Obviously he had his reasons; Daniel was well aware that the risk of court-martial always loomed over their shoulders, but he could be as discreet as the next man. As far as he was concerned, this relationship was long term. He had no intention of 'kissing and telling!' He thought he had made that abundantly clear, yet still he was no nearer to achieving his goal.
Tonight, he had decided, was most definitely going to be 'the' night. He had chosen his attire with as great care as he had chosen the menu - a loose fitting pale denim shirt with pop studs rather than buttons, and tan chino's with a thick leather belt. His feet were stuffed into leather loafers that could be kicked of easily and he had forgone both underwear and socks. Oh yeah, he was more than ready. A quick glance at his watch told him that he had half an hour before the door bell was likely to ring, so he poured himself a stiff scotch for Dutch courage and downed it in one, coughing as the scalding alcohol seared his throat. He considered having another, but shook his head and walked back into the kitchen. He needed to stay sober for this night to work the way he had planned.
When the doorbell rang a couple of minutes later, Daniel nearly jumped out of his skin. It was too early! He wiped nervous palms down the sides of his pants and hurried to the door, taking a few cleansing breaths as he went. Then he threw open the door and gasped. Jack O'Neill stood framed in the doorway, resplendent in his full Class A dress uniform, complete with 'the hat'. Daniel felt slightly dizzy as he gawped at his friend. Jack grinned and shouldered past the shocked man.
"Mind if I use your bathroom Danny?" he asked over his shoulder as he headed down the hall. Daniel remained rooted to the spot. He stuck his head out into the corridor and did a quick scan up and down before letting the door close. This could NOT be happening!
Daniel ran a shaky hand though his hair as he walked into the living room. He looked around at the fireplace, the low lighting and in the background, Meatloaf belting out "I would do anything for love" and felt the panic grow. There could be no doubt in anyone's mind that this was a seduction scene. As he stood there wondering what the hell to do, Jack emerged from the bathroom, swaying a little and threw his hat down on the couch. Then Daniel remembered about the guest lecture at the University, and Jack's sudden appearance ceased to be a mystery.
Jack had been invited to give a recruitment lecture and attend a party afterwards. He had obviously dressed to impress, hoping to attract some prime candidates into the service of their country and by the look of him, had drank a little more of the punch than he should have. As the university was just round the corner from Daniel's apartment, it made sense that Jack would leave his truck and come here instead. He couldn't have known that Daniel had a date. He seemed to be getting the picture now though. Looking around the room, he staggered over to the set dining table and whistled.
"Woops... guess I should have called?"
Daniel took another furtive glance at his watch and gulped. He had to get Jack out of here NOW. Lifting the telephone, he began dialing. "I'll call you a cab."
The first three numbers he tried were engaged, which was hardly a surprise at this time on a Friday night. He eventually put the phone down and headed to the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face. He stood in front of the mirror looking at his pale and frightened face hoping that Jack would just take the fucking hint and leave - soon!
Jack could see that this was not a good night to be visiting his best buddy. He should have known better than to drink the punch at a University dance, it was always spiked, but he had been enjoying himself so much that he'd had three or four cups of the damned stuff before he realized. Driving home was not an option, so he had come here hoping to crash on Daniel's couch. Why hadn't the little bastard told him he had a date? And who the hell could it be? More importantly, when had he found time to meet someone? It had to be one of Fraiser's army of nurses; they were the only females Daniel had spent any quality time with recently. Jack sighed and got shakily to his feet.
It was more than a little obvious that Daniel wanted Jack out of the apartment before his date arrived, so plonking his hat firmly on his head, he made unsteadily for the front door. He could probably flag down a cab if he walked back towards the Uni. The telephone rang as he passed by it, and he was about to lift the receiver when the answer phone clicked on. Jack listened with half an ear to the message then stopped dead when he heard a male voice that he vaguely recognized.
"Hey Danny it's me, Robbie, I should have called earlier. I'm so sorry. Got called back to the base to cover for Lt. Peterson so I won't be able to make it tonight after all. I hope you didn't go to too much trouble. Promise to make it up to you Babe. Forgive me?"
Jack stared at the phone in absolute shock then turned slowly and stared at his friend, who had come out of the bathroom just in time to catch the end of the message. Daniel was white as a sheet. Jack took an uncertain step towards him.
"Daniel, tell me that wasn't lieutenant Robert Preston I heard canceling a date with you?"
Daniel hung his head and stared at his toes, his face finally getting some well-needed color.
"You were never meant to know." he mumbled. Jack leaned a hip against the wall and crossed his arms over his chest.
Daniel fled into the kitchen, covering his tumultuous emotional state by removing food from the oven. Jack watched him work for a while then when the silence became deafening, he sighed and headed for the front door. He couldn't deal with this just now. He was drunk and he was in shock and he needed to get the hell out of here before he said something he would regret later. Daniel's desperate voice halted him.
"Jack, wait!" He stepped into the hall and, pushing shaking hands though his unruly hair, said, "We should talk about this."
Jack leaned his pounding head against the door and groaned loudly. "Jesus Danny I'm not supposed to discuss this stuff and you sure as hell aren't supposed to be telling me about it!"
Daniel took a hesitant step forward. "Civilian, remember?"
Jack was in his face in an instant, lips drawn back, teeth flashing angrily.
"HE is military Daniel! Do you have any idea how much trouble he's in right now?"
Daniel went even whiter than before, though five minutes ago Jack would have sworn that was impossible. He reached up and took a hold of Jack's lapels, using them to keep himself upright.
"Oh God Jack, you wouldn't?"
"What? Report him? Aw fuck Daniel - I thought you knew me better than that?"
Jack hung his head and stared at the trembling fingers clutching at his jacket. "Then again, I used to think I knew you too. But I was wrong about that huh?" He gently extracted himself from Daniel's grasp and reached for the door handle again. It had been a hell of a night. Right now all he wanted was to be home drinking a large whiskey and getting well on the road to forgetfulness. But Daniel had other ideas.
"Stay Jack. I have all this food... and you wont be able to get a cab on a Friday night anyway. I really want to talk to you about this. Please Jack?"
The 'colonel' resisted the softly spoken plea, but the 'man' capitulated. Turning back to his friend, Jack nodded.
"Steak?" he asked.
"And roast potatoes."
"Strawberries and whipped cream."
Jack winced as his mind helpfully supplied an image of Daniel and Robert Preston eating that particular dessert. Daniel didn't seem to notice. He held out a hand for Jack's jacket and cap. Jack waited patiently for Daniel to hang it up, and then followed him into the kitchen to inspect the assorted pots and pans.
On the outside, he presented the façade of a man who had moved past his shock and was now happy to talk it all over and reach an understanding. On the inside, Jack was a man who had just had the biggest shock of his life and was completely at a loss as to what to do about it.
He wasn't homophobic, he had gay friends, but this was Daniel for Christ's sake! This was his friend of four years, the man who had been at his side through some terrible things. A man he trusted with his life. A man who's life he cared about.
This was insane! Daniel had been married. Jack was positive that his friend had loved Sha're, so why was he fucking men now? True, his luck with women since his wife's death was pitiful to behold, but Jack could make the same claim. That didn't mean he would be jumping into the sack with the first sweaty airman that asked! Getting a handle on his anger, Jack took the beer Daniel offered and went to sit at the table.
Daniel felt as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He had wondered how Jack would take this news, and to be honest, it had gone far better than he could have hoped for. When he saw the look of disbelief on Jack's face after Robbie called, he thought his friend might actually hit him for a moment. He had never meant Jack to find out about this, not until he was absolutely sure, not until he knew for certain that this was what he wanted.
He valued their friendship more than Jack would ever know and he wasn't ready to risk losing that friendship over something he wasn't even sure about. Robbie wasn't helping matters either. Daniel knew Robbie was gay, but that he was always careful not to start relationships with people he worked with. Although the reasons made sense, it didn't stop Daniel falling for the guy. Hard.
He was very good looking, and when they kissed, Daniel's insides turned to jelly. He had no idea what making love to him would be like, but really wanted to find out. He had always been honest with Robbie about his lack of experience, and perhaps that had put the other man off a little but he still wanted Daniel. Just how much, Daniel was unsure of. Enough to risk his career? He honestly didn't know the answer to that.
As he ate, Daniel watched Jack from beneath lowered eyelashes. Yes it had gone far better than he could possibly have wished for. Jack had always been there for him, no matter what. He shouldn't have been such a coward. He should have told his friend about this sooner. Jack had gotten over the shock remarkable quickly. That's what Daniel admired about him the most, his adaptability to new situations. Thank god he understood and still wanted to be Daniel's friend. Jack had been Daniel's anchor through so much shit that the younger man had come to rely on his steady presence. He simply didn't know what he would do without him now.
Jack felt like someone kicked him in the gut. How could he not have known this? Four fucking years living in each other's pockets and he had failed to notice that Daniel was gay? Daniel. Gay. He was lying on the couch, wondering how he had missed the clues, and there must have been clues. Fuck! He had railroaded the guy into spending nearly all his free time with Jack, how did he find time to... to... Jesus he'd been fucking guys! Jack was having a very hard time with that.
He was so confused, trying to tell himself that it really didn't matter; that Daniel was still Daniel; that they were friends and always would be. But he also felt betrayed and angry and damn it, that DID matter!
He knew he wasn't being fair here, but Daniel had lied to him. Lying by omission was still lying wasn't it? Jack had thought they could talk about anything. He thought that Daniel trusted him with his life. How could that be, if he couldn't even trust him with this? And the risk Daniel was taking with Preston was just stupid. You should never get involved with people you work with. Jack knew it could be hard. Look at what happened with Carter and him? In fairness, if she hadn't told him outright that the risk wasn't worth it to her, he might well have blown his whole career for her. So hell yes, he knew it wasn't easy. Preston could be court-martialled for this.
Maybe he thought Daniel was worth the risk?
Jack wouldn't know. Daniel was his friend, and he loved him dearly, but just couldn't see him THAT way. Daniel was an amazing person, a genius with a certain charm that made him irresistible to the ladies. Jack had become used to having him around and was willing to pretend to be totally okay about this in order to keep him around. But what he didn't know was if that would be enough.
Their friendship had been served a crippling blow here, even if Daniel was blissfully unaware of it. The problem wasn't Daniel's... it was Jack's, and somehow he had to get past it. He had to forgive Daniel for not trusting him enough. And, he supposed, work on earning the trust he should already have had. Daniel was worth that much at any rate. Jack didn't know what he would do without him now.
Jack flicked the switch on the percolator when he heard the shower go on. One thing about Daniel that would never change was his need for caffeine before he could hold a rational conversation. Jack admitted that after last night's fruitless attempts to find resolution, caffeine was definitely prerequisite for him too. The aroma of percolating coffee began to fill the small kitchen, and Jack managed a small grin. He could cope with never drinking coffee again, so long as he could still get to sniff the pot every now and again. The phone rang then and Jack automatically lifted the receiver. He opened his mouth to speak when the now very familiar voice began talking.
"Did ya miss me? Sorry about last night, I know you were looking forward to it as much as I was. But I promise when I get you home tonight that I'll make up for it..."
Jack nearly dropped the receiver when Robbie began describing in graphic detail what he intended to do to Daniel that evening. He waited until the other man took a breath and interrupted him.
"I don't believe that's physically possible lieutenant Preston. And even if it were, you are the LAST person I would attempt it with."
There was a moment of stunned silence then the line went dead. Jack was sure that the lieutenant had recognized his voice, and a sly grin spread across his face. The guy didn't even have the balls to try and cover up his own indiscretions. Daniel's taste obviously didn't improve across the gender divide either!
He went back to check on the coffee and was pouring two mugs out when Daniel emerged from the bathroom rubbing his hair with a towel. Another towel was draped around his waist and Jack found himself staring at the naked chest. Nope - still didn't see anything remarkable there. Over the years, Daniel's physical fitness had improved a great deal and there was definitely more muscles there, but it didn't make Jack want to jump him.
He could appreciate that Daniel was good looking. And he had lost that gauche guileless demeanor that had been so part of his bumbling nature in the beginning. Actually, Daniel had changed a hell of a lot now that he came to look at him. He had kept the hair short, and it suited him, accenting the high cheekbones and arching eyebrows. He had discarded the thick-rimmed 'geek' glasses in favor of designer frames that somehow made his eyes even bluer. He no longer looked at the ground when he walked, and his sessions in the gym had not only given him a great set of muscles, they had improved his grace and poise too. All of these things Jack had never even noticed until now. Clearing his throat, he grabbed a mug of coffee and waved it at Daniel. The other man smiled and took it gratefully, letting the towel in his hand drape around his neck.
"Ah Jack you know me too well." He sighed.
Jack's eyes narrowed, wondering if that was a joke. As Daniel turned and walked towards his bedroom, Jack watched his towel clad ass swinging back and forth and bit his lip hard. For a split second there, he had willed that towel to slip! He already knew what Daniel's naked ass looked like, he'd seen it often enough in the base showers. Although now that he tried to recall the image, he realized that he couldn't. He had never 'really' looked that closely.
Daniel had stopped walking and was looking over his shoulder at Jack with a confused expression on his face.
"Jack, are you staring at my ass?"
Jack blinked several times and dragged his eyes from the object of discussion to meet his friend's amused gaze. "I was just wondering what all the fuss was about?" Jack managed to grin and Daniel felt another weight being lifted off his shoulders. Not only was Jack okay with this, he was able to joke about it too.
"See anything you like?" Daniel grinned, waggling his eyebrows mischievously. Jack shrugged, took a slug of his coffee, nearly burning his tongue off in the process.
"Sorry Danny, I like mine a little curvier."
Daniel's grin grew even wider as he continued towards the bedroom. It felt so great to be able to joke with Jack about this. The guy was just the most wonderful friend in the world and Daniel felt his feelings soar to a whole new level. Jack was incredible. Just before he reached the bedroom door, he let the towel slip to the floor and was rewarded by the sound of Jack choking on his coffee.
Jack managed the drive home without thinking once about Daniel and Robbie. He parked the truck and reviewed his options for the day. It was Saturday morning and he had a long overdue date with the lawn mower. Carefully lifting his Dress uniform from the back seat, he headed into the house to get changed. The sweatpants and t-shirt Daniel had loaned him this morning were a little tight and constricting, he preferred baggy clothes for heavy work.
