Snow. It was everywhere. The ground was covered with it. There were mountains of it in the background and the sky was filled with it from all directions. Gusts of wind caught the snow from wherever they could to send tornado-like whorls of it from earth to air, only to have the vortexes then shatter into a crystalline shower against another sharp gale. Day or night, even up or down; it was rather impossible to tell, let alone to try and see, anything through the maelstrom.
There. Or had that been just the wind? He uttered a low curse as his eyes narrowed further. No. He’d been right. He could see them now. There were four of them; four miniscule blobs of white moving across a field of white, their pace too systematic to be anything but what it was he’d been seeking. His heart raced with his success; he hardly dared to breathe, didn’t dare to blink. He knew that to lose sight of them, even for a second, would be disastrous.
The wind kicked up again; his breath caught as it sent a flurry of snow across his field of vision. His eyes, watering now from their stare, narrowed further. He had to keep them in—“No. No!” he said more loudly, his tone almost desperate as the flurry caught and twisted into a whirl. Breath held, his eyes moved in a rapid search, his brain chanting a mantra of move, damn it, move. Everything was still for a second when, finally, the whorl dropped away. One, two, three… one, two, three… And his eyes fell shut. Three. There were only three. In the 3.083 seconds of utter whiteout, the fourth blob had vanished completely. “Damn it!”
“Hey,” he returned, his tone dull and flat and offering no other recognition beyond that. He did open his eyes, but only so that he could push himself forward to strike the rewind button. Again.
“I know.” He tipped his head toward a second monitor which, for all intents and purposes, was identical to the footage he’d just reviewed save for the fact that it was live-feed versus recorded. “No change, no mission, no recon.” He started the tape again and leaned forward, chin resting on a fist. “Anything else? Anything new?” he quickly corrected. Who the hell has a five-day snowstorm anyway? he thought to himself as the scenario played out yet again.
“…No.” Empathy welled in Sam’s tired eyes as she was given an absent nod in response. “We’ve not given up though. And we’re not working on this alone,” she reminded. “Dad, Bra—“
“I know.” And then, belatedly, as the door clicked closed, “Thanks.” One, two, three… one, two… “Damn it, Jack! Where’d you go?” Daniel muttered as he flopped back into the chair again. He pulled off his glasses and ran his hand down his face. “Where are you?”
The mission was supposed to have been routine. Data collected by the MALP had provided evidence that the planet was inhabited, despite the harshness of the images in the feed. Traces of benzene, toluene and ethylbenzene—Daniel’s lips briefly quirked as ethylmormoline wafted through his head—had been found during the analysis of the snow. It was indicative of both carbon-based lifeforms and a civilization advanced enough to be able to utilize and process fossil fuels, Sam had said. This had been enough to get them a tentative go; Hammond had still wanted to send a second MALP out after the storm had passed.
”Ever done it in an igloo?”
“What?” Daniel asked incredulously, but with laughter in his voice, as strong arms snaked around his waist from behind. He tipped his head back, it coming to rest on Jack’s shoulder, and his smile broadened at the amusement that glinted in Jack’s eyes.
“You heard me.”
Daniel’s eyes lidded slightly, Jack’s voice coming against his ear this time, and he turned his head to lightly nuzzle Jack’s jaw. “Mm, yes. Igloo,” he absently iterated against the stubble-roughed skin before turning in Jack’s embrace. “No,” he said in similar tone, hands coming up between them to first rest on Jack’s shoulders and then skate down to his chest. “Why?” he asked before tipping his head to lightly nip at the jaw he’d teased earlier. The wine he’d uncorked as Jack had come up behind him needed to breathe a bit anyway.
“Mm…” Jack took a swaying step closer, effectively pinning Daniel between his body and the bar, and tipped his head to capture Daniel’s teasing mouth. The kiss was deep and heated. Hungry. And Daniel gave as good as he got, hands leaving Jack’s chest, one threading in his hair, the other making its way to Jack’s lean hip as Daniel shifted against him.
The sharp clatter of glasses shocked them from the embrace. Daniel’s gaze was mildly sheepish as he briefly suckled his swelling lower lip and then turned from Jack to move the stemware—and wine bottle—further back. “Igloos,” he reminded Jack as he turned back to him, though the hunger in his eyes had only banked, not waned.
And Daniel had to laugh, it warm and loving, before he pressed a kiss to Jack’s lips. “Yes! You’d asked if I’d ever fucked in one before! No, by the way,” he reminded his lover, still smiling.
“Oh! Those igloos! Right!” Jack snickered at himself and then grew more serious. “That was Hammond on the phone. The MALP found a pretty large settlement with some sort of factory about 8 klicks from the ‘gate. We leave for ‘342 at 0700,” he explained as he lowered his mouth to Daniel’s again, and then he pouted slightly when Daniel stayed him with a finger to his lips.
Yeah. They live in ‘em,” Jack replied before giving him a devilish look, drawing the silencing finger into his mouth and effectively ending any further conversation.
Daniel’s jaw ticked as he stared unseeingly at the monitor, which had gone to static as he’d ruminated. That had been two days after the initial probe, and seven days ago. A full week since he’d held Jack, or talked to him, heard his laugh, told him he loved him… He stared for another moment and then, with a blink and a clearing of his throat, he leaned forward and set the tape to rewind again. He had to be missing something. There was no way that something large enough to carry a full-grown, armed and black-ops trained man could sweep in and out unseen, and that fast, regardless of the snow cover. One, two, three… one--
“Damn it! Teal’c, what?” Daniel demanded as he sharply pivoted the chair toward the door. Teal’c’s brow arched and Daniel felt a wave of guilt and murmured an apology. “What is it?” he asked, his voice deflated now, tired. He ached to go home, to go to Jack, to lay in his arms, to sleep. But Jack was gone. Which meant that home really wasn’t.
“Bra’tac is here, Daniel Jackson. We have found O’Neill.”
The planet was hot, the landscape all verdant greens just tinged with brown. The terrain was hilly, sometimes craggy, sometimes rolling, but all of it littered with scrubby little trees. With the way the breezes blew in, warm and hinted with dampness, Daniel was reminded of inland Sicily in August. Truth told, he wasn’t surprised. It didn’t always follow suit, but he’d half-expected the planet to be such when he’d learned where they’d be going. Where Jack was. P3X-141 was the home base of a goa’uld called Galatea.
Bra’tac had replied, when asked, that she had supposedly been there for time indeterminate but, beyond that, there was little known about her. Even to the Goa’uld, she’d largely been considered a rumor and nothing more. Which was in keeping with what Daniel knew of her, too. The authenticity of her legend on Earth was often debated, but common myth read that her beloved, Acis, had been bludgeoned by the jealous cyclops Polyphemus and that Galatea had used her nymph-magic to turn Acis’ blood to the waters of the river of the same name.
Part of Daniel’s mind was fascinated, wanted to delve into it, to see what he could learn both about Galatea the Goa’uld and how the myth on Earth had been born. How the two were connected. But that wasn’t what was truly driving him. Somewhere amidst the heat and hills, Jack was there, serving at Galatea’s side, willingly, fully believing that he’d been in her service for years, per Bra’tac’s source. It was bizarre; it broke every pattern they knew and, thus, was even more alarming than it normally would have been.
