The air currents around Serenity shifted as they slipped through the atmosphere of Osiris. Mitchell was holding things together, taking her in easy while they dropped Daniel off for another one of his ambassadorial visits. Being in the Core made Jack twitchy, and he was half-tempted to find a job off-world while Daniel tended to business. He was also half-tempted to follow Daniel around everywhere he went and growl at whatever high-class buffoon had hired his Daniel, but it was likely Daniel was even less keen on that plan than on the one that involved theft or illegal smuggling.
Jack ducked his head into Daniel's shuttle. The incense wasn't as thick as usual, but Jack knew once the tea ceremony got started, it'd be near impossible to breathe.
"We'll be docked in a few—" His words caught in his throat when he saw what Daniel was wearing: blue-grey loose pants and a sleeveless tunic, laced in a way that was both modest and alluring. He looked up from tying off the sandal wrapped around his calf.
He wasn't wearing his glasses.
"Hey." Jack entered without invitation, waving two fingers at his own eyes. "You can see?"
"Contacts." Daniel didn't stop his preparations, finishing the other sandal and then standing. The red and gold bedding was like the sunset behind Daniel's gentle blue palette. "Some clients request them."
Jack frowned. He liked Daniel without his glasses, but they were such a part of him. Not to mention Jack associated their removal with somewhat athletic sex.
Daniel rolled his eyes, his head cocking to the side with his annoyance. "Drop it, Jack. It's not an insult."
"Insult? I didn't say it was an insult. I didn't even say anything!"
He poked a long finger at the center of Jack's chest, his pale skin a sharp contrast to the rust of Jack's shirt. "You were thinking it." His eyes flicked up to Jack's, a hint of a smile igniting on his face. There had been a lot of looks like that since Jack had gotten over himself, kissed Daniel, and taken him to bed. Their bickering had turned into foreplay, and usually when Daniel got that impish look, it meant Jack should forget about his captain duties for at least twenty minutes.
Usually. But not when Daniel was about to whore off to some client.
Jack took a step back. "I just think if they want you, they should want you as you are."
"Oh, like you do?" Daniel crossed his arms, his mood shifting immediately.
"Like I do," Jack snapped, keeping up with Daniel's mood, if not his train of thought. "I don't want you all . . . changed."
"But you could do without me being a 'whore,' isn't that right?"
Jack's mouth gaped, but luckily nothing came out. He was a gormless, insensitive piece of go se on the best days, but somehow in the last few weeks he'd finally learned that silence was an option.
Daniel tsked and turned away, muttering, "Can't even lie about it."
Jack snagged his arm, not wanting Daniel mad at him, but especially not wanting him to go off to some other lover mad at him. "That's not fair."
Daniel twisted out of Jack's grip, going to the pilot's chair and sitting. "But your double standards are?"
"No," Jack said, petulantly. "But you know I'm an ass."
"So, I'm supposed to forgive you because you're an ass and I knew that going in?"
Jack grinned rakishly, leaning against the hull. "I thought you might forgive me 'cause you like me."
Daniel held his gaze for a moment and then looked away, the anger dissipating with a shake of his head. He started preflight, the soft orange lights of the shuttle coming alive on the console. Everything back to normal.
Jack leaned over, one arm on the back of Daniel's chair, and kissed Daniel's cheek. "Knew you couldn't stay mad at me."
"You're wrong." The heat was back in Daniel's voice, a warning, for sure, but hadn't Jack conceded enough?
"Yeah . . . I'm not as sure about that one."
Daniel pushed back his chair, pushing Jack away and standing up. "I offer the option of glasses or contacts. My clients get to choose which they prefer, assuming they have a preference—most of them don't, actually—and then I choose to accommodate them." He pressed Jack, sending Jack retreating backward across the shuttle. "There is no part of my job that is forced. It's my choice, Jack. Everything that happens—or doesn't happen—in my shuttle is my choice. Including you." They were at the door and Daniel finally put his hand on Jack's chest, gently shoving him through it.
"Daniel," Jack protested, but Daniel shut the door in his face.
* * *
They landed in the docks shortly after, Jack right beside Mitchell on the bridge, right there when Mitchell radioed Daniel to let him know he was clear to take off.
Yeah, Jack sourly thought, take off for whatever gorram well-moneyed dandy was buying Daniel's ass today. All Jack had really wanted was to say goodbye, but he'd gone and screwed that up because he wasn't used to sharing.
"Mitchell?" Daniel's voice crackled over the radio. "I'm having some trouble with the stabilizer. It will take me a few minutes to sort it out. I'll radio when I'm ready to launch."
"Copy that. You need some assistance?"
