From Darkness into the Light

First Published: May 21st, 2003
Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Jack/Daniel
Word Count: 67kb

Summary: After the Tollan/Asgard sting operation, Jack works hard to regain Daniels trust and gets much more than he bargained for. This story is set over the time span from Shades of Grey to The Light. and includes images from both of those episodes plus some photoshopped images.

WARNING: There is an image at the end of this work that could be considered NSFW as it contains male nudity. It's not full frontal, more, full rump-al. LOL.


 

Part One: The Darkness

"Apparently not much of a foundation there huh?"

The words echo loudly in my head. I can't believe I'm saying them, I can't believe how much I'm hurting Daniel. His eyes are so disbelieving, so full of pain that I almost try to take it back. But I can't. If ever I needed to prove that I was making a clean break from the SGC, this little conversation would be the clincher. I can't even look at him as I say it. I cover my distress by taking another slug of beer - almost choke on it. I can't bear to see that look of devastation.

He gets up and leaves. He picks up his coat and just walks out, no backward glance, no parting words. He's gone. I don't get up. The truth is that I don't think my legs would support me. I keep my face impassive, for the cameras. (There's one in the clock above the fireplace. Not particularly well hidden) but inside I'm screaming.

I left the SGC quickly, hoping to avoid the team. But on some level, I knew they wouldn't let me away with it. They would try to find out what was wrong. They're good people, and they know me too well. No way were they just going to accept that I'd gone darkside.

I knew it would be Daniel that came. He knows me better than anyone. Carter cares, but she can't get passed our ranks. She would't just turn up at my house. It would be too awkward. Teal'c cares too, but he's the strong silent type. With him, everything is left unspoken.

No, it had to be Daniel but I wish to God it hadn't been him. Of all of them, he's the one that stands to be hurt the most.

He spent most of his childhood being passed around from one set of foster parents to another, never staying anywhere long, never putting down roots. He learned never to start caring about people because sooner or later, you had to leave them. Or they leave you. I can barely imagine such a lonely existence. My parents adore me and love me unconditionally. I've never been without close friends, and until I got so screwed up in Iraq, I had a close and loving relationship with my wife and son.

When I met Daniel, I was a mess. Charlie was gone less than two months, my wife was divorcing me and I'd closed myself so far in that the thought of swallowing my gun was becoming more tempting every day. Daniel pulled me out of that. It took a lot; no one else had gotten near me since Charlie died. I never understood how much of a risk he took on me. To help me, he opened himself up to me, let me inside his wall, and made himself vulnerable again. I became one of the few; the select few who were allowed to get close to Doctor Daniel Jackson.

So much has happened in the three years we've been together at SGC. The friendship that we worked so hard to build hasn't been easy. Daniel's rosy-assed view of life has made doing my job so much harder. His disregard for the chain of command is legendary. Good job I have a tendency towards that myself. Somehow we not only made it work, but we made it work damn well. The kids are my team, my friends, and my family. They look to me to keep it real, and to keep them safe.

But Daniel - he needs me.

If I've done nothing else these past three years, I have to take the credit for getting Daniel to open up more. I guess it goes both ways. I've taught him how to defend himself, physically and emotionally and he's taught me how to see the wonder of the world again; I've taught him how to kick back and relax and he's taught me how to judge people by what's inside; I've taught him that its safe to care and he's shown me that he does. And now I repay that trust by punching him in the gut (metaphorically speaking).

I can't believe I'm doing this!

No - that's not true. I can believe it. The Air Force sunk an awful lot of money into my training. I didn't survive nearly ten years in Special Ops by folding every time someone batted their eyelashes at me. I was chosen to do this shitty job because I can do it. It might tear me apart, but I can make the hard choices when others can't. I can cut through the crap and give the orders and shoot anyone standing between my mission objective and me. That's why they made me a Colonel. I'm a bastard. A cold-hearted rat-bastard. A well trained, hard-assed, son-of-a-bitch who can tear his friend's heart out just to re-enforce his cover!

Sometimes I hate myself for what I am. What I can be.

I throw back another bottle of Bud and head for the kitchen. Have to be careful; I know my tolerance when it comes to alcohol. Need to drink enough to show I'm pissed off but not enough to lose control.

My patience is rewarded when the doorbell rings again. This time, I'm sure it's Maybourne. Yup there he is; the butt-ugly son-of-a-she- goa'uld. I make a big show of making him stand on the doorstep. Not letting him into my house. He knows that I won't. Have to keep my poker face on. If I fold too soon, he'll know this is a sting. He puts a card on my table and leaves.

"Page me when you miss the action too much," he says.

I've baited the hook and cast the line. He's nibbling but I cant start to reel him in until I'm sure he's hooked. I go back to my solitary game of chess. Whadda ya know - I'm winning!


 

The car stays in the street for a week. I never see them changing shifts. Surveillance sucks. I never had the patience for it. Man of action - that's me. Poor bastards. I'm tempted to go out and offer them a beer. Of course I don't. I'm going insane with boredom so I guess it's time to take the bull by the horns. I pick up the card and make the call.

Maybourne doesn't show until the next day. Probably trying to show me who's boss - or who will be? I'm out back on the deck, trying to look casual, drinking a Bud, reading a magazine and listening to Pagliacci. What can I say? The tape belonged to Daniel. He left in my truck stereo and kept forgetting to take it back. I've kindda gotten used to listening to it, but I'd never tell Danny that.

He strolls onto the deck like he already owns me. I ask him what took him so long and for a moment I'm seriously worried that I've blow it when he tells me he's surprised I got bored so quickly. Maybe I should have left it a few more days? I think fast. Maybourne likes to think he's so smart, that he knows what's going on inside everybody's head. So I throw out the challenge.

"Not quite the student of human behaviour you thought you were?"

That gets him. Suddenly he's all business. He wants to know if I'm ready to jump into bed with him (again metaphorically speaking, thank god). This really is like fishing. You have to feed the line out real smooth. It helps if you can twitch it a bit. He's actually holding his breath as I reach forward and crank up the volume, showing him that I know all about directional listening devices and how to foil them.

I listen to the words and translate them in my head;

`To perform! In the throes of delirium I don't know anymore what I'm saying, what I'm doing...'

I glance up at him and speak through gritted teeth, "I'm interested."

He starts to feed me some over the top PR and it's all I can do to keep my face straight. Who the fuck does he think he's talking to? I was a Special Ops Colonel for cryin' out loud. Does he really think this crap impresses me? Do I have to listen to this bullshit? I bite my tongue till I taste blood and try to look faintly interested. "Keep talkin'."

Despite my best intensions, a disbelieving shake of my head sneaks out. He doesn't seem to notice and just keeps dishin' out the bull. I zone out on him for a moment and listen to the music as it reaches a crescendo;

`Laugh, you clown, at your broken love. Laugh at the pain, which poisons your heart.'

The words echo round inside my head like bullets ricocheting in an empty room. I wish I could laugh at the pain. I'm not just hurting my friends here, I'm hurting myself because deep down, there will always be a part of me that agrees with what these ass-holes are doing. I don't want to let it out, not even for the greater good, but I have to. I'll do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if that means sitting here listening to the bullshit Maybourne is spouting! Finally I just need to get him off my deck.

