He couldn't stand the man Daniel'd brought to the Independence Day trip from the moment the two of them arrived. Dark hair, tall, face inscrutable behind a pair of expensive sunglasses as he grabbed Daniel's ass while they rounded the corner of Jack's cabin. Jack watched, eyes narrowing, as Sam rushed over and introduced herself, pointing over to the grill where Jack and Teal'c were watching the steaks.
Jack nodded curtly as the man raised a hand to them and began walking over. Sam rounded on Daniel, a giddy, breathless look on her face while she hissed, "That's Robin? Holy hannah, Daniel..." The man grinned then hugged the shorter woman, still sheepish about being so open with his sexuality even though the team had been through hell and back together... literally.
It had been something out of left field for everyone when he got all stuttery over beers, asking if he could bring a companion to the cabin. Sam had grabbed his hand under the table, squeezing it and giving him an encouraging nod while Teal'c raised an eyebrow, "I was not aware you were courting, DanielJackson." Jack grinned out of reflex to cover his twinge of disappointment, "So, is she a stripper or something that this is the first we've heard of her?"
Daniel's face flushed a deeper red as irritation crackled in his voice, "No, he happens to be a policeman and I think you can puzzle out on your own why I haven't said anything."
Jack felt a lot of strange things at once: a gush of hope, a stab of doubled jealousy... He gave a grunt at the wash of regret he felt that he'd somehow given Daniel the impression he was a bigot. The colonel shrugged, voice warming, "Hell, Danny, not everyone in the military is a homophobe -- of course you can bring Officer Hotpants to the cabin."
Jack was acutely regretting his hospitality now as Teal'c handed the man a cold beer. Robin pulled his sunglasses off and tucked them into his shirt, neon blue eyes crinkled in a grin, "So, you're the research team Daniel won't tell me a single thing about. Nice to finally meet you."
Jack wrestled with himself, knowing it was ridiculous that he was so goddamn jealous -- he'd been seething for days, kicking himself for not acting on his feelings sooner even while coming to terms with the fact that maybe there were feelings under his blinding lust toward the archeologist. The night around the fire dragged for him, listening to Sam damn near interrogate Robin -- she was just curious but every flattering fact that surfaced just made Jack want to reach over and stuff the black bandana on Sam's head into her mouth.
Of course he'd been injured in the line of duty. So have we, Jack thought bitterly through his buzz: What's so special about that? Oh, but of course he organized a youth basketball program at the YMCA and was an avid motorcycle hobbyist and liked to paint and.... Fuck. Jack was feeling totally outclassed and not relishing the idea of spending a whole four days around this usurper. Usuper? Really? I must be drunker than I think...
The colonel stood up slow out of the camp chair, managing not to slurr, "Welp, I'm getting up early so I can go fishing in the morning. You hooligans don't burn anything down, mmkay?" He wandered up to the back door of the cabin and slipped inside, letting out the breath he was holding in a low hiss. He definitely needed to get out on the lake, by himself -- no Officer Hotpants offending his reptile mind by daring to exist, no Teal'c observing the colonel too closely for comfort, no Daniel prancing around in cargo shorts and tanktops and looking so fucking consumable.
Jack groaned, thinking, Prancing isn't the right word... Christ, if I had known he swung both ways... He trudged up the stairs, a familiar twitch in his khakis not dulled in the bit by the beer he'd been distracting himself with all night. When he got to his bed, he clumsily laid back against the headboard, undoing his belt and faded cabin khakis as his breath came a bit faster.
He pressed a palm down firmly on his prick, thorough inebriation doing away with whatever defenses he'd managed to throw up as his brain wasted no time at all imagining Daniel sitting on his lap; Jack flushed further, bit the inside of his cheek and stroked himself through his boxers with the heel of his hand, Daniel's barely-defined abdominals flexing behind his closed eyelids. Jack pushed his boxers down enough to grip himself, hips twitching as he smeared precome across the bared head of his erection, seeing Daniel's mouth twist in that challenging scowl he always gave when he protested Jack's orders.
He pulled in a long, slow stroke before pushing again, setting up a slow rhythm and his fantasy at the same time: Daniel arching his back as he groaned, letting Jack's cock slip out of his mouth, shining lips parted as the colonel swallowed the weeping organ in front of his own face, slowly circling Daniel's entrance with a callused thumb before sinking in, past the first knuckle -- then all the way in as the brunet jerked, caught between wanting to thrust into Jack's throat and craving to press back into his hand, "Shit, Jack, yes--"
Jack groaned quietly, Daniel's laughter sneaking in through the window from the fire pit. For the first time since Jack realized his attraction, the sound of Daniel's laughter didn't remind him that he was a colonel in the Airforce and the much younger man was his subordinate -- all it brought was a spreading warmth in Jack's chest, thinking about how the other man's smile lit him up... His breath was coming in sharper gasps as he gripped himself harder, the dry friction sending a deliciously sharp twinge through him. He fumbled, crossing his other arm across his chest to dig in the bedside table for a tiny bottle of KY. As he squeezed some of it directly on his aching prick, he groaned at the temperature difference, imagining Daniel panting into his lap as Jack found his prostate and thumbed it mercilessly, making the brunet growl, "OhgodIwantyou -- please --"
Jack's subconscious was a bastard and chose that moment to insert an image of Robin's hands on Daniel's hips, impaling him slowly as the archeologist gripped at the sheets, moaning throatily. The colonel snarled silently in the dark, shaking his head to replace the image with one of Daniel straddling him, slowly lowering himself onto Jack, stuttering to speak as the older man's hand palmed his prick, "Hold still Jack, shit -- it's --ah!" Jack imagined himself thrusting in, all at once, knocking Daniel's breath away and knowing in his fantasy that he'd prepared the object of his affections enough with teasing and lube that it wouldn't hurt him.
Jack panted in the dark, tugging on his testicles, not wanting to finish any time soon, savoring the building rhythm now possible with lubrication. In his mind's eye, he gripped Daniel's hips and held him still as he began pounding him, driving into him over and over as he glanced between his cock disappearing into the younger man and Daniel's flushed face scrunching with effort as his body squirmed under the onslaught, "Yes, yesyes, Jack -- Fuck, fuckIloveyou!"
Jack came suddenly, surprised, clenching his jaw and jerking his head to the side after burning liquid nearly caught him in the eye. He rode out the rest of his orgasm, feeling the come on his cheek begin to melt down his stubble as the rest of pale evidence showing just how deep his affections ran right next to his lust pulsed out onto the hem of his t-shirt, over his hand. When he finally stopped twitching, he reached up, wiping his jaw then tugging his shirt off to clean himself up, slowly catching his breath. He'd never imagined Daniel saying that before and despite the fact that it made him come harder than he had in a long, long time, it also made his heart fold up in a knot.
He threw the balled up t-shirt toward his luggage, defensive anger trying to rise but being muffled by the feel-good hormones still thrumming through his body. He slumped back onto the bed, still drunker than a skunk, staring into the pitch black as his mood darkened to match -- until he heard foot steps coming up the stairs. "Shhhh -- Jack's sleeping. He'll be pissed if we wake him u--ah! Robin, you're..."
Daniel's hissing voice dissolved into a small gasp, then quiet laughter and then disappeared altogether behind a closed door at end of the hall. Jack rolled out of bed like he'd been laying on a pit of coals, grabbing a sweatshirt and growling as he tugged it over his head. He silently slipped out of his room, down the stairs, out the back door, down the trail, out onto the lake, down into a sleeping bag in the bottom of his boat.
He'd slept on the lake before -- out of laziness he'd joked with other people -- but actually relishing the sight of the starfield stretching above him, the chorus of familiar insect noise filling him with positive, blessedly simple memories as the water lapped at the aluminum, rocking him to sleep. Tonight though, complications abounded as he stared up at the clouded black for a long time, mouthing the names of hidden constellations, feeling both electrified and heavy as lead. Waning booze and rising breeze joined forces against him though, sinking him into a deep -- and despite all odds -- peaceful sleep.
Daniel swatted Robin's hand away from the back of his thigh as they climbed the stairs, which made the other man snicker a bit. "Shhh -- Jack's sleeping," Daniel protested, but Robin reached again, this time gripping Daniel's muscular butt with both hands -- to which Daniel replied by scurrying up the last couple stairs quickly, hissing, "He'll be pissed if we wake him u--ah!"
Daniel gasped and swallowed as Robin wrapped one arm around him from behind and gripped his crotch a bit roughly, giving him a cocky open-mouthed kiss on the side of the throat. Daniel pushed through the guestroom door, anxiety running just under his nervous laughter, "Robin, you're --"
Robin leaned back enough to pull Daniel's feet off the floorboards and shut the door with his foot behind them. Daniel oomphed as his breath left him and braced himself on the arm around his waist, eyebrows drawing together in irritation as he hissed, "--so inconsiderate!"
Robin carried him the two steps to the bed and pushed the other man down onto the bed with his body-builder-esque bulk, hand now stroking the archaeologist through his cargo shorts and murmuring, "Yeah... but you always forgive me."
Despite his growing annoyance, Daniel shuddered at the moist breath in his ear, struggling to get his hands out from under their combined weight, "Against my better judgement -- now, you're heavy as hell, get -- ah!" Daniel's back arched as Robin wedged one hand down the waistband of his cargo shorts to grip him; the snort rumbling in Robin's chest at the discovery of half an erection made the brunet livid and weak at the same time. He panted quietly against the plaid comforter, "You can be a real prick sometimes, you know that?"
Robin squeezed, almost too roughly, and let Daniel go enough to roll him over before leaning most of his weight into wide palms over the brunet's biceps as he leaned down to mouth Daniel's nipples through his t-shirt. Daniel clenched his fists and tried to roll his arms out from under Robin's hands -- when Robin locked his fingers down hard, Daniel swore and hissed, "This really isn't the time or the place for your games, Robin. I respect Jack and his hospitali--mmp."
Robin kissed Daniel then, hard, pushing the heat at his center up against his boyfriend's. He took the opportunity of Daniel's reflexive moan to invade the archaeologist's mouth before murmuring lowly against his swelling lips, "I don't want to hear another man's name outta your mouth when I'm on top of you, Danny."
Daniel's face flushed as his erection twitched against cloth in response to hearing that particular moniker. He turned his head to the side, murmuring breathlessly, "I told you not to call me that."
