What the hell did you think you were playing at, O'Neill? Jack thought angrily, as he headed out of the locker room. You could see Daniel was embarrassed, but could you cut him some slack? No, you just had to keep on going, didn't you...
Inside, Jack knew that the look Daniel had given him when he had caught him staring should have been enough of a warning for him to realise how much he was upsetting the other man. But instead, he had chosen to ignore the little voice inside him that said he was going too far.
Having spent a good chunk of his life in the military, Jack had been forced to become accustomed to communal showers - as a result, sometimes it was far too easy to forget that not everyone was that comfortable with the concept of stripping off in front of other people....
Still, he had known somehow that Daniel was watching him, even though his eyes had been closed and he had done as good a job as he could at disguising the way that such scrutiny made him feel. Focussing on images of icebergs and recalling just how close he had come to being zapped by the wormhole forming on their last trip through the 'Gate had kept his blood supply circulating where it should.
There was something about being watched, particularly by Daniel, that sent a guilty frisson of desire straight to Jack's groin. Even now, as he was heading to the briefing room, all he could think about was the opportunities that might present themselves later on that day.
And those thoughts led to a completely new set of feelings for the normally self-confident colonel. This was a whole new territory he was entering, one where nothing was familiar. Jack had never considered himself to be much of a ladies' man - he had been too focussed on his career to date much until he met Sara.
Even though he trusted Daniel more than anyone else on the planet, let alone a number of other planets, there was something about the physical acts he was considering that scared Jack a little. Sure, he understood the mechanics - what he had not heard gossiped about one time or another was neither here nor there - but to actually consider being involved in such actions....
Could he really let another man, even one he trusted, even one he loved as much as Daniel, touch him like that?
Oh boy, Jack thought, swallowing a little nervously as he headed into the briefing room.
Damn him, Daniel thought, towelling his wet hair furiously.
His face was still a little flushed from the embarrassment he had been feeling when he discovered that Jack was watching him. It had been just as bad as he expected it would be - he had never been someone who was completely comfortable with his body, always comparing himself to others, finding fault where there was nothing he could do about it.
When he had returned from Abydos the first time, Daniel knew that the year of hard manual labour had paid off - he had developed muscles in places that he had formerly never considered, even though he had been pale as a result of covering his easily-burnt skin from the Abydos suns. But all thoughts of having a reasonable physique had disappeared the moment he had stepped into the locker room with Teal'c.
He had seen the looks that a large number of the female population of the SGC, not to mention a number of envious males, gave the Jaffa every time he walked down the hallway. It was also true that the clothing they wore served to heighten the differences between them - nothing short of a large sack could disguise the physical condition that Teal'c was in.
Good thing we're not in competition, Daniel thought, smiling to himself.
His rebellious mind sent him back to the moments earlier on, when he had watched Jack in the shower. Daniel's mouth grew dry as he recalled the way that the water had trailed down Jack's body, highlighting every curve, every muscle in a way that his hands just itched to follow.
There was something about considering Jack that way that made Daniel feel a little guilty, even though Jack had made it clear that he found such scrutiny something of a turn on.
It had taken all Daniel's self-control not to join Jack under the pulsing streams of water - only his fear of discovery, of the consequences of being found out within the SGC had been stronger than his desire.
And when we get back to my place? Daniel thought, with a guilty start. What then?
His mind, inventive as it normally was, balked at even beginning to consider what it might be like to sleep with Jack O'Neill.
He had no doubt that Jack would be fierce and passionate, yet their earlier encounter had also shown a self-controlled side that Daniel had not suspected.
And the thought of the responsibility he bore towards the colonel as a result made Daniel shudder slightly - Jack had practically confessed that he had no idea what to do, when they were together.
Damn... Daniel thought again.
"That was quite a spectacular entrance, sir," Carter said, taking a seat at the briefing room table.
"Thank you, Carter," Jack replied with a grin. "I look forward to watching our performance on video some time. So... marks out of ten for style?"
"From where I was standing in the control room," Carter said, with an answering smile, "it looked like you were trying for speed rather than grace. Shame that the tumble turn at the wall didn't work out, though..."