"Well if you promise to cut back on the melodrama - I'll consider crossing the line".

The look of discomfort on my face should be quite convincing. After all, even Maybourne must realise that this step takes me so far beyond redemption that it isn't a decision I would lightly make. Also my use of words is deliberately ambiguous; I haven't actually agreed to anything. He would expect that too. He smiles as I reel him in.


It feels weird coming back to the base. It isn't as easy as it used to be, my security clearance has been revoked for obvious reasons, and I have to do a lot of waiting while my former colleagues phone their superiors. Finally General Hammond gives permission for me to come see him, and I'm in.

I really don't want to be here, don't want to risk bumping into one of my team-mates but Hammond assured me he would keep them out of the way when we came up with this plan. We both had our suspicions about who was the mole. Getting proof was going to be the hard part.

I deliberately left out the details of how I was going to get off world when I talked to Maybourne. The mole in our midst will show his hand by reporting back that poor old Jack was thrown a bone by the General and cut all ties to his past. It makes me sick to the stomach to think that a man I have worked closely with over the past few years could be so completely taken in by the shit Maybourne preaches to have lost sight of what were trying to achieve here. Sick and more than a little angry. I called him friend once. And damn-it he was a good soldier. I almost wish I'm wrong about this, but I know I'm not.

Makepeace is in Hammond's office as I knock and enter. I want to punch him in the mouth but I have to keep a defeated look on my face. I can do that. I can do whatever it takes to pull this off. We have to get a lid on this situation. He offers to leave, but I feign indifference. Now he knows the plan. To him, I've pulled in a favour and asked to be allowed to leave Earth. Time will tell.

For this to work, they need to believe that I'm really ready to give it all up. Without a GDO, I'm effectively trapped on the wrong side of the Stargate and have well and truly crossed over the line.

There are not many people in the Gateroom as I prepare to go. General Hammond and Doc Fraiser are both looking stoic. Carter looks ready to burst into tears. She should really work on that poker face. Maybe take lessons from Teal'c. He just stands there like a monolith. Daniel would be proud of me for that word. Talking of which..

He isn't here. I thought he might come to see me off but his absence speaks volumes. I really hurt him. God, I'm so sorry about that!

Then I notice the shadow lurking in the control room. So - he couldn't stay away? I want to turn around and say something to them all but what could I say to make them feel better about this? I walk up the ramp. I am nearly through when Hammond stops me with a word.

"Colonel?"

I know they're saluting me. I can't turn round. If everything goes well, I'll be back soon, but if I die out there - they'll never know about the true mission. They'll always think I let them down. I can't bear to see that in their faces so I just keep walking right through the Gate.


I really do not like this uniform! It takes me back a few years. I wore something similar for my Special Ops assignments and its bringing back some memories I would rather not have. I stuff the Asgard device under a pile of stones at the base of the DHD. I'm busy thinking about what my next move should be when the sound of the Gate's chevrons engaging finally filters through. SHIT! Some-one's coming through.

I look around for a place to hide. The wave effect abates and there they are - My kids.

Teal'c and Makepeace are taking point, Carter and Daniel close behind hefting the gear. Makepeace starts barking out orders as I watch them with my nifty little telescope. I track Carter. She looks grim. I pan round to Teal'c. They all look grim. Obviously Makepeace isn't the fun- loving, easygoing guy their last CO was.

Teal'c stops right in front of the DHD and my breath catches. I find myself praying that he doesn't bend down. It can't be Teal'c. I've never met anyone as loyal and trustworthy as my friendly Jaffa. Even so, I let out a silent sigh of relief when he walks away.

Technically speaking, I should give the team time to get out of earshot then activate the Gate and head back but I have to get my suspicions confirmed. I know I can't touch Maybourne himself, but retrieving all the technology and shutting down the off-world operation means nothing if the mole still gets to pass information to him. I have to get confirmation, so I hunker down and wait.

It doesn't take long. Carter is dialling the DHD when Makepeace bends to tie his bootlace and voila - the package is slipped into his vest. Got him! I watch them disappear and head for the DHD. Time to kick some ass. I hope that Thor beams down in time to catch the address before it shuts down.

I'm happy to report that almost the moment I get back to the rogue NID's base, the shit hits the fan. The Asgard arrive and start retrieving the stolen technology in their own spectacular fashion and the troops begin to panic. The whole place is fairly rattling. I head for the DHD and tap in my favourite address along with the all important code from my concealed GDO. Yes, of course I have one. Hammond wouldn't let me leave without it.

Newman's not getting it. He can't believe what I'm doing and therefore fails to go for his sidearm, which is about the only thing that would have stopped me.

"Colonel what are you doing?"

I press the big red enter key with relish then grab his shoulders and shout over the escalating noise, "Opening up some options."

Then I punch him.

Ok that wasn't strictly necessary but I really needed to hit someone and he was closest. It doesn't make up for the shit I've been through these last few days and it really doesn't make up for what I've had to put my kids through, but despite the bruised knuckles, it makes me feel damned good.

As soon as I get through, I see that the room is full of MP's and bristling with ordinance. General Hammond's not taking any chances. I also see SG1 standing uncertainly at the door but I can't bring myself to make eye contact. They look a little confused and I guess that Hammond hasn't told them the good news yet. He's waiting for me to confirm our suspicions.

I count the heads as the renegades all make it through then pull my arm free of the event horizon to allow the Gate to close. Mission accomplished. End of story. That's all she wrote. Well, almost.

I casually stroll down the ramp, congratulating the troops on a job well done then just as casually ask Makepeace for one of the nylon cuffs he's using to tie up our pissed off prisoners. He hands it over and I quickly and efficiently hoist him with his own petard. I answer his, "What the hell? What are you doing?" with, "That would be - my Job!"

But the words aren't really intended for him. They're aimed at the Team. My team. That's right guys, it's not a dream, I didn't let you down, didn't abandon you. All a big scam.

They look dazed. Except for Daniel, who looks pissed. I make for the relative safety of Hammond's side as he announces they're all under arrest for High Crimes. Trevell makes her entrance, confirming to the slow-on- the-uptake among us that yes, it really is a scam and yes the Tollan were in on it from the beginning. Hammond orders the scum removed and then Daniel raises his hand.

Oh here it comes. I exchange a guilty look with Hammond. I hope he's going to do the explaining cos I'm not sure I'm going to be able to calm Danny down. He won't raise his voice, but I know him, I hear the undercurrent of barely controlled rage as he asks, "So..just to clarify..."

I see his lips move, but I'm not really listening to the words. It's just so great to see them all there. Looking like a bunch of day- trippers at the Grand Canyon. Hammond seems to have picked up the ball and is running with it. Then Trevell is thanking me for restoring their trust. I have to nod politely although secretly I'm thinking Yeah? Then would you mind trusting us with one of your big honkin' space guns? Not gonna happen? Yehsureyabetcha.