"Sure. As long as it's not the Captain." Daniel enunciated every sharp syllable of "captain." Those Companion elocution lessons saw a lot of use when he and Jack were in the middle of a snit.
Mitchell looked up at Jack, a wry grin on his face. "What'd you do to piss him off this time?"
"Breathed, I think." Jack pushed off from his perch on the console. "I'll handle it."
"You sure? Jackson was pretty explicit." Mitchell mimicked Daniel's precise pronunciation.
"Yeah, well, Danny can't always get his way." He raised his arm to wave off Mitchell and headed down the corridor back to Daniel's shuttle. It'd only been fifteen minutes since Daniel shut the shuttle door in his face, but thinking about Daniel leaving and then spending the next few days kissing someone else while stewing at Jack hadn't left a good feeling in his gut. He had a lot to learn when it came to Daniel—more where it came to sharing—and he was maybe willing to admit he should apologize.
Jack swung his head into the shuttle, nearly the same way he'd entered the last time. This time, though, the red drapes hiding the cockpit were drawn back, the blue sky of Osiris stretching out and silhouetting Daniel at the pilot's seat. "Heard you've got a problem with the stabilizer."
"And I heard I asked for anyone but you."
"C'mon now, that hurts."
"Does it?" His voice was still hard, but there was something soft tucked beneath it. Daniel turned in his chair, his glasses back on his face. The glasses made Jack smile.
"Decide the contacts weren't working?"
"I didn't want to get anything in them if I had to rip apart the console."
"Well, let's see if we can fix it without ripping anything apart. Wouldn't want to make you any later to meet—who is it this time?" Jack leaned over the instruments, flicking a few switches and getting a feel for the problem.
Daniel swatted Jack's hands away and tapped the monitor, drawing his attention to the yellow indicator light. "Bai."
"Bai. Don't think I know him."
Daniel pushed his glasses up from the nosepiece, still leaned into Jack's space. The angular line of his jaw was tense. Daniel hated being late, making clients wait. Maybe he also hated leaving Jack while the two of them were so angry.
Jack pushed away from the console, his chair spinning to meet Daniel.
"I'm sorry," he said, the words spilling out more easily than he thought they would. "I'm still adjusting to the idea of us, and then what you do. . . ." He sighed heavily. "I don't like the idea of, well, of having to share you."
Daniel took a step back, his arms crossing protectively. "That's the way this is. I'm not going to stop being a Companion just because we're sleeping together."
Jack tilted his head, softening his voice. "It's more than that."
A pleased smile flitted across Daniel's features, but he hardened them again. "That doesn't change things. This is my job—and you benefit from it. You need to get over it, Jack."
"Maybe, yeah." Jack stood up, taking each of Daniel's hands and slowly unfolding his arms. Daniel's hands were so strong. For someone who spent most of his time reading books and pouring tea, he was remarkably firm, unbreakable, stalwart, if Jack wanted to be honest. And that word applied to more than Daniel's physical prowess. "I'm trying."
Daniel squeezed his hands in acknowledgement.
Jack cleared his throat, trying to explain himself. "You hadn't taken any jobs since we—" They both smiled and ducked their chins, unconsciously stepping closer together. "I kind of forgot that jealousy wasn't really a thing with you."
"You're not going to lose me. Especially not to a client."
"Almost did once." Even though he'd won against Atherton Wing, the whole incident was still a sore spot in Jack's pride.
Daniel let go of Jack's hand to cup his cheek. Even through his lenses, his blue eyes were piercing. "Didn't even come close." He kissed Jack softly, and Jack knew that no matter how long it took him to get right about Daniel's work, Daniel wasn't about to stray.
"Well now. That's actually what I meant to do the first time I came in here. Wish you well. Tell you I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you, too," Daniel said, and Jack was sure he meant it.
"How about I fix that stabilizer for you?" He slipped Daniel's right hand, letting his left trail to hold on to Daniel for as long as he could.
Daniel shrugged, tugging on Jack's hand, coaxing him away from the console. "I can probably get it. I know this shuttle better than you do—"
Jack flicked a switch—the stabilizer immediately came online. Daniel did know the shuttle better than Jack, which meant he knew how to disable it to buy a few extra minutes for Jack to come to his senses and see his boyfriend off with a proper goodbye.
"Hey, fixed it."
Jack turned to him. "Daniel?" He wasn't going to point out the easy fix, or his suspicion that Daniel had caused the delay just so Jack would be the one to come down. Knowing that Daniel had wanted to make up before he left was enough.
Daniel licked his lips and then pulled off his glasses, preparing again for his client. "Would you hang on to these while I'm gone?" He folded the glasses and then tucked them into Jack's shirt pocket.
"Yeah," Jack said, eyes only for Daniel—his Daniel, exactly as he was. "They'll be safe with me."