Robin's head dropped to the base of his throat, tonguing his pulse point before closing his mouth over it -- he suckled gently at first, feeling Daniel's pulse race. He knew the brunet's neck was unusually sensitive, teased him about it endlessly, in fact -- the first night they'd been intimate, they'd only been kissing and groping for twenty minutes when Daniel came from Robin biting his neck and growling that stupid nickname he hated so much. From that point on, through the entire six months of their relationship, he'd been slowly trying to push Daniel a bit at a time, amused by his apparent masochism.
Robin was pulled unpleasantly out of a cascade of memories by the man beneath him trying to knee him off, "Seriously, you weigh a ton, Robin; stop trying to break my goddamn arms--" Robin silenced him by biting down, just enough to make Daniel reflexively shut up, and then tongued the spot again, soothing the flesh. He pulled back, tightening his grip just a tiny bit (enough to make Daniel bite down on an undignified squeak) before letting go and stepping back away from the bed to start undoing his belt.
Daniel rubbed one of his arms while his face flushed with longing, shame and anger all at once, watching Robin drop his jeans, black t-shirt close behind the heap of denim on the floor. The other man stepped forward, pierced cock straining up toward his belly button, and undid the button of Daniel's shorts, tugging them down his muscular runner's thighs bit by bit.
Daniel froze for a moment, warring emotions electrifying him -- until a silver-haloed head popped into his mind and he ran full tilt in the opposite direction, reaching up hastily to shed his own t-shirt. Robin caught him with his shirt almost off, about to pull it over his head, and pinned him there with it, humming. Daniel was about to fight it, but jerked taut when Robin moved lower and closed his mouth over the archeologist's prick. Daniel pulled his shirt the rest of the way off and knotted his hands in thick, black hair while one of Robin's rough hands shifted to grasp Daniel's throat, grinning in his mind at the vibrations of groaning.
"Robin -- I -- oh god..." Robin let Daniel slip out of his mouth and crawled up, turning so that he could go back to his ministrations while Daniel started returning the favor. Daniel closed his eyes as he guided the thick heat into his mouth, swirling his tongue over the nubs of Robin's barbell gently once, twice, a moan bubbling up as he saw sun glint off a pair of dark, round military sunglasses behind his eyelids. He tried to take his time, running his hands across the other man's thighs lightly until Robin started deepthroating his cock in earnest, causing Daniel's fingers to clamp in place.
He groaned around Robin's cock, feeling his orgasm building as Robin continued sucking him at a breakneck pace. More images flashed unbidden into his mind's eye: a field of sliver stubble, a scarred eyebrow arching, stern mouth quirking into a grin. He came with a loud groan that turned into a gag as the nub of Robin's piercing scraped against his uvula, the man pushing his prick down Daniel's throat.
Robin pinned the brunet through the last few seconds of orgasm, grinning as he watched Daniel spend himself into open air. He pulled away from Daniel, digging for a condom and lube as the archaeologist coughed and rolled on his side, cursing at him as he did so. The glare Daniel turned on him combined with the remote coolness of lube over tight-fitting condom gave Robin goosebumps -- he grinned, leaning down to kiss Daniel's hip, side, then his shoulder where he crooned, "Don't gimme that look -- I watched you enjoy that."
Daniel's eyes flicked away as his conscience reminded him of exactly what he had been enjoying when he came, then burned back onto Robin, "Shut your mouth and fuck me before I change my mind."
Robin laughed, leaning up to give Daniel a small kiss before pulling him down to lay on his back once again, "I've always been able to change your mind back, I'm not worried..."
Daniel bit back his retort as Robin lifted his legs, perching them over his shoulders and slowly driving a slick finger into the archaeologist, a wicked gleam in his eyes. Daniel bit his knuckles as Robin forced another finger in none too gently. Daniel pressed his free palm against his grinning boyfriend's chest in a silent plea for tender treatment but the look read completely different to Robin -- their communication had always been rather poor -- and he forwent even the normal amount of half-hearted preparation he usually gave Daniel to withdraw his fingers and press the head of his manhood against Daniel. His voice was very low, bordering something altogether dark, as he growled, "Ready?"
Daniel shook his head, pulling his fist away quickly to speak but one of Robin's large hands closed over his mouth, carefully -- unlike the hard heat that jammed partway into him with one, merciless thrust. To his horror, he yelped loudly in pain, hands scrabbling at Robin in both discomfort and anger. He's been pulling stunts like this way too much lately, Daniel thought before another hard thrust made his vision narrow.
His growling whimper of pain turned to one of sharp and confused pleasure as Robin rocked against his prostate, making all of Daniel's nerves scream for... for... The only thing Daniel could hope for as Robin fucked him closer to a second, bitter orgasm was that whoever was making all of those pathetic, muffled noises would shut up before Jack stormed in, sleep-tousled and angry.
Daniel's subconscious clung the sudden image of Jack, imagining stubble against his throat instead of obsessively-shaved skin; imagining the smell of sand and thyme instead of $100 cologne and leather. Daniel, untouched, spilled between them, eyes clenched shut tight as Jack's name filled up in his heart and bubbled out of his throat.
Jack woke up hard, reflexively reaching for a non-existent sidearm as something pressed over his face, heavy, wet, smothering; a shock went through him as he realized he was being water boarded. He struggled with the sopping cloth, silent through his momentary panic as he'd been trained all those years ago to be in survival situations -- and then growled as he saw the clouded sky and heard the pattering on the lake and remembered where we was. He was in his boat and it was raining and he was pissed.
He kicked the sleeping bag off and hauled himself into the seat next to the motor, stiffly; the storm was relentless as he pulled the starter, his sweatshirt clinging to him in the deluge. He swiped a frustrated hand across his face as he steered toward shore with his other arm, eyes narrowed against the wind and the memories that crept back into his head even as his PTSD calmed a bit, Daniel's imaginary voice wrapping itself around the word 'love' again.
When he bumped up against the dock, thunder rolled. Jack peeled the sweatshirt over his head with no little difficulty, threw it into the boat beside the sleeping bag and crouched on slick wooden slats to moor his boat, muscles shifting beneath his bare skin. When he was done, he trudged up toward the mouth of the trail, thankful that the tree cover lessened the intensity of the rain at least enough for him to see where he was walking.
At least it's not cold as hell, he thought angrily as lukewarm water pelted the back of his neck. He watched his bare feet carry him forward in the quickly-muddying trail, images flashing in his head of what he assumed transpired the night before between Daniel and -- he grimaced -- Robin. Young. Tall. Apparently the second coming of Christ, if you didn't already hate him from the core of your being. Jack paused as a chipmunk froze on the trail, soaked and shivering, little black-bead eyes rolling up at him in terror.
Jack made a soft noise at the tiny animal, holding perfectly still, and the poor thing darted off into the underbrush. "You're alright, buddy," he murmured as he continued up the trail -- that was one thing that always called to him about the cabin: the life that went on living as normal, no matter what happened at SGC, never aware of the many close brushes up against utter obliteration. It brought some small measure of his calm back and he wiped the rain off his face again, shoulders relaxing just a bit. I'll probably get back before anyone's up, so there's that...
As he reached the edge of the trail, he glanced up through the pouring rain toward the small pond and cabin -- and spied first a blonde head, then a brunet one. Sam and Daniel were sitting on the porch swing together, talking intently about something. Jack paused there at the edge of the trail, blinking against the rain just inside the trees as his Adam's apple bobbed in his throat, echoing a twist in his chest he didn't recognize.
Daniel woke up feeling buried and over warm. He shifted in the bed, groaning quietly -- sore, so sore... and Robin laying half on top of him didn't help anything. He pushed the other man off him, holding his breath: he really didn't want to deal with hung-over Robin first thing in the morning, especially feeling like he did.
When he sat up on the edge of the bed, he hissed against his will at the sharp stab of pain beneath him, memories swirling back to him out of the dark. He stood up off the bed quicker than his decaffeinated body wanted to and stumbled a bit before catching himself -- he'd had a couple other experiences with Robin's drunken roughness, but none that left him feel nearly as used. He avoided looking at the deeply unconscious man after he put his glasses on, instead busying himself with pulling on his discarded cargo shorts and a fresh tank top. Swiping sweat from his brow, he slipped out the door and made his way down the stairs slowly.
He poured some coffee beans into his battery-operated grinder and slipped out on the porch to use it, not wanting to wake anyone else in the cabin. He was surprised at the humid half-darkness and leaned off the porch a bit to stare up at the angry, dark clouds hanging low in the sky before nearly dropping the grinder at Sam's voice, "Daniel! What happened to your arm?!"
He whipped around, grimacing at the twinge from below his waist and clutching the device to his chest, "Sam! What are you doing up so early?"
The blonde stood from the porch swing, the small creak sounding muffled in the pre-storm humidity as she stepped toward him to touch his upper arm, "Jeeze, Daniel, did you --" She leaned to the side, looking at his other arm and frowning as her voice firmed up, "Daniel. Did Robin do this?"
He glanced down at his own arms, noting the two dark bruises that had raised while he slept. His eyes shifted to stare down at the clear top of the gadget in his hands, watching the coffee beans stutter over one another as he cleared his throat, "Ah... he, uh, doesn't always know his strength. Especially after a couple drinks." He glanced up at her through his bangs, trying his best to give a sheepish smile, surprised at the desperate feeling he got for her to not ask anymore questions.
She gazed at his neck skeptically and he put a hand against it, hoping it didn't look as bad as his arms did, "Seriously, Sam, I'm okay. He's just a bull in a china shop sometimes, that's all."
Sam gave a small snort of laughter and Daniel felt like he could breath again when her face lightened just a bit, "Well, maybe don't wave the red cape so hard next time, yeah? You look like you got into a bar fight."
Daniel snorted this time and reached out to hug his best friend, ruffling her hair as he pulled away before turning the coffee grinder on. At that exact moment, the sky opened up and it began to absolutely pour, making the two step back from the edge of the porch quickly. "Sure hope Jack isn't out on the water in this," Sam breathed before taking the grinder out of Daniel's hands and disappearing inside with it to start the coffee.