I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy and righteously proud when I finally hear what Daniel is saying. "...and you didn't think you could trust us to help?"

And there it is. Everything I said to him back in my living room a lifetime ago, all the hurt and all the pain; its still there. He thought I trusted him with my life. I do Danny, I do. I don't know what to say. Hammond steps in with some plausible excuse about needing honest reactions from the team to make the scam work and that the Asgard had demanded that only I should be involved, but the raised eyebrows directed at me are saying: You should have trusted us Jack!

It wasn't that I didn't trust them. I just had to protect them from the stinking mire that surrounds Maybourne and his NID flunkies. They don't play by the rules. It's dirty, and people, nice people can get hurt. I wanted to keep them away from all that.

Actually, I just wanted to keep Daniel away from all that. In his 103 years, Teal'c has probably done some awful shit in his capacity as First Prime to Apophis. He could eat slime like Maybourne for breakfast. And as for Carter, well, we all know that she can take care of herself in a fight. She usually ends up saving my sorry ass! But Daniel is different. He's pure and honest and a bit naive sometimes. Maybourne would chew him up and spit him out.

I try for humour, I say something lame about the Asgard liking me, I expect some witty put down, but I'm met with stony silence and cold looks.

Shit. I have some pretty high fences to mend. Then we're alone in the Gateroom. C'mon guys, throw me a bone. I hold out my arms like the conquering hero and step up to the plate.

"I'm back!"

Carter looks like she might crack. There's a ghost of a smile there, so I concentrate the full force of my magnetism on her. She smiles a little wider. That's it Carter, show the other kids there's no hard feelings.

"Its good to have you back sir."

My heart starts beating again. Teal'c takes a step forward without actually moving.

"Indeed."

OOOOOh, I can really feel the love!

I thank them both quietly and sincerely then look at Danny. He's the one I really hurt. He's the one I really need forgiveness from. He's not meeting my eyes. Dying here Daniel. For pity's sake - say something.

When the silence begins to stretch, I decide that maybe he needs some privacy. I draw him away from the others and start muttering about the house being bugged, had to make it look good, etc, etc and he mutters back, yeah, sure, I understand, uhuh. It all seems awkward and there's so much more I need to say but not here. Not now.

I keep talking over the top of him until finally he just shuts up. I want him to know that I really appreciated him being the one to come check on me. It really means a lot.

"Er actually - no it doesn't."

I stop and look at him. "Huh?"

"We... er, we drew straws," he mutters, and I think I can see a little twinkle of humour in his eyes after all. Then he delivers the zinnger and I'm sure of it.

"I lost."

As they slowly file past me, I scowl at each of them in turn, just as they expect; and I wait until they disappear round the corner before letting out a victory whoop.

"Ye-ha Danny - but you get the last word over my dead body!"


 

It's been a long day, but finally General Hammond leads us back to the Gateroom to say bye bye to the Tollan. I've been thinking a lot. Part of me really enjoyed the operation. Not the 'hurting my team' part. But being deep under cover, allowing the dark part of me that made me so damed good at Special Ops have free reign, felt good. I won't lie.

Carter and Teal'c have forgiven me. Teal'c understands the Way of the Warrior better than most. Understands that sometimes we have to do things we're not too proud of in order to achieve a greater good. He's fine with that, doesn't say much but I can tell. We're brothers. We don't need words.

Carter, well she's just happy to have been wrong about me. I think I hurt her on an intellectual level. She was pissed at not knowing me as well as she thought she did. And she's glad not to have to put up with a bastard like Makepeace anymore. Maybe now they'll have a little more respect for my Command Style.

But Daniel, despite the joking, is not over this. It's going to take time to get back that trust and over the past few hours I've been thinking about that a lot. I finally realise that this rift between us was a long time building. I don't know exactly what went wrong between us, but on reflection, there was definitely a distancing going on even before this happened. I put it down to the Edora incident. I'd been trapped there for three months. It felt like three years and it must have been hell on the Team. I never thought much about what they had been doing in those three months but the SGC and Hammond would not have let them stay idle.

Teal'c and Carter would have been single minded in their attempts to get through to me. Carter probably more so. She's used to challenges and used to meeting them and surmounting them. Her only fault is not knowing which challenges are worth dying for. They're both hands-on people and would have worked relentlessly towards their ultimate goal. But Daniel is a thinker.

What could he have brought to the table? Moral support, certainly. But those months must have been torture to him. Unable to think them out of this, feeling helpless and probably useless. Yeh I'm aware that I'm projecting some of my own emotions and fears onto Daniel and that I could be way off the mark here, but somehow I don't think so.

After Edona, we got a couple of cakewalk assignments to get us all back on the horse so to speak, and then this sting opperation came up. But now that I really think about it - the rift had begun before Edora. Basically, nothing was the same after Sha'uri's death. I had promised him that we would find her and bring her home. I'd failed in that and I felt like shit about it, but Teal'c must have felt worse. After all, he was the one that chose her to become host to Ammonet, and then he was the one who killed her.

Yet somehow Daniel found it in his heart to forgive Teal'c, but I don't think he really forgave me.

A while later, after we were forced to drink that 'Blood of Sokar' stuff, Daniel wouldn't talk to me about what his hallucination had been. I tried to draw it out of him at our next ritual Friday Night Beer and Pizza, but he wouldn't talk, instead, he left early and then the beer and pizza nights stopped. Always one excuse after another until I just stopped asking.

I missed the closeness, the friendship, but I suppose I thought he was still grieving for Sha'uri and eventually he would be ready to enjoy life again. I gave him space. Gave him some respect. That's what friends do for each other. Now that I think about it, he was putting up barriers between us the whole time. Slowly and subtly. He was shutting me out.

I did something to him. I don't know what but it must have been a doozy! The hell I just put him through was cruel because it was pre- meditated but this other thing - what did I do to him?

But I'm through brooding about it. Today in the Gateroom I saw a spark in his eyes, a glimpse of the old Daniel trying to break through. I'm going to help it back into the light and I'm not going to let Daniel's coldness put me off. I want him back!

I have learned that he doesn't really like beer and I've always known that he hates pizza. Those Fridays nights were about male bonding and friendship, but I can see now that it was always Daniel who made the effort to put up with my stuff so that we could still enjoy each other's company outside work. We have almost nothing in common. He may think that I'm clueless, but in reality, I know what he likes, I just ignore it.

So I've thrown out the challenge. I've made it sound casual. It's Friday night and Hammond has just ordered us all to get the hell of the base and have some quality down time.

"Beer and Pizza - my place, eight o'clock. Don't fill up on snacks. I'll let you choose the topping."

He's looking at me through his lashes. I hate when he does that! Makes me feel all protective. "Ok - but I'm bringing my own beer. That stuff you drink is awful."

"Budweiser is the nectar of the Gods. young man."

"No - that would be Ambrosia, Jack. And I still get to choose the topping."


 

It's taken some doing, but I'm almost ready when the doorbell chimes at exactly 8.05pm. There was once a time when Daniel would have used the key I gave him to my house without hesitation. It's an indication of how far apart we've drifted that he rings the bell.

