Vanessa Mullen (A 6th season story set during 'Paradise Lost')
Who would have thought a man could lose so much blood and still live?
The sandy soil beneath Harry Maybourne was stained deep reddish-brown, and there was no telling whether the former NID man would still be breathing by the next nightfall. His skin was pale, and he hadn't moved or regained consciousness since he'd fallen. O'Neill had finally managed to stanch the bleeding, but two gunshot wounds in the same day had taken their toll. Once he'd administered an antibiotic, there wasn't much else that he could do but wait. Either help would come, or it would not.
It was getting hotter now. That was another worry. Inwardly, O'Neill debated the merits of moving Harry out of the sun and the danger of restarting the bleeding. In the end, he decided the risks of movement were too great. He could always improvise shade if the sun got too strong.
Maybourne's eyelids flickered.
The eyes opened, but there was no focus.
He eased Maybourne's head up a fraction, trying to minimize any movement of the injured shoulder and placed the water bottle to his lips. At least the water here was safe to drink. Well, possibly. Maybourne had been drinking it untreated for a month.
Harry swallowed, choked, coughed and gasped in pain as the cough shook his body. He blinked wildly, swallowed once more, mumbled something that made no coherent sense and passed out again.
Maybourne had tried to kill him.
There were advantages in being fitter, faster and better trained -- he'd shot Maybourne first.
So thin a line between wounding and killing. A line that grew thinner with every drop of blood that stained the sand.
The trouble with Harry....
O'Neill sighed ruefully. They should never have come here. The trouble with Harry was that you knew he was a devious bastard, and yet even when you knew that, he still managed to manipulate you.
He eased the heavy body back onto the bloody sand, cradling the unconscious head to prevent any bumps.
His handiwork. His responsibility.
Three weeks previously
O'Neill cast his line and settled down on the beach to wait. The waters of the lake by the abandoned settlement were placid and had been so ever since they'd arrived. In the evenings, an enormous moon cast a reflection that broke up into dancing specks of light when a breeze ruffled the waters. No noise apart from birdsong, no exhaust fumes in the air, almost perfect weather and fish that willingly rose to the bait. A man could get to like this place -- if he weren't stuck here with no way of getting home....
Harry sat next to him and tossed a stone into the water.
Even Paradise had its Lucifer.
"So, the fish'll be scared for ten minutes. That gives us ten minutes to do something else in."
"And what particular something did you have in mind?"
O'Neill turned his attention back to his bait collection and considered the merits of a small red worm that had so far failed to attract any fish longer than his middle finger.
"Why not?" Harry asked.
"Because having sex with you is somewhere near the bottom of my list of things I want to do. Actually, it's just one notch above having one of my team hit with a zat, getting zatted myself and falling through an alien portal onto a world nobody can find, in the company of a man I detest. Oh, wait, already done that."
Maybourne, being Maybourne, showed no particular sign of remorse.
"You might enjoy it."
"And I might not. I've zero interest in trying the experiment."
Harry poked at the sand with a bare toe. "I'm bored."
"And whose fault is that?"
"Will you stop harping on?"
"You caused this mess. Live with it."
"I'd be less bored if I could go hunt something." His gaze hovered longingly on O'Neill's sidearm. "I hate eating roots."
"I am not, repeat not, giving you a gun."
"You'd still have the P-90."
"No. When hell freezes over. When Bush votes Democrat. Are you getting my drift?"
Daniel was in the middle of some long explanation about a stone tablet he'd discovered, waxing lyrical about the use of symbolic language. Carter was arguing with him, claiming that the symbolism was actually some kind of numbering system. O'Neill let their words flow over him, relaxing in the familiar setting and waiting for the right moment to throw in a joke.
A twig snapped.
Instantly awake, he controlled his breathing to feign sleep and peeked out from under an eyelid. The bright moonlight revealed Maybourne standing in the entrance to the roofless hut. Maybourne hesitated, looked directly at O'Neill, then moved forward, carefully checking the ground for the twigs and dry leaves that O'Neill had thoughtfully left lying on the ground. He paused by the crudely-built sleeping platform.
At least Harry wasn't so stupid as to assume he was asleep. He weighed up mental bets as to whether Maybourne would make a grab for the handgun or the P-90, then was unable to avoid a start of surprise when Maybourne reached out and stroked his groin through the fabric of his pants.
Okay, point to you, Harry. I'm awake.
He opened his eyes and watched as Maybourne stroked another finger along the length of his cock.