"Hey! I'm graceful," Jack said, mock-pouting slightly at the affront.
"Of course you are, sir," Carter replied, her tone more serious than the glint in her eyes suggested.
"Of course Jack is... what...?" Daniel asked, coming into the briefing room at exactly that moment.
"Hi, Daniel," Carter said, with a smile. "The colonel was just insisting he's graceful."
"Come on Daniel," Jack urged, "you've seen me in action. I'm expecting you to leap to my defence, here..."
As he spoke the words, a look passed between the two men. Daniel felt it hit him, like a wave of heat.
"Why, Jack?" he joked weakly, knowing that was just the response everyone expected of him. "Haven't you managed to dig yourself a deep enough hole on your own?"
Inside, Daniel was thinking something different - he had indeed seen Jack in action and knew exactly what he wanted to say. Of course, what he wanted to say and what he could say were two different things, as different as day from night, and Daniel knew that too.
So did Jack.
Daniel could tell that by the look the colonel had just given him.
It was a look full of promise - not over-confident, an edge of worry lurking there in the depths, but one which suggested a desire to learn and experience.
As he sat in the conference room, Daniel tried to calculate how much time he'd spent sitting at that very table over the past couple of years. All in all, that room had seen just about every emotion known to mankind and various aliens, seen all of SG1 at their best and their worst, but had also played host to some of the longest hours of his life.
Like this one.
It was sheer torture, to be sitting there so close to Jack, yet Daniel found himself unable to even dare to look in Jack's direction. He was so sure that even a glance would be enough to send him spiralling into the depths of emotions he wanted to experience in quite another place altogether. A place that involved a bed, for starters.
From where he was sitting, studiously avoiding looking at the colonel, Daniel could hear Jack's voice, which flowed over him like warm honey. There was such a confidence in it, such drawling good humour that Daniel was almost convinced by it that Jack did not have a care in the world.
Anyone who had not devoted the amount of time and study that Daniel had over the time that he had known Jack might have been fooled. They might have thought that Jack's world had not been turned upside down recently, that he too was contemplating what might happen later on.
Still, Daniel's auto-pilot seemed to be working fine. He was able to respond without too much prompting to the questions that the general asked, even though his mind was otherwise engaged.
When Jack looked at him, even though he avoided meeting the colonel's eyes, Daniel could feel the weight of that gaze as it rested on him. It burnt straight through any defenses that Daniel might have erected, given enough time, telling him that Jack knew exactly what he was thinking about, what he had been fantasising about all these past months.
Suddenly, the room seemed too small, the air too close about him and Daniel almost panicked. It took a large measure of self-control to remain in his seat, rather than running out of the room, fleeing by the stairs that spiralled down in one corner.
And when, finally, the meeting ended, Daniel was left convulsively clutching the edge of the table, like a drowning man clutching at what he hoped might save him. He could see the way that the skin over his knuckles was turning white by the strength of his grip, watching the colour change with a strange detachment, as if the hands belonged to someone else.
"Let's go home, Daniel," a voice said, shattering the stillness that Daniel was not sure existed anywhere outside of his head.
Turning his head slowly, towards the man who had spoken, Daniel and Jack's eyes met. There was an understanding there, a recognition of the step that they were about to make, the irrevocable nature of it all.
Suddenly, seeing that understanding in Jack's eyes, Daniel felt so much better about it all.
Jack had paid a little more attention to Hammond and the conversation in general. After all, he had a reputation to keep up and it was not one of being easily distracted, like the one that Daniel had. He knew that unless he made his usual wisecracks, people would start to suspect that something had happened, was happening, and the last thing that Jack wanted was for anyone to suspect a change in the status quo.
But he could not stop himself from sneaking surreptitious glances in Daniel's direction, noting that he was even more outside of what was going on than usual. Sure, Daniel had managed to contribute appropriately to the discussion, but there was a look of being elsewhere on his face.