I take a quick look at the table and remember to light the candle. Everything looks fine. Tonight is all about me making the effort to put up with his stuff. If this doesn't convince him that our friendship means something to me, nothing will. I fling open the door and smile at him. He pushes his box of imported ale into my arms and steps past me into the hall. He looks at the table, the best linen, best silver and guttering candle with mild interest.

Then he spots the ice bucket and the bottle of wine that cost me $40. He licks his lips suspiciously. "Oh, you're expecting company? You should have called to cancel."

"My company is here Daniel. Care for some wine?"

His eyebrows shoot up but he nods and watches closely as I uncork the very expensive bottle and carefull pour him a glass. He takes it and sniffs the wine appreciatively. "This isn't cheap Jack. But then you must know that. Since when did you take to drinking expensive wine?"

I pick up my bottle of Bud and grinning, clink it against his glass. "The wine's for you smart-arse! And so is the Lasagna Al Forno I'm cooking. Sit down."

He pulls out a chair and sags into in. "I didn't even know you could cook."

Ah busted! I'm actually re-heating a gourmet ready-meal but he doesn't have to know that yet. I smile cryptically and take the seat opposite him. He looks worried. Good! It's about time I managed to get under his skin again. I raise my Bud and make a toast. "To friendship."

He raises his glass slowly and meets my eyes over the flickering candle. I see regret in those eyes and a little sadness.

"Time to put the past behind us, Daniel. Time to move forward again."

He sighs and finally smiles. "To us."

I nod. That's what it is all about after all. We chink our drinks together and sit in companionable silence for a moment. Daniel gazes over at me with that Mona Lisa smile of his; shy, teasing and enigmatic all at the same time. "You know this kinda looks like a date don't you Jack?"

"Huh?"

"Romantic, candle-lit dinner, expensive wine. You've even lit the fire. Are you trying to seduce me?"

He chose to say that as I took a mouthful of beer, so I can hide my absolute shock behind a coughing fit. I know he's joking. I hope he's joking. I would hate to give him the wrong impression about my intentions.

"This is the kind of stuff you like to do. I like beer and a pizza. Just because we like different stuff, doesn't mean we have to stop... you know... liking each other. Company! Each other's company, I mean."

He's laughing at me now and I laugh too. I think we're finally on the same page. He reaches for the wine and pours himself another; quizzically tilting the bottle to see how much is left. "You gonna help me drink this?"

"Hell no!"

"Charming! This is too expensive to pour down the sink, you know. You really want me to drink it all myself?"

"Not letting you leave until it's all gone."

He sniffs the air and I remember the Lasagna. I make a hasty exit and when I come back to the table balancing the plates of food, Daniel is distractedly playing with the candle. He looks up at me as I place the dish of steaming pasta before him. "Thanks, Jack."

"Hey I didn't actually cood it from scratch..."

"No, I mean thanks for doing all this for me. It means a lot."

I watch him run his fingers up the candle to catch a dribble of wax on the tip of one finger. I can't think of a single thing to say. He rubs the wax between his fingers until it solidifies then peels it off and flicks it across the table at me. It hits me in the nose, and God knows where it ends up, but at least it breaks the strange tension that was forming between us.

"Do you think we can ever get it back Jack?" he asks softly. "The trust and the warmth? The friendship that matters to us both so much? Is it possible to recapture something that was lost?"

My heart contracts painfully. "Was it lost Danny? I never stopped thinking of you as my friend, even if you did. Look, let's not pretend this is all about the Tollan thing because you and I know it goes back farther than that. I just don't know how far. Tell me what I did to hurt you so much Daniel."

He's hanging his head. Now that either means I'm right or that I'm so far off the mark that I've hurt him again. He looks up and sighs.

"Jack, I don't want to talk to you about this. I want us to be friends again but there are some things that are best left unsaid. If you try to force me to tell you this stuff, it's just going to push us even further apart. I know you're curious, I know you want to help, but please trust me, its better that you don't know. Can you leave it at that?"

I take a slug of beer and stare at him. The candlelight is reflected in his glasses so I can't see his eyes, just the flickering light. He wants to put it all behind him. I can understand that. It won't be easy and there will always be this thing between us, this thing that has to remain unspoken. Without knowing what I did, there is always a risk I will do it again, but at least he wants to be friends again.

So I nod in agreement. "If that's what you want Danny. I'll never bring it up again, but if you feel one day that you can trust me with this, I'm there for you. Okay?"

He smiles and lifts his glass again. "To friendship."

I smile and lift my beer, "To us."


Part Two: The Light

 

Seven months later

I know in my gut, as I frantically drive through rush hour traffic, that something is terribly wrong. Yesterday, Hammond almost had to have Daniel arrested to stop him going back through the Stargate. I thought he might actually punch the General and it was all I could do to get him out of there before George was forced to bring him up on charges.

I can understand that he would be eager to retrieve the device, but still, he was acting strung out, like a man on drugs. I had seen Daniel like that once before, when he was addicted to the sarcophagus back in the second year of our mission. Hell I'd been there myself once, so I should have known. I should have gone home with him. I knew there was something wrong even then, he was acting so weird. He didn't want anyone near him so I respected that.

But I should have known better, should have known him better.

Even before we realised that Daniel wasn't on the base yet, I could feel that prickling sensation I get at the base of my neck when something is off. It's a fact of life that Special Ops agents have this second sense. I know it's kept me alive more than once. But this time it's not about me. I'm heading out to the gear-up room before Hammond finishes giving me permission to go.

I finally arrive at his door and the prickling becomes a full-on adrenalin rush. The door is wedged open. I carefully step over the shoe and let the door close. My heart has begun to pound even before I see the telephone lying off the hook. I won't replace it in case someone phones back. The sudden ringing would alert an intruder that I was here.

I peer into the kitchen and see that the kettle is boiling away, filling the room up with steam. I silently step down into the living room. Right away I see that the balcony door is open but I carefully check out the other rooms before I take a look outside.

SHIT! He's climbed over the railing and he's standing there looking down. I can't see the look on his face but I take a cautious step to the door. He's wearing ratty old sweatpants and a grey zip front that he hasn't bothered to zip up. Bare feet too. He must be freezing. It looks like he probably just got up. He put on the kettle for his coffee and then... what? Stepped out for a little air?

I take a steadying breath. I don't want to startle him. I hope he heard me when I called his name earlier. I hope he knows I'm here. I take another step and I'm a hairsbreadth away from him now. I don't want to spook him so I keep my voice as neutral as I can, just like I've been trained to do.

"Danny, whatcha doing out here?"

At first he doesn't answer though I'm sure he heard me. Then he's shifting restlessly and I feel my heart leap up into my mouth. Steady.... steady! He shakes his head slightly but remains where he is. "None of it means anything!"

I cautiously step down onto the deck behind him. Keeping my voice low and coaxing I speak again. "Um Daniel, why don't you come inside here?"

"I tried..." his voice catches and I wonder if he's crying. "... it all just goes away."

I want to grab him but he's leaning so far over that I'm not sure I could hold him. "Okay - well... we'll er... we'll get it back."

