Hearts and Flowers

First Published: January 27th, 2004
Pairing: Jack/other, Jack/Daniel
104kb -
NC17

Summary: Trapped on a Russian submarine, about to be eaten alive by replicators, Jack finds a moment of clarity, and comes to terms with his feelings.

Jack groaned as he felt another finger rubbing that tiny gland buried so deep inside. He gasped at the sensations, canting his hips upwards to allow better access. He felt lips, hot and moist, running the length of his cock, and he cried out his need. He loved this; he craved this so much, that sometimes it was a physical pain. The need to give himself so completely to another person became overwhelming.

The lips stopped teasing and got busy, closing over the head of his cock and suddenly there was suction. Jack writhed in ecstasy, his ass leaving the bed completely in an attempt to bury himself in that talented mouth. He found a rhythm, and digging the soles of his feet deeply into the mattress, he let go completely.

"Oh God... God yes, Daniel, Yessssss!"

 

It was so intense, so wonderful, that for a moment, Jack thought he might black out. His body arched upwards, shaking violently with his release, then he collapsed back onto the sweat soaked sheets, and lay gasping for breath, trying to recover enough brain cells to form a sentence. When he finally opened his eyes, it was to the sight of two amused blue eyes gazing back down at him quizzically.

"You did it again, Jack!"

"Did what?" Jack raised his arms over his head and stretched lazily, the warm afterglow from their amazing sex session leaving him feeling satiated and mellow.

"You called me Daniel again. I don't get it. Why the hell don't you just fuck the guy and get it out of your system?"

Jack had the good grace to blush, staring up at the ceiling rather that meet the slightly 'pissed off' gaze of Colonel Joseph Reynolds commander of SG16, and Jack's lover for over a year. Although the term 'lover' was probably overstating the relationship; they were fuck-buddies who happened to share a few interests outside the bedroom. Joe raised his eyebrows questioningly. He was really curious. It was obvious that Jack wanted to. But in all the time they had known each other, as far as Joe knew anyway, Jack had never made a move on SG1's resident archaeologist.

"It isn't like that," said Jack hollowly, aware that he should be apologizing for his faux pas, but too stung by Joe's words to feel true remorse. He rolled onto his side so that his back was to Joe. He didn't want to discuss this subject. It had come up before, and although Jack had managed to resist, Joe had a way of wheedling information out of the hard-assed colonel that would put a FBI interrogator to shame.

"Isn't it?" asked Joe quietly, running a hand through an unruly mop of black hair that was just this side of 'regulation'. Laying his hand on Jack's shoulder, he tried to get his friend to look at him. "He's interested, you know."

A guy would have to be blind not to notice the way Dr. Jackson looked at his CO. It didn't bother Joe at all. He and Jack were not exclusive; despite the fact that Jack hadn't been with anyone else during their twelve month 'relationship'.

Their arrangement worked well for both of them, and Joe was happy to continue with it. So long as they were both getting some fulfilment out of it, he saw no reason to end it. At least it *had* been working fine until this thing with the Doc happened. Joe was supremely confident about his skills in the bedroom department. At six foot four in his bare feet, built like a quarterback, with the dark, sultry good looks of his Latin ancestors, he had no shortage of offers, but it was still a little disconcerting when your 'lover' bellowed out another man's name in the heat of passion.

"Yeah, I know he's interested." Jack said quietly, swinging his legs from the bed. "But it ain't gonna happen."

He played 'hunt the underwear', tossing Joe his boxers when he found them first. Joe plucked them from the air and pulled them on, seeing in Jack's stiff posture that the evening's entertainment was over. He found Jack incredibly attractive, sexy as hell, and they shared enough interests to make this more than just about sex, but he often didn't understand Jack at all. If a guy like Dr. Jackson showed an interest, you'd be a fool to ignore it. The Doc wouldn't have to ask Joe twice, that was for sure.

Jack was lost in thought. He was aware that Daniel 'looked', but there was a big difference between idle curiosity, and slavering lust. The evidence so far told Jack that Daniel was basically straight, with a small and easily explained 'hero worship' thing going on. Jack could cope with that. He really could.

From the beginning, Daniel had been focused on finding his wife, and Jack had promised to help. The day she'd died, Jack had never felt so lost. Daniel, of course, had been devastated, but Jack had been devastated too, by his failure to carry out his promise. In the months since Sha're's death, Daniel had worked so hard to get over his loss, but Jack was still struggling with his conflicted emotions. Daniel had needed him more than ever over the past few months, so he had done his best to be a good friend.

But it had been so hard not to reach out, not to pull Daniel into his arms and try to kiss away his pain. There was no doubt that Daniel was dangerous to his sanity, to his carefully erected walls and barriers. Daniel had the power to bring those walls crashing down. Jack knew it, and resisted it like crazy.

Suddenly, Joe materialized before him, holding out a damp cloth. Jack had been so deep in thought that he hadn't noticed Joe go to the bathroom to get cleaned up. He took the cloth and looked up at Joe blankly.

"Sorry, what did you say?"

"I said... so what's stopping ya?" repeated Joe, pulling Jack back to the present, "and don't give me any shit about being his commanding officer. You can't tell me you've never fucked anyone under your command before."

Jack winced at the bluntness. Despite the fact that he was breaking several regulations with Joe as it was, Jack still had some very strict personal standards, "Actually no, I haven't," he replied, enjoying the disbelief in his friend's eyes.

Joe looked genuinely surprised. "No shit? I thought you and Charlie Kawalsky...? "

That was a name Jack hadn't heard in quite some time. Those memories were still painful to him. "Ended it after I took command of our unit. It wasn't appropriate. And anyway, it had begun to get... complicated."

Guys like them, guys who used rough sex as a pressure release, couldn't afford to let their hearts get involved. Jack and Charlie Kawalsky had been close, *too* close, so Jack had ended the sex in favor of continuing the friendship. Even so, losing Charlie to the Goa'uld had nearly ripped Jack's heart out, and he was never going to let that happen again. It was why he wouldn't start anything with Daniel.

Jack used the cloth to clean up then pulled his discarded t-shirt over his head and turned to face his friend. "You and me, we know the score. We understand the rules. We use each other as a safety valve... and its okay, because we know where we stand. There are no 'hearts and flowers' here, Joe. With Daniel, I'm not sure the same rules would apply."

Joe laced up his shoes and gave Jack a strange look. "What are you saying? You think the guy is in love with ya?"

Joe got the impression that his friend was struggling with something big, an inner conflict of biblical proportions. When finally he spoke, his voice seemed tinged with sadness.

"With Daniel, it's always been all or nothing. I can't see him settling for a fuck-buddy, can you?"

"Hmm, maybe you're right. Would be one hell of a risk to try and find out." Joe got up and headed for the door. He had a strange feeling that this might be the beginning of the end for him and Jack.

"Well, Jack, it's been a blast as usual. I'll see myself out."

"Yeah, thanks, Joe."

Jack remained motionless long after he heard the front door close. The evening had not been as satisfying as he had hoped. Oh sure, the sex had been mind-blowing, it always was, but the aftermath had left him feeling strangely uneasy. He wished, and not for the first time, that Joe wasn't quite so good at reading him.


It was several weeks before Jack felt the need to call Joe again. The mission to P2X416 left a bad taste in Jack's mouth. Carter had been so excited about the first successful 'hit' of her cold dialling program, and had managed to get Hammond caught up in her zeal. In Jack's opinion, they had gone through the gate with a little too much haste. He didn't enjoy being proved right, especially as the results had been almost fatal to Teal'c's symbiote, leaving Teal'c himself blinded, and the rest of the team imprisoned in electrified cages.

It had been a close call, yet again, and although Daniel had acquired a new research assistant in the form of Nyan, all Jack got out of the mission was a bunch of aching muscles and a killer migraine from all the electric shocks he had received.

When all the briefings were over, he headed for his office and rang Joe's home number. "Hey Joe, wanna come over for a few beers?"

He could almost hear the grin at the other end of the line. Joe was a spirits man, never letting beer pass his lips. The offer was their little 'code'.

"Sure, Jack. Should I bring anything?"

"Nope, got it covered. Pick you up in half an hour?"

"Date."

***

Later that evening, as Joe took a shower, Jack lay in the darkness of his room and thought about the mess his life was in. Today had been just one more day in a shitty week. Daniel wasn't just 'looking' anymore. He was becoming more blatant by the day, giving Jack long searching glances, smiling at him, even touching him on the arm in the commissary and that was almost unheard off. It scared the shit out of Jack. He had no idea what would happen if Daniel actually came on to him. His sleep had been haunted by dreams featuring that very scenario, so he had been avoiding his bed in favor of working late or drinking himself into a stupor.

He had been sure that an evening of rough sex with a good buddy would take the edge right off his tension, but to be honest, it had only served to heighten his state of arousal. He knew he was using Joe as a substitute, and that wasn't fair. They might not be in love, but the big guy deserved better than that.

Just then, the bedroom door opened, and Joe sauntered in, with a towel wrapped round his waist. "All yours, Jack." He flopped down onto the bed, patting Jack's ankle through the sheets. When Jack didn't move, Joe reached for the lamp switch so that he could get a good look at his friend.

"Okay, what's up? You don't look like a man who's just had his brains sucked out through his dick."

Jack rolled his eyes. He was going to have to tell the annoying bastard eventually. "I'm worried about Daniel," he said, sitting upright and making himself comfortable.

Joe shifted on the bed so that the two men were sitting shoulder to shoulder, their back's pressed against the headboard. He had come to realize that Jack found it easier to open up if he didn't have to look or be looked at.

"Wanna talk about it?" he asked softly.

Jack hesitated, and then took a deep breath. This was eating him up inside and he really needed to get it all out. Who the hell *could* he talk to about this stuff if not Joe?

"I always knew he 'looked' at me, you know? But the other day I caught him staring at my ass. When he saw that I'd noticed, he just smiled. It was kinda weird."

Joe had the strangest urge to reach for Jack's hand. He mentally shook himself then cleared his throat. "And this worries you... why?"

"I don't know, Joe. I get the feeling he's gone beyond curiosity. I think he's seriously considering making a move."

To the casual observer it might seem that Jack was afraid for himself, for his career, or a whole raft of other selfish reasons. But Joe knew him a bit better than that. Jack was afraid all right, but he was afraid of hurting his best friend. And there was little doubt that his rejection *would* hurt Daniel deeply.


Three Days Later

Jack eased himself slowly onto the tent's canvas ground sheet after his watch was over, a small sigh of relief escaping his lips as his knees finally relaxed. It had been a long, long day. He never liked these diplomatic missions, especially when they were to primitive planets. Jack was such an obvious 'Alpha Male', that he had a tendency to rub primitive tribal leaders the wrong way.

On the whole, he had managed to behave himself today, but it had been hard. If the thing with Daniel and the Chief's son hadn't been so damned funny...

A movement in the gloom alerted him to the fact that Daniel was still awake. He made a face in the darkness. Daniel wasn't going to let this lie. He wasn't disappointed. After a brief intake of breath, Daniel's voice, low and filled with curiosity broke the silence.

"Jack?"

"Daniel?"

"I was wondering..."

"Sounds ominous."

"Earlier, in the village, when the Chief's son asked you to sell me to him..."

Here we go, thought Jack remembering the barely concealed lust radiating from the kid as he had made Jack that offer. He unlaced his boots and slung them to the foot of the tent, unsnapping his utility vest as he answered.

"Ah yes, that! Most tempting. Imagine what I could do with three goats and a pig, Daniel?"

"Very funny. But seriously, Jack, you threw away our one chance to find out what's inside that cave. If I'd gone with him..."

"Jesus, Danny listen to yourself!" Jack cut him off angrily. "You know *why* he wanted to buy you? C'mon, even you can't be that naïve!"

They had been getting some very interesting readings from a heavily guarded cave at the edge of the village. Carter thought it might be Naquada with some odd variant thrown in, and had intimated that it could be a component of some super weapon left behind after the Goa'uld occupation of the planet. The Chief told them the cave was out of bounds to all but the High Priest.

This High Priest turned out to be a kid of about 20 and also the Chief's son. He appeared to live inside the cave; at least he spent the majority of his time in there. They had only seen him come out to attend the feast that evening, when he had made his desire to possess Daniel uncomfortably obvious. Daniel sighed and shifted inside his sleeping bag.

"He wanted me to become a... a concubine, Jack. I was well aware of that."

"A concubine? That's one way to describe it. He wanted to *fuck* you Daniel." He heard Daniel's hitch of breath at his graphic vocabulary, but then, his point here *was* to shock. Jack had peeled off his jacket and threw it after his boots. "I wasn't about to let that happen, even if they have the Holy Grail inside that fucking cave. Not on my watch, Daniel," he growled.

There was a moment's silence while Jack wriggled into his sleeping bag and got as comfortable as possible on the hard ground. Just when he thought that Daniel might be willing to drop the subject, he heard him say softly, "What if I told you that being *fucked*, as you so eloquently put it, wouldn't have bothered me?"

Jack sat upright. His eyes were a little more accustomed to the dark now, and he could make out the outline of his friend, sitting cross-legged on his own sleeping bag. Jack couldn't keep the incredulous note out of his voice.

"You'd have let some stranger...? Jesus, Daniel!"

"No, no, of course not, I just meant that... It's not like I haven't *thought* about it before."

Daniel inched a little closer, and Jack's mouth fell open in shock. He got the message. But he didn't really believe what Daniel was telling him. Despite his own lustful thoughts about his friend, he was still convinced that Daniel was basically straight. Confused, maybe, but straight. And Jack really needed him to stay that way.

"Okay, fine. I screwed up that chance. There will be others. Ones that don't involve any member of my team turning themselves into some cheap whore to accomplish them."

"Suit yourself, Jack."

"I usually do."

Jack rolled away and stared at the wall of the tent. What had just happened? Had Daniel been coming on to him? He refused to believe that. Basically straight - that was Daniel. He had to keep believing that, because if there were even the faintest chance that his feelings could be reciprocated, he was in deep trouble.


Daniel lay in the darkness of the tent, trying to steady his erratic heartbeat. Had he really said that to Jack? For so long now, he'd been trying to work up the courage to tell Jack that he found him attractive, and when the opportunity had finally arisen, he'd more or less said that he would have sex with the first person that asked.

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose to try and ease the headache that was threatening. What the hell must Jack think of him now? The only good to come out of it was that at least Jack finally knew that he was bisexual. A bit of a misnomer really, considering that he had never actually *been* with a guy yet. The truth was that he *had* thought about it, once or twice, but never felt truly turned on by the idea until Jack had come into his life.

After three years together on the same team, working, eating, sleeping, fighting together, battling through addictions, and unbelievable loss, they had forged something Daniel knew went deeper than any mere friendship should go. He felt it in his heart and soul and was sure that Jack felt it too.

He had finally worked up the nerve to tell Jack something of what he felt, only to find out that Jack definitely didn't share his feelings. He had never been so humiliated in his life. Even if Jack *did* feel something, he obviously didn't want to take it further. His angry words had shown that clearly. Daniel wanted to believe this rejection was more to do with Jack's belief in 'rules and regulations' than the fact that his friend was straighter than an iron bar and freaked out by Daniel's admission.


The Next Evening

Jack winced as strong fingers bit deeply into his tortured neck muscles. The pain was good, and he groaned long and low, as the fingers swept down his spine then glided back up, their easy passage assisted by liberal amounts of massage oil.

"Damn it, Jack, what did he do this time? You're wound up as tight as a watch spring."

Joe leaned to the side, snagging the bottle of massage oil from the fireplace and slathering a healthy handful onto Jack's shoulders and neck. Jack groaned again, as his friend went to work on the knots with renewed vigor.

He was lying face down on the rug in front of the fire, the gentle friction of the rough weave against his semi erect cock adding to the stimuli. It had started out as sex, but Joe had recognized his friend's need to talk and as Jack wasn't at his most articulate during sex, Joe had offered the massage first, in the hope of getting him to open up.

Jack was enjoying the hell out of it, but he was also a little unnerved by this new level of 'interaction'. In over twelve months, he and Joe had never slept in the same bed, never held hands, never kissed. The fact that Joe was willing to do this for him, made Jack uncomfortable. Were they getting too close? Or was he just being a good friend? Jack was too godammed turned on to think about it logically. Finally, he decided that it would be easier to answer Joe's question than ponder the increasing depths of his relationship with his fuck-buddy.

"He came on to me," Jack mumbled into the crook of his arm.

That earned him a slap to his naked buttocks. He grinned as the stinging slap sent little shivers of pleasure through his thighs and balls.

"In your dreams. Get over yourself," Joe chided.

Jack lifted his head and glared back at his friend. "No, he really did. I'd stake my reputation on it."

"No shit? He finally made a move? Roll over, big guy."

Jack flopped onto his back, lacing his fingers behind his head as he watched Joe warm another handful of oil. Perhaps saying that Daniel had made a move was taking it too far? After all, he hadn't even laid a hand on Jack.

"Not exactly a move, but he did try to tell me in his own fashion that he's gay."

"So then what happened?"

"I didn't believe him."

Joe's hands stopped moving over Jack's chest, and he stared down at Jack in consternation.

"For fuck's sake, do you need an engraved invitation? He is *so* hot for you..."

"I've already told you. I'm not looking for commitment. I want no strings attached, light stress relief..." His eyes fluttered closed, as Joe applied the oil to his stomach and rapidly swelling groin area.

"And Daniel would give you... what?"

"Pain. Lots and lots of pain."

Jack moaned, as Joe's fingers slipped between his legs. "Talking of pain, I believe there's one knot I can't reach from the outside. Spread 'em flyboy."

"You're such... a romantic!" Jack gasped, letting his legs slide further apart. Joe's fingers danced up Jack's inner thigh teasingly.

"Hey- I don't do romance. Remember? That's why this arrangement works so well."

Jack relaxed and let Joe work his magic. No hearts and flowers, no strings attached, no romance. Exactly what he wanted. Right?


When no one answered the door on the third ring, Daniel belatedly remembered Jack telling him that the bell was broken. He was a little surprised that his friend hadn't gotten around to fixing it yet. Jack's truck was parked in the driveway, but the house seemed to be in darkness and oddly silent for so early in the evening.

Daniel raised his hand to pound on the door, but hesitated. If Jack was asleep, he didn't want to disturb him by making him get up to answer the door, and peering in the window beside the door only afforded him a view of the dark hallway, so there really was only one other option. Daniel quietly made his way around back.

He stepped onto the deck outside the French windows and pressed his face up against the glass. He had expected the living room to be in darkness, but right away he noticed the reflected light from the fire dancing on the walls. Jack was definitely home, he would never go out leaving the fire burning. Then Daniel's jaw fell open in shock.

Silhouetted against the fire, two men were making love on the rug. And one of those men was Jack. Daniel had never seen Jack like this; had only ever imagined it. To see him now, on his knees, head thrown back, panting harshly, sweat dripping from his face as he thrust again and again into the body of the man kneeling before him, made Daniel go weak at the knees. He grabbed onto the wall to keep himself upright, rooted to the spot by the eroticism of the scene he was witnessing.

The guy seemed to be roaring encouragement at Jack, and Daniel felt himself harden at the sight. His hand moved involuntarily towards his cock, feeling it's rapidly swelling length though the tight material of his jeans. He watched with fascination, as Jack's face contorted, looking like he was in pain. Somewhere at the back of his mind, a tiny voice told him that it was wrong to watch; wrong to be getting hard watching, but he couldn't make his feet move.

Both men's movements were rough and violent. Perhaps Jack *was* in pain, but he was obviously in the throes of great pleasure, too. Then the guy raised his head, arching his back, the tendons in his neck standing out in knots as he howled warning of his impending orgasm. Even through the double glazed windowpane, Daniel heard the loud words.

"Ah yeah... like that, Jack... OH, YEAH!"

Daniel got his second shock of the evening. The guy was Colonel Reynolds from SG16. He staggered backwards, floundering blindly as he tried to make sense of the scene. He was horrified but he was also aroused. It shocked him to the core, both what he had just seen, and how much it had turned him on.

He fled, almost falling over his own feet in his haste to reach his car. Fumbling with the keys, he dropped them onto the sidewalk before finally getting the door open. He was shaking too much to drive off so he sat for a moment, head resting on the steering wheel, trying to get his breathing under control. His thoughts were riotous, tumbling, out of control.

Jack's fucking a man! Not just a man, another officer, a guy I know, and have to work beside. I just watched Jack fuck another man! Oh, my God, Jack's gay!

He had never imagined, not even in his wildest dreams, that the sight of Jack screwing would turn his insides to jelly like this. He'd had fantasies, but they'd been vague and undefined, focusing on his feelings for Jack more than the physical side of things. Now the images he had seen were burned into his brain, and the reality of it was quite terrifying.

He had come here tonight to apologize, and to see if there was any way his 'straight' friend could possibly forgive him for putting the moves on him.

Oh, that's a joke, he thought, only it isn't very godammed funny! He pounded the steering wheel angrily. So, it wasn't gay sex Jack had been rejecting on that planet, just gay sex with Daniel. Then again, knowing Jack, he and this man were probably in a relationship. Which sort of explained why he had turned Daniel down. Jack was nothing if not loyal. Daniel believed he was the faithful sort.

Scrubbing his palms over eyes that burned with unidentifiable emotion, Daniel gunned the engine and roared off down the street.

Inside the house, Jack dragged his head from where it had come to rest on Joe's sweat soaked back. "Did you hear something?" he asked, getting to his feet. Joe grinned and rolled onto his back, still panting.

