Daniel felt a prickle of apprehension crawl up his spine. Hammond was in a fatherly mood. This didn't bode well. He made himself comfortable, trying to look relaxed while fighting with the butterflies in his stomach. This felt a lot like being sent to the headmaster's office.
Hammond cleared his throat. "Let me get straight to the point. I have a problem, and I think you can help me shed some light on it."
"I'll do what I can General,” Daniel volunteered.
"I know. My problem is Jack."
"Jack?" That was not what Daniel had been expecting at all. He’d thought maybe Hammond was going to tell him about budget cuts, that the upcoming off world dig he’d been pushing to be part off might have been sidelined.
Hammond circumnavigated his desk and poured a glass of water. He took a sip, regarding Daniel carefully over the rim of his glass. "His demeanour over the past few months has been getting steadily worse. I'm guessing there is a problem with a member of his team and he isn't prepared to bring it to my attention yet; but I'm afraid it's starting to affect the team performance. I can't have that son."
Cold sweat trickled down Daniel’s neck. This was worse that he’d feared. He really did not want to get into this with Hammond. "So, have you talked to Jack?" he asked, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.
"Not yet. Dr. Jackson, are you aware of the Military laws governing the fraternisation of officers serving together and the associated consequences?"
Daniel licked dry lips. He now had confirmation of where this conversation was going. Hammond had finally worked out that Sam and Jack were an item. He would be forced to discipline them both if the truth were confirmed; so he had obviously been avoiding asking as long as possible. He was now looking to Daniel for information because, as a civilian, Daniel couldn't be held accountable to the military courts.
"I know some of it," he prevaricated.
Hammond leaned closer to Daniel, lowering his voice. "Jack is treading a very thin line, son. I've given him a great deal of latitude but there are some things even I can't overlook. Don't get me wrong here, if the team was functioning as well as it used to, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Frankly, I don't much care what my officer's get up to in their spare time. But if it starts to affect their jobs, then I have to take action."
Daniel chewed on his thumb nail. "What are you going to do?"
"That depends. I have to know if this relationship is the cause of the tension or if it's a lack of relationship that is the problem?"
So, George only suspected that his two officers were lovers; he didn't know for sure. Daniel sighed. Actually he couldn't confirm it either. "I really can't help you there, sir."
The obvious surprise in the general's voice caught Daniel short. He frowned and met the quizzical eyes. "Well no sir. Jack barely talks to me these days. Even if we were still close friends, I doubt that he would confide in me about something like this! If it helps at all, I'm fairly sure that your suspicions are well founded."
"So you're telling me that the problem is a lack of relationship then?"
"On the contrary I'm saying that I think you're right about Jack and Sam."
Hammond’s face was a picture of confusion. "Jack and...? I'm sorry Dr. Jackson I think we should start this conversation again. I was referring to Jack's relationship with you!"
"You and he aren't...?"
"NO!" Daniel shot to his feet, causing the chair he’d been sitting on to topple to the floor. He backed away from Hammond as though he’d just seen the General’s eyes flash gold.
Hammond looked a little relived. "I see. At least that means I don't have to bring him up on charges but I do have to end this before it gets ugly. I can ask Jack to retire, or fly a desk for the next few years. He's been complaining about his knees for a while now..."
"General! No! You can't do that!" Daniel was horrified. “And didn’t we just establish that there is nothing going on between Jack and I? At all? Nothing! Nada. Zilch…”
Hammond placed his water carefully on his desk and smiled kindly at the gaping archaeologist. "Nothing, yet. Son, things can't go on this way. Jack is a damned fine officer and a great field commander, but to be absolutely honest, you're more valuable to this unit than he could ever be. You are unique and totally irreplaceable. Jack has to go."
"I... No... I'll resign. You can't do that to him after all he's been through! General, SG1 is his life. And I'm still a little confused about what you're alluding to. Are you saying Jack is... is... is sexually attracted to me?"
"You didn't know." It was a statement not a question. Daniel blinked until his eyes hurt. No, he absolutely had not known that. It was pretty ridiculous, wasn’t it?
Daniel got up and began pacing the small room. Finally he stopped at the large window that overlooked the gate room and stared down at the flurry of technicians going about their work.
"Jack's gay?" he asked Hammond's reflection in the window.
"Steady son. All I have is a strong hunch. I didn’t get to be a two star General by ignoring such things, and my hunch tells me that Jack is hip deep in denial right now, and pushing you away hard in the process."
Daniel thrust his hands deep into his pockets and turned to face the man that he had come to think of as good friend, as if seeing him for the first time. "General Hammond, I'm sure you're wrong about this. Please, let me do some digging before you make a decision. Maybe you won't lose either of us."
"Very well. You have a week of stand down time before your next mission. You have that long to try and resolve this before I haul him up, understood?"
"Thank you, sir. You won't regret it."
"I hope not son," Hammond smiled cryptically as the young man left his office. “I really hope not."