I wish I knew what the hell he was talking about but I sense that asking questions is not the wisest course of action right now. He answers me in a voice wracked with grief and self-loathing. "You can't get it back!"

"Whatever's wrong, we'll fix it."

Something occurs to me. A memory. That business with Maybourne a few months back, and me going over to the dark side? He was asking if it was possible to get it back, the friendship we had lost. Is that what he's talking about now?

We're doing fine. I didn't think there was a problem, but now that I do, I'll fix it, do whatever it takes so long as he just comes inside.

He lets his head drop onto his chest and leans way over again and I feel like I'm gonna puke. For a second I can actually visualise him lying on the sidewalk, his head ruined and blood pooling all around, then the image changes to one of Charlie in the same horrible condition. I shake me head and try to concentrate on preventing that for Daniel. I couldn't save Charlie but I can save Daniel if only I can keep a clear head.

"You don't even know what I'm talking about," he says wistfully.

Then it hits me. Oh God, I think I understand. I think I understand why he's tried to put distance between us. I've been such a blind idiot. I understand, and I won't let him die because of it, but neither can I admit I know.

"No - no I don't, but come inside?"

"J... Jack?"

It's little more than a whisper as he turns his head, really aware of me for the first time. I take the last step to his side clamping my hand firmly round his arm. It won't be enough to stop him if he decides on the swan dive, but it's enough to let him know I'm there. He looks around dazedly and I grab his shoulder and squeeze.

"Yup."

I'm here Danny. Not leaving you. We'll just stand here till you feel better. Every second feels like an hour until he finally lifts one leg and swings it over the rail. I grab his shirtfront and drag him the rest of the way over then our legs give out and we both sink to the deck hugging each other frantically. He's sobbing again and I can't make it out, but I can feel his pain.

"Easy Danny, take it easy."

Suddenly he looks right at me through long wet lashes and takes my face in his trembling hands and kisses me! Not on the cheek, on the lips. Full on the lips and I freeze. Oh boy! Suspicion confirmed! Then he passes out. I shake him gently and notice that his breathing is laboured. I don't have time to drive him back to the mountain.

Hands shaking, I dial Hammond and tell him to send a chopper. Then I lift him and make for the roof praying all the time that he'll make it and hoping that he won't remember the kiss, yet knowing that I will never be able to forget it.

 


 

It seems like hours before Janet has him in the infirmary. I pace up and down, wanting to be near in case he comes round but aware that I'm just in the way. Feels like I've got ants crawling up and down my spine. Cant settle, cant concentrate.

He's going downhill rapidly and nothing they do seems to help. They dress him in his fatigues and pump him full of fluids but we all know that he is going to have to go back to the god dammed planet. We're all infected so he wont be alone.

Then the heart monitor shrieks and I feel my stomach clench. He's flat-lining. Oh God, he's dying right before my eyes. The hard- assed Special Forces trained, killing machine Colonel is helpless to save his friend. I'm standing here watching in horror as he dies.

They're tearing through the corridors, pushing his bed at breakneck speed and trailing nurses, all trying to get him disconnected from the wires and tubes that had failed to keep him alive. Janet has been trying to get a pulse be there isn't one. He's gone. I can't believe it - he... he's gone.

I trail behind, legs like lead but forcing myself to walk. Feels like I'm asleep. Then we're at the gate room and it hits me. There might be something on the planet that can save him. I drag his lifeless body upright and throw him across my shoulders.

His weight crushes down through me and my knees are trembling with the effort but I run up the ramp, I ignore the pain, I ignore the doubt, this has to be the answer. He can't die now. Not now. Not when I'm finally begining to understand what's been happening between us.

I need more time! I need him with me, so that we can figure it out together. It's all a bit new and a lot scary and I'm not at all sure I can handle it, but one thing I do know is that I love him.

You can't leave me Daniel. I won't let you.


 

Daniel watches me as I gleefully unload the MALP of its goodies; I'm full of excitement and good humour as I explain various items to a smitten Loren. I'm good with kids. Daniel closes his eyes for a moment and looks like he's hoping that the world will stop spinning soon. I continue to prattle on to Loren but all the time I'm watching Daniel and listening. A light hand settles on his shoulder and he looks up blearily at Sam.

"You okay Daniel?"

He manages a weak smile.

No, he really isn't all right. Everyone else is back to near normal now that they had returned through the wormhole from the mysterious and addictive light. We're all stuck here for the next three weeks as Sam gradually cuts down our dosage to the point where we can finally leave without fear of killing ourselves! Everyone is fine except Daniel. He was under the influence of the light for longer than any of us, and it could certainly be a factor but I don't think that's all it is. I think he's struggling with his feelings.

His feelings for me.

Dragging his attention back to the here and now, he pats the hand still resting on his arm and smiles again. "I'm just a little tired. I'll be fine after a good night's sleep."

I prove that there's nothing at all wrong with my hearing as I turn and beam at Daniel over my shoulder. "No problem there - Hammond has sent us some airbeds and some decent pillows. There are a couple of small rooms off the main corridor." As I talk, I attach the compressor pump to the first air bed and begin inflating it. "...Carter, you take the small one on the left and Danny and I will share the larger one. Be warned though, I think they were broom closets in a previous incarnation. No room to swing a cat in there."

No way am I letting him out of my sight even for a minute. I keep getting flash backs to the moment I staggered though the gate and dropped him to the floor. For an endless moment he lay there, unbreathing, unmoving. I felt all the pain and guilt rise up inside me and I cried like a child. I shook him and cried and raged like a madman until his eyes fluttered open and he took that first ragged breath. Until that moment, my heart had been frozen in ice. When he looked at me and smiled, the ice began to melt.

I drag myself back to the here-and-now, forcing a smile that I just don't feel. Loren watches in rapt fascination as the bed quickly fills out. I pop the seal closed and throw it to Carter.

"Here, you can get yourself settled while I finish unloading... "

"All due respect Sir, I think we should see to Daniel's comfort first. He looks a bit peaky"

Daniel manages to raise his head at that, but drops it back into his hands when the world tilts sickeningly around him. I get down on my haunches and take a good hard look at my friend. "You gonna hurl, Danny?"

"I'm fine. Just need to sleep now."

Loren has attached the compressor to the second airbed like he saw me doing and is feeling extraordinarily pleased with himself. He has sealed the bed closed and begun on another. I toss him a well done then glance up at the hovering Carter.

"Keep an eye on him Major." I nod in Daniel's direction then grabbing the two beds and a handful of pillows and bed linen, I head off in the direction of the bedchambers. I wasn't exaggerating about the closeness of the quarters. This tiny room had been designed to hold one occupant in a narrow cot against one wall. Probably a human body servant to one of the Gou'ald who used to frequent the pleasure palace.

Apart from the cot, there are no other items of furniture in the cramped little room. The cot itself is far too narrow to accommodate the airbed so I tip it up and push it against one wall. Once the two airbeds are on the floor, there's barely room to squeeze back out into the hallway. I retrieve the sleeping bags and pillows from where I dropped them and fling them at the airbeds. The sooner Danny is safely in here where I can keep an eye on him, the better.

