It's dark. It's dark and I'm in the dark. I have no idea what's going down and that always makes me antsy. I have no idea where Daniel is either, or what's he's doing, and that's making me antsy too.

So, it's dark, and I'm antsy. Nothing I can do about either condition, lying here trussed up like an oven-ready turkey. Only thing I can do is wait, and I hate waiting, always have. Well, not the only thing, I can also think. Contrary to sundry other opinions, some of them unfortunately expressed within my earshot (but usually only the once), I don't always hate thinking: I just like to let people think I hate thinking 'cause it gives me a chance to think. Gives me an edge, most times, nobody expects a dumb ass to be effective, makes 'em overlook the fact that you don't get the birds on the shoulders for bein' a dope. On this occasion I do though. Hate thinking, that is.

On this occasion I really can't afford to think. 'Cause on this occasion, I think my nerve might just leak straight outta the soles of my boots, and this is too important to let that happen. Well, duh, O'Neill, like that's gonna happen - no boots.

Did I mention it was dark? I can't see squat. Blindfold over my eyes has a lot to do with that. I think I'm alone but I'm not sure. Can't hear any movement - can't hear much of anything. Nah, I'm pretty sure I'm alone, for now. Bet I didn't mention I'm buck naked though - probably TMI but germane, very germane. I am. Naked. Very.

So, sitrep, bullet point summary: dark, bound, clueless, naked, left alone to dread, excuse me, 'anticipate' was the verb of choice, what's coming. In one word, vulnerable. Classic interrogation technique... I remember one time in... somewhere or other, doesn't really matter where, they all pan out much the same eventually... oh, oh, here we go, that's one of the things I was so not thinking about...

I just have to face it, I guess: I don't do vulnerable well. Not on my own account or on anyone else's behalf either. Just on general principles I try not to do it at all. Command is my thing, being in charge, moving and shaking, giving the orders, coming out on top. Okay, it doesn't always work, even if my strike rate's better than most. But most other times I can find a way around being vulnerable: this time, I'm not so sure I can.

Yeah, way not to dwell on stuff, O'Neill. Start thinking positively, for crying out loud, if you're gonna waste your time thinking at all. Let the training kick in - I just know you were better trained than this. Get your mind off how antsy you feel, and that's an order. Accentuate the positive.

Singing, I could try singing. In my head, of course, don't want to give anyone the impression I'm nervous here, or anything. Have to keep up the fiction that I'm not worried here, not at all, unless I want everything to go FUBAR quicker than you can say it. No. Not fiction. Not. Fiction. Fact. I don't feel apprehensive, not at all.

Now if I can just suppress the sweating reflex, I'll be cooking with gas.

La la la la laaa - I'm feeling perfectly fine here. Not anxious at all, no sir, uh-uh. This is just another day at the office, nothing going down, nothing to see here folks, just move along. Nothing here to see except a trussed up, naked scared guy whose mind is going a mile a minute in the wrong direction and who can't sing to save his life... oh for cryin' out loud, think about something else, will ya? Think about... oh, I dunno, think about...

Daniel. Good thought. Hold that one. Daniel and me in bed. Better thought. Definitely hold on to that one. Daniel and me in bed, having a post-coital moment... whoa, back track for a minute here, while I re-run what got us there... oh yeah momma. Best thought of the lot so far - that'd take a nun's mind off her prayers. Ooops - sorry, sister. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa... So I ramble when I'm nervous. Sue me.

"Did you ever try anything more... esoteric, Jack?"


"Yeah, you know... unusual, exotic."

"I know what it means, Daniel. I'm just not sure what you mean. Exotic? Exotic how?"

"Uh, anything slightly... kinky?"

"Like what?"

"Leather, rubber maybe? Toys? Spanking? Bondage?"

"Can't say that I did. You?"

"Well... yeah. Some."

"What? What did you try?"

"Some bondage. Domination. Oh, nothing too far out, just enough to be... stimulating."

"Yeah? When? You enjoy it?"

"A while ago now, and only once... Never forgotten it though 'cause yeah. Yeah, I did enjoy it. It was quite... arousing. Feeling threatened but being safe, all at the same time. Gives the whole experience a bit of an edge, you know? You have to follow the rules of course..."

"Rules? There are rules?"

"Oh yes. The rules stop it going further than you're comfortable with. You have to be sure you can trust the person you're with to work within them though. If you can, and if you do..."

