The rain drums so loudly on the truck roof, Daniel’s teeth vibrate. He can barely see the taillights of the car in front of them; they’re just two tiny, red pinpricks that disappear and reappear intermittently behind a grey wall of water. The muscle in Jack’s clenched jaw jumps every few seconds. His knuckles are white on the steering wheel.
“Jack,” Daniel says.
“Daniel,” Jack says sharply, like he’s looking to fight again, and then he sighs. “Maybe pulling over isn’t such a bad idea.”
Jack takes the next rest area exit and parks at the end of the lot far away from the other cars waiting out the storm. He kills the engine, and Daniel spends a good ten minutes trying to figure out the make and model of the minivan parked nearest to them, but its shape is almost indistinguishable through the rain. He spends the next ten minutes tamping down the urge to force a conversation. Daniel knows Jack doesn’t want to talk.
The sound of the rain starts to take on greater significance in the thick silence between them. Some drops fall harder than others; some fall more closely together. A kind of syncopated rhythm emerges, a pattern that refuses to come together cohesively. Daniel thinks there’s probably a metaphor for his relationship with Jack lurking in that observation somewhere.
Finally, Daniel can’t keep quiet any longer. “You didn’t have to drive me. I know the estate sale of an Egyptologist is not how you wanted to spend your first free Saturday in weeks.”
Jack snorts. “I told you I would.” And that’s the bottom line for Jack. He said he would, so he did, no matter how angry he might be with Daniel. Jack’s a man of his word.
“Jack, can we please talk about this?”
“Not today, Daniel. Today I get to be really pissed off.” Jack looks at Daniel, and underneath the anger, Daniel can see that Jack is more frightened than anything else. “You know what? Fine. You want to talk? Let’s talk. I know it’s a joke at the SGC now. How many times will Daniel die this week? I’ve made the joke myself. And I guess I should be grateful that every time you’ve died, you’ve come back to me. But every time feels like it’ll be the last time.” Daniel starts to interrupt, but Jack talks over him. “And there will be a last time, Daniel. You know that. One day, you won’t poof back down stark naked in Landry’s office. One day, you’ll just be dead.”
Daniel doesn’t know what to say. He’s glad they’ve finally reached the point where Jack can talk to him, truly talk to him, without stewing for days. And Jack says the good words along with all the fighting words, the sweet words, the words that Daniel thinks cost him the most. But Daniel never thought all those years ago when he would have given anything to make Jack open up to him how much that openness could hurt.
“No snappy comeback?” Jack says.
“No. No snappy comeback. You’re not wrong, Jack.”
“Well, I guess that’s a first.”
Lightning arcs across the sky followed by a sharp peal of thunder that Daniel feels in his bones. “I won’t apologize for stepping in front of that gun. I don’t even think you really want me to. You’d have done the same thing.”
The rain on the windshield makes shapes on Jack’s face, alien and strange. “Yeah,” he says.
Daniel reaches out, and Jack doesn’t resist him. He leans in and rests his forehead on Daniel’s, curls his hand around the nape of Daniel’s neck to keep him there. They breathe together for a few moments while the sky outside Jack’s truck grows darker. Then Jack kisses him—gently, tenderly, with a soft scrape of teeth on Daniel’s bottom lip, a flick of the tongue against the roof of his mouth. Daniel gasps, and Jack pulls him even closer, his kiss frantic now.
He licks along Daniel’s jaw and down the side of his neck, bites the juncture between neck and shoulder, hard, and Daniel’s cock throbs against the seam of his jeans. Jack pushes Daniel back into the truck door and presses himself against Daniel as much one grown man can press against another in the cab of a pick-up truck. Jack yanks down Daniel’s zipper and pulls Daniel’s pants and boxers down over his hips to his knees, Jack’s breath ragged and loud in the aftermath of another peal of thunder.
“It’s okay,” Daniel says, cupping Jack’s jaw and forcing him to look at up. “I’m still here.”
“I know,” Jack says. “I know.” He takes one deep breath and then another, the tension leaching out of him with each one, and then he slowly, so very slowly, takes Daniel’s cock in his mouth. Daniel clutches what Jack calls the “oh, Jesus” handle with one hand and fists the other in Jack’s t-shirt. Jack’s mouth feels impossibly good—hot and slick and tight. Daniel’s hips buck involuntarily, and Jack pins him more forcefully to the seat in response. Daniel knows he’ll have bruises there in the shape of Jack’s fingers tomorrow.
The windows of the truck have fogged up, and Daniel can see nothing through the condensation. They may as well be stranded at the edge of the universe.
Jack teases him, sucks him so slowly, that Daniel is writhing in Jack’s grip and begging before too long. Jack refuses to speed up, and when Daniel finally does come, he can’t hear the drumming of the rain any longer over the beating of his own heart.
He moves to reciprocate, but Jack sits up with a grimace. “Are you kidding me? Did you hear my joints creak just then? No, Daniel, you’re paying me back later. In a bed. My bed in D.C. It has a better mattress. And you’re giving me a foot rub. And possibly cooking me breakfast.”
Jack turns on the defroster and cranks the truck. The rain has slowed, and Jack pulls back onto the highway, black clouds in the rearview and blue sky up ahead.