Back at the Gate room, I head right over to him. Carter is helping Loren to set up another of the airbeds in his sleeping area. She turns on hearing my footsteps approach. "Sir, I've sent the MALP back through. General Hammond's orders are to rest and get some serious relaxation in. The area is secure."

I nod. Good old Carter. I know I can always rely on her to focus on her duty. "Cool - I don't think we need to take watches so why don't you get some shut eye?"

Carter nods and scoops up the last of the airbeds. "G'night sir."

"Sleep tight Carter."

"Daniel?"

Daniel waves his hand but doesn't raise head thing again. Loren's smile is as wide as the Cheshire cat's. He's clutching a recording of `The Lord of The Rings' which I requested for him and quite obviously can't wait to get started on listening to it. I nod and smile indulgently back. "Go on, just don't stay up all night, Okay"?

The gate room falls into silence and I stand up, fists balled on my hips, staring at the bent head in front of me. I'm dammed worried. Daniel should really be back to normal by now. If anything, he seems worse. Well that's better than unconscious certainly and way better than dead, but still far from his old self. I drop tiredly onto the steps beside him.

"Hey Danny? I have to tell you, you don't look so good. You want me to get Janet?"

Daniel lets his head roll from side to side in a gesture I assume is meant to mean 'no'. Taking a deep breath he slowly lifts his eyes and gazes blankly at me.

"Then she would be stuck here too. Jack... I want to ask you something."

"Anything."

Daniel looks a little puzzled at the softness and swiftness of my reply but lets it go for now. "Do we have any Tylenol here?"

"That's your question?"

Even as he speaks, I'm reaching for the pocket on my utility vest where I keep the painkillers. I pop two white pills out of their foil wrapper then place them into Daniels palm while I unscrew the cap of my canteen. Daniel swallows both pills and gratefully gulps down the water.

"Actually that was only my first question but I think I should probably lie down now."

I help him to stand. I hitch one shoulder under Daniel's armpit and we walk slowly into the corridor.

"Jack, back home at my apartment... on the er, the balcony. Did we..."

"Not tonight Daniel, Okay? We'll talk about it in the morning." I cut him off quickly. I'm not ready to talk about it yet, but I know that we'll have to do it soon. Call me a coward, but I only just admitted I loved him. I need to come to terms with that before we have 'the talk'.

He lets it drop, clearly too tired to argue. We stop at the entrance to the bedchamber and he frowns.

"It's tight Danny - but no worse than a two man pup tent. Here, let me help you."

Daniel gratefully sinks down onto the soft mattress and watches passively as I undo his bootlaces.

"Everything is so fuzzy Jack. I remember shouting at George, the next thing I can clearly remember was climbing over the railing of my balcony!"

So, he's not going to give this up after all. I pull one boot free and deftly follow it with the sock. I really don't want to dwell on the events that drove Daniel onto that balcony but he seems to have to get it off his chest, so I hold my tongue and let him talk.

"You saved my life Jack."

"Are you kidding? I was rooted to the spot with fear. I didn't know what the hell to do."

"It was your voice. You just kept begging me to come back inside. Finally, it got through to me. I think you were the only person in the world who could have talked me down from there, Jack."

Daniel's second boot hits the floor, with his sock still inside it. I unzip the sleeping bag and roll my eyes towards the pillow. Obediently Daniel slides down inside and allows me to tuck him in like a child.

"Sleep, Danny. We'll talk about it tomorrow."


I wake quickly and am instantly alert. Someone is whimpering. I gently pull back the edge of the sleeping bag and try to make out Danny's face in the darkness.

"You can't... can't fix it. Don't even know what I'm talking about."

Damn it to hell, he's having a nightmare. These are the words Daniel said to me on his balcony. I was so scared, so sure that Danny was going to let go. I stood paralysed with fear and indecision, trying desperately to make Daniel understand that this wasn't the answer; that whatever was wrong, we could fix it.

Danny is thrashing wildly now, his head beaded with perspiration. He's muttering something that I can't make out. I grab his shoulders and haul him to a sitting position. "It's just a dream Danny - just a dream."

I continue to make soothing noises but Daniel is too disorientated to hear me. He tries to pull away from me, staring at me blankly. "You don't get it... You don't understand..."

I shake him roughly making his teeth rattle. "Dammit Daniel, it's me, its Jack. Snap out of it - that's an ORDER."

Suddenly, Daniel's eyes grow wide and luminous. "J... Jack?"

I pull Daniel roughly into my arms and hug him hard. "It's Okay buddy, you're Okay. That's right, take a deep breath. It was just a dream."

Daniel pulls back and stares at me with those huge blue eyes. "But it wasn't a dream, Jack. The light may have caused us all to surrender to our darkest fears, but those fears were real. All the things we keep hidden, sometimes even from ourselves, our darkness, our fantasies, our regrets, our deepest needs. I couldn't push them back down and they overwhelmed me."

My eyes cloud with sympathy and I begin gently rubbing Daniel's tense shoulders. "I know, I know. I was getting real pissy with Carter about her refusing to call me Sir! Like deep inside, I'm terrified of losing all this, the command you know? Losing the respect maybe, or just plain losing control. I guess we're all learning something about ourselves."

Daniel begins to relax beneath my fingers so I keep up the pressure, happy to do anything to bring him out of this. Daniel takes a deep breath and sighs it out. "We opened Pandora's Box and when everything flooded out, not even hope remained."

"Stop that Daniel - there's always hope. No matter how bad it gets, you have to remember that. You have to find a new way every day to survive."

I've had plenty practice surviving. Daniel has never had the guts to ask me what they did to me in Iraq. I know he's curious but the haunted look I get when someone mentions it obviously makes Daniel afraid that any answer he got might be more than he could handle.

But Daniel has seen more than his share of torment. I've tried to shield him from the worst of it, but even I can't protect him from his own feelings. Deep inside, the faces of every person he has been forced to kill tortures Daniel, and the faces of all those he has failed to save.

"I can't Jack, I can't keep doing this..."

I move my hands from Daniels shoulders to cup his face, forcing him to meet my eyes. "You're tired, you're hurting and you're still suffering from the after-effects of this whole place." I wave my hand vaguely towards the ceiling, then immediately bring it back to hold Daniels head up. "...Give it some time Danny. I promise, things will look better in the morning."

He swallows hard. "No they won't Jack. I tried to tell you but you just don't see. You don't see me. When you look at me, you see Doctor Daniel Jackson, friend, colleague, team-mate and pain in the ass. Do you know what I see when I look at you?"

I know what Daniel sees when he looks at me. If I'm honest, I've known for a very long time how he feels, and I should have told him, but it would have meant the end of 'us'. All the things that combine to make me the man I am make it impossible for me to be with Daniel like that, but just as impossible for me to let him go.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I can admit, in the privacy of my own head, that what I feel for Daniel goes way deeper than friendship, I've only just given it a name; it's love, pure and simple. I've filled the gaping hole in my chest after the loss of my son, with Daniel. He means the world to me and I will do just about anythig to keep him in my world. But what he really needs from me, I'm not sure I can give him.