"Why?" Harry's hand cupped his testicles and massaged them gently, sending heat surging through O'Neill's body. "You seem to be enjoying it."
O'Neill fought to keep his breathing calm and even and to ignore the messages from his body saying that it hadn't had sex since god-knew-when.
"Lie back and relax," Maybourne said.
"I'm already lying back, and I'm not relaxed."
"You're wasting your breath, Jack." One hand continued its gentle manipulation, the other reached for the waistband of his pants and deftly unfastened the button.
He really ought to kick Harry where it hurt, but on the other hand... On the other hand, in a sleepy kind of way, he was enjoying this. On the third hand, he was a fool if he let Maybourne get any grip that would give him an advantage in a fight.
The real question was: did he trust Maybourne?
And the answer to that was both yes and no.
"It gets better," Harry murmured softly, as he undid the fly and eased O'Neill out of his boxers.
There was no use claiming disinterest now. His cock was coming rapidly to attention and seemed to have made a decision for him. Well, as long as he kept his wits about him....
He shouldn't have been surprised when Harry bent his head and licked him, but he was. The mouth was somehow closer, more intimate.
"Sit up," Harry said. "I can't reach you properly at this angle."
He sat, legs dangling over the edge of the platform, feet just resting on the ground. Harry's mouth engulfed him, and for one glorious moment he closed his eyes and there was nothing except the sensation of hot, tight wetness and the pleasure that came with it.
Then sanity returned. His hand flashed out to intercept Maybourne's as it reached for the handgun.
His cock was abandoned to the night air.
"Jack," Harry said, in tones of the utmost reasonableness, "would you mind moving that out of temptation's reach? It's very distracting."
A corner of him wanted to laugh. He tamped it down ruthlessly and moved both weapons further away from Maybourne.
Harry's head bobbed down and resumed its self-imposed task. It was as though the interruption had increased rather then decreased his interest. Competition -- it sparked between them, in every interaction they'd ever had. Maybourne fed on it, thrived on it, and -- apparantly -- got turned on by it.
He could hear Harry's deep breathing, smell the sweat on his body rank with pheromones, and his own body responded to that excitement as much as to the actual skill of the hands and mouth performing the blow job. It was almost as though he saw them as two separate entities: Maybourne, the old enemy, bowed before him in defeat; and Harry, the friend, caught up in lust, tongue working on him, lips ringing him tightly. And yet, they were one and the same person.
Memory twisted as he stared at the body on the sand.
It had been good. Actually, it had been very good. Maybe it wasn't only Harry who got turned on by danger. He'd come in a mind-blowing moment that had stretched into its own kind of infinity.
Maybourne might have had a chance at the gun then, but he hadn't tried.
So what did that imply? A recognition of a temporary truce? Respect for O'Neill's abilities? Or had he been so caught up in what he was doing that he'd simply missed the opportunity?
He hadn't offered to reciprocate and Harry hadn't asked. Good manners might have suggested that he should, but his relationship with Harry wasn't based on good manners.
He picked up a handful of sand and let it drain slowly through his fingers. Life was such a fleeting thing.
What would it have been like if he'd gone down on Maybourne?
He tried to imagine it and failed. His sexual relations with men had been few and fleeting, an occasional shared hand job when there hadn't been any women to satisfy the need. The unconscious form slumped on the ground beside him held no attractions, showed no traces of the relaxed good humor that characterised Harry. There had been traces of that humour even when they'd been on opposite sides, though it had come out more often as sarcasm then, but it wasn't until the uniform was stripped off him that you saw what else lay beneath the need to compete and control. Harry had the simple ability to enjoy life: he had a happy gift of being able to forget a grudge and move on.
The man who could accept he'd missed his chance at the gun, and still go on and give O'Neill an enthusiastic blow job, was the same man who seemed able to lay aside the fact that it was O'Neill who'd put him in prison, and go on to help him save Hammond's career and Teal'c's life.
That was Harry.
So which of them was bearing a grudge now? He closed his eyes and tried to imagine what it would have been like. Reaching out mentally, he touched Harry and examined his own response. Nothing. Which didn't really surprise him -- men didn't do much for him as a rule and Harry had been absent when they handed out the exotic good looks. The dream Harry reached out and took his hand, pressed it to his cock. Harry was already hard. O'Neill shivered inwardly. Was that how it worked? Maybourne didn't turn him on, but Maybourne being turned-on by him was a turn-on.
