Chapter 1: Prologue
Daniel stood back and watched, not wanting to intrude on the touching family moment, as Jack hugged his parents goodbye. Jack had invited him along for Thanksgiving dinner in Minnesota and Daniel had jumped at the opportunity to see where Jack and his brothers had grown up. He hadn’t regretted it. Jack’s family had welcomed him with open arms and treated him like one of their own. Which, apparently, meant teasing the hell out of him. Jack’s brothers were the worst offenders, but according to Jack they did it all out of love. They must have really liked Daniel a lot because they teased him just as much as, if not more than, Jack. Any ‘siblings’ Daniel had, had in foster care had mostly just ignored him, so this familial ‘tough love’ was still a bit of a new concept for him. Much to Jack’s amusement, Jack’s mother had attached herself to Daniel the moment he stepped in the door, and made sure he was taken care of and ‘properly fed’.
“Daniel.” Daniel was startled out of his thoughts by Jack’s mother folding him into a hug.
“Mrs. O’Neill.” Daniel smiled and then winced when her small hand delivered a light cuff to the back of his head. “Sorry. Bertie,” he apologized with a chuckle. “I’ll remember that eventually.”
“Alright, Mom, time to let Daniel go.” Jack placed a hand on his mother’s arm.
“You go on ahead without me, Jack. They all like me better anyway,” Daniel teased.
Jack rolled his eyes. “Har, har. We need to start heading home before traffic gets bad.” Bertie O’Neill pulled back from Daniel and straightened his jacket. “Let’s head out, Danny.” Jack nudged Daniel toward the door.
“Thank you for your hospitality. For everything. Really.” Daniel smiled and shook Mr. O’Neill’s hand before following Jack through the open front door.
“Don’t be strangers!” Bertie called after them.
“We won’t!” Jack grinned at his parents as he unlocked his Ford F-150.
“And Daniel,” Bertie winked when Daniel looked up at her, “drag Jack back for Christmas one of these years!”
Daniel couldn’t stop the grin that threatened to split his face in two, but he hoped he was far enough away that his light blush would go unnoticed. “You can count on it.” Jack and Daniel climbed into the truck and buckled their seatbelts. Daniel waved as Jack started the truck and backed it out of the driveway. Finally they were around the corner and Daniel relaxed into his seat with a smile.
Chapter 2: Day 1
“Have fun?” Jack asked after he and Daniel had been on the highway for a few hours; heading back to Colorado Springs from Thanksgiving at Jack’s parents’ house in Minnesota.
“Are you kidding? The nagging, the teasing, being beaten up by your brothers and your cousins…” Daniel grinned. “I loved it.”
Jack chuckled. “They were only that hard on you because they like you.”
“It was nice.” Daniel’s lips twitched at Jack’s raised eyebrow. “Being part of a family like that,” he clarified. Jack smiled and they lapsed back into a comfortable silence.
After approximately three more hours they stopped at a little roadside diner for a late lunch and coffee. It was one of those little vintage ‘streetcar’ types with the black and white checkerboard floor and red vinyl upholstery. The coffee was mediocre but the food was good and the price was right. They paid their bill and hit the restroom before heading back out on the road.
Daniel had offered to do some driving if Jack was starting to get tired, but Jack had turned him down, claiming that he’d be fine driving into the night. While Daniel had caught a nap, Jack had made a reservation at a bed and breakfast for the night. In the middle of ‘damn nowhere’ Daniel had observed later once he’d found it on the map.
About an hour later, Jack exited the highway and announced that they should be at the B&B at just before midnight. He revised his estimate to just after midnight once it started to snow. Daniel began to worry when the flakes increased in size and frequency. Jack had just told him to quit whining.
At one o’clock Daniel decided to speak up again.
“Shouldn’t we be there by now?” he asked as he squinted past the sweeping wipers at the heavy snowfall. “How can you even see where you’re going?” He peered through the side window, the side of his face pressed against the glass, the arm of his glasses digging into his temple, to try and see around the truck frame; stupidly hoping it would make a difference to the three-foot visibility range. It didn’t. “It’s practically a blizzard out there.”
“Daniel, I’ve driven in worse,” Jack explained evenly, as if Daniel were only four years old. “Besides, this baby has four-wheel drive.” He patted the top of the dash affectionately. “So would you just relax and trust me? I know what I’m doing.”
Daniel bit his lip and hunkered down in his seat. “Just like an alpha male. Not stopping for directions.” He pushed his glasses up his nose as a means to disguise a smirk. Jack muttered under his breath that he should never have let Daniel interact with his relatives. Daniel grinned. “You’re just jealous that I’m their favorite.”
Several minutes later Jack slammed on the brakes, pitching them both forward in their seats. “You okay?” he asked, glancing over at Daniel.
Daniel panted a little as he tried to regain his equilibrium. “What?” Jack’s question finally sank in through the cacophony of blood pounding in his ears. “Yeah, I’m fine. You?”
“Yeah.” Jack nodded and stared out the windshield at the downed tree lying across the road just inches from the front of his truck. It had obviously been there a while, judging by the amount of snow that rested atop of it. Jack swore under his breath and got out of the truck to see if there was a way around the tree. Daniel would have joined him, but there was no way he was going outside in the cold unless Jack needed him to help move aforementioned tree. “Dammit!” Judging from Jack’s tone of voice, Daniel guessed that they would not, in fact, be moving any foliage. Jack climbed back in, knocking the snow from his sneakers before slamming the door shut. “We have to turn back.”
Daniel leaned back in his seat with a sigh. “Just get us there in once piece and I’ll be happy.”
Jack threw the truck into reverse and began to back out the way they’d come. He stopped at the first road he spotted and put the truck in drive, carefully navigating the snow-slick pavement. There was a jolt and a bang and the truck fishtailed before sliding to a stop.
“What the hell?” Daniel asked through clenched teeth; one hand clutching the armrest and the other white-knuckling the handle above the door.
Jack got out of the truck again and walked all around it before getting back in. “Pot hole.” He blew into his cupped hands and rubbed them together. “Broke an axle.” Daniel slowly released his grip and unbuckled his seatbelt. “We’re not going anywhere tonight.”
“Shit.” Daniel shuddered at the thought of being stuck out in the middle of nowhere in freezing temperatures. Jack dug around under the backseat and pulled out a couple blankets and a flashlight. “Thanks.” Daniel wrapped himself up tightly in one of the plaid flannel blankets.
“I’ll keep the heater on for a while but I won’t be able to have it on all night.” Jack huddled under his own blanket. “We’ll take a look at the map in the morning and see if there’s somewhere we could walk to for help.” Daniel nodded his understanding before pulling his blanket over his head to help trap in some of the heat. A couple of hours later Jack looked at his watch and called out softly. “Daniel.” He paused, waiting for a response. “Daniel!”
Daniel startled awake and pulled the blanket down so he could blink at Jack more clearly. “Wha?” he asked sleepily.
“It’s 0500. I’m turning off the heater to save gas.” Jack cut power to the engine, plunging the truck into cold silence. Daniel was surprised at how fast the heat appeared to be leeching from the vehicle. His teeth chattered. Jack narrowed his eyes in thought before climbing into the back of the cab and moving the cooler of Thanksgiving leftovers to his seat along with some of the other random junk, which Daniel supposed was very useful, that he kept under the backseat.
“I never knew you had so much junk in your truck.” Daniel grabbed a few things from Jack and piled them on the seat as well.
Jack raised an eyebrow. “You did say ‘junk in my truck’, right?”
“Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, but…”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Smartass.” He folded up the bench seating and motioned for Daniel to join him as he laid down on the floor. “To help preserve heat,” he explained when Daniel raised an eyebrow at him. “Don’t worry, your virtue is safe with me.” Daniel clambered stiffly over the middle console, dragging his blanket with him, and laid down next to Jack. Jack wrapped an arm around Daniel and pulled him closer. “Get some sleep, Danny.” Daniel burrowed his face against Jack’s shirt to help block out the cold and drifted off to sleep in the rapidly cooling air.
Chapter 3: Day 2
The first thing Daniel became aware of when he woke was the overwhelming cold that permeated the thin shield of his blanket. He instinctively curled into a fetal position and burrowed farther into the meager warmth.
“Hey,” Jack’s voice roused him gently.
“Mmph.” Daniel squeezed his eyelids together before peeking them open. He was still huddled up next to the warmth of Jack’s body. “Hey.” When Daniel finally replied, his voice was hoarse with sleep and sounded much too loud in the stillness surrounding them.
“How’re you doing?” Jack asked.
Daniel blinked at him. Had Jack really asked him that? “Are you ser- ‘how am I d-’? I’m fucking freezing is how I’m doing.”
“Touchy,” Jack muttered under his breath.
Daniel pulled the blanket over his head in lieu of directing a rather rude gesture at Jack. “Piss off,” he grumbled from the safety of his cocoon. It was too cold to be awake.
Jack disentangled himself from Daniel and rummaged through the glove box. Daniel immediately regretted his attitude and wished Jack would join him again, if only for the heat. Jack had obviously procured what he was looking for because he then got out of the truck. Daniel heard him walk around for a few minutes, scraping ice and snow from the windows, before brushing the snow from the hood of the truck and spreading out something papery. Probably the map, he figured. The truck shifted when Jack leaned against it heavily.
“That can’t be right.” Jack’s voice was muffled, but Daniel heard the annoyance in his tone clearly.
Daniel’s morbid sense of curiosity got the better of him, as it often did, and he dragged his blanket outside with him to peer over Jack’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, the road forks up ahead there, but the road to the bed and breakfast doesn’t.” Jack pointed at the map. “Daniel, I don’t think that this road is on this map.”
“What do you mean ‘not on the map’?” Daniel asked stupidly, furrowing his brow as his brain processed the alarming new information.
“What do you think I mean? I mean the damned road isn’t on the damned map and I have no idea where the hell we’re at,” Jack snapped.
Daniel stared at the map for a minute. “I could call 911 or the SGC and have them track my phone.” Why he hadn’t thought of that sooner, he didn’t know.
“Do it.” Jack watched as Daniel opened the truck and fished his phone out of a cup holder.
Daniel opened his phone and tried the call with no success. Frowning, he checked the display. Nothing. He snapped the phone closed. “Damn. No signal.”
“Looks like we’re stuck until someone comes by.” Jack began folding up the map.
“Yeah? When do you think that will be, Jack? Cause it seems like so many people come through here,” Daniel snapped and gestured to the expanse of wilderness around them, the blanket slipping from one shoulder. The snow was pristine aside from the now partially filled in tire tracks and their footprints next to the truck. Once Daniel had stopped talking, the only sounds were those of snow falling out of the nearby tree branches. Daniel pointed at the trees as if to make his point and then stalked back to the truck. He found his duffle in the front seat and pulled out his jacket. It wasn’t a true winter coat, but it was wool and it was better than freezing to death. He dropped his blanket to the front seat and pulled on the black wool peacoat, grateful for another layer against the cold.
“Daniel-” Jack began pissily, but thought better of it and bit down on his tongue to keep from lashing out any more than he already had.
Daniel climbed into the truck, knocking the snow from his shoes before pulling them off and putting on a second pair of socks. He stuffed his feet back into his shoes to help keep his toes warm. Jack climbed in as well, grabbing a pair of folded socks from his own duffle and running his thumbs over the knit material instead of putting them on right away. Another detail where they differed. Jack folded his socks in tidy little stacks while Daniel rolled his into balls. The urge to laugh caught Daniel off guard. There they were; stranded in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold and Daniel was getting philosophical about socks.
Jack frowned. “Look, Daniel.” He sighed. “I think we can both agree that this situation blows.”
“Understatement,” Daniel muttered and snatched a paperback from his duffle.
He could tell Jack was biting back whatever barb he’d been about to lash out at him with as he unlaced his shoes. “The fact is we’re stuck and there’s not a lot we can do about it.” He separated his socks and pulled off his shoes. They both reflexively wrinkled their noses against a foot stink that seemed disinclined to appear. “Worst case scenario, when we don’t show up for work on Monday they’ll send someone out to search for us.”
Daniel frowned. “Three days?” He didn’t like the sound of this.
“Minimum.” Jack stuck his feet into his socks and adjusted them so both layers sat comfortably. Daniel closed the passenger door and climbed into the back of the cab with his blanket and his book. Jack closed his own door and joined him in sitting on the floor, passing Daniel a bottle of water from the cooler. Daniel got as comfortable as he could and opened his book to the first chapter. Jack bumped him with his elbow. “We’ve been in worse situations, Danny. We’ll get out of this one.”
“I know. It just sucks.” Daniel scooted a little closer and, at a prompt from Jack, began to read the book aloud.
Chapter 4: Day 4
God, it was still freezing.
Daniel squinted his eyes open, hoping that maybe the heat had just gone out in his apartment. Again. He sighed at the sight of the interior of Jack’s truck.
