Sam was absolutely dying of curiosity. The fact that both Daniel and Egeria were gone all day yesterday must mean that things the night before went very well.
Sam smiled as she thought back to the day Egeria came to her lab to discuss her plan for Daniel's birthday.
"I am in need of your help," the former queen of the Tok'ra said.
"Um, sure. What do you need?"
"It is regarding Daniel's birthday. I have not purchased a gift for him."
"Would you like me to take you out shopping for one? We could do it tonight."
"That would be appreciated. However, the true gift I wish to give him is not one that will be purchased."
Sam was getting curious. "What kind of gift are you talking about?"
Egeria lips curved into a small smile. "I wish to go to his home that night wearing the red dress I purchased."
"Oh." Sam's eyes widened when she realized what Egeria was really saying. "Ohhh!" She cleared her throat. "Um . . . I see. Well, that's . . . going to be quite a, uh, present."
Egeria's smile got a little bigger. "Yes, I believe that Daniel will be pleased."
"I bet. So, what do you need me for?"
Egeria had gone on to explain that she didn't want to come all the way back to the base to change clothes, then find someone to take her to Daniel's house. She asked if she could change at Sam's. The major told her that would be fine, then came up with the idea to tell everyone that Egeria was spending the night at her place to make everything easier.
It was when they were out shopping for another gift for Egeria to give to Daniel that the two women came up with the idea of putting a piece of lace from the bra or panties that Egeria would be wearing into a box along with a note. Not wanting to damage the underwear she would actually be wearing, Egeria got a pair of panties that were identical and cut the lace from it.
In the days that followed, Sam often thought about the fact that she was helping Egeria seduce her teammate and best friend, most definitely not something she'd ever have imagined herself doing for anyone. Of course, she'd known that the seduction wouldn't be unwelcome. Just the opposite, in fact.
Now, Sam was really curious about how everything went. She knew that she shouldn't be thinking about it. It was private, after all. Asking about something to do with Daniel's love life would be going way over the line. But the curiosity remained. She just couldn't help it.
Finally, Sam couldn't take it anymore. She decided that it wouldn't do any harm to simply ask Egeria if everything went well.
Sam ascended the stairs to Level 18 and made her way to Egeria's new lab. Fortunately, it was closer to the stairs and elevator than Daniel's office was, which meant that she didn't have to pass his room to get there.
"Hey. How's it going?" Sam asked the woman sitting at the desk.
"It is going well," Egeria replied.
The major came forward. "Sooo . . . how, uh, did things go with you and Daniel?"
The smile that graced Egeria's face could definitely be called dreamy. "It was the most glorious night of my life, and yesterday was equally so. We made love many times. No other man has given me so much pleasure."
Sam just stood there, blinking. Okaaay, that was a whole lot more information than she was planning on getting. Maybe she needed to explain the concept of TMI to Egeria.
Sam cleared her throat. "Um . . . wow. That's . . . that's great, Egeria."
The dark-haired woman studied her expression. "You are embarrassed by what I revealed."
"Well, Daniel is my teammate, and, generally, that topic is not exactly polite to discuss regarding a teammate."
"I am sorry. The Goa'uld have a different viewpoint about sex, as do the Tok'ra, and I sometimes forget that it is something not so freely discussed in your society."
"Well, that all depends on the circumstances," Sam explained. "Sometimes, it's quite freely discussed, and there is a whole lot of sex in movies and on TV. We're not a bunch of prudes. If you were talking about some guy I didn't know, I might want you to tell me all about it." Sam thought about that. "Okay, I'd probably still feel uncomfortable if you got into too much detail. Some women love to hear all the details, but I've never been that sort. Anyway, with Daniel being a teammate and a friend, the . . . rules are sort of different."
"I understand, and you are right. This is not something I should discuss, for it would be displaying a lack of respect for Daniel. It is a private thing between us."
"Right. Exactly." Sam smiled. "I am really glad that you and Daniel had a wonderful night and day, though. For quite a while now, I've wondered if he would ever find someone to take Sha're's place. He loved her so much."
"Yes, I know that he loved her deeply. When I first met him and throughout all the months that passed while he was on Estrania, his love for her never wavered even though she was dead. He told me that he had been with no other woman since her death."
