They had covered most of the main points now. Compared notes on Nasty Goa'uld We Have Encountered. Swapped weapons – the two zat guns looked identical, so did the MP-5s, and the examples of hand devices, and the various weapons SG-A had brought with them seemed to be able to function perfectly well in a different dimension. Jack had passed over all the information he had on every hostile or friendly they'd encountered that SG-A hadn't and how the other team should go about contacting them or avoiding them. As far as he was concerned, his duty was pretty much done.***
They had covered most of the main points now. Compared notes on Nasty Goa'uld We Have Encountered. Swapped weapons – the two zat guns looked identical, so did the MP-5s, and the examples of hand devices, and the various weapons SG-A had brought with them seemed to be able to function perfectly well in a different dimension. Jack had passed over all the information he had on every hostile or friendly they'd encountered that SG-A hadn't and how the other team should go about contacting them or avoiding them. As far as he was concerned, his duty was pretty much done.
The other O'Neill was looking at him with a wry expression on his face as he finished his coffee. "You don't like me, do you?"
Jack shrugged. "I don't know you."
"Colonel, I'm you, there's nothing you don't know about me…except for the obvious difference between us, and so I'm figuring that's where the problem lies. Is it?"
Jack returned his gaze expressionlessly. "As you're probably aware, Colonel, I was never very good at guessing games so I think you'll have to spell it out for me."
"Okay. I'm guessing you have a problem with me having sex with a man. Am I right?"
Jack said it with such complete conviction the other O'Neill frowned. "Come on! It's been burning you up since I got here."
"You can sleep with all the men you like, makes no damned difference to me."
"So this isn't the: 'How could you do it? You used to be a married man!' speech then?"
"Nope. I'm presuming Sara left you the same way she left me. After that I figure what you did was up to you."
"So what's the problem? Don't tell me there isn't a problem because I know damn well there is. If it isn't the fact I have sex with a man on a fairly regular basis, what is it?"
Jack gritted his teeth. "You don't have sex with 'a man', Colonel. You have sex with Daniel."
As O'Neill stared at him in perplexity, Jack shook his head. "Oh come on, we both know who we're talking about here. Doctor Daniel Jackson. A guy so innocent he is barely safe to be let out without a keeper. Someone who, after his wife was stolen and his life was stolen and who came back home to Earth to find he was legally dead and had no home, no job, and no identity, was sleeping on your couch because he had nowhere else to go. Someone who trusted you. Someone who relied on you. Someone who would have believed any damned thing you chose to tell him."
"What's your point, Colonel?"
Jack glared at him. "I'm just saying I know the score. I know when Daniel first joined SG-1 he was so out of his depth, so spaced out on too much caffeine and not enough sleep, the only thing he still knew for sure was that we were going to get his wife back and he could trust me to take care of him. Christ, if I'd told him to take off all his clothes so I could lather him in baby oil because it was a special Air Force waterproofing technique for wet weather conditions, he would have believed me…!"
"Oh boy – " Daniel's hand had been outstretched to tap lightly on the open door when he'd heard the end of that sentence. He backed up to find the other Daniel standing there with his mouth open and his eyes very big and blue with astonishment. Daniel winced apologetically, "Jack gets a little…you know – "
"Oh – I know."
"So that's what this is about?" O'Neill put down his empty coffee mug. "You think I 'took advantage' of Daniel?"
"I know damned well you must have done! He was a married man. He loved his wife. No way would it have ever occurred to him to go off and have sex with you unless you told him to. Damnit, he trusted you!"
" 'Told him to'? You think Daniel is so easy to manipulate he'd go and have sex with someone just because they told him to – ?"
"I'm saying you were in a position of trust and you abused it! Christ, his parents are dead, his wife is missing, he's in a very emotionally vulnerable state and you're the only person he even recognizes. And he gets drunk after one bottle of beer, which you must have known very well – "
Daniel emitted a soft groan and began to bang the back of his head gently against the wall.
The other Daniel was still looking wide-eyed. "Boy, and I thought my Jack was a little over-protective, but your Jack is seriously…"
"I wish you'd stop calling him 'your Jack'," Daniel protested faintly.
"You want me to call him 'the Jack from your dimension' every time?"
"Well – it would be less open to misinterpretation." Daniel winced again. "They're getting very loud in there."
"…and I think your words show a fundamental lack of understanding of and respect for both of our Daniels. The Daniel in my dimension would never allow himself to be manipulated, persuaded or emotionally blackmailed into doing something he didn't want to do and I don't suppose…"
"Well, they look pretty damned similar to me and the Daniel in my dimension would, okay? You just don't want to admit you took advantage of someone you knew it would be a piece of cake to get into bed!"
"I resent that on Daniel's behalf as well as my own!"
The other Daniel looked at his counterpart in mild indignation. "So your Jack thinks we're what – ? Easy? Stupid?"