If he had been more of a betting man, Jack would have happily laid money on the source of this particular distraction. After all, being personally involved in whatever scenario Daniel was doubtless running through in his mind gave Jack a special understanding of the scientist's dilemma.
When the briefing ended, everyone else had left, Carter casting knowing and sympathetic glances towards both Jack and Daniel, to Jack's annoyance. It was difficult enough to contemplate such an overwhelming change in everything he had thought he knew about himself, without Carter's unspoken commentary on it all.
Jack stood, crossing round to the head of the table, his hands resting on the back of the chair where Hammond had been sitting.
From there, he could see where Daniel was still sitting, in particular noting the death grip the younger man appeared to have on the edge of the table. He was staring down at his own hands, as if he could not believe what he was doing, those bright blue eyes focussed intently.
When Jack spoke, and Daniel looked at him, it was as though the universe suddenly shrank, contracting until the only people it contained were the two of them. There was a nervousness in Daniel's expression that struck at Jack's heart, bringing out all his protective instincts where Daniel was concerned.
"Your place or mine?" Jack continued, with a wry grin.
Jack saw the way that Daniel's eyes widened slightly as he took in the implications of those words and that the younger man seemed to be giving the matter some thought before he spoke.
"Yours." Daniel's voice was low and quiet, making Jack lean forward slightly to catch the words. "I have neighbours."
They made it to the surface in record time. There was nothing unusual about the two men leaving the base together, it had happened a thousand times before, but Daniel still felt as though they were making some kind of escape bid.
There was a strange fluttering sensation going on in his stomach, so unsettling that he was sure that anyone who took a proper look at him would instantly know what he and Jack were planning to do.
"Daniel," Jack began, after they had travelled in silence for a couple of miles. "I... uh..."
Those slightly stammered words were all that Daniel needed for reassurance. Not only did Jack understand what he was experiencing, he was also feeling it himself.
"It's going to be fine," Daniel replied, reassuring himself as much as Jack with the words.
At first, when he said them, he was almost surprised at how calm they sounded - after a moment's reflection, Daniel realised that this was due to the fact that he really believed that this would be the case.
They travelled the rest of the way in silence - not the awkward silence that hangs heavy, but a companionable quiet, heavy laden with anticipation.
Daniel followed Jack up the steps into the house, his stomach churning more and more with each step.
"Now what?" Jack asked, shutting the door behind them.
"This isn't a spectator sport, Jack," Daniel said. "How about we go sit down and then see what happens?"
"That sounds like a plan," Jack agreed.
Taking his jacket off, Jack headed into the lounge, without looking back to see if Daniel was following him. He could hear Daniel hanging up his coat, as he took a seat on the couch, leaning forward to undo his shoes before pushing them off his feet by catching them on the edge of the coffee table. The second shoe hit the floor with an audible thump just as Daniel appeared in the doorway.
Leaning back into the embrace of the couch, Jack watched the warm flush that rose on Daniel's face as the younger man's eyes raked across him as he sprawled there.
"Didn't you say something about this not being a spectator sport?" Jack asked, stretching until a number of joints popped. "Get over here, Daniel," he continued, after a moment, as Daniel was still just standing there.
Taking a deep breath to steady his nerves, Daniel crossed over to the couch where Jack was waiting. He felt the soft surface dip beneath his weight as he sat, watching the way that Jack smiled at him as he did so, mesmerised by the expression he saw in the colonel's eyes.
"What now?" Jack asked, his eyes still locked with Daniel's.
"I can think of all sorts of things," Daniel replied.
"I bet you made a list, didn't you?" Jack said, his smile growing. "Methodical scientist that you are..."
"Had to make sure I don't miss anything." Daniel inched closer as he was speaking, until his leg was pressed against Jack's thigh, heat searing through the layers of material that separated them. "After all, if I missed something out, I'd just have to go back to the start and begin again..."
"And that would be a shame, wouldn't it?" Jack asked quietly, his hand coming up to trail gently across Daniel's cheek, his fingers stroking their way across his skin. "All that data wasted, just because you forgot something."
As he spoke, Jack's fingers curled slightly under Daniel's jaw, pulling him forwards and sideways, so that Daniel's head came to rest on the back of the couch, mere inches from Jack's face.
