He’d thought he would go crazy. Being this close to Daniel, yet being unable to do anything about the pent-up desire within himself, was driving Jack out of his mind, he was sure of that. He’d tried so hard to be just friends, to restrain himself and keep what contact there was as innocent as he could make it, but the thought of things staying this way was enough to make him wonder how long he could continue this charade.
Because he didn’t want to be friends. To be honest, friendship was the last thing on his mind half the time when he looked at Daniel Jackson.
This time, Daniel’s touch was permission enough—Jack sank gratefully onto the bed, making sure he didn’t put any weight on Daniel’s side even as he captured Daniel’s mouth with his own. Daniel’s free hand grabbed at Jack’s sleeve, pulling him even closer, if that were possible. The moan that erupted from Daniel, stifled by Jack’s mouth as it was, when Jack’s thigh met with his groin, was enough to tell him he hadn’t been mistaken.
Daniel had let go of his hand by now, the one that had been trapped between their bodies snaking down to Jack’s groin, fingers working to free his erection. Jack moved a little, pushing himself up to allow Daniel access, feeling the first brush of air across his heated flesh as he did so.
He’d never expected to enjoy kissing another man so much, that was certain. Except he couldn’t quite envisage kissing anyone other than Daniel, sharing this intimacy with anyone else. And the fact that Daniel was as talented with his mouth as he was, as Jack remembered he was, probably didn’t hurt any either. Just the brief memory of his previous encounter with Daniel’s mouth, regardless of the embarrassing aftermath of that exchange, was enough to make Jack’s cock leap to life.
Daniel had pulled his mouth away, was nuzzling at Jack’s ear and whispering something that Jack had to strain a little to make out, even as his fingers wrapped around Jack’s erection and made him hiss with pleasure.
"You know," Daniel whispered. "Teal’c is right outside the door." Jack’s erection hardened even more, his libido betraying him. "Listening to everything we do."
"Oh god," Jack moaned, hearing Daniel’s answering chuckle even as he realized that the other man was right. They had an audience, that was certain. The thought was enough to push him over the edge, even as he heard Daniel laugh quietly once more.
As he struggled to catch his breath afterwards, Jack wondered just what it was about Daniel that seemed to have him terminally out of control. First the encounter in the rest room had shaken much of what he’d believed he knew about himself and now this—the moment Daniel had reached out to him, he’d been more than ready to throw himself into intimacy without a second thought.
Beside him, quiet sounds told him that Daniel was bringing himself off. Jack turned his head a little, watching for a moment as those same long-fingered hands that had brought him such pleasure completed that task in a workman-like manner. Daniel’s face was relaxed, his eyes half-closed even as he climaxed.
"I could have …" The words came out of Jack’s mouth before he thought about it, which was probably the only way he would have spoken them.
Daniel looked at him, even as he wiped his hand on a fold of one of the tattered blankets on the bed.
He wasn’t the only one thinking back to the rest room, it seemed.
"I could have." He still didn’t have to think about it, mostly because this time Jack knew it was the absolute truth.
Daniel had known Jack was watching him as he masturbated and the thought of it pleased him immensely. The fact that he was able to do so, that the sight of another man pleasuring himself didn’t make Jack turn tail and run, showed how far both of them had come since that first ill-starred encounter between them.
"What you said," he said, after a moment. "About Teal’c …" Daniel laughed at that, his response coaxing an answering smile from Jack. "How did you … no, don’t answer that."
"How did I know?" Daniel asked. Jack nodded, his face a little more uncertain now they were traveling into what were, for him, uncharted territories. "I didn’t. But it was a good guess, wasn’t it?"
He’d seen the way Jack looked at the Jaffa, had wondered whether the thought of being observed or overheard would do something for Jack—obviously he’d guessed correctly. Jack reddened a little, then looked away.
Daniel took the opportunity to clean them both off, tearing a piece of blanket that had seen better days from the bed.