Daniel put his hands in his pockets, absently, as he looked out through the rain at the edge of the trail -- he remembered the look Robin's face had taken on when he'd froze, hearing Jack's name from behind his hand over his boyfriend's mouth. The spike of unexpected fear had pinned Daniel to the mattress, aided by Robin's hand moving from his mouth to his throat and pushing just a bit too hard to be considered playful by any stretch of the imagination: "What was that?"
Daniel'd swallowed, hands coming up to rest against Robin's expansive chest as he tried to breathe. The other man's hand twitched and loosened, just enough to allow speech, Daniel's flushed face contorting as he choked out, "Just -- scared we'd wake him up -- I was trying to -- get you to -- erk --"
Robin's hand tightened as he shifted on the bed, beginning to fuck his boyfriend again, his once passionate even if inconsiderate pace darkening into something damn near vindictive. Tears had pricked Daniel's eyes in the dark, his confusion and shame spiraling him down as Robin pounded into him mercilessly, pressing just enough of his weight against the archaeologist's throat as he fucked him at arms length to make Daniel see stars.
As the rain continued to slam into the roof, pummel the grass over on itself, Daniel felt something squirm in the back of his head -- he'd put up with Robin's drunken moods before easily, but the man had never... never been like that before. He'd held Daniel too tight sometimes, but Daniel'd never felt trapped or terrified before: he'd just held on and groaned breathlessly, the feeling of his hips bruising under Robin's hands geniunely adding to his overwhelming pleasure. But, last night... that can't go on, Daniel thought, hands balling into fists in his pockets.
When Sam walked out holding two mugs of coffee, Daniel was thankful for the distraction and, more so, the proximity of his closest friend. They walked together to the porch swing and settled in together, Sam throwing a very light blanket over the two of them and sipping her coffee before murmuring, "Your neck is pretty red, Daniel. Just... so you know." Daniel's face flushed to match as he shrugged and took a drink out of his own mug. He could feel Sam's intent gaze on his face and hoped against hope that his face was blank as he could make it, especially when he saw Jack show up at the mouth of the trail down to the lake, shirtless and soaked.
No shirt, no shoes, no explanation... Jack groaned to himself as Daniel noticed him -- he could see the brunet's back stiffen from across the yard. Discovered, Jack dipped his head as he walked out into the pouring rain again, then began loping toward the porch as he felt himself slipping back into a cheerier mood; seeing his teammates, though the thought filled him with dread on the way up, started to lift his heart.
As he watched Jack jog toward the porch, Daniel snagged the blanket and threw it over his shoulders. When Sam raised an eyebrow at him, he replied with one of those looks they had between them that spoke volumes without words. She tsked but nodded assent and stood up gracefully to greet Jack as he bounded up the porch stairs.
An amused grin split across her face and her voice was playful, "Sir, I had no idea you fished half naked."
Jack couldn't help but grin back as he wiped water off his face, "Oh, you know these Minnesotan mermaids -- insatiable."
He glanced at Daniel, his smile actually brightening as Daniel smiled back despite everything. The archaeologist raised his mug at Jack, tipping his head in a joking congratulatory gesture. Jack gave an equally joking bow and opened the screen door, asking something about more coffee as he disappeared inside.
Sam turned to gaze at Daniel, her face still warm but definitely holding a question. Daniel stood up, adjusting the blanket and shrugged, "You know how he gets. I'm just not in the mood to defend my relationship again this morning."
Sam's face flushed a bit as she was about to speak, but Daniel just bumped his shoulder against hers, giving her a small grin, "I'm a grown man, not a fifteen year old girl, but the sentiment is appreciated." Sam snorted, hearing the compliment under the teasing, and bumped his shoulder back, "Anytime, Daniel."
When they followed Jack in, Daniel took the right up the stairs and Sam walked out into the kitchen, unzipping her hooded sweatshirt as she went. Jack was leaning back against the counter, hair standing up in all directions and towel across his shoulders as he took a drink of his coffee. He smiled at Sam when she walked in, setting his coffee down and using his arms to lift himself up into a sitting position on the counter, "So, you two are up early this morning."
Sam gave him her knowing sideways glance and set her coffee down, pulled her sweater off to pop up and sit on the counter opposite her CO, her close friend, her family, "It's actually close to eleven and I know you slept out there last night."
Jack's jaw muscle jumped as he gave her that rueful little mouth twist, "You're far too observant for being on vacation, Major."
Sam turned a bit to pick up her coffee mug and then cradled it in her lap, face flushing a bit, "Actually, sir, Teal'c and I were just heading in when you shot out the back door." Jack's eyebrow crawled up but his reply was cut short as the aforementioned jaffa stepped into the kitchen -- wearing swimtrunks. Seeing Sam's bright red cheeks and Jack's smarmy grin, Teal'c cleared his throat, "I will be at the lake should anyone need me." Sam piped up, "But Teal'c, it's rain--" When the jaffa slipped out the door anyway, acting as if he hadn't heard, Jack burst into infectious laughter..
Hearing his teammates' laughter downstairs, Daniel smiled as he stepped into the shower, letting the lukewarm water tug some of his tension away -- it wasn't really a surprise that they'd all grown into a family like they had, but sometimes, when he was reminded out of nowhere, Daniel couldn't help but feel that they were the luckiest people he knew.
As he grabbed some shampoo, he felt warmth welling up in his chest -- until the bathroom door opened. "Hey, hey! Occupied!" As the shower curtain tugged aside just a bit, Daniel blinked myopically at Robin's sleepy face.
"Hey you," the dark-haired man murmured as he stepped into the shower, reaching out to tug Daniel toward him. When the archaeologist resisted, he looked into his boyfriend's eyes, "Hey... what's wrong?" Daniel snapped the shampoo bottle shut, eyebrows drawing together as he started to wash his hair, lips set in a uncharacteristically thin line.
Robin didn't push the issue, just scooted behind the other man to grab the familiar bottle of Daniel's body wash and squeezed some into his hands, rubbing them together before gently running them over his boyfriends back, "I got rough last night, didn't I?" Daniel grit his teeth together -- it was always the next day, the apologies... He hated those the most. He didn't like the way Robin treated him like an idiot, trying to schmooze and charm his way out of things.
Robin cringed, knowing that if Daniel was being monosyllabic, he was in some seriously deep shit. He rolled his hands over Daniel's tense shoulders, wedging his thumbs right where he knew usually made his partner start unwinding, "You, uh, probably don't want to hear this right now, but I am sorry."
Daniel leaned forward under the water to rinse his hair, gasping when Robin's hands ran lower, slick with soap, down toward the muscular edge of his thigh . He snapped up, knocking his head against the low showerhead and swearing, "Back off, Robin. I'm not fucking around."
He turned partway, his face set in an expression that would have stopped any one of his SG1 team members dead in their tracks. Robin gave a sheepish smile, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender, "Sorry, sorry. I just... well, you're fucking gorgeous and I want to reconnect with you. Try to make up for... whatever I did."
Daniel's face got very red as he felt his heart melt a bit: ...I'm a fucking idiot. I wouldn't let Sam or Jack or Teal'c put up with this kind of shit. Why...? Robin moved forward, still soapy hands resting on Daniel's upper arms, "Shit, Daniel, I'm... I did that." It wasn't a question. Daniel's chin tipped up in anger, cerulean eyes still cold. When Robin saw his throat, he cringed and was about to let go of his boyfriend -- but then changed his mind, using a hand to tip Daniel's head back further and kiss at his throat, gently.
Daniel kept quiet, fists clenching as his thoughts ran wild. He wasn't afraid anymore -- he'd been through so much shit offworld, been through worse than what had happened last night... all he had left right then and there was anger. He made a decision and gripped Robin's hair, hard, and pulled him back just enough to stare into his eyes -- when the other man moaned, Daniel felt his prick twitch to life between them. He watched Robin's adam's apple twitch while he swallowed, half-lidded neon eyes locking onto Daniel's as he groaned, "Let me make it up to you."
The archaeologist's fingers tightened as he switched their positions lean his back against the tile wall, pushing Robin down toward his cock. Robin made no move to pull his head out of Daniel's grasp, just trailed his hands down along the lean body in front of him, licking his lips in anticipation.
When Daniel saw his boyfriend's sudden answering erection, his mouth contorted -- no way he was gonna let Robin enjoy this more than the half-way alcoholic asshole already would. He shifted, groaning as Robin swallowed him with no pretense: Fuck, he's good at that...
Daniel pushed hard at the back of the kneeling man's head with one hand and used the other to flick the shower temperature all the way to cold, feeling a spike of dark pleasure jolt up from his groin as Robin tried to buck away, making an unhappy noise around Daniel's prick. The archaeologist gripped the back of Robin's head tighter, rolling his hips as the cold water splashed against his feet.
Robin stopped trying to avoid the water, starting to shiver, and focused instead on the feeling of Daniel nestled in his throat. He swallowed around him, hands coming up to touch Daniel's thigh, palm his testicles in the way he liked. Daniel pulled Robin's head back, letting him catch a couple small breaths while he stared intently into the kneeling man's eyes: "No hands."
Robin felt another shiver course through him that had nothing to do with the frigid water still cascading over his back and nodded, putting his arms behind his back, clasping fingers around his own wrists and breaking their eye contact to stare hungrily at Daniel's cock, inches from his face.
Daniel slowly pushed Robin forward, hooded eyes relishing the way those lips closed around him, a groan escaping both their lips as he pushed himself deeper, only stopping when Robin's nose was digging into his pubic hair. Robin swirled his tongue as best he could, pleasure coursing through him -- Fuck, Daniel's hot when he's pissed off like this...
The thrumming in his nerves grew louder and louder the longer Daniel held him down, peaking when he choked once -- the second muffled cough made a dark pleasure unfold in the archaeologist's gut and he began fucking Robin's mouth hard, echoing the pace his boyfriend had forced on him the night before. Later, Daniel would regret his behavior, shaken that he would return something like that blow for blow -- but in the moment, he was drunk on the power, overwhelmed with the feeling of it as he restored some unhealthy semblance of balance to their relationship.
When he felt himself about to come, he ripped Robin's head back with one hand, stroking himself with the other to spill on Robin's face -- white thread arched over an eyebrow, slipping down into a neon eye as another thread followed, falling across parted lips as Robin hissed in pain. The grin that twisted Daniel's face would have made the other man finish, then and there, if the frigid water hadn't been preventing his body's natural reaction.
