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Misunderstandings Consequences Aftereffects

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Aftereffects

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Callo is waiting for them outside the door, his back to the one-way window, watching a single Legion guard out of the corner of his eye. He straightens quickly when they emerge, giving Daniel a fleeting glance before his eyes settle back on Jack. “I have offered to see you back to the Gate,” he says it directly to Jack, “the Commander and the Ambassador have…gone.”

Good riddance.

Jack isn’t surprised they hadn’t stuck around. When they had attempted to come into the holding cell when he was first comforting Daniel, Jack had not made any attempt to soften the edges of his temper, or the anger directed at them. Combined with the threat he’d made when speaking to Callo, before he started spanking Daniel (knowing full well they could hear him, standing in the hallway like a bunch of vultures), that flash of temper had probably (hopefully) been unnerving.

“Lead the way,” he answers the young man with a nod and a grimacing smile. “We’re ready to be gone, too.”

Daniel doesn’t make any effort to pull away from his supporting arm, or even to look up at Callo or the guard standing just at the edge of their awareness. It’s very telling about his state of mind, and it’s not saying great things, though at this point Jack can’t really blame him. When they reach the entrance to the building, Callo looks back over his shoulder at Daniel, and then up at Jack again, and hails them a taxi-like transport.

It was mostly a walkable city, so they hadn’t made much use of the car-like transport vehicles during their stay, but anything that gets them out of here faster is a godsend in Jack’s opinion. Callo climbs in and slides across the seat to the far side, and Jack shifts his hold to lower Daniel in after the guide, suppressing a wince and a surge of guilt at the stifled noise of protest the archaeologist makes when his butt makes contact with the leather seat. He quickly joins them inside the vehicle, slamming the door shut with a last glare at the guard who had followed them all the way outside, and reaching to draw Daniel back against his shoulder, shifting his weight off of his backside. He’s still only seeing long brown hair, his friend’s face averted from any chance of eye contact with either of them, and Daniel hasn’t objected to the way Jack has been gently manhandling him.

Jack is starting to worry about shock.

Callo leans forward to give the blank-faced, uniformed driver directions, and for a couple of minutes, the interior of the taxi is silent except for their breathing and the faint, tinny sound of elevator-esque music from the front of the vehicle.

“Daniel?” The Osparian guide’s voice is tentative, and he reaches out as if he’s going to touch Daniel’s shoulder, but lets his hand fall short when Jack gives him a sharp look. When he doesn’t get any other response, he goes on. “Forgive me. My deepest apologies, truly, I had no idea that you did not understand this about Ospar – that this was not the way of Earth. Please, allow me to remain your guide and translator when you return, so that I may find a way to make it up to you.”

“Yeah, that’s not ever going to happen,” Jack snorts his derision, arm tightening around Daniel. Their guide draws back against his door, looking terribly upset, with a sound like someone just drop-kicked his favorite kitten across the room.

“Jack,” It’s the first thing Daniel has said since they left the holding cell, and of course it’s to scold Jack – it’s the first sign that Daniel will bounce back from this with his usual irrepressible fortitude, and it warms the colonel’s heart. He shifts under Jack’s arm, turning his upper body only so that he can look around without actually having to sit up straight and put weight on his bottom. “Callo, he didn’t mean it like that.”

“Of course I forgive you, it wasn’t your fault. We should have paid more attention, not just taken it at face value that so many of your rules and customs were the same as our own. I should have been more careful.” Blue eyes flicker up briefly to meet Jack’s, and then away again, and he says nothing but rubs Daniel’s arm a little where his hand is still resting while Daniel addresses Callo. “If we were coming back, we’d be glad to have you as our guide again. You were a good friend to us. But we’re a first-contact team - explorers; we won’t be the team that comes back to do any heavy diplomatic negotiations. Usually, that’s SG-9, and possibly other Earth diplomats.”

The guide appears to be digesting this, and then nods sadly. “So I will not see you again?”

“We might be able to visit, and we can accept correspondence at SG-1.” It’s amazing, really, how many friends Daniel makes off-world. Jack is willing to bet that their guide is the newest member of Doctor Jackson’s ever-expanding inter-planetary penpal club. SG-1’s archaeologist gets more mail than anyone else on base. Ferretti used to tease him, saying that he should be responsible for the salary of at least one mailroom attendant. He’s earned a tremulous smile from Callo, and it’s quiet again. The Ospari city passes by outside the window in strange flashes; the transport follows some sort of track about three stories off the ground, leaving the roadways below for people to walk on, so mostly they can see windows and the walls of tall buildings going past.