"Yeah, I think it was Angel Choirs. And I do believe I felt the earth move too."

Jack ignored the sarcasm and padded up the hall. He squinted out of the window beside the door. He could see the taillights of a car disappearing around the bend in the road but couldn't make out the plate.

He frowned and checked the door, but it was still locked. Shrugging off his paranoia, he shouted over his shoulder as he continued up the hallway, "Gonna take a shower, Joe. Help yourself to a drink."


Part Two

Daniel managed to get though the next week by throwing himself into the missions. Sam noticed his quiet demeanor and called him on it. God, he wished he could confide in someone, but Sam would be the last person he could talk to about this. He didn't want to put her in the awkward position of having to report her CO for 'conduct unbecoming'. Damn the stupid fucking rules anyway. So he had made up some lame excuse about feeling under the weather. Which wasn't that far from the truth.

Then they had gone to Kheb, and his world had been turned upside down for the second time that week. Ever since Sha're had died, Daniel had continued to go through the Gate, determined that he would fulfil his promise to his dead wife. He would find her son and keep him safe. Sitting in the gear-up room after the mission was over, he wondered if anyone knew that his main reasons for staying on the team had just literally disappeared in a flash of light?

Perhaps it was finally time to call it a day. Jack was avoiding him outside work, and to be honest, Daniel was fine with that. He doubted he could sit on Jack's sofa, slugging down his beer, and watching his boring hockey games without busting a blood vessel. If only he had known sooner that there might be a chance with Jack...

Now Jack was with another guy, and from what Daniel had seen, he couldn't hope to compete with that. Erotic as the scene he had witnessed had been, Daniel couldn't imagine allowing anyone to do 'that' to him yet. Not even Jack. That was something he would have to work slowly towards. Besides, Jack seemed happy with Joe. Daniel would never knowingly come between them.

He wished that he could find out more about the relationship, find out how long it had been going on, what they did, what they talked about. He wondered if Jack ever mentioned him in conversation, if he'd told his lover about Daniel's failed seduction attempt? He cringed again at that memory. Oh yeah, they had probably laughed their asses off about that one!

Deep down, he knew that was unfair. Jack would never be so cruel. Daniel knew it, but turning his frustration and embarrassment into anger made him feel a little better, so he ignored the voice of reason for the time being.

Then, once again, the old adage came true, 'be careful what you wish for...'


Daniel was invisible. He had looked into the eyes of that dammed crystal skull and suddenly no one could see or hear him. It was a little funny at first, until he thought that he might be dead. That had taken the fun right out of the situation.

He followed his team mates around feeling like a stalker, overhearing things he wished he hadn't, seeing things he shouldn't have seen. Like the fact that neither Sam nor Jack seemed prepared to work through the night to solve the problem of his disappearance. That hurt. He would have done it for them, he even told them so. Loudly. Of course, they didn't hear.

Daniel trailed up the corridor behind Jack after he had bid Sam goodnight, fully expecting him to hit the sack. Instead, Jack slipped into the commissary. It was deserted at this time of night except for two technicians from Sam's department and... well, surprise, surprise, Colonel Joe Reynolds.

Jack slipped into the chair opposite Joe and stole the other man's coffee cup, grimacing at the taste. Joe smiled and grabbed the cup back. "Get your own," he drawled, eyes sparkling.

Now this was the point when a better man than Daniel would have walked away. A better man would not have taken advantage of the situation to eavesdrop on a private and personal conversation. Okay, there were very few men better that Daniel. He stayed, moved closer, got comfortable.

Jack was giving Joe that look, the goofy one that turned Daniel's insides to mush. He leaned in closer and whispered something so softly that Daniel couldn't hear. The other officer let his eyebrow rise in mock horror at whatever suggestion the colonel had just made, but his voice hinted at disappointment when he answered.

"Nice plan, Ace, but I have a date with a bottle of Pilsner tonight."

"German huh?" said Jack cryptically, snagging the coffee cup again, and draining it in one long gulp. Daniel had no idea what the exchange was about, but it seemed to have hidden meaning beyond the obvious offer of beer. Joe got to his feet and patted Jack on the shoulder.

"Rain check?"

"Sure."

For some reason, Daniel's curiosity was peaked. Rather than sit here watching Jack stare into space, he decided to follow Joe for a while. What could it hurt? It might give him an idea what Jack saw in the good-looking, well-built, macho bastard.


'Pilsner' turned out to be a euphemism for young, blonde, Germanic and male, and 'date' obviously meant quickie up against the wall in the supply closet. Daniel wanted to grab Joe by the collar and scream at the guy for cheating on Jack. How could he? This kid was nothing compared to Jack. He was just out of diapers; he couldn't be old enough to shave, for crying out loud! The young, blonde lab assistant, whose name Daniel could not recall, seemed a little worried, once he had managed to get Joe's lips prized from his throat.

"Whoa, wait a minute," he gasped, trying to push Joe away. Joe ignored him and pressed him flat against the wall, his hands roaming under the white lab coat and tugging at the technician's belt. He gave in at first, and then seemed to remember something important.

He shoved Joe away more forcefully. " Dammit Joe, I said, wait a minute. Just want to clarify something, okay? You and Colonel O'Neill, you're both okay with this right? 'Cause I have to tell you, that guy scares the shit out of me!"

"Who told you I was with O'Neill, Dieter?" Joe growled, sinking his teeth into the kid's throat. Oh yeah, that was it, Hans Dieter, Daniel winced in sympathy, but the kid threw back his head and groaned.

"Just gossip," he gasped, fighting a losing battle with his libido. Joe smiled as he licked the guy's ear. He wasn't about to confirm or deny it.

"I'm involved in an open relationship, we can have sex with anyone we want. Let's keep my other partner's names out of this. Deal? Now are we doing this, or what?"

Seemed it didn't take much to reassure the kid. Daniel slipped quietly through the wall at the first sign of surrender and went in search of his Grandfather.


Daniel was in a foul mood. He was, at least, visible now, but he might as well not be for all the good it did him. Jack was still avoiding him. He felt bitter, and unappreciated. No one needed him, not even Sha're's child, and certainly not the silver-haired bastard currently staring at him over his briefing notes.

Daniel knew more of the facts now. Jack obviously had no problems having sex with men he worked beside. He was willing to break, bend or ignore the rules of fraternization completely - so why had he turned Daniel down? It wasn't because he was in a committed relationship. That was for sure. He and Joe were non-exclusive.

Why wasn't he interested? Daniel sighed. There was no point in flogging a dead horse. It really was time to move on. He mentally composed his letter of resignation while half listening to what Hammond was saying. Then a stray thought occurred. What if the problem here was his own inexperience? Maybe Jack just preferred guys who had at least 'some' clue what they were doing.


Joe hit the mute button on the remote and jumped up to answer the doorbell. His jaw nearly hit the floor when he saw Doctor Jackson standing on his porch. He realized that he was being rude when the doctor shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other and asked tentatively, "Can I come in?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, sorry," Joe mumbled, stepping aside to let the man enter. He immediately wished that he had tidied up a little when he had gotten home, but Doctor Jackson barely gave his surroundings a second glance.

Joe led him into the living room and switched off the television, indicating that he should take a seat. "Ah so, what can I do for you, Doctor Jackson?" he asked hesitantly, finding the whole situation a little uncomfortable.

Daniel bit his lip; suddenly unsure about the course of action he had chosen to take. In the cold, logical vaults of his mind, this had seemed like a good idea. Now he was having serious doubts about coming here tonight. Every time he looked at Joe, he was getting flashbacks to the scene he had witnessed at Jack's house. He surreptitiously moved his jacket to cover his groin. "I wanted to... to ask you something," he muttered.

Joe could feel the waves of tension radiating from the other man. "Sounds like we'll be needing a drink then," he said heading off to the kitchen, returning a moment later with a large bottle of whisky and two glasses. But before he could hand one to Daniel, his phone rang. Placing the bottle on the table he excused himself and took the call. He was surprised to hear a familiar voice on the other end.

"Hey, It's me. You wanna come over for a beer?"

Joe gaped at the phone then at Daniel, sitting on the edge of his sofa and looking very uncomfortable. He cleared his throat. "Sorry Jack, I have plenty of beer at home."

He heard the disappointment in his friend's voice as he ended the call. The code had told Jack that Joe was already entertaining someone. Joe felt a little guilty about this, but he wanted to know what the hell was going on. He turned to Daniel and handed him a glass.

"That was Jack... er, Colonel O'Neill."

"Oh? Am I spoiling your evening? I could go..."

Joe flopped down beside him. "Nah - I don't really want to go out tonight. I'm more interested in finding out what brings you to my door, Doctor Jackson."

"Daniel, please, it's just Daniel."

"Fine, call me Joe then. So... Daniel, what's up?"

Daniel took a huge slug of whiskey and nearly choked as the alcohol hit his belly. He could drink a bottle of wine without blinking, but spirits and beer went right to his head. Which was why he normally avoided drinking the stuff.

"A few nights ago, I went around to Jack's house." The words tumbled over each other in their haste to get out. "I saw you there... with Jack... in front of the fire."

"Oh!" Joe placed his glass very carefully on the coffee table and got up. He walked over to the window and looked out silently at the street. Daniel took another gulp.

"Don't worry, I'm not here to blackmail you or anything," Daniel said.

Joe turned slowly to face the archaeologist. "So... what then?"

Daniel got up and came to stand next to Joe, staring out of the window like the other man had been doing a moment before. It helped being able to focus on the street outside and not on the man's face.

"That wasn't the first time for you and him was it?"

"Doctor Ja... *Daniel*, I can't discuss this with you. There are rules..."

Daniel whirled round to face Joe. "Fuck the rules! You obviously don't care about them anyway or you wouldn't..." He took several gulping breaths, trying to get a hold of his irrational anger. Where the hell had that come from anyway? Joe backed off a step, interrupting him with raised hands.

"Whoa - Daniel, calm down. I'm not talking about Air Force Policy. I'm talking about betraying a confidence. You understand that, don't you? I don't 'do' kiss and tell. I'm sorry."

Daniel seemed to calm a little, dropping his eyes to the carpet. Then the full intensity of those eyes hit Joe again, and he saw exactly why Jack was attracted to this man.

"I'm in love with him," Daniel said softly, looking more shocked by his own words than Joe was. Joe's mouth made a little 'O' of understanding. He raised his hands to rest on the tense shoulders.

"I see. Then you should probably know - I'm not."

Daniel gulped and let his eyes fall again. He seemed relieved but also a little sad. Joe didn't want to talk about this, but neither could he stand here watching this man suffer. Jack had been right to keep Daniel at arm's length, and it really wasn't Joe's place to explain all this to the man, but the pain in those eyes tore at him.

"Daniel, what Jack and I do; it's not about love. It's about stress relief. Some men go to the gym and punch the fuck out of a punching bag, others start fights with their wives or in a bar somewhere. Some guys prefer rough sex with other guys. There are no emotions there beyond the need to release some pressure."

"I see."

"Do you?" Joe watched him carefully, wondering if he should give Jack a call, get him to come deal with this. Daniel turned back to look out of the window. He was quiet for a while, processing the information.

"Okay, no actually. I'm confused."

"About your sexuality?"

Daniel ducked his head and wrapped his arms tightly around his chest. "Erm... no, not about that. I've always been a non-practicing bisexual."

Joe snorted at that. "A what?"

"I've always been a little attracted to guys but have never done anything about it before. I don't really understand the gay scene, and I'm not into cruising bars for pick-ups. I just want to know what all the fuss is about."

Joe was getting a very bad feeling about all this. Daniel had already admitted to being in love with Jack. It didn't make any sense for him to be here tonight with a virtual stranger. "So you're a virgin?" he asked.

Daniel blushed red to the roots of his hair. "Yes... yes, I suppose so."

"And you've come here tonight to ask me what?"

Deep down, Joe was afraid he knew exactly why the kid had come here. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that Daniel was hurting, and looking for answers.

"Do you find me attractive?" Daniel asked. There was a defiant edge to his voice, but a vulnerability that tugged at the old soldier's heart. He backed off another couple of steps; hardly able to believe he was hearing this.

"Whoa! Hey Daniel, I think you're great, but I have all the complications I need in my life right now."

"I'm a 'complication'?"

"You're a virgin, that's... complicated."

"Why?"

Joe sucked in a deep breath and let it out loudly. "Look, Daniel, I'm not the man to help you out with this, okay? I prefer my sex to be quick and dirty and... and... uncomplicated. And besides, if I laid a hand on you, Jack would break my balls."

Daniel was getting angry again. "What the hell has Jack got to do with this?"

"Daniel, you said that... I thought, you..."

"Jack doesn't want me," Daniel stated flatly.

Then Joe remembered hearing about what had happened on P4X763 with the Chief's son and things became a little clearer. Jack had rejected Daniel's advances, so now the guy was looking for revenge. He immediately dismissed that thought. He didn't know Daniel that well, but even he could see that revenge wasn't his style. Maybe he was just trying to make Jack jealous? Either way, Joe wasn't willing to be used like that.

"Jack is a hard man to know. We've been involved for over a year, and I still don't really 'know' him. But what I do know, is that the guy is nuts about you." Joe saw the faint flicker of hope lighting up in the other man's eyes and felt like a shit for having to blow it out. "Which is exactly why he won't do a damned thing about it. That sort of a relationship would break every rule in the book."

"I practically threw myself at him on the planet, and he made out like there was no way, and then he came home and fucked *you* into the ground. Kind of blows the 'rules' theory out of the water. I don't think I'm much to look at, but surely I'm not that repulsive?"

Joe made a face that clearly showed what he thought of that comment.

"And anyway," Daniel continued, "he's breaking the rules for *you*, isn't he?"

Daniel stuffed his fists into his pockets. He had come here to get laid, plain and simple. He thought it would be easier than this. First, Jack had rejected him, and now Joe. Perhaps he was totally unattractive? And now, instead of having sex, he was standing here discussing Jack's reasons for not taking things further.

Joe led him gently to the sofa, and they sat down. He knew he shouldn't be discussing this, and that Jack was probably going to kill him when he found out. Daniel finally looked at him, really looked at him for the first time that evening.

"I'm trying to tell you that it's not about love. Jack and I are basically the same. We have the same needs. He's a great guy, Daniel. We're good buddies, we share a few interests, and we both like no-strings sex. There's nothing complicated about it. If I had to go into combat with him, I would trust him with my six. And if I had to order him to die for his country, I would. And he would do the same for me."

"But you can't order each other to do anything, you're both the same rank."

"Exactly! That's why this works, and that's the only reason Jack will break the rules for me. He has his own set of rules, Daniel, and they make more sense than the ones on paper."

Daniel sighed, "You think he won't make love to me because we care about each other too much? You think that it might cloud his judgment in the field? That's bullshit!"

Joe raised an eyebrow, clearly needing more clarification here. Daniel sighed and leaned back against the cushions.

"There was a time, not so long ago, when Jack had to leave me behind to die on a mission. He's perfectly capable of separating his personal life from his duty. I think he's proven that. So I guess I was right all along. It's my inexperience that's putting him off. Jack obviously likes someone who knows what the hell they're doing. If he won't be the one to show me, then I have to look elsewhere. I don't know anyone else that's actively gay except you, and I know you and Jack aren't exclusive, so I thought maybe...?"

Oh boy! The kid is skating on thin ice here, thought Joe. And he's way off the mark, too. Jack wouldn't give a rat's ass if Daniel were a virgin. He was holding back because he was terrified of falling in love with the guy. In Joe's humble opinion, that was a moot point anyway. Jack was already there; he just couldn't let himself admit it. Much though he would love to see them both happy, Joe knew that Jack wasn't ready for such a big commitment.

"I'm sorry Daniel, I can't help. Tempting though it is, I can't do that to Jack."

"You care about him, too," stated Daniel flatly. Joe squirmed a little before meeting his eyes. "What we have is temporary. It's all I want from him right now, and it's all Jack wants from me, too."

"And you don't think I could give him that?"

"This is not about what I think, Daniel. Jack would never start anything with you, trust me on this. If you really want to know what I think, I think he's put you on a fucking pedestal. He looks at you like you're some perfect being, untouchable, and untouched, to be worshipped and protected at all costs. He idolizes you, Daniel."

"Oh come on... I'm no saint. I'm sure you're wrong."

Joe wished he *were* wrong. Unfortunately, this time he knew he was right. "You'll see. As far as Jack is concerned, no one is good enough for *his* Daniel, and that includes himself."


Later that Night

Jack scrubbed his hands through his hair, working up a good lather. He was sore and aching from his session in the gym and should have taken a shower on the base, but the shower room was full of SG11 in high spirits after a long mission on a hot, dry planet. Jack didn't feel like joining in their horseplay, so he'd driven home to take a shower. It had probably been a mistake, because, by the time he got there, his muscles had started to seize up. He wished that Joe had been free tonight. He could use some of the man's special brand of therapy.

As he stood under the shower spray and let the water wash the soap from his hair, he wondered if he should call him again. He dismissed that idea right away. The guy would be expecting an engagement ring if he wasn't careful. They had been seeing a little too much of each other lately, mostly at Jack's insistence, and he had to pull back a bit. Besides, his thoughts had been decidedly 'Daniel' orientated lately, and it wasn't fair for him to use his buddy as a substitute.

Jack groped for the washcloth he had hung on the peg and dragged it across his eyes, clearing the suds from his face. The water was beginning to turn cold, so he whipped back the shower curtain and almost jumped out of his skin. Daniel was leaning in the doorway, smiling at his confusion. Fleetingly, he thanked the powers that be that he hadn't decided to jerk off in the shower. That would have been *too* embarrassing. He had always known he would regret giving Daniel that key.

"Shit, Daniel, you nearly gave me a coronary. What are you doing here?"

"Jack, we need to talk."

Jack eyed Daniel warily, trying to gauge his mood. He seemed a little nervous. He was also aware that he was standing in his bathroom, stark naked and dripping all over the carpet, and that Daniel was having problems keeping his eyes above waist level.

"Pass me that towel. Thanks. Coffee?"

Daniel hastily stepped back to allow a still dripping Jack to exit the bathroom. As he brushed past him, Daniel's nostrils flared at the smell of hot, wet Jack. His cock twitched its appreciation too.

"Yeah, why not?" he squeaked, adjusting his pants and following in his friend's steamy wake. Jack hesitated at the kitchen door, looking down at the towel wrapped tightly around his waist. It was a little on the short side, barely reaching his knees. He turned around and nearly cannoned into Daniel, who was right behind him and appeared to have been checking out his ass.

"Why don't you get the coffee started and I'll go and... " He indicated in the vague direction of his bedroom.

Daniel squeezed past him, his hip brushing against Jack's thigh through the towelling. Jack gulped and fled to the bedroom. He pulled on the first thing he found, a pair of navy blue sweatpants and the old gray Air Force t-shirt that he slept in. Then, changing his mind, he pulled out a fresh t-shirt from the dresser. The gray one was past due for a date with the laundry room.

Fighting to get the shirt pulled down over his still wet body, Jack considered taking a moment to pull on some underwear, but the longer he left Daniel alone, the more time the guy had to 'think' and that was a baaaad idea.

Back in the kitchen, Daniel turned at the sound of bare feet padding across the floor, and his heart stopped beating for an instant. He could see that Jack hadn't bothered drying himself, and the t-shirt clung to his damp chest, a dark patch forming in the middle of the material, where his chest hairs retained the most moisture. There was a similar dark patch lower down, right above the groin area of the sweatpants. Daniel's eyes continued down incredibly long legs to take in the slender naked toes, then swept back up to the intriguing sight of two hard nipples poking through the thin material of the t-shirt.

Then his eyes found Jack's. The look they shared was deep, but Jack broke the tension, focusing instead on the coffee machine. When he turned back to look at Daniel again, the other man was leaning back against the worktop, his eyes hooded and unreadable.

"So, talk," said Jack, a little afraid of what was coming.

"I've been by Colonel Reynold's place having a little... chat."

Okay, THAT was unexpected! Jack shifted nervously on the spot. "Oh? What about?" He masked his shock well. Joe had never mentioned knowing Daniel outside of work or vice versa.

"Sex," Daniel supplied.

Jack blinked slowly. It really wasn't like Daniel to get straight to the point like this; actually it was a little unnerving.

"Sex?" he repeated dumbly, his eyebrows climbing into his hairline.

"I asked Joe if he would be my first male lover."

Jack was across the kitchen in a heartbeat, his fingers biting into the muscles of Daniel's upper arms. His eyes searched Daniel's deeply.

"You didn't!"

Daniel watched in fascination as Jack's Adam's apple bobbed up and down.

"Relax. He turned me down flat. Seems I'm a... 'complication'."

Jack seemed to sag. Belatedly noticing how tightly he was squeezing Daniel's shoulders, he let go, as if he had been burned.

Needing a distraction, he went to the fridge and pulled out the milk. He usually drank his coffee black but there were occasions where his need to get the caffeine in his system quickly meant he had to drink it cooler. This was definitely one of those situations.

After he'd poured the milk into his mug, he found the guts to face Daniel again. Taking a deep breath he asked the question that was now nagging on his mind.

"Daniel, why the hell do you suddenly want a male lover? I've known you for over four years. You never gave the faintest hint that you were into guys. Why now?"

"Guess I got tired waiting."

"Waiting? Waiting for what?"

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Jack knew he had made a mistake. All these years, Jack had very carefully avoided letting Daniel talk about this subject out of fear of what he might hear. So long as the feelings went unspoken, Jack could deal, he could pretend they didn't exist. But once spoken out loud...

He had just given Daniel the opportunity to say he was tired of waiting for Jack to 'notice'. Daniel took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Not so much waiting for what..." he said softly, searching Jack's eyes, "...as for who."

He looked unsure, almost hesitant. Jack dropped his gaze to his own feet, then up to the ceiling, unable to look at Daniel without giving it all away.

Finally, Daniel lowered his eyes to the floor and sighed again. "I got tired of waiting for the right guy to come along; finally figured any guy would do."

Jack frowned and stared at the top of his friend's head. That sounded like a cop-out. Was Daniel trying to let him off the hook? Or did he really value himself so little that he would let any Tom, Dick or Harry fuck him? When he didn't say anything, Jack sighed and raised his hands once again to rest on his friend's shoulders.

"How long have you felt this way?"

"Oh, pretty much all my adult life. I never acted on it before. I've had offers. I was a little surprised at first, but flattered."

Jack tried to relax the fingers that were now digging into Daniel's shoulders. Daniel had had offers? He shouldn't be surprised, should he? Daniel was good-looking, intelligent, sexy as hell...

"Why didn't you tell me?"

At the softly spoken question, Daniel finally looked up, into chocolate brown eyes. "I tried, once or twice. But to be honest, I was afraid you would freak. You have to understand, Jack, that I'd never had such a close friend as you before. I didn't want to do anything that might jeopardize that friendship, so I stayed quiet. Of course I didn't know you were bi. That might have made a huge difference." His nervous laugh seemed a little forced to Jack's ears.

Jack snorted, turning to pour the coffee into their mugs. "Well - it's not something I advertise."

"So Joe said. This is what I don't get, how did you ever hook up? If you have to hide this from the military, how the hell do you know when another man is a prospect?"

Jack handed a mug to Daniel and leaned back on the counter, crossing his ankles in what he hoped was a relaxed attitude. In reality, his heart was still trying to hammer its way out of his ribcage. "It's risky, but if you know what to look for... Looks that go on a little longer than usual, touches that linger, the way he smiles at you, the way he watches you..."

Daniel had been blowing into his mug, and now his eyes met Jack's over it's steaming rim. Jack had just described the way he acted with Daniel 24/7. Daniel frowned a little in confusion. Jack shook his head slightly, as if he were regretting having said even that much. He opened another cupboard, and pulling out a half empty bottle of Irish whiskey, he poured two glasses. Without a word, he walked stiffly into the living room.


Part Three

Daniel chewed on his lower lip for a moment, wondering what the hell had possessed him to come here. Even if Jack did care for him, Joe was right, the man was never going to admit to it. Daniel cradled the hot coffee mug against his chest and sighed. What had he expected? That Jack would go all 'caveman' at the thought of another man possessing him and drag him off to his bed? He remembered that brief moment in the kitchen when it had seemed that Jack might do just that, and shivered. He let out an explosive breath and followed his friend into the living room.

Jack was kneeling by the fireplace, lighting the fire. Daniel took a moment to admire the curve of his back, and the way the muscles in his shoulders contracted beneath the tight T-shirt. Jack was stunning; there was no other word to describe it. His mind went involuntarily back to the scene he had witnessed in front of this fire, and he felt himself blush. Jack in the throes of passion was something Daniel had fantasized about too many times to count. Seeing it for real had been breathtaking.

Jack finished lighting the fire and rocked back on his heels, turning his head to look at his friend with a frown. "Daniel, I don't want you throwing yourself at just anyone. Okay? It's a very bad idea. You could get hurt. I'll see if I can find anyone that would be interested in meeting you, maybe one of Paul's friends from Washington would be..."

Daniel almost dropped his cup. "Paul, as in Davis? He's... he's *gay*?"

Jack got to his feet, a tiny, teasing smile hitching the corner of his mouth slightly. "I didn't say that, Daniel. I said one of his friends might be." It was a neat side step of the 'don't ask' rules.

Daniel felt his mouth go dry. Jack had never looked so sexy. His hair was still damp from the shower, standing up in cute little tufts that made him look younger somehow, more vulnerable. That smile was lethal, almost predatory in its simple intensity. It made the corners of his eyes crinkle up, softening his features even further. Daniel watched Jack straighten up, his eyes falling involuntarily to where the t-shirt hitched up, exposing a tiny sliver of sun-kissed flesh, and an intriguing glimpse of downy hair.

Jack closed the distance between them with slow, deliberate ease, raising the whiskey to his lips but never breaking eye contact. Daniel wondered if he had any idea what he was doing him? Jack chose to perch on the edge of the coffee table, rather than join Daniel on the couch, which meant that Daniel was more or less forced to look at him. He heard himself laugh nervously.

"Well gee thanks, Jack, but I think I can handle my love life myself."

Jack downed his whiskey and slammed the glass onto the table. "NO! No, you can't. You have no idea what you're getting into, do you, Daniel? As usual, you throw yourself in front of the staff blast and to hell with the consequences."

Daniel flinched at the reference to their first adventure on Abydos. He didn't like the way Jack used that metaphor. In his mind, it meant caring enough to die for someone, not what Jack meant by it - being too stupid to see the danger.

"Fuck you, Jack! I can look after myself," he spat.

Jack took a deep breath and rubbed the back of his neck wearily. "Shit! Daniel... Danny. Look, I'm... I'm sorry, all right? I'm being an ass. I can't seem to help it."

Daniel gulped, his eyes glued to Jack's hair, tinged with red from the flickering flames. Daniel felt his traitorous body react again. He wanted to run for his life, but he was rooted to the spot. If he had made a mistake going to Joe tonight, hoping the guy would help him gain a little more experience, then he had made an even bigger mistake coming here.

It had taken a while, but tonight, he had finally seen the awful truth. He wasn't just attracted to Jack, he was in love with the pig-headed, arrogant, stupid bastard, and Jack couldn't even see Daniel as a sex object, far less as a possible life partner. He was tired. It was late. He needed to get out of here.

"Jack, for once in your life, will you please try to see the bigger picture here? I *need* to do this. I've put it off way too long. I promise, I'll be careful but I don't want you screening all my... my..."

"Dates?"

"Exactly. Jack, you're not my father. You have to learn to let go."

Daniel was aware that he was pushing, deliberately goading Jack. He wanted a reaction. He wanted Jack's jealousy.

"Daniel..."

"Yes?"

"I..."

/Say it Jack/

"I don't want you to..."

/To what, Jack? Say it, please say it./

Daniel willed Jack to do it, to say the words, to admit how he felt. Surely they both knew the truth in their hearts already, surely they both wanted... no, *needed* the same thing. Jack gulped audibly then his eyes dropped to the floor. Daniel sagged.

"I don't want you to get hurt. Be really careful, okay?"

Daniel sighed in disappointment. "Sure, Jack. I will. Thanks for the coffee."

If Jack only wanted friendship from him, it was going to have to be enough, because now that he'd been totally honest about his feelings, Daniel couldn't bear the thought of losing Jack entirely. He handed Jack his half-drunk coffee and left. Jack remained where he was for a very long time, holding the warm mug against his chest.


The remainder of the week went by quickly. SG1 had another mission, which went without a hitch. Daniel barely got the chance to speak to Jack or the rest of the team in that time, as they were all busy with their own preparations. When finally they stepped back through the gate at the end of the mission, Daniel handed his handgun to an SF and watched Jack's rigid back as he headed for the gear-up room after a brief word with General Hammond.

Sam smiled warmly at him, unaware of the strange tension that hovered between her friend and her CO. "Daniel, it's Friday night, and Teal'c and I are going to see a movie. Wanna come with us? It's been too long since we did anything together."

Daniel smiled back, wishing that he could go with them, regretting his spur of the moment decision to go for a drink with Lt. Bailey from SG9. The guy had asked Daniel out before, way back in the early days of the project, and although Daniel had refused, he had nothing against the man. He was good looking and smiled easily. He was also fairly intelligent, so conversation wouldn't be a problem. Daniel was making a real effort here to move on, no matter how hard it was.

He shook his head as he tagged along behind the team. "Other plans. Sorry," he mumbled, hoping that Jack wouldn't hear him. Chance would be a fine thing. They had just walked into the gear-up room, where even the faintest whisper echoed off the metal lockers and was amplified ten fold. Jack turned away from his locker, a pair of faded jeans dangling from his fingers. Daniel tried not to let his eyes wander over Jack's bare legs, but he was only human.

Sam headed for her own corner of the gear-up room, still smiling. "Sounds like someone has a hot date?" she teased. Daniel really wished she hadn't done that. Jack's eyes narrowed but he kept his mouth firmly shut as he squeezed into the indecently tight jeans. Daniel had never seen him wear anything so form fitting before. When Jack shrugged out of his tight black t-shirt and into a white silk shirt, Daniel clued into the fact that he might not be the only one with a 'hot date'.

Sam emerged from her cubicle dressed casually, and wolf-whistled at Jack. He gave her a filthy look, knowing full well that she was just being a smartass, before turning back to his locker to retrieve his shoes. Daniel sighed. He refused to dwell on the fact that Jack was seeing Joe, or someone else for that matter. He was no hypocrite. Except... except for the fact that he *was* jealous.

He opened his locker and half-heartedly pulled out his own clothes. The 'date' was a casual affair, so his own faded jeans and denim shirt were no match for Jack's outfit. Of course, he was totally unaware that the soft blue denim accentuated the color of his eyes and the material hugged his ass just right. He took a long time to get dressed, trying to put off the moment where he had to face Lt. Bailey. For some reason, he had no enthusiasm for it.

Closing the locker door, he turned around and noticed that Jack was the only one left in the gear-up room. When had that happened? Jack was leaning against the wall, one leg raised, the flat of his foot pressed against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.

"So, tonight's the night?" he asked, the sarcasm in his voice only thinly veiled.

Daniel licked his dry lips and swallowed. Why did Jack have to look so good? His black leather jacket was draped over his arm, and he looked sexy as hell. Daniel dragged his eyes away from the sight, to stare at the floor.

"I doubt it, Jack. I'm not into one-night-stands."

Jack pushed away from the wall and sauntered over to Daniel, the leather jacket brushing his thigh as he walked. "Better get used to it, Danny. It's the only type of relationship most men want."

He stopped a hand's breath away from Daniel, so close that the other man could smell his after shave, and feel the heat of his body as it rose up in waves between them. Daniel refused to be intimidated. He stood his ground, chin raised defiantly.

"Maybe that's all *you* want, Jack. Some men are looking for a little more commitment than wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am... Sir... whatever!"

Jack raised his hand, taking Daniel's chin firmly in his fingers. "Looking for a 'Prince Charming' are you, Daniel? Good luck finding one. Just remember, you might have to kiss a whole lot of frogs before you find him."

As he spoke, Jack's eyes drifted down to Daniel's lips. The heat and intensity in those eyes made Daniel's throat go dry. He really wanted to step backwards, to put some distance between them, but he also wanted to step forward and... No. He refused to give Jack the satisfaction of a second refusal.

But it was Jack that moved closer, if that were even possible. Daniel could feel his breath against his lips, but apart from the fingertips burning his face, Jack touched him nowhere else. Daniel had to gulp; his throat was contracting so painfully by now. Against his will, his tongue darted out to wet his dry lips, and Jack's own lips parted slightly at the sight. Daniel looked into the dark, half closed eyes, and saw his own need reflected there.

Desire slammed through him, making his knees go weak, forcing his eyes wide, he dragged some air into his lungs, "Jack?" barely more than a whisper, he searched the smoky depths.

Then suddenly, Jack stepped back, releasing his grip on Daniel's jaw.

"Be careful," he whispered, turning before Daniel could find his voice, and leaving the gear-up room without a backward glance.

Daniel stared at his feet, trying to get his breathing back under control before following. He had no idea what was going on with his friend. If Jack wasn't interested, why had he allowed himself to get that close? Daniel shook his head and headed for the surface. He had arranged to meet Bailey at a local grill bar and it was too late to cancel now.


On Monday morning, Jack walked into the briefing room early, only to find Daniel already there, pouring himself a coffee. Jack slipped quietly into his chair, sweeping his gaze over Daniel from head to foot. Daniel didn't turn around, but somehow he seemed to know who had just come in. He turned over a second mug and filled it, bringing both mugs to the table and handing one to Jack. He was limping a little. Jack noticed and frowned.

Sliding into his usual chair directly across from Jack, Daniel winced and took a sip from his cup before daring to look at his friend. "Have a nice weekend?" he asked conversationally.

Jack leaned back in his chair crossing his arms over his chest and narrowing his eyes. "Nice enough. You?"

Daniel met the burning look unflinchingly. "Very nice." He let his eyes drift shut, as if he were recalling a pleasant memory. "But I hope this will be a short meeting. I can't sit for too long." He winced in pain again and Jack fought the urge to leap to his feet.

His fingers closed around his cup, letting the heat burn his palm in an attempt to focus his attention. When he couldn't bear it a moment longer, he raised the cup to his cold lips and swallowed the bitter liquid without tasting a drop. He was saved from more of Daniel's revelations, when Sam and Teal'c entered the room, followed by Hammond and Fraiser. Then the briefing began. Jack heard very little of what was discussed; his eyes kept straying towards Daniel.

Halfway through the briefing, Doctor Frasier interrupted the General. "Sorry sir, but, Daniel? Are you alright?"

Everyone turned to look at Daniel, who had gone pale and clammy. He was clutching his abdomen tightly as he shook his head.

Fraiser got up and ran round the table, gently pressing the spot under Daniel's hand. He almost hit the ceiling.

"Sir, call a medical team to the briefing room. I think Daniel's appendix may have burst."


The Next Day

Daniel lifted the scratchy white sheet and peered at the gauze square covering his latest war wound. He still couldn't believe that his appendix had almost burst. Janet had torn him a new one for ignoring the warning signs, and if it hadn't been for her emergency surgery, he would have been looking at a long and protracted stay in hospital.

Daniel had cut his 'date' with Bailey short on Friday when the first wave of abdominal pain had hit, putting it down to the stress of the last few missions. He had spent most of Saturday in bed throwing up and by Sunday, he had almost acclimatized to the constant nagging pain.

He had even taken advantage of it to goad Jack into believing that his discomfort was a direct result of his date on Friday. The look on Jack's face had been almost worth it, for about a nanosecond. Then he had seen the hurt, albeit covered quickly, and felt like a complete bastard.

If the damned appendix hadn't started playing up, he would probably have told Jack the truth, which was that nothing at all had happened between him and Bailey.

At that moment Jack walked in. He was wearing civilian clothes, and Daniel remembered that SG1 had been given a week's downtime while he recovered. Jack sauntered up to the bed, smiling sympathetically.

"Hey!"

Daniel tried to figure out what was different about his friend.

"Hey!"

"How ya doin?"

"Good. Did you get your hair cut?"

"Yeah. Why?" Daniel dropped his eyes back to the covers, feeling a little embarrassed at having noticed Jacks grooming habits at all.

"No reason," he mumbled. Jack always let his hair get a little too long before he finally succumbed to getting a trim, which only made the changes more obvious.

Jack moved a little closer to the bed, his eyes roaming over the sheets, and stopping at the slight bulge mid abdomen.

"Can I see your scar?" he asked, the devilment in his eyes making them sparkle in the low lighting.

Daniel thought about that. He imagined pulling back the sheets, slipping his hospital gown up over his stomach, seeing Jack's eyes roam over his skin. He felt his cock twitch beneath the heavy covers and hastily squashed down all such thoughts.

"No," he said shortly, dropping his eyes to the white sheets in embarrassment.

"Fraiser says it'll be about a week before you get out of here."

Daniel shifted restlessly, the irony of the situation suddenly hitting him. "You know, it's funny. I mean, after everything we've been through these past few years. And of all things it's my appendix that lays me out."

He was unaware of his eyelashes fluttering madly in indignation, or the way Jack's eyes drifted down to stare at his lips.

"But it's not going to be a week. I mean I practically feel fine now."

"Wanna go fishing?"

He hadn't expected that. Jack had never asked him to come to his cabin before. A week alone in Minnesota with Jack in an isolated cabin? It was tempting, very, very tempting. And he could also set the record straight about Lt. Bailey.

"Actually I wouldn't...err...no. You know, I think maybe I will stay here for two or three...three days." He sank back down onto the mattress, hoping that the wave of nausea would dissipate quickly.

Jack smiled a little sadly and turned to leave. "Bye."

Damn, there goes another opportunity. Daniel watched Jack leave, determined that one way or another, he would eventually get Jack alone to explain.

He was drifting off to sleep when the klaxon sounded. Automatically, Daniel tried to get up, but in a flash, Janet was at his side, urging him back down on the bed.

"What's happening, Janet?" he asked thought clenched teeth, the pain from his side almost overwhelming him. She seemed unwilling to tell him, which only raised his anxiety levels higher. With a sigh, she pressed her hands firmly against his chest.

"Colonel O'Neill was just beamed out of the facility. We think it might have been the Asgard."

"Oh, crap." Daniel relaxed back into the pillows and closed his eyes. He had a very bad feeling about this.


"General, we're going to DEFCON 3. The Russians have gone on alert as a response. The moment the Asgard ship attempts to land the President has decided to let the rest of the world know what we know," Major Davis said as he entered the control room. His face was a mask of worry.

Hammond knew what was coming, but had to ask the question anyway, "And then?"

With determined resignation, the young Major gave his answer. "We hit them with everything we've got."

Daniel felt his stomach contract. Against her better judgment, Janet had released Daniel from the infirmary. He was only getting himself more upset at being left out of the loop, so she had administered all the painkillers she could, and let him go with strict instructions that he should remain sitting down at all times.

He drew the Major's attention. "Err, SG1 is on that ship!"

"I have as much confidence in SG1 as you, Doctor Jackson. But they left over an hour ago. We've had no communication since. We have no idea what kind of a time frame we're dealing with here."

When Daniel looked like he might argue, Hammond stepped in. "Let's give them a reasonable chance Major."

Davis took a steadying breath and stepped backwards. "Yes sir. I'll try to define 'reasonable' to the Pentagon."


It had been over a week, and now that Daniel was well on the road to recovery, he had begun bugging the hell out of everyone in an attempt to find out what was going on. Janet had managed to get him back into the infirmary for a check up, and was relieved to see that his scar was healing nicely with no residual signs of infection. After what they had all just been through, it was a small miracle that the stitches had held at all.

The sound of the klaxon and a voice announcing an off-world activation had Daniel bolting from the infirmary before Janet could even finish her sentence. He raced through the corridors, scattering SGC personnel as he went, ignoring the pain shooting through his side every time he banged into someone.

He was not willing to believe that the others were okay until he had seen it for himself. This last week had been pure torture for him. Unable to leave the base while his wound was healing, he had been going out of his mind with worry over his friends.

They had been in worse situations over the years, but this was the first time Daniel had been left behind, helpless to aid his team, forced to watch them fight without him. It made him sick to the stomach to think that his friends could have died without him at their sides. Jack could have died.

Finally, the gate opened and deposited the three most important people in the world to Daniel on the ramp. Daniel had the urge to hug them all, but Jack immediately diffused the tension with a joke, and before he knew what was happening, the team had headed off to the showers, leaving him in the gateroom with a very happy General Hammond. The General patted him on the back in a fatherly fashion.

"Will you please go home now, son? You look like shit."

Daniel turned to look at the stargate one last time before heading to the showers. He still had one thing to do before he could leave.


Daniel waited in the gear-up room until Jack emerged from the showers, looking refreshed and goddammed edible in his standard issue navy blue robe. He saw Daniel sitting on a bench waiting for him and smiled.

"Damn, but I needed that! Wearing the same underwear for over a week can chafe, don't ya think?" He grinned, pulling a fresh pair of boxers on as he spoke. Daniel kept his gaze steadfastly lowered until he heard Jack's zipper go up. Then his gaze tracked slowly over the firm denim-clad ass and naked back before settling on Jack's bare feet.

He leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. "You could have died," he said quietly.

Jack paused in the act of scrubbing a towel through his hair. He lobbed the towel into the laundry basket and flopped down on the bench next to Daniel, his dog tags swinging hypnotically against the soft grey fuzz of his chest. Then he reached out and patted Daniel's hand where it rested on the bench between them.

"Yeah, well, we didn't. I find it best not to dwell on these things."

Daniel looked down to where Jack's hand still rested over his own. He had come to a decision. He couldn't hold this in a moment longer. Speaking in a low, intense tone so that no one would overhear, he leaned in close.

"Jack, our jobs put us into the path of danger on an almost daily basis. I can see why you don't want commitment clouding your judgment. I see why starting a relationship would make your job even harder, but I'm not looking for 'forever', Jack. I'm only looking for 'right now'."

Jack looked into his eyes and sighed. "You don't really mean that, Daniel. You're not a casual sort of guy."

He got up and went to his locker, casting a nervous eye towards the ladies shower room. Sam was still singing at the top of her lungs, but Jack had no idea if there was anyone else in there with her. He pulled out a clean t-shirt. This wasn't the time or the place for this discussion.

"We'll talk later, I promise."

Daniel followed his gaze but instead of nodding his understanding, he got slowly to his feet and began to advance on Jack.

"You can't put me off forever, Jack," he growled, his voice low and dangerous.

Jack began backing away until the cold metal locker behind him halted his retreat. Daniel looked absolutely incredible; behind his glasses, his blue eyes flashed from beneath lowered brows. His lips were pressed into a narrow line, all righteous anger and lust. Jack's hands shot up defensively, dropping the t-shirt on the floor, but Daniel caught his wrists and slammed them against the locker on either side of his head.

Jack gasped in shock, as Daniel leaned against him, all traces of the mild mannered science geek burned away by the fire that shone from his glittering eyes. Jack wanted to gulp, but his mouth had gone dry. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a tiny voice told him to fight this. He made a half-hearted attempt to struggle, to push Daniel away, but he was held absolutely immobile by the intensity of that burning gaze and the strength of the rock hard body pinning him to the lockers.

"Danny... slow down, we have to think," he groaned, feeling waves of heat radiating from Daniel's body through the thin material of his friend's t-shirt.

Against his lips, Daniel whispered, "Think about *this*!" Slamming his hips so hard against Jack's groin that the lockers rattled, he illustrated the depths of his need.

Jack felt the heat of Daniel's erection grinding against him, and before he could stop it, a groan escaped, the sound muffled by Daniel's mouth as it firmly descended on his own.

The force of the kiss smashed the back of Jack's head against the metal locker, but he hardly felt it. Daniel's lips branded his own. His tongue, hot and hard, probed against Jack's, dragging another small whimper from the helpless man. Jack dimly felt a knee insinuate itself between his legs, so that every inch of him was crushed against every inch of Daniel. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't think, he could only feel.

As the kiss deepened, Daniel slowly released his grip on Jack's wrists, his fingers sliding down Jack's forearms, ghosting across his chest then up over his neck, desperately sinking into the short spiky tufts of silver hair. Daniel was moaning, rocking himself with rhythmic thrusts against Jack. He was lost in the moment and clung to Jack, needing to hold on to something solid or risk being swept away.

Short panting breaths escaped between their battling tongues and a shockwave of emotion hit them both hard.

Suddenly Daniel jerked back.

Jack looked dazed. His eyes were wide, black with desire. Chest heaving, he slumped against the wall.

Daniel's hand came up to touch his own bruised lips. With a last intense look at Jack, he turned and fled the locker room. The ball was now firmly in Jack's court.

Jack turned and leaned his forehead against the coldness of the locker door, then banged it slowly against the unyielding metal.

Daniel didn't understand, no matter what he said. If Jack finally let go of his control, it could mean the end of his career with the military. His time with SG-1 could be over too, because he couldn't be in love with a member of his team and still function as its leader.

I can't be in love with you, Daniel, he thought desperately, I just can't!

It was easier to pretend that his feelings didn't exist. He could do that, he could pretend. Had been doing just that for as long as he could remember. But it was impossible to lie to himself. He had been in love with Daniel for years, and it hadn't interfered with his ability to command the team one bit. That was just an excuse. What he'd really been afraid of was losing someone he loved again.

"Fuck!" he muttered under his breath, "I am so screwed."


Part Four

The Next Day

Daniel wished he'd learn his lesson. Nothing was ever over. There was always evil, there was always danger. Not for one minute could he ever relax his guard. Hadn't Jack tried to teach him that? He had foolishly thought that they had time, time to talk this thing out, time to face the future.

There had been no time.

Daniel sat next to Paul, his eyes seeing what Jack was seeing, through the camera installed in his helmet. And what he saw was death. No way out. No coming back. Jack and Teal'c were trapped on a Russian submarine, being overrun by Replicators, and there wasn't a damned thing anyone could do but watch helplessly.

Daniel bit his lip, using the pain to focus his mind. He raced frantically through their limited options and reached the conclusion that this time, they might actually be screwed.

Paul leaned forward into the mike. "Colonel O'Neill, is there any way you can make it to the escape hatch?"

Daniel felt his stomach churn as the image bobbed and swayed. Jack and Teal'c were running for their lives. He had to believe they were going to make it. He had to believe they could get out of that submarine.

"The anchor line just snapped!" Siler announced.

Daniel stared at him, the other man's pronouncement sounding like a death sentence. He could feel the panic begin to rise, threatening to overwhelm him, strip away his veneer of calm leaving behind only the primitive man, raging at the stars above at his failure to act.

"Is there anything we can do?" he asked no one in particular.

Paul rubbed his eyes wearily and sat back in his chair. "The best thing we can do right now is to try and chase them into shallow waters and hope that they surface."

"No, there's not enough time for that." Daniel felt his heart hammering out the seconds and knew they had run out of options.

On the video link, the image cleared on a small hatch and Jack's voice sounding calmer than a man in his present predicament had any right to sound said, "Teal'c, let's try this!"

Daniel almost jumped out of his skin when a Replicator dropped out of the open hatch and his two friends started shooting.

He heard Jack's voice again. "All right, forget that!"

Daniel felt his breathing rate increase and his fingers dug painfully into the edge of the table. His friends ran in the opposite direction, but soon they were cornered. Teal'c's helmet camera panned around to face Jack, who looked straight into the lens. In a flat, no-nonsense voice he announced, "Prepare to go ahead and blow this thing."

Daniel almost came out of his chair. "That's not exactly a positive attitude, Jack."

They had known this was a possibility from the beginning, but Daniel had done his best to ignore it. After everything that had happened, he had refused to entertain the idea that it could end like this.

Jack removed his helmet and turned it so that the camera was right in his face. "Listen to me. We are *not* getting out of here. Mission accomplished. Blow it!"

Daniel stared back in disbelief. Jack was *ordering* him to kill them. Time seemed to freeze, while Daniel's mind whirled like a tornado. He could hear gunshots in the background as Teal'c tried to hold back the impossible. This was it. This was how it was going to end. Jack didn't want to die like this, and he was begging his friend to end it quickly. Daniel couldn't do it. He couldn't fucking do it.

"JACK!" he shouted, ignoring Paul's frantic glances.

Jack pulled the video link even closer, his voice dropping to a rough whisper. "Daniel, please! Before I get eaten alive by these... damn bugs! Davis, give the order!"

Paul's hand was poised over the call button, ready to give the order, but his eyes were fixed on Daniel. They all somehow knew that it had to be Daniel's decision. Daniel watched in horror, as his two friends were over-run. More and more of the bugs just kept pouring into the corridor.

Daniel was shaking his head in disbelief. Oh God! Ohgodohgodohgod! There was nothing he could do now, except end it quickly. He loved Jack, how could he be the one to end his life? Then again, given what was happening, how could he not?

"Okay, okay!" he rasped out, finally looking away from the screen.

Disjointedly, he heard Paul's voice sounding flat and emotionless. "Fire on target."

Then the only person talking was Siler as he gave a blow-by-blow account of the missile's progress.

"Dallas is firing torpedoes! Eight seconds to impact... Blackbird attempting evasive maneuvers... Torpedoes still on target... Two seconds."

Daniel fixed his eyes on the image of the torpedo on the radar screen as it streaked towards the submarine, towards Jack and Teal'c. His eyes moved from the radar to the video screen. He didn't want his last memory of Jack's face to be this, but he also knew that he owed it to Jack not to look away. By now, both men had fallen to the floor, and already bugs were clambering over them.

Siler's voice barely registered in Daniel's mind as he watched the awful scene. "Direct hit."

Jack suddenly looked at the camera, right into Daniel's eyes, right into his soul. For a split second it was all there, all his love, all his need and longing, everything he felt for Daniel, communicated in the blink of an eye. Then his fingers were reaching for the helmet, determined to switch off the camera so that his friends wouldn't have to watch him die.

Everyone in the room looked away, except for Daniel. He offered Jack his steady and unflinching gaze as an anchor, which was why he was the only one who saw the two men being engulfed in a flash of light, and then disappear before the screen went blank.

"They're okay," he gasped, his head whipping round to look at Paul, who had his own head in his hands. He looked up, not understanding what Daniel was trying to say. "What?"

Daniel gestured wildly at the screen, his eyes so wide that they should have fallen out of his head. "They're... They'rrrr...They'rr...they're okay!" he repeated, pointing towards the ceiling, unable to make himself any clearer. But Paul got it. He slapped Daniel roughly on the back and they both began laughing in relief. Jack and Teal'c were alive.


Hammond called the team together for a post-mission briefing, which turned into an impromptu 'saved the world again' party. Before long, the festivities had spread to the entire base, and Hammond allowed the party atmosphere to continue. This had been one of the hardest missions yet. It was a victory, a small one, granted, but a victory nonetheless. His people deserved a chance to let their hair down for once.

The General slipped into his office to escape the revelling for a moment and looked down into the almost deserted gate room. There he saw Jack sitting on the ramp staring into space. Hammond sighed. He wasn't blind. One didn't get to be a General by wearing blinkers.

Taking a deep breath, Hammond trotted down the stairs and into the gate room.

"Jack, its not polite for the guest of honor to leave the party."

The colonel smiled tiredly at his CO and patted the ramp in invitation. The commander of the 'Giza Project' lowered himself slowly onto the unyielding surface and sat with his 2IC in companionable silence for a moment before finally turning wise blue eyes on the man who had become his friend.

"Eventually, Jack, there comes a time when we have to ask ourselves what's really important. SG-1 has made an incredible contribution to the safety of this planet, and countless others too. Sometimes I feel angry that you can't be officially recognized for it, but we all know why that can't happen. I can give you praise, I can give you leave time, hell I can give you a goddamned medal, but Jack, I can't give you what you really deserve."

Jack hung his head, unable to think of a single thing to say. General Hammond patted his friend on the shoulder.

"Only you can do that, son. You've served your country well, and I, for one, want to see you continue to do so. But that doesn't mean you have to deny who you are. As far as this facility is concerned, that's no one's business but your own."

Jack raised his head then and met Hammond's steady gaze. So the old bastard had figured it out? He couldn't say he was all that surprised. Jack nodded and took a deep breath.

"How long have you known?"

"I'm commander of a top secret facility, Jack. When it comes to key personnel, I make it my business to read everything in their files, including the medical reports. I read yours before I ever recalled you to active duty."

"That long?"

"Made no difference to my decision. Jack, this latest mission was a close call. Time to wake up and smell the roses, son."

"George, this isn't some passing thing."

"I know, Jack. I'm glad you finally see it, too."

The General got to his feet and patted Jack's hunched shoulder again. As he walked out of the door, he passed the leader of SG16. George Hammond smiled, and patted him on the shoulder, too. "Go ahead, son, I believe that Colonel O'Neill has some bad news for you."

Joe frowned at the General's retreating back as he walked away. Shaking his head, he sauntered into the gate room, to find Jack sitting on the ramp.

"Hail the conquering hero," he sang, flopping onto the ramp. Jack looked at him long and hard.

"Joe, we need to talk."

Joe's eyes narrowed, he glanced back at the entrance where Hammond had passed him, then back to Jack and finally down at his own hands. He smiled. "No need, flyboy. There were never any 'hearts and flowers' remember? Just do me a favor."

"Anything."

Joe answered quietly so that the security cameras couldn't pick it up. "Don't ever offer to cook for him. Not if you want to keep him sweet."

Jack smiled sadly. Joe had been a good friend, a big part of Jack's life for over a year. Their relationship would probably have gone a lot deeper if given half a chance, and both men knew it. But none of that could be said, not here in the gate room, the most heavily watched area of the whole base.

"Joe. Thanks. For everything."

Joe punched Jack on the arm good-naturedly. "Hey, don't get maudlin, we're still friends, right?"

"Right," Jack answered with honesty. He wanted that, too. Joe got to his feet and offered Jack a hand. Pulling him to his feet, he wrapped his arm around Jack's shoulders and guided him towards the door.

"Good, because I need my friend's opinion in the briefing room. See there's this new 'beer' I'm thinking of sampling. Fruity little number, full bodied with just the right amount of fizz."

Jack shook his head in wonder at how quickly his friend had moved on, and the gate room reverberated to the sound of their laughter.


Later That Night

They drove home from the mountain in complete silence. By unspoken mutual agreement, they were heading for Jack's house.

They drew into the drive, and Jack opened the front door, letting Daniel step past him into the darkened interior.

Jack took his coat, and then flicked on a light. They stood in the hall blinking at each other, until Jack cleared his throat, staring nervously at his feet.

"Beer? Or I think I have some whiskey. No wine, I'm afraid."

Daniel smiled and laid his hand on Jack's arm. "Whiskey sounds good."

He left Jack pottering in the kitchen, and wandered into the living room, flicking on the television just to remind himself that normal life continued all around them.

A moment later, Jack returned, pressing a large glass into his hand. He stood looking down at his friend with a troubled look on his face.

Daniel read fear in every knotted muscle, every deeply etched line, and every nervous gulp from the man looming over him, but he was not about to let Jack change his mind this time. Taking a healthy swig from his glass, he placed it carefully on the coffee table and got to his feet.

Jack opened his mouth to say something, his hands coming up protectively in front of him, but Daniel was motivated and way too quick. He was also a hell of a lot stronger than even Jack had given him credit for.

His hands shot out to capture Jack by the waist and tugged him forward, banging their hips together and knocking the breath out of them both. Daniel didn't give Jack time to recover. He leaned forward and clamped his lips firmly over Jack's still parted ones.

Jack froze, his hands trapped between their bodies, unable to do anything but gasp. A hot, probing tongue slipped past his lips and swirled around the inside of his mouth, sparking off sensations that erupted like wildfire all over his body. The knot of tension that had been coiling in the pit of his stomach exploded into a maelstrom of want and need. His eyes fluttered shut and he finally relaxed into the kiss. Daniel gentled his grip, letting his arms slip around Jack to rest on his ass. A gentle tug, and Jack was groaning again at the way Daniel rotated his hips slowly against Jack's groin.

Then Daniel drew back from the kiss, releasing Jack's mouth but remaining so close that Jack could still taste the whiskey on his hot breath. Their eyes opened and they looked at each other. Really looked.

Jack finally freed his hands, sliding them up over Daniel's chest, over his throat, one thumb gently stroking the well-defined jaw and cheekbone. "There's no hurry," he rasped, surprised at how rough and raw his voice sounded. Daniel smiled, turning his face into Jack's palm to kiss the soft flesh under his lips.

"That's where you're wrong, Jack. If I've learned nothing else over the past few years, it's that there's never enough time. We need to seize the day. Carpe diem, Jack. Live every minute to the full. Make the most of what little time we are allotted."

Jack gulped. Daniel was so right. He had thought this moment would signal the end of life as he knew it, and in a way that was still true. But it was also a beginning, the beginning of his life with Daniel. Somehow, he had always known that the moment he kissed Daniel, he would be lost. He had fought against his own needs for so long, denied himself a chance for happiness because he was a coward. Afraid to commit, afraid to leave himself vulnerable again. God, he wanted this! More than anything in his life, he wanted Daniel. Not just his body, but his mind, his soul, his heart. The whole ball of wax.

What had Hammond said? Time to wake up and smell the roses? Yeah, George, I think you might be right. The fear dropped away, as he gazed into those wide, adoring blue eyes.

"You are the bravest son-of-a-bitch I have ever met, Daniel Jackson," he said softly, referring to so much more than just his friend's courage in the face of watching Jack die. It took guts to make the first move. More guts than Jack had shown. But Daniel assumed Jack was talking about the incident on the Russian sub.

"No, I'm not brave. I hesitated. I was so scared to let go that I almost left it till too late."

"Daniel, how can you say you're not brave? You're always stepping into the path of staff blasts - physically or metaphorically. I have to admit, I don't get that."

Daniel smiled and nuzzled the side of Jack's face, feeling the day's beard growth scratch his skin. "It means that I care enough to die for you, but that I also care enough to let *you* die for *me*, if I have to, which is a whole lot harder to do. I think that if things were ever reversed, you would be able to do the same for me."

"No, I don't think I could stand back and watch you die, Daniel, so let's hope I never have to find out."

Daniel reached up and pulled off his glasses, letting them drop onto the coffee table. He traced the outline of Jack's lips with his thumb, his eyes darting over the familiar face with a new perspective.

"Do you love me?" he asked simply. Jack raised his eyebrows and smiled.

"Why, Doctor Jackson, that smacks of 'forever' to me."

Sinking both his hands deep into the soft, silver hair, Daniel showed Jack that he wasn't in the mood for teasing, leaving the other man gasping for breath and as hard as nails when he finally released the bruised lips.

"Answer the question, Jack," he growled against Jack's throat.

"Yes, I love you. Right now. Forever. Always. 'Flowery' enough for ya? Ouch!" Jack yelped as sharp teeth bit his exposed neck.

"That better not leave a fucking mark you little shi... mmmph!"


Some Time Later

Jack had died. He didn't remember the shot that had killed him, but he had definitely died because this *had* to be heaven.

He leaned against the doorframe, caught up in the beauty of the sight before him, forgetting the two mugs of coffee in his hand, forgetting the draft currently blowing right up his naked ass.

It was still some time before dawn, and the bedroom was bathed in silver light shining in through the sheer curtains. Daniel was sound asleep, lying on his back, with both arms raised above his head. His head was tilted to one side, lashes resting on his cheeks like butterfly wings. The sheets had fallen to the floor, leaving Daniel's skin covered only in moonlight. Jack's eyes travelled the length and breadth of his lover, and he sighed.

How the hell had he managed to get by for all these years without this? Daniel was like a drug, once sampled, forever addicted. Jack had always known it would be like this, had fought it tooth and nail, terrified by the intensity of his own feelings. He had resisted taking that first step, thinking that it could only lead to disaster, heartbreak, and pain, never realizing that living without Daniel was like living without water or air. Daniel was essential to his well-being. He could see it now.

He regretted his own cowardice, his paralyzing fear of commitment. How selfish he had been. Not only had he been denying himself, he had been denying Daniel the chance of finding happiness too. He made a silent vow to spend the rest of his life making up for that.

As he stood leaning on the doorframe, Daniel shifted restlessly in his sleep, his head rolling on the pillow, body arching, as he stretched out.

Damn, but Daniel was hot.

And... Awake!

Daniel's nose twitched as the smell of coffee registered on his olfactory system, and his eyes opened. He blinked at Jack sleepily, a self-satisfied smile stealing over his face. Jack continued into the room, placing the two mugs on the dresser before sitting down on the mattress beside his lover.

"You can wipe that smug look off your face, Daniel Jackson. You and I are going to have words."

Daniel blushed. He knew what was coming.

Jack softened his stern look by leaning close and kissing Daniel on the forehead.

"Before your unscheduled trip to the infirmary, you led me to believe that you'd already had sex with someone," Jack stated.

"I didn't actually *say* that I'd..."

"You *inferred* it, Daniel. And then you neglected to put me right on that score. If I'd known..."

"If you'd known, you would never have made love to me last night with such abandon. You would never have nailed me into the mattress like you did, and therefore my first time would not have been so completely mind-blowing."

Jack's face flushed at the memory. By the time he'd realized that Daniel had never done this before, he had already lost the last shreds of control.

He cupped Daniel's face gently in his hands. "I would have preferred to make your first time a little more... gentle."

"I'm not fragile, Jack. Please don't be angry with me, but a while back, I accidentally saw you and Joe make love. At the time, the intensity of it scared me a little. I couldn't imagine letting anyone do that to me."

Jack felt himself grow hard again at the thought that Daniel had seen him and Joe together. It was a kink he hadn't even known he had. He wanted to ask Daniel about the circumstances, but his friend was speaking again. And that could wait.

"Then I began dreaming about it. Same scene, but it was me on my knees in front of you, it was me crying out your name..."

Daniel's eyes became unfocused, as he lost himself in his fantasy. The blue of his eyes darkened, until only black remained, then finally those thick lashed eyes swept shut, his breath escaping in a low moan of desire.

"Daniel," Jack rasped, trying to gulp away the lump in his throat.

"I needed to feel you inside me so badly, Jack, but I knew you would want to take it slow if you thought I'd never... so I let you believe I had more experience than I did."

"I could have hurt you, Daniel. I could have put you off sex for the rest of your life."

Daniel reached for his coffee, and after he had taken a long draft from the mug, he smacked his lips together in appreciation and smiled at his lover.

"You would never hurt me, Jack. And you didn't. You took good care of me, made sure I was protected. Hell, I was so far gone that I never even *thought* about condoms. Or lube."

Which reminded Jack of something else. He shifted on the bed so that he could look into Daniel's eyes.

"Daniel, I broke it off with Joe. I need to be faithful to my lovers. I never saw anyone else the whole time I was with Joe. If you want to see other guys, well I won't stand in your way, but..."

The look of hopeful hesitation in those warm, chocolate brown eyes turned Daniel's insides to mush. His smile lit up the whole room.

"No need. I have everything I want right here. But Jack, are you going to be okay with this? As you said earlier, I'm not a casual sort of guy."

"You mean can I handle the commitment? Daniel, I was scared to let myself love you for fear of having to live through losing you. That's no way to live. You showed me how much you loved me when I was on that Russian sub. Now let me show you how much I love you..."


Much Later

Jack groaned as he felt another finger rubbing that tiny gland buried so deep inside. He gasped at the sensations, canting his hips upwards to allow better access. He felt lips, hot and moist, running the length of his cock, and he cried out his need. He loved this; he craved this so much, that it was almost a physical pain. The need to give himself completely to another person became overwhelming.

The lips stopped teasing and got busy, closing over the head of his cock and suddenly there was suction. Jack writhed in ecstasy, his ass leaving the bed completely in an attempt to bury himself in that talented mouth. He found a rhythm, and digging the soles of his feet deeply into the mattress, he let go completely.

"Oh God... God yes, Daniel, Yessssss!"

 

 

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