Robin reached up to wipe his eye, about to speak but sputtered instead when Daniel pushed him back enough for the water to cascade over his head, making him gasp anew. By the time he'd reached behind himself and slapped the water off, Daniel was already out of the shower, toweling himself off with a smug look on his face, "Apology accepted."
Jack was taking the stairs two at a time, grinning as the coffee worked it's magic; for having slept only a few hours and waking up hard, he was feeling damn good. As he reached the upstairs landing, Daniel slipped out of the bathroom in a towel -- and the shower was still going. Jack raised an eyebrow and waited for Daniel to notice him; when Daniel looked up, adjusting his glasses, Jack's face stilled at the self-satisfied expression on the archaeologist's face.
"Oh, Jack. Hey," he positively drawled, pulling a second towel over his head as he walked toward the guest bedroom. Jack watched his hips rolling almost lazily, the younger man's body still loose and warm from recent activity.
Jack crossed his arms, eyebrows knitting together and chin jutting up as registered the bruises he saw on Daniel's arms; he opened his mouth to speak but Robin stuck his head out of the bathroom, damn near whining, "Daniel, you took my towel..."
The archaeologist turned around and tossed the towel he'd been using to dry his hair at Robin, who leaned out of the door just a bit to catch it before disappearing again. Mouth pressed into a thin line, Jack's dark eyes bored into Daniel -- who had the good grace to look at least a little sheepish onto of his afterglow as he tucked his towel tighter around his waist. The slight twinge of ache reminded him of his run-in with Sam earlier and his mood deflated abruptly as he crossed his arms over his chest instinctively, dropping Jack's gaze, "Sorry, I hope you're not..."
Jack raised an eyebrow as Daniel trailed off, the older man's face set in stone. He didn't speak, just waited, and Daniel shook his head once before tipping his chin up just a bit to meet Jack's narrowed eyes with his own and say clearly: "If you have a problem with anything, just tell me so I don't have to keep tiptoeing around you. I just hope that we can handle this like adults." With that, Daniel disappeared into the bedroom and Jack turned his glare toward the bathroom door: Someone's going to get handled alright...
Jack slipped into his own room to change out of his sopping wet khakis and as he dried off with a dark green towel, he wrestled with himself: Daniel covered in bruises like that made him angry, no doubt, but... he also knew Daniel wouldn't be timid enough to stay with someone who was abusing him. Well, he hoped so, anyway. Daniel'd been through so much shit with SG1 that Jack couldn't imagine the man cowing down out of fear to anyone, really. The colonel couldn't count the number of times Daniel'd spoke or acted fearlessly in their offworld exploits -- which often landed them all in a heap of trouble, to Jack's repeated displeasure -- and though he'd called the younger man many things under his breath in those moments, it had never been 'coward.'
Tugging a t-shirt on, Jack grunted at the other thing he was wrestling with: abject jealousy. He'd often wondered what the archaeologist's afterglow face would look like, but now that he had a feeling he'd just found out, it only served to deepen the pit in his stomach. As he stepped out into the hallway, a teeth-rattling thud of thunder and nova-bright crack of lightning rendered him blind for a moment. He stood stock still, waiting for his vision to filter back in -- and groaned when he heard Sam call from the kitchen, "Jack--?"
"Yeah, the power's out, I'll check the breakers," Jack said as he loped down the familiar stairs. Sam stood stock still in the pitch black kitchen but felt herself slip into a familiar calm hearing Jack's mission voice -- the voice that was exasperated but held that I've-got-this-no-big-deal tone anyway. A drawer opened and she blinked against the beam of a flashlight, reaching out to take the second one Jack held out toward her.
"Breaker box's in the shed, I'll be right back. Teal'c's not back yet, is he?"
Sam shook her head and Jack nodded, "Stay here, I'll figure out the power so we can turn the porch light on for him."
Jack slipped a rain poncho on and made his way out the door, squinting -- one hell of a storm, to make it this dark in the middle of a July day. He threw the dark green hood up over his head and ducked out toward the shed, muttering to himself.
Teal'c was making his way up the trail, one sure footstep after another, and when the boom of thunder and bright crack of lightning hit, he blinked hard -- he could tell the bolt hit closer to the cabin that he was comfortable with and he picked up speed, a blonde head popping into his mind's eye. He was halfway across the yard when he spotted Jack heading for the shed; he nodded to himself and was inside the cabin by the time Jack was closing the shed door behind himself.
A flashlight beam washed over him as he strode through the kitchen toward the room he and Sam were sharing and he stopped. "Teal'c! You're okay--"
He had an armful of relieved Tau'ri before he could protest that she was in dry clothes while he was soaking wet and he felt a small smile curl the corners of his lips as he wrapped his arms around her, "I'm here, Samantha, do not worry yourself any longer." He stroked her hair once and then found himself being dragged toward the bedroom, Sam going into caretaker mode, insisting that he change out of his swim trunks into something warmer; he could never quite get through to her that his symbiote protected him from many things when she was in worry mode and so let himself be led.
Upstairs, Daniel was fumbling in his luggage for some clothes when Robin made his way in the door, cursing.
"Shit, can't see a goddamn thing, where the fuck -- ow!"
Daniel couldn't help but sniker a bit as Robin stumbled around in the dark and moved toward him, reaching out to steady the disoriented man, "Here, over here. Sit on the bed and I'll find you some clothes."
Robin sighed in relief at his boyfriend's warm tone and sat on the bed, murmuring, "So, does this mean you're not pissed at me anymore?" He could almost feel Daniel roll his eyes, but couldn't help a grin as the taller man leaned down and kissed him briefly, "Don't press your luck, yeah?"
As they dressed in the dark next to each other, Robin's phone started buzzing in the jeans he'd shed the night before. Daniel moved to pick them up, but Robin snatched them out of his hands and dug the device out, his look of surprise in the small screen's light making Daniel's eyebrows draw together, "Work?"
Robin cleared his throat and shoved the device into his back pocket as he muttered, "Yeah, I'll call 'em back in a minute here." As he tugged a shirt on, thoughts whipped through Robin's mind, trying to pinpoint a place he could go to call without anyone overhearing him -- there was a shed on the side of the yard that would probably work as he didn't dare deal with the call on the porch. Seemed to him Daniel's research buddies paid really close attention to... everything, really, that was easily evident by the way their intelligent eyes had absorbed all the information Sam'd dragged out of him the night before. The drunken team lead's dark eyes glittered out at him through the dark like a hawk, even after so many beers.
When they made their way down the stairs, Robin was surprised to see the blonde woman and the tall black man sitting on the couch next to each other as the blonde toweled and fussed over the man. Maybe things were different in the science world, but on the force, male and female team members weren't allowed to be so familiar with one another, even off duty. Sam stood, picking up the flashlight standing on end on the coffee table, "Daniel! Jack's already--"
As Robin plucked the flashlight out of her fingers, Teal'c raised an eyebrow and Daniel frowned, but the officer gave his best charming-apologetic smile and said, "Work called, gotta get back to them ASAP. Umbrella?"
Sam pointed mutely to the ponchos hanging next to the door and sat back down next to Teal'c, not relishing the idea of sitting in the pitch dark again but relieved that Daniel and Teal'c were accounted for anyway. Robin slipped one on and was out the door before Daniel could scold him for being so short with his friend.
As Robin made his way to the shed, he hunched his shoulders against the still-pounding precipitation. Fucking hell, had no idea Minnesota got so much rain... He already had his phone out and dialing by the time he got to the shed and turned to push the door open with his shoulder -- it was only by the grace of Jack's military training and the warning rustle of another poncho that he didn't run headfirst into Robin's back. The colonel backed up swiftly, both grateful and irritated that he'd already turned his flashlight off. He didn't have trouble with the dark normally, much less on his own stomping grounds, but now he was in this awkward situation with Mr. Perfect... The rain was pretty loud on the roof of the shed and he was about to speak over it when he heard Robin say, "Shelly? What's wrong, babe?"
Jack's eyes narrowed and he held very still. Deathly still. Listening.
"Slow down, slow down -- Mark what now? ... No, it's okay, I'm not mad you called, I promised -- just -- ... What?! ... No, no, I'll catch the next flight -- ... Yes, just stay with him, I'll be home as soon as I -- I love you too, Shells, he's gonna be fine. Keep your chin up, okay? ... Promise? ... Alright. Be home as soon as I can. Yes. Yes. Don't worry, the guys will understand. Yes. I promise." Robin hung up, took a deep breath and pushed the door open, disappearing back out into the rain.
Jack felt the plastic flashlight casing crack against his palm as rage welled up in him from a hundred different directions at once, allowing for only a single coherent thought in his head: No, the guys definitely will not understand.
When Robin made it to the porch, he paused and sighed, the fear for his son threatening to overwhelm his efforts at creating some excuse to leave. He knew Daniel'd turn those huge blue eyes on him -- not with disappointment, but with exasperation, which was always somehow worse. It had been a point of contention between the two men lately, how much Robin 'worked.' He was a busy man, that much was true... his wife had started complaining about the amount of time he spent with his 'boy toys' as she so lovingly referred to Daniel. Well, not Daniel directly because that'd been part of the deal: one-night stands only, no names, no stories, no nothing. She'd said as long as it was physical only and he kept himself clean, she didn't care and didn't want to know -- but God help him if he broke someone's heart, including her own.
He was about to walk inside when the older man brushed past him, not apologizing for damn near shoulder checking him out of the way. Robin's surprised neon eyes snapped to cold brown ones and he tried for a friendly smile but grimaced instead -- had the man overheard him? He didn't have a chance to say something flippant before Jack was already inside, informing the others that the breaker wasn't the problem.
Robin came in after him, tugging the soaked rain slicker off and saying: "Daniel, can we talk? Upstairs?" He took the brunet by the arm before he could ask any questions and hauled him toward the stairs, ignoring the hiss of pain as his fingers cinched around the somewhat-fresh bruises.
Jack's jaw clenched as the two disappeared up the stairs before he took his own raincoat off and sat heavily into the armchair near the couch. Sam piped up first over the rain on the roof: "Jack? What's going on?"
His eyes were black in the dim light of the torch pointed at the ceiling and his lips pressed together hard before he spoke, lowly, "Robin's involved with someone and has at least one kid."