The hypothesized why was chilling enough: Jack had been trained to stay silent under duress, had proven time and again that he wouldn’t talk even under the worst Goa’uld tortures they’d encountered. But Jack would talk to those whom he trusted and, while sometimes belligerent to it, he did respect the chain of command. It was frightening to think of what might be revealed if Jack still consciously possessed his memories. What secrets, kept from even those closest to him, might be leaked to a being Jack revered and served as a god. Currently, again per Bra’tac’s source, it didn’t seem as if Jack remembered anything about Earth or the SGC, save for that they were the enemy of the gods. But, if Galatea possessed technology that had enabled her to spirit Jack away and completely rewrite his conscious memory, they couldn’t rule out the chance of her having some way to retrieve what she’d blocked or buried.
It had only been by chance that they had found him. Bra’tac’s inside man shouldn’t have been there at all. He’d been assigned to another mission, which had failed. Apparently, the troop of Cronus’ Jaffa which he’d infiltrated had clashed with a battalion of Galatea’s during a raid and he’d been one of the handful that had been fortunate enough to be taken captive versus killed. Pure circumstance, given that they’d been raiding for different reasons, and Daniel’s brow furrowed slightly when he recalled what Bra’tac had said: how Cronus had come for Naquadah, whereas Galatea had come to cull men. Only men. A harem of sorts, the Jaffa had said. She picked the ones that she’d seemed to fancy and then had had the rest killed—and Daniel’s mind had instantly brought forward the memory of the holding cell in Chulak, from years ago. From when he’d first lost Sha’re. He hoped to God that he wasn’t about to lose another love. He didn’t know if he could bear it, and he forced his mind from that thought to the curiosity of Galatea’s collection.
Most Goa’uld found humans to be beneath contempt, and the Jaffa that carried their young only slightly less so. So why would she be culling males if she had no intent of turning them? And why did it appear as if Jack was the alpha of the pack? Not that Daniel could fault Galatea’s tastes any more than he’d been able to Apophis’ when he’d chosen Sha’re. But, given the way Jack had been taken, he couldn’t help but believe it had been for more than just a physical attraction. Which suited that bit of possessiveness that had been pricking at the surface ever since he’d heard the word harem just fine.
Scowling slightly now, Daniel glanced down at himself. He felt ridiculous, dressed as he was. It wasn’t the first time he’d infiltrated a group by going in as a member, but he didn’t recall having ever felt this exposed. Or, was it simply because he didn’t want to imagine Jack dressed in similar garb and willingly serving a goa’uld with a penchant for attractive men?
Daniel started a bit, turned from the empty horizon he’d been vacantly staring at, and saw the concern, and question, in Sam’s eyes. “Sorry,” he murmured and she nodded.
“It’s alright. I get it. I’m worried, too. And better here than when you’re in.” She paused for a moment and then, after a surreptitious glance around, “Daniel, are you certain you’re going to be okay for this?” she softly asked. “That your judgment won’t be compromised?”
“Daniel,” Sam said in a tone that was wry, verging on irritated. “Don’t insult either of us by playing dumb. I know what he means to you,” she continued, voice shifting back to the softer tones again. “And you to him. And, so far, you’ve managed to keep it that way. Nobody else does know—just me and Teal’c. But, so far, it’s never interfered. This—“
“I know. I do,” he protested when he saw her dubious look. “So far we’ve never really been tested. Neither of us has been badly hurt, let alone captured. But we knew it was just a matter of time, right?” He sighed when his attempt at levity fell flat, it met with an arched brow and flat look that was so reminiscent of Jack’s that it hurt. “I know it’s a risk, Sam. But I have to be the one. It certainly can’t be Teal’c. Or you. And risks and logistics aside, with us not knowing what the hell they’ve done to him, who knows? Maybe… maybe seeing me will trigger something. Get to a part of him that nothing else can. What?” he asked with a hint of frustration when Sam simply continued to stare, and then she gave a certain smile that had him rolling his eyes. “Oh, God…”
“That is the sappiest, sweetest thing I think I’ve ever heard,” she cooed.
“Well, it is.”
“Sam,” he part-whined this time, his expression one of amusement mixed with irritation, and then he feigned a stern look. “Don’t make me regret us having done the right thing and telling you!” he threatened with a point to the woman.
“Right thing?” she echoed, her tone incredulous now and, for the first time in what felt like an age, Daniel had laughter he had to bite back. “Right thing? Hm. Well, I suppose you could have said that, oh… there was something in the water, or that the aliens made you do it when I found you and the colonel—“
“Sam!” Cheeks tingeing with pink, Daniel cut her off frantically—or as frantically as he could through his laughter. “Real life, Sam. Not some… ‘B’ rated novel or crazy fan-fiction!” he said of her suggested explanations. He sobered then, though a slight upturn of lips did linger. “Besides, we both care too much to have even tried to lie to you at that point.”
“That, and you knew I’d kick your ass,” she gave back with a slight smirk, though her expression then gentled, too. “I know, Daniel. I love you both, too. And Teal’c. That’s why I need to make sure that you’re positive you’re up for this—even more than because it’s my command. The thought of losing either one of you—“ She stopped, gave a single shake of her head. “I need to know that you’ll be able to think straight and do what needs to be done to bring both of you out of there.”
Daniel knew what she meant. No self-sacrificing bullshit. Her eyes spoke it plainly, gave hints of her own fear, fear for them both. Daniel nodded, and then drew her close, folded his arms around her in a loose embrace. “I’m good. I promise,” he said quietly, sealing it with a kiss to the top of Sam’s head.
“You better be.”
He grinned against her soft hair at the grouse. “Promise,” he said again and then, after a moment or two of simple quiet, “You know, for as much like Sicily as this planet is, there’re likely falls and grottos somewhere. With Jack and me gone, you could probably get that skin—Ow!” he interrupted himself at the sharp swat to the back of his head, Daniel snickering with the exclamation. Dropping his arms, he gave Sam a completely unapologetic grin in the face of her pinked cheeks and embarrassed glare. “What’s wrong, Major?” he teased. “You can dish it out, but you can’t—“
There was a rustling several yards to the left and, in that second, everything changed. Expressions, demeanors, posture; Sam’s weapon was at the ready and Daniel’s hand went to his flank though he just as quickly dropped it with a mental curse. His Beretta lay in a stack with his uniform back in the TEMPER; there was no place to stash it in the snug, sleeveless leather jerkin and boots that Galatea favored for her men, so he dropped into one of the fighting stances Jack had taught him, eyes wary, every nerve in his body seeming to sing with tension as if the gentle interlude with Sam had never happened.
One second passed. Two. Daniel could feel the tension rolling off of Sam, strong, electric, feeding his own as the rustling grew louder and then became visible in the trembling of the vinery and brush. And then an airman broke through and into their line of sight and, suddenly, they both could breathe again. Their eyes met in a moment of wry amusement when he and Sam realized they'd exhaled as one.
"At ease, Jenkins," Sam instructed the second after he'd snapped to attention. "Report?"