"Yeah, as far as I know, he never even dated anyone, not then and not later. There was one woman he became interested in, but things didn't turn out well." Sam looked at Egeria closely. "You should know, though, that I really think Daniel loves you just as much as he did Sha're. When he thought that you and he would have to say goodbye and could never be together, it was really hurting him. I haven't seen him hurting that much since Sha're died."
Egeria smiled. "I know that he loves me greatly. He told me so many times and in many ways yesterday. I cannot express to you how happy it makes me to know that I have his love. I have wanted it for so very long."
Sam could see the joy shining in the woman's eyes, and it made her happy. She bet that when she saw Daniel, she'd see the same look in his eyes.
Half an hour later, Sam found out that she was right when she joined Egeria and her teammates for lunch. In all the years that she'd known him, she had never seen Daniel looking so relaxed and happy. He actually looked younger, as if all the sorrow, hardship and pain etched into his face over the years had been smoothed away.
Like Sam, Teal'c saw the difference in his teammate and was very pleased by it. He had long blamed himself for the greatest measure of sorrow in Daniel's life. When Sha're was still alive, he had hoped that Daniel's main source of joy would be returned to him, easing one tiny portion of Teal'c's guilt. Not only did that hope die the day he was forced to kill her, his burden of guilt was made even heavier.
Now that Daniel had found a new woman to love, and joy had returned to his life, Teal'c could not be happier for his teammate. It did not remove the burden of guilt over what became of Daniel's wife, but it made Teal'c feel good that his friend no longer suffered the grief of Sha're's death.
They were almost finished with their meals when Ferretti came over. Egeria had met him briefly at the Fourth of July picnic, but didn't have an opportunity to talk to him for very long.
"Howdy, everyone," he greeted with a grin.
"Hey, Ferretti," Jack said. "What's up?"
"Actually, I am here to borrow this lovely lady for a little while," the lieutenant colonel said, gesturing at Egeria. "Well, not for me personally. It's for one of my team, the new kid, Perkins. He's been asking me about the differences between the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra, and I figured, hey, why not get the expert to answer them?"
Egeria smiled. "I would be happy to answer whatever questions he might have."
"Great! I can wait around for you to finish eating, and we can go do it now, if that's okay."
"That will be fine."
As Egeria finished eating, Ferretti chatted with the others. Once she was done, he took her to meet Airman Nate Perkins. The young airman was quite nervous about talking with her in the beginning, but soon loosened up. Ferretti hung around as Egeria filled Nate in on the history of the Tok'ra – starting with how she created them – their philosophies and beliefs, and their determination to destroy the Goa'uld. In the process, Lou learned a few things, too, things that affected his viewpoint of the Tok'ra.
Ferretti finally excused himself to go take care of something. Twenty minutes later, he was on his way back when he heard a bit of conversation that had him halting in his tracks. A man, whose voice he recognized as that of Marine Sergeant Ed Grossman, had just commented that he wondered what it was like to have sex with a Goa'uld, using a very crass term for the act.
"She isn't a Goa'uld," said someone else, who sounded like Lieutenant Bryce Donnelley. "Especially not now. She's human now."
"Yeah, but she used to be one, and I'd bet a hundred bucks that Jackson did her sometime during those six months that he was back in time, and I'd bet another hundred that it was more than once. I heard that she was lusting for him right from the start. I'm thinking that's why she made him a slave, so that she could get into his pants, or whatever it is that slaves there wore." Grossman laughed. "Yeah, there he is in her palace, at her beck and call day and night. I wonder how many nights he heeded her call and took care of her 'needs'."
Ferretti had decided that he'd heard enough. He marched around the corner and up to the two men. The lieutenant saw him first and immediately straightened his posture. Grossman turned around just in time to receive a shove.
"You listen to me, you pathetic excuse for a Marine," Ferretti snapped. "I don't want you saying another word like that again, ever! Doctor Jackson and Egeria deserve our respect, not trash talk."
"No, you look. I don't care what you think went on during the months that Daniel was back in time. You don't talk like that about them. How'd you like it if I started trash talking about you and your wife, huh? Would you like that?" Ferretti poked a finger hard into Grossman's chest. "Not one more word, Grossman. I mean it. Because if I hear that you've been at it again, it won't be General Hammond that I tell, it'll be all of Daniel's teammates. If you manage to remain all in one piece by the time Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c get through with you, I bet Major Carter will be able to think up some nasty little science experiment to try on you. Now, get out of here before I decide to break your nose."
Grossman glared at Ferretti, then left.