"Uh huh," Daniel agreed. Closing his eyes, he lent into the touch of Jack's hand, feeling his fingers exploring each curve. "Waste. Need to be thorough."
"We'll have to see what we can manage, Daniel," Jack muttered, fascinated by having him so close.
As they rested there, mere inches separating them, he studied Daniel's face, marvelling at the innocence of it despite all the terrible experiences of the past few years.
For a moment, there was silence between them, and Jack began to wonder whether Daniel had fallen asleep. The other man was still, quiet, his breathing even and measured, his eyes closed as Jack's fingers danced lightly across his skin.
Then Daniel's eyes opened, a sudden movement. Leaning forward to cross the inches between them, Jack's hand falling to his shoulder as he did so, Daniel captured the colonel's mouth with his own, his hand coming up swiftly to trap Jack's head in place as he plundered it.
After the initial surprise, that brief moment of consideration, when Jack wondered whether this was really what he wanted to happen, all his doubts were swept away. In their place were thoughts of what he would like to happen next, sensations rushing through him too fast to categorise, a rising tide of desire that threatened to sweep him away altogether.
His hand still resting on Daniel's shoulder, Jack could feel the warmth of the other man's skin leaching through to him, his pulse a steady counterpoint to the pounding of Jack's own heart.
How could he have had any doubts about the rightness of this? Even though he felt as though he was plunging into uncharted waters, Jack was drawn along by the cord of his desire.
Daniel had moved now, his mouth tracking warmly across Jack's neck, trailing tiny kisses and nips down to the colonel's collarbone, even as the hand which had been wrapped in Jack's hair slid down his side.
Jack felt his neck arch, beyond his control, twisting himself to allow Daniel access. He could feel Daniel's fingers busy themselves at his waistband, pulling up the material that gathered there to slip beneath. His touch was like a brand, each finger feeling like a tongue of flame, licking its way across Jack's already sensitised skin.
He could hear someone moaning, the sound coming from what seemed like far away, and it took a moment for Jack to realise that he was the source. Daniel's hand had slipped round to his chest, long agile fingers stroking their way across his abdomen, tracing the curve of rib and muscle.
Even this touch was enough to make what remaining sense Jack had flee screaming from his head - with another moan, louder this time, he moved his hand round to the nape of Daniel's neck, pulling gently at the other man's head and guiding that roaming mouth back to his.
My turn, he thought, as he nipped his way along Daniel's jaw.
Pulling back slightly, for a moment, Jack paused to marvel at the expression of bliss that had appeared on Daniel's face. Daniel's face reminded Jack of nothing more than the cat that had eaten the canary in so many cartoons - he almost expected to see small yellow feathers sticking out of the side of Daniel's mouth, he looked so satisfied.
He could feel Daniel's fingers, ever mobile, playing with his belt now, pulling at the leather as it passed through the buckle. Even with his eyes closed, Daniel's fingers were dextrous, agile, freeing the way to Jack's fly with a speed that the colonel marvelled at.
"Jack?" Daniel muttered, his eyes opening slightly. From his position, so close to Daniel's face, Jack could see the arousal that Daniel was experiencing - his pupils so dilated that their normal shining blueness was almost swamped by black.
Just as he was about to speak again, Jack realised that Daniel's fingers had made short work of his buttons, and were now working their way into his boxers. Sighing, Jack pulled Daniel forward into a crushing kiss, feeling the younger man moan slightly against his mouth as his fingers hit Jack's heated erection.
Jack summoned up every ounce of self-control he had as he felt Daniel's long fingers wrap themselves around his shaft, the calloused pads of his fingertips gently caressing the sensitive skin. He could feel the heat increase as the blood pounded into that organ, a stirring in his groin that he had not experienced for a while, at least not when with another person.
Even when he had kissed the other Sam, the one to whom he had been married in an alternate reality, there had been nothing like this, no similar surge of desire, no corresponding passion.