"It’s not uncommon, Jack," he continued after a moment, feeling the need to have mercy on the other man. The last thing he needed was for Jack to panic again, now they seemed to have made some progress in whatever this was between them. And after all, it wasn’t as if there was really any place for Jack to go. "Just because the idea of being watched makes you hot, doesn’t mean you’d actually want it to happen …"
"If you say so, Jack."
"I do." Daniel had to work hard to hide his smile at Jack’s terseness. "Really. I mean it."
It was a little annoying how easily Daniel seemed to be able to get him going, one way or another. Those few words about being watched that Daniel had whispered in his ear had sent Jack hurtling over the edge, even though he had to say that the idea of Teal’c seeing what the two of them were doing didn’t do anything for him—his treacherous cock hardened a little at the thought, as if to give him the lie.
This present closeness was an enjoyable experience, though. After Daniel had cleaned away as much of the results of their intimacy as he could, and dropped the piece of blanket on the floor beside the bed, Jack had pulled him into a half-embrace which he’d almost expected Daniel to resist. He’d been pleasantly surprised when the other man had gone along with it, so that they now lay entwined, one of Daniel’s legs over one of his own, his arm around Daniel’s back. He only had to turn his head a little to look at Daniel, whose eyes were drooping closed once more.
"What?" Daniel managed to get his eyes open, though it clearly took an effort.
He didn’t know what it was he wanted to say. There was an apology in there, something linked to how he’d behaved after his unseemly exit from the rest room, mingled with gratitude that Daniel had considered it worth his while to try and rescue him, even though that hadn’t exactly gone to plan.
"Get some sleep, Jack," Daniel muttered, closing his eyes.
That was easier said than done, though listening to Daniel’s quiet breathing even out and slow as he fell asleep helped Jack immensely.
He couldn’t help feeling protective, even though he knew that was a ridiculous notion—it was also something Daniel would probably ridicule if he ever figured it out. It wasn’t that he thought Daniel was weak and needed protecting, but that he’d already been through a lot. The things Daniel didn’t talk about added up to a convincing picture of someone who needed some stability in his life—though he’d spoken about losing Nick, he’d never mentioned his family or friends, which seemed ironic considering how easily Daniel seemed to have fitted in at the project.
It was as though Daniel had subsumed everything to his academic life, using that as an escape route when the rest of his life was too painful. Langford had respected him immensely, or else he would never have been sent for to join the little knot of academics he’d created, but even though he’d seemed to target Daniel as a prospective son-in-law, there didn’t seem to be a great deal of liking on either side.
In some ways, Jack decided he could see why that was. Daniel was an immensely difficult person to get to know, hiding behind that wall of phenomenal intellect as he did. It was only by mischance that he’d gotten to see another aspect of Daniel Jackson, even if that other aspect had almost destroyed any chance of friendship between them almost before it had begun.
If it wasn’t for that, for those occasions when he’d seen something different in Daniel, would he have ever taken the time to get to know the real man? He thought it was unlikely. It would have been much easier to pigeonhole him as just another oddball academic, regardless of anything else about him, and leave it at that.
And if they hadn’t made their peace, if there hadn’t been Daniel prepared to follow him regardless of where Jack had gone when they made the Stargate work, he’d be alone. Either back on the planet he’d landed on, facing a short and uncomfortable life there or here with the Jaffa if he’d had the same persistence Daniel had displayed in making the alien device work. That thought didn’t sit well with him.
When he did sleep, in the end, Jack was reassured on waking to find that Daniel had barely moved. If anything, they were entwined closer together than before, Daniel’s death grip on his jacket giving indication of his unsettled dreams even as he blinked awake.
"I’d kill for some coffee," Daniel mumbled, as much to himself as to Jack. He flexed his hand when he let go of the grip he’d had on Jack’s clothing during the night—he couldn’t remember much of his dreams but was just left with a faint sense of unease.
"You and me both."
"So what now?" He hoped Jack had some idea, he really did. Daniel looked down at Jack, who seemed as tired and rumpled as he felt himself. "I mean with Apophis and the Jaffa."
"Bra’tac knows we have nothing that can help him."