Daniel tucked his blanket in closer and scrubbed a hand through his hair. He frowned. A familiar smell lingered in the stuffy air of the truck. Daniel sniffed, scenting the air. There was no mistaking that heady smell.
“Jack, what are you doing?” Daniel asked, still half asleep.
Jack looked up at him from where he was sitting crossways in the driver’s seat. “Making coffee.” He held out a tin camping cup filled with the beverage. Daniel sat up groggily and reached for the cup. Jack handed it to him and watched as he took a sip. The warm liquid slid down Daniel’s throat and settled in his stomach, causing it to gurgle. The coffee wasn’t hot by any stretch of the imagination, but it had been warm enough to at least dissolve the crystals of some Folgers. Well, mostly. But, out here, drinking lukewarm coffee was better than drinking it cold.
“Truck has a cigarette lighter.” Jack shrugged. “I used it to melt some snow in the cup.” He handed Daniel a Chinette plate bearing a slice of turkey and a spoonful of stuffing. Daniel cut off a bite of the turkey with a matching plastic fork and chewed. It was cold, and a little dry, but it was food. “Mind if I?” Jack gestured to the tin cup. “I only have the one.”
Daniel bit his lip but eventually capitulated. “Mmm, no,” Daniel spoke around his mouthful of turkey and passed him the cup. “Go ahead.”
“Thanks.” Jack sipped the coffee and closed his eyes.
“Turkey?” Daniel asked, offering him the plate.
Jack opened his eyes again. “Nah. I already ate.” He took another sip of coffee and looked Daniel over before he climbed into the back and sat next to him. They sat in silence; Daniel eating his turkey and stuffing for breakfast and Jack staring at his own hands holding the tin cup.
“Jack.” Daniel raised his eyebrows and Jack caved.
“We’re going to have to ration the food,” Jack said conversationally as if they were just sitting on Jack’s couch watching the game and running low on snacks. “You know. Just in case.”
Daniel swallowed hard, having to force the mouthful of stuffing past the lump that had formed in his throat. “Just in case,” he repeated evenly as if this new bit of information wasn’t going to be key to their survival.
“As a precaution,” Jack clarified as he picked at the handle of the cup with his thumbnail. He frowned when the nail snagged on the edge of the metal. Daniel nodded. Suddenly he wasn’t so hungry anymore. He moved the plate to Jack’s lap and wrapped his arms around himself, as much to keep warm as to fend off the feeling of dread that was now trying to encroach on his psyche. “Hey.” Jack held the cup out to him. “We’ll be okay.”
Daniel took the cup from him and swallowed the last bit of coffee. “Yeah.” He tried to coax the last few drops into his mouth but gave up after a while and placed the empty cup on the center console. “I guess it’s just starting to sink in that we’re stuck out here.”
Jack ate the last bites of food that were left on the plate and got up. “Come on, Danny.” He opened the side door and tugged on Daniel’s foot. Daniel flinched away from the cold air. “Let’s go take a walk to keep our blood circulating.”
“But--” Daniel protested.
“Aht.” Jack held up his index finger to stop Daniel’s argument. “But me no ‘buts’.” He yanked Daniel’s blanket away and manhandled him out of the truck.
“Jack!” Daniel stumbled out into the snow with a yelp and turned around to watch Jack close the door.
Jack grabbed him by the arms. “Just a quick walk to ensure our blood doesn’t turn to sludge, and then we’ll get back in the truck and turn the heater on for an hour or two, okay?” Daniel nodded as the cold began to find its way through the layers of his jacket and clothes. They walked in a leisurely circle around the truck for a dozen or so laps before the pressure in Daniel’s bladder became too much to ignore and caused him to deviate from their course and step behind a tree. “Daniel?”
Daniel unbuckled his belt, his cold, gloved fingers fumbling with his button and zipper. “Hafta pee,” he cursed under his breath and used his teeth to pull the glove from his right hand. He finally unfastened his pants, hastily shoving them and his boxers down to his knees before letting loose a stream of urine against the bark of the tree. “God!” He moaned in relief and closed his eyes.
“Feel better?” Jack teased with a cheeky grin as he undid his own belt; his subconscious taking a cue from Daniel.
“Fuck you,” Daniel replied pleasantly through clenched teeth.
Jack shoved his own pants down and situated himself on the other side of the tree. “I asked if you had to go when we passed that rest stop several miles back. How long have you been holding it anyway?” He sighed and frowned when his bladder refused to relieve itself right away.
“That wasn’t a rest stop, Jack, that was a Port-a-Potty on the side of the road. Besides, I don’t recall you going then either,” Daniel finished and tucked himself back into his underwear and pants. “And I went yesterday if you must know. Sometimes you just really have to pee.”
“Well, you’ve certainly been drinking enough liquids since we’ve been stuck out here,” Jack countered and shifted his stance a little.
Daniel scooped up some snow to ‘wash’ his hands with and peeked his head around the tree. “Trouble, Jack?” He smiled innocently.
“No.” Jack let out a triumphant bark of laughter when his bladder finally got with the program. He shot Daniel a pointed look as if to say ‘see?’ and went about his business. Daniel just smiled and shook his head as he walked back to the truck. Jack finished up, ‘washed’ his hands and followed Daniel.
They climbed back into the relative warmth of the vehicle. Jack locked up the truck and started the engine so they could turn on the heat and actually be comfortable. They huddled in their blankets and Daniel continued reading his book to Jack until they both dozed off.
The sounds of something shuffling around outside pulled Daniel from his sleep. At first he’d thought he was hearing things and then he’d thought that it was a patrol of Jaffa until his brain kicked in and he remembered that they weren’t off-world. Besides, Jaffa were usually a little better at ambushes than that. It was nearly pitch black outside, but Daniel could still make out shapes moving around in the dark. Large, fuzzy, blobby shapes. He prodded Jack in the shoulder.
“Jack,” Daniel hissed urgently.
Jack’s eyes snapped open. “Wha’s’wrong?”
Daniel pointed out the windshield with a surprisingly steady finger. “There’s something outside.”
Jack sat up and looked around slowly, listening. He crept toward the front of the truck to get a closer look. “Damn,” he cursed under his breath.
Daniel crawled up beside Jack, his left hip pressing up against Jack’s right ass cheek. “What is it?” he whispered.
Jack glanced back at Daniel. “Bears,” he answered. “Looks like two of ‘em.”
“So what do we do?”
Jack climbed into the driver’s seat, bumping Daniel into the passenger side armrest on his way. “We make noise to scare ‘em off.” He pressed forcefully on the horn. Daniel jumped at the sudden intrusion into the quiet.
The bears turned toward the truck.
“Jack.” Daniel sat back on his haunches. “They’re looking at us.”
“I know, Daniel. Don’t get your panties in a twist.” Jack honked the horn again, this time a longer burst.
The bears took a step back, growling at the truck.
Jack kept making loud bursts with the horn and set the emergency lights blinking while Daniel banged on the window closest to him.
One of the bears stood up on its hind legs. He looked agitated.
Jack continued to honk at him. Daniel banged frantically on the window until his hand went numb.
After several heart-stopping minutes of this standoff between them and the bears, each making a deafening racket at each other, the bears backed down and disappeared crankily into the night.
Jack honked for another minute or so until he was sure the coast was clear and then he collapsed back against the seat with a whoosh of breath.
Daniel dragged a hand over his face. “I would be happy to never go through that again.”
Jack barked a laugh and clicked off the emergency lights. “You can say that again.” They sat in the truck, breathing heavily as they waited for the adrenaline in their bodies to run its course. Daniel laid down and covered up with his blanket. Jack made a surprised noise when he realized that they’d left the heater running for the entire time they’d been asleep. He turned off the engine and checked the gauges. “Less than a quarter of a tank left,” he announced as he joined Daniel in the back on the truck again.
“How long do you think that will last?” Daniel asked, staring up at him.
Jack frowned. “Maybe three days?”
“That’s not very long, Jack.”
“No, it’s not,” Jack agreed. “It’ll get cold without any heat, but we do have about three and a half days worth of food. Four if we really ration it. At least that’s something.” He stretched out under his own blanket and rolled onto his side to face Daniel. “Besides, we’re due back at work tomorrow. When we don’t show up, they’ll realize that we’re missing and send a couple teams out to find us.”
“What if they don’t?” Daniel asked quietly, a little surprised at how small his voice sounded. Jack raised an eyebrow. “Find us, I mean,” Daniel clarified.
“Daniel, don’t-” Jack ran his fingers through his hair.
“What if they don’t find us, Jack?” Daniel repeated with more strength in his voice.
“They will,” Jack assured him.
“But what if-”
“They will.” End of discussion. Daniel sighed and they both rolled onto their backs. Too keyed up from the encounter with the bears to be able to fall asleep again. The cold began to seep in. Daniel shivered. And he hoped that Jack was right.
Chapter 5: Day 5
It was sometime around noon the next morning when they finally fell back asleep. The next thing Daniel knew, Jack was calling his name and shaking his shoulder roughly.
“Daniel!” Jack smacked Daniel’s cheek a couple of times. “Dammit, Daniel, wake up!” Daniel flinched. “Come on, Danny.” He opened his eyes slowly and squinted, trying to get Jack’s image to stop swimming around blurrily and coalesce into something resembling focus. “Oh, thank God.” Jack used his arm to prop Daniel up a little and he held the tin cup to Daniel’s lips. “Small sips.” Daniel parted his lips and felt the cool water slip between them. The water hit the back of the throat and he coughed. Jack nudged him onto his side to keep him from choking. Luckily, Daniel got himself back under control before he hit the dry heaves. He felt Jack’s hand stroking his back as he took a deep breath. “You ready to try again?” Jack asked. Daniel nodded. Jack helped him sit up a little bit better than he had been the first time and held the cup back up to his lips.
Daniel took a few small sips before letting his head fall back to rest against Jack’s shoulder in exhaustion. “S’going on?” he asked groggily.
“I just spent ten minutes trying to wake you up.” Jack ruffled Daniel hair a bit. “Even for you, SpaceMonkey, that’s ridiculous.”
“Ten minutes?” Daniel furrowed his brow and licked his lips. That couldn’t be right. But it probably had something to do with the dull ache that had settled into the base of his skull.
“Drink,” Jack ordered, helping Daniel to hold the cup. Daniel took a sip. “I think you’re dehydrated.” He nudged Daniel’s hands. Another sip. The cool water soothed Daniel’s dry throat. “Shouldn’t have let this happen.”
Shit. Jack was blaming himself for this. “Not your fault, Jack.”
“It’s my job to protect you. Besides, I got us into this mess. Drink.” Jack watched Daniel carefully as he took in another delicious sip of water. “If I had been paying attention to the road and the weather conditions or booked us a hotel off the main road, we wouldn’t be stuck out here right now.”
“This could have happened to anyone,” Daniel disagreed. Jack raised his eyebrow doubtfully. “Okay, maybe not anyone. I mean we do have a certain tendency toward ending up in these types of situations, but it wasn’t your fault this time.” Jack relaxed a little. “Mostly,” Daniel mumbled the last word under his breath, trying to hide his grin in the cup.
Jack narrowed his eyes at Daniel and then the back of his hand connected with Daniel’s shoulder. “Smartass.” He was smiling when he said it though. Daniel turned toward Jack and settled a little closer, glad to have the extra heat. Jack rested his chin on the top of Daniel’s head and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Don’t scare me like that again, okay?”
Daniel nodded. “I’ll try.” Jack’s chest was warm against Daniel’s back and he could feel Jack’s ribcage expand and contract with the rhythm of his breathing. Daniel closed his eyes, basking in the warmth. “Jack?”
“Hmm?” Jack shifted his head, his mouth and nose resting in the spot where his chin had just been pressed to Daniel’s head.
“If we have to be stuck here, I’m glad we’re stuck together.” Daniel finished up the last few drops of water from the cup.
Jack smiled into Daniel hair. “Me too.”
They lapsed into a contented silence and it started to sink in for Daniel that he’d slept through lunch.
“Jack?” Daniel ventured again.
Jack chuckled and pulled away. “I don’t doubt it.” He tucked Daniel’s blanket around him to help compensate for the chill and leaned over the center console to rummage around in the cooler. “We’ve got cold stuffing, cold mashed potatoes and gravy, cold turkey,” Daniel snorted, “take your pick.” Jack grabbed the one plate and dished up a spoonful or two of each.
Daniel took the plate from Jack when he handed it to him. “I’m going to be sick of leftovers, aren’t I?” Jack sat back down next to him and they dug in, Daniel with the fork and Jack with the spoon. After several mouthfuls of a disappointing dinner, Daniel blinked down at the empty plate. “No pie?” he asked with a forced smile, batting his eyes comically, or so he hoped, at Jack.
“We ate it all back at Mom’s remember?”