Idly, with the few brain cells that still seemed able to function, despite the loss of blood to lower parts of his body, Jack wondered if it had always been like this between him and Daniel. Had he just been too blind to see it?
Daniel's mouth had returned to its former position, the younger man licking and nipping gently at the sensitive skin of Jack's collarbone as his hand brought Jack nearer and nearer the edge.
Jack was leaning back now, writhing under the stimulation of Daniel's mouth and fingers, feeling Daniel move with him as he returned to sprawl against the back of the couch. He could feel the arousal building inside him, a roaring tide that threatened to overwhelm his senses.
It had been such a long, long time since he had felt this way....
As he lay against the back of the couch, spent and exhausted, Jack could still feel the sensation of Daniel's talented fingers hot on his flesh, his nerves still firing as a result.
The man himself was lying wrapped slightly around him, the hand which had ennervated him so recently having risen to Jack's stomach, fingers flexing gently against his heated skin.
Somehow, Daniel's leg had come to rest slightly across his and Jack could feel the unmistakeable hardness against his hip that signalled that Daniel was still waiting. Jack shifted slightly under the burden of a relaxed Daniel his weight going to one side as he turned to look at the other man, as much as he could.
Daniel as lying against him, his head still resting on the back of the couch, eyes closed. His face was relaxed, the warmth of the room and what they had just experienced together dampening his hair as it lay against his forehead, turning the ends dark with moisture. His arm lay loosely across Jack's body, the hand that lay on the colonel's stomach making movements that reminded Jack of a cat's kneading at a lap.
Jack's own hand, which had seemed to have a death grip on Daniel's shoulder as he came, had slipped down to rest lightly on Daniel's hip, feeling the curve of bone beneath.
This was the moment he had been thinking about for so long - thinking back, Jack was more than a little stunned at the confidence that Daniel had shown, the selfless attention to Jack's needs in preference to his own.
Another thought showed him the stupidity of that surprise. Wasn't Daniel always thinking of other people first?
Jack smiled to himself at this thought, recalling the countless small kindnesses that Daniel had shown him over the time that they had been friends. Even though he had managed effortlessly to project a persona of complete independence, Jack knew that Daniel was always there for him, even when Jack didn't want him to be.
He had seen the way that Daniel had accepted Teal'c, who should probably have been the last person he could even stand the sight of. Even though he was suffering from the loss of Sha're, and Teal'c's complicity within that loss, Daniel had not been able to hold that against the Jaffa. Jack was not sure he could have been so forgiving, had he been in that position.
And Daniel had also found a kindred spirit in Sam Carter, someone else who didn't quite fit into the scheme of things - the two scientists had become close, so close at times that Jack had been on the brink of envy, except for the fact that he knew that he held the central position in Daniel's circle of friendship.
That had been true even before he knew that Daniel wanted to be more than friends, before Jack had discovered that he wanted it too....
No matter how much Jack considered that question, he could not find a conclusive answer - he had felt as though his life had stopped with an awful shudder when he had been forced to leave Daniel behind on Apophis' ship. Before that, when Daniel had been 'killed' on Nem's planet, the anguish he felt had come close to tearing him apart.
Both times, he had put on a stoic face, forced himself to move on even though inside his heart had shattered like a piece of glass, infinite numbers of tiny splinters shredding what peace he had found since rejoining the SGC.
Since he had been re-united with Daniel.
And then Jack's own fears, his own worries about making himself vulnerable to anyone had nearly destroyed that friendship, let alone any chance of the two men being together.
He had never told Daniel why he had done what he did, never explained the terror that had gripped him at those few stammered words. And Daniel had never pushed for an explanation.
"Daniel..." Jack said, quietly, before his nerve was lost.
"Hmmm?" Daniel asked, a little incoherently, without opening his eyes.
"We... uh... we need to talk." Jack's own uncertainty made him stammer slightly, cursing himself for the lapse as he did so.
"Do we?" Daniel asked, opening his eyes. A frown began to form on his forehead. "Why do I think I'm not going to like this, Jack?"
"I need to tell you something," Jack continued, feeling the intensity of Daniel's gaze, even though he found himself unable to meet the other man's eyes.