"I wish we did," Daniel said, as he started to untangle himself from where he lay with Jack. "Nobody should have to live the way they do."
Jack was silent for a moment and Daniel took the opportunity to just look at him. They’d come a long way, both literally and metaphorically, in the past few days—last night’s encounter was an encouraging sign, intimating that Jack was becoming more at ease with who he really was. It had been a shock to Daniel too, when he’d discovered he wasn’t quite what his family had always wanted, so he could imagine how that realization had hit Jack.
"I guess all we can do is help them plan their revolution," Jack said finally. "And see what happens." He sat up. "Teal’c? You out there?" The curtain over the door swung open and the Jaffa entered. Daniel smiled at Jack, who reddened slightly. "I am so glad he doesn’t understand English," Jack continued.
"I plan to change all that," Daniel reminded him.
"Then next time, we make sure he really isn’t outside the door."
Next time, Daniel thought, as he followed Jack out of the room. He liked the sound of that.
"You have slept well, human?"
Jack smiled at Bra’tac—he couldn’t help liking the guy, who seemed an honorable type.
"We need to talk, Master Bra’tac," he said. "Whatever you’re planning, I don’t think we know anything that can help you."
Bra’tac looked at him, the plate of food he was midway through offering to them frozen in his hands.
"It gives me no pleasure to hear that."
Daniel had sat down beside him by now and Jack could feel him fidget in his seat. He shot him a sidelong gaze, as if to say I’m handling this and was pleased to see Daniel turn his attention to the food, taking the plate from Bra’tac’s hands.
"I do, however, have an idea."
Bra’tac’s face changed a little at that, a pleased expression emerging on his rugged features. He hadn’t told Daniel any of this, mostly because he was pretty sure Daniel wouldn’t think a great deal of his plan, and in fact would probably steadfastly oppose it once he realized the level of risk involved.
It was a risk Jack was prepared to take, though.
They couldn’t go home. Daniel had tried to use the alien device to get them back to Earth and it hadn’t worked, for whatever reason. Maybe the Stargate was packed up by now, or buried again, but the whys and wherefores didn’t really matter—what did was the cold hard fact they were stuck out here. And the longer this Apophis was around, and his kind, they were both in danger. The System Lords would assume, as Bra’tac had, that he and Daniel had some knowledge of what had happened to this Ra and wouldn’t stop to hear their denials. They wouldn’t be that lucky twice, he knew that.
And like Daniel said, it wasn’t right that Bra’tac and Teal’c and all the rest of them lived this way.
"You have an idea?" Daniel asked. "What idea?"
He ignored Daniel, even though he knew that was likely to be counterproductive in the longer term. He couldn’t deal with that now, knowing what Daniel’s reaction was going to be even before he outlined the rest of it.
"I think it’s time you take me to see Apophis," Jack continued. "Alone."
"No." That was Daniel, as he’d expected. "Absolutely not."
"What have you in mind, human?" Bra’tac asked. Like Jack, he’d pretty much ignored the fact that Daniel had even spoken. This was between the two of them, regardless of whether Daniel liked it or not. "He will wish to torture you for whatever information you may have."
"I’m relying on that."
"I said ‘no,’ Jack." Daniel’s voice was more insistent, but he managed to continue to ignore him anyway.
"He won’t expect me to be armed. He won’t expect you to let me near him armed."
Bra’tac smiled. It was a cold and calculating smile, one that reminded Jack that the man who currently sat opposite him had served his master for almost a century, probably doing some things that he didn’t much like to think about.
"It may work," Bra’tac said. "Apophis will not expect such a reaction, you are correct."
"Sure." Jack was feeling a little more confident now that Bra’tac seemed to be warming to the idea. "He’s used to everyone being afraid of him, right? And to you guys protecting him from anyone who isn’t …"
"Jack, you can’t do this."
"It will not be easy, human. You must not be fooled by his appearance—the Goa’uld that calls himself Apophis is cunning, many centuries old."
"Just get me close enough to do the guy some damage," Jack said. "I’ll do the rest."