Daniel closed his eyes and recalled flaky pie crusts. Wonderfully spiced pumpkin filling with homemade whipped cream. He licked his lips and bit back a hungry moan. Hot apples and cinnamon and half-melted French vanilla ice cream.
The house had been filled with the ambient warmth of the fire in the fireplace. Listening to Jack’s family teasing each other about silly, inconsequential things. The inherent hominess of sitting around the living room with a small group of people after the others had gone to bed. And then when it was just Daniel and Jack sitting in the evening light quietly sipping glasses of whiskey and musing on the idea of SG-1 as a family.
Sam and Teal’c and General Hammond would be waiting expectantly for the two of them back at the Mountain. They should have been back at work by now. They’d missed the briefing for P3R-853 that morning, so General Hammond would probably have realized that Jack and Daniel were missing. Sam and Teal’c must be worried.
Daniel opened his eyes with a groan. “Fuck.”
“Yeah,” Jack sighed mournfully. “I miss ‘em too.” They leaned against each other and pulled their blankets close. The world outside the truck suddenly seemed lonelier and more oppressive. Silent, cold and incongruously dark despite the white snow covering the landscape. Daniel pulled out his book and read some more to Jack. Partly for something to occupy his mind, and partly to help reassure Jack that he was okay. Or at least as okay as he could be given the circumstances.
Jack drifted off to sleep listening to the sound of Daniel’s voice. Daniel used his bookmark to mark his place and quietly placed the book back into his duffle. His knuckles brushed against something soft and furry and he pulled the object out carefully. He was met with the black, beady plastic eyes and tawny fur of a stuffed toy camel.
The camel’s hump had a threadbare patch on top from loving wear and tear and there were stitches in his left front foot from the time the neighbor’s dog Sami had got a hold of him. Four-year-old Daniel had run inside clutching his camel to his chest and sobbing. Daniel’s mother had lovingly stitched up the inch-wide rip while his father had sat Daniel on his knee and told him that Lumpy would be just fine. And after the post-crying hiccups and a good deal of sniffling on Daniel’s part, Lumpy had been returned to his arms almost as good as new.
Daniel hugged the little plush animal close, comforted by its presence and the memories of his parents, and curled up next to Jack.
Things would look better in the morning.
Chapter 6: Day 7
Daniel awoke to find himself a little colder than on previous mornings. He was missing Jack’s body heat; a dangerous thing for him to get too used to. A quick look around revealed that Jack wasn’t anywhere in the truck. Daniel slipped his fingers under his glasses and rubbed at his eyes. God, his hands were freezing. He rubbed his palms together as he looked around the cab of the truck for clues as to where Jack might have gone. There was a loud snap of wood outside.
“Jack?” Daniel called out warily, wiping the condensation from the window and peering out. Jack was breaking branches and placing them around a tower of tires. Daniel climbed out of the truck and shut the door behind him. Almost immediately he regretted leaving what little warmth there was in the vehicle. Had it gotten colder? Shivering, Daniel turned his attention to Jack as he tossed more sticks on top of the tires. “What are you doing?” he asked, noting that Jack had taken the rubber off the tires, leaving the truck jacked up with bare rims.
Jack looked up at Daniel and twitched a smile. “Making a smoke signal.” He headed over to the truck and opened the door. “I’m going to need anything that’s fit to burn.” He gathered up a couple of Colorado maps and some random sheets of paper and handed them to Daniel, who fumbled to keep from dropping the pile. “Do me a favor and stick those on there.” Daniel heard him rummaging as he walked over to the tires and set the papers on top. Jack approached with an old newspaper and two books of matches. They tore and crumpled and arranged until they ran out of papers. Jack handed Daniel a book of matches.
“You think this will work?” Daniel asked as they each struck a match and began lighting the wads of paper.
“Of course it’ll work.” Jack pointedly busied himself with lighting the bottom of his side of the growing fire.
Daniel bit his lip and tossed his nearly spent match on top of the tires. “Jack.” He was met with silence.
Finally, Jack stood and looked up at him. “Honestly?”
Jack nodded, not in affirmation, but in understanding. “I’m hoping.”
Daniel shoved his hands in his pockets. “This sucks.”
Jack huffed a laugh and headed back to the truck, patting Daniel’s shoulder on his way by. “You got that right, Dannyboy.” Daniel rolled his eyes. The flames danced somberly as they grew in strength. Jack returned with a plate of leftovers, oh goodie, which they ate while quietly watching the fire. The fumes from the rubber tires were noxious, but the heat being generated helped them to see past it.
Daniel seesawed the fork between his fingers. “How much is left?”
“Enough,” Jack hedged around the question.
Daniel sighed. “Jack.”
Jack slowly shuffled the plate in a circle with his hands. “Enough for another meal and a half the size we just ate.” Daniel bit his lip. “But we have a can of tomato soup and some power bars. And I think I saw some jerky in the emergency kit.” They lapsed into silence.
In the distance they heard the sounds of a plane.
They blinked at each other.
They stared up at the sky as the sounds got closer. Oh, God! A plane! They jumped up and down and waved their arms over their heads and shouted as the plane came into view, trying to get the pilot’s attention.
“We’re down here! Help!”
He flew past them, making no sign that he’d seen them or their fire.
“No! No, no, no, no, no!”
The sounds faded and eventually disappeared.
Jack squinted up at the column of black. “Not high enough. It’s not getting past the trees.” He swiped the fork from Daniel and took the dishes back to the truck.
Daniel turned to watch and saw Jack pause mid-reach. “So what’s the plan?” Jack grabbed whatever had caught his attention and headed back towards Daniel. Daniel’s heart shot into his throat when he saw what Jack had in his hands. “No.” He froze for several agonizing seconds before he moved to stand in Jack’s path, but Jack just brushed past him. “JACK, NO!” Daniel’s fingers scrabbled desperately to find purchase on Jack’s windbreaker as he stretched the hand holding Lumpy toward the fire.
“For God’s sake, Daniel, it’s a toy,” Jack growled, and managed to keep Daniel at arm’s length. “It’s not even in great condi--”
“Give him back! He’s mine!” Daniel violently tugged on Jack’s jacket to steer him and Lumpy away from the flames.
Jack stumbled slightly from the force of Daniel’s attempts. “Look, do you want to be found, or not?” he snapped at Daniel.
Daniel felt the tears threatening to spill over. “He’s one of the only presents I still have left from my parents, Jack, PLEASE!” His voice cracked and Jack stopped short. “I don’t care if you burn my fucking books, but don’t you DARE touch Lumpy!” Jack swallowed and pulled the little camel in to stare into his beady little eyes. Daniel took the opportunity to snatch Lumpy from Jack’s grasp. A sob escaped Daniel’s throat and he dropped to his knees in the snow.
“Christ, Daniel, I--” Jack put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder, but Daniel shrugged it away. His touch seared Daniel’s skin through the layers of his clothes, yet opened an ice cold pit in his gut. Jack lowered his head. “You’d really have me burn books?” he asked, disbelieving. Daniel clutched Lumpy closer, not trusting himself to be able to speak at the moment. Jack stared at him kneeling dejectedly in the snow. Daniel buried his face in Lumpy’s neck, tears soaking into the synthetic fur. Jack trudged slowly to the truck. Daniel heard the door open and close a moment later. Jack walked back and stopped next to him. Daniel glanced up at Jack. In his hands, Jack held a Chicago Blackhawks hat.
Daniel sniffed, his nose stuffed up from crying. “Jack?” His voice sounded thick and slightly higher in pitch. “What are you…” The question died on the tip of Daniel’s tongue when Jack tossed the hat into the fire. They both stared, Jack stone-faced and Daniel in disbelief, as the flames licked at the edges of the colorful memento.
The hat had been from Jack’s very first trip to an NHL game. He’d gone with his father and grandfather to a hometown game when he was thirteen. Jack had picked out the hat at the team’s store and had been all set to pay for it only to find out at the register that he was three dollars short. He’d just told the woman at the register to never mind the hat and that he’d “just take a keychain instead thanks” when his grandfather had laid down the money for the hat, calling it a belated birthday gift. The Hawks had won that night.
Daniel tore his gaze away from the blackening hat and looked into Lumpy’s plastic eyes for a good long moment, the snow under his knees melting and soaking into the fabric of his jeans, and then stood. Jack stepped in front of him when he took a step forward.
Daniel furrowed his eyebrows. “Jack.”
“But, Jack, you just--”
Jack grabbed him solidly by the arms and held his gaze. “I know.” He brought a hand up to rest on the nape of Daniel’s neck. “I can replace that hat, Daniel. There are thousands of them.” With his free hand he gently took hold of Lumpy’s left front foot, his finger skimming briefly over the stitches there. “But this little fella here is one of a kind and holds stronger memories for you than that hat ever will for me.” The tears spilled down Daniel’s cheeks.
“Jack.” His voice barely made a sound.
Jack nudged Daniel toward him and enveloped him in a Jack O’Neill Bear Hug. “Danny, I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t know.” He hugged Daniel close and showed no signs of letting go anytime soon. “Forgive me?” Daniel threw his arms, still holding on to Lumpy, around him and buried he face against Jack’s shoulder in response. Jack’s presence was solid. Something tangible amid the hopelessness of their situation. “We should get back inside. We’ll freeze to death out here if those fumes don’t kill us first.”
Daniel nodded and lifted his head from Jack’s shoulder. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat and wiped the tears from his cheeks with the back of his hand, narrowly missing smudging up his glasses. Jack kept an arm around Daniel’s shoulder as they walked back to the truck. He opened the door and let Daniel climb in first. Daniel knocked the snow from his shoes. “I don’t know, Jack. It felt warmer by the fire.”
Jack climbed in after him, de-snowing his own shoes. “It’s the wind-chill that’ll get you.” He turned on the heater and opened the cooler. “Dinner?” he asked.
Daniel shrugged. “Not really very hungry right now.”
“Small dinner then.” Jack dished up about half of what they’d normally have eaten and handed Daniel the plate and utensils.
Daniel began eating as Jack closed the cooler. “So this is the half?”
Jack sat next to him. “Half?” He frowned, scooping up some potatoes with his spoon.
“To our one and a half meals,” Daniel clarified around a bite of turkey and gravy. Jack nodded. They ate in silence, neither of them in the mood for talking. When they finished, Jack set the dishes on top of the cooler, turned off the heater and kicked off his shoes. Daniel kicked off his own and laid down on the floor.
Jack looked down at him. “Take off your pants.”
Daniel froze, eyes wide. “Excuse me?”
“Your pants, Daniel.” Jack rolled his eyes. “They’re soaked. You should take them off to dry before you catch pneumonia or something.”
“Oh. Right.” Daniel unbuckled his belt, unfastened his jeans and kicked them off. He hadn’t actually realized just how cold his legs had become from all of the melted snow that had wicked through the denim.
Jack helped Daniel pull the sodden article off and flinched at the cold radiating from Daniel’s skin. “You’re freezing.”
“Thanks. I already noticed that.” Daniel shivered. Jack ran his hands firmly over the chilled skin of Daniel’s legs, creating friction to help warm him up. Daniel closed his eyes in an attempt to not be lulled by the sensation of Jack’s hands on his legs.
“You okay?” Jack asked.
Daniel squeezed he eyes shut tighter. “As good as that feels, it’s not really helping much.”
Jack slowed his hands to a more contemplative pace before he stopped. “I have an idea.” He brought his hands to his own belt and unbuckled it.
Daniel’s eyes flew open. “Wh-what are you doing?” he asked in alarm.
Jack finished unzipping his jeans and pushed them off. “Body heat.” He laid down beside Daniel, pulling the blankets over them as he did so.
Daniel eyed him warily. “Body heat,” he repeated.
“I’m not going to jump you in the middle of the night, okay?” Jack tousled Daniel’s hair fondly. It was soft; even if it was in need of a good washing. He picked up Lumpy and looked at him curiously.
“So what did you say this little guy’s name was?” he asked.
“Lumpy.” Jack grinned and tucked Lumpy into the crook of Daniel’s elbow. “It suits him.”
A hesitant smile broke across Daniel’s face. “Thanks. I’ve had him since I was three.”
“I’m sorry I tried to burn him.” Jack scratched behind Lumpy’s ear with his finger.
Daniel’s expression sobered immediately. “You didn’t know.”
Jack nodded. “But I should have realized if you’d brought him with you that he was important.” He sighed, avoiding Daniel’s eyes. “I just… I’m not good at being stuck when there’s no mission objective. I wasn’t thinking, and I’m sorry.”
Daniel watched Jack’s fingers stroke the top of Lumpy’s head. “I accept your apology.”
Jack hand stilled. “Forgive me?” he asked plaintively.
Daniel chewed his lip thoughtfully for a moment before responding. “Eventually.” Jack nodded, patted Lumpy on the head and got as comfortable as he could. “Soon,” Daniel amended, curling up under the blankets and hugging Lumpy close. He shivered. His legs still felt like ice even against each other. Jack hooked his leg around Daniel’s and wrapped an arm around Daniel’s middle. “Jack?”