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“Where are Sam and Teal’c?”

He shifts slightly to look over Daniel’s head at his watch, somehow surprised to find that it’s only been about two hours; well within the five-hour window he gave the rest of their team, even after travel time. “When Callo came to bring me to you, I sent them to report to the General about our delay. They should be waiting for us at the Stargate.”

More quiet, and he focuses on keeping his breathing steady and slow, because he can feel his partner’s heart starting to race underneath him, and his breathing speeding up. Daniel has always reacted well to the body language of others, and the calmer Jack keeps his breathing, the more likely Daniel will subconsciously slow his own to match.

“Do they…know?” He doesn’t have to specify who, or what. He doesn’t look up this time, staring down at the vehicle’s dirty floor instead. Callo is doing a pretty good job of blending into the background now, obviously aware that Daniel’s having a hard enough time with this without having to be obviously aware of his audience.

“No, they don’t. They just know that you got arrested, and I was the only person the Osparians would let come to get you.”

“I don’t want them to know.”

This time, the silence is on Jack’s end, as he turns the logistics of that over in his head. Daniel isn’t really talking about Teal’c and Sam; of course, Jack is pretty sure he’d rather not tell them either, but they both know that with how close SG-1 is, they’ll have to tell the rest of the team some abbreviated version of it at some point. Secrets between teammates become a risk when they do the job they do, and they can’t afford any disadvantage in the field that can be avoided.

“Doctor Frasier is probably going to have to know.” He finally says, quietly. The post-mission physical is not optional, not even SG-1 can talk their way out of one, especially after being on a strange planet for more than a week. Not to mention, once they deviated from the original plan and missed their scheduled time to return, that routine physical would become a little more thorough. Safety precautions that Jack usually approved of in the abstract sense, but truly hated when it came time to get poked and prodded. “I’m sorry, kid, but I think the General will have to know, too.”

For a minute the younger man is stiff underneath his arm, clearly readying his best argument, but a deep sigh released instead marks his acceptance of those two people. “As far as everyone else goes, they only need to know that it happens, and how to keep out of trouble. They don’t need to know how we found out.”  

It’ll seem odd, but pretty insignificant, barely a blip of weirdness in the lengthy reports that Daniel will write to guide future Earth travelers to Ospar in all things they might need to know about the planet’s culture, history, food, language, music, infrastructure, and whatever other hundred things he will write pages and pages of notes on. That novella will go to the diplomats and the other geeks. It’ll stand out as a little bit stranger quirk on the precise, insightful, much shorter briefing he gives to the military men who are responsible for keeping the diplomats and scientists safe.

This is one time, though, that Jack thinks he’ll go over Daniel’s head and insist that his archaeologist not deliver any of those briefings in person. Daniel spends an inordinate amount of time briefing other teams before they ship out on missions, giving as many of those briefs in person as he can manage when SG-1 is not out on a mission themselves. Though most of them would never admit it (preferring to hide behind their good-natured ribbing of Daniel as a nerd instead), Jack knows that their military units prefer Daniel’s culture and when-in-Rome lectures before missions to any of the other scientists', precisely for that ability to cut through all the extra crap and tell them only the essentials.

When given a chance, he’ll wax poetic about all of his discoveries for unending hours, but he’s quickly developed an ability to cater to the needs and shorter attention spans of the military types in a way that speaks to, if not enthusiasm for their priorities, at least an understanding of what’s most important to them. This time, however, they can get their Doctor Jackson-supplied cheat sheet to a new planet from the aforementioned Doctor’s written reports. He can’t see any reason to make Daniel stand up in front of a group of people and talk about the Osparian penal culture, even if in an abstract way. 

It takes a solid forty minutes to wind their way out of the city and its suburbs, and the transport descends and comes to a gentle halt at the end of the road, which turns into a gently sloping path paved in wide, smooth stones. The Stargate is visible at the top of the gentle hill, silhouetted against the afternoon sun that is sinking down towards the horizon. Callo leans forward to arrange for the transport to await his return, and Jack gently shakes Daniel out of the light doze he has fallen into.