"Innocent," Daniel sighed. "He thinks we're innocent and inclined to think people have better motives than maybe they do."
"Why the hell would he think that?"
Daniel tried not to look embarrassed as images of himself being married to Sha're and not even knowing it were followed in quick succession by memories of being seduced by Hathor, Shyla, Kira…. He cleared his throat. "Well, you know Jack. He gets an idea in his head and he just can't shift it."
Hearing the two Jacks come to a temporary pause in their argument, Daniel hastily knocked on the door. "Jack? Colonel? According to the Sams our visitors' time is pretty much up."
The door was opened to reveal a Jack who looked less than happy but was clearly making an effort to disguise it. "Hey, Daniel. You okay?"
"Fine." Jack looked past Daniel's shoulder and nodded to the other Daniel. "Doctor Jackson."
"Colonel O'Neill." The other Daniel looked past Jack to the O'Neill from his dimension, expression at once questioning and reassuring.
Although he still looked angry, the other O'Neill had a smile for 'his' Daniel at once. "So did you two have fun?"
"Well, we've certainly managed to exchange a lot of information, but it would be helpful if we could continue this discussion somewhere – or rather somehow – and Sam suggested a way we might be able to meet up at least one more time…" The other Daniel's voice trailed off as he saw the pained expression on 'his' Jack's face was matched only by the grimace on the other Jack's.
"How?" Jack said at once. Seeing the other Daniel wilt a little at his abruptness he turned to the Daniel he knew. "I mean…how?"
"Sam suggested we visited their dimension, Jack. The entropic cascade thing would still kick in but we'd have a few hours. Apparently Teal'c and Teal'c are building up quite a nice rapport and Sam and other Sam are solving all kinds of astrophysics problems and Doctor Jackson and I would certainly like a chance to compare notes for a little longer, so as long as you and um Colonel O'Neill…"
Jack grimaced again. "Oh, Colonel O'Neill and I have been getting along like a house on fire, Daniel."
The other Daniel was giving the other O'Neill a pleading look Daniel recognized immediately. It was one he'd found generally worked on the Jack he knew so he wasn't exactly surprised when O'Neill sighed in defeat before saying, "Well, as long as Colonel O'Neill has no objection, why don't we invite everyone to the SGC for dinner next week?"
Jack turned to look at the other man. "How very civilized."
"The other members of our teams would apparently find it useful."
"Well, I'm certainly not going to be the party pooper, Colonel. As long as my General and your General are agreeable, we gratefully accept your cordial invitation."
It took less than ten minutes to have the departing SG-A rounded up and assembled on the ramp. The co-ordinates for the place where the mirror was had been given to Sam and Daniel, both of whom waved off their other selves with genuine affection and regret at seeing them go. The two Teal'c's nodded impassively to each other in a way that nevertheless seemed to denote deep respect. Jack and O'Neill shook hands briskly, determinedly not making eye contact as they did so.
"Until Friday then, Colonel."
"8pm your time."
"We'll look forward to it."
The four team-members headed up the ramp and disappeared into the blue light. The wormhole lingered for a moment and then evaporated.
Jack gave a visible sigh of relief. "Jerk."
"Jack – " It was the mildest reproach and warning from Daniel.
Jack gave him a stern look. "Don't start with me, Daniel."
"I don't care."
Carter said quickly, "The other me says he's a wonderful commanding officer, sir."
"My alternative counterpart also holds him in high esteem, O'Neill."
"Don't care." He held up a warning finger to Daniel. "And don't even think about telling me how much your other self likes him."
"I really don't think he made the other me do anything he didn't want to do, Jack."
Seeing a whole bunch of airmen around who were clearly all agog to hear more, Jack glanced around and then nodded to Daniel. "Can we take this somewhere else? Like my office? Somewhere with a door that closes?"
Daniel wished Jack wouldn't do that: stride off determinedly like Daniel was a dog that didn't always come when he was called but might follow as long as he kept walking. Trailing after him reluctantly, Daniel murmured, "Because of course a closed door is going to be so much use when you start yelling."
Jack shot him a suspicious glance over his shoulder. "What?"
"What?" Daniel countered, face a careful blank.
Jack pulled open his office door and waved Daniel inside. He didn't actually say 'Sit!' but the way he pointed at the chair came close.
Daniel gave him a speaking look before sitting down, wanting it made clear he was doing this because he wanted to and not because Jack had told him to. Then he waited resignedly for Jack to start exercising his lungs.
"I'm not going to yell," Jack said at once.
Daniel looked unconvinced.
"I'm just saying that if we go there I don't think you should be alone with that guy."
Daniel frowned. "The other me?"
"No, Daniel. The other me. For reasons that I would hope would be obvious."
"I think he's very happy with the Daniel he's got, Jack. Or were you thinking he might want the matched set?"