An hour later, Jack was raking up clippings and whistling tunelessly to himself. It was turning out to be a glorious October day. In recent weeks, the temperature had dropped significantly as the shorter days of autumn approached. This made yard work far more comfortable, and although the exertion made him sweat, Jack didn't feel like collapsing in a heap just yet.
As a rule, he never stripped off his shirt when gardening like some of his neighbors did. The first time he had done so, he had attracted quite an audience. His neighbor's wife and her cronies had spent most of the afternoon ogling him over the fence so now he kept the shirt in place no matter how hot he got. Today, however her car was missing from the driveway so he felt a little braver. Tossing the shirt towards the deck, he set about his task again, reveling at the cool air on his flushed skin.
By lunch time Jack had finished mowing and weeding the entire garden, and decided to take a quick shower before fixing something to eat. He stripped out of his grimy work clothes in the bathroom and stepped under the showerhead, sighing blissfully as the hot water massaged his aching shoulders.
He reached for the shampoo, squeezed out a handful and began working up lather. As he kneaded his scalp, he thought about Daniel again. He was still angry that Daniel hadn't told him about his sexual preferences, but now added to that, he had begun to worry on his friend's behalf. He hadn't been kidding when he told Daniel that his boyfriend could be in a lot of trouble.
Of course Jack would never report the relationship, and not just because of his friendship with Daniel. Jack really believed that the military had no right to dictate to a soldier who he could or could not fall in love with. However he also knew that the rules about fraternization within a unit were there for a good reason. Objectivity was very hard to maintain when you had to give or take orders from a person you cared about.
Daniel and Robbie weren't on the same team, but there was always a possibility that they would have to work together at some point. And now that Jack was aware of the relationship, he wondered if he could maintain his own objectivity regarding the lieutenant. In the heat of the battle, could he command Daniel's lover into a potentially lethal situation?
Jack rinsed the shampoo from his hair and fumbled about for a cloth to wipe his eyes. He already knew the answer to that question, and it gave him little comfort. Despite all his bravado and insubordination, Jack O'Neill knew exactly where his duty lay. No one was better than he at making those hard decisions. He would order Preston into the jaws of hell if the situation warranted it and think about the consequences later. That was the way it had to be. If he started making decisions based on his heart rather than his head, a lot of people could get killed. He sighed and squeezed out some shower gel. No he wouldn't treat the lieutenant any differently just because he was fucking Daniel.
That thought brought him up short and he cursed under his breath. So much for not thinking about that aspect of his friend's life ever again. Without warning, the softly spoken telephone conversation he had inadvertently listened to, reminded him about the location Robbie had chosen for his evening's entertainment. He really did not need to be thinking about what one guy wanted to do to another guy in a shower right now!
Jack quickly rubbed his hands together and began the task of soaping himself up. He tried singing his favorite 'shower song' at full volume to take his mind off the visual image that was now playing in glorious Technicolor across his mind but the feel of his own hands sliding over his hyper sensitized flesh was making things even harder. Literally! Jack stopped singing and stood motionless under the cascade. Robbie's voice began to add his commentary to the visuals burning behind his closed eyes.
//"I'm going to stand behind you and rub soap all over every inch of your body... //
Jack gasped as an image of Daniel swam before his eyes, head whipping back, the water hitting his face and throat as he cried out, and before he even knew what he was doing, his own cock was in his hand. He placed the other hand on the tiles and bent his head forward. His cock was hard and aching, and he had no idea why.
Granted, it had been a very long time since the idea of sex had been appealing to him. In fact he had begun to wonder if his fading libido was a result of his age. Or perhaps since the thing with Carter, he just hadn't been interested in anyone enough to care? Either way, this was the first time in months he had even thought about sex. He gave his cock an experimental tug and felt the familiar rush of warmth in his thighs. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, he braced his hand on the cool tiles and began to slowly caress himself.
Robbie's words repeatedly echoed in his mind as the sensations grew more intense, //"I'm going to push you up against the tiles and take your cock in my hand and pump you till you're begging me for mercy..."// Jack let his face rest on the tiles and began moaning as his orgasm built deep inside.
It felt wonderful to be doing this, so he refused to question the motivation, he just pumped faster and listened to the gravely voice in his head, //"And when you can't take it any longer, I'm going to fuck you so hard that you'll scream my name as you come..."//
Jack gasped, feeling the words slam though him as he spasmed into his fist,
Jack slid down the shower wall and shuddered through the aftershocks. He felt like throwing up. He had just jerked off while fantasizing about Daniel being fucked by Robbie! How sick was that? He felt like a voyeur, a pervert! Oh God this could not be happening! In his misery, he managed to completely overlook the fact that it was Daniel's name he had shouted as he came.
Daniel only found out about the telephone call when, after Jack had left, he contacted Robbie to find out if he had any plans for the day. Of course Robbie was completely freaked about Colonel O'Neill knowing the truth. It took Daniel almost an hour to get him to calm down. They agreed to meet at a local gallery that had just opened. Robbie wasted no time on the pleasantries when Daniel arrived in the foyer. "What the hell was the Colonel doing in your apartment at eight a.m. anyway?"
Daniel sighed and grabbing Robbie by the arm, he propelled him inside the Gallery. "I already told you Rob, we're good friends. He often crashes at my place and visa versa. Will you quit acting all possessive?"
"Hey - you're not the one facing a possible prison sentence here Danny. And I don't care how well you think you know him, Colonel O'Neill is one hard-assed bastard! I think we should call it a day." Daniel pulled Robbie behind a large modern sculpture that looked like a polo mint with two holes. "So you're saying I'm not worth the risk?" He folded his arms across his chest in a gesture that the young lieutenant had yet to become familiar with.
"No, no I'm not saying that exactly. It's just too damned dangerous."
"Don't try to tell me you've never done this before Robbie..."
"Daniel, I picked up guys in bars and we had a good time. I never saw them again after that!"
Daniel's mouth fell open in shock. He really didn't like the way this conversation was going. "So I'm good enough for a quick fuck, but anything more isn't worth the risk?"
Robbie stuffed his balled fists into his jacket and failed to meet Daniel's eyes. He might not have put it quite so bluntly, but his silence made it quite obvious that Daniel had pretty much hit the nail on the head. Finally he glanced up.
"Look I'm sorry okay? You do mean a great deal to me. I've never wanted a relationship before and it's all a little new to me here. I guess I'm just freaking out about it. Be patient?" he finally managed to meet Daniel's glittering blue eyes and found uncertainty lingering there. Daniel stepped forward and raised one hand to cup Robbie's face.
"Okay, fine. I understand. I don't want to rush into anything either."
Robbie let out the breath he was holding and covered Daniel's hand with his own. "Let's start today over. We can go to dinner after this and then I want to take you to a club. I think you'll like it."
Daniel nodded and let his hand drop. They had reached an understanding of sorts and Daniel really was attracted to Robbie but now there was just the faintest trace of doubt. As they strolled around the exhibits, Daniel couldn't help but think of Jack. He wondered if his friend had really meant to freak Robbie out this morning with his comments, but decided that knowing Jack, he was probably just fooling around as usual. Not everyone got Jack's weird sense of humor. He pushed the doubts to the back of his mind and concentrated on having a good time.
Jack knew what he had to do. Casual sex wasn't really his thing, not since before he had met Sarah at any rate. He had decided long ago that if a woman was worth having sex with, she should be worth a relationship too and he had all but given up on that happening. Now his body was clearly telling him that his high moral standards could go to hell!
His problems were obviously a result of him not getting laid enough. He was about to remedy that. It took a while to get himself into the charcoal black jeans and skin tight grey t-shirt that never failed to get him noticed. He had stopped wearing clothes like these years ago because they attracted the wrong sort of attention. Luckily he never threw anything out, and after some concerted closet raking, he had finally found the box. He had put on a bit of weight since he had last squeezed into the jeans, but if he didn't sit down too often, he could probably make it through the night it them!
He splashed on some aftershave and ran a comb through his silver hair, wondering if anyone would actually find him worth the effort. Then he threw on his black leather jacket and headed to a bar he knew in the center of town. It had been quite some time since he had been to this part of town, but nothing much seemed to have changed. O'Leary's was still owned by the same couple, who rather surprisingly seemed to recognize him. He wondered what the hell he'd done to make himself so memorable after nearly fifteen years since his last visit. Maude grinned at him as he took a seat at the bar and began shining up a pint glass. Jack said nothing, waiting to see just how good the matronly woman's memory was.
"So it'll be a Guinness with a Malt chaser will it not?" she asked, her beautiful lilting Irish accent catapulting Jack back through time to a life without care. He nodded and gave the redheaded woman a huge grin. "I can't believe you would remember that."
"How could a woman forget a thing about the man that broke her heart?" she pouted. As she spoke, her husband sauntered over. At six foot six, with hair still as black as a raven's wing despite being at least ten years older than Jack, he was a fine looking specimen of a man. Jack saluted sloppily and the man clapped him firmly on the shoulder with a huge meaty hand. Jack glanced again at Maude.
"Your heart was never mine to break, not then and not now."
Sean O'Leary tilted his wife's face up to meet his lips then wrapped her tightly in his arms. "And don't you forget it woman." He scolded. Maude shooed him away and poured Jack his Guinness. As always it took forever, so he took a moment to scan the other occupants of the bar.
There were a group of youngsters playing pool in the corner and three elderly gents engaged in a loud game of darts in the other corner. In the booths along one wall, Jack could see a few couples whispering sweet nothings and then there was the blonde sitting at the other end of the bar. She was nice looking; slim with long legs encased in black leather pants. Jack gave her the once over before he realized she was doing the same to him. He felt himself blush under the directness of her gaze.
Maude placed his drinks down on the bar. He took a sip of the bitter black beer and sighed in contentment. This was something else he hadn't had in way too long. He picked up the two glasses and made his way to a window booth that offered him a view of the street out front. He sat in silence; drinking his beer and watching the world go by. This part of town was always busy, there were several good pubs and nightclubs along its length and he was enjoying watching the comings and goings of people kicking back and enjoying themselves.
The nightclub directly across the way seemed to be attracting a huge number of clients, although so far, jack hadn't spotted much in the way of talent. If he were going to score tonight, it wouldn't be in a club where the male patrons outnumbered the female by... ! Jack frowned as he saw two men go into the club hand in hand. Then he noticed another pair leaning against the wall necking. He snorted at his own naiveté. Wouldn't score at all in that particular bar!
His attention was diverted by Maude as she mopped his table. She followed his gaze to the club across the way. "Forget it Jack, nothing there for a red-blooded ladies man like you!"
Jack tipped back his whiskey and handed her the glass. "You said it Maude. Get me another will ya?"
"Sure." She leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "If your looking for company tonight, I think there's someone at the bar who wouldn't say no."
Jack peeped around Maude's ample figure to find the blonde grinning at him. He gulped nervously then immediately wondered what the hell was wrong with him. He wanted to get laid, the blonde looked more than willing. What the hell was he waiting for? He smiled up at Maude.
"Maybe." He said. Maude trotted back to the bar to fill his order and his eyes drifted back to the nightclub. Things were getting very busy there now and the music was getting decidedly louder too. Jack didn't recognize the tune but the beat was primal and he found his foot tapping along to it. He took a sip of his Guinness and tried to concentrate on looking sexy for his female admirer.
That was when he saw Daniel and Robbie. They walked round the corner of club, deep in conversation; Robbie said something and Daniel laughed out loud. He had seen his friend smile many times, but he could count on one hand the times he'd heard him laugh. As the two men walked over to the club, Jack could see that Robbie had his hand in Daniel's back pocket and vice versa. They looked happy and comfortable with each other. Jack drained his glass.
"I got tired of waiting" a sultry female voice drew his attention away from the street outside. The blonde stood beside him carrying two glasses of whiskey. She cocked her head towards the seat opposite, "May I join you?"
Jack glanced out at the street again but Daniel and Robbie had already gone inside.
He smiled. "Sure. Why not."
Daniel's head was thumping. The music was way too loud for his taste and the air was thick with cigarette smoke and the aroma of sweaty bodies. But Robbie was in his element. Daniel leaned on the railing that surrounded the dance pit and scanned the sea of half naked male bodies moving to the primal rhythm of the music. Robbie was right in the thick of it, jumping up and down, waving his arms and his discarded shirt above his head. Daniel let his eyes roam freely over the well-defined muscles and light sprinkling of chest hair. He followed the triangle of hair downwards with his avid gaze as it narrowed over Robbie's navel and disappeared beneath the waistband of his jeans.
Despite feeling out of his depth in the club, Daniel was finding the view nothing short of spectacular. Never in a month of Sundays would he contemplate joining the undulating mass on the dance floor, but he had no objection to watching. Several men had approached him as he stood at the rail, but he was getting used to it now and took it all in his stride. No one except Robbie interested him.
He wondered what Jack would make of a place like this. He tried to imagine Colonel Jack O'Neill bouncing about bare-chested to this jungle beat and giggled into his hand. It was right about then that he realized he'd had far too much to drink. Giggling was not something he was known for. He watched the men on the floor until his head began to swim and he decided that he'd had enough. Catching Robbie's attention, he semaphored that he wanted to leave now. Robbie reluctantly made his way to the edge of the dance floor.
When the chilly evening air hit Daniel, his head really began to swim. He should have paid more attention to what he was drinking, and how much. Robbie snaked one hand around his waist to hold him steady.
"Careful Danny, much though I'd love to have you on your knees in front of me, this is neither the time nor the place."
Daniel snorted and placed a sloppy kiss on Robbie's lips. Suddenly he was being propelled backwards and pressed up against a wall. His head impacted with the concrete but not enough to register as painful in his inebriated state.
Robbie pushed his leg between Daniel's thighs and devoured him with a kiss that robbed Daniel of the power of rational thought. Robbie's hands were everywhere and dimly, Daniel wanted to protest that this still was neither the time nor the place. Then Robbie was panting against his neck.
"God I want you. I'm so psyched I could just fuck you right here and now. I don't care who sees us!"