The archaeologist yawns, and then accepts Jack’s hand and allows himself to be tugged out of the back of the vehicle. Jack keeps his hands on Daniel’s arms until he is standing steadily on his own feet and then looks down into his face in an unspoken question. For a moment they both hesitate, but then Daniel steps away, indicating that he would rather walk up to the Gate under his own power.

Jack automatically falls into place a half-step behind him and is rewarded by Daniel looking over his shoulder to give him one of his crooked little half-smiles. “I’m fine, Jack.”

He chooses not to dignify that with a response; just raises both eyebrows a little incredulously and gestures Daniel to go ahead of him. Callo walks with them up to the Gate, dedicated to his new mission to make sure they get safely off-world this time with no more delays.

As they make progress up the hill, the somewhat distant figures solidify into familiar faces. Sam is sitting on the smooth rocks, leaning back against the DHD, and looking out one direction towards the rest of Ospar. Teal’c is standing in his seemingly relaxed but incredibly motionless position that he can hold for what seems like days at a time, his gaze fixed on the path they are walking and the city behind them. He turns to say something to Sam and she jumps to her feet, rushing over to join him at the point where the narrow path joins the huge arc upon which the Stargate sits.

“Colonel! Daniel! What happened, is everything ok?”

“We’re fine, Sam, but I’d really like to go home now,” Daniel answers her before Jack can, and something in his exhausted voice must tell Sam all she needs to know, because she doesn’t ask any more questions, just turns to look at Jack over Daniel’s shoulder.

“Dial home, Captain.” He orders calmly, moving around his friend to pick up his pack and weapons from the pile at the base of the DHD, handing Daniel’s to Teal’c before he can grab it himself. It earns him a slight scowl, which he cheerfully ignores, reaching out to steer the younger man to stand just out of the danger zone of the event horizon’s whoosh as Sam finishes dialing up Earth and sending through their identification codes and comes around to join them. The whoosh appears and then the event horizon flattens, glowing invitingly. “Let’s go home, kids.”

Daniel turns around beside him and smiles in his ridiculously sweet way at their guide. “Bye, Callo. Thanks for all your help.” Jack turns to offer a half-serious salute as his own farewell, as Teal’c and Sam offer their short goodbyes. Facing once more towards home, he nods Sam through the Gate first, following quickly on her heels with a guiding hand on Daniel’s shoulder, leaving Teal’c to bring up the rear.

Things are rather chaotic on the Earth side of the Gate, as they so often are. Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c are swept away to the infirmary for their post-mission exams before he can even try and keep ahold of Daniel, and he’s cornered by Hammond to explain why they’re more than half a day late. Since ‘I had to go get Daniel out of prison’ isn’t the sort of explanation the General is inclined to accept without more details, he has to take the time to give a condensed version of his verbal report before he can talk his commanding officer into postponing a full report until the next morning, and the mission debrief for after that.

Only then is he able to escape to the infirmary to find his team. Sam and Teal’c are hovering in the main section of the infirmary, casting anxious glances towards the farthest bed. The curtain around that bed is drawn closed, but he can hear Janet’s coaxing voice, though he can’t quite make out the individual words. He crosses the room in long, quiet steps and slips inside.

Daniel’s back is towards them, and he’s got his arms wrapped around himself. His jacket is casually discarded on the bed, but he hasn’t removed the black t-shirt that was underneath it. Janet is standing with her hands on her hips, clearly baffled and frustrated by the archaeologist’s refusal to finish undressing and participate in the routine post-mission examination. Turning to look at Jack she opens her mouth to say something, but he gives the slightest shake of his head and walks around the infirmary bed to put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder and turn him around.

Daniel winces, averting his eyes quickly before he has to look at either of them, so Jack mostly gets a view of the top of his tousled head. He doesn’t resist when Jack steers him out of the corner and over to the bed, and carefully lowers himself to sit when the colonel puts a little pressure on his shoulder. He steps slightly to the side, to give Janet access, but not in any way which could be considered moving away from the seated scientist.  He gets a searching look; the doctor is used to him hovering over his team, but this is perhaps taking it to a new level.

“Do what you can like this, huh, Doc?” He phrases it as a request, but she takes it as the order it is. She proceeds through the temperature-taking, looking for any sign of Goa’uld infection, drawing blood. The next step, they all know, is usually a complete physical exam, scar mapping, and a chance to treat any wounds. Doctor Fraser pauses, glancing between Jack and Daniel. Jack plucks at the shoulder of his friend’s shirt in unspoken question and after a heartbeat of stillness, Daniel nods stiffly and pulls the black fabric over his head and hands it to Jack.

Janet looks at each of them in turn. “Daniel, I’m not sure what happened on this last planet but I need you to finish undressing so I can finish the physical exam.” Her command is gentle, but firm.

Jack folds the t-shirt in his hands a couple of times and lays it on top of Daniel’s jacket, waiting to see if he needs to run more interference. Daniel stands up and he turns to step outside the curtain, but a hand shoots out and lands on his arm.

“Stay,” Daniel whispers, and when Jack nods in agreement, reaches for his belt buckle. When his hands touch the buckle, he hesitates and looks up at Janet for the first time. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he tells her, “But I’m fine. Or I will be. I just want to get a good night’s sleep and maybe take a day off.”

Janet’s expression says she’s biting back a million questions, but she agrees. Daniel takes a deep breath, turning away from the doctor, and takes his uniform pants off. The majority of the evidence is covered by his underwear, but the bottom of his butt cheeks where they peek out are both a dark, angry scarlet and the tops of his thighs are a solid red fading to pink a whole handspan down his legs. Janet’s eyes go a little wide, but to her credit, she doesn’t even gasp out loud. Jack, on the other hand, knows exactly what Daniel’s backside looks like under the underwear as well and feels more than a little self-contempt. He wants to turn away, but he owes Daniel his moral support.

“Is the injury limited to just this area?” Janet asks Daniel delicately, and he nods. “What caused the injury?” Daniel just lets out a strangled sound and drops his head further down and Jack steps forward ready to defend his request not to talk about it, but the doctor stops him with a frustrated look. “I don’t need to know the details, Daniel, but you’re going to have to give me some basic information for me to be able to do my job.”

“It’s just my butt,” he manages to choke out, “and it was just a hand. I swear to you I’m not trying to hide anything else.”

 Janet finishes her physical exam with professional tact and steps back, pulling off her exam gloves one at a time to drop them in the trash. “Well, Daniel, your heart rate and breathing are still abnormally high for you, but otherwise apart from the obvious, from what I can see you’re in good health.” She pauses, giving them an opening, but neither man offers her any more information. “I agree with your self-diagnosis of needing to catch up on a little rest, amongst other things. I’m telling the General that SG-1 is off of active duty rotation for at least the rest of the week. I’m going to give you an arnica cream I’d like you to put on your bottom-“

Despite everything, Jack finds himself incredibly amused when at that, Daniel lets out an undignified sound of objection, and his face and neck flush as red as his butt. Janet just fixes him with her best you’re-to-do-as-I-say-I’m-the-doctor-look and plows onward. “-at least once today, maybe twice. It’ll help reduce any risk of bruising developing, and it might even help with the pain. If by tomorrow it’s not significantly lessened, I need you to come back. It probably wouldn’t hurt to use the cream tomorrow morning as well. And stay off of it as much as possible for this evening.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the dry, sardonic tone that Daniel’s using to cover his mortification is just so Daniel that Jack loses the battle to a little smirk, though he coughs and looks away before either of them can see it. The reappearance of even this minor snarkiness goes a long way towards reassuring SG-1’s commanding officer that they’re getting back on familiar footing.

“If you’re sure that you don’t want to talk about it…” Janet tries once more time but when Daniel just stares balefully back, she sighs. “Fine, let me grab that cream, and then you’re free to go.”

She leaves with a quiet swish of the curtains and Jack reaches over to hand Daniel first his shirt, and then his jacket after he eases his pants back up over his bottom with just the slightest hiss. He’s already pulled his shirt over his head and shrugged into his jacket by the time a busy and uninterested nurse sticks her head through to hand Daniel the tube of arnica cream, and then seeing him fully dressed starts twitching the curtains back to get the bed ready for its next user. Sam and Teal’c start their direction as soon as they appear, both looking worried at the time it had taken.

Daniel stiffens beside Jack at their eager approach, so he swings a casual arm around his archaeologist’s shoulder and fakes a yawn. “Doc says we’re overdue for a rest, so we’re off the active roster until Monday, excepting emergency of course. All we have tomorrow is a debrief with the General at 0900 hours, but in the meantime let’s all go get some shuteye.”

As he’s speaking, Jack steers them all towards the infirmary door, and Sam and Teal’c have both already walked out into the hallway when Janet reappears, looking at the colonel a little narrow-eyed. “You haven’t done your exam yet, Colonel.”

“I’ll be back, as soon as I get Daniel settled.” Jack resorts to a pleading look, a charming half-smile, and she sighs and waves him on. It’s a short trek to Daniel’s on-base room, and Jack follows him into the room and tosses his jacket over the arm of a chair while Daniel carefully hangs his up, and then removes his uniform pants and smooths them out and hangs them up as well. He’s turning back towards Jack as Jack leans over him and snags the arnica cream out of the pocket of his neatly hung pants, jerking his head towards the bed and giving the tube a quick shake.

Daniel reaches out to try and take the tube from him. “You don’t have to…” He cuts his friend off with a sharp tsk sound and holds the tube out of reach, nodding towards the bed again.

“Pull your boxers down, lay on your stomach, and let me help you.”

“Jack…” it’s almost a whine, and definitely a pout, but he won’t tease him for it because he knows how exhausted he is. But, that doesn’t mean Jack is going to give in to the I’m-an-adult-so-I-do-everything-for-myself-and-don’t-accept-help stubborn streak of Daniel’s today, either.

He gives him a gentle push towards the bed. “Daniel,” he responds a little mockingly, but with every confidence that Danny can read through the lines (‘Don’t be an idiot’, ‘I want to help you’, ‘lay down before you fall down’).

Daniel throws himself down on his stomach and growls into one of the pillows. Jack perches on the edge of the bed beside him and pulls Daniel’s boxers out of the way himself when it’s clear he’s not going to get any more cooperation. Flipping the cap off of the tube, he squirts a liberal amount into his hand and reaches out gently to tentatively apply it to the red bottom in front of him.

Almost immediately Daniel hisses out a protest and goes rigid underneath Jack’s hand. Jack jerks away, wincing. “Sorry! Janet said it wouldn’t hurt…”

“No, Jack, it didn’t hurt,” the colonel can just see the edge of Daniel’s face when he turns it away from the pillow, and it’s flushed bright red again, the pout only Daniel can pull off firmly in place. He lets his expression ask clearly why Daniel was yelling if it didn’t hurt, and has to stifle another smile at the muttered, embarrassed reply. “It was really cold. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Jack just shakes his head and makes a mental note to put the tube in his pocket to warm up the next time. Too late this time, though, so he just places his free hand in the center of Daniel’s back to steady him and then finishes spreading the cream gently across all of his friend’s spanked bottom and thighs, ignoring the way Daniel mumbles his embarrassed protests and squirms under his hand. When he takes both hands away and turns to place the tube on the dresser, Daniel reaches back and pulls his underwear back up. Jack draws the light blanket at the foot of the bed up and over Daniel and reaches down to take his glasses off, placing them on the dresser next to the arnica cream, and then he hesitates, uncertain.

“Go, Jack, before Janet comes to drag you back to the infirmary. You know she’s probably counting the minutes it takes you to come back.”

Daniel’s right, but Jack will risk Doc Fraser’s wrath if he’s more needed here.

The young man shifts around to free one arm and reaches out to hold Jack’s wrist for a minute, looking up into his face with a smile that’s blurred at the edges because he’s already half asleep. “I’m ok, Jack, really. You can come to get me for a later dinner and see for yourself.”

“Okay, fine, message received, I’m going.” Jack pretends to grouse about it but the hand he reaches out to rest for a minute on Daniel’s head before he goes is still incredibly gentle. As he slips out the door as quietly as he can (Daniel’s already asleep), he’s not under any misbegotten impression that this is the last time they will speak of this. Jack still feels incredibly guilty about having to spank him, and a little frustrated that Daniel doesn’t have more care for himself on missions, and Daniel will let the guilt of screwing up a mission eat away at him for longer than anyone else in Stargate Command. But at the end of the day, they’re still Jack and Daniel, arguably the best team Stargate Command will ever have, and everything will be ok.

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