"I'm sorry, sir," Donnelley said. "I didn't much care for the way he was talking either. I should have just walked away and refused to listen. I hope you don't think that there are a lot of guys who think like that. Sure, some of us wonder about what happened while Doctor Jackson was back in time, but even if something did go on between him and Egeria, that's their business."
Ferretti patted the younger man's shoulder. "Don't sweat it, Bryce." He looked at his watch. "Doesn't your shift at the number two checkpoint start in five minutes?"
"Then you'd better get going before you're late."
Donnelley hurried off down the hall. Ferretti retraced his steps and rounded the corner – to come face-to-face with Egeria.
'Oh, shit,' he cursed.
"Um . . . hey," he greeted, putting on a fake smile. "All finished with Tok'ra 101? I have to say that you're a more interesting teacher than a lot of the ones I had in school."
"Yes, I have finished talking to Airman Perkins about the Tok'ra. I finished several minutes ago."
Ferretti repeated the silent curse. "Uhhhh, did you hear any of that stuff that just went on?" 'Please say no.'
"Yes, I did."
The lieutenant colonel uttered a few more curses in his head that would have gotten his mouth washed out with soap if his mother had heard them.
His smile was no doubt looking pretty sickly now. "Um . . . how much?"
"I did not hear what the man you called Grossman said about Daniel and me, but I heard enough of your response to know that what he said was not pleasant and polite."
Sending thanks heavenward that Egeria hadn't heard Grossman's statements, Ferretti said, "Okay, you need to understand that Grossman is an ass. What he said is not a viewpoint shared by most of the people here."
"And what is his viewpoint?"
"Come on. You can't ask me to tell you what he said! No way!"
"How can I defend myself and Daniel if I do not know what the accusations are? From what I did hear, I am assuming that it was regarding sexual activities."
Ferretti squirmed uncomfortably. "Uh . . . yeeaahh."
Egeria nodded. "It would be understandable that, given the fact that some may have learned about the feelings I had toward Daniel when he was on Estrania, they would wonder what may have happened between us. I will tell you that Daniel was still very much in love with his wife and made it clear quite early on that he had no desire to bed any woman now that she was dead. I will also tell you that, though I desired him, I would never have used my position as queen and the one who owned him to coerce him into having sex with me."
Ferretti noticed that she didn't actually say that they never had sex back then, but what she did say confirmed his belief that, if it happened, it wasn't even remotely like what Grossman said.
"Thanks for telling me that. Not that I needed to hear it. I already knew that Grossman was full of it." He studied the woman appraisingly. "You know, you're one cool customer. Most women would have been really offended by this whole thing."
Egeria smiled slightly. "Well, I still do not know what he said. Perhaps I would be offended if I knew that."
"Well, you're not hearing it from me. You can torture me if you like, but there's no way I'm telling you."
Egeria's smile got a little bigger. "I am no longer a Goa'uld, so I do not torture people."
"I am so pleased to hear you say that. I am very fond of all my body parts."
Egeria's smile faded. "I do wish to thank you for defending mine and Daniel's honor."
"Don't mention it. I don't stand for talk like that about any woman, and, as for Daniel, well, we go a long ways back, as far back as he and Jack do. I was on the first mission through the gate with them. Daniel was the one who got us home, and he and the colonel were the ones who took care of Ra. He's a good guy, and he's a friend, too, so, I'm not gonna let anyone talk like that about him. I just hope he doesn't find out about this. He'll blow a gasket if he does."
Sergeant Grossman strode down the corridor, heading for the commissary. Seeing a friend of his, he stopped to chat. They were about five minutes into the conversation when the gaze of the man he was talking to went to something over Grossman's shoulder. The sergeant turned around. He had about two seconds to register the identity of the person standing before him before he found himself sitting on his ass. Grabbing the jaw that just had a fist slammed into it, he stared up at the man who hit him.
Jack had once likened an angry Daniel's eyes to two oxyacetylene torches. If he was there at that moment, he'd probably now liken them to two solar flares from a blue giant sun, racing out into space to incinerate everything in their path – and the unfortunate Sergeant Grossman was right at the focal point of the ocular inferno.
"You can say anything you want about me, Grossman," Daniel spit out in almost a growl, "but if you ever say another word like that about Egeria, I'll make you wish that you hadn't."