"Well I do!" whispered Daniel huskily, feeling the blood rush from his head to his groin and wishing it wouldn't. He really needed his brain to intercede on his body's behalf right about now. Robbie pressed closer, rubbing their groins together, his hands biting into Daniel's ass.
"When I get you home, I'm gonna fuck you senseless!"
Daniel tried to push Robbie away.
"Er Rob, I don't think that would be a good idea. I mean I've had way too much to drink."
"So what?" Robbie asked, genuinely not getting it. Daniel pushed again and this time the other man straightened up.
"I don't really want my first time to be under the influence Robbie. I would prefer..."
"Daniel the alcohol will help you forget the pain. Its better this way. Trust me."
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest again, trying to focus on the man swaying before him. What did he mean by pain? Was he going to hurt Daniel? Suddenly he felt a trickle of fear down his spine.
"I'm going home Rob. Alone."
The airman stared at Daniel through narrowed eyes then shoved him roughly up against the wall again, but this time, there was only anger in his eyes.
"Fine. Call me when you get over yourself!" With that, he stormed off through the crowds of revelers leaving Daniel slumped against the wall. He tried to pull himself together, fixing his clothing and looking around for a cab. Finally he decided to just walk home. The air might clear his head a little and it couldn't be more than a twenty-minute walk to his apartment. Pulling his coat tightly closed, he staggered off up the road.
He was about half way home when he realized that he was being followed. Once upon a time, he would never even have noticed, but the past few years hanging out with Jack O'Neill had taught him more than just how to hold a gun the right way up. He stopped walking and glanced over his shoulder but the man stopped too, pretending to look into a shop window. It was too dark for Daniel to make out the man's features, but he was tall and broad. Daniel took a deep breath and began walking again; careful not to get too close to the alleyways he was passing by. He heard the footsteps behind him start up again and he picked up the pace. If he had been more sober, he might have made a run for it.
The footsteps continued, pacing him, never trying to catch up, just following. When his apartment building loomed into sight, Daniel breathed a bit easier. He was curious about his stalker. Was it just some guy from the club or maybe Robbie had decided to force the issue? He saw his opportunity as he rounded the corner of the building across the street from his apartment. Quickly ducking into the alley, he picked up a garbage can lid and waited.
It would have been a perfect ambush if his stalker hadn't anticipated the move and blocked the blow. Daniel staggered backwards and fell on his butt in a puddle, the lid rolled away noisily and he stared up at the figure silhouetted against the street lamp. He was surprised when his stalker reached down and helped him to his feet. The streetlight momentarily illuminated the shadowy face and Daniel gasped.
"You okay buddy?"
"Guilty as charged."
Jack brushed the worst of the muddy water off Daniel's jacket and jeans, being careful not to touch anywhere he shouldn't. Daniel still looked more than a little dazed. He took his arm and led him back into the street.
"You know, it was a very bad idea to walk home alone. Anyone could have followed you from that club."
"Someone DID follow me!" Daniel shouted. Jack snorted with laughter as they crossed the street. Daniel automatically began fishing in his pocket for his door keys. At this time of night, the doorman was off duty so the building could be accessed through a security panel. Daniel peered at the panel trying to remember the access code. Jack sighed and entered it for him. The door sprang open and the two men went in.
As they made slow progress up the stairs, Daniel glared at his friend. "Why are you here Jack?"
"I was worried about you okay? I saw you fighting with Robbie and then the little shit stormed off leaving you to walk home. I wanted to make sure you got there in one piece. You were never meant to know I was there."
The fight wasn't all Jack had seen. He had also been witness to Daniel being mauled up against the wall of the club. That particular scene was burned into the back of Jack's brain.
"Well either your covert tailing skills are slipping, or I'm getting better at this James Bond stuff."
Jack laughed again and took the keys from his friend, unlocking the door and holding it open for Daniel to go inside. Daniel paused in the doorway and turned to look into those sparkling brown eyes.
"Thanks Jack. You always watch my six."
Jack gave him a little shove and locked the door behind him. "Well you owe me one Jackson. I was so closed to getting laid when I came to your rescue, you have no idea!"
Daniel spun round, and the room spun with him but he gaped at Jack in confusion, "In a gay bar?" he asked incredulously, the earlier vision of Jack dancing half naked suddenly reasserting itself in his mind.
"Don't be fucking stupid Danny. I was across the road at an Irish pub with a blonde whose legs went right up to her armpits. Now, forget about it and get into bed. I think I'll crash on your couch, unless you're expecting company again?"
Daniel thought about Robbie and the stupid fight and how he could have been in bed right now making love instead of arguing with Jack and he reached for the phone. Jack took the receiver from his fingers and replaced it on the cradle.
"Bed Daniel. Phone him tomorrow."
Daniel thought about arguing but he was finding it increasingly difficult to keep his eyes open. Sighing deeply, he headed off to his room without further protest but he caught Jack watching him and shaking his head. Daniel felt a surge of annoyance; once again the great Jack O'Neill had protected innocent little Daniel Jackson from danger! Then an unwelcome thought crossed his mind - could he really see Rob doing the same?
Daniel awoke feeling like shit. His head felt the size of a basketball and his eyes were full of grit. He groaned and rolled over, nearly losing the contents of his stomach in the process. He'd remembered getting his shirt and one shoe off before he passed out but his other shoe and his jeans were missing now too. He lay for a moment, face down, wishing he were dead before the aroma of freshly brewed coffee began to register on his dulled senses.
He staggered to his feet and groped on the night stand until he found his glasses. The world was still out of focus, even with them on, but he somehow managed to make it to the kitchen anyway. The coffee pot was full and there was a bottle of aspirin on the counter next to it with a note saying;
//Drink a pint of water before you start on the coffee. Don't even think about eating anything until after noon. Phone me when you can string a sentence together. Jack.//
Daniel read the note twice. Why was Jack always looking after him? As friends went, Daniel would be the first to admit he was high maintenance! Dutifully, he poured himself a glass of water and downed a couple of the pills. Then he poured a cup of coffee before heading for the shower, hoping that one of the above would make him feel more human.
Jack was working on his roof. His telescope platform needed a new railing and he had decided to replace a couple of loose roof tiles while he was up here. He was merrily working up a sweat when Daniel arrived on his doorstep. He didn't hear his friend calling until Daniel had climbed the ladder and was standing on the platform looking up at him. He was shirtless again, thinking that the neighbor's wife would have a hard time ogling him way up here! When he spotted Daniel on the platform, he almost hit his thumb with the hammer.
Daniel looked a lot better than he had last night. Jack had been seriously worried when Daniel had fled to the bathroom in the early hours to throw up. Much though he hated the sound of a man losing his lunch, Jack had followed his friend, pressing a wet cloth to his forehead as he slumped over the toilet, and pouring him a drink of water when the waves of nausea finally abated. Then he had half carried his friend back to his bedroom and helped him out of his jeans and into bed.
He stayed there until Daniel stopped whimpering, gently stroking his hair. It reminded him painfully of nights he had spent comforting his son when the boy had been ill. When Daniel finally drifted back to sleep, Jack had returned to the couch and spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling. He was finally beginning to realize that he was losing his friend. How could they continue to be this close if Daniel invested himself fully in his relationship with Robbie? Jack would never want to deny his friend a chance at happiness, but friends always took a back seat to lovers, which was as it should be.
He felt a wave of sadness wash over him. He'd become so used to having Daniel around that he almost ached with loneliness at the thought of losing him to Robert Preston. And Daniel deserved better. He was an incredible guy, good-looking, intelligent, and loyal to a fault. Robbie simply wasn't good enough for him! Then Daniel hoisted himself up onto the roof beside Jack, eyeing him warily.
"Jack, shouldn't you get a qualified tradesman to do this?" he asked, taking in the other man's flushed face and the sweat dripping down his bare chest. Jack swiped a hand across his brow and sneered.
"Nah - why pay some cowboy five hundred bucks to do something I can do myself? Here make yourself useful and pass me that toolbox."
Daniel looked up at the darkening sky. A storm was coming and if Jack didn't get his roof watertight again soon, he could be in a lot of trouble. What Daniel knew about roofing tiles, he could fit on a bus ticket, but he could hold a hammer as well as the next man. He took off his jacket and scrambled up beside Jack.
An hour later, Daniel was bare-chested and sweating too, but the last of the tiles was being slid into place just as the first fat drops of rain began to fall. Jack let out a victory whoop, shaking his fist at the storm clouds and grinning like a loon. The clouds answered by dumping every drop they possessed onto Jack's roof and in less than a minute, both men were soaked to the skin.
Maybe the euphoria of beating the odds made him careless, but as Jack stood up, he lost his balance and staggered backwards across the roof. He tried to turn round and see where he was going but Daniel had already leapt to his feet and two strong hands grabbed him by the shoulders in an attempt to steady him.
His momentum carried him right into Daniel's arms and their slick rain soaked torso's collided as Daniel fought to keep them both upright and on the roof. Jack grasped the hands that held him captive and found himself staring into a pair of blue eyes that seemed almost inhumanly wide. His eyes fell to take in the lips, slightly parted in shock, then back to the incredible eyes again. His entire world became focused on those eyes.
Daniel couldn't take his eyes off Jack. When their bodies met, he had felt a surge of desire arcing through him like a lightning strike. He was fighting with several conflicting emotions right now, not the least of which was shock. Jack seemed equally dazed but Daniel wasn't ready to face this new development.
Only this morning he had been wondering why Jack even liked him. Then suddenly he found himself feeling attracted to a man who had already bent over backwards to remain his friend. This would probably be the straw that broke the camel's back. Jack would run a mile. Letting go, Daniel took a careful step backwards, not meeting Jacks eyes.
"Thanks." Jack rasped reaching for the ladder. A moment later, Daniel was alone on the roof. He picked up his sodden shirt and draped it around his neck as he followed his friend slowly, giving him enough time to get his game face in play. When he reached the ground, Jack was nowhere to be seen. Daniel wasn't really surprised. He had just pushed the boundaries of their friendship a little too far. Even if he was as surprised as Jack, it made little difference.
He debated what to do now. Should he go after Jack and apologize or should he just leave? Finally he went with the former, deciding that at the very least, he owed his friend an explanation. He found him in the bathroom splashing cold water on his face. Daniel handed him a towel and waited until Jack finished drying himself.
"Sorry Danny, I can't believe I slipped like that!" Daniel watched his friend warily, trying to see how Jack wanted to play it. Right now, it looked like his friend was going with a healthy dose of denial.
"Good thing one of us has some grace!" Jack continued, turning to switch on the shower. He let the water run for a moment to get the right temperature then turned back to Daniel.
"You can shower here if you want. I have plenty hot water. Want me to go first or do you... ?"
Daniel had the insane urge to suggest they share the shower. As his face turned crimson, he fled the bathroom telling Jack to go ahead and that he would wait. In the living room, Daniel rubbed at his temples. The alcohol-induced migraine of earlier seemed to be returning, and he just didn't have the strength to face this right now. The following day, SG1 were scheduled to go off-world and he needed some time to get things in perspective.
It seemed that Jack was determined to ignore the spark that had flown between them. Daniel was relieved that he hadn't blown it again but now he had something else to think about. He knew what he had felt. What he had seen. And quite frankly, he didn't believe the evidence of his own senses.
He scribbled a quick note telling Jack that he had was still feeling hung-over and had gone home, then hightailed it out of there as quickly as he could. The rain continued to pelt down as he ran for his car, but it made little difference, he was already soaked and shivering. By the time he pulled up at the curb outside his apartment, he wondered if he would ever feel warm again.
General Hammond called the meeting to order. Everyone sat down and began looking at the files on the table. Even Jack seemed to be engrossed in the notes. Daniel was sure he had never seen his friend voluntarily read a mission briefing file before, and wondered if he was only doing so now to avoid looking at Daniel. General Hammond asked Carter to start the slide show and the lights went down.
P4X 3201 was a totally unremarkable planet to all accounts. Carter seemed disappointed that the planet offered no valuable minerals or ores, nothing at all in the way of technology, and no weapons more advanced than bows and arrows. It did however, have an almost endless supply of certain pharmaceutical plant life that the whole medical staff were desperate to get their hands on.
As if on cue, Dr. Janet Fraiser entered the briefing room and took over the presentation. She showed pictures of the plant in question, gave details of how best to harvest it and a brief outline of its healing properties and what the medical team hoped to do with it. To be on the safe side, Fraiser would be accompanying the teams on this mission.
Finally Hammond asked for the lights to be raised and launched into his usual pre-mission speech. Daniel blinked as the briefing rooms level of illumination brightened and glanced up in time to see Jack staring at him. He wondered how long he had been under scrutiny, but as soon as Jack realized he had been busted, he gave Hammond his full attention again.
Hammond seemed to be telling the team about the village elders with whom they would have to negotiate to gain access to the flora. Jack had lost track of the proceedings a while ago. Apparently SG11 had already made good inroads with the elders so they would be accompanying SG1 on this mission. The intention was to send a supply team in after the negotiations were complete to bring the villagers rudimentary electricity and perhaps to dig a well.
Jack froze. His mind backtracked to the part of the briefing that had mentioned SG11 part in the proceedings. Lieutenant Robert Preston was a member of SG11.
This was bad. Oh this was very bad! Both teams would be required to be off world for several days while the negotiations were being held and although Jack had heard nothing to indicate there might be any danger involved, the hairs on the back of his neck were rising. He glanced at Daniel and saw that his friend was fidgeting with his pen. A sure sign that he was nervous about something. Hammond asked if there were any questions and Daniel raised his hand.
"Do we have to take SG11 with us? I mean is it totally necessary?" General Hammond looked a little confused. SG11 had done most of the groundwork on this mission and excluding them from the final treaty would be the height of poor judgment.
"Actually son, Major Reid and Professor Sachs will be conducting most of the talks. You're along as back up."
Daniel's eyes fell but wisely he said nothing more. Hammond dismissed the team telling them to be ready to leave in one hour. Jack took a deep breath and got to his feet, making a show of collecting up his briefing notes, which Daniel knew from past experience consisted of a yellow pad full of rude doodles. If this was the way Jack wanted to play it, then Daniel was happy to oblige. He was less than enthusiastic about examining yesterday's little incident himself, and add to that the upcoming mission on planet 'yawn' with his boyfriend along for laughs and you were well on the way to an early grave.