I don't know what to do, or say to make things right between us.

I'm not surprised that Daniel thinks I don't really see him. I come across as overprotective, I know it must be stifling, but I gave too much freedom to my son and look what happened. There are times when I'm so scared of loosing Daniel that I simply refuse to trust him enough to make the right choices on his own.

And I still need more time to process all of this. I can't tell him that I have feelings for him too, becuase I'm terrified of where those feelings are leading. So I give him half an answer, and not the answer he would like to hear."

"I guess you see an arrogant, self centred, egotistical tyrant who won't let you off the leash! Daniel, god knows you've changed these last few years; you're not a weak link in the team chain anymore. You're as good a soldier as any other at SGC and you've learned to see the bigger picture better than most. I know you need me to give you space. I'll try; I really promise I'll try. It's just that every time I let go of someone, they have a habit of getting killed. I need to look after my kids, Danny."

"I'm not a kid Jack, and you're not my father."

Now Daniel leans forward and takes my face gently between trembling hands. I look into the fathomless blue eyes and see sadness so deep and so profound that it nearly takes my breath away. In that moment I know for sure that I care for Daniel far more than I could have imagined. More than a friend, more than a son, more than a brother. My throat goes dry, but I don't pull away as Daniel's face inches closer to mine.

"I don't see a father when I look at you Jack. I don't see my commanding officer; I don't even see my friend. I only see the man I..."

"Colonel!"

Carter's voice echoing from the Gate room has us both jerking apart guiltily. Always the soldier, I leap to my feet and throw open the door, not even stopping to retrieve my boots. Carter meets me halfway along the corridor.

"Sir I thought you might want to know - I think I've come up with a way of speeding up our detox. We could be out of here in a week."

I glare at my watch and run a hand through my unruly hair. "For cryin' out loud Carter, I thought I told you to get come rest."

"Couldn't sleep sir. Thought it best to keep busy."

I scowl at her through knotted eyebrows "Okay - this is an order. Go to bed; go to sleep! Oh and well done by the way. Daniel's snoring would have driven me insane if I had to listen to it for a whole three weeks."

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."

Carter hurries off down the corridor and I watch until she disappears from view. I hesitate in the doorway, suddenly uncertain and desperately scared of returning to the bedchamber. Carter interrupted at just the right time, or the wrong time depending on your perspective. At the moment I'm confused as to which one I want to be my perspective.

He was going to kiss me again. And I wasn't going to stop him.

I'm not stupid. I know that I'm teetering on the edge of some pretty life changing revelations about myself, and I'm fucking scared to death.

Daniel is lying on his back with one arm flung across his face when I quietly push open the door. He doesn't say anything and I almost let out a sigh of relief. If Daniel is asleep, we can pretend this conversation never happened. Denial looks pretty tempting to me right now. I quickly close the door, discard my heavy jacket and slip under the covers. In the darkness, I listen to Daniel's even breathing and decide that he was right - some things are best left unsaid.

Which is pretty much the moment the shit hits the fan. Because Daniel has clearly decided that he's not prepared to wait until morning to 'discuss' this. He rolls towards me and pins me to the mattress.

Although I've managed to grab both of his shoulders through reflex alone, I'm not able to brace myself in time and with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile, Daniel's lips find and lock onto mine. Then he moves against me and the shock sends a bolt of electricity right through my body. Every muscle clenches and the breath freezes in my lungs as Daniel's hips grind hard against mine.

"Mmmf. Danny - no!"

I mumble tightly, more than a little shocked that the wave of panic I had felt rising a moment before has been replaced by something far more terrifying. Okay I admit I love him, and I can't bear to live without him, but am I really ready for this?

Daniel claws the sleeping bag aside and buries his face into my throat, right at the sensitive juncture where it meets my shoulder and licks a trail of fire up my neck. I gasp and dig my fingers deeper into the muscles of Daniel's shoulders, trying vainly to put some distance between us. God, but that felt good!

No, no! Get a grip O'Neill, Stop this right now!

Daniel's hand slips down to the waistband of my BDU's and deftly pops the stud open. I make an attempt to grab Daniel's hand but his fingers have already slipped beneath the material. My whole body arches clean off the bed as long gentle fingers slide slowly down the length of me.

" D...Da...Danny!"

As my butt hits the mattress again, I force my eyes open. Okay - this has gone Way, Way WAY too far! Now Daniel is graphically aware of how turned on the Colonel is. No fucking way am I going to be able to talk my way out of this one. I can't get a word out past the panting breaths I'm currently sucking in, but in a last ditch effort, I twist free and shoot to my feet, knees almost buckling in protest, legs tangling in the sleeping bag. Daniel launches up from the mattress with a feral snarl which only makes my knees go weaker.

I'm staggering backwards but Daniel's momentum throws me hard against the wall. Then his sleek, well-muscled body slams into mine. His hands are everywhere and I begin to lose it.

I canlt fight this. Not sure I want to fight it.

Daniel presses his lower torso hard into mine showing me that I'm not the only person turned on here. I groan and let my head fall back against the wall. Daniel's mouth closes over that oh so sensitive spot at the base of my neck and bites.

My BDU's, unbuttoned and unzipped, are hanging perilously low on my hips, Daniel's grinding action forcing them into a battle with gravity they are destined to lose. I didn't bother with underwear when I was getting dressed earlier; I was a little preoccupied with Daniel's state of mind. The friction of Air Force issue against my dick is driving me insane here. Dimly, I am aware that I've begun to run my hands up Daniel's back under his shirt and that this seems to be making him groan. No scratch that - he's groaning because my hips are now rocking achingly in time to his own movements.

I desperately need a time out.

I'm having sex with Daniel.

If I think it quickly enough, it sounds almost natural. I'm having sex with Daniel.

And it's good. More than that, it's great. Okay, Okay, it's absolutely fucking amazing and I haven't felt this alive for years. Maybe I am ready for this stuff after all. The hot, burning gut wrenching desire currently arcing through my body like a lightning strike feels the same with Daniel as it would with a woman. It's just the plumbing that's slight... different.

My mind has gone into meltdown and I'm thinking with my dick. It has the better blood supply after all.

Daniel slides his hands down to my waistband again and grabs my hips, rocking even harder, throwing his head back and groaning from the depths of his soul. My head is spinning! Due in no short part to all the hyperventilating I'm doing. But I have to stop this somehow. I need time to think. Daniel deserves my respect and right now he's only getting my desire. I don't do causal sex and I know he doesn't either. This cant happen. Not like this.

"Danny - back off - that's an order!"

He leaps back like a scalded cat, hurt and confusion obvious in those wide innocent eyes. I can't afford to show weakness now. I'm balanced on a knife-edge as it is. Hauling my pants up and fastening the button again I growl, "you don't know what you're doing Daniel."

"I'm showing you how I feel about you," he keens.

"NO! This isn't right! I don't get what's going on here but I sure as hell don't want to wake up tomorrow morning feeling like a complete Bastard!" It's partly true. I do think this place is having an effect. But mostly I need to stop this becuase I'm scared.