The sergeant got to his feet, saying nothing. An audience had begun to gather. Most of the people were pretty shocked to have seen the normally peaceful Daniel deck a Marine who probably outweigh him by twenty pounds. The archeologist's hands were still curled into fists, and he looked like he was close to ripping Grossman to pieces – or at least trying his level best to do so.
At that moment, someone pushed their way through the crowd.
"What the hell's going on here?" asked Jack. He first looked at Daniel. Seeing the state that his teammate was in, his gaze went to the person the archeologist was apparently trying to immolate with the power of his gaze alone. Noting the way that Grossman was touching his jaw, it was pretty easy to figure out what had happened. The question now was why.
"So, is someone going to tell me what this is all about?" he asked. Neither man said a word. "All right, have it your way. Let's take this up with the general."
The trip to Hammond's office was interesting, especially the time spent in the elevator. Rage was pouring off Daniel in almost palpable waves, and Jack was amazed that the ambient temperature in the elevator didn't go up. As for Grossman, he was staring at the floor, his expression impossible to read.
In Hammond's office, Jack briefly told the base commander what happened. The general focused his gaze upon the other two men.
"All right, I want to know what this is about." He looked at Daniel. "Doctor Jackson?"
"Sergeant Grossman made a remark about me and Egeria that I took exception to," the archeologist said in a clipped tone.
"I see." The general's eyes went to Grossman. "And what was this remark?"
"I would prefer not to repeat it, sir," the sergeant replied.
"Oh, that isn't gonna fly, Grossman," said Jack, "especially since it's pretty obvious that, whatever it was, it was something that should never have left your mouth. Daniel doesn't go around punching people for no good reason. Actually, he doesn't go around punching people at all. So, what idiotic thing did you say to make him want to eviscerate you?"
The sergeant paused for several seconds. "I made a comment regarding Doctor Jackson and his relationship with Egeria during the months that he was back in time."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "His relationship with her?"
Jack had a pretty good idea what the specific relationship topic had been. He looked at Daniel, whose jaw was clenched tight.
"I'm not repeating what he said."
There was a knock on the doorjamb. Everyone turned to see Ferretti standing there.
"I think I can shed some light on this," he said.
"Oh?" Jack responded. "How's that?"
"I overheard what Sergeant Grossman said and had my own little . . . discussion with him."
Jack looked back at the sergeant, who now appeared to be a little nervous.
"All right," Hammond said. "Doctor Jackson, Sergeant Grossman, I want you to wait out in the briefing room. And I want you to be on your best behavior. If there is an outburst, you will both be spending time in the brig. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," both men replied at the same time.
They left the office, Daniel sitting down at the table while Grossman went over on the far wall. Jack watched them for a few seconds, then shut the door.
"Please recount to us what Sergeant Grossman said, Colonel Ferretti," Hammond instructed.
"Uh, his actual words, sir, or should I . . . paraphrase."
"His actual words."
Ferretti did as asked. After just the first sentence, Jack's blood pressure was already elevated. By the time he finished, the grey-haired man felt like going out into the briefing room and following up Daniel's punch with one of his own.
"Well, there's no mystery as to why Daniel clocked him one," he said. "Frankly, he showed a lot of restraint by throwing just one punch. If I'd been him, I would have ripped Grossman's head off. So, what are we going to do about this, General?"
A severe frown on his face, it was obvious that Hammond was sickened by what Grossman had said.
"I will, of course, strongly reprimand the sergeant," he replied. "I do not tolerate talk like that on my base."
"And Daniel? I don't think he should be reprimanded for doing what most men in his position would have done. Grossman had it coming."
"I agree with you for the most part, Colonel. However, I cannot let an attack on a fellow member of the personnel while on duty go without a reprimand of some sort. I'll go easy on him, though."
"And what about the future?" Ferretti asked. "Daniel may be the kind of guy who doesn't hold a grudge, but he's not going to forget what Grossman said."
"I guess we just have to hope that they don't bump into each other again," Jack replied.
Daniel looked up from the table to stare at the man across the room.
"I shouldn't have said what I did," the sergeant said. "It was out of line."
"Yes, it was," Daniel responded in an angry voice.
"Colonel Ferretti tore me a new one when he heard what I said. He asked me how I'd feel if someone talked like that about me and my wife. Later on, I got to thinking about that. If I'd heard somebody say stuff like that about my wife, I'd tear their throat out with my bare hands. I don't blame you for wanting to do the same. There's really nothing more I can say than that and to apologize again."