The team left the briefing room noisily discussing their mission, but Daniel held back. He wanted to slip away for a while, maybe find Robbie and persuade him to accompany him into the nearest supply closet. He almost wished that he hadn't been so damned prudish on Saturday. Would it really have been so bad to have sex for the first time with another man when he was slightly drunk? Robbie seemed to think it would actually help matters.
He hadn't had the opportunity to apologize to Robbie for that yet. Instead of phoning him he next morning, he had gone round and helped Jack fix his roof and look where that had led? He shook his head and trailed out of the briefing room, determined not to give that another thought.
Jack checked his equipment thoroughly then turned to help Carter with her pack, but Fraiser was already there so he gave Teal'c a once over. He glanced around the gate room, watched as Major Reid did the same for his own team and then looked at his watch. Daniel was late. Just as he was about to mention this to anyone who was listening, Daniel stumbled into the gate room trying to get his pack on his back. A moment later the final member of SG11 sauntered in looking equally rumpled and Jack's eyes narrowed.
This was not the time to make an issue of this. He pointedly turned his back on Daniel who had to ask Carter for assistance. Jack walked up the ramp and turned to take in the two teams.
"Okay people, Major Reid is effectively in command on this mission so he will lead us to the temporary camp his team set up. SG1 will establish a perimeter and take first watch, although I have been informed that this planet presents no danger, I'm sure the Major would agree that it never hurts to be prepared?" Jack looked questioningly at the leader of SG11 who nodded his approval.
"Right then, saddle up." Jack stepped aside so that Major Reid and his team could go though the gate first. As Lieutenant Preston walked by, Jack gave him a hard look and was gratified that the younger man gulped and averted his eyes in shame. When the last member of Reid's team had passed through the event horizon, Jack waved his own team forward, giving Daniel the same hard look. Daniel didn't flinch however, returning the look defiantly. Jack shook his head and vowed that they would take this up later.
The camp was fairly basic. It was comprised of four small tents in a line opposite a larger supply tent where they stored their rations and sampling equipment. Reid ordered half his team to help the doctor set up her equipment, and told Lieutenant Preston to collect firewood. Jack was left to organize the watch. He decided to check out the forest to the North and sent Teal'c and Carter towards the river. Daniel waited expectantly for his own assignment.
"Daniel, stay in the camp and help set things up, okay?" Jack expected an argument, but his friend shrugged and headed back to the tents without a word. This was immediately suspicious to Jack but changing his mind now would seem childish. He checked his P-90 and ammo pack then headed off, determined not to think about Daniel's motives for wanting to stay in camp.
As soon as everyone was busy with their own preparations, Daniel slipped quietly out of the camp and headed off in the direction Robbie had gone. His apology in the supply closet earlier had been accepted heartily, and in fact had been so enthusiastic, that they had almost been late to get to the gate room. Of course Jack always expected the team to be there at least five minutes before they had to leave, so technically, in Jack's eyes at least, they had been a little late.
Daniel had never been so flustered in his life. Robbie's passionate kisses and hard body rubbing up against him in the dark closet had almost gotten very messy and left Daniel with a desperate need to finish their encounter soon. He hadn't expected to get the opportunity quite so quickly, but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. For once, Jack's over protectiveness was working in Daniel's favor.
He found Robbie fairly easily. The lieutenant was tying up a huge bundle of sticks in a clearing close to the camp. When he saw Daniel approaching, he smiled and dropped the bundle.
"Well, well. Doctor Jackson I presume?"
"You were expecting someone else?"
"I thought that cute blonde in your team looked interesting," Robbie drawled seductively, his eyes flashing with desire, "She was definitely giving me the eye."
Daniel crossed the soft springy forest floor until he stood nose to nose with Robbie.
"She'd eat you alive." He whispered. Robbie grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him tight against his chest. His voice was rough with desire as he chewed on Daniel's throat.
"I'd rather YOU ate me alive!"
Daniel gasped and let his head roll back. He was instantly hard and aching, the intensity of his earlier encounter with Robbie still fresh enough to get his blood roaring in his ears. How had he ever doubted that this was what he wanted? How had he lived so long without this adrenaline rush?
Robbie maneuvered them both around until Daniel felt the rough bark of a tree against his back. Robbie was panting into his mouth, his desire growing as obvious as Daniel's. He tugged at the black combat vest until Daniel finally took the hint to take it off. Next his jacket was being roughly pushed aside and Robbie's teeth sunk into his throat again. He didn't mean to cry out, but the pain momentarily outweighed the pleasure. Robbie quickly clamped one hand over Daniel's mouth, while the other undid his belt. Daniel gasped and writhed against Robbie's hand.
"Easy Danny. Take it easy." He whispered against Daniel's fevered skin. He managed to get Daniel's belt undone and his zipper down in seconds, then he slid both hands inside his BDU's and round to cup Daniel's ass. It was almost too much for Daniel and his hips bucked forward again. He was so lost in the incredible sensations, that he didn't hear the sound of feet pounding through the undergrowth until Jack burst out of the trees, his P-90 aimed right at Robbie's head.
"Fuck!" Jack cursed, lowering the gun in disgust. "I thought you were being attacked."
Daniel hastily began straightening his clothing while Robbie attempted to stand to attention. Parts of him were definitely managing that better than others. Jack stormed over and gave Robbie his very best 'Pissed off Colonel' look.
"You are treading a very thin line here lieutenant. Don't think for one minute that my friendship with your lover will protect you in any way." The sound of Daniel's zipper going up distracted Jack momentarily, but the symbolism only made him even angrier.
"Take the firewood back to the camp, and if I catch you making out on duty again, I will have you busted back to airman so quick your head will fucking implode, DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?"
"Yes SIR!" barked the lieutenant, firing off a textbook salute before tossing the heavy bundle of wood over his shoulder and stumbling out of the clearing without a backwards glance. Daniel leaned against the tree with his vest dangling from his fingers. Jack took a moment to get his anger in check before he turned to look at his friend.
"What the hell were you thinking?" he asked, genuinely bemused. The Daniel Jackson he knew was an intelligent, articulate and sensible man, who had, over the years, learned how to conduct himself properly whilst on missions. This Daniel Jackson was a hormone driven horny schoolboy without the sense he was born with.
If any of his brain cells were still functional, he had to see that Preston was not the man for him. The lieutenant was after Daniel for one thing only. He wasn't brave enough to fight for what he wanted. One word from Jack and he bailed leaving his lover to face the Colonel's wrath alone. What sort of a man was he? And how the hell could Daniel find anything of merit in him? Jack was beside himself with rage now. Daniel licked his lips and pushed away for the supporting tree.
"I was trying to get LAID!" he shouted. Jack surged forward, fury clearly written all over his expressive face but at the last moment, he stopped. If Daniel was trying to make him lose control, he was perilously close to doing so. Jack took a deep breath and rubbed the heels of his hands down his face.
"Well I'm afraid that isn't going to happen anytime soon. You are on a MISSION, Daniel! For God's sake start acting like a professional and get your mind out of your pants!"
Daniel's face contorted in rage and he got right in Jack's face. His hands slammed against Jack's chest, forcing him to take a step backwards.
"You bastard! I finally find someone that gets my heart racing and you can't take it. What's the matter Jack, jealous? Afraid your little archaeologist won't always be there to entertain you?"
"Don't what? Admit it Jack, you can't stand the thought of me finding happiness can you?"
"That is totally uncalled for." Jack turned away and headed towards the camp. Daniel was right behind him, tugging at his webbing until he was forced to stop and face his friend again.
"I love him Jack. And I want to MAKE love to him."
"Not on my watch!" Jack growled. His blood was roaring in his ears, pulse racing, heart hammering. Daniel loved the creep? Oh God this was... ? This was too much. Jack fled back to the camp, ignoring Daniel's attempts to halt him.
Teal'c and Sam returned to camp with nothing much to report. The river was high with melt water from the recent thaw at its source, but not enough to put them in danger. Jack had found nothing to worry him in the forest either, if you didn't count two men getting hot and heavy something to worry about. As twilight fell, they gathered around the campfire and began preparing the evening meal.
Jack sat as far away from Daniel as he could. He was aware of the strange looks Carter threw his way but he was still reeling from Daniel's declaration and couldn't afford to let himself get distracted further. They were on a mission now; personal stuff would have to wait. He watched as Robbie approached his friend and lowered himself to the ground beside Daniel. The small smile Daniel gave the other man was nothing short of heart stopping and he quickly looked away, right into Carter's worried eyes.
She accepted two freshly heated rat-packs from Teal'c and came over to sit with Jack. "It says Macaroni Cheese." She smiled handing one of the steaming containers to Jack.
He accepted wordlessly, wondering how the hell he was going to force the food down. His appetite had disappeared entirely in the wake of his earlier shock. But he knew he couldn't afford to be off his game right now. Planet 'yawn' might appear to be placid enough, but how many times had a seemingly friendly world turned out to be anything but? Everyone else was at liberty to relax if they wanted to but Jack O'Neill would stay on full alert until they gated out of here.
He watched as Carter ate in silence for a while before her natural curiosity got the better of her. There would have been a time that she would never have considered asking Jack personal questions, but they had been so close recently, their friendship deepening once the parameters of their relationship had finally been set.
"Jack, what's wrong?" she asked, the use of his first name indicating that she knew this would be off the record. Jack stared at his dinner, watching the steam curl upwards until his eyes lost their focus and he appeared deep in thought. Just as she began to think he wouldn't answer, he took a deep breath and looked around to make sure no one was within earshot.
"I'm worried about Daniel," he said using his fork to stab the macaroni to death. "He's been a little... distracted recently. Acting out of character you know?" Even off the record, Jack wasn't allowed to be anymore specific than that, but Carter surprised the shit out of him.
"Well, people in love are usually a little flaky Jack. Surely you remember the way it feels?"
Jack almost dropped his meal. Was Carter guessing, or did she actually know about Daniel? His eyes narrowed as he took on board this latest piece of information. Daniel hadn't trusted him enough to tell him he was gay, but he had told Carter. Who else knew? Teal'c? Hammond? Fraiser? Oh yeah, Janet had to know didn't she? Jack began stabbing his meal with renewed vigor.
"Does it bother you?" asked Carter softly, concern radiating from her almost visibly. Jack gave up on the macaroni and rubbed his face wearily. Across the other side of the fire, people were making preparations for the night ahead. He felt bone tired, and desperate to crawl into his sleeping bag.
"I'm real happy for him Sam." He got up and headed for his tent but caught Carter's parting remark as he walked away.
"Yeah, it sure looks like it."
Robbie knew that it was insane to keep pissing the colonel off like this. He should stay as far away from Daniel as he could for the duration of this mission, but the longer he knew the other man, the more he felt like the proverbial moth to the flame. Maybe once he finally got to have sex with Daniel, the strange compulsion to be near him would fade and he could get on with his life.
Daniel seemed to think that O'Neill was okay with it all, but he was fooling himself. Robbie had been aware of the Colonel's hard eyes boring into the back of his skull all evening and he was relieved when the older man finally retired for the night. He couldn't figure out if O'Neill was homophobic or just uptight, but he wasn't sure he wanted to hang around and find out. Daniel was the most attractive man he had ever met, but it seemed he came as a package deal with Colonel 'I can kill you with my bare hands' O'Neill and that was a scary thought.
Daniel finished eating his meal and drained his coffee cup, grimacing at the taste. Field rations were bad enough but the instant freeze- dried coffee the military supplied was downright appalling. He stretched his long legs out towards the crackling fire and sighed.
Eventually he was going to have to climb into that tent with Jack as he had on every other off world expedition, but tonight he wished he was going to be sharing with Robbie. Teal'c had set up his candles in the supply tent and was preparing for a night spent in Kel'noreem.
Reid and Hernandez had already retired to their tent, and as he watched, Sam lifted the flap of the tent she would be sharing with Janet. Dr. Sachs was fairly new to SG11 and probably would have no objections to billeting with Jack if Robbie asked him to. Sachs finished clearing up the detritus of their meals and got to his feet.
"Guess I'll hit the sack Rob. You guys see to the fire?"
"Yeah, night Lewis." Robbie looked expectantly towards his would-be- lover, but Daniel could offer no encouragement. It had been a stupid idea anyway; Jack would kill them both for even thinking it! Once Sachs was safely inside the tent, Robbie reached for Daniel and drew him into a passionate embrace.
Daniel felt his body respond almost instantly, his need to find physical release never far from the surface. He was dimly aware that this was stupid, but he needed the closeness after his argument with Jack earlier. He needed the reassurance. Robbie groaned and buried both hands in Daniel's hair, his tongue sweeping the roof of Daniel's mouth, tasting the lingering flavor of coffee.
"JACKSON, put out that fire!"
The two men jumped apart guiltily, their eyes following the sound of Jack's voice to where his head poked out of his tent. Daniel wondered if the double entendre was intentional, and decided it probably was. He got to his feet and helped Robbie make the fire safe. Jack continued to watch them, so with a whispered goodnight, they parted and headed for their respective tents.
They lay in silence staring at the roof of the tent. Jack had so many questions he needed answered, but couldn't find the words to ask even one. He wanted to be happy for Daniel, but he just couldn't. Robbie Preston wasn't good enough for his friend. He could try to explain, but knew it would just come across as over protectiveness or, as Daniel had intimated earlier, jealousy. And it would be true.
He knew he had come to rely on having Daniel around, and had begun to admit that the thought of losing his friend to the other man was almost too painful to contemplate. He thought back to all the friends he had lost touch with once he had started seriously dating Sarah, and after they had married, their circle of friends had contracted even more. Daniel was slipping away from him and there was nothing he could do about it. How could friendship compete with love?
He had almost accepted that Daniel wanted to have sex with another man, in theory that would have no effect on them as friends, but being in love was something else entirely. It was serious and Jack was scared. He had seen Daniel suffer too often. His friend needed to find someone who would look after him, cherish him, and never hurt him. Daniel needed someone who would put his welfare first, guard his six, pull him out of his depressions, make him eat and sleep when he didn't have the sense to realize he needed to. He needed someone who would love him despite his faults, who would stick around through the bad times as well as the good.