In a classic show of his team's unwavering faith in him, Teal'c's face darkened as he thought of his former best friend and wife's relationship while Sam swore, sitting up ramrod straight, "That -- that son of a bitch -- did you see Daniel's arms? He --" Jack held a hand up, hushing Sam in her tracks, "What Daniel likes is his own business but --" Sam made an angry sound and crossed her arms over her chest but didn't verbally interrupt, "-- I doubt he would condone someone cheating to be with him."
As Sam stared at him with a no-really look on her face and Teal'c eyebrows damn near crawled up under his beanie, Jack jerked his head in his typical show of annoyance, "What?! I don't like it either, but Daniel barely listens to me in the field -- you expect him to listen to me about this? He already thinks I'm a raging homophobe, for cryin' out loud."
"Well, you didn't seem exactly thrilled to meet Robin, Jack," Sam snapped, uncharacteristically misplacing a bit of her current anger toward the colonel.
"Well of course I wasn't happy to meet his -- dammit Carter, I don't hate gays," Jack started loud but trailed off as he stood up, storming toward the kitchen, "I hate Robin on his own merits thank you very much." Teal'c's eyes flicked in understanding and he reached out a hand to still Sam as she started to protest; Teal'c shook his head and her jaw snapped shut, eyebrows drawn together in confusion until her brilliant little mind caught up. Her face went from pissed to sympathetic in record time and she moved to stand up again, mouth opening to call out to Jack as he banged around in the fridge for a beer. Teal'c tightened his fingers on her wrist, just a bit, and shook his head again. She frowned but nodded, crossing her arms over her chest in frustration.
Upstairs, Daniel was standing with his back to the closed door, arms also crossed as he watched Robin scurry around the room with the flashlight, searching for his things, "Listen, Daniel, I don't like it anymore than you do, but when the Chief calls, I gotta go. He wouldn't have called me in the first place if he could've avoided it."
Daniel leaned back on the door, hard, "Robin, you've been dipping out on me a lot lately, last-minute canceling, rolling out of bed in the middle of the night. Are you trying to tell me that they're that short staffed? Or is there something else going on I should know about?"
Robin cringed as he worked on zipping his luggage shut -- this was going to get messy right quick if he didn't find a way to get out of here without giving Daniel more time to ask questions. He put dropped his suitcase on the bed and moved toward Daniel, shining the flashlight in the other man's face, "You really think I'm cheating on you?"
Daniel moved a hand to shield his eyes, voice sharp, "Well, I find it hard to believe that the police forc--mmph."
Robin dropped the flashlight when he got close enough to grab the back of Daniel's head, sealing his mouth over the archaeologist's, delving deep into that far-too-inquisitive mouth with an impatient tongue. Daniel flattened his hands against Robin's chest with a growl of anger but stilled when the man's free hand gripped his hip, pushing gently around to his lower back to pull their bodies firmly together. Daniel wrenched his face to the side, muttering in his boyfriend's ear, "Stop trying to distract me, Robin; this whole forceful thing is getting old quick." Robin bit his neck softly, just there, where he knew it made Daniel's mile-long legs weak and murmured into his ear, "How in the world would I find the time or energy to give it to anyone but you? You're insatiable, and I love it."
Daniel bit back an unwilling moan and braced himself to shove Robin away again but the man anticipated his move by pressing a thigh between his legs, tangling a firm hand in the hair at the back of his head to murmur against his adam's apple, "Daniel, seems you need a reminder before I go of how much more I'd rather be here with you than reporting to the damn precinct..."
Daniel cinched his eyes closed, willing his traitorous body to behave -- to absolutely no avail. He moaned quietly as Robin closed his lips over a pulse point, hand gripping his ass as the black-haired man stepped back toward the bed.
"Robin, you're not getting out of this that -- ah! Easily -- ohh..." Robin sat on the bed, pulling Daniel back with him and then rolled them over, crushing the brunet's lips while his hands strayed up under Daniel's shirt to brush over the already-hardening nubs there. Daniel's hands knotted in Robin's hair as he sighed under the firm but gentle treatment, pulling his boyfriend's head back to lick his own already slightly swollen lips, "Robin... it's important to me that you get to know these people. They're family to me."
Robin's conscience kicked him at the word 'family' but his groin was starting to speak a little louder because of the way Daniel squirmed under him as he protested. He pressed a hand between them, gripping Daniel through his jeans, "I can meet you all for dinner or something -- don't worry about them, right now. Think about this."
He pressed his growing erection hard into Daniel's thigh, causing the brunet to bite his lip before gripping his hair harder to push him a bit further away, "Robin, I... I want you to stay. We've never had a whole weekend together, I've been missing you lately; I try not to ask a lot of you, because I'm gone a lot too, but..." Robin's conscience was getting more insistent by the moment and he finally sighed, sitting up to straddle Daniel's hips and smooth his hands over his boyfriend's hair before leaning in close to murmur into his neck, "I'm sorry, but I have to go. You know I'll make it up to you, I always do."
Hearing the words 'make it up to you' peeled the barely-formed scab over Daniel's anger that morning right off and he ducked his chin down hard, his stubble raking over one of Robin's eyelids roughly enough to make the black-haired man pull back, "Fuck, Danny, watch the eyes --"
When Robin's phone began ringing again, Daniel reached for his boyfriend's back pocket without even thinking, snagging it with one hand while he shoved him off with the other, "Don't you fucking dare call me that after last night--" Daniel sat up angrily and then stopped, staring at the image that had popped up on Robin's phone: a red head, curls forever, smiling... and a series of ten numbers above the photo labeled 'The Wife.' The archaeologist pressed answer almost out of reflex, putting the cell phone up to his ear to say incredulously, "...Hello?"
"Hey -- is Robin packing or something? Mark just came out of surgery, he keeps asking for his dad, just wanted to check and see if he found a flight yet or not. ...Hello?"
Daniel's eyes had crawled up half way through the sentence to settle on Robin's form in the half dark and he held out the phone as his heartbeat swelled in his ears, his voice flat as words fell out of his mouth, feeling more foreign to him than any of the 23 languages he'd learned ever did, "Your son's out of surgery, asking for you..."
Robin reached out for the phone, lips numb and voice irritatingly calm as he spoke to his wife: "Hey, yeah, yeah. Okay. Not yet, just headed into town, had trouble starting the rental car. ... Good. That's excellent -- tell him I'll be there as soon as I can. Okay, yep. ... No, they're not upset, just started drinking early, you know how it goes ...Yeah, yeah. Okay, see you soon babe. Love you too."
The second he was sure Robin hung up, Daniel jerked up off the bed, running his hands back through his hair in anger as he sputtered for words, "You-- you have-- you're-- what the-- what the fuck, Robin?!"
Robin put his hands up, keeping his voice as even as possible even as he was clutched at straws, "Daniel -- we've... been separated for years."
Daniel blinked at him, "How long were you planning to hide the fact that you have a son?"
Robin sighed, relieved that the brunet, as smart as he could be at times, could also be dumb as a box of rocks -- especially when Robin'd been taking advantage of how responsive he was to touch. Really didn't think he'd buy that, but...
Daniel stalked to the other side of the bed, thinking hard -- the shock of the situation was quickly clearing the fog in his blood from Robin's ministrations; that warm, fuddled feeling washing away under ice-cold anger. He suddenly stopped in his tracks, "Wait. Wait. You're... you're so full of shit."
Robin leaned toward the bed to grab his luggage, weighing whether or not he wanted to put any more effort into Daniel than he already had over the past few months, "Listen, I know I've been a dick, hiding Mark from you, but you have to admit having children kind of scares people away."
Daniel waved a hand angrily, "It wouldn't've scared me away, Robin, you'd know that if you'd bothered to tell me. But... you're not separated at all, are you? It explains why you've had less and less time for me lately -- she's getting suspicious, isn't she? I can't... did you think I wouldn't catch on? Exactly how stupid do you think I am?"
Robin winced, adjusting his grip on his luggage and trying to keep his voice level, "I don't think you're stupid, Daniel. I was... afraid, okay? I never meant to get in this deep in the first place, I didn't know how to bring it up."
Daniel sighed in frustration, running his hands back through his hair, trying to keep his composure. Robin's voice sounded very sincere when he'd said that, but he'd been friends with Jack long enough to know what a conversational side-step looked like, "So, you're not denying you're still married."
Robin's nostrils flared as he took a deep breath in, trying to stay calm -- nothing pissed him off like getting caught in a lie, "I didn't say that, Daniel."
"'The Wife'? I'm not blind, Robin."
"She broke it off, I could never bring myself to change it."
Daniel raised a clearly unconvinced eyebrow, "I'm not deaf, either. That wasn't the voice of a woman asking if her ex was on his way yet."
Robin blinked hard, taking half a step toward the door, "She's never been good at dealing with stress alone and I don't have time for this, I have to get back to Colorado. I don't know what I'd do if I lost Mark and you in the same week."
Daniel crossed his arms, staring across at Robin's slowly sharpening form as the storm started lifting. His voice was low, quiet and thick, a glacier of anger grinding toward the other man, "...I can't fucking believe you."
Robin sighed, on his last nerve. He gave one last-ditch effort at getting out of the cabin half-way peacefully, making his voice as soft and hurt as he could manage, "You don't have to believe me right now, Daniel. Either way, Mark got hit by a fucking car riding his bike to piano lessons and I need to get there as soon as humanly possible, so--"
Daniel threw his arms out, "Stop! Just stop it!" He dropped his hands to his sides, then crammed them into his pockets. "Stop using your son to guilt me. Just... go. We'll talk about it when I get back."
Robin squinted at Daniel in the growing light, his rational mind knowing he should just take the chance to get gone while the getting was good -- but his rolling temper latched onto the hundred times his wife'd said damn near the same thing before they came to their 'agreement' about Robin's extramarital activities. She'd stand in the kitchen, flinching at the way he was bellowing about her tearing their family apart by not letting him 'express his sexuality' the way he wanted. "I'm not using Mark for anything. I don't use people."