There was silence for a moment. Jack risked a glance across at Daniel, only to be a little startled by the coldness of those blue eyes.
Even though Daniel did not speak, there was communication between them at that moment - having come to know Daniel so well, Jack could see the hurt that was lurking at the back of the stoic expression he saw before him, and mentally kicked himself.
"I need to tell you," Jack said, "that I'm an idiot..."
After a moment, as if he had been considering the statement, Daniel spoke.
"I thought..." He stopped, swallowing slightly at the dryness of his throat. "I thought you were going to surprise me with something, Jack..."
"You might have thought it before, Daniel," Jack said, "as I've proved it often enough, but I thought I'd make sure you knew."
"That day..." Jack paused, seeing in Daniel's eyes that he knew exactly the day to which the colonel was referring. "I freaked out. I thought it was for the best, running out on you, I mean. But like I said..."
"You're an idiot," Daniel supplied. "I should never have blurted everything out like that, what was I thinking?" His face had grown more solemn at that thought, his eyes slightly troubled.
"You've had some whacked out theories over the time we've known each other, Daniel," Jack said. "But there's been one constant - you tend to be right about stuff. I should have remembered that, if nothing else..."
"But still..." Daniel persisted, sounding unconvinced.
"But nothing, Daniel," Jack said. "You were right and I was stupid. Can we leave it at that and concentrate on something else?"
"Something else?" Daniel echoed.
As he spoke, Jack slipped his hand around from where it had been resting on Daniel's hip, his thumb brushing gently across the stiffness that had been pressed against him. Daniel shuddered slightly as he did so, his breath catching despite the layers of material that separated him from the colonel's hand.
"Something else..." Jack repeated, with a grin.
His other hand had come up to Daniel's shoulder, gently cupping the top of his arm - with a slight push, Jack began to lower Daniel onto the couch, watching with fascination as the other man succumbed to the movement. Jack was soon kneeling between Daniel's prone body and the back of the couch, the hand which had been stroking Daniel's erection now working at the younger man's zipper.
Leaning forward, Jack slipped his free hand behind Daniel's head, turning the other man's face slightly so he could nip gently at Daniel's jaw, smiling to himself as he began to writhe under the attention of Jack's hand and mouth.
Daniel's eyes were closed now, screwed tightly shut as if to keep in the sensations he was experiencing as Jack's fingers slipped into his trousers in search of what they knew lurked there. Freeing that source of heat from its cloth prison was the work of a moment - Jack's fingers stroked gently across the heated skin, causing Daniel to moan and arch his back at the contact.
"Jack?" Daniel muttered, his eyes opening, when Jack's mouth left its exploration of the skin along his jawline.
Jack was still half-crouched over him, smiling down at him as his hand moved from Daniel's shoulder to allow the fingers to travel gently across Daniel's mouth, tracing its curve.
The next moan that erupted from Daniel allowed the ends of Jack's fingers to slip into that wet warmth, the resulting sensation sending a shock that seemed to reverberate all the way to Jack's groin. Glancing down at Daniel's face, Jack saw that he was now the object of scrutiny, Daniel's eyes, half-lidded, gazing up at him as that beautiful mouth gently sucked and bit at his fingers.
It was Jack's breath that caught this time, taking all the colonel's self-control to concentrate on what he was meant to be doing, rather than the promise of future experiences that he saw there in Daniel's eyes.
Taking a shaky breath, Jack looked away from Daniel's face, concentrating now on the younger man's groin, watching his own fingers as they stroked at the sensitive tip of Daniel's shaft. His efforts were rewarded almost instantaneously - Daniel let out a moan that echoed its way through Jack's hand, while at the same time, he bit down gently on Jack's fingers.
Jack bit his lip, stifling a moan of his own.
Concentrate, he thought.
Relying heavily on what had felt good for him, along with a certain amount of imagination that some people might not have thought he possessed, Jack had soon brought Daniel to a shuddering and gasping climax.