Daniel gradually felt his temper cool. He was still mad, but he was no longer seeing red.
"There's something that I want to make clear to you," he said. "I was not Egeria's lover during those months. She knew almost from the start that I was a widower and that I still loved my wife and had no interest in sex with someone else. She never once tried to force me or deliberately seduce me into having sex with her. And it would have been extremely easy for her to do so. I don't think you were here when Hathor took control of every human male on this base, but I'm betting that you heard about it."
"Yes, I heard about it."
"Then you know what Goa'uld queens are capable of doing. All she would have had to do was breathe on me with that drug, and I'd have done whatever she wanted me to. I couldn't have resisted her. Any other Goa'uld queen in her place would have done just that, but she never even considered it. I want you to think about that."
Grossman nodded, feeling even worse now.
Just then, the office door opened, and both Jack and Ferretti came out.
"He wants to talk to you," the colonel said to Grossman.
Straightening his posture, the sergeant went into the office and shut the door, prepared to take whatever punishment the general gave him.
Jack stared at his teammate. "He had it coming, Daniel."
"Yes, he did, but I should have cooled off before I went to find him. If he'd tried to hit me back, I wouldn't have been able to stay in control. I'd probably have tried my best to put him in the infirmary. I was . . . really angry, angrier than I've been in a very, very long time."
"You're telling me! I thought you were going to roast the guy to ashes with that look you were giving him. If I'm ever on the receiving end of a look like that, I'm taking out extra life insurance."
"Well, it's over now. While you guys were in there, he apologized."
Ferretti was surprised by that. "He did?"
"Yeah, partly because of what you said to him about how he'd feel if someone talked like that about him and his wife. That made him realize that he was out of line."
"So, how did you find out? I know that Egeria didn't. . . ." The look that sprang up on Daniel's face halted Ferretti's sentence and made him realize he'd just made a mistake.
"Egeria heard him, too?!" the archeologist yelled, jumping to his feet.
'Damn,' Jack was thinking. He was also thinking, 'Danger, danger, Will Robinson.'
"No, no, no!" Ferretti quickly said, seeing an impending explosion. "She didn't hear what he said. She just overheard me dressing him down. We talked about it afterwards, and she was cool about the whole thing."
"I need to talk to her," Daniel said.
"I don't think you would be getting out of that anyway," Jack responded. "I'd say the entire base is going to hear about you knocking Grossman on his ass."
Ferretti was now grinning. "Oh, yeah."
The office door opened, and Grossman came out, resembling a child who'd just been raked over the coals by his father. He slunk past them and hurriedly left.
"I'd say that it's your turn now, Daniel," Jack said.
Nodding, Daniel went into the office and closed the door.
"Please take a seat, Doctor Jackson," Hammond said.
Daniel did so. "Before you say anything, sir, I want to apologize. I shouldn't have hit him, especially not here on the base. I'm not the kind of man who normally resorts to violence. I just lost control of my temper when I heard what he'd said about Egeria."
General Hammond made note of the fact that Daniel had specified that it was the slur on Egeria that made him angry. It really wasn't surprising. Daniel probably would have taken anything that Grossman might have said about him and done nothing about it.
"I can fully understand why you were angry, Son," the general said. "If I was a younger man and it was my girlfriend or wife that such a thing was said about, I believe that I'd have done the same thing. However, you are right that you should not have struck him. Violence between members of the personnel when they are on duty is something that cannot be tolerated."
Hammond smiled ever so slightly. "Therefore, if a situation ever comes up like this again, I expect you to do the equivalent of asking him to meet you outside after class."
Shocked by the statement, Daniel stared at the man. "So, you're telling me to tell them to meet me someplace after they get off duty, and then clock them one?"
"Well, perhaps you could attempt to talk things out first."
Daniel almost smiled, thinking that, even after all this time, this man could still surprise him. "I'll keep that in mind, sir."
"All right, then. You are dismissed. I'd suggest that you go straight to the infirmary."
"The infirmary? Why?"
"Take a look at your hand."
Daniel looked down at his right hand and saw that the knuckles were bruised and swollen. Of course, it was at that moment that the pain finally impacted upon his awareness.
"Yes, that's something they usually don't show in movies and TV shows, that it hurts like hell when you punch a guy in the jaw."