Daniel's eyebrows shot up and he stared at the other man, gaping for a second like a beached fish and then pulling his hands out of his pockets to gesture, "You don't use people? That's the biggest lie I've heard out of your mouth yet. How much of this past six months has been outright lies, anyway? How long did you think it'd take for me to figure it out? How long have you been sneaking around on your wife, Robin? Am I the first? Or is this an ongoing series of infidelities?!"
Daniel's volume had been climbing and finally Robin snapped, dropped his luggage to lunge over the bed. Daniel scrabbled back but not fast enough to dodge Robin's hand clamping onto his shoulder. He spun Daniel around to pin him close, the brunet's spine digging into Robin's chest as he closed his other hand over Daniel's mouth, "For fuck's sake, Daniel, shut up! I'm going to lose my temper if you don't shut your fucking mouth right. Now."
Daniel jerked, eyes wide with shock at being manhandled and threatened. He bit Robin's hand out of reflex, hard enough to hear the crunch of flesh and Robin swore, ripping his hand away to clout Daniel in the side of the head with a thick fist before settling the crook of his elbow around Daniel's throat. Robin heard the other man's glasses clatter to the floor and then he was whispering fiercely, cursing and cajoling as best he could, "Goddamn it, Daniel, that fucking hurt, will you calm down for five minutes and listen to me?"
Daniel's head was spinning even as the flesh of his face and neck tightened from restricted blood flow, his limbs responding slow after the sharp blow to his head. He reached back as best he could, hands scrabbling: when his fingers were buried deep into the onyx hair he'd held onto for so many breathless nights in the past months, he pulled, viciously, choking words past the restriction at his throat, "Can't calm down when you're stranglin-- erk--"
Robin locked his other, non-injured hand onto his wrist as Daniel jerked on his hair and kicked out, knocking the bedside table over which dominoed into the standing lamp, causing a hell of a crash as they both went down. Robin swore and jerked his head away, letting Daniel go while the furniture made enough racket to wake the dead. He stepped back as the brunet collapsed to his hands and knees, gasping hard enough to damn near throw up on the floor in an effort to catch his breath.
Robin saw a flash of the grey-haired man's expression as he'd disappeared in the screen door -- he had a feeling in the beginning that this was going to get very ugly very fast if he couldn't placate Daniel and now he was feeling that fear doubling back tenfold. How in the hell am I going to explain this mess? He crouched next to the brunet, putting as soft a hand as he could on the man's heaving back, "Jesus, Daniel, I'm sorry, I'm just... I'm terrified for Mark. Please forgive--"
Robin fell onto his ass as Daniel shoulder checked him away, still trying to catch his breath, "You -- crazy sonofa -- don't -- touch me --"
Robin scrambled forward to pull Daniel into his arms, his heart pounding. He could hear footsteps slamming up the stairs -- he needed to get this under control and he needed to do it now, even though logic told him it was completely impossible. A small voice at the back of his head that'd been silent for a very, very long time sneered at him, saying it was about time things stopped going Robin's way and Hmm, Karma's a bitch, isn't it?
Daniel struggled awkwardly, shifting in Robin's lap as the man's belt buckle dug into his sore ass, damn near squealing as he pressed his hand down into the debris of the broken light bulb next to the bed. As he hissed and pulled his palm to his chest, he heard the door to the bedroom crash open, saw the yellow beam of a flashlight wash over them as Jack's no-nonsense roar filled the room, "Just what the hell is going on up here?!"
Jack was swigging his beer in the kitchen when Daniel's voice echoed down the stairwell, demanding to know how many infidelities Robin'd pulled on his wife this far. Jack swallowed and winced; he was glad that the truth was coming out, that the three of them wouldn't have to figure out a way to convince Daniel. He was also glad that it was going to end now, before Daniel could invest any more of his heart... Jack took another quick drink of his beer -- he couldn't kid himself. The fact that Daniel'd asked to bring Robin to the cabin when it was just going to be the four of them signaled that the younger man had already invested too much for the fallout to do anything but ache for months.
When the huge crash and shatter slammed down from the second floor, Teal'c jumped to his feet but Jack was ahead of him, halfway up the stairs before he'd fully registered what was going on. The bruises on Daniel's arms were like klaxons in Jack's subconscious, screaming that maybe Daniel wasn't as stubborn and defiant in his relationships as he was in the field and the fear added onto his anger fueled Jack up the rest of the stairs doubletime. He slammed into the room, his voice drowning out the sound of Teal'c and Sam's footsteps behind him, "Just what the hell is going on up here?!"
When the flashlight lit up a smear of fresh blood and Daniel's legs scrabbling, struggling for purchase on the floor, Jack moved fast as lightning, lithe arms jerking Robin away and tossing him to the side toward Teal'c. Daniel yelped as he dropped out of Robin's lap and onto the hardwood floor; tried to catch himself against another jarring pain to his pelvis but only succeeded in slipping on his injured hand, groaning as he leaned against the bed.
Jack crouched down next his injured teammate, one hand directing the flashlight as the other moved the brunet this way and that, rough with impatience, "Danny, are you okay? Where's all this blood coming from? What --"
Daniel was overwhelmed, his whole body ached -- his hand was full of fiery needles, there was a wad of sandpaper stuck just behind his adam's apple and tears stung his eyes as Jack manipulated his shaking limbs, examining him. He held his bloody palm up, ducking his head to hide the tears slipping down his face as he stuttered, "Please, stop -- don't -- don't touch --"
Jack's face, a whirlpool of expression a moment before, closed off at the plea; his eyes turned dark and deep, his pupils as wide and flat as gun barrels.
Sam had already taken off down the stairs and was rustling around under the sink for the first aid kit she knew Jack kept. Teal'c stood in the doorway, arms crossed, and as Robin made a leap to push past him, one of his massive hands closed like a vice around his arm so tightly the black-haired man was struck speechless. He gasped as Teal'c tightened his grip, causing his pale hand to twitch as they stared at one another in the half light. Robin realized, suddenly and terrifyingly, that this research team wasn't at all what it appeared to be.
Then Sam was behind Teal'c, nudging him with her shoulder to slip into the room, rushing to kneel in front of Daniel and cradling his wrist gently to examine his hand. The whisper-thin shards of bulb glittered in the yellow light and she snapped her eyes toward Jack, "Sir, I need steady light, hot water and forceps for this."
Jack couldn't hear her over the ringing in his ears as his eyes focused on the blood pooling in Daniel's trembling palm. He stood gracefully, silently; if he were in the jungle somewhere, wearing fatigues and gripping an assault rifle to his side, the motion would have seemed almost natural. But here, in cargo khakis and a pale blue t-shirt, the waning rain pattering on the window of his guest room, the movement made a sharp chill race down Sam's spine and she swallowed hard.
Robin's gasping hitched as Teal'c turned him just enough so he could see Jack; the black-haired man opened his mouth to speak but Jack drowned him out, "Ah! Ah. Don't say a word. The ice you're standing on is very, very thin."
Three things happened in less than a second: Jack took a step forward, Robin jerked hard in an attempt to get free and Teal'c hit the man hard enough that the sound of flesh-on-flesh permeated the room and Sam was sure the jaffa'd broken the man's neck with the force of the blow. She was still holding her breath when Robin cursed, trying to keep his knees from buckling. It was Daniel's voice, rasping out through the dark, that made her let out a sharp breath, "Let him go -- his son --"
Robin, head swimming, craned his neck to peer past Jack, "...Daniel? Who are these people, really? What the hell is this?"
Then Jack's fist made his world blossom into red again and Robin was sure his nose had bounced off the back of his skull as he heard the gray-haired man speak, voice so level it was terrifying, "You don't speak to him." Jack nodded to the enormous man behind Robin and he was free, fingers prickling at the renewed blood flow while Teal'c stepped out of the doorway.
Jack took a step to the side, picking up Robin's hard case luggage in one hand -- and slamming it into Robin's chest so hard it knocked both the breath out of him and his feet from under him. Jack stepped toward him again as he twisted on the hallway floor, pinning the flashlight beam to his beet-red face.
Robin struggled to his knees, trying to gasp his breath back as blood flowed both down his lips and throat.
"I said get up!" The voice was sharp and cold; the kind of voice that was used to results without question and had no qualms doing whatever it took to get said results. Robin moved to brace his hands on the hard surface of his suitcase and force himself half way up, at which point Jack kicked it out from under his hands. The black-haired man howled in pain as his broken nose clipped hard against the floor, but Jack still heard Daniel struggle to his feet, weaving toward him as he croaked, "Jack, stop it!"
Jack didn't turn, just stepped forward, the motion so deadly and fluid it was damn near sickening as he said over his shoulder, "You don't get a say in this anymore, Daniel. Carter, clean him up." The ringing in Jack's ears was falling into a low, deadly hum as he reached down and pulled Robin to his feet by his collar, locking those neon blue eyes in place with his own for a split second before shoving him away, "Pick up your suitcase."
Robin leaned down stiffly, gripping the handle with one hand even as he ran the back of his other forearm over his mouth to wipe away thickening blood. He started for the stairwell, back tensed, half expecting Jack to body-check him down the stairs. Somehow, the slow, sure footsteps following him down were even worse. As Robin fumbled with the screen door, Jack stood behind him, not speaking, and Robin started babbling as he flung the door open, "I didn't mean to hurt him, the lightbulb --"
Robin stumbled down the couple porch stairs, slamming onto his knees as Jack shoved him, "Don't speak. Just walk."
Robin found his way to his feet, fumbling in his pocket for his car keys as their footsteps squelched in the mud. The hiss of drizzle was louder than anything he could remember hearing as he unlocked his car and mechanically threw his luggage in the back seat. As he moved toward the driver's door, Jack stepped toward him, quick as a whip, and with a bang Robin'd heard hundreds of times, his cheek was pressing against the wet steel of the rental's hood.
His keys fell out of nerveless fingers as Jack twisted one arm up behind him so far he could hear his shoulder creak and he grunted as the silver-haired man kicked his legs as wide apart as they'd go. Robin hadn't realized how powerless the position was, bent over the hood of a car, and it shamed him, scared him -- both emotions working together to rekindle his anger.
Then Jack was leaning over him, a pair of dog tags clicking to rest next to Robin's face as that cold voice spoke lowly in his ear: "You will get in your car and you will drive away from here. You will not contact the authorities. Or Daniel. Ever. Understood?"