Jack was alone in the Gear-Up room. He had gone back to his office to check the weather forecast on his PC before heading here, and everyone else had already left. He rubbed weary eyes and reached for the buttons of his jacket.
Okay, so not everyone had gone home. Daniel was the last person he wanted to talk to right now.
"Can I talk to you?"
"Make it quick, I'm heading off-base." Jack continued disrobing; only favouring Daniel with a quick glance.
"Right, well er..."
Daniel looked worried about something. His arms were wrapped tightly around his chest, a sure sign that he was fighting some inner battle. Jack's sympathy alert went off inside his head and he automatically took a mental step backwards. Reaching out to Daniel was not an option these days.
"Tick-tock, Daniel." He tapped the face of his watch and went back to the task of getting undressed. He wanted to know what Hammond had pulled Daniel up for, but he also wanted to get the hell off the mountain and on the road before something else happened to keep him here. It had been way too long since he'd actually managed to get some decent R+R.
"So, where are you headed?"
Jack frowned and hung his field jacket up carefully. Daniel followed suit.
"Fishing. At the cabin."
Jack peeled his black t-shirt over his head and noticed Daniel's eyes fixed onto the dog tags swinging against his chest. "Daniel?"
"Hmmm? Oh I was just thinking how relaxing that sounded. No TV, no phones, nothing but trees and water..."
"Yeah, it's peachy."
Daniel tugged his own t-shirt over his head. He flung it at the laundry basket and missed as usual.
Jack, who was fastidiously tidy to a fault, rolled his eyes and retrieved the fallen garment. He tossed it like a basketball player into the basket.
When he turned back, Daniel was wiggling out of his BDU's. Jack frowned.
This wasn't like Daniel.
He had a bit of a hang up about nudity and usually retreated into his corner of the gear-up room and donned a fluffy blue bathrobe until he was safely obscured behind his shower curtain. Yet here he stood, peeling his fatigues off to reveal navy blue boxers without batting an eyelid.
Jack turned away quickly. Daniel's BDU's flew past his head and impacted with the wall behind the laundry basket. As Jack whirled back round to scold Daniel, the blue boxers hit him square in the face. He breathed in the intimate smell of Daniel and froze!
"Oops! Sorry. I'll get those." Daniel retrieved the shorts and walked to the basket completely naked.
Jack couldn't take his eyes of the perfect ass that sashayed towards the showers. Daniel paused at the door and cast Jack an over-the-shoulder look. "You coming?"
Jack reached for his buckle and turned away thinking, ‘if you carry on wiggling your ass at me Daniel – that's a distinct possibility', but out loud he said, "Be there in a jiffy. Start without me, why don'tcha."
When he heard the water start up he heaved a sigh of relief. He was going to have to get out of here real quick. A week at the cabin would help get things back into perspective. He needed the solitude to think things through. Quickly, he stripped and grabbing a towel, headed for the showers.
Daniel was foregoing his usual cubical in favour of the communal shower area which offered absolutely no privacy whatsoever. He was currently washing his hair and due to the vast amounts of soapy lather running down his face, he was unaware of Jack's open-mouthed regard. Jack tracked the rivulets of lather as they trickled down between well defined shoulder blades and followed the curve of spine down to finally gather at its base. Jack's mouth went dry as the soap caressed those perfect cheeks and down strong, muscular legs.
"Jack? You there?"
Jack shook himself and stepped under the shower nozzle next to Daniel. "I think we have a foothold situation here. You're obviously not the real Dr. Jackson."
Jack hit the button and gasped as the water hit him. It was stone cold, but in his present state of confused arousal, it was probably for the best. He squeezed some shower gel into his hand and soaped himself up. "This lack of inhibition is unlike you. You been goauld'ed without us knowing?"
Daniel finished washing and turned to look at Jack. It was quite disconcerting, as he made no attempt to turn off the water, so Jack stared at the wall of the shower stall rather than at a wet Daniel.
"Well I figured that thirty six was a little old to be shy, and in the last few years I've been working out. The body isn't as skinny as it used to be."
Jack glanced at Daniel's chest and immediately turned back to the wall. "Yeah, we did a great job on that. So, what are your plans for the week?"
Jack hadn't meant to ask that. He was trying to change the subject away from Daniel's more than impressive physique and now he'd let himself open to small talk. He grabbed for the shampoo and poured a generous amount directly onto his scalp and screwed his eyes tight shut.
Daniel didn't answer right away, and then when Jack began to hope that the younger man had left, a quiet voice right next to his ear made him jump. "I'm going fishing with you, if you'll have me."
Jack almost brained himself on the showerhead. He forced his eyes open and glared at Daniel. "What? You hate fishing!"
"Daniel, I managed to get Teal'c up there under duress, I've asked Carter a hundred times, none of you like fishing."
"You never asked me."
"Sure I did."
"I did and you refused." He distinctly remembered asking, in a moment of sheer stupidity. He had been more than a little bit relieved when Daniel had turned him down.