When Daniel exited the office, he saw that Jack and Ferretti were gone. He headed down to the infirmary, not looking forward to Janet's reaction.
"I figured that I might be seeing you soon," she said upon his entrance.
Daniel sighed, guessing that news of the altercation had already reached the infirmary.
Janet waved him over to an exam table. "So, how much damage did you do to yourself?" Daniel held up his hand, and she examined it, making him wince. "Well, I don't think it's broken, but we'd better take some x-rays to make sure." Her eyes met his. "How are you doing otherwise?"
"I'm okay. So, how much do you know?"
"I know that you punched Sergeant Grossman hard enough to knock him down, and I know a little about why, though not the whole story. Come on. Let's get those x-rays. Then we can talk."
The x-rays showed that there were no fractures, so Janet wrapped the hand and told Daniel to soak it in ice water, giving him some medication to put in the water. She then led him to her office.
"You and I have never talked about what happened while you were back in time," she said. "The general gave me a copy of your report, and I know that you went through a great deal during those months. But there was a lot that you didn't say in that report, including details of your relationship with Egeria."
"And you want to know if there's any truth to what Grossman said."
"If what I heard in the rumor about what he said was accurate, then I have no doubt that he was way off-base. I know you, Daniel, and, though I haven't spent a great deal of time with Egeria, what time I have spent with her leads me to believe that she would not have done what Grossman said."
"You're right about that. Even though she was a Goa'uld queen and the ruler of that planet, she never took advantage of me or tried to force me to do something I didn't want to do . . . well, other than making me a slave."
"So, she never used her pheromone drug on you." When Daniel's gaze dropped from Janet's, a warning flag went up in her head. She stared at him intently. "Daniel?"
The archeologist sighed. "I suppose I was going to have to tell you this eventually."
Daniel recounted to the doctor what happened the night that Egeria accidentally lost control and used her Nish'ta'el on him.
"Oh, dear," Janet said. "I'm so sorry, Daniel. I can only imagine how you must have felt."
"I don't think I've ever felt more betrayed than I did when I thought she did it on purpose. It helped a lot knowing that it was an accident and that she hadn't even realized what happened, but it still hurt. But it hurt Egeria just as much. She was so riddled with guilt that she didn't go out in the sun even when she started feeling the pain. By the time I went to her, she was in agony. Even after all these years, she still feels guilty." Daniel paused. "There's one other thing you should know. A few days before that night, Egeria asked me to be the one to donate the DNA for the Tok'ra larvae. I refused and ended up telling her about Hathor. After . . . it happened, I told her to go ahead and use my DNA."
Janet blinked in surprise. "Daniel, are you saying that the Tok'ra were created using your genetic material?"
"Some of them were, most of whom are dead now. Selmak and Aranae, the new Tok'ra queen, are among the few who are left. And, in case you're wondering, most of the Tok'ra don't know that. Selmak and Aranae are the only ones who do, though it's possible that some others might be wondering about it."
"What about General Hammond and your teammates?"
"Jack, Sam and Teal'c know the whole story. Hammond only knows that my DNA was used for the first batches of Tok'ra, not the details on how Egeria got it. Needless to say, this is not information I want made common knowledge, both for my own sake and Egeria's."
"Of course. I will keep it out of your medical file. Though, technically, I should put it in there since you were exposed to the pheromone drug, I don't really think it's necessary, just as I saw no need to add to your file what Hathor did to you."
"Thanks, Janet. I really appreciate that."
"All right. I think we're done." The doctor smiled. "Try not to punch anyone else, okay? Next time, you might not be so lucky and escape with just a sore hand."
After leaving the infirmary, Daniel went straight to Egeria's lab. When he got there, he found the woman staring at nothing, a frown on her face. She became aware of his presence and met his eyes. The expression in the green depths told Daniel that she'd heard what he did. She then saw his bandaged hand, and her expression changed to dismay.
"You are injured!" she cried, leaping to her feet.
"It's not serious, Egeria. It's just, um, a little bruised and swollen." He attempted a half-smile. "Sergeant Grossman has a hard jaw."
The joke fell flat as the dismay became distress. Egeria walked up to him and gently took his injured hand. She ran her fingers over it, then pressed it to her cheek.
"I'm okay, Egeria," he assured her in a soft voice.
"You were injured defending my honor. I had hoped that you would not learn of what he said. I knew that you would be angry, and I did not want you to come to blows with him over it."