As he stared down at the flushed face of the man towards whom he had come to feel so strongly, Jack was overtaken by a sense of peace that had long eluded him. Rather than questioning who he was, Jack now found himself certain that what made him fundamentally himself had not changed at all but had merely stretched somehow to include making love to Daniel.
Not that there were not aspects of the whole idea that did not worry him slightly - all those years of making jokes about gay men, or at least listening to others making them without objecting to their content, had left Jack with a particular idea of what he might be letting himself in for.
What he had not expected was to fall for Daniel so heavily that even some of the things that he had formerly considered a little odd, to say the least, were now imbued with a certain amount of fascination. Jack wondered idly what it would be like to trust someone so much that you could allow them such intimacy, all the time knowing that Daniel was the only likely candidate for that particular vacancy.
They were wrapped together now, entwined about each other as they lay on Jack's couch, making it difficult to see where one man finished and the other began.
"Daniel?" Jack prompted, after there had been silence for a little while. If he concentrated, Jack almost thought he could hear the last fading echoes of Daniel's ecstatic cries as they travelled around the room.
"Hmm?" Daniel said, after a moment, without opening his eyes.
"How about we make ourselves more comfortable somewhere else?" Jack asked. "Not that this isn't fun, but I really don't want to fall asleep here..."
"Sure..." Daniel murmured.
"Today?" Jack pressed, after Daniel did not move.
In response to this, as well as Jack's gentle efforts to disentangle himself, Daniel muttered something unintelligible, before raising one still-shaking hand to brush back his fringe from his forehead. Even now, Jack found himself wishing that Daniel had not had his hair cut - that had been one of the things he had loved most about the man, even when the sheer unmilitary floppiness had annoyed him at times.
"Okay, okay..." Daniel said, as Jack moved away from him slightly, before getting up from the couch altogether.
From where he was still sprawled there, Jack could see Daniel shiver slightly as the loss of body contact kicked in - even if the room was warm, they had been so snug before. That slight shiver made every protective instinct Jack possessed kick in, to the colonel's surprise.
"Bed?" he asked, getting up from the couch himself.
As he led the way towards the stairs, Jack almost did not dare look around. If he saw even momentary hesitation in Daniel's eyes, that would be enough to shatter the moment of serenity within which he was currently a resident.
In the end it was the silence that convinced Jack that it was safe to look. Whenever Daniel was unsettled about something, silence was the last thing anyone in his vicinity experienced.
Looking back over his shoulder, Jack smiled as he saw Daniel trudging along behind him, their eyes meeting then as Daniel looked up to see why Jack had stopped. Daniel smiled, still looking a little sleepy and more than a little rumpled from their time together on the couch.
"What?" he asked, stopping on the stairs himself.
"Nothing," Jack said. "I just..." He paused, searching for the words. "You're really here..."
Daniel nodded at this seemingly obvious statement, immediately discerning the feelings behind the simple words.
"I can hardly believe it either," he admitted. "After everything that's happened..." Daniel shook his head, a slightly wondering expression on his face.
The thought that Daniel could still trust him, still have enough faith in him to not want to throw Jack's earlier actions scornfully back in his face still pulled at Jack's conscience. Of the two of them, he felt certain that he had behaved the most unforgiveably, yet Daniel had forgiven him, even when he struggled to forgive himself.
Jack had reached the top of the stairs now, crossing to the doorway into his bedroom, before reaching in to put on the light. Then he waited, uncertain for a moment, until Daniel joined him there.
"I have to know, Daniel," Jack said, reaching out tentatively to brush his fingers against Daniel's face, featherlight touches tracing his jawline. "I have to know that you forgive me and that you understand."
"Do you think I'd be here now if I didn't?" Daniel replied, his eyes closing at Jack's touch. "Let's go to bed, Jack."
"Well, if you put it that way..."
Jack was dozing lightly on Daniel's couch when the phone rang shortly after they had eaten lunch. Who would have guessed that Daniel could actually cook? If it weren't for the evidence of whatever-it-was that he had just eaten, not to mention enjoyed, Jack knew that he would never have believed it either.
Not bothering to open his eyes, Jack heard Daniel cross the room to the phone.