Daniel turns away and hangs his head. It tears me to pieces thinking this is my fault, that what I've said could be causing Daniel so much pain but I desperately want to do the right thing here. Part of me, a big part, wants to take Danny in my arms and kiss the shit out of him, but part of me runs screaming from that visual. I take a halting step towards Daniel, my resolve crumbling as I watch the broad shoulders shudder under the weight of what is happening between us.

"Danny...?"

"I love you Jack."

It's almost a whisper. Time stops. I can hear the blood rushing in my ears and am aware of my heart pounding in my chest. He said it out loud. That makes it real.

For a long, long moment, neither of us moves. Then Daniel turns, his arms wrapped tightly around himself for comfort. He smiles sadly and knowingly at me. "You once asked me what you had done to hurt me. You assumed that the reason I pushed you away was because of something you had done."

I'd kept my word. I'd never brought up the subject again. I knew that one day Danny would tell me but I never dreamed it would be under these circumstances!

"You did nothing wrong Jack," he tells me solemly. "What happened was that I had an epiphany. You see - when I drank the blood of Sokar I realised how I felt about you. I knew that it was really Apophis asking me where the Tok'ra base was, but I could only see you. I would have given you anything you asked for and he knew that. He used it against me. It was a weakness and he exploited it."

His voice cracks and for a moment I think he won't go on but I hold back the empty words on consolation. He has more that he needs to say.

"I tried to ignore it, Jack, I really did. I thought if I put some distance between us, I could get past it. All those months we spent orbiting around each other, me pushing you away. You never knowing why. Then you made that stupid meal for me and bought me expensive wine and I realised I couldn't stay away. I missed you too much. I thought I could handle it so I've spent the last seven months trying to get back some of the closeness we once shared. But it keeps going away..."

Now the words he said to me on his balcony were beginning to make sense.

"It's my fault Jack. Every time I felt connected to you, I pulled back because I was afraid you'd work it out! You said you could fix it, but how could you? You had no idea what was wrong. You couldn't see how much I needed you, how much I loved you. When I say I can't do this anymore, I mean I can't do 'us'. Not as friends - I need so much more, and I know you can't give me that. Despite the way your body reacted, you're still straight, and you're still career military. I've always known that. It's probably why I tried to keep it hidden. My secret. My guilty secret. "

I swear I hear his heart break. I see the anguish and hurt on his face, know that I've put it there and shake with helplessness. We have shared a connection from the very beginning. I let Daniel in and in return, Daniel helped me get through some tough times. We've been together in everything, in every sense but the physical and I suspect that if one of us had been another sex, that barrier would have been crossed long ago.

Maybe it's time to start thinking outside the box!

The meal with Daniel seven months ago was a turning point. Things had already begun to surface. The strange tension between us should have been the first clue. It didnt even occur to me at the time it could be sexual tension. I knew things could never be the same between us and I've been running away. Running from the emotions that I just couldn't understand until now. He thinks the fact that I'm straight and in the military are barriers too high to climb? My career and my heterosexuality are not worth hurting Daniel for. I see that clearly now.

I don't care about anything else, just him.

I reach out and take Daniel into the circle of my arms. He goes without protest. All the fight gone from him now. He looks bleak and defeated. I tighten my hold for a second then tilt Daniel's face up to meet my lips. This time I want to show Daniel that I'm both willing and ready to meet the challenge.

At first he merely stands impassive and lets me brush his lips tenderly, but as the pressure begins to increase, his head angles slightly then suddenly his lips part and I feel my tongue slip inside. Daniel's arms slip up around my shoulders, one hand burrowing into my hair.

He goes a little weak at the knees and I brace my legs to hold us both up. Daniel is gasping, and writhing in my arms now, making balancing difficult. I use a foot to take Daniels legs out from under him and we both go sprawling down onto the matresses. Daniel lands on his back with me on top of him still kissing him like there were no other options. Right now, I don't think there are.

I lift my head and watch Daniel's flushed face through smoky eyes as I slowly slide my hand down to the waistband of his BDU's. My own reaction to this particular form of touching had been ballistic and I want to make Daniel feel the same way. It's difficult not to hurry this, the urgency twisting in the pit of my stomach growing too difficult to ignore. Daniel is straining towards me, digging his heels deep into the mattress for purchase and panting with desire.

"Please Jack, please."

I shakily undo the button and zipper then abandon finesse and simply haul Daniels BDU's and underwear right off. I may be a novice to this, but I'm not scared anymore. It's Daniel. And I want him.

Daniel near naked is simply breathtaking. I kneel at his side and stare in awe. I've never seen him like this before. In the showers on base, sure, but there are unwritten rules about that stuff in all male institutions. Eyes above waist level where possible, look away after 2 seconds, no staring.

He lies quietly for a moment, not in the slightest bit embarrassed by the scrutiny, then he gets to his knees in front of me, careful not to let our bodies touch. He pulls off his t-shirt then helps me out of mine. Then he reaches down and undoes my fly without breaking eye contact. It's the most erotic thing I've ever experienced and I feel desire rip through me like a flood as Daniel gently slips the soft material down my legs.

"What the hell do you see in me?" I ask in wonder.

"I see the man I love." He finishes the sentance that Carter interupted earlier.

I move first. It's important for Daniel to see that I want this too, that I'm not just reacting to, or worse still, humouring Daniel. I reach out to grasp Daniels slender hips and pull him closer until our straining erections are trapped between us. It feels like nothing I have ever experienced before and it leaves me weak and desperate and so close to losing it completely that I bury my mouth in Daniels arched throat and sob out his name.

He moves against me and words tumble out of him in between ragged laboured breaths as I gently ease him back onto the mattress.

As my weight settles on Daniel, I know neither of us will last much longer but it doesn't matter. We have the rest of our lives to take it slow.Right now, we both have to let the passion take us. I begin to rock into Daniel's frantic rhythm and am rewarded with a needy little moan as Daniel digs his fingers into my ass, then he's panting,

"Don't stop, Jack....

God...

Don't stop...

Oh...

God...

Jack...

Ah, Jack...

FUCK!"

Daniel's head snaps back and he lifts us both off the mattress with the power of the orgasm that shakes his body. I feel the tremors building within me and a moment later I am pounding Daniel almost into the floor! "Jesus! Daniel!" I press the words into his skin.

We crest the wave and cling to each other as pleasure ripples through us, breathing harsh and laboured. I roll onto my side bringing Daniel with me, wrapped tightly in my arms. I hold him close until his breathing settles and he falls into a light sleep.

I lie in the silent darkness, with the stupidest grin planted on my face. Finally, my life makes sense and for the first time in many years, I'm at peace.

This is what it's all been heading towards.

Me and Daniel.

Together.

I could kick myself for not seeing it sooner. I was closed minded and it's cost us years.

"Love you Danny" I admit, softly.

One day soon I will tell him that when he's conscious enough to reciprocate.

Right now, Daniel's soft snore is all the answer I need.

 

 

 

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