"Oh yes, would that be the time I was laid up in bed with a burst appendix? Great timing, O'Neill."
Jack groped for a towel and stepped out of the spray long enough to wipe his face dry. He wanted to see if Daniel was joking. God knows he'd been a shit to Daniel for long enough now that it was a wonder the younger man could even bring himself to be in the same room as his CO. It was a constant source of wonder to Jack how Daniel could put up with so much crap.
Daniel switched off his own shower and the two men stood facing each other, dripping wet.
Jack was shivering. "Let me get this straight - you want to come up to the cabin and be alone with me for a week? Have you gone nuts? We'll kill each other before the first day is out."
Daniel reached for his blue robe, but instead of shouldering into it, he draped it over Jack's back.
"I need to go somewhere quiet. I have some thinking to do. There isn't time for me to book a vacation and the cabin is big enough for two, and it's available."
"It isn't available. I’m in it."
"Please Jack. I really want to."
Jack had thinking to do too. All of it revolved about Daniel. He needed to be as far as he could get from Daniel while doing it. "Daniel, I need to be alone."
"You don't have to be though."
For a very long moment, they just stared at each other. Daniel looked hopeful, and Jack was sure he just looked confused. It was an odd thing to say. He didn’t pretend to know what it meant, but one thing was for sure, Daniel would not let this drop easily, and Jack didn’t have the strength to fight him anymore.
"Oh fuck, fine! We'll go up in my truck. Go home and get some gear together and I'll swing round and pick you up at six okay?"
In the gear-up room, Jack mechanically got dressed and ignored Daniel completely. Once his shoes were laced up, he tossed the blue robe to Daniel and left without a word. As he walked to the parking lot he wondered what the hell had gotten into the other man. The distance between them had grown so vast that it was almost too easy to be hurtful. Too easy to believe that there was nothing left between them, not even friendship. Yet somehow he'd agreed to take Daniel to his cabin for a whole week! How the hell did that happen?
Daniel watched Jack leave and sat down heavily on the bench. His attempt to gauge Jack's reaction to the prospect of seeing a naked and wet Daniel hadn’t yielded much in the way of results. Jack had merely exhibited surprise at Daniel’s unusual behaviour.
Honestly, what more had he expected? Hammond couldn't have gotten it more wrong. Daniel sighed. Why was he feeling so disappointed? If Jack had reacted with arousal, Daniel would have run a mile. Wouldn't he?
He wasn't used to being so manipulative but it was important for the two men to get away from the base and work this thing out. He couldn't let Hammond retire Jack again. It would be too cruel. This was for Jack's own good.
Belatedly, he wondered if Jack had already invited Sam up to the cabin. That would certainly explain his bad mood! And it also reinforced Daniel's belief that Hammond was barking up the wrong tree.
Well too bad Jack, you'll thank me later, I hope!
Jack pulled into a space outside Daniel's apartment and switched off the engine. He sat for a long time looking at his hands and trying to find the strength just to drive away. It would be for the best. Having Daniel alone for a week meant a week of having to push Daniel away by whatever means necessary. He was a trained bastard. It was getting easier to do as the months went by, but he was still reluctant to hurt Daniel if he could avoid it. He reached for the ignition just as the passenger door was yanked open and a smiling Daniel tossed his overnight bag into the cab.
"Been waiting long?"
Jack sighed and scowled at his one-time friend. "Just got here. Is that all you're bringing?"
"Well, I don't have a fishing rod Jack. Maybe you could lend me one?"
"I don't have time to teach you how to fish."
"Fine, I'll just lie back and watch you fish then."
Daniel secured his seatbelt and made himself comfortable. Jack hesitated with his hand on the keys. "I don't think this is such a great idea Daniel."
"Jack, I have a very good reason for being so insistent. I'll tell you once we're up there okay?"
"Just drive, okay?"
Jack yanked the keys and the tires squealed as he tore out of the parking lot.
It was dark by the time they pulled onto the gravel path beside the cabin. He had barely said two words to Daniel on the drive up and the archaeologist had fallen asleep. His head had lolled onto Jack's shoulder and after a couple of abortive attempts to nudge him upright, Jack had given up and left him alone.
The sudden cessation of movement had Daniel jerking awake and clumsily pushing his glasses back up his nose. "We here already?"
"Home sweet home. Let's move."
Jack emptied the truck and told Daniel to wait on the porch while he located the cabin's generator by using a flashlight he'd left hanging on a hook just inside the door. A moment later, the electric light flickered on and Daniel hefted a few of the bags Jack had left.
The cabin was tiny. Jack loved it. He told any one that would listen that it had belonged to a gold prospector who had drowned one night in the river after getting drunk on the proceeds of three months worth of sifting!
Jack checked out the huge open fire and log pile while Daniel took the rolled up sleeping bags into the back room. Actually it couldn't really be called a room; the massive double bed was separated from the rest of the cabin by a curtain that could be tied back out of the way. Jack had made one or two improvements to the accommodation over the years. He had added the double bed, a cramped fitted kitchen and tacked onto the side, a functioning instant shower and proper lavatory.
