You're a selfish bastard, O'Neill, Jack thought, as he stared at himself in the bathroom mirror.
All in all, he was impressed with the fact that his hands weren't shaking as he shaved himself, though the lines of concentration that were there on his brow gave him away. It had been another long night.
Ever since he had returned to active duty, ever since he had agreed that Daniel Jackson, otherwise homeless on this planet, could come and stay with him while he sorted himself out a place of his own, Jack knew that he had been kidding himself.
Some small part of the colonel admitted, despite the way it made him feel, that it was good to have someone else around the place. Somehow his home had seemed empty since he and Sara had split up - although he had told himself that he liked to be alone, still it was good to have someone to talk to, even if they didn't share the same taste in TV!
He'd heard the scoffing remarks passed in the SGC, the ones about how no-one had figured the hard-assed colonel to be a soft touch for every waif and stray that passed by. They made it sound like Daniel Jackson was a puppy Jack had found abandoned in the snow, not a brilliant scientist who just didn't have anywhere else to go at the time.
And now it was nearly over.
Daniel had found a place of his own, so he would be moving out. Not that this would take long, of course - the archaeologist wasn't one for possessions. When he first got involved in the Stargate program, he'd just been evicted from his apartment, and all his worldly goods could fit into two suitcases. And most of that was books.
Jack had helped Daniel pile up the boxes of his belongings, making a tower of cardboard in the corner of his room, and there hadn't been very much more than there was then. After all, he had been away from Earth for two years, so he hadn't had the opportunity to accumulate - what he had owned then had been put into storage, as there were no next of kin to pass it on to.
Thinking back, Jack remembered the look of pleasure he had seen on Daniel's face when he opened the boxes Jack had recovered for him. His long fingers had brushed fondly over the photographs, skimming across the books packed carefully away, and he had beamed up at Jack in silent thanks for arranging that he be re-united with the few possessions he really treasured. That smile alone had made Jack's labours worthwhile, wiping away the time he had spent debating with the bureaucrats to get the boxes back in the first place.
It was moments like that which Jack would miss.
Of course, if he was being more rational, Jack knew that it was bound to happen sooner or later. He couldn't expect that Daniel be content to share a house with him forever, even though he felt that he was essentially the one who benefitted the most from the arrangement.
Daniel had proved a surprisingly easy person to live with, confounding those in the SGC who had been placing bets on how long it would be before the archaeologist got himself evicted. Jack had discovered this by accident, only hours after the two of them had argued for the first time, a trivial incident exaggerated by tiredness, and that discovery had spurred him on to reconcile with his friend. After all, he'd be damned if someone was going to make money out of him and Daniel falling out!
After that initial hiccup, the two of them had got along famously. Daniel wasn't a morning person, but Jack was able to work round this, never expecting anything coherent from him until after the second cup of coffee. At the other end of the day, Jack would often end up telling Daniel four or five times to go to bed - Daniel would just keep working otherwise, his relentless mind churning over and over the facts at hand.
"If you didn't have someone to keep an eye on you," Jack had joked once, "you'd die of a combination of starvation and sleep deprivation in a week or two!"
Daniel had just smiled and shrugged his shoulders, knowing the truth of that statement too well to argue.
And now it was nearly over.
Jack stared at himself in the mirror, contemplating the grey hairs that were appearing at his temples. The lines that he had always seen on his face, the ones that he had always considered to be the result of concentrating too much, or laughing too hard, were gathering companions.
You're getting old, O'Neill, Jack thought, his eyes relentlessly focussed on the signs of age he saw reflected before him. You're kidding yourself if you think he'd look twice at you.
He'd tried to deny the way he felt. He'd tried to tell himself that he was being a friend, being altruistic, when he had offered Daniel a place to stay, but in his heart Jack knew that he was a liar.
Even from the first moment he had seen him, Jack had fallen.
There was something about the archaeologist, something that, despite the time he'd spent thinking about it subsequently, Jack just couldn't describe. Daniel had an inner fire, something inside him that had drawn the normally reticent colonel, despite his best attempts. It was like he was a moth and Daniel was a candle flame - Jack knew there was a chance the flame would destroy him, but he couldn't help but be attracted.
Leaving Daniel behind had been easy, in a lot of ways - far easier than it would have been for Jack if he had returned through the Stargate with him as he was meant to do. Jack didn't have to deal with the way that this man was thawing out the places he had thought frozen inside him forever, or see him walk away when the project closed. He knew that Daniel was safe, with the people of Abydos, and a small part of him hoped he would be happy there. The rest of him seethed.