You suggesting we try it?"

"Just a thought. I take it you're not too comfortable with the idea then?"



"Then no, not really. Any time I'm tied up, it usually leads to my ass bein' whooped big style."

"Fair enough. I'm just saying, that's all. It's not a big deal if you're not keen. Just... sometimes it is possible to be tied up in a good way. Like I said, it's about trust. If you ever wanted to tie me up, I wouldn't mind - I trust you. And I like it. But, whatever floats your boat, I guess... although maybe you should try it sometime. Who knows, you might like it. With me, you might like it."

"You might be right at that. You're often right, about a lot of things - get outta here, I saw that look. Don't worry, I'll deny I said that in the morning. Okay, I'll think about it. Now can we just get to sleep?"

Have to say it, Danny, even if you won't hear it: this time I think you were wrong. You were wrong and I was most definitely right. There is no good way to be tied up, naked, alone in the dark. Take it from me, I know what I'm talking about.

Shit. I just heard a noise. Coming closer. This is it then, show time. Deep breaths, O'Neill, get a grip and for God's sake slow that heart rate down, aaall the way down.

Silence. But I'm not alone any more, I know it, I can feel it. I'm being watched and just the thought of it makes my skin crawl. Oh yeah, the waiting is definitely the worst... makes the muscles bunch and tense regardless of how hard you try to stop them. And that's what gives the game away. Has given the game away.

"Anxious, are you? No need to be. Just say the word and this can all stop."

Nope. Not gonna happen. I'm gonna see this through, no matter what. Like I said, it's important. I'm not gonna cave. Not now. Not at all, if I can help it.

But just hearing that voice cranks up the anxiety level another few notches... Geeze, just hurry up and drop the other shoe, will ya? I'm not that sure how much more of this waiting I can stand...

"Are you sure? Sure that you don't want to say it?"

What kind of a damn-fool question is that? No, I'm not sure. I'm just not gonna. But I can't trust my voice, can only nod my head.

Remind yourself O'Neill, why the fuck did you let Daniel talk you into this?

"Daniel, I've been thinking about this tying up stuff. I just don't see the attraction."

"Why keep on bringing it up then?"

"Just mildly curious, is all. Interested to see exactly what's so good about it."

"It's liberating."

"How can it be liberating? You're tied up, for crying out loud. Last I looked, that wasn't liberation, it was coercion."

"There's no coercion involved at all - rules, remember? You feel uncomfortable at all, you stop. And it's liberating because you give up the control to someone else, you don't have to make any decisions. There are no decisions you can make. All you have to do is enjoy. It's all about sensation and letting go."

"Hey, I can enjoy sensation just fine. And letting go. What would you call what we did earlier if it wasn't all about sensation and letting go? You maybe got a complaint or two there? Huh?"

"No, no complaints, flyboy. Definitely no complaints. You do pretty good for an old guy."

"Hey! Geeze, I'll show you old..."

"What? You good to go again? Already? What are you on?"

"You better believe it. Good to try, anyway. It's the company I keep."

"Okay, strike out any queries about the sensation-seeking aspect, I suppose..."

"Ohhh... yeahhh..."



"Mmmmm? What? If you're still thinking, I can't be doing this right."

"Aahh, Christ, trust me, you're doing it just fine...hnnng... yeah, right there, yeah, that's good... it's just... would you be... disappointed... if we didn't try it?"

"Of... course... not..."

"But you'd... oh Jesus... you'd like to."

"Jack, you pick the strangest times to play twenty questions. Okay, yes. I'd like to. With you. But you wouldn't. So... end of story. And it's not a problem. It's not about forcing. Now will you pipe down? You're ruining my confidence in my technique here."

"No need... to worry... on that me. Okay."

"Just... okay? I thought... I was... better... than that..."

"No... yeah... oh fuck... okay... we'll try it... okay?"

Not Daniel's fault. Not at all. Not his fault I'm a pushover when it comes to trying to please him, even against my better judgement. Not his fault I can't let go of the baggage. Not his fault that there's no good way of being tied up and in the dark, having somebody, anybody, staring at you in silence and wondering that the fuck they're gonna do. Not his fault that I'm in way over my head here. Not his fault that I can only endure this, not enjoy it. Not his fault that I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. Not his fault. Mine. So I'll suck it up and get through it somehow. First rule of being in this type of scenario: grab control from the other guy. Fuck with his mind as much as you can. Always remember that you can have control of a situation even when you're at a disadvantage: control is a mind-game that you have to win. Never let the other guy see that they have you where they want you. Easy to quote the training: not too easy to put it into practice every time. And on this occasion, that avenue's closed off to me anyway. That's just another way of caving here, and I'm not gonna do that.