Robin gritted his teeth, jerking his head back and snarling, "Who the fuck do you think you--" Jack twisted his arm just so, just enough to force a drawn wail out of him. His other hand pressed Robin's head back onto the car pointedly, making his nose start bleeding a new as he murmured in the black haired man's ear, "I'm the man Daniel's saving you from. Consider yourself lucky."
There was no sarcasm or bravado in the older man's voice and Robin suddenly felt very small, very thin. He watched in shocked fascination as the tiny pool of blood from his face met with the edge of those steel tags; his guts tightened as Jack spoke again, voice still low, breath ghosting across Robin's pulse, "You have one last chance to leave in your own vehicle instead of an ambulance."
Robin swallowed hard, nodding dumbly at first, then with more fervor. Jack pressed his weight harder on Robin's back, spraining the man's wrist good and hard with two twists as he growled, "Say. It."
Robin keened, the words coming out of him in a rush, "No cops! Won't call Daniel, won't! I swear."
The weight was gone then, abruptly, and Robin's arm slid from the small of his back as he groaned. He turned, eyes flitting to Jack's face for a split second before he leaned down with a grunt to pick up his keys. He slipped into his car, heart pounding as hard as it had during his first house-raid and slammed the shifter into reverse, his wrist screaming at him as he pulled a quick 90 degree back before flicking Jack off and pealing down the driveway.
Daniel was trying his damndest not to start crying again, but it was an uphill battle as Sam helped him down the stairs. She kept her grip on him so tender he wanted to scream at her that he wasn't made of glass, thank you very much, but his throat was hurting more with each passing minute. Add that to the well of embarrassment and frustration he was losing the battle against... he bit the inside of his mouth hard. At least I have a good excuse not to have to explain myself right away.
The sounds of Teal'c cleaning up the bedroom behind them made him feel a bit sick to his stomach and the organ took another somersault as he realized what a mess this whole thing'd become. The brunet had no illusions -- he'd put money on Jack storming back in, roaring and spitting and asking all kinds of pointed rhetorical questions designed to make Daniel feel like a fool. He swallowed hard then winced at the pain.
As if I really need someone to point out that I-- He stumbled then, focusing more on his dread than whether or not it was the last stair under his foot, and the jarring misstep lurched him out of Sam's arms. He shot his temporarily-bandaged hand out to grab the banister, even as he slipped backward and landed on hardwood at just the wrong angle for the second time in less than ten minutes.
His face going pale as his hiss turned into a groan wasn't lost on Sam. She crouched down to help him up and whispered fiercely, "Daniel -- did Robin --" He shot her a look that was clearly meant to shut her line of questioning down and she answered with a look that told Daniel he wouldn't get away with dodging her for long.
Teal'c came down the stairs then, pausing to stare at their stalemate before speaking. "Major Carter, Daniel Jackson... is there not a wound to that requires tending?"
Daniel's relief was almost palpable at the interruption -- he had to admit he was feeling pretty woozy and had a hard time hiding things from Sam on a good day. As she helped him up, he heard Robin's car kick up gravel as he took off, followed by the screen door slamming shut behind Teal'c on his way out confer with Jack. Daniel's body buzzed in various pitches of pain, and he couldn't help vaguely wondering just how close to within an inch of his life Robin had ended up. Guess it's a good sign he could drive out of here at least.
The way Sam eased him down onto the couch drove him out of his head and into a spike of fresh shame and anger -- she was looking at him the same Janet did when he tried to brush off bouts of insomnia, or recurring headaches. He muttered hoarsely, "...I'm just rattled, Sam, it's fine."
She narrowed her eyes, sitting next to him and hissing back quietly, "Don't lie to me, Daniel. Don't protect..." She shook her head once, lips pursed, then went on: "Be honest -- do you need medical attention that I'm not capable of giving with a first aid kit?"
He let himself fall back against the couch, slouching churlishly, "I've been walking around all day just fine, haven't I?"
The line of her mouth hardened and he sighed, "No. I'm not -- I don't need..." His face was crimson as he poked at the edges of the gauze. "It's not that bad, there wasn't any blood."
She stood up, the jut of her chin clearly saying not-that-bad was still leaps and bounds past acceptable. Daniel sighed again, rubbing his uninjured hand at his throat and looking away. Sam's eyes narrowed as she walked to the fridge, snagged a bottle of water in torchlight and then dug a couple pain pills out of the first aid kit. She set both items down firmly on the coffee table in front of him and then crouched next to him, her jaw clenched as she picked and chose the items needed to care for his hand.
Daniel jumped when he heard Teal'c's voice, raised and a bit strained: "Samantha Carter and I are aware of that, O'Neill--" The brunet whipped his hand off his throat, grabbing for Sam's wrist as she stood up; when she looked down at him, his eyes were wide and his paled lips pulled tight in a plea. Her eyebrows drew together even as her heart melted and her lips twitched open to argue. Daniel shook his head then swallowed, trying to keep his voice soft -- it hurt less that way: "Sam, please -- Jack'll -- he'll hit the ceiling--"
"Daniel, he'd be right up there next to me then! The bruises on your arms -- I shouldn't have just let it go the way I did. There's no way I'm keeping anything else from him!"
Daniel, horrifyingly, felt tears start stinging at his eyes again, as he tried another angle, "This... this isn't a mission, Sam; he doesn't need to know the whole... " As Daniel gestured helplessly with his wounded hand, Sam's eyes readjusted as she saw that the man was starting to bleed through the makeshift bandage. She moved back toward him, crouching and putting her hands on his knees.
"Alright, Daniel. Let's just... get your hand cleaned up and go from there, alright?"
Feeling a bit like a child but also somehow old and thin, Daniel nodded gratefully; as Sam went out to the kitchen to figure out the propane stove, he mechanically dropped the pain medication in his mouth, swallowing it down with some water as he stared into vast nothing through the cabin wall. The throbbing in his hand was starting to crescendo and he looked woozily toward the kitchen, "...D'you hear Jack and Teal'c arguing, too, or am I--"
The screen door slammed open before Sam could reply and Jack, face set in a hard line, stalked toward the couch where Daniel was slumped -- he was trying to formulate words now that the object of his lost temper was out of reach and the object of his affection was relatively safe. His adam's apple bobbed as he looked for words, trying to sort through the many urges vying for his attention.
Daniel turned, wiping his eyes hastily under his glasses with his free hand before pinching the bridge of his nose. Oh boy, here it comes. At least I can take it standing --
Daniel unfolded, biting the inside of his cheek as stood halfway, holding his throbbing hand up and away from his body. Jack slipped in, supporting the younger man with a hand under each armpit, helping him to his feet before planting himself at arm's length, hands moving to clutch the tops of the archaeologist's shoulders in an iron grip. Both Teal'c and Sam surged toward them, expecting the worst; Daniel wasn't aware he was holding his breath -- but it whooshed out of him in a grunt when Jack hugged him, tight, pressing his jaw to the side of Daniel's firmly.
Sam and Teal'c shared a glance as Daniel's hands jerked upward, then floated in place as he huffed another breath out. His voice was bewildered, soft, "...Jack?"
Just as he let his good hand rest on the colonel's back, the silver-haired man pulled away abruptly, steadying Daniel with one hand and looking into his face, eyes starting to warm by small increments. Daniel couldn't help but remember that moment, those years ago, in the beginning-- Teal'c, Sam and Jack, walking into the gate room to peals of applause after killing Apophis the first time. He could almost hear Hammond in his head, "SG1 -- there's someone who'd like to see you."
In the still-dim light of the cabin living room, Jack clapped a hand at the juncture of Daniel's neck and shoulder gently; squeezed firmly -- he wasn't smiling this time but Daniel could feel the affection, the relief. The brunet opened his mouth, unsure of what to say, but before he could fathom anything, Jack squeezed his shoulder once more then turned away, grabbing a flashlight from the coffee table as he said, "Gonna go check the breaker again, see if I can get it working."
Then he was out the door, leaving Teal'c with one eyebrow raised, Sam's baby blue eyes wide open and Daniel gaping in his classic beached-fish impression.
Jack could've been the worlds scariest marble lawn ornament for how much he moved, even after Robin's car had pealed out of the driveway and disappeared up onto the road.
His blood was rolling like a tide before the hurricane; his fingertips felt like they were sparking, arching anger between his palm and the thighs they hung next to. His mind was producing images instead of words, flicking by just long enough to be acknowledged before spinning away to make room for the next: Daniel's skin flushing under a hard grip, Robin's shiteating grin, bodies in the half-dark of the POW camp sleeping still as the dead after torture, Daniel's laughing face, Daniel's pale stricken look on the floor of Amounet's tent. Noises started to filter in, too, loud as thunber: a couple pops of gunfire, Daniel yelling his name out of sight offworld, Sam's tight crisis voice --
"O'Neill?" Teal'c had a hand on his shoulder -- it couldn't have been the first time he'd tried to get Jack's attention; one old warrior knew well enough not to touch another when he was standing that still after an altercation like that. Jack had a hold of the jaffa's wrist and was twisting before he could stop himself but Teal'c turned with the motion, dipping low to the ground with a grunt and then speaking, "It is I, O'Neill; I do not wish you harm you."
Jack let go like he was clutching a brand, stepped back too quickly and almost stumbled, but his body was still flooded with adrenaline and wouldn't allow more than a sliver of unsteadiness. He stared at Teal'c as the sounds faded and his mind started communicating with him in language again; his mouth felt thick and numb as he said, "Sorry, T. Old habits."
Teal'c nodded, standing tall again with no visible anger. He nodded again at Jack by way of acknowledgement but waited for Jack to speak. He'd been there before -- so flooded with anger and shock that he didn't have full reign of his body. He knew it took a couple moments to come back to earth, and that's why he'd headed out in the first place: he'd seen the Tau'ri warrior react angrily toward Daniel before, after danger, and didn't want the colonel to do anything he might later regret.
Teal'c had deduced, long before, that Jack's angry reactions came from a place of emotional struggle. He'd read the materials on Tau'ri culture, especially within their military. They were still very primitive in many ways -- men were not allowed to feel romantic love toward one another, not even warriors who'd lived and died at one another's sides.