"Well, we didn't really come to blows. I threw one punch, and that was it. He never even tried to hit me back. You need to know that he apologized, Egeria. He realized that what he said was out of line. Actually, I should make him apologize to you directly. You're the one he insulted the most with what he said."
Egeria shook her head. "It is not necessary. He has spoken his apology to you, and that is enough." She kissed his hand and pulled him into her embrace. After several seconds of just holding him, she began to smile. "I have heard that you dealt him a mighty blow."
"I wouldn't call it mighty. It was a lucky punch. If he'd had more time to react, I probably wouldn't have landed even it, and I might have been the one whose ass got planted on the floor. Jack made sure that I got some training in hand-to-hand combat so that I could take care of myself, but I'm still not really all that good at fighting with my fists, and forget about the more advanced stuff."
Egeria looked up at him. "It was not a fighter with whom I fell in love, Daniel. It was a gentle man with a good and caring heart and a mind of great intellect. There are many men who can fight, who can use their fists with skill. They do not appeal to me." She cupped his cheek. "You are everything that I could ever want or need."
Daniel pulled her into a soft, slow kiss. He winced as he accidentally bumped his bruised hand. Egeria felt it, and her concern returned.
"I'm supposed to soak it in some ice water," he told her.
"Then you must do so. I will go get some ice."
Egeria went to the commissary and filled a large cup with ice. She then asked the kitchen staff if she could borrow a bowl. The woman who got it for her noticed the cup of ice.
"Is that for Doctor Jackson's hand? I heard what happened. I'm betting that half the base knows about it. As far as I'm concerned, he should have broken Sergeant Grossman's nose."
Egeria did not respond to the comment, merely thanking the woman for the bowl. On the way back, she noticed a few glances, but chose to ignore them.
When Daniel unwrapped his hand, Egeria was appalled by how it looked. The knuckles had swollen more, and the bruising was more visible. He hissed from the cold as he put it in the ice water.
"It isn't going to be fun typing or writing with this thing," he remarked. "You know, this isn't the first time I've hit someone, but it is the first time I hit somebody with the intention of breaking their jaw. I nearly break my hand instead. Typical."
At that moment, Sam came hurrying in. She saw Daniel's hand in the bowl and grimaced.
"Ouch. I just heard what happened. It's not broken, is it?"
"No, fortunately," Daniel replied.
Sam was now getting mad. "I couldn't believe it when I heard what that jackass said, and I'm guessing that what I heard was a watered down version. I also heard that both Colonel Ferretti and General Hammond gave Grossman a piece of their mind. He'll probably be getting the cold shoulder from a lot of the women around here, too."
"Poor Sergeant Grossman," Daniel responded, smiling ever so slightly.
"He deserves it."
Daniel looked at the frown on her face. "Just so you know, Sam, he apologized, so don't get it into your head to confront him about this. It's over and done with, and I just want it to be put in the past."
Sam paused. "Okay, but don't expect me to smile the next time I see him."
The corners of Daniel's lips turned upward. "I wouldn't think of it."
Sam gestured at his hand. "Isn't that going to make it hard for you to work?"
"It might be painful, but I'll manage. I'm sure it'll be better by tomorrow."
By that night, his hand was already feeling a little better, thanks to soaking it several times in ice water. Even so, it was proving to be painful for him to get undressed, making it necessary to unbuttoning his pants with his left hand. He was lowering the zipper when there was a knock on his door. Zipping his fly back up, he went to answer it with a smile on his face, knowing who it was.
Egeria didn't bother asking for permission to come in, knowing that there was no need. As soon as Daniel had shut the door, she was stripping off her blouse and skirt to reveal a black lace teddy that made Daniel sincerely wish that he had two good hands. She wasted no time ridding him of his T-shirt and pants, thereby eliminating the need for the archeologist to do it himself.
Sitting him on the edge of the bed, she settled onto his lap. She picked up his bruised hand and gently stroked it.
"Does it still pain you, my Daniel?"
She began kissing it, working from the tips of his fingers and slowly upward. She did not stop at his hand, however, placing a trail of kisses up his arm to his shoulder, then across his collarbone to the hollow at the base of his throat. She dipped her tongue into it, making him gasp. She lifted her lips to hover a fraction of an inch from his.
"Allow me, then, to make you feel better," she murmured before taking his mouth with hers.
By the time Egeria got through with him, Daniel was most definitely feeling better.