"Yes, Ma'am. Mr. Bra'tac and Teal'c have returned from their recon. Things occurred just as hypothesized, Ma'am, save for one thing."
And, with that, the tension returned—to both of them.
"The goa'uld left her structure in a palanquin borne by four large Jaffa, as anticipated, Major," he continued. “Colonel O'Neill is directly behind and dressed in—well, that," the airman said with a nod toward Daniel after a brief series of rapid blinks. "A group of about a dozen new, er, acquisitions are in line behind him, and that's where we have the issue, Ma'am. It seems she hasn't culled through them yet. They're all dressed in different things, Ma'am," Jenkins explained. "The only one dressed like Dr. Jackson is Colonel O'Neill."
Daniel's eyes went wide at the same time that Sam gave a muttered, "Damn it!"
"What—“ Daniel cut himself off when Sam put her hand up to silence him.
"How far are they from the planned infiltration point?" Sam demanded.
“They were about three klicks out when Mr. Bra’tac and Teal’c returned, Ma’am.”
“Base is two from the infiltration point in the opposite direction,” Sam murmured, arm still extended, palm toward Daniel. “We’re currently a half klick from that point, between it and base, through overgrowth.”
“Teal’c and Bra’tac are fast,” Daniel added as Sam dropped her arm in a silent show of encouragement to add his thoughts. “A palanquin and a group that size not so much. Even with Teal’c and Bra’tac having to come past the infiltration point to our location and report, they still would be well ahead of them.”
“Yeah, but not so far ahead that you have time to run back to base and change your clothing. Damn it,” she muttered again and then, after a second or two, a brow arched and she snapped her gaze to the airman. After a moment, it returned to Daniel and then, finally, it returned to Jenkins. “Right. Airman, strip.”
“You heard me, Jenkins!” Sam snapped. “Take off your clothing. Now. You too,” she said firmly as she looked at Daniel again. “He’s a bit shorter than you, but other than that…”
Daniel’s eyes briefly widened again as Sam trailed off. “Right!” he said in comprehension and then he bent to start quickly unlacing his boots as Sam turned her back on the two of them to give them some modicum of privacy. “We’re good, Sam,” Daniel said less than two minutes later, and he had to smirk at the flash of amusement that ran through Sam’s eyes once she’d turned. Pants too short, yet cinched to the last belt hole, and an undershirt that was too snug and that barely reached his waistband, he would have been hard pressed not to laugh, too. Especially since Jenkins looked equally as absurd: the jerkin kept wanting to slide off his shoulder like an attempted seductive cheesecake shot in some extremely bad gay porn. And, from the way he was jerkily tugging his BDU shirt on over it like a jacket, he knew it, too. “Save for those,” he said with a nod toward Jenkins’ boots, they obviously at least two sizes smaller than Daniel’s feet.
Sam looked down at the boots then gave a single-shouldered shrug. “Can’t be helped, I guess,” she said as she lifted her gaze back to Daniel. “It might actually be for the best. Makes you look more vulnerable; you’ll probably fit in better. Though I do think we’re going to have to dirty up that shirt a bit. Sorry, Jenkins,” she said with a glance to the airman. “And thanks. You’re dismissed. Wait! Did you remember to grab the communicator?” Sam asked and, when Daniel nodded and patted his pocket, Sam turned to Jenkins again. “Excellent. Dismissed,” she iterated and then she and Daniel watched as he snapped a salute and then pulled his shirt tight around before picking up his MP5 with his free hand and disappearing into the brush again. “Right. Tell me the plan again,” Sam instructed as she started to kick at the ground with her heel.
Daniel’s brow slowly arched at the rather odd antic that accompanied the demand. “Uh… Right. I join the group as they pass the infiltration point. Mingle in but steer clear of Galatea and her Jaffa. Hopefully, at some point between then and the portico on the delta they stop at, I’ll have a chance to make contact with—hey!” he interrupted himself when, after a quick reach down, Sam straightened and wiped a smear of fresh dirt across his torso. Sam arched a brow at him—again—and he quickly schooled his expression. “Dirtying the shirt. Right,” he murmured, it all clicking together now, and he shifted his stance so that Sam would have better access as she deftly moved around him. “—make contact with Jack,” he continued, stomach flipping as he said the name, his anxiety picking up on the swiftness of her actions, the jerky way in which she moved and touched. They were running out of time. He had to get moving. “I get close, try to lure him away…” He trailed off, stopped, and then pressed his lips together. “Sam, this isn’t going to work.”
“What?” She jerked away from him like she’d been shocked, eyes wide at first, and then narrowed. “Daniel—“
“I know. I know we’re down to the wire and I have to go and there’s no time to make a new plan. But think about it, Sam. What we had, it was based on the small, selected group coming down to the river for some sort of fealty rite. We’re now dealing with a larger number, and a selection process from which a bunch of innocent men are going to be taken away and killed! She’s a nymph, or so the myth tells it. Either way, she’s got a penchant for the water and beautiful things. I’d be surprised if she had them massacred right there at what must be one of her holy, or at the very least, favored places. Then again—“
“Start walking, Daniel.”
“But keep talking,” she spoke over him. “I’m coming with you. Not all the way,” she said impatiently when she caught the incredulous look he gave her. “But you’re right. We have to try and figure something out.
Daniel stood amidst the cluster of men, closer to the front edge of the group but far enough back to where it wasn’t obvious that he was crowding forward. The infiltration had been easy. The convoy had passed almost too close to the designated point and Daniel had feared, for a moment, that he would be detected before he had a chance to slip in, but he hadn’t been. Once the palanquin (and Jack!) had passed, but well before the rear guard could see him, he’d joined the herd. But the relief had been short-lived. Save for figuring out some way to save the castoffs and bringing him and Jack both out alive, he and Sam had come up with nothing. Though, he supposed, there was one positive to that: his trepidation matched that of the other men, if for a different reason.
Jack’s voice, strong and commanding, came over the flat, frightened murmurs. Daniel’s heart jumped at the sound and he shifted just a bit so that he could see Jack’s face: rugged, handsome, and looking no worse for the wear, but his eyes were dull, and lacked warmth or life. It was surreal; Daniel knew this was Jack, but that single feature made him seem a copy, a clone. His breath lightly caught as he wondered if that was what they had done: captured Jack and copied him somehow. He knew cloning technology existed, and they’d been copied by other means before. Even the goa’uld knew little about Galatea; who knew what she was capable of? Every nerve in his body seemed to sing with anxiety. He needed to get to Jack. To talk to him, touch him, catch his scent—anything that would prove that it really was him and that this newest suspicion was just his imagination running far too wild on far too little sleep.
“Cast off your clothing as you have your old lives!” Jack continued. “You will bathe and come forward for judgment!”
And, oh God, Jack even sounded like one of them and that, to Daniel, was more disconcerting than being told—for the second time that day—to strip.