Daniel was almost at boiling point by now. Jack turned to him, finally, trying to paste a reassuring smile on his face, though he knew it wavered at the concern he saw in Daniel’s expression.
"It’s too dangerous."
"Daniel, we don’t have a choice. If Apophis lives, we’ll always be in danger from him." He looked around at Bra’tac and Teal’c. "And so will they. We’ve been lucky so far, we met some honest Jaffa, but I’ll bet they’re not all like that."
Daniel’s expression was stubborn but he didn’t respond. Jack hated the fact he was right about this, hated the idea he had to risk everything in order to have even the possibility of safety for the future. He could see Daniel hated the idea too.
"Like I said, Jack. You’re not going alone."
Jack had wasted his breath trying to argue Daniel out of it, but he had no intention of being swayed. He didn’t intend to wait around like some damsel in distress, for Jack to go off and put himself in harms way without getting the opportunity to help him if he needed it. He also didn’t want his last conversation with Jack to be an angry one, if things went bad. So he’d stubborned it out, refused to discuss any other possibility and in the end Jack had given in, as Daniel had hoped he would.
So, they had found themselves being marched, side by side, down a long corridor leading into Apophis’ throne room. The room was empty at the moment, the only sound the echo of four sets of feet—Bra’tac and Teal’c had both come along, the two of them now as menacing as when they’d first met one another, regardless of the tentative friendships that had grown since then. He was reminded that the two men were warriors, born and bred, and that was something his familiarity with them had allowed him to forget for a little while. Now Daniel saw the more predatory side of the two Jaffa once more and was glad they were on his side.
"My lord Apophis!" Bra’tac called out, as they neared the ornate throne which took pride of place in the room. "I bring you prisoners of great importance."
There was a slight movement to one side of the room, the billowing curtains that framed the throne room shifting slightly as the four of them stopped.
Daniel wasn’t sure what he’d expected, what a self-proclaimed god would look like, but little could have prepared him for this. Apophis was tall and well-built, with an arrogant air about him, but other than that he appeared utterly human. It was only as he took his seat on the throne, looking at the four of them as they stood waiting, that anything seemed different about him. There was a change of expression, a flash of gold as his eyes lit and then he spoke for the first time.
"Kneel before your god." The voice was odd, echoing as if the speaker were in an empty room, and Daniel could understand how it helped to cement the impression of godlike power.
The blow behind the knees was unexpected, giving Daniel no chance to prepare for it. It was also somewhat harder than it needed to be, driving him forward onto his hands and knees and making him scramble to regain his balance. Daniel glared at Teal’c, whose face remained stoic, but he was certain he could see a glint of humor in the Jaffa’s eyes. Alongside him, Jack hissed as he struggled to his knees, having obviously received similarly enthusiastic treatment from Bra’tac.
"I bring you prisoners, my lord," Bra’tac said, again. "They claim to be of the Tauri."
"Do they?" Apophis leaned forward at those words, which clearly sparked an interest in him.
"This one," Bra’tac continued, indicating Daniel, "carried the mark of one of your rivals."
The Jaffa held out the pendant Catherine had given Daniel, in what seemed another lifetime. He hadn’t wanted to part with it, feeling somehow it would bring bad luck to do so, but the plan had required its use. Daniel watched Apophis, noting the growing interest in his expression—here was an almost serpentine quality to the man, as if he fixed the pendant with an unblinking snake-like gaze. Finally, after what felt like hours, he rose from the throne, shaking out his robes and stalking to where Bra’tac stood unmoving.
Apophis reached out, almost snatching the pendant where it hung from Bra’tac’s hand.
That was when Jack struck, driving upward from his kneeling position, the borrowed knife coming out of his sleeve and slicing up into Apophis’ stomach even as his knee twisted and gave way under him. Daniel heard Jack’s pained cry, mingled with the outraged roar of Apophis’ echoing voice, even as Bra’tac shoved Apophis to the floor and stamped on his hand. The hand in question, a red crystal at its palm, flared with light even as Bra’tac’s boot pressed on Apophis’ wrist so hard that Daniel could hear the bones crack under the pressure.