"Who hasn't had a fantasy about doing it with twins?"
"Well…me, for one."
Jack frowned. "You're kidding me? Never? Not even Swedish ones?"
Daniel gave him a level stare. "Don't judge everyone by yourself, Jack."
"But this guy is me, Daniel, and I do want to do it with twins, so you don't get to be alone with him, okay?"
"But, there are still differences between the two dimensions that…"
Jack held up a finger. "Sorry, didn't I make myself clear? That wasn't a request. That was an order."
"I'm just saying he seemed like a perfectly decent human being to me."
"Rubbish. He probably handcuffs the other you to the bed every chance he gets."
"What? So you're into bondage as well as doing it with twins?"
"No. Well…none of your business. Just stay the hell away from him, okay?"
Daniel looked at him for a long moment and then nodded. "Okay, I know what this is. You think just because the other you and the other me fell in love with each other the other you is somehow going to be able to persuade me to fall in love with him as well. In three hours? Jack, could we possibly have a reality check here?"
"Well, if we're talking reality, those two did not 'fall in love'. What happened was the son-of-a-bitch other me totally took advantage of the other you while he was emotionally vulnerable and the other you is staying with him because he's so damned insecure and in need of respect and validation…and why the hell are you looking at me like that?"
"Because sometimes you are just so…"
"Tactless and wrong." Daniel glared at him and then folded his arms. "And how come you're so sure the other you seduced the other me? Maybe it was…mutual. Or just maybe the other me seduced the other you. Did you ever think about that?"
"Oh, don't be silly, Daniel."
"Why is that silly?"
"Have you ever seduced anyone in your entire life?"
Daniel was about to make a vehement assertion that yes, of course, he'd…when memories of his love-life asserted themselves so strongly that he had to scowl, grit his teeth and mutter, "Well…no, actually. Not in this dimension anyway. Have you?"
"Yes," Jack told him unhesitatingly.
Daniel felt even more deflated. "Oh. Well, I still resent the suggestion that the only reason you and I aren't together is because you chose not to seduce me. I think I might have had an opinion on the subject as well and… And we really shouldn't do this, should we?"
Jack met his gaze with an embarrassed look of his own. "We definitely shouldn't do this."
"There all kinds of…"
"Reasons why this is something we really don't want to do."
Jack nodded. "Okay, let's change the subject. Tell me what you and you managed to learn about cultural development type things?"
Daniel gave him a sideways look. "Why? Are you desperate to catch up on your sleep or something?"
"Are you trying to suggest I might not find everything you say interesting?"
"Jack, you want to hear about what the other me and I have deduced about Minoan culture like I want to hear how a zat gun works in an alternate universe."
"Daniel you know how a zat gun works in an alternate universe: you got zatted in one."
Daniel blinked. "That's a point."
"I wonder if the other me has to pretend not to be bored by all that weapons talk you go in for. I mean they're a…couple, aren't they? And couples are supposed to be interested in everything the other one says, so I guess he probably does. Poor guy."
Jack considered the point. "Well, I hope the other me has to fake an interest in anthropology every damned night to get his…" He darted a glance at Daniel and then coughed. "Well, I hope he does anyway. I hope the other you makes him listen for hours. It would serve the exploitative son-of-a-bitch right."
"I wonder if the other you has ever given the other me the lecture on why SG-3 have M-15s instead of MP-5s."
"M-16s, Daniel, for the forty-fifth time."
"Because I have to say that one is unbelievably tedio…" Daniel suddenly realized what he was saying and coughed. "I'm just saying there have to be a few downsides to having a partner with whom you have…"
"Absolutely zip in common?"
"In fact, I'm finding it a little difficult to think what the upside could possibly be."
"Don't ask Carter because she'll probably tell you."
Daniel looked at him sideways. "How would Sam know better than you or me?"
"Daniel, just think a minute. Supposing, in this dimension, you met someone, thought you'd fallen in love and started sleeping with them. Who would you talk to about it?"
"Exactly. And she would ask for all the gory details, because women do, and you'd probably tell her because it wouldn't occur to you not to. And then when Carter met up with herself in an alternate universe she might just go ahead and tell herself everything you'd told her because it wouldn't be breaking a confidence to tell yourself something like that, now would it?"
Daniel pulled a face. "So you think Sam may know…?"
"Everything there is to know about when, where, and how often. So, please don't ask her, for both our sakes."
There was a pause before Daniel said, "And you're going to be okay about this dinner on Friday night?"
"I'm sure I can survive it."
"And you're not going to be…" Daniel hesitated, trying to think of a tactful way to say 'all weird and over-protective', "um…stressed and hostile?"
"Am I ever?"
Daniel darted a glance at the man, but Jack's face was unreadable – impossible to tell if he was joking or not. He cleared his throat. "Right. Silly question."