Daniel blinked, pulled himself back to focus, and found himself face-to-face with Jack, not quite touching, but Jack was definitely well within his personal space and Daniel’s heart leapt. “Ja—“
A sharp slap to his face cut him off. “Silence! How dare to speak to me?” Jack growled dangerously. “Right now, you are less than even a slave, Ha’shak!” His gaze narrowed threateningly. “If it were not for the mandate of my god, I would kill you where you stand for your impudence. Now, undress and join the rest of the vermin to prepare yourself for selection.” A cruel smile curved up Jack’s lips. “Though, I hope that you are not selected. It would give me great pleasure if she were to cast you aside instead,” he taunted before grabbing Daniel by the arm, spinning him sharply and then giving him a rough shove toward the river’s edge.
Daniel stumbled his first couple of steps and then caught himself. What had he been thinking? He hadn’t, his mind responded to itself as he jerkily tugged his tee-shirt over his head and then let it drop so he could start on his pants. It had been Jack, and he’d been so close after days of not knowing where he was, after days of not seeing or hearing him. He’d just reacted without thinking—though, he supposed, it had served its purpose. If Jack was in there, he was buried deep and, jaw tight, heart aching, he turned his head to give one last, desperate look back—and then slowed when he found himself meeting Jack’s gaze again. His eyes weren’t on the river, or the group as a whole but him, and they weren’t angry or vacant, but calculating. Assessing. Though, when Jack realized Daniel had caught him in his stare, his eyes narrowed dangerously again and, in a single, fluid motion, he removed his Zat from its holster, aimed, and enabled it. With a blink, Daniel turned around, and his heart beat wildly again. It hadn’t been much, but it had been enough to bring some hope back again that, maybe, Jack wasn’t as lost to them as he’d thought.
Leaving his clothing where it lay, Daniel stepped forward. Something caught his attention from the corner of his eye and he mentally face-palmed when he realized what it was. The small communicator had partially slid from his pocket when he’d dropped the BDUs to the ground. Chastising himself for having lost focus, (again!) Daniel made like he’d stepped on something and took a skipped-hop over toward the small pile holding his foot. When he lowered it, he discreetly kicked the device into the longer reeds under the guise of flexing it and then stepped, naked, into the river.
Between digs and missions, it wasn’t the first time he’d bathed in such a way and, had circumstances been different, he would have enjoyed it. The water was clear, with a sandy bottom, and with just enough of a current to keep it fresh, just cool enough to be refreshing, he thought as he knelt and then bent back to dunk his head under the surface. As he lifted it again, he rapidly shook his head to clear his hair and face of the clinging droplets and then, after running his hand over his face and back over his head, he lay back again in a lazy float. Focusing on the sensations, he let his thoughts run and clear as he tried to find the right balance of focus, tried to come up with some sort of plan for however the selection scenario panned out that involved a little more detail beyond hope.
The call was faint, but still clear, and Daniel opened his eyes as he pushed to put his feet back under him. The deep blue widened when he saw just how far he’d drifted, and then further when he saw two of Galatea’s Jaffa running toward him along the bank, weapons drawn. Instantly, Daniel’s hands went up and his stomach flipped when the two engaged their staff weapons simultaneously. “Ab!” he shouted out, wading as quickly as he could through the waist deep waters toward the shore. Ab! Cha’hari! Cha’hari! And then Jack was there, roughly shoving one of the Jaffa to the side.
Daniel watched, as he continued toward that point, as the second Jaffa stepped forward and the three of them engaged in a muffled, but heated exchange. One of them pointed their weapon at Jack who, unfazed, shoved it away, and then grabbed it just north of the accumulator, twisted it from the Jaffa’s grasp, and then flipped it. Hand shifting to its gravitational center, he twirled it and, bringing his left hand to the staff as well, struck the Jaffa hard along his temple and cheek, easily grounding the man. For a moment, Daniel’s hope flared, though it promptly sank again when after, with sharp, angry gestures, Jack directed the remaining Jaffa to tend to the first, Jack aimed the staff weapon at him and re-engaged it.
“Tal shak!” Jack ordered and took a step forward and, raising his arms to the air again, Daniel pushed forward faster. Ha’shak!” Jack hissed and, meeting him on the bank, he roughly grabbed one of Daniel’s arms, yanked him out of the water and shoved him to the ground. “I spare you once and you test me again!” Jack spat.
Daniel nodded, pushed himself to his feet, kept his head bowed submissively, eyes on the ground—until his gaze was forced upward by the insistent prod of the staff weapon to his chin.
“How is it you know the language of your god? Tell me!” Jack demanded with a jab of the weapon to Daniel’s throat, it hard enough to make Daniel gag. “We never cull from a land where the commoners would know!”
“Why?” Daniel asked, meeting Jack’s eyes, voice slightly raspy from the harsh cough, and then, “Okay, okay!” he ceded even more huskily after another sharp jab. “In my land, I am a scholar. I learned the words through studying the gods and the old ways. What?” he demanded bewilderedly when, with a scowl, Jack dropped the weapon, grabbed his arm again and gave him a rough shove forward.
“You are not in your land anymore, Ha’shak,” Jack sneered. “And you are no longer a scholar. If I have my god’s favor you will not even be a slave so that I may have the pleasure of killing you myself. Now go!” He pushed Daniel again toward the line of men that had formed.
“But… but you shoved me. I am dirty again and the other men are clean. Surely that will put me at a disadvantage.”
A dark smile slowly curved Jack’s lips upward, and he purred, “Exactly.”
The sun had started a slow descent; the delta was still bathed with heat and light but the shadows, what there were of them, were slowly growing long again. A fire burned low in an ornate pit on a patio that curved out from the lower step of Galatea’s portico. A creature akin to a boar had been spitted over it and, every once in a while, its juices would drip and cause the fire to flare, its scent one that might have made Daniel’s stomach growl if the sight of Jack sitting at Galatea’s feet didn’t nauseate him so. Jaw tensing, Daniel sharply pivoted away. He couldn’t bear to look at it any longer and he took several steps away and toward the riverbank.
Contrary to Jack’s dire hope, Galatea had still found Daniel desirable, despite the dirt and grass that had clung to his hands, calves and ass from where Jack had shoved him. Daniel’s stomach flipped as he recalled the lascivious look Galatea had given him. Golden hair and cerulean eyes, she truly was a beauty, and Daniel had been reminded of the chosen ones of Argos. Had she visited there? Taken one of them, he’d wondered, occupying himself with those thoughts versus ones of Jack, or of his fate—or of how he was being ogled like a prime cut of meat with every quarter turn he and the other men were ordered to make. From what planet had she stolen this young girl away? Or, like Apophis, had this goa’uld taken an ancient Earthling as her host? And why—how—had she remained essentially obsolete?
Jack had stepped down from the portico then and, from the look on his face alone, Daniel had been able to breathe a little easier. He’d figured the source of that displeasure could only be one thing: that Galatea had opted to take him into her servitude. And surely enough, he’d been ordered to come forward with three other men—which had made his stomach plummet again. Four men out of fourteen. Ten left to die, and he’d watched helplessly as they’d been led away by the Jaffa that Jack had put to the ground. At least they’d gone off in the direction from which they’d come, Daniel had thought as he and the other men had been ordered to the side of the portico to receive their clothing. Surely Sam had someone keeping surveillance on the route. Surely she’d done a better job than he had of coming up with a plan to save them. “Bathe again first,” Jack had icily instructed him as he’d thrust the bundle to Daniel’s chest and, jerked back from his thoughts, Daniel had submissively nodded, even as he’d inwardly rejoiced at the turn of luck; at least then he’d had an excuse to revisit the river bank and retrieve the communicator.