Jack was half-lying on the floor, the bloodied knife still gripped in his hand.
"Help me up," he said, the majority of his attention still on Apophis. Daniel moved quickly, coming to one side of Jack even as Teal’c, despite the language barrier, moved to help support Jack on the other. "We need to finish this."
"You have already done so, human," Bra’tac said.
Apophis’ body lay in a pool of blood, the hand with the crystal still outstretched across the floor—the other hand held Daniel’s pendant, chain entwined in the false god’s fingers. Daniel bent to pick it up, pulling slightly to release it from Apophis’ grasp.
"That was your plan?" Daniel asked, as he slipped the pendant into his pocket.
"It worked, didn’t it?"
Though they knew their rebellion against the System Lords was only just beginning, the Jaffa had celebrated long into the night at the death of Apophis.
Jack and Daniel had been honored guests, food and drink pressed into their hands by eager new-found friends, even as both of them had wished for the opportunity to escape. Jack could see the expression on Daniel’s face was getting more pensive by the moment—he wondered what his own face looked like when the next Jaffa who meant to give him a cup of some drink or other stopped in their tracks and backed away.
What Jack wanted, more than anything else, was to be alone with Daniel. To reassure himself that they’d both survived the day’s experiences, to reassure Daniel that he’d had no intention of throwing his life away if he could possibly avoid doing so.
And his knee was hurting too, the pain from where he’d twisted it before still knifing through it—Bra’tac hadn’t helped matters, when that staff weapon of his had crashed into the back of it, but the move he’d used to take down Apophis had pretty much ensured he’d be limping for at least the next couple of days. Jack tried to move his leg surreptitiously, straighten it without Daniel noticing he was favoring it.
"Your knee still giving you trouble?" Daniel asked. Jack smiled to himself at the tone, which was as worried as he’d wanted to hear at a time when neither of them were actually in any kind of danger. "You were limping pretty badly back there."
"Thank Bra’tac for that," he said. "I know Apophis wanted us to kneel, but …"
"Teal’c got a little too much into the part as well," he said. "And he looked like he was enjoying it."
"Let’s get out of here," Jack said. Suddenly he needed to be away from all this, away from the Jaffa who were watching him and Daniel like some kind of circus act. "I doubt Bra’tac and his pals will miss us."
Daniel nodded, stood, then turned to help him up. Jack was glad of the assistance, as a jolt of pain shot through his knee the moment he put any weight on it.
"It’ll be fine in a couple of days," he said, answering Daniel’s unspoken question.
"Sure," Daniel replied. "And in the meantime, let me help you."
His arm was slung over Daniel’s shoulder even as the other man spoke, letting Daniel take most of the weight on that side. He might be slightly shorter than Jack, and the nearness of him might be somewhat distracting, but Daniel more than made up in stubborn for what he lacked in size.
"So," Jack said, as they headed out in search of the room they were currently calling home. "How long do you think we’ve got before the rest of the System Lords come calling?"
"Not long. They’re not going to think much of losing their power base—if their Jaffa start getting ideas too …"
"Then we could be the start of a fully fledged revolutionary movement?"
"Something like that." They continued down the hallway, slowly in deference to Jack’s knee. "Let’s not worry about that till tomorrow, okay?"
Jack eyed Daniel’s profile as they walked, smiling to himself at the nonchalant expression the other man had managed to maintain, despite their closeness. He was half hard already, just in anticipation of what might happen between them when they got back to their room, whether his knee was playing up or not.
"Why?" Jack asked. "It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to be worried about."
He had to bite back the laughter that threatened to bubble out, particularly when he saw Daniel’s placid expression shift and darken a little.
"Well," he replied, "I’m sure that I can take your mind off the subject."
Jack grinned to himself, then let the grin emerge openly when he realized Daniel was watching him.
"Whatever you say, Daniel," he said.
|Continued in the epilogue...|