of this cell, we can’t carry O’Neill back to the Stargate. We don’t know where we are in relation to it or even if we’re on the same planet.”

Daniel insisted stubbornly, “One thing at a time. Once we take out the guards, I’ll get Jack moving. You heard him, there isn’t a big contingent of Jaffa here. We can do this. Anyway, you heard what else he said. The Goa’uld is building an army. Who do you think will end up being the new Jaffa? You want to wait around for that?”

The kid had a point. A break-out was risky, but it might be their only chance. Robert looked around the plain room again. There were some beams up near the ceiling. That could be of some use.

He looked at the other men. “Okay, what do we have as weapons?”

Ferretti offered, “A jug and a plate? Our hands? Anything else?”

Robert answered, “We also have our training and our determination.” He stood up and inspected the door area. “This is what we’ll do. I’ll hang on to that beam until they come in. You two will be to each side of the door. Daniel, you take the first man through, Ferretti the second. I’ll get the third and hope there aren’t too many more outside. Daniel, wait till at least two of them have come into the room, then use the jug and plate to distract before you move in. Just try to hold your man out of the fight until one of us can help you. You aren’t exactly Rocky Balboa right now.”

Daniel glared at him. “Rocky is a fictional character. I’ll do whatever I have to to get Jack out of here. And the others. He said there are some more of us next door.”

“Right,” Makepeace acknowledged. “This could be a long wait. Are you up to it?”

There was that icy face again. “I’m fine.”

Damn, but it seemed like he could never say the right thing.

Ferretti gave him a boost so that he could grab hold of the thin round beam just inches from the ceiling. He worked one foot and calf through the space to hang from a knee and an elbow. It was far from a comfortable position, but Makepeace knew that he could hold it for hours if necessary.

The Air Force major squatted on one side of the door and the archaeologist stood leaning against the wall on the other side, far enough away so that the door wouldn’t hit him when it opened. Robert watched Daniel from above, noting the way he was hunched over favoring one side, as well as the expression so far past serious that it was entering scowl territory. Daniel studiously watched O’Neill, whom they had left across the room to be a visual focal point for the guards when they arrived.

They waited. Makepeace didn’t have any idea what time it was, but it had been quite a while since they had been supplied with food or water, as his stomach regularly reminded him. Surely someone would bring more soon, if they didn’t come to take another of them for interrogation or some other evil purpose.

O’Neill moaned and shifted position slightly, and Daniel pushed himself away from the wall.

Makepeace hissed at him, “Stay put. We may not have any warning when they arrive.”

Daniel hesitated, knowing Robert was right, then insisted, “Just one minute.”

He shuffled across the floor and sank to his knees beside his friend.

“I’m here, Jack. We have a plan and we need you to just stay here and rest. That’s your job. Do you understand?”

The colonel peered up at Jackson, looking somewhat disoriented. “Yeah, Daniel.”

“Good. Just rest.”

Hearing a noise at the door Makepeace called, “Daniel!”

The young man responded to the urgency in his voice, scuttling back to his place and scooping up his makeshift weapons at the same time. He made it just as the door swung open.

The two men below followed Makepeace’s directions to the letter. Two Jaffa entered, the first carrying more provisions, then stopped to look around for the rest of the prisoners. Daniel smashed the clay plate into the face of the first man, following that up with the jug broken over his helmeted head. Ferretti flung an arm around the neck of the second man, pulling him off balance and out of the doorway.

A third Jaffa charged in angrily and Makepeace dropped onto him like a spider from its web. As he grappled with the enemy, eventually breaking his neck, he checked the door, noting that no one else was there to enter the fray. As soon as he could, he turned to take out the Jaffa that had just punched Daniel in the solar plexus. The Jaffa quickly fell to the floor from a chop to the neck, beating Daniel down by seconds as the archaeologist sank to his knees, doubled over in pain.

The colonel turned to acknowledge Ferretti, who was panting over his own fallen opponent. An alarmed cry of “No!” from Daniel spun him around again.