Lips pressing together softly, Daniel turned away from the river. Uncertain as to how the passing of the sun marked time on this particular planet, he had no clue how long he’d been gone. Instinct told him it had been several hours, at least and, as he moved toward the portico, he took a casual look around. The other new slaves were scattered, two at the fire, one at the foot of the portico steps, all three looking a mixture of bewildered and scared, as if they weren’t certain what their selection had meant. Two Jaffa were minding the fire, two more the palanquin, the final two flanking Galatea on her throne. And Jack. Daniel’s lips pressed again as his gaze slid past his lover sitting at the feet of this poseur god like a trained dog. But he couldn’t think about that right now. The whole purpose of the survey had been to see if he could slip away unseen to check in. And it seemed as good of a time as any he’d likely get.
Pace casual, eyes turned downward, Daniel meandered closer at first. Occasionally, he’d flicker his gaze upward or to the side, though he was careful not to make eye contact. He was as eager to avoid a conversation as he was any sort of confrontation—at least until he’d taken care of his call. As he neared the portico, he gradually veered to his left and slowly raised his head, his wonderment only partially feigned as he made a show of studying the structure. It truly could have been transported right from Ancient Sicily and, for a moment, that earlier curiosity reared again.
Eyes narrowing, Daniel slowly rounded the portico, studying it now as he moved, looking for any sort of glyph or script that might shed a clue on either Galatea the goa’uld or her legend back on Earth. There was nothing but, he decided after a brief moment of disappointment, he supposed it was just as well. There was less of a chance that he’d be distracted and miss the opportunity to make his call—or worse, end up with Jack on his ass again.
Out of sight of the others now, Daniel picked up his pace and, as he rounded the structure and came to its back, a brow arched. There was a small thicket of scrub trees and brush and, through it, Daniel could see that the land sloped gently upward. Gingerly, he made his way through and, as he cleared it, his eyes lit in pleasured surprise. At the base of a short plateau there was a structure that appeared to be a bathing fountain, and his excitement grew as he drew close enough to see it clearly. The water spilled into the higher basin from a stream through a lion’s open mouth, it identical to the ones that could be found around Himera. “Fascinating,” he murmured, taking the final few steps up to the fountain and then running his hand over the cool stone, allowing himself another second’s look before he reluctantly dropped his gaze away and stooped to retrieve the communicator from the shaft of his boot.
And Daniel did, but not because he had been ordered, or even because it had been Jack’s voice that had murmured the command in his ear. It was due to the sudden press of metal to his neck from behind. Heart thumping wildly, he rolled his gaze downward and then, despite himself, a brow arched. Jack’s arm came around him then, low at his waist, and Daniel was pulled back harshly against him. Thankfully, the straight razor never skipped and he swallowed harshly.
Daniel’s eyes opened wide, hope and disbelief searing through him to light every nerve in his body on fire. The murmur of his name would have served as shock enough, but there had been recognition there. Relief. Affection. And his eyes briefly fluttered shut when he felt Jack’s forehead briefly rest against the back of his skull, felt Jack’s lips move briefly against his hair a second later. “J-Jac—“
Daniel licked his lower lip, pressed the set together, nodded—cautiously, for the blade was still pressed to his throat.
“Go with me, Daniel. You gotta go with me. Understand? Good,” Jack whispered after another ginger nod. Another press of lips to Daniel’s hair, a gently murmured, “I’m sorry,” and then Jack dropped the blade, spun him around, and then backhanded him across the face. “Ha’shak!”
Jack glared down at Daniel malevolently, as if the moment between them had never happened, and Daniel looked back up at him, neither pain nor bemusement feigned. He trusted Jack, but couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on. A faint rustling came through the stillness then and, as the skin on the back of his neck prickled, Daniel chanced a glance over his shoulder to the thicket. Ah, he thought to himself as one of the Jaffa that had been standing guard at the palanquin came into sight, and he shifted his gaze forward again, and then winced and hissed as Jack snapped his free hand down to roughly fist in his hair and drag him to his feet.
“You were blessed by the grace of your god and this is how you choose to show the fealty you swore to her?” Jack scowled, shifted his hand to the back of Daniel’s head and then jerked his chin up and put the blade against his throat again. “You are lucky she favors you so,” he sneered, pushing the razor that much harder against his flesh to make his point as the Jaffa came to a stop at Jack’s shoulder. “Or I promise, you would be dead. Go!” Jack shifted his gaze to the soldier as he spoke the command. “Tell my lady Galatea that I have found her favored has’va. That I will bring him to her once I have made him presentable, per her command.”
From the corner of his eye, Daniel watched the Jaffa nod and then do a sharp pivot. He was reminded of Teal’c in his earlier days, and he wondered if it was this Jaffa’s personality or if he’d been trained into his silence wondered how he felt about taking orders from a human slave. Then again, this was the first goa’uld they’d encountered with a penchant for standard humans so perhaps—
Jack’s hand loosened its hold, his fingers apologetically caressing Daniel’s scalp and, like that, the thought was gone. “Yeah, we’re good now, Daniel,” Jack murmured, answering the silent question in his eyes. “But we don’t have a lot of time. Just enough to shave you and then get back to the portico. Twenty minutes, tops.”
“Jack, what’s going on?”
Jack snorted in amusement. “Twenty minutes, Daniel,” he reminded dryly. “You’ll have to prioritize and be more specific. The smaller stuff’ll have to wait,” he said as he briefly released his hold and then slid his hand into some unseen pocket in his jerkin to pull out a small vial. “Ah!” he held up a finger when Daniel’s lips parted. “Prioritize!” he reminded as he screwed off the lid and then put what seemed to be an oil-like substance onto his fingers.
Jack laughed, the sound warm and low. “Daniel…”
“Right,” Daniel said after gently clearing his throat. He hadn’t been able to help it. His pulse points and Adam’s apple had always been erogenous spots, some of Jack’s favorites. And those fingers gliding over them, the touch made smoother by the substance… Daniel cleared his throat again. “So uh… Galatea. What are we doing here, Jack? Here, now. This,” he clarified with a brief touch to Jack’s wrist before it dropped away again.
“I’m shaving you.” Jack chuckled again when Daniel rolled his eyes and then arched a brow as if to say, I thought we were short on time, smart ass, but then Jack sobered. “Galatea wants you,” he said evenly, though not without a flash of distaste through his eyes. “And not just for your body or looks. She’s amused by your spirit. Wants to break it out of you.” Jack raised the razor again, put his other hand to Daniel’s forehead to gently ease his head back. “She plans to have you taken in front of the others to make an example of you,” he continued as he made his first swipe with the blade. “Needless to say, that’s not going to happen.” The razor paused for a second. “Not sure how,” he admitted. “My plan was for her to be displeased by your appearance and cast you off. I would have claimed the right to kill you for having tested my authority and we would have made our break then—hopefully saving all of the castoffs. Well, my second plan, anyway. Seeing your face in that group, it kind of changed things up a bit. But anyway, yeah; I shoulda known she’d still see the temptation of your assets through the grime,” Jack muttered with a petulance that Daniel couldn’t help but snicker at even as his features softened at the flicker of guilt he’d spied in Jack’s eyes as he’d spoken of the others.