"Jack, are you sure you're all right?"

"I said I was, didn't I?"

Crap, I was right not to talk: doesn't sound like me at all. I might just have caved by default.

"Jack? Something is wrong. Tell me now or this game stops before it starts."

I should never have put myself into this situation. I can't see any way out.

Oh shit, don't roll me over, don't, I can't even try to let you down gently when you can see for yourself...


Good call, O'Neill. He's as good as his word, he said he would stop at once. But you knew that, deep down. So you've bought yourself some breathing space: use it. Get yourself under control.

"Jack, we won't do this if you're in any way unhappy, that was the deal and we stick to it."

Ah crap. I can hear the disappointment in his voice. I don't want to do that to him, don't want to let him down. I can't tell him. How many times has he said that this is all about trust? I can't cut the ground from under his feet like that. I'm not sure I can explain it and have it come out right. I do trust him; hell, I trust him with my life every time we're off world and with my career every time we go to bed. But trussed up, blind and helpless, I trust nobody. It's as much a part of me now as breathing.

Gotta stop thinking like that. I can do this. I can. I can do this. I have to get past this. It's a game, that's all, just a game. Not real. Nothing like anything that's happened to me before. This is Daniel, for crying out loud.

"Go on, Daniel. It's okay. Do what you want to do. God knows you own this old body anyway. Just leave me lying face down for now, okay?" Give me a chance to believe this is only a game."

"Okay. But it's not about owning, Jack, it's about sharing."

"Fine. Help me share."

"Lie still and reach out with your senses. Listen to me. Try to see me in your mind's eye. What am I doing? Am I wearing anything? Perhaps I'm in your favourite clothes? Perhaps I'm naked and hard and ready. Maybe I have some toys to play with. Maybe I have some food. Maybe all you're going to get is me. Use your imagination, Jack. Take this where you want it to go. You can talk - tell me what you see, what you want."

I can't see squat, that's part of the problem. And my imagination is taking me in all the wrong directions. I thought I was psyched up for this but I was wrong. I've been wrong before, I most likely will be again, but it'll never matter quite so much.

"Daniel? Can't we just get it on and fuck, please?" 'Cause I can handle that, probably, even like this. 'Cause the sooner we fuck, the sooner I can lose myself in it, the sooner I'm out of this. "You're not gonna make me talk too, are you?" Poor attempt at a joke. I know it, he knows it.

"I'm not going to make you do anything, Jack. Nothing at all. You do know you're safer here than anywhere else, don't you? That I'd rather be hurt myself than hurt you?"

"I know that. And you know I feel the same."

"This isn't what this is about you know. It's not about you doing something you'd rather not do just to spare my feelings. If you've changed your mind, you only have to say so, no harm, no foul."

Damn it, I never can get much past him. Not about anything that matters, anyway. It's scary how easily he can read me. Okay. Treat this like any other threat assessment. Deep breaths, get a grip on yourself and think, man. And hurry up about it, before the pause gets too long for comfort. Stick with the training, find a way forward. One step at a time. What's the minimum you can ask for to improve the situation without folding completely?

"What would you think if I asked you to remove the blindfold, Danny?"

It's off. Thank God. Thank Daniel. Thank whatever powers there are that gave me this man. And that gentle trail of kisses across my neck and shoulders as his fingers release the knot and he mumbles against my skin is... reassuring. Better yet, it's different to the usual outcome. Concentrate on that, hold on to that: this is also something you know, this is familiar. This'll get you through. At last, something that's beginning to look like a strategy.

"Nothing, Jack. I told you. This is for you even more than it is for me. Do you want me to untie you?"

Do I? Five minutes ago I would have said 'yes', no question. Right now, I'm thinking 'probably'. But what my mouth says is 'no'. Now I can see, I can deal: two good calls in a row, so I think I can say I'm finally on a roll. Grounds for cautious optimism here at least. Maybe - no, make that most likely - I can deal with this bein' tied up shit this one time. 'Cause I'm pretty damn sure it's not gonna happen again any time soon...