Daniel juggled the coffee cup, three books and a pile of papers in his arms to slide his card in the reader by the door to his lab. The door cracked open with a rumble and he hurried in to place his load on the center table. The cup wiggled precariously on the top, the coffee almost sloshing over the rim onto his notes. Securing the beverage to the firm surface of the table he lifted his gaze, and nearly jumped out of his skin.
The imposing figure of his Jaffa friend stood by the overladen bookshelf. In his hands was an old Egyptian scroll of parchment, which he must have been studying before Daniel walked in. Carefully placing the scroll back on the shelf Teal'c greeted him with a nod.
“I apologize for startling you, DanielJackson.”
“That’s alright.” He waved away the apology, and almost knocked the coffee cup over in the process. Reaching for a wad of paper to rescue his notes he continued over his shoulder, “Were you looking for something?”
“I am not. I was merely murdering the moments while awaiting your return. There is a matter I wish to discuss.”
“Okay?” Daniel straightened up with an intrigued expression.
“It concerns the reasons for you and O’Neill sharing a home.”
A loud sigh escaped Daniel lips, and he plunked down in the closest chair. Running a hand through his hair he met Teal'c’s inquiring gaze.
“Teal'c, I can’t talk about that.”
“I must admit, DanielJackson, that my feelings are injured by this secret. You once said to me that friends do not keep secrets from each other. Are we not friends?” Teal'c’s voice was low and his gaze slid away from Daniel’s eyes. The behavior was very uncharacteristic for the big strong man and prompted Daniel to rise to put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t doubt that, Teal'c, we are friends. I am really sorry though, but I can’t tell you.” In fact there was nothing he’d rather do than tell both Teal'c and Sam why he had moved in with Jack. On the other hand he completely understood Jack’s position. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have his secrets too, and things he preferred not to talk about. It was a lot easier however to keep the secrets when people weren’t aware there was anything to know.
“I can’t,” he repeated.
“I cannot make you stumble with shame?”
“Huh? Stumble wi… do you mean ‘guilt trip’?” He took a step back to regard his friend, who met his eyes with a hopeful gaze. “Are you trying to guilt trip me into telling you?”
Teal'c gave one of his short nods, making a small laugh force its way up Daniel’s throat. Shaking his head Daniel returned to his chair and took a sip of his cooling coffee.
“Is it not a commonly used measure of coercion among Tauri friends?”
Daniel chuckled while shaking his head again.
“It is, Teal'c, it is. But I’m sorry; it’s not going to work. I promised Jack I wouldn’t tell anyone and he is gonna kill me if I break that promise.”
Teal'c reluctantly accepted his defeat. As he turned to leave he hoped that Sam might have had better luck in convincing Jack to spill.
Jack was in the gym doing a few sets on the bench press when Sam approached him. It was early afternoon so the room was pretty much empty. That was the very reason he had picked this time to go work out. Sometimes he just needed the quiet of working himself to a sweat all on his own. Unfortunately the solitude also made for a terrific ambush opportunity for Sam.
“Colonel,” she began as she sat down on the bench next to his.
Jack knew by the tone of her voice what was coming, so he tried his best to ignore her. He focused his eyes on the silvery bar as he pushed it up counting in his head, twelve, thirteen, fourteen… Just like Teal'c however, she wasn’t deterred by his less than warm welcome.
“Colonel,” she repeated and this time continued, “What’s the deal with you and Daniel living together?”
“Nothing,” he huffed as he pushed up the weights again – fifteen.
“There’s something,” she insisted. “If it was nothing you guys wouldn’t be keeping it a secret. He has lived at your place before, but you didn’t make such a fuss about it then.”
Jack remained silent – sixteen, seventeen…
“You know, Teal'c and me aren’t the only ones who know. After you told Fraiser it kind of got out.”
“What?” Jack placed the barbell on the rack with a clank and sat up. A dark cloud of anger had appeared on his face, and Sam hurried to make amends.
“I didn’t tell, and neither did she. But…you must have known it was only a matter of time, sir.”
“Yeah, really? So, if none of the people I have told tattled, how come it is out?”
“One of the nurses overheard us, and then there’s Luis up in economics. He has your address, you know – both of yours – to send out the paychecks.”
Jack muttered an unintelligible curse under his breath.
“There’s some rather interesting rumors going around as well,” Sam continued with a meaning look, daringly venturing out onto the thin ice of enticing an already annoyed colonel. Jack glared at her, and sighed.
“Fine, I’ll bite. What are they saying?”
“Well the most popular theory is that it was a bet, but the opinions vary on who it was that lost. A lot of people figure it’s just because Daniel didn’t have anywhere to stay, just like after Abydos.” She paused for dramatic effect. “Then there’s some who think there might be something romantic going on.”
The effect was instantaneous. Jack shot to his feet, the incredulous expression on his face coupled with frustrated gesturing with his hands as he spat, “What?! Seriously?”
Sam nodded. Of course she was exaggerating a bit; the rumors hadn’t been that explicit. Everyone on the base held both Jack and Daniel in far too high esteem to be saying a thing like that our loud, but the implications were definitely there in the odd look and comment.
“Just thought you should know,” she said with a shrug.
Jack planted his feet firmly, his hands defiantly crossed over his chest, and glared at her.
“And which camp are you in?” he huffed, the frustration and bafflement swiftly turned into reproach.
“I figured I’d go to the source.” Sam smiled, and he could tell she was quite pleased with herself. He gave her another displeased huff, and almost stomped his foot as well for effect. Without another word he grabbed his towel and left the gym.
That afternoon when Jack was driving home he made his decision. As soon as they had gotten inside the door he blurted out:
“Daniel, we need to talk.”
Daniel turned to him with a slightly amused expression.
“What is it, Jack?”
“It’s Teal'c and Carter! They keep nagging me to tell them why I asked you to move in.”
To Jack’s surprise Daniel nodded and relaxed against the door.
“I figured as much,” he said while letting his eyes wander skyward.
“Why?” Jack’s question brought his gaze back to contact for a moment before proceeding to cast down.
“Because they’ve been trying to make me spill too. And I have to say, it does kind of make me uncomfortable keeping secrets from them.”
“You keep a lot of secrets from them.”
“No…that’s different. They don’t know there’s anything to know, so…”Daniel’s voice trailed off and it took a moment before he spoke again. “What I mean is that the real problem isn’t really the secret, but that they know there is a secret.”
“And why exactly is it that they know?” Jack’s sarcastically sharp question brought Daniel’s eyes up again. He squirmed under the accusing eyes of his friend.
“I didn’t mean to tell them and you know it,” he defended. Jack sighed and his eyes softened.
“Whatever. I’ve decided we should tell them. But this time we make sure it doesn’t get out to the rest of the base.”
“Really?!” Daniel’s face cracked with an evil grin. “So you don’t want me to announce it on the PA-system?”
Jack lunged forward and after a short wrestle he had Daniel in a head lock and rubbed his knuckles in scalp. Daniel squirmed out of his grip and escaped into the living room.
“Very funny, smart-ass,” Jack called after him. “Actually I thought we could have a movie night. It’s been a while so they probably won’t mind coming over.”
Daniel poked his head within sight again, the white flag waving in his eyes and warm smile.