The distressed eyes were fixed across the room and Makepeace followed his gaze, only to be appalled himself. Two feet from O’Neill was a large Goa’uld symbiote that he realized had probably come from the pouch of the Jaffa he had just killed. It was looking for another home and had decided O’Neill was it.

Without another moment’s thought he launched himself toward the creature, clamping his hands around its middle when it was mere inches from O’Neill’s horrified brown eyes. The snake turned and hissed at him, then fell limp as he broke the strangely brittle alien in two. As he climbed to his knees and wiped the blue gunk from his hands onto his trousers, O’Neill murmured a soft, “Thanks.”

“Any time.”

Daniel was still on hands and knees, his expression shocked. Then it was like a switch was turned and he was in motion, pulling himself to his feet and staggering forward.

He said to Robert, “Help me get him up,” and pulled O’Neill into a sitting position. “He can lean on me.”

Robert had his doubts about whether O’Neill was going to be able to keep his feet with or without help, but he wasn’t about to nay-say Jackson. He grabbed the older man’s arm and lifted, letting go when Daniel had an arm around his friend’s waist to keep him upright.

They headed toward the door, where Ferretti handed him a staff weapon and pushed the legs of a fallen Jaffa out of the way so that O’Neill and Jackson wouldn’t have to step over them.

The hallway was clear and he asked, “O’Neill, which way are our people?”

The colonel blinked groggily and motioned to the left. “Next cell. The door was open when they took me past.”

When they reached the door he motioned to Ferretti to blast it with the staff weapon as he watched for guards. The door swung open with a bang, and he entered carefully. Inside was the younger part of their training group.

Six pairs of eyes stared at him with expressions that ranged from fear to belligerence, all of them quickly transforming into relief as they recognized who he was. Several stepped forward at once.

“Colonel Makepeace!”

“Thank god!”

“Are we getting out of here?”

“Your orders, sir?”

He held up his hand. “Yes, we’re getting out of here. Go.”

They moved toward the door and he noticed that there were two more people behind them. A young woman was lying on the floor with an equally youthful man kneeling next to her. The woman, girl, had an SGC jacket zipped up to her neck and another tied around her waist like a skirt. Other than that she was naked. One look at her vacant eyes told him what he needed to know. She hadn’t been saved from what they’d tried to do to Daniel Jackson.

The young man looked distraught. “I can’t get her to respond to anything. I’ll carry her.”

Makepeace shook his head and ordered, “Out in the hall with the others, Ramirez. I’ll take care of this.”

“But sir…”

“You heard me, soldier. What’s this girl’s name?”

“Lisa Pete, Airman First Class.”

“Out.”

As he reluctantly moved away Robert looked down at the battered figure. He felt sorry for her. It was a real pisser that something like this should happen on what was probably her first posting, but it was always a risk. He hoped she wouldn’t be ruined for life.

What he did was lean down and slap her face.

He barked, “Airman Pete, get on your feet.”

The empty brown eyes flickered up to him with fear.

“You heard me, Pete. Get up. Now.”

When she didn’t respond he drew his hand back to strike again and she suddenly scooted back against the wall, sitting up with her knees against her chest.

He couldn’t back down now.

“I gave you an order, Airman. Are you going to obey it, or am I going to have to leave you here?”

Her eyes gained awareness and she stuttered, “Y..y..yes, sir.”

She pushed herself up to a standing position, her bare legs shaking.

“We’re going to the ‘gate, Pete. Keep up and stay out of the way. Do you understand?”

She nodded. “Y..yes, sir.”

“Good. Go.”

She lurched toward the door and slipped past Daniel Jackson, who was watching Makepeace with large, unreadable eyes. Well, he had probably just blown any chance he might ever have had with the man. Shit.

First things first, though. The ragged group shuffled down the hall and Ferretti blew the lock off the next room, too. That one held the older trainees, most of them civilians. Makepeace got them all moving, himself at the front and Ferretti bringing up the rear like a pair of sheepdogs. They checked a couple more rooms but didn’t find any other captives.

Now there was the question of where the fuck to go next. He decided to follow the path more trodden, and checked the wear patterns on the stone floor. When they came to a corner he turned with the heavier traffic flow. After several more turns and a long upward-sloping ramp, they came to a set of double doors. They didn’t seem to be locked but were too heavy for him to move alone, so he and one of the larger trainees shoved them open with their shoulders.

The fresh air that hit his nostrils had never smelled sweeter. He could see their surroundings in the pale first light of dawn and quickly scanned the area for hostiles. He didn’t see anything, but was reluctant to take that for granted. Things had been going too well.

He sent Ferretti ahead on a quick dash to the tree line about 30 yards away. He dispatched the others in small groups leaving the barely walking wounded till the last. He was vigilant as he escorted Jackson, O’Neill and Pete to join the rest.

They all moved through the forest until they came to an opening that gave them a view down a hillside into a valley. Makepeace asked, “Does anyone recognize where we are? Any landmarks?”

They looked around silently until one of the civilians, a geologist, pointed and said, “There! See the striations on the cliff face over there? That’s just south of the stargate.”

Makepeace hoped the man was right, because he didn’t have any other ideas of where to go. “Okay, everyone memorize that spot. If we get separated rendezvous there. Move out.”

He was proud of his people. Many of them were traumatized, but they were still functioning as a team. With the only weapons ahead and behind, the others formed a protective ring around the most injured members of the party, helping them along when needed. They moved slowly but steadily toward their goal.

They had gone nearly a mile when Ferretti shouted from the rear, “Take cover!”

Everyone dived more or less quickly for whatever protection was to be had in the forest. Makepeace doubled back in time to see several Jaffa crash through the trees following their trail. He charged his staff weapon, aimed and fired.

He and Ferretti kept up a steady barrage, taking out a few of the slowest warriors, then the other Jaffa fell back further into the trees. Robert called, “Cover me,” and darted forward far enough to retrieve two more weapons, one staff and one zat.

O’Neill and Jackson had the others organized and moving out just as he got back. He was impressed that either of them was still standing, much less thinking, on their feet. In fact, O’Neill was leaning heavily on Daniel’s shoulder, though he knew that the younger man would never have admitted it was a burden.

Makepeace handed the new weapons to two of the military trainees whom he was sure knew how to use them, and left them to cover the rear with Ferretti. He was relieved when the stargate came into view, and a beautiful sight it was.

The rag-tag group lurched into the clearing around the DHD, and then Robert found out why it had been so easy. It was a trap.

Everywhere he looked, all around the clearing, were Jaffa with staff weapons trained on them. Fucking hell. Now what?

Makepeace heard Daniel, who was just behind him, moan, “Nate.”

Looking up, he saw a young man step out from behind the stargate. He recognized Dr. Nathan Takei, a clumsy anthropologist whom he remembered having thick glasses and a braid. Daniel had mentioned that while the twenty-five-year-old was lacking in social skills, he was a prodigy when it came to understanding ancient Asian cultures.

Well, he didn’t look like any science geek now. He was dressed in ornate garments that flowed in some places and revealed his lean form in others, long black hair shining and flowing down his back. Of course, the biggest difference was the glowing eyes.

His Goa’uld-timbred voice rumbled, “Lay down your weapons. You will all be punished for your insolence and then initiated into our army. You shall learn to fight and die for the glory of your gods!”

They were out numbered and exposed, but Robert didn’t know if he could allow himself or the others to be taken again. If more of them were Goa’ulded or otherwise compromised, it could seriously affect Earth’s security. He had to make a decision. He glanced at O’Neill and Jackson and saw that they were on the same wave length, and what their own choice was. He took a deep breath and prepared to die in battle when Teal’c’s familiar voice rang through the clearing.

“I do not believe so.”

Then all hell broke loose. Gunfire rang out from the upper branches of the trees! Carter, Teal’c and their people had set a trap for their captors!

Makepeace made sure all his people were down and protected as much as they could be, then joined in picking off the surrounding Jaffa. He saw Mr. Klingon tuck and roll and come up shooting. He took exquisite revenge by terminating the Jaffa with one shot to the groin.

He quickly checked on Daniel, finding him and O’Neill huddled together on the ground, each of them apparently thinking he was protecting the other. Robert was protecting both of them.

A movement caught his eye, and he noticed the Takei/Goa’uld turning to leave. He took aim with the staff weapon and hit the man directly in the back of the head. Human and symbiote were instantly eliminated.

Before long the shooting stopped and SGC trainees began dropping from the trees like ripe fruit. After a brief reunion, during which Captain Carter inspected her wounded teammates disapprovingly, Daniel limped to the DHD and emphatically dialed home.

~~*~~

Several days later, Robert was sitting outside the shooting range cleaning his weapon when a shadow crossed his shoulder. It was Daniel Jackson, who was starting to look much better as his bruises faded.

He said, “Robert,” the first time he had used Makepeace’s first name. “I wanted to thank you for what you did on the planet.”

He shook his head. “I was just doing my job, Daniel. No thanks necessary.” In truth, he felt tremendously pleased.

Daniel continued, “No, I mean it. A lot of people could have died there, including Jack and myself, and it was really because of you that we got out alive. Thank you.”

“It was a team effort. It took all of us to make it back. You gave a pretty impressive performance yourself.”

Colonel Makepeace’s heart almost dropped straight through his stomach when Daniel ducked his head and blushed. He desperately begged his libido to control itself.

Then Daniel looked at him again, those blue eyes intense and serious. “And about what happened with Lisa Pete. That wasn’t how I would have handled the situation, but I understand why you did what you did.”

Robert sobered quickly. “I did care about what had happened to her. I would have liked to be able to treat her with kindness and sympathy, but the first priority was to get her and everyone else home alive. There’s time for sympathy now.”

Daniel nodded. “I know. You took her from deep shock to functional in a matter of seconds. She may never forgive you,” he grinned beautifully, “but she’s alive to be angry. That took guts.”

Makepeace smiled back. “I’ll talk to her. I think she’ll be all right.”

“Yeah. Listen, I have to go. They’re letting Jack out of the infirmary today and lucky me, I get to take him home. But thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Daniel.”

He watched the attractive backside walk away, feeling a pleasant buzz of happiness. Sometimes those dark clouds did have silver linings.

~~*~~

Makepeace didn’t see much of SG1 or Daniel Jackson for the next few months. Scheduling seemed to be conspiring to keep them apart, and it was frustrating as hell. A couple of times he caught sight of Daniel in the halls and nearly fell over his tongue. The brief glimpses were enough to keep his desire alive and fan the flames even hotter.

He sometimes regretted saving O’Neill’s life when he saw how well the colonel took care of his civilian team member. Like, he couldn’t figure out what the fuck that was letting them cart Jackson off to a mental hospital, or taking the kid right into Hell itself?

He just hoped that someone was there to comfort Daniel when his wife died, though Makepeace didn’t think that was really much of a tragedy, and not only because he had designs on the man himself. It was the inevitable outcome, and it was better to get it over with. Maybe Daniel would be more receptive to other offers now.

His involvement with the unauthorized operation couldn’t have been going more smoothly. Maybourne’s people were getting bolder and getting their hands on some really useful stuff. He would have liked to do more than be a courier, but he understood how helpful his role was. He was literally the only physical link between the off-world team and Earth. That was why he had been recruited in the first place and he was willing to accept the status quo for the time being.

Eventually fate conspired to give Robert another chance. One of his teammates was off active duty with an injury and they were Earth-bound for a couple of weeks. And what do you know? That happened to coincide with Colonel O’Neill’s disappearance on Edora, so the rest of SG1 was hanging around, too.

For a while Dr. Jackson worked round the clock trying to get their so-called allies to help. He was back and forth through the gate as though it were a turnstile, and was available at all hours in case a call came through. Makepeace wondered why Daniel seemed surprised that all the response he got was, ‘Sorry’. For a smart guy, he could obviously be a little slow to recognize reality.

About four weeks after last contact with O’Neill, Makepeace happened to go into SG1’s locker room looking for something and found the man of his dreams. Daniel was sitting on the bench staring at his locker door. The guy looked like crap – in an attractive sort of way, of course.

He didn’t notice Robert was there, even when he sat down next to him on the bench. Daniel jumped when Makepeace said his name.

“Oh, hi, Robert. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I could tell. Are you all right Daniel?”

“Of course, I’m fine.”

Makepeace wondered if anyone actually believed that ‘I’m fine’ bull?

“You look worried.”

“Yeah, well. You know. Just wondering how Jack’s doing.”

“You know him. Tough as nails. I’m sure he’s doing fine.”

“I just wish…” Daniel stopped, unsure whether to say more. Apparently he decided that it was all right to talk to Makepeace because he continued, “It’s just that a meteor shower powerful enough to knock the ‘gate out of commission could have done a lot of other damage, too. We don’t know if there were any survivors on Edora.”

“Try not to worry, Daniel. If anyone made it, he did. He’s probably got himself set up in a nice domestic arrangement, spending his days fishing. When he gets back he’ll be all tanned and relaxed.”

Daniel smiled at him. “You’re probably right.”

This was an opportunity too good to pass up.

“Hey, what do you say we get out of here for a while? Go see how people are living on Earth these days.”

Those expressive eyebrows pulled down. “I shouldn’t. There’s stuff I can do here.”

“Uh huh. Like staring at your locker? Listen, a break will do you good. Get your mind off everything for a while and tomorrow you may see things in a whole new light. Come on, let’s go get a beer. I need to get out, too.”

Makepeace could see the wheels turning in that high-powered cranium, and happily the output was in his favor.

“Okay. I do need a break. So does Sam. I should go get her.”

“If we ask the major along you know you’ll just end up talking about Edora. We’ll take her another time.”

“Okay.” He stood and stretched. “I’ll get changed and then we can go.”

Robert was already in his civvies, so he just sat there and watched Daniel Jackson strip out of his clothes. He had been pretty sure the other man was well built, but this exceeded his wildest dreams. Thankfully, Daniel didn’t seem to notice him staring, or the painful bulge at his crotch. He wanted to reach out and touch that soft skin. He wanted to back Daniel into the wall and grind his dick against the thin material of those boxer shorts and what was inside them. He didn’t want to stop there.

He was so lost in the swirl of desire that he was surprised when Daniel said, “I’m ready. Where do you want to go?”

He blinked stupidly up at the scientist and then pulled himself together. “How about O’Malley’s? We can get something to eat.”

“Yeah, some red meat would hit the spot. I’ll meet you there.”

“What? Oh, I could drive us both.”

“Thanks, but I want to go check out my apartment too, see if there are any fish left alive. Maybe stop by the bank tomorrow morning. Do some of those ‘life must go on’ things. See you there in thirty?”

They exited the locker room.

“It’s a date.” Had he just said that? Daniel didn’t pick up on it anyway.

Jackson was already there when Robert walked into the restaurant, sitting at the bar looking abso-fucking-lutely edible. The soft lighting emphasized the red and brown highlights in the short hair. He noticed again the strong jaw incongruously framing soft, full lips. Robert’s erection was back before he could even settle onto the bar stool.

Daniel had a glass of red wine in front of him. Robert asked the bar tender for a Coors Light.

“That stuff tastes like piss,” Daniel teased.

“Yeah, it does, but I’m driving so I have to take it easy.”

“Good thinking.”

“That’s the Marines for ya. Gotta keep one step ahead of the game.”

Somehow Robert kept up light conversation, talking about anything and everything, while his entire body was focused on the man next to him. He turned sideways to face Daniel and let his thighs fall open casually. The bulge in his pants was hidden by long shirt tails, but he was constantly aware of the aching need. He was dying to lean over and kiss those lips, drop his hand down to cup the other man’s crotch. He might have done it, too, if he wasn’t a military officer in a public place.

It was a relief when they moved to a table to order dinner. That way he could press the heel of his hand into his raging erection, calming it enough so that he didn’t come in his pants.

Daniel loosened up with the conversation and good food. When Robert actually made him laugh, it felt like he had won the lottery. By the end of dinner Daniel looked totally relaxed, while Robert was tensed up from having to restrain himself.

They walked out to the parking lot and stopped next to Robert’s Explorer.

Daniel turned to him, “Thanks, Rob, this really was a good idea.”

Makepeace pushed the image of crushing the other man against his truck out of his mind. He had to take it slow, but it was time for the next step. As his daddy used to say, shit or get off the pot.

“Why don’t you come back to my place for a nightcap?”

“Another time, I really want to get home.”

Robert took a step into Daniel’s personal space. Daniel tried to move back but bumped into the truck.

Robert said, “I would really like to spend some more time with you, Daniel. I’d like to get to know you better.”

Blue eyes stared at him. The penny was finally starting to drop.

“Um.”

Makepeace put one hand on a slim hip, feeling bone and flesh through denim.

“I’m your friend, Daniel, and I want to be here for you. Whatever you need, I can give it to you.”

“Um, thanks.”

He had to touch, but slowly. Carefully. He leaned his hips forward to brush his erection across Daniel’s groin, pleased to find an answering hardness there.

Daniel gasped, his breath coming faster. “Oh.”

The scientist looked so shocked that it occurred to Robert that Daniel might not have known that he could be aroused by another man. He knew it now.

“Come home with me, Daniel. Spend the night with me.”

Daniel’s eyes searched his face. He was thinking about it. Then he suddenly twisted and stepped away.

Face red, Daniel stammered, “Uh, thanks for the offer, really. Now’s not…now’s not a good time.”

“The offer is open, Daniel. I’d really like to get closer to you.”

“I..uh..I’ll see you tomorrow, Robert.”

Makepeace sank against his truck as the other man made a beeline for his own car. So close. But all was not lost. Daniel hadn’t been offended or angry or even scared. He was mostly startled. A man like that might be able to get comfortable with the idea, and Robert would be there.

He couldn’t hold off till he got home. After climbing into his truck he grabbed a wad of Kleenex out of the glove compartment and took himself in hand. With only a couple of strokes he came so hard he saw stars, right there in the restaurant parking lot.

Damn, this Daniel Jackson was a lot of work, but he was going to be so worth waiting for.

~~*~~

After that when they ran into each other at the mountain Daniel was friendly, but kept his distance. He seemed a little nervous, but Makepeace liked to think it was in a good way. He didn’t push, but he didn’t back off, either.

SG4 got back into the rotation and it grew more difficult to arrange encounters with Jackson. Then they got O’Neill back, and that made it even harder.

It was as much of a shock to him as to everybody else when O’Neill made such a radical turn-around. He actually fucking retired! And Makepeace was actually assigned to lead SG1! Not only was it a great promotion, but he’d be able to spend all the time he wanted with Daniel. He quickly took advantage of the situation to watch his new teammate shower. Made him hard enough to hammer nails in no time flat.

Makepeace was replaying that pleasant memory as he sat in his truck in the 7-Eleven parking lot, a Big Gulp cup on the seat beside him.

A black car pulled up next to him and the passenger-side electric window whirred down.

“Maybourne, you’re late.”

“Not very. Do you have it?”

He handed the Big Gulp across the space between the cars and watched as Colonel Maybourne pried the plastic lid off the top and looked in.

“It’s bigger than I expected.”

“Yeah, it is. Tell your guys not to do that again. Something that size is hard to hide on both sides of the ‘gate. I almost left it where it was.”

“I’m glad you didn’t. Listen, Makepeace, what’s your take on the O’Neill situation? Is that on the up and up?”

He thought about it. “I’d say so. O’Neill has been through some rough shit lately. Maybe he finally had enough. He’s got it in him, that I know.”

“What about his team? How are they reacting?”

“I’m sure they believe it. Dr. Jackson’s charging around like someone shot his dog. Major Carter has gone military protocol to the extreme; if her spine gets any straighter you’ll be able to use her as a ruler.

“Now, Teal’c, he’s a little harder to read. He resents my command of SG1 and seems to blame me for what happened, but that could just be residual loyalty to O’Neill. He’ll either adjust or he’ll be off the team.”

“So you don’t think it could be an act?”

“Of course it could, but I haven’t seen anything to indicate that. Why? Are you thinking about recruiting O’Neill?”

“I’m thinking about placing him with the recovery team. You don’t need to know anything more. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. There’s another pickup three days from now, I’ll send you the details.”

As he pulled out into traffic he thought it over. It would be ironic to have O’Neill on the team after it was he who closed down the NID stargate access in the first place. It could be good, though, especially if it involved getting the ex-colonel off the planet. His major competition seemed to have been effectively nipped in the bud.

Three days later, he and Jackson were the last ones in the locker room gearing up for the next off-world mission – a milk run if he’d ever seen one. Jackson looked depressed.

Makepeace stepped up close to the other man. “Hey, Daniel. I know it’s hard on you about O’Neill going back to Edora after you worked so hard to get him home.”

Daniel looked at the floor. “I don’t want to talk about Jack.”

“Look, this probably isn’t the best time, but remember what they say. For every door that closes, another opens up.” The handsome face frowned at him. “I just mean that even though it may feel like it, you aren’t alone.”

He put his hand on Daniel’s lower back, where he could feel the beginning of the swell of his ass.

“O’Neill isn’t your only friend. You can count on me not to run out on you. You’ve got my word.”

Jackson’s eyes studied his face. He didn’t say anything, but he eventually nodded at Makepeace, who turned away to hide his smile.

“Don’t be late, Dr. Jackson. We’ve got a schedule to keep.”

After this mission was over things were going to get interesting. He was finally going to get what he had wanted for so long.

~~*~~

Of course things don’t always work out as planned, especially with SG1 involved. After the mission, Makepeace found himself sitting alone in the brig. All the prisoners were separated so that they couldn’t compare stories, and he didn’t have much to do except think.

He didn’t know what would happen from here, and was surprised to find that he didn’t care all that much. His life was over, one way or the other. There was a small possibility that his former NID employers would find a way to get him out of prison. It was even more likely they would find a way to eliminate him.

It wasn’t that much different on the other side. After his court-martial for treason he might be buried in a maximum security installation for the rest of his life, but even there he would be considered a risk. They would probably choose the option of execution. He would, if he were in their position.

He looked up to see Daniel Jackson standing at the bars of his cell. His visitor spoke without preamble.

“I want to know why, Robert. Why would you do this?”

“Because I believed it was right. I still do. I want to save this planet as much as you, I just chose a different way to go about it.”

“You caused a lot of trouble with Earth’s allies.”

“Can’t say I’m sorry about that. But then again, maybe they won’t take us so much for granted after this. Take you for granted. I’m out of it, obviously.”

Jackson thought for a moment. “And I’m actually sorry about that. You were good at this. It will be a loss to the SGC.”

Makepeace couldn’t maintain eye contact. “Thanks for saying that. I blew it by trusting O’Neill. I guess if he could play you like that, what chance did I have?”

Pain darkened the other man’s face and he went on, “You know, Daniel, I do have one regret. I told you I wouldn’t run out on you, and it turns out I couldn’t keep that promise for more than a couple of hours. I wish it had been different.”

“Robert, I..I valued your friendship, but it never could have been more than that.”

“Maybe not. You’ll forgive me if I take the fantasy with me when I go. I don’t have much else left.”

Now Daniel looked away. “Take care, Colonel.”

“You too.”

He hoped that no one would spell out the probable outcome of this scenario to the scientist. Better to be informed after the fact, or even to never know at all.

Several hours later, not long before Makepeace was due to be shipped out, he had another visitor.

“O’Neill. I’m not surprised to see you here.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“Come to gloat, maybe?”

“Not gloat, no. You saved my life. I never figured you for the traitor.”

“I’m not a traitor, not the way I see it. Quite the opposite. You’re the one who screwed up a good thing. Remember that when the Goa’uld are on the doorstep and you’ve got nothing to defend yourselves with except the ‘goodwill’ of some far away aliens. You’re the one who’s leaving the planet vulnerable.”

That got a rise out of O’Neill. “Oh, so you’re the hero, are you? Wrongfully persecuted for doing the right thing? You’re the only one who thinks so. That defense won’t get you far.”

“O’Neill, don’t think that I’m going to plead innocent. I’m proud of what I’ve done but I knew all along that it was against regs. I knew the consequences and felt the risk was worth it. We got caught and now I have to take it like a man. You’re not off the hook yourself. You made some powerful enemies today. The difference is that you won’t see them coming when it’s payback time.”

Robert shook his head. “They asked me if you would be likely to come over to our position. I said yes, that you’ve got guts enough to do it. I should have known that you would never buck the system. I can see now that you’re going to screw around and blind yourself to what’s really important. Unlike you, I’m open minded enough and brave enough to go for the brass ring instead of hiding behind the accepted military mindset. That’s what life is about.”

O’Neill pursed his lips. “Why do I think we aren’t talking about alien technology here?”

“Because we aren’t. We’re talking about Daniel Jackson.”

“What about Daniel?”

“Daniel’s the brass ring. He was for me, but I blew my shot. The sad thing is that you’re not even going to take yours.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“No, I don’t guess you do. I mean that Daniel thinks the sun rises and sets out of your ass. For some misguided reason you mean more to him than his own life. I only wish that I had been able to affect him half as much. That’ll be my revenge, knowing that you’re letting the best thing you ever had slip away.”

“Are you suggesting Daniel and I get together?” O’Neill looked around cautiously.

“There are no microphones in here, don’t worry. And yes, I’m saying you should get over whatever hang-ups you have and get a clue. Take Daniel home and love him. Make love to him. Make him happy. That’s what you would do, if you had the balls.”

“I don’t believe this. Daniel doesn’t feel that way about me.”

“Oh, until recently I would have agreed that he was probably as dense as you are. I think you might find him more receptive now that he’s had a little taste.”

O’Neill narrowed his eyes dangerously. “Did you touch Daniel?”

“I didn’t touch him any way he didn’t want to be touched. If he responded to me I bet he’d be down on his knees in front of you in no time. But if you’re too scared to make a move somebody else will. He’s ripe and waiting to be plucked. You’re going to wait too long and someone else will end up with the sweetest piece of them all.” A wave of sadness passed through him remembering what he would never have.

The Air Force colonel stood shaking his head. “I came down here to ream you out for betraying your country, and you lay this on me. Wasn’t expecting that.”

“What else is there to talk about? What you call high crimes against the state I call methodological differences. Not much more to say. I’m just pissed off that you could have what I want, but you won’t even think about it. What a waste.”

O’Neill met his eyes. “I will think about it.”

He saw that he may have inadvertently convinced the other man, or at least opened him to the possibility, which provoked mixed feelings in Robert. It tore him up to imagine Daniel with someone else, especially the colonel who had screwed up his life so royally. But Daniel shouldn’t be alone. He should be loved.

He grunted reluctantly, “Good.”

After a brief silence, O’Neill turned to leave. At the door he stopped and looked back. “You know, Makepeace, you really are a piece of work.”

As epitaphs go, that wasn’t bad.

 

End