“Who’s to do the taking? What?” Daniel demanded as Jack gave him an incredulous look. “It’s relevant! I want to know who I’m up against because I’ll be fighting them, Jack. I’m not going to give myself over! You can use the disruption to… do something! And I’m sure that, if they see the chance to escape, too, the other three chosen will help us! What?” he asked again when Jack just eased back and looked at him.
“Drop your clothing, Daniel.” Jack gave a crooked smirk at the arched brow he got. “It’s not just your face,” he said with a meaningful wriggle of the razor, though he just as quickly sobered again. “And she’d be doing the taking. Yeah,” he said when both brows rose this time as Daniel’s eyes went wide, his hand faltering in the process of loosening the fasteners at his shoulder. “Ol’ Galatea, she’s not as feminine as she looks from where you and the other guys got your glimpse of her, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh.” Daniel blinked and then his eyes widened again, face draining of color. “Oh! Jack…”
“Shh…” Jack put a finger to Daniel’s mouth, gave him a gentle smile. “I’m fine, Daniel. I’m good. She hasn’t touched me. Apparently she prefers her playthings a little less broken in and not quite as ruggedly handsome.”
Daniel about sagged with his relief even as he laughed and dropped the jerkin to the ground. “Well, for what it’s worth, old man, I’m glad,” he teased, though there was no mistaking the sincerity beneath it. Jack knelt, rested his head against his bare abdomen then and Daniel’s gaze gentled. Indulging himself, he brought a hand up to card through the short grey tresses. “And the castaways will be saved. Sam’s here, and Teal’c, Bra’tac; we’ve got SG-13, too. I’m sure that they’ve come up with some way to save them, Jack.”
Jack nodded against him, tipped his head to put a kiss just above Daniel’s navel, then pulled back to remoisten his fingers from the vial. “Bra’tac?” he asked, looking up at Daniel, brow arched.
Daniel nodded, then drew in a soft breath as he felt Jack’s fingers against his groin. “Yeah. It was one of his guys. A uh… oh God, Jack.” He swallowed hard and tried to refocus, which was incredibly difficult with Jack’s fingers smoothing down along his balls. “A Jaffa called Khritak. He—“ Daniel tensed at the silencing finger, all eyes and ears now, arousal gone. What? he silently asked of Jack.
“Yeah,” Daniel said with a nod, figuring it was safe to talk since Jack had. His brow furrowed when, after a snicker, Jack returned to his preparations. “Jack?”
“The Jaffa that I put to the ground when you were coming up out of the river? The guy who led the castoffs away?” Jack grinned up at him as he picked up the razor. “That was Khritak.” Jack’s brow furrowed in turn. “But how the hell’d he end up there?” he asked as he smoothed the blade over Daniel’s oiled flesh.
“Apparently he infiltrated into Cronus’ troop a while back. The two forces collided on a mission a few weeks prior to your capture on ‘342 and he was taken by Galatea’s forces then. Cronus was after Naquadah,” Daniel said in anticipation of Jack’s question, and then he gave an incredulous smile and shake of his head. “I can’t believe that it’s the same guy!”
“Yeah, it’s about time the universe threw one down in our favor,” Jack said dryly as he stood, though not without a last, gentle stroke over the skin he’d just shaved and another kiss to Daniel’s abdomen. “Right. Arms up.”
“Jack, how—“ His brow arched when he was, again, cut off by a silencing finger.
“Not now. We don’t have much time left, and I gotta think.”
Daniel nodded. “I know. But, Jack—“
“No, Jack, listen!” he jerked his arm out of Jack’s grasp as he lifted the razor toward his pit. “You have a Zat. And an ally,” he reminded with a gesture toward himself. “The castoffs are safe, we don’t have to worry about them. And like I said, I’m certain the other three chosen will fight if they sense a chance at freedom. You wait until she comes for me, then take out her guard. Surely that would catch her by surprise long enough for you to take her out next before she got to me? Or take h—“
“What? Jack, wh—“ Daniel’s eyes went wide when, this time, instead of shushing him or talking over him, Jack slapped a hand over his mouth, though the indignation that had promptly flared eased into curiosity when, with his free hand, Jack pointed toward the direction of the thicket.
“We got company,” Jack whispered as he dropped his hand away and then his brow knitted. “Lots of company. And they’re heading toward—“
“Staff weapon,” Daniel took his turn in cutting off. Another blast followed. “But wh—“ A wide grin broke when, as the staticky sound from the blast faded, a rapid staccato of gunfire came on its heels.
“P-90!” they said together, and then, “Sam,” Daniel added with no small amount of relief before turning to head back down the hill.
“Hm?” Daniel asked, distracted by the very real likelihood that this ordeal was finally over with—that before too long, they’d be back on base, the medical clearances and debrief would be over with, and he could finally have Jack to himself. He realized then that Jack’s call had come from further behind him than what it should have and he paused. “Jack?” he asked as he turned around. “Oh,” he said sheepishly, and he came back up the hill to grab his jerkin from his snickering lover. “Shut up, Jack.”
Daniel idly paced around the expanse of his living room. Occasionally he’d stop, square something up, like a pillow, or an occasional book but, for the most part, he was content with it. It was a scholar’s room. An explorer’s. Myriad artifacts and tomes cluttered the space. Maps. Journals, some of which were filled to the very last blank space on the inside of the rear cover, others with only a few lines written in. Yet it was an organized, tidy chaos. And it was home. Most of the time, anyway. Home any more was where Jack was, had been for a while Daniel had realized. Before they’d acknowledged their feelings for—and to—each other, even.
They’d been rendezvousing at Daniel’s apartment more often than not as of late. Jack’s place, while idyllic, was a fairly straight-forward shot: one way in, one way out—for the most part. There were more routes to Daniel’s once one left Cheyenne Mountain. More ways to get there beyond a private car. And that’s how they wanted their relationship kept at the moment. Private. Need to know. Daniel couldn’t say for certain that they would have even told Sam and Teal’c had Sam not inadvertently stumbled onto them like she had.
A warm smile settled onto Daniel’s lips as he came to a pause in front of the fire they’d started after dinner. He still couldn’t believe the perfection of their timing back on P3X-141. To be honest, he couldn’t believe the luck they’d had throughout the mission, period. That Khritak and Jack would have ended up being taken by the same goa’uld had been coincidence enough, never mind that Khritak had been the Jaffa assigned to take care of the castaways. Or that Bra’tac and Teal’c had been assigned as sentry in the scrub that had edged the pathway through the thicket he’d cut through with Sam when he’d infiltrated. Things could have gone dramatically different had anyone else been assigned to those posts. As it was, Khritak had taken a Zat blast from Teal’c before Bra’tac could stop him. Fortunately, it had just been the one, and Khritak had been forgiving of it.