Teal'c had blinked when he'd read that, head jerking back just a bit -- he'd taken the text to Daniel almost immediately, stood in his office and demanded in his quiet way, "DanielJackson, how do Tau'ri officials believe they can control the way in which warriors feel toward one another? Furthermore, why need they be concerned with an individual's innermost feelings so long as those feelings do not harm another?"
Daniel'd sighed and shrugged in a show of helpless anger, "That's a good question, Teal'c. I don't agree with it, either, but the a majority of the public and some small-minded individuals think what other people feel is somehow a threat to them."
"That is absurd, DanielJackson."
Daniel'd given him a small laugh, a bitter one; Teal'c didn't like the way it sounded on the scholar, not one bit, but held his tongue to let the brunet speak: "I agree. It comes from the equally absurd thought that anyone who's bisexual or homosexual has... how do I say? Has, er, appetite problems; will, uh... disregard boundaries?"
"Tau'ri officials believe that they will force themselves upon same-sex comrades."
Daniel's face flushed a bit and he stood up from his desk, running his fingertips over the scalp just above the top of his ears out of habit, "It's an asinine mode of thought, I know, but yeah, that's pretty much the sum of it, Teal'c."
Teal'c quirked his head, "Asinine?"
"Uhm, ridiculous, really idiotic, utterly stupid?"
Teal'c nodded, then rumbled, "I do not believe that the attractions of one's flesh are related to an individual's likeliness to --"
Daniel spoke up, over Teal'c as Jack knocked on the doorframe, halfway into Daniel's office before really being acknowledged, "Preaching to the choir here, Teal'c! But we can talk about it later; right now really isn't the time--"
Jack had stuffed his hands in his pockets, raised an eyebrow at Daniel's flushed face and Teal'c's stubborn posture with the military guidelines manual clutched in one large hand, "It isn't the time for what now?"
Teal'c had rounded on Jack, as much as the jaffa ever did anything so dramatic, and stared Jack in the face, "Colonel O'Neill." He held the book toward Jack, voice thick with anger, "Do you subscribe to this asinine 'do not ask, do not tell' method of veiled discrimination?"
Jack's eyebrows both twitched up this time and he barked a short laugh, "'Asinine'? That's a new one, Teal'c; where'd you learn a word like that?"
Daniel turned toward his coffee pot, hands shaking as he picked up the carafe; he couldn't trust himself to speak. He'd never dared ask Jack about his attitude on the matter -- it was too close to his heart and he'd played his cards as close as he ever had in his entire life concerning his feelings toward the older man. He'd never heard Jack say anything overtly homophobic, but he also hadn't heard him denounce the DADT rules, either. He'd only let himself settle on the safe assumption that Jack was trying to be professional and never saw the need to bring it up.
"I have learned many words, O'Neill, but at this time, I most concerned about this rule attempting to govern whom a Tau'ri warrior can and cannot love."
"Ah -- yeah. Don't ask, don't tell. Well..." Jack shifted his weight to his heels, glancing over at Daniel's back before shrugging, "I don't make the rules, Teal'c."
The jaffa snapped the book back toward himself, reading blankly, "...an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion."
Jack shrugged, "Same reason officers can't date enlisted, same reason people in units can't --"
Teal'c raised his voice, just a bit, cutting the colonel off: "Cannot demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts--"
Jack put a hand up, making a noise, "Ah! Ah. I get it Teal'c. I can't change the rules anymore than you can, alright? It's a non-issue, bitching about it won't change it, end of discussion."
Standing across from Jack in the muddy yard, noting the tensed muscles in the man's neck and back, the way he seemed to be grasping for control; Teal'c had known, even back then, 'non-issue' was the last thing DADT meant to Jack.
"O'Neill. I believe it is time for you to be honest with DanielJackson."
Jack's eyes snapped to his, his mouth falling open just a bit as he swallowed hard and croaked, "What?"
Teal'c didn't even blink: "I believe it is time you told the scholar of your feelings toward him."
Jack choked, jerking his hands out just a bit before turning away from the jaffa, running a hand back through his hair while he reflexively looked for words, for a way to redirect the conversation. The jaffa had nearly lost patience with Jack (which is saying something) by the time the silver-haired man sighed, letting his hands and shoulders drop, "...It's that obvious, huh?"
Teal'c unfolded his hands from behind his back, stepping forward to place a brotherly hand on Jack's shoulder, squeezing, "Have no fear O'Neill; I am highly perceptive, even among jaffa."
The calmness in Teal'c's voice tripped a trigger in Jack and he whipped around, voice tight and angry as he hissed, "Then you know damn well I can't -- I shouldn't -- I -- fuck." His shoulders dropped again as he shook his head, "I can't... I can't ask that of him. Can't put him that position. It would be too dangerous --"
Teal'c spoke calmly, reaching out for O'Neill's shoulder, "Love is always dangerous."
Jack barked a laugh, shook his head, but made no other answer. Teal'c put his other hand on Jack's other shoulder, shaking the man once, "Is it not more dangerous to continue on with such secrets between comrades?"
Jack closed his eyes and sighed again before looking up at Teal'c. The nearly helpless look there was so out of character that Teal'c almost embraced the tau'ri, then and there. He held his distance, however, when he saw Jack take another breath to speak: "I... can't even manage to protect him now. That..." -- Jack pulled one of his looping hand gestures to refer to Robin without using his name -- "...Daniel brought here -- christ. Danny's been trying to give me heartattacks for years, how reckless he is with himself. I... don't think I could handle losing him, definitely couldn't if he knew how I... if somehow he..." Jack shook his head, biting back the lump in his throat, "Christ, he might hate me for it. Might not listen at all anymore! I couldn't... I can't let him get anymore reckless, just because I can't keep my shit together --"
Teal'c had to then, he couldn't help himself -- he hugged the silver-haired mad hard, a brother-in-arms embrace with no room for excuses and said fiercely, "SamanthaCarter and I are aware of that, O'Neill." His voice softened, his volume lowered, "We have always known DanielJackson is not a warrior first; we three are capable of protecting him -- especially if there are no further secrets. Also, I believe you and I are both aware that Daniel Jackson would not hate you for honest emotions. "
After a few moments, Jack tapped out of the hug, gasping a bit at the way his ribs creaked as Teal'c squeezed him before letting go. When he looked up at the Jaffa, he knew he didn't have much of a choice anymore -- he was sure Daniel'd have questions, eventually, he always did whether Jack wanted to answer them or not. He had no reason to believe this would be any different. He hadn't exactly reacted rationally to the situation upstairs -- even Daniel'd have to suspect something.
The colonel nodded in defeat, ran a hand back through his hair again and nodded some more, "Alright, Teal'c. You're right. You're... right. As usual. Let's go in and... see how Danny's doing."
Teal'c bowed his head, gesturing with a hand toward the cabin so that Jack might go first.
The silver haired man hadn't meant to slam the screen door open the way he did, but seeing the drops of Robin's blood on the stairs sparked his physical anger again. He'd wanted to rip the fucker to pieces, would have too, if Daniel hadn't been a hoarse voice of reason through Jack's murderous haze. He'd hated Daniel in that moment, hated him in the way only someone who loved another human being could hate that same person. Daniel's protection was the last thing Robin deserved.
Jack rushed toward the couch, almost seeing red again -- seeing Daniel staring at the wall like that, looking so small and exhausted... he heard Sam rushing toward them from the kitchen, could feel Teal'c picking up speed behind him but all he could see was Daniel's eyes as he tried to stand. All the anger in him snuffed out like a candle as he hooked his hands under the brunet's armpits; the weight of the man was reassuring even as the bloody bandage on his hand stabbed Jack in the heart.
Jack wanted to say a million things -- threats, apologies, promises, admonishments but they all fell silent as he gripped Daniel's shoulders. The wariness in those baby blues hurt Jack deeper than he could've thought and he hugged the brunet hard, couldn't hold him close enough. His name in that voice -- that bewildered, anxious tone -- it almost made Jack spill his guts then and there, but the spell was broken when he felt Daniel's hand brush his back, just barely.
He pulled back, stared into the younger man's face silently and held his tongue. Now was not the time, not after so much hurt and violence. He squeezed Daniel's shoulder instead and let go, snatched up a flashlight and set himself to a task that would give him time to find his footing again. He tried his damndest not to let the shocked look on Daniel's face hurt, he did, but the ache only grew with each footstep through summer mud on his way to the breaker box.
Daniel closed his mouth slowly, swallowed and turned to stare at Teal'c, "I... what... what was all that?"
Teal'c inclined his head, just a bit and rumbled, "I believe O'Neill was expressing relief, DanielJackson."
Daniel sat back down on the couch, shaking his head a bit to clear it -- he could still smell Jack's shampoo and it sent an acute, almost uncomfortable stab of gratefulness through him, "Usually he barks at me when he knows everything's okay. This is... disconcerting." His gaze snapped up to Teal'c, eyebrows bunched together, "Exactly how badly did he hurt Robin?"
Teal'c shook his head as he stepped further into the room, passing behind the couch to assist Sam in the kitchen, "I do not believe his actions are motivated by the state of that cron'la-has."
Daniel blinked at the epithet, turning slightly to watch his teammates start the water boiling, "Jack could get in serious trouble for this. I mean... Robin is a cop. He'll probably try to find a way to -- Ow! Sam!" She'd walked closer to him, gently touching the bandage in an effort to peel it open. Daniel tugged his hand back, hissing as it jostled the shards snugged into the gauze, "It -- it hurts worse every minute." Sam chewed her lip for a moment then made a decision, disappearing back into her bedroom.
Daniel gazed at Teal'c in question but before he could vocalize anything, Sam was back with a small military-issue pack clutched in her hand. She sat down gingerly and unrolled the dark-grey canvas on the coffee table: a syringe, some stitching gear, two small bottles of morphine and more.
This time, Daniel's eyebrows shot up to disappear under his bangs, "...Saaaam? Why do you have a field trauma kit in your luggage?"
Sam had the grace to flush a bit before replying shortly, "I would rather have it and not need it than need it and be helpless."
Daniel was a bit taken aback by her strained tone and nodded, "I'm... I'm sorry, you're right." He pulled at the edges of the gauze, a small sweat breaking out on his forehead from the pain, "Do you really think it needs stitches?"
Sam had already pulled a dose of morphine into the syringe by the time Daniel was done talking and stood up, "I'm not even sure yet, I can't get close enough to get the glass out. