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Title: Binary Roles
Author name: Icarus
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Category: Angst, AU
Pairing: Jack/Daniel (sort of)
Summary: Col. Jack O’Neill doesn't believe in second chances, least of all when it involves the impossible, improbable, or just damned unlikely. Yet six months after his death there was Daniel, Mr. Improbable, walking down the ramp. He knew there had to be a catch. Wouldn't you know the fine print turned out to be Thor, and Daniel's final "good deed."
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied. Copyright © 2005 All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually quite generous.
Author notes: Written in June 2005 for Ashton Press Off The Record, and Amy created a beautiful picture of Daniel-Thor that's only available in the magazine. Funny how a story I threw together while tutoring has turned out to be one of my personal favorites. For me at least this story packs a whallop. Edited by Amy and Lizard.
"We seem to have arrived at an answer to our cloning difficulties." The holographic image of Thor wavered blue-green as he peered about the SGC briefing room. "It is not a perfect solution, but it should aid in preserving our race."
"Hey, that's great!" Jack beamed.
Carter perked up. "That's wonderful news."
"General Hammond, we appreciate your assistance with our rather unusual request." Thor nodded to him.
"I'm certain it's what Doctor Jackson would have wanted," said Hammond.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow and Sam and Jack exchanged puzzled glances, but no explanation was forthcoming.
"The transference process should take several of your weeks. Colonel O'Neill." Thor turned to him. Jack looked up from the conference table, interested and curious. "I believe we may require some assistance in understanding the maintenance and use of our new human forms."
"Any way I can help." Jack gestured broadly. Then brightened with a sudden idea. "Hey. I can teach you how to play hockey!"
"Thank you. That will be much appreciated."
The light flashed and Thor's image vanished. Jack turned to the rest of the team.
"You know, if they're any good maybe we can get a league going. A little intramural, intergalactic thing? SGC verses the Asgard? What do you think?"
General Hammond snorted.
~*~*~Jack tugged at the collar of his full-dress uniform and stood at attention in the gateroom. It felt a little silly to be dressing up for Thor. It wasn't like they didn't know the guy. But the U.S. government seemed to consider this a formal occasion, a visit from one of their allies, and General Hammond had given him that quelling look that stopped just short of saying it was an order. Yes, sir. Full dress strait-jacket, sir.
Sam squirmed happily next to him and Teal'c seemed pleased, chin tipped in that self-satisfied way of his. Jack supposed it was important to the Jaffa that the Asgard were now going to be full-sized. Thor had mentioned he was "approximately two meters tall," which was hard to imagine. Jack blinked, and wondered what it was like for Thor to be looking at a different face in the mirror, and if he was still gray-ish blue and did he have hair now? He winced and decided it was all very weird.
The gate flared to life and everyone straightened.
The person who stepped through the gate was wearing a tight-fitting iridescent gray jumpsuit, arms held uncomfortably away from his sides - and he definitely had hair. He walked strangely slow, taking very little steps down the ramp.
He wasn't wearing his glasses, but that face was unmistakable.
It was impossible. It had only been six months since Kelowna and they had all seen him die... but there he was. A million crazy scenarios ran through Jack's mind, various ways the Asgard could have solved the unsolvable and brought Daniel back to them.
Then that face turned towards Jack with a familiar, slow eye blink, with the gentle tip of his head that was clearly Thor. Jack would recognize that in any body. Looking up at him. Jack realized he'd involuntarily stepped forward and was practically standing over him.
The general recovered first. "Welcome, Supreme Commander Thor, to the SGC."
"Thank you, General Hammond." It was Daniel's voice.
He stumbled at the base of the ramp and Jack caught him automatically, like he was dealing with an injured Daniel rather than the supreme commander of the Asgard fleet. Only Daniel's eyes had never been this wide, this open and curious. He'd been curious, oh yeah, but not this curious.
"I apologize," he said to Jack softly in that Daniel-voice. "I am as yet unused to the larger steps this body is capable of."
"You… you look like Daniel," Jack blurted out.
"Yes," Thor said, still leaning on Jack's arm. "After the accident on Kelowna, Doctor Jackson appeared to us in his ascended form to explain that he harbored no ill-will that we were unable to assist him."
"That was… nice of him," Jack said breathlessly, still staring.
"Yes. Without providing us an explanation, Doctor Jackson suggested that we examine the DNA from his body. The SGC was kind enough to provide it."
Jack looked accusingly at General Hammond. He might have warned them.
The general said, "I must admit, you look considerably more like Doctor Jackson than any of us anticipated. Although a request of this nature, coming from him as it did, was considered to be part of his last will and testament."
And that sounded just so horribly final. Jack stared at Thor, unable to tear his eyes away. Daniel's head jerked slightly, daintily, the final cue that it was definitely not Daniel despite the clear blue eyes and the elegant hand draped on Jack's arm.
"Upon examination, we discovered that Doctor Jackson's DNA had been altered during the ascension process," Not-Daniel-But-Thor continued. "I apologize if this has come as something of a shock. I take it that individual appearance is important to humans?"
Sam took a breath. "We're not used to everyone looking alike, no."
"This has implications we had not considered," Daniel blinked. Or rather, Thor blinked.
"Wait a minute," Jack interrupted with a cutting gesture. "So you all look like Daniel?" It was hard to wrap his mind around it. The warm weight on his arm felt like Daniel, but there was no Daniel-ness happening.
"No. Not at this time. I am the first to test this procedure," Thor said softly.
Jack was relieved, though he still got the willies at the thought of thousands of future Daniel-Asgards running around. He hoped they'd be better at staying out of trouble, because Daniel mixing with all that advanced technology seemed like a really bad idea.
"I volunteered," he added, staring into Jack's eyes with a curious intensity that reminded him far too much of… exactly who he looked like. "You have missed Doctor Jackson, have you not?"
There were no words. "Yeah."
Thor nodded once, formal and very grave. Oh, it was definitely Thor, Daniel-face or not.
"You are welcome here at the SGC in any form, Commander," General Hammond said, very politely Jack thought. You could always count on George to keep a level head in an emergency. Which was a damned good thing because right about now Jack's head was spinning.
~*~*~It took some sorting out and lot of confused stares at the SGC to get Thor settled in for his stay. The government wonks weren't at all happy when Thor, like pretty much every alien who'd ever visited, wanted a look around. In fact, he specifically wanted to see Jack's house. And insisted on riding in Jack's truck.
"I've only seen your home while orbiting your planet," Thor explained after he'd changed into some SGC pants and a shirt of Daniel's. No one asked why Jack had it in his locker, and Jack didn't bother to explain. At least they knew it was Thor's size.
The orbit-thing made Jack feel rather odd. You beamed in on the Great Wall of China or the Empire State building from orbit. Not the "Jack O'Neill residence." He remembered the Asgard's fascination with him - a little thing like a starship named after you was a good hint - and inwardly winced, hoping he'd mowed the lawn that week.
Jack shoveled off the front seat of his truck, tossing some take-out containers into the back as he showed Thor how to use the seatbelt. That should please the government types. A Secret Service agent signaled him through the windshield, and they formed a column of vehicles in front and behind as Jack pulled out. His dusty truck was completely surrounded as they cleared security. The wagon train took up three lanes of sunny Colorado highway, though it reminded Jack of a funeral.
He didn't know how to read aliens, but from what he knew of Daniel at least, Thor looked embarrassed.
Thor-Daniel glanced behind them and asked, "Will this escort be required for my entire visit?"
If Jack didn't know any better, he'd say that was a cringe. But the Asgard didn't cringe.
Jack shoved his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose and drove unusually slow (for him), edging into the next lane and feeling the entire entourage moving with him. He felt very weird. "It's just for your protection."
"I see." Blue eyes blinked, distant and thoughtful.
"If I do not require any protection, will they remain?" Jack glanced at him. He had the sudden sneaking suspicion there was something Thor hadn't told everyone. "It is possible for me to return the members of our escort to their homes without their express permission. But I fear your government would not approve."
Which had to have been the politest "buzz off" Jack had ever heard.
Thor sat impassively in the seat Daniel had occupied many times, looking just like him and yet not like him at all. Sitting as straight as, well… the supreme commander of the Asgard fleet. He gazed at Jack calmly.
"I'll see what I can do," he assured Thor, having the feeling the good ol' U.S. of A. didn't have much of a choice. He breathed a sigh of relief as he turned the truck towards home. It was one thing to have an old friend over for dinner. Totally different if that included twenty of the nation's finest standing in the bushes.
~*~*~It took several long telephone arguments with fruitless appeals to reason - pointing out that "Well, Thor looks human" and "just like Daniel for-god-sakes," who had "no living relatives, hello?" and "no one knows he's here unless you paint an arrow towards him with, oh, say a line of black cars?" - to get absolutely nowhere.
Finally a vanished Secret Service agent got their point across. The government backed down in the face of the superior technology they wanted so badly.
Curled cross-legged on Jack's couch, Thor nodded at the offer to station clandestine agents outside the radius of Jack's neighborhood. Jack repeated his acceptance to the relieved person on the other end. Then, at that moment, several items flashed and disappeared from around Jack's house. Thor didn't mention if they'd contained surveillance equipment, but Jack really didn't need to ask, now did he?
On the other hand, he'd been sort of hoping to rope one of these guys into picking up some food. Because there was nothing in the fridge. Jack shut the door with his hip, two beers in hand.
"You know, I wasn't exactly expecting company." He flipped a beer bottle one-handed.
"Whatever you normally consume will be sufficient," Thor assured him. And hearing "consume" in Daniel's voice with that un-Daniel-like serious expression was even odder than his stuff disappearing. Jack handed him a beer.
At Thor's confused blink, Jack said, "Oh!" and popped the cap off for him.
"So what's going on?" Jack settled into the couch with a satisfied sigh. Thor sniffed the beer cautiously. "I mean really. Not the BS you told Hammond and everyone else."
"Ah. I merely did not wish any… witnesses… to my physical incapacity. You did offer to assist me in this regard." Thor looked at him hopefully, all blue-eyed, lips parted and looking one hundred percent Asgard in that moment.
"Sure," Jack said, wondering at the catch. Though seeing those tiny steps had dampened his hope for a hockey league.
"I…" Thor looked at the ground. "I had hoped you would find this form aesthetically pleasing. But I am uncertain now that I understand more of the importance of appearances in your world."
Aesthetically - what? Jack's hand paused, beer halfway to his lips. "What do you mean?"
"Were you and Doctor Jackson not… physically intimate?"
"Now how do you know that?" Jack demanded, instantly thinking of lawns and Asgard ships in orbit. Those S.O.B.s.
There was a pregnant silence. Thor gazed at him unblinkingly which… Daniel could never have gone that long without blinking. Even though Thor had somehow managed to purse his lips in exactly the same way Daniel had.
Jack stabbed a finger at him. "You folks are a bunch of peeping toms!"
"I am unfamiliar with that term. However, you did offer to assist. Our race has not had the ability to procreate for many millennia, and I am uncertain." Thor blinked at him.
Jack swallowed. "Millennia? That's one hell of a dry spell."
Jack shook his head to clear the distraction. "Look, there're certain things that are private, Thor. Real private. Like, that one's about as private as you can get. You can't tell a soul."
"I understand. Particularly now that I am in this position myself. It is most humiliating." He folded his hands between his knees. "I regret that I did not have any context to realize it at the time. I must apologize," he said with Daniel-esque earnestness. "I will understand if you are now no longer willing to assist me."
Jack cringed. He hated it when Daniel went all "earnest" on him.
"I didn't… look, I realize it's been a while for you folks but," Jack took a deep, embarrassed breath and leaned forward, elbows on his knees, "whatever you saw Daniel and me doing, you can't…" he waved his hands vaguely, "you can't 'procreate' with two guys. It just doesn't work like that."
"I am well aware of the necessities of binary copulation. However, it is preferable to learn the mechanics from one who is most knowledgeable of its function." A worried look crossed Daniel's face. "Is this inappropriate? Should I perhaps ask Major Carter for her assistance?"
"Whoa! No! You guys just got your nuts back, you wanna keep those babies attached."
Thor blinked at him.
"There are books for all this," Jack said, blushing. "The Joy of Sex? Great suggestions, trust me."
"Wouldn't The Joy of Gay Sex be a more appropriate textbook?"
It took a moment for Jack to close his mouth. Then another to keep from laughing. "Okay. Number one: if you think of it as a 'textbook' you're already in trouble. Number two: how-?" And he gestured wordlessly.
"I have studied numerous manuals on the subject."
"Pretty interested, huh?" Jack said knowingly, taking a sip of his beer.
The Daniel-face looked flustered. "They are contradictory and… puzzling."
"Yeah, that's sex for you."
Thor had a familiar-way too familiar actually-confused frown.
It occurred to Jack that with this new body and the fact that sex was the main reason he'd got it, he probably was thinking about nothing else all the time. And he'd never done it. Ever. His hormones were likely going wild. Especially given that was Daniel's body he was wearing. Jack smirked to himself. Thor was in for it.
"There are some things you just have to learn from experience," Jack explained.
"I suspected as much. You will assist me then?"
"Oh, I… ah." Jack's mouthed worked but nothing came out.
"You do not wish to assist me." Thor said it in a low voice with a faint air of disappointment, his broad shoulders slumped. Daniel would've been sarcastic right about now, with a little jab of guilt thrown in for good measure. But somehow Thor's method was more effective.
Augh. Jack made a snap decision. After all, how bad could it be?
As they stepped into his bedroom, Jack glanced around and quietly hoped Thor had been really thorough with those surveillance cameras. Because "colonel sexually assaults male alien intergalactic diplomat" was probably not going to look good on his record.
~*~*~Thor proved to be an eager and ardent student. Even if halfway through he had to be told that he could initiate his own ideas, that it really wasn't a take turns, take orders kind of deal. Not unless you were into that sort of thing, which Jack decided would take way more explaining than he was prepared to do. Especially with an alien who looked just like Daniel carefully sucking his dick. It was distracting, for starters.
Overall it was, well, nice. Afterwards, Jack rolled onto his back with a heavy sigh.
"Was I insufficient?"
"Well. No one's perfect on their first try."
Thor listened carefully, nodding his head like he was taking notes. "I was unsure if the sounds you made were an indication of pain or…."
"Oh, no no no, those were good sounds. Yes, sounds are a very good thing."
"I see." The Daniel-voice was hesitant and sounded a little discouraged.
Jack rolled towards him, and found a Thor who looked very disappointed and mystified. Jack tucked the blankets over his shoulders like he had with Daniel so very many times. Neither Thor nor Daniel took care of themselves, though probably for very different reasons.
"It's not you. It's just…" Jack sighed again and admitted, "…you're not Daniel."
Thor was very attentive.
"There are other aspects that are… aren't just this." Jack eyebrows raised. He pillowed his head on his arms. "Fun though it was."
"Yes. It was."
Thor was thoughtful and quiet, chewing his lower lip as he stared off in the direction of Jack's dresser. He looked so much like Daniel, but there was this infinite distance between them. Jack reached over and touched him experimentally, letting his hand slide down the curve of a bicep. Thor gazed down at his hand, wholly absorbed in the experience. Daniel would have absently stroked him back and continued to think about something else. Or just kept reading his book. Or something.
At length Thor said, "You are referring to an emotional context. Feelings for one another."
Jack squinted at him, then nodded. "Yeah. That sounds about right."
Thor's brow furrowed. He looked like he was thinking very hard.
"What do humans mean by love, O'Neill?"
"There are many references to it among human texts, yet the actual definition appears to be elusive," Thor explained, sitting up a little. The blankets slid back down, exposing a broad chest. "Human pair-bonding is thought to be the result of raising helpless young. However, I now feel this is an incomplete explanation."
Whoa, deep water here. This was starting to feel more and more like a conversation with Daniel. Jack took a slow breath and let it out. He gave it a go, though explaining things like this was not his forte.
"It's when someone is really, really important to you. More important than anyone else in, well - the galaxy."
Thor looked down at the sheet and traced a flower design with his forefinger. Daniel would have pulled at a loose thread, but it was still so very like Daniel. "You are very important to me, O'Neill."
"You're not in love, Thor. Hell, you barely know how that body - your body - works. What you're feeling is, well, it's natural for the circumstances. This being your first time and all that."
"I see." Thor stopped tracing the design, full lips parted as he blinked a little. "It is possible that you are correct."
Jack was glad Thor's hair was a little longer than Daniel's had been. It gave a point of comparison. Daniel's had been short by the time they were… together. Thor edged closer, facing Jack, and began a careful exploration, studiously running his hand down Jack's chest, stroking, showing a rare moment of initiative. Jack shifted his hand to his ass, just to break him of any reticence early, and Thor smiled.
His hand paused, and he turned very serious.
"Were you in love with Doctor Jackson?" He glanced up.
It was said in exactly Daniel's steady voice, and it was the same sort of too-intense, too-honest question Daniel would've asked, his eyes deep and penetrating like this, not letting Jack go. In that instant, it was Daniel. His Daniel. Jack choked back emotion, and tried to swallow.
"I have caused you pain," Thor murmured.
Jack could finally breathe. If a little raggedly.
"You meant well," he said in a rough voice.
Thor closed his eyes briefly with a tiny, barely perceptible sigh. His clear blue eyes met Jack's sadly. "I could think of no other way to bring him back for you, O'Neill."
"I understand," Jack said. Though for a moment, he didn't.
He rapped a hand on the covers, then reached for Thor's hand, folding it under his on the bed between them. He traced over the back of his hand with his thumb, following the familiar lines of Daniel's elegant fingers, missing his tiny little scars.
"Thor," he said, studying Daniel's smooth soft skin once again. One more time.
So beautiful. He'd missed this.
Jack cleared his throat. "You know that love thing?"
"You've got it down."