Jack had now gotten the fire going and headed for the kitchen to check out the appliances. Daniel ran his finger through the thick coat of dust on the countertop and glanced at his companion. "How long since you were here last?"
"About eight months. Coffee?"
"Oh, yeah. Can I help?"
"There's some stuff in the bags to get put away, toiletries, groceries and cleaning stuff."
They silently set to their own tasks and finally met in the main cabin in front of the now roaring fire. Jack pulled the curtains closed and took the battered armchair facing the door. Daniel took his cup and slumped into the other chair. They drank in silence for a while then Jack put his cup on the hearthstones and leaned forward.
If Daniel was surprised by the sudden question, he hid it well. He carefully leaned forward and placed his own cup beside Jack's, fixing his companion with a steely stare. "I know about you and Sam."
"Beg pardon?" Jack was good at playing dumb.
The only secret involving Sam and he was one he had been sworn to secrecy about. Sam was planning a surprise birthday party for Daniel and Jack had stumbled upon the plan and been read into it. Daniel must have found out somehow, but he wasn’t about to admit to anything until he knew for certain what Daniel knew.
"It's okay, Jack, we all know. Even Hammond, although he actually thinks you're more attracted to me if you believe that!"
Not the birthday party then?
"Excuse me?” Jack rubbed frantically at his eyes as if to clear his vision. He reached for his cup and drained it in one gulp. Then he looked back enquiringly at Daniel, his expression saying; do tell...
"He's thinking of retiring you Jack; or transferring you off the team."
"What the hell for?"
"I guess he thinks your frustration over not ‘getting any' is causing the tension. Please tell me you've noticed that."
"That I'm not getting any?"
"I've noticed tension, sure, but rewind for me Daniel. Hammond thinks I'm attracted to you?"
"What? Oh, yes. He's convinced of it. He said it wouldn't matter except that it was obviously interfering with your ability to command; so he gave me a week to sort things out between us. But, we both know what the real problem is here don't we?"
"I don't know, do we?"
"Jack, I want you to be clear on this. Your relationship with Sam is not causing the rest of the team any problems. We all know how you feel about each other and we won't suffer because of it. You do know that don't you?"
Jack got up from the chair and threw another log onto the fire. He crouched before the flickering red flames for a long moment, staring deep into the fiery depths before answering. "Daniel, I'm not sleeping with Sam."
Daniel slid out of his own chair and knelt on the hearthrug next to Jack. He laid a sympathetic hand on his arm. "But you want to. And so does she, right?"
"Jack, it's okay. You can be honest with me. I'm a civilian so I'm not bound by your rules."
He would be lying if he denied that there was an attraction. Sam was one in a million. He’d been attracted to her from the moment she walked into the briefing room and shot Kowalski and Ferretti down in flames without even breaking a sweat. He knew the attraction went both ways, they’d even talked about it off the record. "Sam wants her career more than she ever wanted me. We discovered that a long time ago."
"Is that the problem then? Unrequited love?"
He was closer to the truth than he could possibly know but Sam was not the object of his desires. Settling for an answer that was at least partially truthful, Jack turned to Daniel with a scorn filled regard and sighed. "Yes. That's the problem Daniel. Well done. You worked it out all on your own. Now do you want me to drive you home, or wait till morning?"
Daniel straightened at the cold edge to Jack's voice. He wrapped his arms tightly around his chest and turned his back on the hollow-eyed glare. "I want to help Jack. We used to help each other."
"Well times change."
There was so much raw pain in that simple word that Jack almost cracked. He almost got up and hauled Daniel into his arms. Instead he got painfully to his feet, rubbing absently at his aching knee. "Because people change. Look, I don't know what the hell you thought you were going to achieve by coming up here with me. Thanks for the tip about Hammond. When we get back, I'll make more of an effort not to let my "frustration" affect my command decisions. In the meantime, I would appreciate the subject getting dropped. Okay?"
Daniel stood and faced Jack, his eyes wide and haunted. "Okay. Sorry I bothered you. Point me to the ladder."
Daniel glanced up at the attic hatch and pointed up. "I assumed the other bedroom was in the loft."
"Only got one bedroom. We have to share. I thought you knew."
"Teal'c didn't tell you about our fishing trip?"
"He said there were no fish in the lake, but nothing else."
"There are so fish!"
"Of course. And tomorrow you'll catch one. Right now I need to sleep so if you have no preferences..."
"I sleep on the right."
"...I'll sleep on the left. Night, Jack."
It was nearly 2 am and Jack was still sitting in his armchair. He wondered if he could go the whole week sleeping there. Anything was better than crawling in beside Daniel! Why the fuck did he agree to this? Daniel may not have been aware of the sleeping arrangements, but Jack sure as hell had been!
Finally, the dull ache in his lower back made the decision for him and he got painfully to his feet. Daniel was sound asleep as he eased back the curtain, letting the soft orange glow of the dying fire illuminate the bedroom. He was also sprawled face down across the whole bed. Jack disrobed and fumbled under a pillow for his pyjama bottoms, but found nothing. Shit! –They were still in his duffel bag. He glanced down at his boxers and decided they would just have to do.
Daniel grunted when Jack tried to nudge him over. He finally rolled onto his back and Jack scooted under the covers, feeling the cool sheets tickle his skin. No sooner was he comfortable than Daniel rolled back and threw one arm and a leg over Jack, pinning him firmly in place. The younger man's head found the hollow of Jack's shoulder and after a spot of snuffling, relaxed back to sleep. Jack shivered as tiny puffs of Daniel's breath caressed his neck. Oh God! This was going to be hard!
Daniel's arm curved across his chest, long sensitive fingers combing through the wiry hairs and grazing a nipple. Jack hissed and captured Daniel's sleep questing hand in his. Daniel snuggled closer and Jack lay absolutely still until the other man stopped moving and his breathing evened out.
So Hammond had worked it out? Somehow Jack had never pegged the General as being that observant; but in retrospect, you didn't get to be a general without seeing and knowing all. And according to Daniel, he could care less. If Jack's geometrically mounting sexual frustration hadn't reached meltdown to the point where it was effecting his command decisions, Hammond would still be quietly overlooking the situation. What a guy!
Jack relaxed a fraction more and took a deep breath, the scent of Daniel's coconut oil shampoo filling his nostrils. He smelled so dammed good! Daniel sighed in his sleep and mumbled something incoherent as his hand slid out from under Jack's and trailed down his abdomen to rest just above the elastic of his boxers. Jack moaned and fought the urge to arch his back into the soft touch.
This was not going to be easy. He’d been in love with Daniel for years. He couldn't remember when it had started, but he knew it was almost from the very beginning. He'd taken one look at that bright animated face as it gazed at the stargate's cover stone and felt the first trickle of ice water melting from around his frozen heart. Something about Dr. Daniel Jackson got right under his defences and reached him like no one else could, not even his own wife.
Jack recalled the day they parted in the gate room on Abydos, when Ra was dead and it was time to go home after the most incredible mission Jack had ever taken part in. He was exhilarated and suddenly full of life and he didn't want to say goodbye. Daniel was staying with his new wife and family and Jack had never felt so alone.
Over the years, he had given his feeling many names; friendship, comradeship, brotherly love. The first time he had realised that he wanted Daniel sexually, he had freaked out, gone on a bender of biblical proportions and nearly ended up at the bottom of this very lake. Then, in the cold light of day he had calmed down and thought rationally about things. Nothing could ever come of his feelings for several reasons.
First - He wasn't gay. He'd never felt like this about any other man. It was just Danny. He only felt this way about one man and it was because of who that man was, not what sex he was. How could you not love Daniel once you had come to know him? He was impossible not to love.
Next - Daniel wasn't gay either. He had been married, ecstatically so, if the kiss on Abydos was any gauge of his relationship with Sha'uri. He had never, to Jack's sure knowledge, had a homosexual relationship in his life – that information would be on his personnel file which Jack had read from cover to cover several times.
Then - Jack was in the Air Force. Gay relationships were not allowed and relationships with people on your team were definitely not allowed. Worst-case scenario had him imprisoned or Court Martialled and Dishonourably Discharged, or possibly just asked very quietly to retire again. He wasn't prepared for any of those possibilities.
And finally - Daniel was not over the death of his wife. He had made a couple of half hearted attempts to start relationships with women that had ended painfully and now he seemed content to bury himself in his research to the point where he often forgot to eat. If, by some fluke, he was finally ready to move on, it would not be with one crinkled around the corners and aging ungracefully Air Force Colonel!
Daniel moaned again and the hand that had been resting peacefully on Jack's belly slid down to caress his hip gently for a moment before settling over his groin. Jack couldn't help it; he writhed against the touch, a small gasp escaping his lips despite his best efforts. Daniel now had a handful of very aroused Colonel, but fortunately was still too much asleep to be aware of that fact. Jack took a moment to get his breathing under control again before reaching for Daniel's wayward hand and removing it from its perch.
He slid quietly out of the bed and padded to the bathroom door. There was no lock on the door; he had never imagined having company up here in his wilderness retreat, so had never bothered installing one. He regretted it now as he leaned his hot forehead against the freezing cold tiles and shivered. He reached down and took hold of himself tightly, realising that he would never get to sleep until he got rid of the painful erection.
The quicker, the better! The heat from the living room did not extend into the cobbled on bathroom. As he moved his hand quickly, he shivered with cold and cursed himself for his stupidity yet again. He could see that this would be a nightly occurrence for the rest of the week!
"Jack? Are you finished yet?"
Jack staggered backwards and almost ended up in a pile on the floor at the sound of Daniel's sleep muffled voice right outside the door. He pumped harder in the hope that he could get it over with before he was forced to answer, but it wasn't to be.
"Jack, I need to pee!"
"Keep your pants on! I'm going as fast as I can."
Jack braced himself with one hand against the door and pumped furiously, hoping that Daniel would not notice that the only ‘smell' in here was coming from the alpine pot pouri!
"Jack......gonna wet myself"
Jack felt his knees buckle as the orgasm tore through him and he went down hard tugging at the flush handle as he went to cover the noises escaping his parted lips. A moment later he threw open the door and strode out past a sleepy Daniel.
Jack was quiet at breakfast. Daniel had expected no less. Jack had made his feelings on the subject of him and Sam quite clear last night and he was obviously in no mood to repeat himself. So, Daniel tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. He lingered at the table, letting Jack clear away the dishes, then snagged his book from the pile by the hearth, then headed down to the pier. Half an hour later, Jack deposited his fishing tackle beside Daniel and disappeared back into the cabin without a word being spoken.
Daniel sighed. Last night had not gone at all as he had expected. He had been sure that he could get Jack to open up to him. Tell him the truth. Get it out in the open. But, as was becoming S.O.P in their relationship these days, Jack had been cold and downright rude.
Daniel had stayed awake as long as he could hoping that once his friend was in bed he might finally want to talk. But of course he had fallen asleep before Jack had deigned to grace the big double bed with his presence. Considering that Daniel had woken up alone, it was doubtful that Jack had even slept there at all.
In one way he was glad about that. This morning he had woken from a very erotic dream, which had faded from his memory as soon as he opened his eyes, but the tenting of the covers would have been very embarrassing had he not been alone.
If he had brought his own car up here, Daniel would have happily driven himself home today. It was hardly fair to ask Jack to waste most of his time off on the road, so he decided to act as relaxed as possible and let Jack ignore him all he wanted.
Daniel flipped open the bait bucket lid and shuddered. It was warming up to be a glorious day and the smell from the bucket made Daniel want to gag. He hastily replaced it and moved as far away as possible. Jack reappeared a moment later carrying two steaming mugs of coffee. Daniel accepted his mug, an eyebrow rising nearly off the top of his head in surprise. He sipped the scalding liquid as he surreptitiously watched his friend make his preparations, which included, it would seem, the need to remove his shirt leaving him clad in sneakers and shorts. Daniel glanced down at his own baggy T-shirt and jeans, suddenly feeling a tad overdressed.
He watched Jack as he sipped the unexpected coffee. Jack enjoyed fishing; there was no doubt about that. Daniel had often wondered if his friend only used it as an excuse to sit back and do absolutely nothing. Fit and active men often found it impossible to relax so the sport of fishing offered a means to do that while, hopefully, accomplishing something as well.
Daniel pretended to read his book but he couldn't take his eyes of Jack. Having checked out his tackle and selected his bait, Jack cast the line in one fluid arcing movement. The motion of Jack's body riveted Daniel as he flicked out the line. He had never considered fishing a sexy sport before!
Once the line had gone where Jack seemed happy with it, the Colonel kicked off his battered old sneakers and sat with his legs dangling off the pier. Daniel reached for his bookmark and drained the rest of his coffee.
"Bored already?" Jack’s voice halted his attempt to stand up gracefully and he flopped back down beside his friend. Jack was still not looking at him.
"I didn't want to disturb you."
Daniel could swear he heard a gentle teasing tone in the words and relaxed back down onto the wooden slats again. He removed his own footwear and let his legs slide over the edge of the pier. They sat like that for two hours, neither one of them talking but enjoying each other's steady presence none the less. Finally Jack stretched out his legs and turned to face Daniel with an ‘almost' smile.
"I need to pee."
"Thanks for sharing, Jack."
Daniel was startled when Jack handed him the fishing rod, accepting it gingerly as though it were a hand grenade ready to go off. Jack's smile grew wider as he noted his friend's discomfort.
"If you get a bite, holler okay?"
"Bite...? Oh! Jack...?"
"Be right back."
Daniel twisted round to watch Jack pad back into the cabin, cut offs hanging low on his hips, then hastily returned his attention to the lake. He stared at the fishing line trailing languidly in the incredibly still water and sighed. He shouldn't worry about messing this up. After all, there were no fish in the lake. Or so he had been reliably informed.
Experimentally he twitched the line. Nothing happened. No surprise there. Feeling the sun pelting down on his back, Daniel tried to get his t-shirt off over his head whilst maintaining a grip on the rod. By the time Jack re-emerged, Daniel was a tangled mass of cotton material, nylon line and cursing linguist.
"What the hell are you trying to do?" Jack laughed. It took several moments, but he finally managed to extricate his line without cutting off any blood supply and Daniel flung his Tee to the deck in disgust. Without thanking his friend for his help, Daniel stalked off into the cabin and began rooting around in his baggage. He found the swimming trunks and pulled them on, snagging a large towel from the bathroom.
"Jack, how far do I have to walk before I won't scare your fish?"
Jack turned and nearly dropped his rod. "Um… Nothing biting today. You can swim here."
He turned and quickly began reeling in the forlorn line. Daniel hesitated, chewing on his bottom lip. He was a little uncomfortable with his lack of clothing, inhibited was probably a better word to use. He wasn't sure he could relax if Jack sat there watching him swim and wondered if he dared suggest the older man join him.
As Jack began carefully dismantling his gear, the sun beat down on Daniel mercilessly and he made his decision. A draft lifted the bait bucket lid beside Jack as his friend thundered past him and he raised his eyes just in time to see Daniel curling into a ball in mid air and hitting the water with enough force to deposit most of the lake on Jack's head.
When Daniel broke the surface it was to be greeted with a grinning and playful Jack O'Neill in the process of unbuttoning his shorts. Daniel gulped and kicked off into the center of the lake. He hoped that Jack wasn't planning on swimming nude. The hope died in his chest when he heard the splash a few seconds later. No way had he had time to go fetch swimwear.
"You're a good swimmer Jack," he offered by way of a collision alert as Jack slid through the water towards him. The sound of Daniel's voice so close by had Jack dipping beneath the surface. Daniel waited for the silver head to pop back up again but the water rippled for a moment and went still. He frowned in concern then yelped as Jack surged upward right behind him using his shoulders for purchase. This forced him under the water and back up choking and spluttering like a drowned rat!
Jack laughed and splashed more water at him while Daniel fought to regain his poise.
"Bastard." He sniggered, when his breathing returned to normal after his fright.
Jack swam around him in a graceful arc and Daniel marvelled again at how well his friend swam. Like a dolphin or.....an old joke came unbidden to mind. Like a squirrel, swimming on its back to keep its nuts dry! Oh man where did that come from?
Of course once he'd embarked on that line of thinking, nothing much could stop him from admiring Jack's crotch as he floated weightlessly by on the lake's surface. Daniel shook his head and rolled onto his back too. Perhaps a few minutes gazing at the clear blue and cloudless sky would get his mind off Jack's impressive credentials. He took a moment to consider exactly why his mind had been on them in the first place.
He'd never really thought about Jack as a sexual being before. Granted, the man exuded the alpha vibe from every pore, but he wasn't big on bragging about sexual conquests. In fact Daniel couldn't remember him mentioning any dates or even one night stands in conversation. Most of his nights off duty had been spent in Daniel's company eating pizza and watching TV or occasionally going to a bar when there was nothing worth watching. Jack barely looked twice at the women that seemed to flock around the two men when they did go out.
He assumed this meant, that like himself, Jack wasn't into casual. His job afforded him very few opportunities to find a permanent partner, which was why he had no trouble pairing his friend up with Sam. They were both military, both on the same project, on the same team. Ah! Which was exactly why they couldn't be together wasn't it? He had told Hammond he knew something of the rules but he hadn't really thought about what they would mean to people like Jack and Sam.
Jack had demonstrated that he had no qualms bending regs in the past, but Daniel doubted he would allow Sam to risk her career even if she wanted to. He was growing more convinced by the minute that Jack's problem here was that he was in love and not able to act on it. He wanted to scream at his friend ‘for god's sake Jack, love doesn't come around every day. Grab it with both hands. Nothing is worth more than feeling connected to one person right down to their very soul!' But it wasn't his life, and it wasn't his career being risked here. If it were...well let's just say he wouldn't have to think twice. Love was a rare commodity after all.
When he had first come to see that his two friends were attracted to one another, he had felt strangely excluded. He knew it was selfish to want their dynamic to continue the same way forever, but he also wanted these two people to be happy. Jack had seen more than enough grief in his life. Sam wanted children. Jack would be a great father. He had been a great father.
If seeing his friends together and happy meant that Daniel had to be content on the sidelines again, then so be it. He was prepared for the loneliness. But Jack still wasn't going to even admit to the attraction. It annoyed Daniel that Jack didn't even trust him enough to do that, but what could he do? Eventually Jack would retire of his own free will and then perhaps he would finally feel free to pursue his heart’s desire.
All this still didn't explain why Daniel had been staring at his best friend's crotch a moment before. He wondered if it had anything to do with Hammond's mistaken belief that Jack was interested in him. He snorted a little at that thought. How the hell could the General be so far off base? Daniel had never thought of Jack as anything other than straight, but obviously once the idea was in his head, he had been forced to take his mind somewhere it had never had the faintest notion of going before. Suddenly, Daniel couldn't stop thinking about it!
Jack pulled his knees up and tread water for a while, watching his friend floating languidly on the surface not six feet away. He was thinking about what Hammond had said. Obviously the General was going to expect some improvement when the two men returned to duty, which wasn't going to happen. Jack would still be frustrated and irritable, more so now that his week away from Daniel had been transformed into a week with nothing but Daniel!
It was becoming obvious to the Colonel that something drastic was going to have to happen. As he saw it there were three choices:
- Get through this week and carry on as if nothing had changed, then wait for Hammond to call him in for the ‘sorry to have to do this to you, Jack...' speech. There was little doubt that it would come to that eventually.
- Get through this week, then go out and get himself laid at the first possible opportunity to take the edge off. That would give him about a week before Hammond would start looking for him again.
- Tell Daniel how he felt and then resign of his own free will.
In all of the above, Jack was out of the Project one way or another. He just couldn't continue to work anywhere near Daniel without being dangerously distracted by him. It would be different if they were lovers. This overpowering and unresolved sexual tension between them would dissipate to a level where Jack could actually function. But that wasn't going to happen. He watched Daniel float by and smiled knowingly. Daniel was as straight as they came!
Jack made pancakes for lunch. Daniel had laid a picnic blanket on the slats and was stretched out sunbathing when Jack emerged from the cabin balancing the two plates precariously.
He still wore his brief swimming shorts, which were now completely dry, and he had one arm thrown over his face to block out the sun. Daniel rose on his elbows as Jack approached, pleased to see that Jack had donned denim cut offs. When Jack had headed off to cook their lunch, he had still been naked and Daniel had been treated to the spectacle of watching Jack's naked ass disappearing into the cabin. It was a vision he was having great difficulty getting rid of. This was a hell of a time to start having lustful thoughts about your friend, when you are effectively trapped with him in a cabin in the woods for a week. Damn!
They ate in silence, and then Jack lay back on the pier and reaching into his pocket, pulled out a tube of something. He tossed it to Daniel who caught it in one hand. The younger man squinted at the tube then glanced back at Jack. "Sun block?"
"You're starting to turn pink, Daniel."
Daniel unscrewed the cap and squirted out a handful. As he applied it liberally to his arms and shoulders, he surreptitiously watched Jack relaxing. It was difficult to make out Jacks expression behind the smoky black sunglasses but Daniel was sure he was being covertly watched. He wondered fleetingly if Jack was feeling the same confused interest as he was. Damn General Hammond for putting these thoughts into their minds anyway!
After a moment Jack carefully took off his glasses and got up. Daniel watched warily as the older man made himself comfortable on the rug. He reached out a hand for the tube.
"Roll over and I'll do your back."
Daniel gulped. Well, this would be one way of finding out if he were actually attracted to Jack. Obediently he flopped onto his front and buried his flaming face in his arms. A moment later and he had his answer. Jack's hands slid over his flesh slowly, and so softly. Daniel felt some definite interest stir down below and shifted his legs to accommodate the new growth.
"Want me to do the front?" Jack rasped out huskily.
Daniel didn't trust himself to answer; just let his head loll from side to side. Jack reached for a discarded towel, wiped his hands and lay face down next to his friend.
Daniel noted Jack's erratic breathing and shaking hands and his eyes widened. Perhaps the impromptu massage had been having the same effect on Jack as it had on him? He scooped the tube up and enthusiastically squeezed some onto his hands. "Your turn."
The moment those wonderful long fingers splayed across his shoulders, Jack felt his cock harden even more and gasped at the friction caused by its movements against the rough denim. It was painful and pleasurable at the same time. Daniel worked the lotion deep into Jack's muscles, and before long the older man was panting with desire that he could no longer keep hidden. He risked a quick peek at Daniel and found his friend smiling teasingly at him.
"I guess George was right!" Daniel grinned.
Jack rolled onto his side, no longer caring that the move exposed what he had been trying to hide. Daniel's eyes made contact with the target and grew large and round. He didn't seem to be as upset or freaked as Jack had imagined he would if he ever found out. He looked... he looked hungry?
Jack's own eyes tracked down over the broad well-muscled chest, the flat stomach to see more evidence of Daniel's state of mind. The swimming shorts didn't hide much. Jack sat up and faced his friend warily. "Daniel?"
It was a strange conversation, but it made perfect sense to the two men who after so many years of working together and spending their spare time together had finally managed to get onto the same page in their relationship. Jack reached out to capture the back of Daniel's head and pulled him in closer until their lips finally met.
Jack wasn't sure but he thought he heard Daniel mutter as they both rolled into the lake, "Finally..."
Daniel stood at what passed for ‘parade rest' in front of the oak desk, enduring the paternal regard of his Commanding Officer stoically.
"Yes sir, I was able to resolve the um, the problem and I can assure you that there will be no need to discipline Jack in any way."
Hammond nodded wisely and looked Daniel up and down. He looked tired, but unquestionably happy and more than a little smug. The collar of his green fatigues only partially hid a rash of hickies blooming on his neck. The smile Hammond gave him was both relieved and knowing.
"Excellent work, son. Dismissed."
As the door closed behind him, General Hammond rose and opened the office's other door, which led directly into the briefing room. He smiled at the two people sitting patiently at the huge table.
Teal'c got to his feet, his eyebrow rising in silent query. Major Carter's eyes were round and filled with hope. Hammond beamed at them both.
"Your plan succeeded people! Mission accomplished!"