The addition of a third Jaffa, and one familiar with the layout of the delta, of Galatea and her guard, had provided Sam’s team with enough of an advantage to shift their plans from a covert ambush to an open attack. Of course nobody had known, at that point, that Jack was working with them from the inside; he and Khritak had never realized the duality in each other. So, when they’d come around the portico, Jack close on Daniel’s heels and weapon drawn, Teal’c had taken Jack down with his Zat. Daniel snickered softly under his breath. Jack had, apparently, been slightly more petulant about it than Khritak.
Daniel sobered then, brow knitting softly. Jack. Apparently, Galatea tended to favor the more remote, or inclement planets to avoid anything more than rumor of her name. She’d sent a scout down to ‘342 to investigate both their technology and candidates for her harem. Galatea’s Jaffa had caught rumor of Jack’s presence in the city and, once it had been confirmed, had plotted an ambush with the intent to bring Jack back to his god so that, though Jack, she could obtain what she would need to assert herself amongst the system lords.
Once they’d gotten back to base, Janet had run every blood test and scan in her repertoire, had called in psychologists, one who knew Jack and one to whom Jack was new. Then General Hammond had put Jack through an extensive interrogation. By the time Jack had run that gambit, Anise and her Za’tarc detector had been waiting. At the end of it all, they still had no clue how he’d evaded the brainwashing technique—a combination of light, drugs and pain that Jack had managed to endure until he’d learned what she’d wanted him to believe: that he’d only just returned from Earth where he’d been sent as a double agent and that he’d been awarded his position as Galatea’s Alpha for a job well done. Perhaps Jack had had some level of immunity to it after their experiences at the palace on P4X-347, Janet had speculated. Or, perhaps it was simply because, after everything Jack had been through to that point, his brain was so far removed from the human standard that Galatea’s experimentation and technology had had negligible effect. Regardless, he was glad—and gladder still for the training and experiences Jack had endured prior to the ‘gate program that had enabled him to pull off a perfect ruse.
The only thing Galatea had gotten from Jack had been a bunch of dead information: defunct access codes, bad—or uninhabitable—gate addresses… and a political structure that was some mashup of decades old reality and fiction, with Burns and Smithers as President and Vice President respectively. Of course, since she’d died in the firefight at the delta, none of it mattered anyway. And when, after a long, hard look into Jack’s eyes, Bra’tac had declared him free of deceit, General Hammond had finally cleared Jack as good to go and had sent SG-1 off to rest—with the exception of Teal’c, who had volunteered to go back to P3X-141 with his mentor to, hopefully, draw Galatea’s Jaffa into the rebellion’s fold and discover the technology she’d used to take Jack from them in the first place.
A soft sound from behind drew Daniel’s attention. He went to turn but wasn’t quite able to, and he smiled as he brought a hand up to cover the ones that now rested on his abdomen while Jack drew him close from behind. He felt the press of Jack’s lips to his hair and his smile widened. “You’re supposed to be sleeping,” he murmured, his eyes falling closed and head tilting slightly as Jack’s mouth shifted to his neck next, his pulse point and, as it quickened, he settled back more snugly into Jack’s embrace.
“I was. The sound of your thinking woke me up.”
Daniel snorted his amusement, felt Jack’s smirk against his neck and his eyes opened when Jack lifted his head again. “C’mon, Daniel.” Jack’s hands were moving now, one to his hip, the other to slip beneath the loose tee-shirt he was wearing. “I’ve been laying around for over two days in the infirmary with only the thought of those last few minutes before the firefight on ‘141 to entertain me. Lying in bed, seeing your things, smelling your scent on your pillow, how could I sleep, knowing you were so close, just beyond the door?”
The hand at Daniel’s hip had slid forward as Jack had pled his case as the one beneath Daniel’s shirt had crept up. The lower’s fingers had begun a lazy caress, not quite touching Daniel’s cock, but teasing a line along its length, the brushing sensation enough to encourage it to firm. The upper hand rested between sternum and navel, warm and comfortably possessive. Daniel felt as if he could hardly breathe. “Jack.” He swallowed, slowly licked his lower lip. “I heard what Janet—“
“Shh, Daniel,” Jack cut him off. “Shh. Please?” And, swallowing thickly, Daniel nodded, and then his lips parted softly as Jack’s mouth returned to his pulse point and his lower hand shifted to cover his firming erection and squeeze. He didn’t know why they bothered to play the Janet said game with each other anymore anyway. He couldn’t think of one mission since they’d been together where they’d not fallen onto each other the moment they’d found some guaranteed privacy.
Jack moved then and, for a second or two, Daniel resented it, but then Jack went to his knees in front of him, pulled his sweat pants down. Eyes dark and heavy, Daniel stared down at Jack as he tugged his tee-shirt off. Jack’s face found his abdomen then, kissing it, nuzzling it as his fingers caressed Daniel’s groin, mimicking the path they’d taken that afternoon at Galatea’s fountain. Left hand dropping that much lower to cup and fondle his sac, Jack shifted the right to Daniel’s hip and mouthed over his cock, teasing it with breaths and brushes of his lips until Daniel thought he might go mad from it. “Jack,” he bit out and, after a low throaty chuckle, Jack laved around Daniel’s tip and drew him in deep, tongue teasing, throat constricting, eyes gleaming with triumph and want as, with a strangled groan, Daniel’s hand found its way to Jack’s hair. Daniel snorted, soft and amused, at the look and, as his hand tightened in the short tresses, he arched back and then rolled his hips forward, saw Jack’s arousal flare as he fucked Jack’s mouth and throat with the slow, deliberate thrusts.
Fingers left Daniel’s sac to run slowly down his thigh and then fall away completely. Daniel’s gaze left Jack’s face to follow the hand, and he licked his lips as he watched it draw Jack’s dick through the opening in his boxers and then wrap around it to stroke from base to tip. Jack ran his thumb over his slit and Daniel’s hips stuttered, a soft, “Oh,” escaping him as he watched it slide through the moisture there. He returned his gaze to Jack’s, his eyes pleading now, expressing his hunger for that cock, and Jack let go and brought that hand up again. Daniel shifted his stance when it landed on his ass to possessively squeeze a cheek, and then Jack’s fingers were right where he wanted them, two brushing over, and then pushing against his hole for Daniel to rock back on as he eased his cock free from Jack’s throat.
“Fuck, Daniel,” Jack swore in a gruff mutter when they slid in with minimal resistance, but that was all Daniel gave him time for before he pushed his hips forward again. Eyes heavy, lips parted in his pleasure, Daniel fucked Jack’s mouth and rode his fingers until, with a harsher curse, Jack dropped his hand from Daniel’s hip to his leaking dick to squeeze at the base.
After one last roll forward, Daniel slid out completely, put his hand on Jack’s arm to ease Jack’s fingers free. “Lay down, Jack,” Daniel murmured, voice low, eyes never leaving the delectable sight of Jack at the pinnacle of his need. Stepping free of the sweat pants that had pooled to the floor earlier, he watched Jack comply as he took the step or two over and, once Jack had lifted his hips to first tug, and then kick, off his boxers, Daniel went to his knees and crawled over him, straddling him, pushing himself forward with his arms to lean up and capture Jack’s mouth and greedily strip it of his own taste.