He spent his nights looking up at the stars - a casual hobby threatened to turn into an obsession, as Jack spent hour after hour gazing up into the heavens.
Then, when the call came, secretly Jack was glad. He would never have admitted it to himself, but he was resigned to the fact that he had been caught out in his lies. That meant that he would have to return... to Abydos and to Daniel.
He'd thought it over a hundred times, what he would say, how he would act when he saw Daniel again, but when it came down to it he just couldn't. All that time mentally rehearsing his lines, the casual way he would stroll over to the archaeologist and make it clear he hadn't wasted a moment's thought on him since they last met - all wasted in the end.
The moment he saw those eyes, heard that voice, all Jack's carefully laid plans went out of the window.
He had to think of a diversion, and had latched onto Skaara, though he hated himself for it. He had hugged the boy, when all he wanted to do was embrace Daniel and never let him go.
By the time he and Skaara had separated, Jack had regained some of his self-control, and was able to act like he wanted. He was casual, relaxed, throwaway lines at the ready - all giving the impression of a man who wasn't totally besotted with someone he'd been dreaming about, fantasising about for the past two years.
Deep inside, he knew that he had hoped something would come of them living together.
Jack felt such a heel to even think that Daniel, still desperately searching for his wife, risking untold dangers for the slightest chance to rescue her, could think of him that way. He despised himself for it, but he couldn't stop the way he was feeling.
At night, he would lie awake and think of Daniel, knowing the archaeologist was only feet away, and those thoughts were a bitter-sweet torment to him.
Sometimes, after a bad mission, he would hear Daniel's dreams, hear his friend sob in his sleep and yearn to comfort him. It took all the self-control Jack had, every time he heard his friend's broken cries, not to rush to his side, to resist the urge to enfold the younger man in a comforting embrace. But he never did.
His eyes would linger on Daniel as his friend pottered about the house, oblivious to the fact that he was being studied as intently as he studied the artifacts they retrieved from their missions.
As time went on, Jack had hoped that Daniel would stay, that inertia would mean that his friend would linger with him, comfortable in their nest together.
But now it was nearly over.
"You nearly done in there, Jack?"
Daniel's voice came from outside the bathroom door, jolting Jack back into the real world.
"Be out in a minute," Jack replied, reaching for a towel to wipe away the last traces of shaving foam from his face. "You packed?"
"Just about," Daniel replied, then there was a pause. "Thanks for helping me move in, Jack. I really appreciate it, you know?"
"No problem," Jack replied, as he listened to Daniel's footsteps recede from outside the door. Liar, he reproached himself, staring into the mirror again.
The move went smoothly, all of Daniel's boxes fitting into Jack's jeep and Daniel's car. Even the moving of boxes from car to apartment was the matter of minutes' work, rather than hours, and it was not long before the two men were sitting in Daniel's new apartment, surrounded by all his possessions.
"Beer?" Daniel enquired, getting up from where he had been slumped after the last box had been brought in.
"You got some?" Jack asked, an eyebrow raised in surprise.
"Came over yesterday and stocked up on groceries," Daniel admitted, with a grin.
"Well," Daniel began, as he snagged two beers from the fridge, "I couldn't expect you to help me move and then have no beer to make it up to you, could I?"
"Good point," Jack replied, raising his beer in a mock-salute to Daniel. "Here's to your new home."
Daniel took a swig of beer, swallowed and then seemed about to say something. Reddening slightly, he studied the label on his bottle intently, his thumb playing with its' edge as he began to speak.
"I wanted you to know," Daniel began hesitantly, his eyes still intent on the bottle, "how much I've appreciated you putting me up for so long. Bet you thought I was never going to move out?"
It was clear to Jack that Daniel was uncomfortable, and was trying to make a joke, in order to lighten the atmosphere between them.
"It was no problem, Daniel, I enjoyed having you stay with me." Jack looked at his friend, who was still blushing slightly, unwilling to meet the colonel's eyes. "You didn't feel like I was pushing you out, I hope?"
"No. It's just that I noticed..." Daniel began, then seemed to change his mind. "No, it's nothing."
"No, don't worry about it..."
"WHAT?" Jack's voice rose slightly, his years as an officer coming into play.
"Well, if you have to know," Daniel said hesitantly, "...over the past few weeks I've felt like you've been watching me. It's ridiculous, I know."