“Just helping you get warm.” Jack replied, trapping Daniel’s freezing, naked legs between his own warmer ones. “Night, Danny.”
Chapter 7: Day 8
Jack prodded at Daniel’s shoulder. Daniel groaned as he reluctantly entered the land of consciousness. The whole waking up half-frozen thing had begun to get old.
“Daniel. Daaanny.” Jack grinned.
“Wha?” Daniel rubbed at his eyes with chilled fingers and blinked up at Jack.
Jack held the tin camping cup out to him. “Drink this.” Daniel took a sip from the cup and closed his eyes. Jack had managed more lukewarm instant coffee.
Daniel sipped some more, letting what little warmth there was in the liquid spread through his body. “Mmm.” He opened one eye to lazily stare at Jack. “What’s for breakfast?” he asked.
“You mean lunch,” Jack corrected.
“What? No, I mean…” Daniel frowned and looked outside. It was light. He double checked his watch and confirmed that it was indeed three in the afternoon. “Lunch,” he deadpanned.
“We slept through breakfast,” Jack explained as he dished up some food.
“Yeah, I kind of figured that out.” Daniel scratched at his scalp. God, he needed a shower.
“Leftovers.” Jack held up the plate of food, and Daniel groaned. He was so sick of turkey. The thought of eating more was nearly enough to make him sick. “C’mon. It’s your favorite,” Jack wheedled at him.
Daniel huffed a laugh. “You must have me confused with some other stranded archaeologist.” Jack handed him the spoon and they dug in. Daniel winced when he got a particularly dry mouthful of turkey. “God, I’d kill for an MRE right now.” He sighed forlornly at the plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. “Even the macaroni and cheese that tastes like chicken.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Jack agreed around a mouthful of stuffing. “I’m actually starting to miss the commissary stroganoff.” He tapped the fork against the edge of the plate to have something to do while he chewed. Daniel shot him a sideways look. “Sorry.” They finished their plate of food and sighed. “You up for a short walk?”
“Outside?” Daniel blurted stupidly.
Jack gestured to the interior of the truck. “Well, I don’t see much room for walking in here, do you?”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Jack, don’t be an ass. I think my brain cells are frozen.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you have lots to spare then, eh, Dannyboy?” Jack ruffled Daniel’s hair and climbed out of the truck. “And don’t forget to put your pants back on.” Daniel rolled his eyes as he tugged the cold jeans over his legs and fastened them before pulling on his shoes. He smoothed his hair back down and followed Jack, closing the door behind them.
Daniel buttoned up his coat. “So which way are we going?”
Jack pointed to the road in front of the truck. “That way.” Daniel shoved his hands in his pockets and started off in the direction Jack had indicated. Jack tromped after him, easily catching up in a few strides. “Nothing like a nice stroll in the woods to make you appreciated nature, right, Daniel?” He nudged Daniel with his elbow.
Daniel snorted. “’Appreciate’ is not the word I’d use in this particular situation.”
“Well then, Mr. Linguist, what word would you use?”
“Dislike. Disfavor. Hate. Loath. Detest. Abhor. Despise. Dis--”
“Okay. I get it.” Jack raised his hands in placation. “I was just trying to lighten the mood.”
“Lighten the mood?” Daniel stopped in his track and blinked at Jack incredulously. “Lighten the mood?!” He threw his hands in the air. “We’re fucking stranded in the middle of nowhere and you want to fucking ‘lighten the mood’?!” He gestured back toward the truck. “There is nothing about this situation to make light of, Jack! We’re not even sure that anyone is looking for us! We could fucking die out here!”
Jack blinked, completely taken aback. “Daniel--”
“Just shut up, Jack.” Daniel stomped off the way they’d come, gesticulating angrily. “I’m getting back in the truck, I’m going back to sleep and I’m going to hope that when I wake up it’ll be far away from this place and precipitation in any form!” He climbed into the truck and slammed the door shut. He thought briefly about locking Jack out, but didn’t. Jack opened the door and stared at Daniel almost as if he were looking for permission to enter the truck. Which Daniel thought was kind of stupid seeing as it was Jack’s truck in the first place. Daniel nodded and Jack climbed in, closing the door behind him and turning on the heater. He used his utility knife to create a couple venting holes in the can of tomato soup from the emergency kit and began the slow process of warming it with the cigarette lighter.
Then he turned to face Daniel. “I--” Jack began, but Daniel cut him off with a shake of his head and Jack went back to the soup. When it was warm, he poured half into the tin cup which he handed to Daniel. They sipped in silence until Jack spoke up quietly. “Are you still mad at me?” The longer they’d sat there on the floor drinking their soup, the more Daniel realized that it wasn’t Jack that he was mad at.
“I’m not mad at you, Jack. It’s this damn hopeless situation that we’ve managed to get stuck in.” Daniel dropped his hand to his side, finding Lumpy and petting his head. “Just like all the other damn hopeless situations.”
“And we’ll get out of this one.” Jack poured a little more soup into Daniel’s cup.
“How, Jack? It’s not like we can just call up Thor and say ‘hey buddy, could you give us a lift?’”
Jack downed the rest of his soup. “I don’t know.”
“But we will. Somehow.”
Daniel drank his soup and put the tin cup on the center console. “I’m sorry.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “For?”
“For being so depressing.” Daniel laid down and pulled the blankets over himself.
The empty soup can joined the tin cup. “Hey, you don’t have to apologize.” Jack laid down next to Daniel, working his way under the blankets. “I’ve been there.”
Daniel winced. Charlie. “Oh, shit, Jack, I’m sorry.”
“Daniel. What did I just say?”
“Right.” Daniel took a deep breath which he then let out heavily. “This sucks.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Goodnight, Jack.”
“Night, Daniel.” Daniel drifted off to sleep listening to the gentle gusting of the heater and the soothing rhythm of Jack’s breathing.
Jack and Daniel woke to the sound of… nothing. It was dead silent in the cab of the truck. They looked at each other in alarm. Jack scrambled into the front seat and tried in vain to turn the heater back on. He swore under his breath and scrubbed a hand over his face.
“That was the last of the gas.”
Daniel shivered as his body registered that the heat was no longer on and was rapidly being leeched from the interior of the truck. “You mean we have no heat? At all?”
Jack looked back at him. “Cigarette lighter?” Daniel was not impressed and showed his disapproval with the grumpiest face he could manage while trying not to shiver. “Yeah, I’m not impressed either.” Jack climbed over the seats again and crawled under the blankets.
Daniel shifted closer and laid his head on Jack’s shoulder. “Jack?”
“Hmm?” Jack rested his cheek against the top of Daniel’s head.
“This really sucks.” Daniel felt Jack chuckle and nod his agreement, his beard mussing Daniel’s hair. Daniel bit his lip against the tickle to his scalp. “I miss Teal’c. And Sam.”
“Yeah.” Jack slipped his arm around Daniel’s shoulders and tugged him closer. “Me, too.”
“You think they’re looking for us?”
Jack frowned. “Of course they are. When did you become such a Doubting Daniel?”
“Right about the time we got stuck out here. We’re so far away from everyone. Everything.” Daniel shivered. “It’s so lonely out here.”
“Hey,” Jack squeezed Daniel’s shoulder, “you’ve got me.”
Daniel smiled, his cheeks beginning to go numb in the cold. “Yeah, there’s that.” He brought his hand up to lie on Jack’s chest. “I’m glad you’re here with me.” Daniel began to shiver more steadily. “God, it’s so cold.” Jack wrapped both arms tighter around Daniel and held him close. His embrace was warm, relaxing Daniel to the point of half-sleep.
“Mmm.” Daniel agreed sleepily. Jack pulled the blankets up to Daniel’s chin and tucked them tighter around their bodies. Daniel closed his eyes, nuzzling Jack’s shirt and breathing in his scent. He promptly wrinkled his nose. Jack needed a shower just as badly as he did himself, but even under that unwashed aroma his smell was comforting. And a little intoxicating. He smelled of cold air and warm spices. Like home. Shivers that had nothing to do with the weather slithered down Daniel’s spine. He swallowed, trying to push down the lump that had risen in his throat. “Jack?”
“If we don’t get out of here--”
“We will,” Jack interrupted adamantly.
“If we don’t… I love you.”
Jack bit his lip and petted Daniel’s hair a little. “Love you too, Danny,” he whispered, offering Daniel an out.
Daniel craned his neck so he could look at Jack. “No, I mean I love you.”
Jack blinked and brought his hand to Daniel’s face, his fingers creating an odd sensation against his cold-numbed cheek. “You…” Jack’s dark eyes searched Daniel’s in the almost nonexistent light. “You’re serious,” he whispered. Daniel nodded, holding Jack’s gaze. “Daniel… I…”
Daniel bit his lip. “I’ll understand if you don’t return the feelings or if you want me to transfer to another team, I just…” he took a deep breath, “if we were to die out here… I just wanted you to kn--” Jack’s fingers met Daniel’s lips, silencing him. Daniel’s lips twitched against the gentle pressure.
Jack slid his fingers to Daniel’s cheek, the shallow grooves of his fingertips catching on Daniel’s chapped lips and rasping against the several days’ growth of stubble on his face. “Daniel.” Daniel studied Jack’s face as he tried to gauge what Jack was thinking. A smile tugged at the corner of Jack’s mouth. “This is crazy.” Oh. Not quite the reaction Daniel had been expecting. Jack noticed a change in Daniel’s expression and his small smile disappeared. He brushed his lips over Daniel’s forehead, smoothing out the furrow that had developed between his brows.
Daniel gaped. “Jack--”
“Shh.” Jack pressed his mouth to Daniel’s and Daniel closed his eyes. Their lips moved together sweetly, the chapped skin causing an echo of uncomfortable roughness. Daniel felt his lower lip crack, but the fact that he was finally kissing Jack was dominant in the forefront of his consciousness. Jack reached his other hand up so he could frame Daniel’s face and pulled back slowly.
“Jack?” Daniel opened his eyes, focusing on Jack’s face just inches from his own.
Jack smiled. “Daniel?” Daniel hugged him tightly with a sense of relief. Jack just held him close, his hand tangled in Daniel’s hair. Daniel really needed to get a haircut when they got back. Jack leaned back just far enough to look him in the eyes. “When we get out of here, I’m taking you to dinner.”
Daniel smirked. “What, like a date?”
“Yeahsureyabetcha.” Jack grinned and Daniel couldn’t help but grin back. Daniel snuggled close and tucked his head up under Jack’s chin. Jack stroked his hair, the motion relaxing him. “Hey Daniel?”
“Hmm?” Daniel murmured as he struggled to hang on at the edge of dreamland.
“I love you too,” Jack whispered. Daniel smiled and let himself drift off to sleep, trusting Jack to keep him safe.
Chapter 8: Day 10
The next afternoon Daniel awoke to Jack sitting next him dressed in as many layers of clothing as he had with him and sipping lukewarm instant coffee. Daniel tried to slip his fingers under his glasses to rub at his eyes, but missed and ended up with fingerprint smudges on his lenses. He frowned.
“Mmm. Time is it?” he asked around a yawn.
“Thirteen-thirty,” Jack replied, glancing distractedly at his watch. “Time to head out,” he mumbled to himself.
Daniel sat up and willed his brain to focus as he cleaned his glasses on the hem of his shirt. “Where are we going?”
Jack shook his head. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Jack motioned with the cup in the direction of the driver’s side door, indicating the path he would be taking. “I’m going out to see it I can find help.” He downed the rest of the coffee then opened the door and climbed out.
Jack turned back to look at Daniel sitting deliciously sleep-rumpled in a nest of flannel blankets. “I can’t sit around here any longer, Daniel. I need to do something or I’ll lose my goddamn mind.”
Daniel bit back the snarky ‘you could do me’ reply that was on the tip of his tongue. “And I won’t?” He threw off his blankets, a rush of cold air causing him to shiver. “I’m going with you.” He yanked his shoes onto his feet, not bothering to tie them and climbed out after Jack.
“No,” Jack stated adamantly.
“Daniel, there’s no sense in both of us going.” Jack scratched idly at the back of his head. “In fact, we’ll both have a better chance of getting out of this if at least one of use stays with the truck to wait for a rescue crew.”
“Well, I’m not going to go any less crazy staying behind and doing nothing while you’re out there--”
Jack sighed. “Look, if I can’t find help out there, I’ll feel better if I know that you’ll still have a chance.”
What? He almost sounded like he didn’t expect to come back. He wouldn’t…
“The best chance you’re going to have is here with the truck.”
Daniel pursed his lips. “Jack, I really don’t like this idea.”
“Hey, I’m not going to be wandering aimlessly around in the woods and hope someone finds me.” Jack squeezed Daniel’s shoulder, trying to offer comfort. “I have a plan.”
“That doesn’t really make me feel any better.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “You really are a smartass, you know that? I’m going to walk out in one direction for two hours and if I don’t find help, I’ll turn around. Two hours out, two hours back.”
Daniel rummaged in the cooler and then thrust a power bar and a bottle of water at him. “Take this.” He watched as Jack shoved them into his pockets.
Jack took Daniel’s head in his hands. “I’ll come back for you, okay?”
“You better.” Daniel slid his arms around Jack’s shoulders and kissed him. Jack pulled back slowly, their breath mingling as he pressed his forehead to Daniel’s. “Jack.” Daniel tried to communicate all of his feelings through the one whispered syllable of Jack’s name.
A contented smile graced Jack’s features, causing them to soften. “I know, Daniel.”
“Be careful out there.”
He pressed a quick kiss to Daniel’s forehead and stepped back. “Yeahsureyabetcha, snookums.” He ruffled Daniel’s hair and turned away, beginning his trek out into the woods. Daniel chewed at the chapped skin on his lips, causing his lower lip to crack again. He winced at the sting. Jack entered the tree line, walking in as straight a line as he could as he picked his way between the trees. Daniel didn’t want to watch Jack walk away from him like this, but a little voice in the back of his mind was telling him that there was a possibility that he may never see Jack again and he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Jack’s retreating form for fear that it would turn out to be true.
This was going to be Hell. No, actually it wasn’t. It was going to be worse. At least on Netu they were together. And there was no chance of hypothermia. Daniel wrapped his arms around himself, trying to preserve his body heat. Jack’s figure shrank as he walked into the distance. Daniel felt a stab of dread in his gut when he finally lost visual on Jack. He was really alone now.
He swallowed hard against the frantic shout that would have been voiced as Jack’s name. Jack had Special Forces training and was more than capable of taking care of himself out there. Daniel wasn’t going to let his selfish desire for some human company out here keep Jack from potentially finding a way for them to get out of this mess.
God, it was so quiet. Too quiet without Jack. The snow muffled any trace of sound with its deceptively innocuous-looking crystals. The silence was stifling. Closing in around him. Again Daniel opened his mouth call out to Jack, to get him to come back and stay with him, only to snap his jaw shut.
Get a grip on yourself, Daniel.
It shouldn’t affect him so much to be alone – he was alone for a good portion of his life – but, ever since he’d started working at the SGC, he’d gotten used to the camaraderie. He’d gotten used to having a family again. He’d gotten use to having a best friend for the first time since he was a child.
He’d gotten used to Jack.
Daniel shivered as the wind blew frigid air across his face. He needed to get warm. Standing outside waiting for Jack to return would do Daniel no good if he froze to death. He climbed into the truck and slammed the door shut. It barely felt even a few degrees warmer inside. Daniel huddled in as many blankets as he could find. It was even more silent and lonely in the enclosed space of the cab. More oppressive. He snatched up Lumpy and squeezed him close.
He wished Jack were still there.
It’s too quiet
He pulled his book out of his duffle, opening to the bookmark. He began to read aloud just to fill the silence. The sounds of his own voice would have to better than nothing at all.
He read until his voice became hoarse. After a sip of melted ice, he checked his watch. It was five thirty. Jack should have been back half an hour ago. Daniel frowned. It was entirely possible that Jack was a little tired on his way back after walking for a couple hours and that he was being a bit more cautious in the dark, but Daniel couldn’t quite dispel the anxiety that needled at the base of his skull. He needed a distraction. It was too bad that Jack hadn’t brought any crossword puzzles on this trip. Jack had claimed that neither of them would have had the time to work on them. How was that for irony?
Daniel sighed. The anxiety had burned up what few calories he’d eaten… yesterday, leaving his stomach empty. His brow furrowed more. He dug into the emergency kit and pulled out some jerky. Not his first choice, but, then again, he didn’t really have any at this point. He opened the package and removed a piece of the dried meat. The scent assaulted his nose and made his mouth water. He took a bite.
The flavor exploded on his tongue. Normally, he hated jerky, but, after days of leftover turkey, it tasted amazing. Daniel chewed slowly, savoring the beefy, salty flavor that filled his mouth. Between bites of jerky and sips of water, he read more of his book to keep himself occupied. It wasn’t much later that he drifted off to sleep.
Daniel’s dreams were filed with memories of searching for Jack in the sub-zero temperatures of Antarctica and invented images of Jack wandering alone in the wilderness. Jack lips voicing the words “I’m sorry, Danny.” Finding Jack years later, buried under feet of snow. His lifeless body staring straight ahead and his features perfectly preserved in some cosmic power’s idea of a cruel joke. His dead eyes boring into the depths of Daniel’s soul.
Daniel woke with a gasp. “Jack?!” It took him several moments to calm his breathing and to get his surroundings to coalesce properly. He looked down at his watch. Nine o’clock. Jack had been gone for eight hours. Even being exhausted and trying to find his way in the dark woods wouldn’t have made him four hours late.
Daniel scrubbed a hand through his hair. Jack must have gotten lost. He wouldn’t have just left Daniel behind; especially not in a life or death situation like this. Hell, SG-1’s motto was “no one gets left behind.” Daniel contemplated going out to look for Jack, but it was dark and there would be no sense in both of them getting lost out there. He’d have to try in the morning. He choked down half a power bar that tasted like chalk as he tried to relax a little. It was hard for Daniel to believe that Jack would get so lost that it would take him so long to get back. His internal compass was hardly ever wrong.
Except for when he’d gotten them lost out there in the first place.
Which isn’t entirely fair. It had been snowing really hard and it had been impossible to see anything three feet away, let alone any signs on the side of the road.
Daniel took a deep breath. Jack would be okay. He was always okay. Daniel closed his eyes and let exhaustion drag him back under.
Chapter 9: Day 11
It felt dark when Daniel woke up, even though it was almost noon. He sat up and gnawed on another piece of jerky while he stared out the frosty window in the direction that he had last seen Jack. There was still no sign of him.
He began to wonder if maybe he would have better luck in the opposite direction. It couldn’t hurt, right? If Jack hadn’t found anyone out the way he had gone, perhaps it was the wrong direction.
His mind made up, Daniel pulled every scrap of clothing out of his duffle – an extra two t-shirts and a third pair of socks. He stripped out of his sweater and put on the t-shirts one at a time before tugging the sweater back over his head. It was a struggle to get the third pair of socks stretched onto his feet. After stuffing his feet into his boots and buttoning up his coat, he climbed out of the truck.
“Gah!” He flinched. Had it gotten colder? He closed the door of the truck and shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat. Jack’s footprints led off to the west, still looking as fresh as they had yesterday. And that, somehow, made everything seem lonelier. Daniel stared off to the east at the path he meant to follow and then looked back to the tree line that Jack had disappeared into. For a moment he was tempted to go after him. To find him. But now it was up to Daniel to go in search of help. He steeled himself and started off in the direction that took him farther away from the man he wanted to rush after.
He’d been walking about forty-five minutes when he became extraordinarily thirsty and the landscape swam a bit in front of his eyes. It was then that he’d realized that he had forgotten to bring water with him. If Jack had been there, he would have been riding Daniel’s ass about that. Of course, if Jack had been there, Daniel wouldn’t have had any reason to have been tromping through the snow in the first place. Daniel ran his tongue around his mouth, trying to stimulate saliva production and managed a small amount to coat his throat with for the next couple minutes. He continued on in hopes that he might stumbled upon some form of civilization.
He spun around, looking for the source of the whisper that had sounded as if it had come from right behind him. There was nothing around him and no trace of anyone but himself in the snow. He frowned and shook his head. He had only walked for maybe another minute when he heard the voice again.
“Jack?” Daniel asked tentatively, just in case. No reply. He hadn’t really expected one, be he’d had to be sure. “Great, now you’re hearing things, Daniel.” He smiled ruefully. “And you’re talking to yourself.”
Daniel continued on for another two hours, every little noise causing him to look for the source of the sound. A clump of snow fell from a tree branch and ploofed in the snow right beside him. He jumped. “Shit!” He clutched at his chest as he tried to stop panting. He swallowed and coughed. “God, I need to pull myself together.” He ran half-frozen fingers through his hair and paused.
That couldn’t have been… Daniel strained his ears. No. it must be another hallucination. He was about to take a step when the sound got a little stronger.
It was a helicopter! If he could make it back to the road they’d have a better chance of spotting him!
Daniel ran as fast as he could while wearing tennis shoes in the snow, nearly landing on his face on more than one occasion. He made it into the clearing as the noise was reaching its zenith.
Signal. He needed to signal them somehow.
He looked around frantically and paused when his eyes caught the slight glint from the truck’s side mirror. “Yes!” He pried the entire mirror from the body of the truck with a horrible cracking noise. “Sorry, Jack, I’ll pay to replace it when we get out of here,” he promised to the still absent Jack as he tried to reflect light off the mirror and up where the chopper would be able to see it. When the chopper came in to view, Daniel twitched the mirror a little to flash S.O.S. at the pilot. He repeated the pattern, hoping, but it was in vain.
The chopper passed right over him and kept going, the noise of the rotors fading into the distance.
“NO!” Daniel threw the mirror to the ground and smashed his fist into the door panel of the truck. “DAMMIT!” He leaned against the truck, turning and sliding down to collapse in the snow. “No…” He closed his eyes, wanting to cry, but not being able to find the tears. “No…” A sob forced its way from his throat. He didn’t think he’d ever felt more helpless than he did at that moment. Jack had gone and was still missing over twelve hours later and this last chance at rescue had disappeared.
Daniel shivered as the snow melted and seeped into the back of his jeans. He had to get up, get out of the cold. He pushed himself up, using cold, numb fingers to clumsily pull the door handle. The inside of the truck was only a degree or two warmer than outside. Daniel knocked the snow from his shoes and pulled them off, sticking them in the wheel well in the front. He peeled off his sweaty socks and his shirts, putting back on his still dry sweater. His jeans stuck to his ass as he tried to take them off. The only thing they would be good for right now is getting him a nasty case of hypothermia. He laid them over the seat to dry and crawled into the back, pulling the blankets tightly around his body.
The feeling of dread settled in firmly at the base of Daniel’s skull. They’d been out there for eleven days. If someone was going to find them, they would have done so by now, right? Jack probably only went to find help so that he could at least die while serving a purpose instead of sitting on his ass. Jack was always being a hero, and what did that make Daniel? Useless. A damned coward. He’d prefer to die in Jack’s truck where it was safe instead of out there while trying to find some fucking help. At least he had a chance of being found. After he was dead. What chance did Jack have? They’d probably discover his bones several years later and have no idea who he’d been or why he’d been wandering around out in the snow.
Oh, God. Someone was going to have to tell Jack’s parents what had happened. Daniel didn’t envy the person who ended up with the job of telling Pat and Bertie O’Neill that their son wouldn’t be coming home. He hoped that if he got out of this, that the job would never fall to him. He wouldn’t be able to handle breaking their hearts. He’d owe it to them to be the one to tell them, but it would break his own heart all over again.
Morbidly, Daniel was a little glad that he had no real family to speak of aside from SG-1 and that no one would have the misfortune of making that horrific visit to his parents.
Daniel swallowed hard, his throat dry. He missed the SGC. He missed Jack.
“Jack!” Daniel called out hoarsely even though he knew Jack wouldn’t answer. He’d probably never see him again. If by some miracle Jack were to make it back to the truck and find him dead, at least he had told Jack that he loved him. Daniel’s lips twitched a weak smile and an unexpected tear slipped down his cheek. He closed his eyes. “I love you, Jack.” He let sleep take hold, not caring whether or not he woke up in the morning.
Chapter 10: Day 12
Daniel opened his eyes and promptly closed them again. He was still very stranded, still very cold, and still very alone. Whether it was a stroke of luck, or the universe’s idea of torture, that he was still alive, Daniel couldn’t quite decide. He checked his watch. Oh-nine-hundred. He allowed himself a small smile at the fact that Jack had “corrected” him so often that he now practically thought in military time. His smile disappeared. Jack. Jack was still missing.
He grabbed the opened package of jerky and huddled farther into his blankets, shivering at the quick draft of below freezing air. He nibbled at the jerky, but he did so out of the knowledge that he had to eat something rather than because he was hungry. How long would this go on? He was down to one power bar and two strips of jerky and after that he’d end up just slowly wasting away. Funny. He’d always thought he would have died off-world, not on his home planet. His track record certain seemed to back up his prediction of an off-world death. Nobody would probably even be out this way until the spring. He’d have died of starvation and dehydration by then. He sighed, picked up his book and continued reading while he finished his piece of jerky.
Daniel had read two whole chapters by the time he’d first heard the noise. He closed the book and listened straining to attempt the impossible task of opening his ears more. It was faint. Frowning, he shoved the blankets aside and cracked open the door. The air was cold on his bare legs, but he could make out the sound a little better. He threw on his pants and shoes, not bothering to do them up. If that noise was what he thought…
He jumped out of the truck and looked up. He smiled.
Daniel grabbed the mirror up out of the snow and began flashing S.O.S into the sky.
The plane drew closer.
He reached into the truck with one hand and began honking the horn in the same rhythm. There probably wasn’t any way that the horn would be heard over the engine of the plane, but any little bit would help.
Daniel saw the one-man plane lower its altitude as it approached the clearing. “Come on.” It almost looked like it was going to pass by like all the others had, but then it circled around. Daniel stepped a couple feet away from the truck and waved his arms over his head. The plane flew a little lower as it circled again. “Help! Down here!” His voice was hoarse and his throat was raw and dry, but he managed a weak shout.
He watched as the plane came around a fourth time, as close as the pilot could safely get it to the tops of the trees, carefully seesawing side to side a couple times almost as if it was waving at him. Daniel didn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up through his chest. The pilot had seen him. It was a small, private plane, so there was no way it could do any sort of emergency transport, but the pilot suck his arm out the window and Daniel could just make out him twirling his hand to indicate chopper blades. The pilot had called rescue.
Daniel waved at him and the grin on his face threatened to split it in two. “Thank you!” he yelled, over enunciating in case the pilot would be able to read his lips. He turned and watched the plane fly off. What little hope he’d had through the whole ordeal had just been restored. There was a rescue chopper on the way. Daniel stumbled over to the truck and sat on the step of the open door. The adrenaline started to leave his body and he suddenly felt drained. He wrapped a blanket around his shoulders. In about an hour or so, he would be saved. He grabbed Lumpy, held him close and closed his eyes.
He must have dozed off because the next thing he heard was the sound of a helicopter landing on the road about a quarter mile behind the truck. He pried his eyes open and saw an EMT running toward him. Daniel stood up from the truck to meet her, but his legs refused to move and he dropped to his knees.
“Sir!” the EMT yelled over the noise as she knelt beside him. “Are you alright?”
Daniel cried, but his face remained dry. “Home?” he asked, his voice cracking.
“Yes, sir. We’re here to take you home.” She shined a pen light in my eyes. “Can you tell me your name?”
“Daniel Jackson,” he answered.
She began checking him for injuries. “Do you know what day it is, Daniel?”
Daniel shook his head and tried to swallow to relieve his dry throat. “…been here so long…”
“Alright, Daniel, can you tell me if you’re hurt anywhere?”
Daniel shook his head again. “Cold. Thirsty.”
“Well, then let’s get you out of here so we can get you someplace warm.” She carefully pulled him to his feet and helped his over to the chopper where she wrapped him in an emergency blanket and started him on an IV. Daniel closed his eyes as the chopper took off, holding Lumpy close and letting relief wash over him. The EMT asked him questions that he answered automatically en route to the hospital. How old he was, date of birth, allergies, etc. It was only when they’d landed on the helipad on the roof of the hospital and Daniel was being loaded onto a waiting stretcher that he remembered something very important.
“Jack!” Daniel’s voice was so weak, he hardly recognized it.
“What?” One of the nurses asked. Daniel tried to get off the stretcher, but they held him down.
“Mr. Jackson, please, you need to lie down.”
“Jack is still out there!” Daniel protested as the EMT frowned at him and tried to help the nurses confine him to the stretcher. “He left to find help, he’s still out there!” He grabbed onto the EMT’s jacket sleeve and she placed her hand over his. “You have to find him!”
“Daniel. Calm down. When did you last see Jack?” The EMT asked calmly.
“Two days ago, I think. Please you have to find him,” Daniel pleaded.
The EMT squeezed his hand. “We will, Daniel. But you need to let the emergency staff take care of you now, okay?” Daniel nodded reluctantly and the EMT went back to the chopper, shouting something at the pilot. The nurses wheeled Daniel inside and to the elevator.
“You’ll need to get a hold of Janet Fraiser. She’s my doctor.”
On one the nurses patted Daniel’s shoulder reassuringly. “We will, Mr. Jackson. You get some rest. You’ve been through a lot.” Daniel bit his lip and rolled over onto his side. “I think this little guy belongs to you?” She picked up a familiar object from the stretcher and handed it to him.
Daniel smiled a little and pulled it closer. “Lumpy,” he whispered, squeezing Lumpy tight to help calm his anxiety about Jack. The elevator door opened and he was wheeled into a room on the emergency room floor. The nurses helped him to the bed and piled a couple warm blankets on him, checked his IV and hooked him up to the monitor. The soft, warm-from-the-dryer blankets they covered him with did nothing to dispel the bone-deep chill.
“A doctor will be right in to see you, Mr. Jackson.”
“Thank you.” He didn’t even bother to correct them about his title. He had no energy left for such trivial things. His eyelids finally won the battle of sleep, despite his wanting to stay awake in case there was news of Jack, and he drifted off to sleep.
Daniel floated back into consciousness to the sound of voices around him.
“Daniel.” One of the voices was familiar.
“Janet?” Daniel opened his eyes and smiled as Janet Fraiser’s face came into focus.
Janet placed her hand on his arm. “How are you feeling?”
“Thirsty.” Daniel opened his mouth to accept the ice chip she fed him. “Thank you.” He let the cool liquid melt and soothe his painfully dry throat.
“Do you know how long you were out there?” Janet asked as she completed a cursory exam.
“Eleven days?” Daniel accepted another ice chip. “I think? It’s all kind of blended together.” He swallowed. “We were on our way back from Jack parents’ place and we got lost.” It took a lot of effort, but he raised his hand and grabbed her arm weakly. “Jack. Have they found Jack? He was still out there!” He coughed. He was so dehydrated that his throat kept drying out faster than he could wet it.
Janet stroked his wrist with her palm. “I’m sorry, Daniel. They’re still looking.” She frowned a little. “They’ve found his coat and his hat, but so far the only other trace they have of him is his footprints.” She looked at him very seriously. “Daniel, if he was removing his clothes, it’s very possible that he was hallucinating and starting to get hypothermia. When did he go off on his own?”
“Two days ago.” Daniel whispered, knowing the chances of finding Jack alive were getting slimmer while they spoke. Janet hesitated. “Give me the truth, Janet.”
“It’s not looking good for him, Daniel. I’m sorry. I know how close you were.”
“Are,” Daniel corrected.
She gave him a tight-lipped-smile. “Are.”
“I’m not giving up on him, Janet.”
“I know.” She patted his arm. “Are you feeling up to having a couple of visitors?”
Daniel frowned. “Visitors?”
Janet smiled at him fondly. “Sam and Teal’c are here to see you, but I can tell them to wait if you want to rest.”
Daniel shook his head. “No, I want to see them.”
“Alright. I’ll send them in, but if you get too tired, feel free to kick them out.” Janet left and Daniel took a deep breath, steeling himself. He didn’t have to wait long before two of the people he had most wanted to see in the world entered his room cautiously.
“Hi, Daniel!” Sam grinned at him as she sat in the chair next to his bed.
“Sam! Teal’c!” Daniel managed a weak smile before the tears came to his eyes. He reached out to Sam. She leaned over and gathered him into a hug. “I missed you so much,” Daniel whispered, practically clinging to her. “Both of you.”
“We missed you too, Daniel.” Daniel could hear the tears in Sam’s voice.
“We did indeed.” Teal’c inclined his head at him, but Daniel waved him over and grasped Teal’c’s hand in his. “We are glad that you are safe, DanielJackson.” Daniel choked down a sob and rested his forehead against Sam’s shoulder.
“Why don’t we go and let you get some rest.” Sam started to step back, but stopped short when Daniel held on tighter.
“Don’t go. Please,” Daniel pleaded. “I was so alone out there. I need to be around familiar faces right now.”
“What if one of us was to sit with you?” Sam asked. “The other can sit in the waiting room in case there’s any news?”
“One of us will always be with you. You will not wake up alone, DanielJackson.”
Daniel nodded. “Thank you.” Sam helped him lay back on the bed and tucked the blankets around him as he drifted off.
He woke later feeling groggier than when he’d fallen asleep. His eyes felt like they weighed several pounds and his throat felt like he’d inhaled a desert. He should know. He’d been to enough hot, dry, remote places. Actually, that was sounding pretty good right about now. Well, except maybe the ‘remote’ part. He winced. He needed water.
“Sam? Teal’c?” His voice rasped. He heard movement and then he felt the plastic of a spoon and the chill of ice against his chapped lips. He opened his mouth, his lips sticking together, and moaned a little as his throat was soothed.
“It’s good to have you back, Dr. Jackson.”
Daniel’s eyes flew open. “General Hammond!” he spoke, lisping around the ice in his mouth. “What are you doing here? Not that I’m not glad to see you, I just didn’t expect you to be here feeding me ice chips and… um, hi…” he blushed a little at his own rambling and worked his hands out from under the blankets.
“Hello, son.” General Hammond smiled, taking it all in stride. “How are you feeling?”
“Honestly? I’d feel better if people stopped asking me that… sir.”
The general laughed. “Point taken.”
“But I’m fine. I’m cold and tired, but I’m fine.” Daniel swallowed a little more of the melted ice. “Any news on Jack?”
Hammond shook his head. “Not yet, I’m afraid.” Daniel sighed. “They’ll find him. And Jack is one stubborn S.O.B.. He won’t give up.”
Daniel nodded, hardly allowing himself to believe that Hammond was right, not wanting to get his own hopes up. “Thank you for being here, sir. It means a lot.”
“No place I’d rather be right now, Dr. Jackson.” Hammond smiled at Daniel’s yawn. “Go back to sleep, son.” Daniel obeyed.
Chapter 11: Day 13
“Daniel!” Sam’s voice invaded his dreams. “Daniel, wake up.”
Daniel pried his eyes open and looked up at her. “Wha?”
Sam’s grin took up at least half of her face. “They found him.”
Daniel blinked. “They…” She couldn’t possibly mean what he thought she meant.
Sam clutched his hand tightly. “They found him, Daniel.”
“Jack!” Daniel sat up in his bed. “Is he?”
Sam bit her lip, but somehow her smile didn’t diminish. “He’s critical, but he’s alive. They’re about ten minutes out.”
“I have to see him.”
She furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to Janet. You’re still pretty weak, Daniel.” She stood. “I’ll send Teal’c in while I see about getting you to see the Colonel.”
“Thanks, Sam.” Daniel watched her leave and, a couple moments later, Teal’c’s giant frame filled the door.
“DanielJackson.” He smiled. An honest to God smile. From Teal’c. “I have heard the joyous news of O’Neill’s rescue.” He sat in the chair that Sam had just vacated and looked Daniel over. “You are looking much better this morning, my friend."
“They found him, Teal’c!” Daniel couldn’t help the grin that took up residence on his face.
“Indeed they did.” Teal’c inclined his head. “I had the utmost confidence that they would succeed.”
“So, Daniel, what’s this I hear about you planning a jail break?” Janet asked as she walked into his room.
“I need to see him, Janet. He’d already been missing two days by the time they found me.” Daniel felt hot tears prick his eyes. “Please.”
“I’ll tell you what. Let’s wait and see what his condition is when they get in and if he’s stable enough and you’re well enough, I’ll let you see him for a couple minutes.”
Daniel nodded. “Thank you, Janet.”
“In the meantime, how are you feeling?” Janet took a look at Daniel’s vitals.
“Better. Still a little tired. Restless. I’ve been trapped out in the wilderness for a week, I need to do something.”
Janet looked down when her pager beeped suddenly. “The chopper’s just landed. I’m going to go see the Colonel and then we’ll see about getting you in for a quick visit.” She walked quickly out of the room, leaving silence in her wake.
“O’Neill will be fine, DanielJackson.”
“I know.” Daniel sighed, fidgeting with his blanket. “I just haven’t seen him for three days, and now he’s here in the same building and I still can’t see him.”
“Perhaps if you took part in an activity to pass the time.”
Daniel looked over at Teal’c. “What did you have in mind?”
Teal’c straightened in his chair a little. “CassandraFraiser has taught me a game of cards by the name of ‘Go Fish’.”
Daniel smiled. “Sounds perfect, Teal’c.” Teal’c pulled a deck of cards out of his pocket and dealt them up a game of Go Fish.
It was several minutes later, and Teal’c was winning by a landslide, when Janet walked in with a wheelchair.
“Well, Daniel, the colonel is stable. He’s in and out of consciousness and not up for any sort of conversation, but I can get you in for fifteen minutes.”
Daniel nodded. “Okay.” Janet and Teal’c helped him into the wheelchair and they wheeled him to the elevator to take him up to the ICU.
When they reached Jack’s room, Daniel held out a hand. “Wait.” Teal’c stopped pushing the chair and Janet paused with her hand on the door handle. “I just need a moment.” Daniel took a couple deep breaths, trying to prepare himself for what he might see behind the door. He gave a nod and Janet opened the door. Teal’c wheeled him into the room.
Daniel was met with the sight of Jack in the hospital bed. Jack was hooked up to several machines and covered by emergency blankets. Teal’c parked Daniel’s chair next to Jack’s bed and Daniel got a closer look at Jack’s face.
“Oh, Jack.” Jack’s skin was pale, almost grey, and he had an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose. Daniel gently took the hand in front of him that poked out from under the blankets. Jack’s hands were like ice.
“We shall give you some privacy,” Teal’c spoke softly and he and Janet quietly left the room. It was then that Daniel finally allowed himself to cry without trying to keep up his strong front and hold everything back for the sake of those around him. He pressed Jack’s frozen fingers to his cheek and let his hot tears soak into Jack’s skin. If he hadn’t known better, Daniel would have thought Jack was dead.
“Jack,” Daniel whispered. Jack’s fingers twitched. “Jack?” He looked up and saw Jack’s eyelids flutter. Daniel squeezed his hand gently as Jack opened his eyes.
“Danny.” Jack’s voice was thready and Daniel’s name was muffled by the oxygen mask.
“I’m here, Jack.” Daniel stroked Jack hair. “You’re safe now, you’re in the hospital.” Jack’s eyes met Daniel’s for a brief second before he lost the battle to keep them open. “You just rest, Jack.” Daniel sat with him for a while, just staring at Jack’s face and smiling through the tears in his eyes. There was a knock on the door.
“Daniel?” It was Janet letting him know that time was up.
Daniel placed a quick kiss to the back of Jack’s fingers. “I love you, Jack.” He looked at the door as Janet entered.
“Time for you to get some rest now, Daniel.” She unlocked the brakes of Daniel’s wheelchair.
Daniel sat Lumpy up by Jack’s head and gave his hand one last gentle squeeze. “I’ll be back to visit later,” he told Jack as Janet backed the chair away from the bed and toward the door. “We’ll be out of here before you know it.” He bit his lip before posing his next question to Janet. “Where’d they find him?”
Janet raised an eyebrow at him but eventually capitulated once they entered the elevator. “They found him at the base of a tree about a mile from the truck. It looks like he’d collapsed on his way back. Seems his body literally couldn’t take him any farther.” Oh, God. Jack had been so close. I could have saved him… “It wasn’t your fault, Daniel.” Daniel twitched a half-hearted smile. Janet wheeled Daniel back to his room and helped him get back into his bed here he promptly fell asleep.
Chapter 12: Day 15
Daniel awoke to a knock on the door of his room. He glanced over at Sam, asleep in her chair and her neck in imminent danger of a rather painful cramp. Daniel felt a little guilty for insisting she stay with him. The door opened and revealed the familiar face of Jack’s mother who peeked around the frame before smiling at him.
“Bertie!” Daniel called out in surprise. Sam snorted and woke up, blinking blearily.
“Hello, Daniel!” Bertie opened the door wider and waved her ex-husband in behind her.
“Pat!” Daniel glanced between the two O’Neill’s and Sam. Pat and Bertie seemed happy to see him, though there was worry for Jack reflected in their eyes. Sam looked rumpled and confused. “Sam, these are Jack’s parents-”
“Oh!” Sam sat up straight. “Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill.-”
Daniel winced. “-Pat and Bertie.” Sam frowned at him.
“Told you he’d remember, eh, Bertie? Bright kid, that Daniel.” Pat winked at Daniel as he teased Bertie.
Sam just looked more confused. “I’m going to go grab some coffee, okay?” She placed a hand gently on Daniel’s shoulder as she stood.
Daniel nodded. “Take your time.” He smiled when Sam hesitated. “I’ll be fine. Promise.”
Sam smiled a weak smile back at him. “Okay.” She nodded to Pat and Bertie as she slipped past them and out the door, gently closing it behind her to give Daniel and his visitors some privacy.
“So how are you doing, Daniel? Really?” Bertie sat in the chair Sam had just vacated while Pat grabbed the rolling stool from the corner and took up residence near the foot of Daniel’s bed.
Daniel shrugged. “There’s no lasting physical damage.”
“Daniel,” Pat intoned, sounding so much like Jack in that moment that Daniel nearly did a double-take.
“I’ll be okay. Eventually.” Daniel brushed a hand through his hair; it was starting to get in his eyes. “I’m actually a little surprised to see the two of you here.” Daniel frowned. “I mean, of course you’re here for Jack, I’m just surprised to see you here.”
“Do you really find it so strange for you to have visitors?”
“Bertie.” Pat furrowed his eyebrows at his ex-wife.
“It’s fine, Pat.” Daniel twitched a hesitant smile. “I’m not short on visitors. I’m just not used to those visitors being someone else’s parents.”
Bertie nodded sagely and then a mischievous grin blossomed on her face. “So, that Sam. She’s quite a looker.”
“What?” Daniel blinked stupidly for a second while his brain caught up to the change in topic. “Oh, yeah. Sam’s beautiful.”
Bertie winked. “Has Jack asked her out yet?”
“Has Ja--” Daniel’s eyes widened. “Jack and Sam?” He tried to hold back a laugh. “I doubt that’s going to happen. They respect each other as colleagues too much to break regs. And anyway, she’s not quite his type. Trust me.”
“Oh?” Bertie raised her eyebrow at him. “Do you know something we don’t?”
Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his hospital bed under Bertie’s scrutiny. “Never mind,” he muttered. “I shouldn’t be discussing Jack’s love life with you while he’s not here to defend himself.”
“Daniel, why don’t you ask Sam out?” Bertie asked. Pat sighed and rolled his eyes, tilting his head back to look at the ceiling.
Daniel shook his head. “It’d be too weird. Sam’s like my sister.” He picked at his thin hospital blanket. “Besides, she’s not my type either.”
“Well, what is your type?” Bertie leaned forward, excited at the prospect of new information.
Daniel swallowed hard before blurting out “male.” He bit his lip and glanced warily between Pat and Bertie.
“Oh!” Bertie leaned back, startled.
Daniel sighed and looked down at his lap, finding his blanket suddenly fascinating. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have--”
“Daniel Jackson.” Bertie tapped the bottom of Daniel’s chin, causing him to raise his head. “Why are you apologizing for yourself?”
“Well, I-” Daniel began.
Bertie gently took Daniel’s chin in her hand, startling him into silence. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“We’re not going to love you any less just because you’re sexually attracted to men.” Bertie dropped her hand to Daniel’s knee and gave it a pat.
Daniel rubbed his hands over his face and felt disinclined to remove them as he felt a blush warming his cheeks. “Oh, god. I’m so not having this conversation right now.” He peeked out from between his fingers. “I’m not even your son.”
Pat reached out and gave Daniel’s foot a quick squeeze. “We think of you as a son anyway, Daniel.”
Daniel slowly lowered his hands, his eyes shining with unshed tears. “Thank you.”
“So, are you seeing anyone?” Bertie asked, genuinely curious.
“I’m kind of married to my work.” Daniel absently picked at the skin around his thumbnail. “And with everything being classified, it’s hard to find someone who’ll understand that you can’t talk about what you do for a living. Jack’s used to it because of his background with the Air Force; but for someone like me, someone who thrives on the gathering and sharing of information, it’s difficult.” He shifted again to relieve the pressure on his ass being caused by having the head of his bed raised.
“Well, we should go. Let you get some rest,” Pat said, standing before Bertie could draw Daniel further into a conversation of which Pat was sure that, given his weakened defenses, Daniel wasn’t quite ready to handle.
“You don’t have to go,” Daniel protested, though, truthfully, he was more than ready to have just a little time to himself before the nurse brought dinner.
“Daniel, you look tired,” Pat stated matter-of-factly as he shoved his hands in his pockets. Daniel smiled inwardly at just how much Jack had picked up his father’s mannerisms. “We’re going to get out of your hair and go find something to eat. Possibly take a nap.” Pat jerked his chin toward the door.
Bertie stood, placing her hand on Daniel’s bicep. “You take care of yourself, Daniel.”
Daniel nodded and watched the two exit his room. He lowered the head of his bed. A nap sounded like a wonderful idea. He curled up as best he could and let a smile cross his lips. Jack was safe. They were home. Daniel fell asleep, quickly surrendering to dreamland.
Chapter 13: Epilogue
After a couple days, Jack had stabilized enough for both him and Daniel to be able to be transported to the infirmary at the SGC. A week later, Daniel had finally been sent home so he could get some real rest in his own bed. He’d tried to stick around to keep tabs on Jack, but Janet had vetoed that idea by saying that Daniel needed to rest and that he wouldn’t do so if he was sitting in the plastic chair by Jack’s bed. She had, after all, seen enough of how well they “rested” during their vigils in the SGC infirmary. After a short but passionate argument, Daniel had conceded and let Sam drive him home.
The two had made a quick stop at the store and Sam had paid for Daniel to restock his pantry. Sam helped Daniel put away the food and then left, at Daniel’s insistence that he’d be fine, once they’d finished.
Daniel sat on his couch and took a good look around his apartment for the first time since his rescue. It felt cluttered with all the books and artifacts lying around, yet, at the same time, it seemed empty somehow.
Daniel scrubbed his hands through his hair and grimaced. He was long overdue for a shower. He stood again and made his way to his bathroom. He turned on the shower, waiting impatiently for it to warm up. Once the water was hot enough, Daniel stripped quickly and stepped under the spray. He let the water cascade over his back and shoulder for a few minutes, thawing himself out. Daniel was convinced that his bones were covered in a layer of permafrost. He lathered up his hair with shampoo, scrubbing vigorously to relieve his itchy scalp. He moaned contentedly as he rinsed his hair and then turned his attention to thoroughly washing the rest of his body. By the time he’d finished his shower, he’d scrubbed his skin to an angry pink.
Daniel toweled off, wrapping his towel around his waist, and had a quick shave. He wandered into his bedroom where he dressed himself in a pair of soft, cotton pajama pants and a ratty old t-shirt. The soft cotton felt wonderful against his skin after weeks of the same dirty clothes and unfamiliar hospital scrubs.
Daniel climbed under the covers on his bed and closed his eyes. Visions of Jack lying helpless and half-frozen in the hospital bed swam before him. He opened his eyes with a gasp. He stared at the wall straight ahead of him, his eyes unfocused and his breath shuddering, and held back the tears that welled up. He was paralyzed by a deeper version of the same overwhelming helplessness that he’d felt after Jack had left to go find help. He huddled in his blankets and involuntarily swallowed hard.
There was a knock on Daniel’s door. He got up out of his bed and shuffled out to the entry way to answer it. He opened the door to find Jack standing in the hall.
“Hey. I had the airman drop me off here, if that’s okay?” Jack smiled uncertainly.
Daniel blinked before opening the door wider. “Of course. Come in.” He closed the door behind Jack and watched as he hesitated in the entry way. “I thought the hospital wasn’t going to release you until tomorrow?”
Jack shrugged, rocking back and forth on his heels. “Well, they said I was well enough to leave today as long as I take it easy. And they don’t want me driving for at least a week.”
“Would you like something to drink, or eat or something? Coffee…?” Daniel asked, pointing into the kitchen.
Jack shook his head. “Nah, I’m good. They, uh, fed me at the hospital before they kicked me out.”
“Okay.” They stood there a little awkwardly, until Jack pulled something familiar out from under his arm.
“I think this little fella belongs to you.”
“Lumpy!” Daniel took the little camel from Jack’s hands and hugged them both close, inhaling the scent of Jack’s leather jacket.
Jack slid his fingers into Daniel’s hair. “Having him there in the ICU with me really helped whenever I woke up disoriented. Gave me something to focus on. Thank you.”
Daniel shrugged and ducked his head, attempting to distract from the blush that crept up his cheeks. “No problem.”
Jack pressed his lips to Daniel’s forehead and sighed. “I missed you, Daniel. I tried so hard to get back to you, but my body just shut down on me. I literally couldn’t take another step. You have to know that there was no way I would have just abandoned you there unless I had no choice.”
Daniel closed his eyes. “I know, Jack. I know.” He opened his eyes again and looked up at Jack. “I almost went after you. I should have. God, I didn’t even know if I was ever going to see you again. You were so close to making it back. I should have gone after you.”
“I don’t blame you, Daniel.” Jack ran a thumb back and forth over Daniel’s cheek and the two men just stared at each other quietly for a while.
Daniel exhaled, having realized that he’d forgotten to continue breathing. “Jack…” The rest of his words died as Jack’s lips covered his. “Mmph!” Daniel tossed Lumpy onto the couch, grabbed Jack’s head and pulled his face closer.
Finally, Jack pulled back and smiled. “I didn’t know if you’d still feel the same way once we got out of there.”