Daniel needed someone like Jack.
That thought made Jack groan. He almost wished it were that simple. He could provide Daniel with all those things, but of course Daniel needed more than just that. He needed sex too. Jack shuddered and rolled onto his side, facing away from the silent man lying beside him. That he couldn't provide. Not even for Daniel.
Meanwhile Daniel was fighting his own demons. He knew he was pushing Jack to his limits of endurance and he felt like shit about it. Jack had honestly tried to be supportive, but at every opportunity, Daniel had shoved his relationship with Robbie in his friend's face. Why was he compelled to do that? It couldn't just be because he really needed to have sex. Even that wouldn't be enough for him to totally ignore Jack's discomfort as he had been doing.
The incident in the forest had been embarrassing, and Jack had been well within his rights to reprimand them both for the lapse, but instead of taking it like a man, Daniel had accused his friend of being jealous. He had said hurtful things, uncalled for things. His heart ached thinking about how unfair he was being. His life had taken on a self-destructiveness that scared him.
Ever since the moment Jack had found out about his sexuality, Daniel had tried to find the limits of his friend's tolerance. It was almost like he was subconsciously testing Jack's friendship and in the process, he was systematically destroying it. He sighed and rolled onto his side to face Jack's rigid back.
"Jack?" he said softly, not really expecting to get and answer.
"I'm sorry about earlier. You were right to chew us out. It won't happen again."
The silence stretched between them again and Daniel had the urge to snuggle closer. As he lay, listening to the steady rhythm of Jack's breathing, the urge became overwhelming and he wriggled inside his sleeping bag until he was pressed close against the warm back.
"Are we okay Jack?" he asked, slipping his arm around Jack's waist. There was a terrible moment of silence before Jack took a deep breath and wrapped his hand around Daniel's.
"He's not good enough for you Danny." Said Jack almost under his breath. Daniel snuggled closer.
Jack remained awake long after Daniel drifted off. His troubled thoughts kept returning to the fervent hope that although Danny might be in love, his sleepily muttered comment seemed to indicate that he was also well aware of Robbie's shortcomings. But was he trying to tell Jack that he was having second thoughts about their relationship, or that he was prepared to put up with that for love? It made Jack's teeth ache to think about it.
So he feigned sleep, trying to let his breathing even out, and eventually the strong arm around his middle had relaxed, indicating that his friend had fallen asleep. Jack carefully turned over to face Daniel, extricating himself from the unwanted embrace at the same time. He watched the younger man sleep. When conscious, Daniel had a tendency towards frowning but in sleep, his face relaxed and was completely unmarred by lines of worry or concentration.
He looked ten years younger than he actually was, vulnerable and innocent, like a child. Jack knew that was an illusion. He had treated Daniel like a kid in the past, being overprotective in his need to keep his friend safe, and Daniel had soon proved he could look after himself and didn't take kindly to being mollycoddled. In the eerie, pale, green light of diffused moonlight inside their tent, Daniel had never looked more beautiful to Jack.
He would never have thought of another man in those terms a week ago, but now that he allowed himself to be honest, he had to admit that Daniel was quite simply breathtaking. And not just physically. Daniel's intellect was terrifying. He was the man responsible for solving one of the world's greatest riddles in less than two weeks. Without Daniel, they would already have been defeated by Apophis; without Daniel, there would be no Stargate program; without Daniel, Jack would be little more than an empty shell.
He lay in the darkness, watching his friend sleep and decided there and then, that no matter what else happened, he would stay friends with Daniel. Even if that meant accepting Robbie Preston into their circle. He could do that, and far more if only he got to keep Daniel's friendship. That decided, Jack slipped out of the tent, grabbed his handgun, and went into the forest to relieve the pressure on his bladder.
The attack came out of nowhere. The first flaming arrow streaked out of the darkness and hit Major Reid's tent, which went up like a Roman Candle. Hernandez staggered out of the blazing tent, dragging the unconscious body of his CO just as a war cry split the silent night. Then the air was filled with more fire and shouting as the raiding party surged towards the camp.
Jack's hand reached automatically for his P-90 and with a curse he remembered that it was back in his tent. But he still had his handgun. The attack was coming from the direction of the village, so he dodged through the trees, getting himself into a flanking position as quickly as possible.
The other teams were awake instantly, stumbling out of their tents and reaching for their own weapons. The bowmen remained outside the camp, readying their weapons with standard arrows now that the camp was in flames. Two groups of four warriors cannoned into the camp, one group heading towards the undamaged supply tent, the other heading right for Hernandez.
SG11's second in command had been too busy dragging his CO to safety to lift his own weapon, but seeing the warriors descend upon him, with their green bladed axes raised high, he stood protectively over Reid's prone figure and reached for a shovel.
Robbie was torn between going to his assistance, and looking after SG11's civilian consultant. He knew that Reid would want him to get Sachs to safety. In the hellish flickering light from the burning tent in front of him, he could almost see the insane glint in their attacker's eyes as they bore down on the two men.
Behind him, Carter was cursing loudly as she tried to get a bead on the warriors without hitting Hernandez too. Janet Frasier was firing her handgun across the campfire at the group of four warriors attacking Teal'c. At such close range, he was forced to use his weapon as a quarterstaff but to great effect. The warriors attacking him were obviously unfamiliar with this type of fighting, and two of them where already lying in a heap at his feet.
Daniel let the safety off Jack's P-90 and turned to scan the forest behind him. Just because the attack seemed to be coming from the opposite direction, didn't mean the rear of the camp should be left unprotected. He ducked for cover behind a stack of empty supply crates and watched their six while trying to get a fix on Jack's position.
Robbie skidded to a halt and dropped to his knees beside Daniel, dragging the terrified professor with him. Daniel sighed in relief that Robbie was okay but his relief was short lived. The lieutenant only stayed long enough to tell Daniel to look after Sachs, before trying to make it over to Teal'c. Daniel watched in horror as Hernandez dropped to his knees, but a moment later the three warriors attacking him where staggering backwards under a barrage of fire from Carter's P-90.
Daniel's eyes sought out Robbie and things began to happen in slow motion. The lieutenant was running across the camp. Suddenly he faltered under the impact of the arrow slamming into his body, and he went down hard. Daniel leapt to his feet, adrenaline overriding his good sense for a moment. He hesitated; looking at the huddled form of the professor whose safety he had been charged with, then at the fallen body of the man he loved.
From somewhere inside the forest, the sound of a handgun echoed repeatedly and no more arrows were forthcoming. That had to be Jack. Daniel ducked back down behind the crates and handed his side arm to Sachs.
"If anyone comes out of the forest behind us, shoot them okay?"
Sachs took the gun in trembling fingers and nodded, his eyes already scanning the tree line in terror. Daniel patted his shoulder reassuringly and keeping low, made for Robbie's prone form.
Janet was the first to reach Teal'c but his two attackers had already seen the futility of continuing and had fled back into the forest. For several seconds more, the trees reverberated with continued handgun fire. Then Jack burst into the clearing and took in the scene. Reid and Hernandez were both down; Carter was already there, checking them out. Across by the supply tent, Teal'c was making sure his opponents were really dead, while Janet made her way over to Robbie. Daniel was at his side, of course. That just left the civilian linguist.
Jack found Sachs behind the crates and carefully extracted the gun from his shaking fingers. Letting Janet do her job, he organized the uninjured people into fire fighting teams, although the camp was pretty much beyond saving. Finally he flopped down next to the injured men and raised a questioning eyebrow. Janet wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand.
"Major Reid is in a critical condition. Third degree burns all down his left side and a severe concussion. Hernandez is fine, just a gash on the head but Preston has an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder that will need minor surgery to remove. We have to get them back to the infirmary now sir."
Jack watched as Carter finished applying a field dressing to Hernandez' head. So - two walking wounded and one unconscious man. They would need a litter and people to carry it. Jack glanced sideways at Daniel who was holding a pressure dressing firmly against Robbie's blood soaked shoulder.
"Alright. Carter, you and I will build a litter. Teal'c, you and Hernandez scout ahead and see if we still have company. Daniel, you and Sachs will carry the litter and accompany the Doc back to the Stargate."
Daniel tore his gaze away from Robbie's wound. "But I want to stay with the team!"
"Daniel, we can manage." Jack pointedly stared at the lieutenant then got painfully to his feet. Carter had already begun assembling the litter and as far as Jack was concerned, there was nothing left to be said. Daniel watched Jack walk away. He appreciated the gesture, he really did, but Robbie wasn't in that much danger. He didn't need Daniel right now. SG1 did.
It was beginning to get light when the remainder of SG1 and captain Hernandez set out for the village. Jack had offered him the chance to return with his CO through the gate, but the man was determined to continue the mission despite his obvious worry over Reid's condition. They had salvaged everything they could from the camp, which wasn't much, and after hearing from Daniel that the others had reached the gate without incident, they headed out.
Jack took point with Hernandez right behind him where he could keep him close. Fraiser didn't seem to think the head wound was that serious, but Jack wanted to take no chances. As they walked, he took the opportunity to ask the obvious questions.
"So much for this being a friendly planet. The warriors that attacked us, were they from the village?"
Hernandez shook his head, "The villages around here are all distinguished by the tattoos they wear as ornamentation. I'm not the expert, that was Sachs' job, but those warriors were from several different tribes. The best I can think of is that there's been a coupe of some kind."
"I thought the planet was peaceful and united?"
Hernandez pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "So we were lead to believe. I guess the elders were lying when they told us that. We had no reason not to trust them, sir."
Jack pulled a machete out of his webbing and hacked at a particularly thick section of undergrowth. Maybe he was just naturally suspicious in nature, but it had kept him alive this long. And more importantly, it had kept his team alive, which was cold comfort to poor old Hernandez. Jack knew it couldn't be easy for the man to carry on like this, when all his instincts must have been to stick with his CO, who was clearly also his friend. Jack had been in the same situation himself and recognized the pain hidden behind the bluff exterior.
As he hacked his way through the undergrowth, he thought of Daniel and how he had sat by the man's bedside through countless illnesses, addictions and injuries and how that job was no longer his to perform. The wave of sadness that had been lapping the fringes of his consciousness for the last three days threatened to swamp him again, and with typical bravado, he channeled it into his attack on the hapless foliage.
With a cold efficiency born of his years in Special Ops, he once again put all personal thoughts out of his mind in favor of the mission, which would now include finding the renegades that had attacked them and determining how much of a threat to the treaty they were. The plants were certainly a valuable commodity, but not valuable enough to risk the lives of SGC teams over.
As it turned out, when they arrived at the village, the remainder of the renegade raiding party were already in the custody of the village elders. Apparently, it was common for young men to form themselves into small subgroups in an attempt to steal power from the elders, but this was the first time their testosterone-fueled attack had been directed at off-worlders. The elders were very apologetic, and offered to ritually sacrifice the perpetrators. Jack was tempted to go along with it but Carter threw him a withering look and he capitulated.
"That won't be necessary. But can you assure me that this will never happen again? My government is not willing to sign a trade agreement unless all of your people are in agreement."
The elder got to his feet and came to stand toe to toe with Jack. As the man was about five and a half feet tall, Jack had to stoop a little to hear him.
"You have proved yourselves formidable warriors. I doubt that anyone else will try to attack you, however I will personally see to it that the surviving youths are punished."
Jack nodded. It was the best they could hope for when negotiating with primitive cultures. Maybe Daniel could have made a better deal, but he wasn't here, and Jack didn't want to linger on the reasons for that right now. He squeezed the elder's hand firmly to seal the deal and accepted the gift of several sacks full of the plant they had come to trade for.
Then they were heading back to the gate, still on high alert in case some of the youths that had attacked them hadn't heard about the cease-fire! By the time they had made it to the gate again, it was well after dark. Jack dialed up the co-ordinates and sent his IDC code through. Minutes later, he was stepping down the ramp to meet General Hammond.
Jack relinquished his P-90 to the SF on duty and began unfastening his webbing as he spoke.
"Treaty is signed, the assholes who attacked us are in the custody of the elders and we have about 200 pounds of the weed Fraiser thinks will cure the common cold. In other words, mission accomplished sir."
"Good work. I'm afraid I have some bad news though." The pale blue eyes left Jack's to seek out the lone member of SG11. Jack's heart sank.
"I'm sorry to tell you that Major Reid died of his injuries about an hour ago despite the best efforts of the medical team. His wounds were just too severe."
Jack turned and laid a comforting hand on Hernandez arm. He took the sack from his unresisting fingers.
"Go on Jose, go be with your team."
Gratefully, the man hurried off towards the infirmary, where the other two members of SG11 were no doubt waiting for him. Jack handed the sack to another SF and his eyes met Hammond's.
"He was a good man."
Hammond nodded. He hated to lose men. Jack knew that the General would spend the rest of the night working on writing a letter of condolence to the widow. That was the one aspect of Hammond's job that Jack did not envy.
The debriefing took less than an hour. Up until they were attacked, the mission had gone smoothly, and Hammond was satisfied that they had resolved the problem with the youths adequately. He dismissed his flagship team, giving them some well-deserved downtime. Jack had no idea what to do with it. Normally he would have harassed Daniel into coming back to his place to watch a game and drink some beer, but he no longer had the right to monopolize his friend's spare time like that. Thinking of Daniel reminded him of the injured men in the infirmary and he decided to drop by and see how they were doing before leaving the mountain.
Jack froze in the infirmary's doorway when he saw that the only occupied bed was the one that contained Robbie Preston. Daniel sat slumped in a chair by the sleeping man's side, his hand wrapped firmly around his lover's. At some point he had changed out of his uniform and was now wearing a faded denim shirt and jeans. He appeared to be sleeping. Jack was about to slip back out when Robbie began coughing and instantly, Daniel sat up reaching out to steady the other man. Daniel's eyes were round with concern as he cradled Robbie's head, and gently rocked him until the coughing fit abated. Jack felt a pain stab through his chest, and had to turn away from the touching little scene. He nearly cannoned right into Janet as she rounded a corner.