Alert now to every nuance of Harry's expression, he started to use his hands. There appeared to be no need to remove clothing: fantasy was useful that way. He didn't bother to look down; this wasn't about size. It wasn't about love either; love was what he felt for Carter, Daniel and Teal'c.
Actually, he wasn't quite sure what it was about, but it seemed to matter nevertheless.
Harry's head was tilted back, mouth half-open as he breathed short and shallow. His eyes never left Jack's. O'Neill stroked the smooth skin along Harry's cock, caught his every tremor of response, the intensity of need that gripped him.
He changed his grip, started pumping, judging his speed by Harry's laboured breathing. He was hard without having even touched himself, needing this as much as Harry did. They were together now, breathing as one, moving as one. When Harry came in his hands, it excited him beyond all reason. He took hold of himself and came in seconds, his hands covered with his own semen mingled with Harry's.
Emerging from the fantasy, drained and shaken, O'Neill stared at his hands. What it meant, he wasn't sure, apart from one thing:
The man who'd tried to kill him hadn't been Harry.
Yes, Maybourne was devious, dishonest, and maybe even a touch paranoid. Face it, any man who kept multiple secret identities, even before he was convicted of treason, had to have something warped about him. In addition to which, he had no doubts that Maybourne was perfectly capable of killing in cold blood. But then so was he.
The man who'd tried to kill him had been crazed, irrational. But it hadn't been just Harry....
He could remember the blackness, remember setting out with no other intention than to kill Maybourne. Finding an alien skeleton with a skeletal Goa'uld still wrapped around its spine, had been the dash of cold water that had brought him to his senses and a realization of what was happening. Somehow, somewhen, the Goa'uld had introduced a toxin that caused hallucinations and paranoia -- probably fixed it genetically in the plant that he and Harry, just like the former inhabitants of this place, had eaten so much of.
He'd found the skeletons of them all, accompanied by the crude weapons they'd made. The Goa'uld hadn't needed to bring in an army to destroy this place of peace and the ancient race that had created it. They'd simply allowed them to destroy one another.
Another handful of sand trickled through his fingers, and he watched as an errant breeze carried a few grains onto Harry's skin.
Harry was going to die, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, because for all he could do to try and help, there was too much blood lost into the ground, too great a likelihood of a collapsed lung, too much else that his imagination could conjure up in the way of splintered bone and other internal injury.
Harry was going to die, and that cheerful irreverence, complete untrustworthiness, even that odd sexual chemistry would die with him.
Harry liked him. You felt it in the easy banter, the shared insults, even in the continual challenges. Maybourne had an opponent worthy of his talents, and in some obscure way that bound them together.
The trouble with Harry....
The real trouble with Harry was that you ended up liking the bastard back.
So what happens now? This world has no Stargate. The only allies we have with ships that might be able to search for us are the Tok'ra. Are they still looking or did they abandon the search long ago? What happens if they actually find us?
Easy for me. I get to go home.
What about you, Harry? What happens to you if we're rescued? Either you die physically here, or you die inwardly back on Earth. I'm not sure your wayward spirit would survive another spell in prison. You deserve it, no doubt about that; but then again if I was going to turn you in, I'd have done it the last time we met up... Besides, you've paid in other ways.
So much blood....
If the Tok'ra find us, can I do to you in the name of friendship what I wouldn't do to my worst enemy?
If you become a host to one of them, you'll pull through without the need for medical help on Earth. A symbiote will do that, repair the fractures, fight any infection, help you survive the blood loss.
You'd live, but at a price. Your body would never be your own again. Maybe it works for some: Jacob seems happy enough overall. For others, it can be a disaster -- trust me, I know.
I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
If I ask them, they'd take you. You're the one who stole from them, who nearly wrecked our entire alliance, but they'd take you if I asked. They owe me one.
Wake up, damn you.
If they come, and you're still unconscious, do I have the right to ask on your behalf?
You'd have what you always wanted: full knowledge of alien technology. You might even be able to use it to help Earth.
But the price....
To never be alone, never have any privacy, to have another entity always there, always in your mind - the Tok'ra claim it's a partnership of equals and can be a deeply meaningful relationship. I wouldn't know. I get rather cynical about claims like that. Besides, I already have a partnership; it's called SG-1.
But that's where you and I differ. I wonder... You've been on the run for two years now. Am I the only friend you have?
Is that why you need me so badly? Is it danger that's the turn-on, or simply being with someone you trust? If you do trust me....
Maybe for you, a symbiote would be a companion.
Would you trust me to make this decision on your behalf?
Harry, I may do it anyway....
I don't think I can leave you to die.
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