A tear threatened to escape and slide down Daniel’s cheek. “Of course I do, Jack.” Daniel shook his head with a chuckle because laughing was easier than crying.
“What’s so funny?”
“God, Jack, you should have heard the conversation I had with your parents.”
Jack raised his eyebrow warily. “Do I want to know?”
“Your mom asked me about you and Sam.”
“Me and Carter? And you said…?”
“That you both respected each other too much and that Sam wasn’t really your type.” Daniel smirked when Jack frowned. “Don’t worry, Jack. Your closet is still closed.” Jack visibly relaxed. “Though I’m positive they’d be receptive if you ever came out to them.”
Jack frowned again. “And you know this, how?”
Daniel bit his lip. “Well, when your mom couldn’t get any more out of me about your love life, she started interrogating me about mine.” Jack laughed. Daniel smacked him in the chest with the back of his hand. “Jack, it’s not funny! I was mortified. She asked me what my type was and I blurted out to her that I’m gay. Not in so many words, mind you, but I was terrified she’d somehow make the connection between us. Then she said that me being sexually attracted to men wouldn’t make them love me any less and at that point it just became embarrassing. Well, more embarrassing.” Daniel paused and took a deep breath. “They think of me as a son, Jack.”
“Doesn’t surprise me considering the way Mom took to you at Thanksgiving.” Jack smiled. “Us O’Neill’s just can’t help ourselves around you, Daniel.”
Daniel ducked his head, a faint blush tinting his cheeks. “Jaaack.”
Jack rumpled Daniel’s hair. “Love you, SpaceMonkey.”
Daniel laughed in spite of himself. “Love you too, Fly Boy.” He pulled Jack into another kiss, sliding his hands down to slip under the hem of Jack’s shirt. Jack retaliated by grabbing Daniel’s ass through his pajama pants. Daniel broke the kiss. “Are you sure you’re up for that?”
“Oh, I’m up for something.” Jack grinned an overly lecherous grin and tossed his jacket in the direction of the couch. It landed on the floor a foot away from its destination.
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Pervert.”
“Yeah, but I’m your pervert.” Jack pulled him closer. “Whadaya say we go celebrate being alive?”
Daniel kissed him again, smiling against his lips. “I think I could live with that.” He threaded his fingers through Jack’s belt loops and led him down the hall. Jack stopped them next to the thermostat and turned up the heat a few degrees. Daniel smirked at him.
Jack shrugged. “I don’t want to be cold.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Jack, I’ll keep you plenty warm.” Daniel dragged him down the remainder of the hallway and into his bedroom, unzipping Jack’s jeans as they moved toward the bed.
Jack pushed his jeans down and sat on the bed. He slipped his arms around Daniel’s waist and gently guided him forward. Daniel peeled off his t-shirt, a shiver shooting down his spine at the sudden exposure. Jack grinned as Daniel tugged Jack’s sweater over his head. He rested the side of his face against Daniel’s stomach, his freshly shaven cheek smooth against Daniel’s skin.
Daniel brought one hand to Jack’s shoulder and let the other fall lightly in Jack’s hair. He ‘hmm’d softly, luxuriating in the silky strands of Jack’s hair between his fingers. Jack gently nuzzled Daniel’s stomach, causing the muscles beneath the soft skin to contract in pleasure. Daniel nudged Jack’s face a little closer. Jack took the hint and pressed a kiss to the skin in front of him. Daniel moaned softly, his skin prickling with goose bumps. Jack mouthed kisses across Daniel’s stomach, pausing to dip his tongue into Daniel’s navel.
“Jack!” Daniel gasped, curling his upper body around Jack’s head, his muscles beginning to shake.
Jack deftly slid Daniel’s pajama pants and boxers down over the gentle swell of his ass, letting his hands linger at the slight crease where ass met thigh. He steadied Daniel as he stepped out of the rest of his clothes. Daniel pushed at Jack’s shoulders, causing him to fall back onto the bed with his legs bent over the edge. Jack let out a surprised “oof.”
Daniel leaned forward and kissed Jack firmly – and with tongue. He carded his fingers through Jack’s hair causing it to stick up in disheveled tufts. Jack closed his eyes, moaning into Daniel’s mouth as he was driven farther up the mattress by the force and fervor of Daniel’s kiss. Daniel slid a hand down Jack’s chest, pausing to flick his thumb over one of Jack’s hardened nipples before continuing on to cup his length through his briefs. Jack arched into the touch with a moan and a whimper. Daniel drew his hand back only to slip in under the elastic waistband. Jack fisted his hands in Daniel’s hair, almost painfully pulling on the strands. Solid warmth met Daniel’s fingers and he broke the kiss, his breath ghosting across Jack’s face.
“Daniel,” Jack whispered.
Daniel carefully peeled Jack’s briefs down his legs, over his feet and then tossed them to the floor. He brushed his hands back up Jack’s lightly hairy legs, admiring the lean muscles of Jack calves and quadriceps – toned from his years in the service. Daniel dropped a kiss to Jack’s hip before turning his head to nuzzle at Jack’s groin.
“Daniel… stop being a cocktease…”
Daniel looked up at Jack and grinned wickedly. He licked a wet trail along Jack’s penis from base to tip with the flat of his tongue. Jack let out a noise that sounded like both a whimper and a whine.
“Pass me the lube,” Daniel remarked distractedly while he trailed his fingers over Jack’s penis.
“Hnng?” Jack lifted his hips into the touch as his brain tried to battle its way through a pleasure-induced haze, trying to parse actual words from Daniel’s voice and formulate a coherent response. That effort was thwarted, however, when Daniel paused to circle one of Jack’s balls with his fingertip. “Guh…” Jack pressed his head back against the pillow.
Daniel glanced up and observed how far gone Jack was already. He swallowed hard, his pupils dilating and his stomach clenching. He’d never seen Jack as vulnerable as he had allowed himself to be in that moment. Daniel leaned over Jack and kissed him thoroughly. He cupped Jack’s jaw, smiling into the kiss when Jack’s hands came to rest in Daniel’s hair.
Jack broke away from the kiss to suck in a desperate gulp of air when Daniel’s hips settled against his. “Daniel.” Daniel hung his head and panted for breath. The feeling of that much warm, sweaty skin-on-skin contact was almost too much for him to handle. He closed his eyes. Jack smacked Daniel on the ass. Daniel whipped his head up to blink at Jack in surprise. “Move.”
Daniel leaned his face down closer to Jack’s and murmured. “You’re such a pushy bottom, you know that?”
“I’ll push your bottom if I have to.” Jack arched his hips, pressing his groin closer to Daniel’s. Both men moaned. Daniel rolled his hips against Jack’s and sealed their mouths together. Their hips moved against each other in an awkward mismatched rhythm for several moments until their bodies appeared to synchronize and the glide of their skin became even more primal.
“Jack,” Daniel breathed against Jack’s lips. Jack reached beneath the pillow on which his head rested and retrieved a half-used tube of lube which he held out to Daniel. “Jack?” Daniel gasped and his hips faltered in their rhythm. “Are you-?”
Daniel forced himself to still and searched Jack’s face. “Have you-?” Jack shook his head. “I-” Daniel stammered.
“I trust you, Daniel.”Jack stared up at him with such trust in his eyes that Daniel had to close his own against the emotions that were welling up and threatening to spill over as wet, salty tears.
Daniel swallowed hard and nodded as he opened his eyes again. “Okay,” he whispered, opening the tube with shaking fingers. He kissed Jack thoroughly, catching Jack’s lower lip between his teeth, and let out a soft mewling sound from the back of his throat. Jack threaded his fingers through Daniel’s hair. Daniel squeezed some lube out onto his fingers and rubbed them together to help warm the chilly liquid – not once breaking his kiss with Jack. He slipped his hand past Jack’s groin, his pinky lightly brushing up against Jack’s penis causing Jack to whimper quietly, and gently spread most of the lube around Jack’s opening with the slick tip of his middle finger. He massaged the area slowly until the tip of his finger slipped in. Jack grunted and squirmed a little at the intrusion. It wasn’t that it hurt, or was uncomfortable, but it was unfamiliar…different. Daniel finally broke the kiss and they both gasped for air. “All right?” Daniel asked breathlessly.
Jack nodded and ran his hand down Daniel’s neck and over his shoulder to rest on his shoulder blade. “Yeah.” Daniel pushed his finger in a little farther, biting his lip as Jack’s ass stretched to accommodate his knuckle. Jack arched his back, causing Daniel’s finger to slip all the way in. “Daniel.” Daniel gently pistoned his finger in and out. Jack’s muscles clenched around the probing digit as his entire body shuddered.
Daniel carefully sneaked in another finger. “Still okay?” he asked, pressing a kiss to Jack’s forehead.
Jack moaned and ran his hand up Daniel’s arm, raising goose bumps on the warm flesh. “Daniel,” he whispered. Daniel leaned his head down and stole Jack’s breath with his lips. Jack grunted and arched when he felt Daniel try to slip in a third finger.
Daniel rubbed Jack’s stomach soothingly with his unoccupied hand. “Relax.”
“Easy for you to say,” Jack panted. “Don’t have a guy’s hand up your ass.”
“It’s not my entire hand, Jack.”
“Not what it feels like.” Jack took a deep breath, willing his muscles to relax. Eventually Jack’s muscles listened and Daniel felt his fingers slip in slowly. “You sure that’s not your whole--holy fuck!” Jack’s eyes flew open and his entire body arched. He dropped back down to the mattress, taking in air in desperate gulps.
Daniel grinned down at him. “Good?”
“Do that again.”
“Hmm?” Daniel batted his eyes innocently. “You mean this?” He curled his fingers and smiled as Jack’s body shook.
Jack moaned. “Stop teasing and get on with it.”
Daniel bit his lip. “But I haven’t prepped you enough.”
Jack took Daniel’s head in his hands and looked him straight in the eye. “Daniel,” he said evenly, “stop dicking around and get your dick in my ass.”
Daniel blinked and then slowly began to remove his fingers. “Yes, sir, Colonel, sir!” He reached once more for the lube.
“You know you love me.” Daniel quickly slicked himself up, dripping lube on the sheets in his haste. “Turn over.”
Jack shook his head. “No.”
“It’ll be easier on you if you lie on your stomach.”
“I want to see your face.”
“Daniel!” Jack growled.
“Okay, okay.” Daniel rested Jack’s knees over his shoulders and leaned forward, the movement raising Jack’s ass up high enough for Daniel to slide a pillow under Jack’s hips. “Ready for this?” he whispered.
“Been dreaming about this, Danny.” Jack intertwined his fingers with Daniel’s. “Do it.”
Daniel lined himself up and pressed gently into Jack’s opening. “Jack.”
“Ah, fuck!” Jack pressed his head back into the pillow.
Daniel paused. “Jack, you okay?” He ran his hand up and down Jack’s thigh. “Should I stop?”
“No!” Jack clasped Daniel’s forearm. “Don’t you dare stop.”
Daniel smiled and turned his head to kiss Jack’s knee before he continued pushing his way into Jack. “Love you.” He closed his eyes as the sensations of being enveloped in Jack threatened to overwhelm him. He rolled his hips slowly, needing to move but also wanting to let Jack get used to the penetration.
Jack pulled Daniel’s head down for a kiss, causing Daniel to bend him in half. “Move, Daniel.”
“Nng. Jack,” Daniel murmured against Jack’s lips.
“Can see how mm… much strain you’re under trying to be careful.” Jack’s breath puffed out across Daniel’s face. “You won’t break me.”
“Jack!” Daniel’s hips surged forward. “Uhn.” His arms shook as the rest of his body moved of its own volition.
Jack slipped his legs down to wrap them around Daniel’s waist and pulled his hips closer. “Danny.” Daniel leaned over Jack, his hips moving more forcefully. “Yes!” Jack trapped Daniel’s lips against his own and kissed him hungrily. Daniel moved frantically, the slickness and the pressure causing exquisite pleasure to build inside him. His vision began to gray out and finally he wrenched his mouth away from Jack’s and cried out his completion. He managed to stay with it long enough to wrap his fingers around Jack’s erection and bring him off before he pulled out of Jack’s body and collapsed on the bed next to him. He watched through sleepy eyes as the tremors in Jack’s body lessened and eventually ceased all together. “Daniel?” Jack asked hoarsely.
“Right here, Jack.” Daniel lifted a hand and caressed Jack’s cheek. “You okay?”
“Did the earth move for you, too?” Jack’s lips twitched in a smile.
Daniel laughed breathlessly. “Yeah, Jack. It did.” He traced his thumb over Jack’s cheekbone.
Jack pried his eyes open and stared into Daniel’s sparkling blue ones. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Daniel reached down, snagged the edge of the duvet and tugged it up over their shoulders.
Jack slipped an arm around Daniel’s waist. “Keep me warm, Danny?” he whispered.
Daniel tilted Jack’s chin up and dropped a kiss to his lips. “Always, Jack.”