Daniel looked up as he was speaking, just in time to see Jack look away. A faint blush was appearing on the colonel's cheeks as Daniel looked at him, and in the end, Jack got up from the chair where he had been sitting and began to pace up and down, a sure sign that he was uncomfortable.
"Jack?" Daniel asked, watching his friend measuring the carpet with his feet. "You have been watching me, haven't you..."
Jack was silent, not even trusting himself to answer Daniel, knowing he might not be able to lie convincingly about this most important of subjects.
Daniel's voice was firm, and came from directly in front of the colonel. Jack stopped suddenly, discovering Daniel planted firmly in his path.
"What's going on?" Daniel asked, standing in front of him, arms crossed in a determined manner.
"I don't know what you mean..." Jack began quietly, his voice grinding to a halt when he saw Daniel's eyebrow rising in silent disapproval of this most obvious of lies.
It was no use. There was no way out of it, Jack knew that now. He would have to admit it and face the consequences.
"Okay," he muttered.
"Okay, I have been watching you, looking at you when I thought you wouldn't notice..." Jack mumbled, not daring to look up and see the expression he expected to see in Daniel's eyes.
"How long for?" Silence. "All the time I was living at your house?" Daniel pressed, not moving from his position in front of Jack. Jack shuffled his feet slightly, before answering without looking up.
"Yes. I know I shouldn't have, you were a guest in my house..." Jack began.
Jack heard a noise, something that sounded suspiciously like 'I knew it', but when he looked up, for the first time since this uncomfortable subject had been raised, Daniel was just standing there, looking back at him.
His eyes were bright, shining with the life that had always attracted Jack and the colonel had to work hard to stifle a sigh of desire.
Daniel's voice shook Jack from his contemplation of his friend's eyes.
"You're staring at me."
Jack felt the rush of blood to his face, the embarassment caused by those simple words.
"I should go," he said suddenly, spinning back to the couch in search of his jacket.
As Daniel spoke, Jack turned back to him, half of his mind still firmly fixed on the need for flight. Daniel took a step closer, his hand coming up to snag Jack's sleeve, the warmth of his fingers penetrating through the material in the time it took for Jack's heart to beat again.
"This is my place, Jack," Daniel said quietly, his eyes intent on Jack's face. He raised his other hand slowly to Jack's cheek, his fingers brushing gently across the skin there, cataloguing the beginnings of stubble, the tiny scars, the laughter lines beside Jack's eyes. "You don't have to run away."
"Don't toy with me, Daniel," Jack growled, stepping back from the archaeologist. Daniel's hand fell away from its exploration of Jack's cheek, but the other kept its grip on his sleeve, as if afraid that the colonel would turn tail and run.
"Never," Daniel sighed, his eyes blazing with light and life. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. At first I thought I was imagining the way that I saw you look at me, but after a while I knew that I was right."
"You knew all along?" Jack asked. "And it didn't make you uncomfortable?"
"Well, a little," Daniel confessed, with a smile. Jack's face was solemn, no answering grin as Daniel was hoping, and the younger man pressed on, knowing that his friend had misunderstood him. "Only because you never said anything. That made me think I was making too much of it, that I was misinterpreting what I saw in your eyes..."
Jack shook his head. His throat had seemed to close up, robbing him of speech, not that he would have known what to say....
"But I wasn't, was I?" Daniel asked, his eyes locking onto Jack's eyes, as if searching them for the answers Jack was unable to articulate.
Jack shook his head again, a small smile starting to appear on his face.
"Stay here, Jack," Daniel said suddenly.
Jack's eyes widened, and he began to speak, his words tumbling over each other in their haste to be heard.
"Daniel... I... you can't... we..."
Daniel smiled, bringing his hand up gently, his fingers brushing over Jack's lips to silence him.
"This is my place, Jack," he repeated. "My place, my rules, okay?"
As he spoke, Daniel leaned slowly forward, replacing his fingers with his lips, a soft caress that stole away all Jack's rational thought. All he knew was that the man he had desired so long, who he had watched for so long, never dreaming that anything could ever happen between them, that man was kissing him with a passion and a warmth he had never dared hope he would experience.
Pulling back for a moment, Jack contemplated the face before him, the face that had haunted his dreams, peopled his fantasies. A pair of blue eyes, full of life and desire looked back at him.
"Nice place you've got here, Daniel," Jack said quietly, before kissing him back.