Jack’s hands found Daniel’s hips as they kissed. Daniel felt the caress of thumbs to his hipbones and, after a final sweep of his tongue, pulled away, sucking Jack’s lower lip with him as he did so. Eyes locking with Jack’s again, he pushed himself back, lips parting wantonly when Jack’s cockhead met his hole. Tongue skating over his lower lip again, Daniel continued that backward push, breaths coming faster as he was slowly filled by Jack’s girth. He paused when he felt Jack’s hand against his ass but then Jack let go of himself and, driven by the tease of fullness, an almost maddening want to feel Jack deep inside, Daniel pushed back hard and sat straight up in one fluid motion, breath coming in a sharp gasp as he felt the stretch and pressure he’d craved, felt the taut warmth of Jack’s thighs against his ass.
And Daniel smiled, despite his arousal. It was the same, always the same, that single utter of his name with so much concern behind it, no matter how they fucked, how deep they lost themselves to it, and Daniel loved Jack all the more for it. “It’s okay, Jack. It’s good. I’m good,” he assured as he opened his eyes to meet Jack’s again—a moment of softness in return—and then his eyes lidded again and he bore down around Jack and lowly groaned, it hitching into more of a gasped shout toward the end when Jack roughly swore and sharply arched his hips upward to push himself in that much deeper.
Need and desire took over at that point, they both willingly surrendering to it. Hands skating up along Jack’s abdomen to his chest, Daniel pushed himself off of Jack’s cock. Finding Jack’s nipples, Daniel roughly thumbed over them and then gave them both a sharp tug, pushing back hard and fast as the acute stimulation brought Jack’s hips up with a low, throaty growl. Daniel’s cock leapt as Jack’s drove in that much deeper and arousal rushed through his veins with the fresh stretch and burn. Nails digging into the flesh of Jack’s pectorals, he pushed himself off again, and then grunted in surprise, breath briefly leaving him, when Jack caught him up and rolled them both, putting Daniel to his back in turn. “Ja— mmm.”
Jack’s mouth silenced him, the kiss hard and hungry. Daniel felt Jack push up then, and he drew his legs up at the knee, licked his lower lip when, as he did, Jack abruptly pulled away. He felt the blunt pressure against his hole again and his head dropped back with his exhaled pleasure as Jack’s cock filled him again, sliding deep in a single, smooth thrust. Fully seated, Jack dipped his head down, kissed him again as he arched back out. “Two days,” Jack muttered against Daniel’s mouth as he pushed back in again. “Laying there, in that goddamned infirmary, thinking of you, naked on that hill in the setting sun. God, Daniel, your skin was so smooth and warm. You were perfect.” Jack kissed him hard again, then rose onto his knees, hands finding Daniel’s inner thighs. “All I could think about was getting home and fucking you,” he declared hotly as he pushed Daniel’s legs further apart and stroked into him fast and deep.
“I know. God... Fuck!” Daniel gasped, barely able to do more than that for how Jack was pounding into him. They’d never vocalized any sort of claim on each other; it had always just been understood, but the possessiveness in Jack’s eyes, in how he was fucking him, was blatant and, God, what a turn on that was, seeing it so openly expressed. Knowing he’d feel it, Jack’s claim on him, long after they’d stopped fucking, likely until he’d fallen asleep in Jack’s arms. “Me too,” Daniel said once he’d caught his breath again, it barely heard past the sounds of slapping flesh and heavy breaths, but his eyes spoke it too and Jack heard, gentled his rhythm long enough to bend down and give him another kiss.
This time, as Jack straightened, he shifted a hand from Daniel’s inner thigh, it gliding over his outer and then down and around to his ass as Daniel’s hand fell away. With his next thrust, he canted Daniel’s hip up just a bit and Daniel’s head fell back again with a groan. Each thrust against his prostate drew that knot in his gut that much tighter and after a minute, Daniel shifted his hand down to his cock from where it had been resting on his abdomen. His shaft was slick, sensitive in his arousal, and he ran his fingers along it, and then over his head, teasing himself, teasing Jack, he could tell by the way Jack’s rhythm faltered as his body spasmed around his cock from the stimulation.
The word was ground out and Daniel could tell Jack was on that edge. Licking his lips, he wrapped his hand around his dick and started to stroke. After a couple more thrusts, Jack dropped his head back and came, nails biting into Daniel’s flesh, hips stuttering. When he’d finished, he pulled out, grabbed Daniel’s hand and, pushing it away, replaced it with his mouth, Jack slipping three fingers deep into Daniel’s ass as he sucked him into his throat.
Daniel’s breath caught in a sharp, surprised shout, back arching, cock sliding deeper into Jack’s throat. Body spasming hard around Jack’s probing fingers, Daniel’s orgasm ripped through him with pleasure that bordered pain at the exquisite, dual stimulation. Somewhere beneath it all he heard a pained grunt from Jack and, releasing the double-fisted death grip he'd unwittingly formed in Jack’s hair, he dropped to lay back again, breathless, exhausted, sated. “Damn.”
“Yeah.” Jack diverted long enough to grab a throw from the couch and then crawled up to lay beside him on the rug. “Keep that up and I won't have to worry about the grey. I'll be bald,” he groused as he flipped onto his side after covering them and tucked his head under Daniel’s chin.
“Shut up, Jack.”
“Not complaining. Just saying. ‘sides, according to Teal'c, bald is in.”
“That so?” Daniel questioned with a laugh and he took off his glasses and dropped them onto the low table behind him. “That's good then, I suppose,” he said through a yawn. “Not that it matters. I'd love you regardless,” he continued as he cuddled back into Jack again.
“Me too.” Jack kissed his cheek. “Now go to sleep. You heard Janet; I need my rest.”
“Oh, of course,” Daniel chortled even as his eyes fell shut. “What was I thinking?”
“Yes. You're a bad boy.” Jack swatted his ass. “Now sleep. Sleep,” he iterated when, slitting his eyes open, he saw the glint in Daniel's. “There'll be more tomorrow if you're good.”
“Yes, Sir,” Daniel gave on a breathed snicker and he closed his eyes again and let himself drift. He’d nearly crossed that line when Jack’s phone rang. “It's the general,” he said after clumsily grabbing it from the table behind and peering at it in a squint and, like that, they were both fully awake and alert again.
“Yes, Sir. Give me time to dress and I'll head in,” Jack said a few seconds later and, with a sigh, Daniel got to his feet and padded to the kitchen, figuring he'd have enough time to start a pot before the general called for him.
“I know,” he said as he turned, tipping his face up slightly for Jack’s kiss. His phone rang then and Daniel answered it, idly watching Jack head for the shower. He'd hop in himself long enough to wash off once he was done/ Jack would take longer because he could afford to. He had to give the impression that he'd come from his place and all and, as he gave his response to Hammond, that exhaustion made itself felt again. This game of hide and seek was as difficult to play as their work was, Daniel thought as he disconnected the call and headed into the bathroom. But, as he stepped into the shower and—briefly—back into Jack’s arms, Daniel knew it was just as worth it.