There was a pause.
"No," Daniel replied. "This isn't a good time to come over. In fact, David, there will never be a good time."
Jack was unsure whether it was the tone of Daniel's voice, the coldness that he had so recently heard directed towards himself, or the name itself that had made him take notice. Still with his eyes closed, he focussed on the one end of the conversation that he could hear, his mind managing to supply the other side of it.
"I told you last time I saw you that I was still dealing with something, that someone I was close to had done something that surprised me, that hurt..."
Jack could feel Daniel's eyes flick over him as he spoke those words, making it something of a struggle for him to remain silent, to try and look as though he was asleep, not to respond to the pain he heard in Daniel's voice when he recalled how things had been between them.
"I never said I'd call you, David," Daniel continued.
Daniel was silent then, obviously listening to the other end of the conversation. Jack chanced a glance across at the other man, seeing the tension in his shoulders, with even the way Daniel was standing radiating his unease at this conversation.
"I'm sorry I gave you that impression," he said, suddenly. "Because that's not the case..."
Silence again, stretching through into minutes. Jack thought he heard the rising tone of David's voice, coming clearly across the room, even though the words themselves were unintelligible.
Jack shifted uneasily on the couch.
Part of him wanted to go to Daniel, to take the phone from him and yell at the other man to leave Daniel alone, to somehow protect what it had taken him so long to get. The more sensible part realised instantly the reaction that would get from Daniel, making him stay where he was.
There was no way he could persuade himself that he was merely trying to protect Daniel, knowing that there was more than a smidgen of jealousy in there too.
"No," Daniel repeated. "There's nothing you could give me that I want, David."
As he spoke, Daniel glanced over his shoulder back at where Jack was seated. Their eyes met, Jack's support and understanding crossing with Daniel's annoyance and unease.
"You want to know why?" Daniel's voice was turning amused now, a small smile crossing his lips at the obvious slowness of the man he was talking to, high-priced lawyer or not. "I'll tell you why, shall I?"
Not bothering to give David time to respond, his eyes still on Jack, Daniel began to speak, his voice gathering intensity as he did so.
"Because I have everything I want now, David, everything I've wanted for a long time. And there's nothing you could give me that would make me anything like as content as I am right now, no relationship I could have with you that would give me all the things I've been lucky enough not to destroy along the way."
Jack could feel a lump forming in his throat as he listened to Daniel's words, knowing that they were as much for his benefit as for David's. What could he possibly say in response, even were he as articulate as Daniel?
"Yes, he does." Daniel's voice was so certain, so sure. "I'm sure he will, David. Goodbye."
With that, Daniel hung up. Jack struggled not to smile as he imagined the man he had seen with Daniel, a man who looked as though he was not used to being disappointed.
His eyes were intent on Daniel as he crossed over to the couch, settling himself down next to Jack and nestling in beside him. Jack's arm wrapped itself around Daniel's shoulders as naturally as if it had performed that action a thousand times.
"So," Jack began, after a moment of silence, feeling the warmth of Daniel's body pressed up against his side. "That was David..."
"Don't say it, Jack," Daniel said, twisting round slightly to be able to see Jack's face.
"Say what?" Jack asked, trying desperately to look as innocent as he could manage.
"If you say 'I told you so' I won't be responsible for my actions," Daniel threatened, trying to scowl.
"Looks like you don't know me as well as you think, Danny," Jack replied with a grin. "Those words had never crossed my mind."
Daniel muttered something to himself, something that sounded strangely like 'oh, sure'.
"I was going to ask if everything was okay," Jack continued. "You going to be getting any more phone calls from that guy?"
"I don't think so," Daniel said, with a smile, settling down into his former position and relaxing into where Jack's arm wrapped around him. "I think he got the message."
He's not the only one, Daniel, Jack thought, smiling to himself. He's not the only one.
Disclaimer : Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is written for entertainment purposes only - no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story-line are the property of the author - not to be archived elsewhere without permission.
This page created by Graculus - last changed 30/4/2000.
This page created by Graculus - last changed 30/4/2000.