"Colonel! Were you looking for Hernandez?" Jack glanced quickly over his shoulder and nodded. "Yeah, I thought he would be taking it easy?"
"He and Sachs are in the mortuary. They wanted to see the Major, say goodbye, you know?"
"Yeah I know." Said Jack wearily. He didn't want to interrupt the two men whilst paying their final respects, nor could he face going home.
With a small sigh, he headed towards the gear up room to see if Carter or Teal'c would join him for a beer. But they had both already left.
"Fuck! It hurts!" Robbie gasped, letting Daniel help him to lie down again. The arrowhead had been removed, but there was a lot of damage to the muscle around his shoulder, and each breath he took was agony. The coughing fit must have been unbearable. Daniel fussed over the pile of pillows and tucked the white sheet around Robbie's chest.
"Consider yourself lucky it wasn't a poisoned arrow or you would be lying beside Reid in the Morgue right now."
"Don't!" the other man growled angrily and Daniel immediately felt like shit. He hadn't meant to remind Robbie that his CO was dead. That had been callous, but Daniel had only been thinking how glad he was to have Robbie alive when he said it. Seeing him take that arrow hit had been torture. It reminded him of the time Jack had been shot with an arrow whilst standing in the observation room.
Daniel sat back in his chair and reached for Robbie's hand again, but the lieutenant snatched it away. He was in far too much pain to be forgiving. He closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. Daniel reached for the book he had discarded earlier, determined to see this through. A deep sigh from the bed told him that Robbie was still awake.
"You don't have to hang around you know. I'm quite capable of sleeping unsupervised."
"I know, I just thought... !"
Robbie's eyes flew open and he glared at Daniel angrily.
"Look Danny, I don't really know how to say this, but I think we should call this whole thing off okay? I'm beginning to feel a little suffocated. I need some space!"
Daniel stared at him in disbelief. Robbie wanted to break up with him? He blinked several times. It should feel worse than this, right? He should feel like his heart had just been ripped out. Like when Sha're was taken, like when his parents died. But he just felt relieved. Before he could work out why, Robbie had rolled away onto his side, effectively ending the conversation.
Daniel got to his feet and walked out of the infirmary without a backwards glance. He felt euphoric, free, like a bird let out of its cage and he had no idea why. He had been in love with Robbie, right? This should hurt like hell. He walked blindly, and without thought, letting his feet lead him... straight to Jack.
The gear up room was empty except for the slumped form of Colonel O'Neill, sitting on a bench staring at his feet. Daniel took a hesitant step into the room, reluctant to disturb his friend's dark thoughts, but Jack's head lifted slowly and for a moment, Daniel could see the pain and torment within, clearly defined on the careworn face.
"How is he?" he asked quietly.
For an instant, Daniel genuinely couldn't think whom Jack was asking about. He sat on the bench next to his friend and stared at his own feet.
"Oh Robbie? He'll live. How did it go with the elders?"
"Oh fine, fine, you know."
"Got everything squared away?"
"Pretty much yeah."
"No more flaming arrows then?"
Daniel sighed and got to his feet. There was no reason for him to stay on base, not now that Robbie had finally decided he wasn't worth the risk. Eyes sparking, he held out a hand to his friend.
"Wanna get drunk?"
Jack looked from the outstretched hand, to Daniel's face and smiled. He had no doubt that once Robbie was fully recovered, Daniel would have no more time for Jack, but right there and then he was ready, and willing to spend time with his friend. Jack's heart swelled with pleasure, and he took the proffered hand, letting Daniel pull him to his feet. He may have hung on a little longer than he should have, but he really didn't care. They walked to the elevator in silence, thinking how much they had missed the simple pleasure of spending time in each other's company.
Jack threw another log on the fire and watched the sparks fly. In the end they had decided not to go to a bar, opting for the familiarity and comfort of Jack's house instead. They had polished off a bottle of double malt between them, and then started on the single and both men were comfortably drunk. Daniel slouched on the sofa, watching Jack as he used the poker to reanimate the dying fire, feeling happier and more content than he had in quite some time. The alcohol had even taken the edge of his raging hormones, allowing him to feel totally relaxed.
Jack staggered back to the sofa and flopped down beside his friend. He raised his half empty glass and proposed a rather slurred toast.
"To friendship! May it conquer all."
Daniel grinned and let Jack clink their glasses together, but before downing his whiskey he felt the need to correct Jack.
"That should be 'love' Jack. 'Love' conquers all."
"Same thing." Said Jack quietly. Daniel's glass froze halfway to his lips. He glanced sideways at his friend, but Jack was already reaching for the whiskey bottle for a refill.
"Are you saying that you love me?" Daniel asked, the humor of the situation evident in the lilting quality of his voice. Jack placed the bottle very carefully on the table and turned round to face Daniel.
"Now, now, Danny. You're already spoken for. I won't be a home wrecker."
Daniel remembered then, that he had completely forgotten to tell Jack that he and Robbie were through. He took a deep breath, ready to admit that Jack had been right all along about the lieutenant, but Jack interrupted him.
"Besides, I don't fuck men."
"Neither do I!" roared Daniel, unaccountably insulted by the crudeness of Jack's words. He was desperately trying to think of something equally insulting to reply with when Jack continued.
"Whatever! I just couldn't do it Daniel, not even for you."
Daniel's mouth opened and closed several times in rapid succession. What the hell was that supposed to mean? The alcohol had obviously relaxed his brain, too. He peered myopically at his friend trying to work out some of the subtext.
"Jack, DO you love me?"
The colonel drained his second glass too quickly and began choking and spluttering. Of course he loved Daniel! How could he not love him? He was his best friend, his moral conscience, his heart and soul, his... ? Jack blinked at Daniel though streaming eyes.
"Yes." it was almost a whisper. Daniel put down his own glass and grabbed Jack's free hand. It was trembling.
"I love you too."
Daniel let his hand slide up Jack's arm until it rested on his shoulder. Jack stared into the confused blue eyes and forgot to breathe. He reached up and pulled Daniel's glasses from his nose, never breaking eye contact and let them fall to the floor. Then traced one sweeping eyebrow with a shaking finger. Daniel sat motionless allowing the touch. Jack didn't know why he needed to do this, only that it felt right.
His thumb outlined the high cheekbone and the curve of Daniel's jaw before coming to rest at the corner of his mouth. Then continued to trace the parted lips as Daniel's eyes finally fluttered closed and a tiny sigh escaped. Jack gulped, thinking how easy it would be just to lean forward and kiss Daniel right now. The intensity of the moment brought him to his senses and he let his hand drop.
"Too much to drink..." he muttered sadly, pulling back both physically and emotionally. He had no right to touch Daniel, no right to want such a deep connection. He felt cast adrift, confused, torn apart. He didn't know what to say or do to make things right. Daniel wasn't his, and never had been. He had never wanted to be closer than this, and yet thinking of his friend in the arms of Robbie Preston made Jack feel sick, angry, shaky, soul-weary, and a whole raft of other things he just should not be feeling. Ever since he had found out about Daniel, he had been fighting conflicting emotions. He was jealous, and not just because he was losing his friend, but because he was losing Daniel.
Daniel meant the world to Jack. Yes, he loved him, yes, he wanted to be close to him, and YES, damn it, he wanted to kiss him! Jack jumped hastily to his feet trying to force the image to recede. Daniel stayed where he was, a silent witness to the war being played out on his friends' face.
"I should go." Daniel said quietly, understanding that Jack needed him to leave before 'things' were said. He could see that Jack was losing this battle, and took no comfort in the victory, because in truth, there were no winners. Because Daniel was losing too. How could he ever have thought that Robbie Preston was a suitable substitute for this man? This man that Daniel Jackson had loved for almost as long as he had known him.
It was because of this man, that Daniel had questioned his sexuality in the first place; realizing that the feelings he had for Jack went far deeper than they should, he had faced the possibility that he could be gay. Knowing that Jack would never return his feelings, he had settled for the first man that showed any interest, and fooled himself into thinking he was in love. Well he WAS in love, but not with Robbie. It had taken him long enough to admit it, finally seeing the truth when Robbie ended their ill-fated affair, and Daniel had run right to Jack.
And now it seemed that Jack felt the same conflict. Daniel was truly torn. If he left now, things would go back to the way they had been, with neither of them ever mentioning this again. Their friendship would remain as strong as ever, but their attraction would never be allowed to see the light of day again. But if he stayed, nothing would ever be the same again. Everything hung on the next move. Daniel didn't know what to do either. He let his head drop into his hands.
Didn't they owe each other at least the chance to find true happiness?
Jack stopped pacing and looked down at Daniel's bowed head, knowing he should let him go, but God forgive him, needing him to stay. He gulped back the words, praying for a meteor strike, a call from the president or even the blinding white light of the Asgard transport device; anything that would take him away from this hole he had dug himself.
But none of that happened. Daniel lifted his head proudly and met the troubled brown eyes. The courage sparking out of those eyes brought Jack to his knees. Gathering Daniel into his arms, he buried his face in his friend's neck.
"God, Danny I don't know what the fuck to do!" he mumbled. Daniel's arms were round him, pulling him closer, rocking him gently and reminding him all over again that Daniel wasn't his. "I need you to be part of my life so much it hurts, but I can't have you!"
Daniel drew back, kissed Jack's temple and then met his pain filled gaze again.
"Why can't you have me?" he asked quietly. Jack pulled away, scrubbing his hands across his eyes in frustration.
"Why? Oh let's see - Robbie Preston! Last time I looked, he had a prior claim."
"Should have looked again," whispered Daniel. Jack looked so confused that Daniel made it clearer. "Just before I found you in the gear up room, Robbie and I had decided to call it quits. We're finished Jack. He has no claim over me."
Jack gulped then looked at the floor, the wave of happiness threatening to sweep him away rapidly receding under the weight of all the reasons why he *still* couldn't do this.
"Okay, how about the whole 'air force rules on same sex relationships?' That's a biggie!"
Daniel reached forward and cupped the back of Jacks head, slowly, slowly pulling him closer. "You don't believe in them Jack, or you would have reported Robbie the moment you found out about us."
This was also true. Jack offered little resistance to the gentle fingers drawing him nearer. His eyes flickered closed when Daniel's tongue darted out to moisten his lips, only millimeters away from his own. He felt Daniel's breath on his mouth and shivered.
"I don't fuck men," he croaked desperately.
Daniel's tongue snaked out again, this time licking Jack's upper lip and he blew softly onto the wetness he had left behind. His voice was hoarse and deep as he whispered,
Jack's mouth opened in protest at that final comment, but the words died on his lips when Daniel's mouth grazed feather light over his. Daniel pulled back a fraction, and his eyes flew up to meet Jack's startled gaze. He moved in again, planting tiny kisses at the corner of Jack's mouth and all along his jaw line. He could feel the other man's heart hammering against his ribcage; with fear or desire, he had no idea which. Jack's head lolled backwards and Daniel trailed his mouth down the arched throat until he met resistance in the form of Jack's shirt.
Looking up, he saw that Jack was staring at the ceiling with a look of sheer terror on his face. Daniel had never seen his friend look so scared, not even when faced with an army of Jaffa warriors. Ask the man to go into a hopeless battle and he will do so willingly, ask him to reassess his sexuality and he goes into shock! If it didn't scare Daniel equally as much, he would have laughed at the thought.
Daniel could see that this was as far as he could hope to push his friend tonight. He got to his feet. "Jack, we don't have to rush into anything. If you still don't mind me using your spare room, I'm going to bed. We can talk in the morning if you want, when we're both a little more sober."
Jack gulped audibly but didn't seem able to speak. As Daniel turned to leave he found himself being halted by a tentative hand on his arm. He turned slowly, one eyebrow rising questioningly.
"It wasn't the booze talking Danny. That much I'm sure of."
Daniel's smile was truly dazzling.
There was no way he was getting any sleep that night. He didn't even bother getting undressed; just lay in the center of his bed, staring at the ceiling. Daniel was truly amazing. Despite the flame that had almost immolated them both, he had managed to pull away and give them space, give them more time to think. In many ways, Jack was grateful beyond words for that space.
He was also confused as hell. He had never intended for any of this to happen. They were going to spend a pleasant night getting drunk and enjoying each other's company and had ended up almost... well... kissing! Jack rolled onto his side trying to forget how much he had wanted to kiss Daniel.
But the problem here wasn't kissing. It was everything else that would surely follow. His body had betrayed him already, insisting that it didn't care how the end result was achieved and with whom, so long as he ended up sweat soaked, naked and satiated in someone's bed. But his brain refused to even go there. He had been serious when he had said he couldn't do it, not even for Danny.
Once the booze had begun to impede his better judgment, Jack HAD thought about it. The fantasy in his head had been fine right up until Daniel had actually reached out to touch him, then whoosh! Brain closed down, refusing point blank to supply any more visuals. A blessing perhaps? Jack wasn't sure anymore.
He rolled over to face the other way, getting a little tangled in the rumpled sheets. He was sure of some things though. He loved Daniel, which was never in doubt, and he cared about his happiness. He wanted to protect his friend, look after him, and be with him every waking moment of every day. He wanted Daniel in his life, in his face, but in his bed? That one remained unanswered, as he tossed and turned. Finally, in frustration, he kicked off the sheets and headed for the kitchen. If he was going to spend the night awake, he might as well start a pot of coffee to give him something to think about. But instead, he found himself standing in the doorway of his spare bedroom.
A shaft of moonlight fell across the bed, casting an eerie silver glow all around the beds' sleeping occupant. Daniel lay on his back, one hand over his head, resting on the pillow, the other clutching the sheet tightly at his hip. He still wore his sweatpants, but his chest was bare. Jack took a hesitant step into the room and watched in rapt fascination, the smooth hairless chest rise and fall with each of Daniel's breaths.
He stood there for what seemed like forever watching Daniel sleep. What would he give up to keep this man? His life? Certainly. His freedom? No question. His heart? Already done. But his body? Could he give his body to Daniel? He knelt silently beside the bed and gazed at the beautiful face, so relaxed and innocent in sleep. Could he give himself body and soul to Daniel?
He reached out and brushed a stray tuft of hair away from Daniel's forehead, marveling at how smooth the skin under his less than steady fingers was. It came to him then, the blinding epiphany; the heart- stopping realization; the truth.
He was falling in love with Daniel.
As the knowledge settled slowly like a cloak around his heart, he finally noticed that Daniel was watching him. Half expecting to be asked what the hell he thought he was doing, he was surprised when Daniel scooted backwards a little, lifting the sheet in silent invitation. Jack hesitated only a moment.
They lay facing each other, only inches apart, with a thousand miles of space between them. Daniel smiled and closed his eyes again. Jack sighed and closed his eyes too. Within moments, they were both fast asleep.
Daniel awoke to the certain knowledge that he was alone in the bed. For a brief moment, he wondered if he had dreamed Jack's presence here, until he rolled into the empty space beside him and caught the faint trace of Jack's aftershave on the pillow. Then he knew that it had been no dream. The smell of freshly brewed coffee forced him to crack open one eye. He immediately regretted it. This was going to be the hangover from hell.
At that moment Jack toed open the door and came in, precariously balancing a tray. He looked a little uncertain, as if he was wondering how much of last night Daniel remembered. The younger man decided to put him out of his misery if it meant that he would get that coffee any sooner.
"I wondered where you'd gone." He said yawning widely and stretching his arms and legs out as far as they would go. An audible pop from one of his vertebrae heralded his full extension. Jack winced, but Daniel sighed in contentment. There was nothing better than a good early morning stretch.
Jack placed the tray carefully on the bed and Daniel snatched up the coffee cup, taking a moment to savor the smell before raising the cup to his lips. Jack watched for a moment, thinking that if Daniel was as passionate about his kissing as he was about his coffee, it would definitely be worth waiting for.
"I made waffles." It came out as a croak. Daniel replaced his depleted cup onto the tray and shook his head.
"More c'ffee, then eat."
Jack's eyes narrowed, but relinquished his own cup never the less, waiting for that one to be drained too. Finally Daniel lifted a fork and prodded unenthusiastically at the plate of waffles. Jack took the fork, broke of a piece and popped it into friend's mouth before he could comment.
Actually the waffle tasted great, but Daniel's stomach was still a little queasy. He chewed silently, glaring at Jack over the top of his glasses. Jack refused to be intimidated, using the edge of the fork to break off another chuck. Before he could raise the fork, Daniel halted him with a firm hand wrapped around his wrist.
"Not a baby, Jack." He grinned. Jack let go of the fork, got to his feet and began to back out of the bedroom as he spoke.
"Gonna hit the shower. Don't scrape that into the garbage, because I *will* check."
A pillow impacted with the rapidly closing door and slid down to the floor with a thump. Daniel watched the feathers settle and popped another piece of waffle onto his mouth. Maybe it wasn't going to be such a bad morning after all.
Jack switched off the shower and wrapped a fluffy towel around his hips. He went to the sink and began the morning ritual of teeth brushing and shaving, feeling almost light headed with relief. Daniel hadn't freaked about Jack crawling in beside him last night like a child afraid of a thunderstorm. Of course there was nothing to get freaked about. Nothing had actually happened last night. They had slept in the same bed but hadn't even touched each other. They hadn't even properly kissed. *Yet*, amended Jack mentally, surprised that he now seemed to consider that a forgone conclusion.
Jack nicked himself with the razor and cursed at his hazy reflection in the steamed up mirror. Now was not a good time to be thinking about kissing. He finished shaving, splashed on a little aftershave, swore as the caustic liquid stung his shaving cut and scrubbed a fresh towel through his hair making it stick up on end.
Finally, he pulled on fresh boxers and headed back to Daniel's bedroom to check on the status of his friend's breakfast. At first he thought that Daniel must have locked the door when he met resistance, but on closer inspection, discovered that a pillow was jamming the door. He gave it a sharp push and managed to squeeze through the gap.
Daniel was still in bed, lying on his stomach, but at least the tray was now empty. Jack picked up the pillow, noting that it had burst open at one end and was spewing feathers at an alarming rate. As he clambered up onto the bed, his apparently sleeping friend suddenly reared up and whacked him soundly over the head with his own pillow. Jack tried to look outraged.
"What the hell was that for?" he spluttered taking a firm hold of the damaged pillow in preparation for his counter attack.
Daniel looked smug, "For threatening to check the trash. I don't need you to make sure I eat. I'm quite capable of... !"
The wrecked pillow slammed him sideways and a fountain of feathers erupted into the air. Under his breath, Jack growled, "Let the battle commence."
Less than ten minutes later, they were lying on the bed, draped over each other, covered with feathers, roaring with laughter and happier than they had been in a long while. Getting himself under control again, Jack propped himself up on one elbow and blew a feather off the end of Daniel's nose.
"I'm surprised you're not... !"
"... sneezing." Jack used the sheet to wipe his damp arm and then shoved Daniel off the bed. The younger man was sneezing in earnest now, spluttering and scrubbing at his eyes.
"Go swallow some anti-histamines and have a shower, Danny. I'll clear up in here."
Daniel coughed and sneezed at the same time then fled the room, leaving Jack to wonder, and not for the first time, just what the hell he was getting himself into.
By the time they arrived at Cheyenne Mountain, Jack was having a full- blown panic attack. He managed to make it into the parking lot without driving them off the road, and Daniel didn't seem to notice how uptight he was, or perhaps he had decided to ignore it. Either way, he kept up a steady stream of chatter about planet 'yawn' and the terms and conditions of the treaty they had signed. None of it really registered until Daniel mentioned his desire to return to the planet with the first supply team.
Jack walked silently across the lot, fishing in his pocket for his security pass. Daniel carried on talking, outlining the reasons why he should go. Much though he wanted to argue, he didn't trust himself to speak. In the security and comfort of his own home, he had believed that he might just be able to do this thing. But in the harsh light of day, reality was reasserting itself with a vengeance.
He plodded on behind Daniel, through the security check point, only half listening, until the other man's abrupt halt sent him thumping into the broad back. Daniel turned and stared at his friend in concern.
"You're freaking aren't you?" he asked softly. Jack couldn't bring himself to meet Daniel's worried eyes. Yes, he was freaking. Big time. How the hell had he ever contemplated doing this? With Daniel of all people? His best fucking friend in the whole world? So what if he loved the guy? If he was honest, he'd loved Daniel for years but this... this was a whole new level of interaction. This was unexplored territory and it scared the shit out of Jack.
He took Daniel by the elbow and propelled him through the corridors towards the lift. This was salvageable. Things hadn't gone so far that there could be no turning back. They could still be friends. As the lift doors closed behind them Daniel twisted free of the viselike grip on his arm and faced Jack, his chest heaving in an effort to control his erratic breathing.
"Damn it Jack, I never pegged you for a coward!"
Jack wasn't sure how to answer that. When it came to emotions and feelings, Jack knew he really WAS a coward, but it still stung to hear Daniel say the words. He hung his head, admitting with his silence that his friend would get no fight on this. Daniel stepped forward, gripping Jack's shoulders firmly.
"Please Jack, don't jerk me around like this. Either you're interested, or you're not. Which is it?"
Jack managed to look up, but his eyes fixed on the neckline of Daniel's shirt and refused to climb any higher. He wanted Daniel's friendship, that was a given. He wanted to kiss him, that had been proven, but all the rest? He still didn't think he could do it. He shook his head a little; wanting to look the man in the eye when he told him it was over before it had really begun.
But he couldn't do that either. He slumped against the wall of the elevator and stared at his shoes. His own confusion and jealousy had brought them to this point, further than he should ever have let it go and now he was going to hurt Daniel no matter what he did. And Daniel had suffered enough. Suddenly the elevator jerked to a halt as Daniel hit the emergency stop button and Jack found himself plastered to the wall by Daniel's hard, unyielding strength. He gasped, feeling the muscular legs crushing against his own. Finally he was able to meet the glittering blue gaze.
"What do I have to do Jack? What does it take to make you wake up and smell the coffee? What's holding you back? Fear? Or is it just that I'm not worth the risk?"
Jack saw the pain and insecurity flicker across the expressive face, quickly replaced by a sort of dull acceptance.
"That's it isn't it? Daniel Jackson isn't worth risking a career over. First Robbie, and now you... !"
Jack stiffened at the mention of Robbie's name. He hadn't had a chance to ask Daniel what went wrong between them, hadn't really wanted the details anyway, but if Robbie Preston had hurt Daniel by telling him he wasn't worth his sniveling, no-good career, then Jack would tear him a new one! Daniel tightened his grip, leaning even more heavily against Jack's chest, his anger rising to the surface again.
"... well its you're loss Colonel, and here's what you'll be missing!" Jack's head impacted with the wall under the onslaught. The kiss was hard, punishing, grazing, wringing a response from him, from the depths of his soul and he was seeing stars! It was incredible, erotic, different, the same! He felt himself melting, yielding, surrendering to need, following Daniel to the edge and looking down without fear. He felt himself harden, grow, responding in ways he wouldn't have thought possible.
Daniel deepened the kiss, his hands reaching up to clutch Jack's head. Keeping him firmly in place. Keeping him teetering on the edge of the precipice. Jack felt desire slamming into the pit of his stomach, taking his breath away, and forcing a moan from his bruised and abused lips. His fingers found their way under Daniel's jacket and then under the hem of his shirt and suddenly there was flesh, smooth and hot and vital.
His lips parted, begging for more and Daniel gave it, thrusting his tongue into the welcoming heat, exploring, touching, tasting until he could feel Jack moving rhythmically against him. This was insane! They were humping each other in an elevator in the SGC! Daniel pulled back, breathing raggedly and hit the emergency button again. Jack slumped against the wall as the elevator continued to the next floor.
Before Jack could think of a single thing to say, the doors had opened and Daniel had fled, pushing aside a gaping General Hammond and leaving Jack (shaking with reaction and even more confused than he had been ten minutes ago) to explain to his CO why they had held up the lift.
Jack was the last person to arrive at the meeting and he slid into a free chair beside Teal'c which also happened to be as far away from Daniel as it was possible to get without being in another room. Hammond launched into a quick synopsis of the upcoming return mission and Jack let his mind wander. Hammond was happy to send Hernandez through with the supply teams and had already assigned new personnel to SG11 on a temporary basis, but he needed a linguist to go along as an interpreter and Professor Sachs had been pretty well shaken up after the last mission.
"Dr. Jackson, would you care to accompany the supply team on this mission in Professor Sachs' place?"
Sachs raised his hand timidly and Hammond waited for him to speak. "That won't be necessary General. I would prefer to continue as SG11's civilian linguist if you don't mind."
Hammond glanced quickly at Hernandez who smiled fondly at the small man sitting across the briefing room table.
"And we would prefer to have him, no offense, Dr. Jackson"
Daniel muttered something under his breath that sounded like 'story of my life' but made no protest. There was more than enough work to keep him busy on this side of the gate. Hammond dismissed the teams and everyone filed out. Daniel watched Jack make a less than dignified retreat and gathered up his notes.
As he walked to his office, Daniel faced facts. Jack was no different from anyone else. He was attracted to Daniel, but not enough to take a risk. And now it was very possible that their friendship had been damaged too. He was alone again. No lover, no best friend, nothing. He reached the office and closed the door behind him.
His desk was littered with paper and a backlog of artifacts that would take him months to catalogue and suddenly, he couldn't face it. He wanted nothing more than to walk out the door and keep on walking. His eyes roamed the cramped office restlessly, trying to find something that would capture his interest. Something that he could lose himself in. Something that would absorb him fully. His eyes fell on the small, framed picture on his desk. The picture of Jack.
It had been taken the day Sam got her Major's stripes. Everyone had been dressed to the nines, and Daniel had fetched his camera, intending to save the occasion for posterity. Jack, Sam and Teal'c had all posed individually beside the speaker's podium. Originally Daniel had kept all three prints on his desk, but Rya'c now owned the one of his father, and Jacob had stolen the one of Sam on his last visit. Now only the picture of Jack in his dress uniform was left.
Daniel picked up the picture and ran his thumb over the image of the smiling face. Why didn't Jack love him enough? Why did no one ever love him enough?
With a deep sigh, Daniel shook himself out of the depression that lurked over his shoulder like a black thundercloud. Self-pity was something he had learned to fight long ago. Now was not the time to let it take him. He shoved the small picture into his desk drawer and cleared a small space to work in, then laid out the first of many translations.
Eight hours later, he was still staring at the translations. His concentration was shot to hell and he was growing more frustrated by the minute. Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was nearly five thirty. Time to take a break.
Jack stared at his empty coffee peculator petulantly. He had managed to hide in his office all day without a single visitor (very few people actually knew where his office was) and had managed to get through a lot of paperwork, but without some fresh coffee, he was going to fall asleep on his desk soon. Ducking out into the corridor, he headed for the commissary.
As he stood in the noisy line waiting to be served, he scanned the tables. Teal'c spent a lot of time in here, and it might be nice to actually have a conversation with someone who didn't ask awkward questions all the time. The line moved forward a pace and Jack's eyes fell on a table in the corner of the room. As he watched, Robbie Preston approached the lone occupant of the table who looked up with a confused expression.
Jack moved forward again without taking his eyes off Daniel. Preston seemed to be asking if he could join Daniel, who indicated that it was a free country and the young lieutenant quickly took the seat opposite. Jack's first instinct was to march across there and tell Robbie to take a hike. But, he reminded himself again, Daniel wasn't his property. He turned away and concentrated on the selection of sandwiches on display. He chose one at random, knowing that it would taste like ashes anyway.
The line moved again and he couldn't resist the urge to glance over his shoulder. Robbie was leaning in close, saying something that made Daniel look up in surprise. Jack's fingers tightened on the edges of his tray as he slid it along the counter. He grabbed a can of juice, added it to his tray and searched his pockets for his charge card. Of course there were no seats available in the whole damned canteen, and he had no intention of joining Daniel and Robbie so he threaded his way towards the door, intending to take his meager dinner back to his office. The sound of a chair toppling over and hitting the ground threw the room into silence and Jack's gaze followed the sea of surprised faces, seeking out the culprits.
Daniel stood, hands braced on the table, fury radiating from him like heat, while Robbie buried his face in his hands in embarrassment. Daniel straightened and threw his crumpled napkin onto the table but didn't make the situation any worse by shouting. He just turned and walked away. Jack watched him go, mouth hanging open in surprise. As the people around him picked up their conversations again, Jack finally got with the program and hurried after his upset friend.
Daniel didn't stop until he got to the security checkpoint topside. The guard on duty gave him the once over, noting that he was still wearing his BDUs but wisely decided to refrain from comment. Questioning members of SG1 about their adherence to the rules and regulations was a sure way of getting yourself reassed to Alaska. He was sure that Dr. Jackson had a perfectly good reason for leaving the base in his uniform.
A moment later, a breathless Colonel O'Neill approached, similarly attired and looking grim. The guard saluted crisply but O'Neill barely acknowledged it.
"Airman, did Dr. Jackson just sign out?" he asked. The guard nodded "Yes Sir, you just missed him. Less than five minutes ago..."
But O'Neill was already gone, trotting across the parking lot towards his car. The airman raised his pen hopefully, waving it in the air, but the Colonel didn't remember to come back and sign out, and he sure as hell wasn't going to insist. He carefully placed a small X next to O'Neill's name on the register. Alaska was freezing at this time of the year!
Daniel slammed the door to his apartment closed without turning on the lights, and tried to kick off his shoes, realizing belatedly that he was wearing lace up boots. He shrugged out of his uniform jacket and threw it down on a chair before tackling the boots. Once he was clad only in his fatigue trousers and black t-shirt, he got up and stared out of the French windows of his balcony at the lights of the town below.
Now that he had calmed down, he began to burn with humiliation at his outburst in the commissary earlier. He had overreacted to Robbie's attempt to patch things up between them. Evidently, in Robbie's case at any rate, absence had made the heart grow fonder, and suddenly Daniel 'was' worth the risk. Well it was too little and too late. And it had come at the wrong moment. Daniel was still smarting over Jack's abrupt change of mind.
In the silence of his own head, Daniel heard the sound of his heart shattering into a thousand pieces. Why did Jack not love him enough to take that final step? Then Jack's words came back to haunt him.
//I can't do it Daniel, not even for you//
He may have been drunk, but he remembered the words clearly enough. Not Even For You. Daniel sunk to the floor, letting his face rest on the cool glass. What the hell was he supposed to do now? He doubted he could go on like this much longer. How could he stay with the team when he couldn't even look at Jack anymore? How could he be so close and yet so very far away from the man he had come to love more than any other person he had known?
When he heard the knock on his door, he knew immediately who it was. Jack always seemed to know when Daniel needed him. He didn't bother to get up, the door wasn't locked anyway. A moment later, it swung open and Jack's head poked in.
"Has there been a power cut or something?" he asked reaching for the light switch.
"No... just leave it," Daniel said woodenly, "I prefer it dark."
Jack made his way though the gloom until he had located Daniel, still sitting on the floor with his head pressed against the windowpane. He planted himself on the floor next to his friend.
Daniel closed his eyes. Well at least that was better than Robbie's approach, which had basically been, "Hey Daniel, I'm hornier than a toad, lets forget the fact that I'm a complete asshole and fuck!" At least Jack had the sense to try to apologize first.
Jack leaned back against the cold glass and sighed.
"I should never have let it get as far as it did Daniel. I can be such a selfish bastard sometimes. I got confused, and I'm sorry."
Daniel let his head roll to the side so that he was facing his friend. "You're saying you were never attracted to me. That you don't love me?"
Jack couldn't meet his eyes. "No Daniel, I'm saying that I find you overwhelmingly attractive and that I'm head over heels in love with you, but I can't have you. I'm an officer in the United States Air Force. I've never backed down from anything in my entire life. But this scared me rigid. I've never even thought about being with a guy before. I was married, YOU were married! Fuck Daniel, what the hell is happening to us?"
Daniel got to his feet and helped Jack stand. "We're in love. Won't you take that last step with me Jack?"
Jack pulled Daniel into his arms, gently rocking his friend back and forth. "I don't think I can Daniel. I have no idea what it would mean. I'm almost 50 years old. How can this be happening to me now?"
Daniel nodded and pulled back, his heartbroken expression killing Jack.
"I won't spend the rest of my life alone Jack. I deserve happiness just the same as anyone else. Could you live with that? Could you live with me going home to someone else every night?"
"Answer me Jack, could you bear the thought of a man making love to me, touching me, making me cry out?"
"Please... don't." Jack's voice was barely above a whisper. He wasn't sure how much more of this torture he could take.
"Answer me, you fucking coward!"
Jack felt the rage rising in his throat. He wasn't angry with Daniel, he was angry with himself. For being a product of his upbringing and a society that wore blinkers, for not being strong enough to face his own fears and prejudices, for not being enough of a man to admit how much he needed the love of another man to make him feel whole.
When the phone rang, shrill and alien in the charged atmosphere, their bubble of silence burst and, both men almost jumped out of their skins. Daniel snatched up the receiver and barked at the poor bastard that had the gall to phone him when he was having a fight with Jack!
"Yes, what is it? Oh no, Robbie, it's okay. I'm sorry about that. I overreacted."
Jack's eyes were bulging. What was it with Robbie Preston anyway? Didn't the bastard get it? Daniel didn't want him. Daniel didn't belong to him. Daniel belonged to Jack! The force of that revelation brought Jack to Daniel's side in an instant. He took the receiver from Daniel's hand and growled into the receiver.
"Preston, Daniel is MINE. Don't ever call him again." Without waiting for an answer, Jack slammed the phone down and rounded on Daniel.
"Mine." He growled again, advancing on the astonished archaeologist. "Body and soul."
Daniel halted him with two palms planted firmly on the broad expanse of chest.
"Wait! Answer my question Jack."
"The thought of a man making love to you, touching you, making you cry out, turns me on Daniel. As long as that man is me."
Daniel let his hands slip down and around to cup Jack's ass, and to his credit, he barely flinched.
Daniel was shaking like a leaf. He couldn't quite believe that after all the false starts; he had finally gotten Jack into his bed. They were naked, sweat soaked and hard as nails, but Jack was obviously tense, and didn't seem to know what to do with his hands. They were still lying side by side, and apart from kissing, which they had both become very comfortable with, nothing much else had happened in over an hour.
Daniel decided it was definitely time to take matters into his own hands. He leaned close and whispered into Jack's ear.
"Jack, make love to me."
"How?" Jack mouthed, not sure that any sound would come out even if he tried. Daniel gave him a small confident smile.
"I'll take care of it."
Finally Jack relaxed. All his fears evaporated and he gave himself completely over to Daniel. It felt absolutely incredible. He had always been very much in the driver's seat when it came to sex. But letting Daniel take control like this was a freeing experience. He didn't have to worry about doing things wrong; he could lie back and let Daniel work his magic.
Daniel grinned when he saw the change come over Jack's features. He had made the right choice in not telling his friend that he was just as much a virgin as Jack was. His only real advantage here was the weeks of careful research he had conducted in all of Denver's libraries and bookstores prior to accepting Robbie's advances.
Theoretically, Daniel was an expert; it was just his practical experience that was lacking. He knew what he had to do to get himself prepared, and he knew that he had to distract Jack in order to do it; he just hoped that he didn't make a complete fool of himself.
Jack had settled himself back on the bed, his eyes were closed, and his hands rested on the pillows on either side of his head. Daniel took a deep breath, reached for the bottle of lube and the condom on the dresser and crawled up the bed, nudging Jack's ankles apart until he was kneeling between his spread thighs. Jack remained motionless, so Daniel carefully leaned forward until he could place his hands on the mattress beside Jacks hips. Almost painfully slowly, he brought his head down until his lips ghosted across the soft skin of Jack's belly.
He let his tongue trail downwards, dipping it into Jack's navel, and smiling at the way the muscles contracted, pulling the sensitive area out of his reach for a second, then relaxed again to allow him to continue licking his way further down. Jack was moaning now, mumbling unintelligibly and Daniel glanced up to see his friend's hands hovering just above his head. He knew what Jack needed, and he was almost ready to give it to him.
He squeezed some lube into his palm and made sure his fingers were well coated, then recapped the bottle and laid it back down. Then he reached his hand round behind himself and fumbled around until he found what he was looking for. At the same time, he let his tongue lap the head of Jack's cock and almost choked when Jack gasped, his hips coming off the bed and his cock embedding itself in the back of Daniel's throat. Jack realized what he'd done and tried to relax, mumbling his apologies as Daniel coughed discreetly.
Daniel was a little more cautious the second time, licking his way up the length of Jack's cock then back down to lap at the tightening balls. Jack was beyond rational thought now; his hands were gripping the white cotton sheets tightly, tugging at them fitfully. He was careful not to let Jack see what he was doing to himself as he brought his friend as close to the brink as he dared. When he was sure that he was as ready as he was ever going to be, he flopped down onto the bed next to Jack, smiling at the tiny whimper that escaped at the loss of contact.
Jack forced his eyes open, needing the spiritual connection as much as the physical one. Daniel carefully unwrapped the condom and slipped in onto Jack, then reached for the lube again; his heart racing at the gargled moans of pleasure coming form his friend's throat , then rolled onto his other side, his back to Jack and planted his foot on the bed, raising his knee. Jack's arms slid around him and he could feel the slick hot heat press against his ass.
He had one moment of blind panic, which quickly evaporated when he heard the fear in Jack's voice.
"Jesus, Danny, are we really gonna do this?"
He turned his head so that he could see Jack's face. "God I hope so" he pleaded, eliciting a chuckle from his terrified friend. "But only if you want to."
"I don't think I could stop now, Daniel, not even for you!"
Daniel gasped, feeling Jack move against him in desperation, his body trembling as much as Daniel's was. It was now or never. He pushed back against Jack's gentle thrusts and felt pressure build, despite his careful preparation. Behind him Jack's breath hitched and he froze, feeling the resistance and fearing it.
"No Jack! Don't stop, keep going for God's sake."
That was the final straw. Jack took a deep breath, a firm hold of Daniel's hips, one last look at his heterosexuality and pushed forward. He kept telling himself that Daniel knew what he was doing, that Daniel had done this before and he couldn't be hurting him, but something about the way Daniel was grunting worried him. Then Jack's breathing went up a notch in response to Daniel's desperate writhing and he sunk his teeth into the exposed neck.
"God! Oh!" Daniel cried out with a mixture of pain and pleasure. Jack's last surge had breached him completely, filled him, burned him, and branded him as Jack's.
Jack must have felt it too; his hand shook as he buried it in Daniel's hair. "I need you Danny, I need you," he whispered hoarsely into his friend's ear.
"God, Jack!" Daniel muttered disjointedly at the incredible feelings coursing though his body. It felt like being hit with a zat gun. Every nerve jangled, his entire being was focused on what Jack was doing to him.
Jack was whispering Daniel's name over and over again in time to his thrusting movements and Daniel's head was thrashing wildly, cords standing out on his neck as his breathing rate accelerated. His heart was hammering in his chest as he felt the powerful orgasm overtake him. Each thrust took Jack deeper; touching off sparks of pleasure like nothing Daniel had ever experienced. In aching slow motion, he felt Jack's hand slide from his hip to caress his straining cock and it was too much.
"Yes, Jack! Oh God, yes... YES!"
Then Jack was crying out as his own release slammed through him, eyes wide with wonder at the sheer intensity of it. They clung to each other as the incredible sensations washed over them, rocking gently now as their breathing began to settle. Finally Jack rolled Daniel over and marveled at the look of bliss on his lover's face.
"Daniel, I love you." Jack murmured into the soft mouth beneath his lips. "Always. Never forget that."
Daniel's eyes flew open and he kissed Jack soundly. When they pulled apart they were both smiling. Daniel cupped Jack's face tenderly and kissed the tip of his nose.
"Thank you Jack. I couldn't have wished for a better lover. You made my first time absolutely incredible."
Jack smiled and snuggled closer, Daniel's words not really registering to begin with. Then his eyes snapped open and he pushed Daniel away, seeking out the truth in his fathomless blue eyes. "First time? I thought you... ?"
"Fucked men? No Jack, those were your words not mine."
"But you and..."
Daniel sat up, trailing a finger idly across the hair sprinkled chest of his lover, tracing the chain of his dog tags fondly. "Never got past second base."
Jack grabbed the distracting hand and squeezed it, his voice rising in pitch as his sex-muddled brain tried to process all this.
"Daniel, you knew exactly what you were doing to me. And it was... it was... "
"It was what?"
Jack sat up, too, his hands unable to stop touching Daniel now that he knew what his skin felt like.
"It was mind blowing!" Jack experimentally tweaked Daniel's nipple, smiling when it crinkled and hardened under his fingers. Daniel batted his hand away and grinned.
"Books are amazing things, Jack. And the Internet is a valuable recourse tool."
Jack ignored him, shifting his position so that he could lick the neglected nipple. Amazingly, it puckered up too and Jack laughed at this new power over Daniel he had discovered.
"I can make you go hard" he grinned, his eyes moving downwards when he realized what he had said, only to find that he had been right about that too. Daniel sunk his fingers deep into the spiky silver hair and dragged Jack's head back up.
"Seriously Jack, you're fine with all this?"
"We're both taking a huge risk here, Danny, but I finally came to realize that you're more than worth it."
Daniel blinked at the annoying moisture stinging the corners of his eyes. One long look into chocolate brown eyes, told him that Jack really meant it. They could take it slowly now; learn each other's needs and desires. Daniel gave Jack one of his patented room- illuminating smiles.
"So you do love me enough." He whispered. Jack frowned and used his thumb to remove a tiny speck of moisture from Daniel's cheek.
"You're kidding right? I think I just proved how much I love you. Can't you see that I would do pretty much anything for you spacemonkey?"
Daniel's eyes narrowed, "You'd retire if I asked you to?"
"Move to Egypt and be my research assistant?"
"Sure why not."
"Give up fishing?"
"Ah, well, I suppose... If you could offer a more entertaining alternative, sure."
"Would you wear a bra and fishnet stockings?"
Jack shook his head and patted Daniel's ass fondly.
"Oh no, Danny, not even for you."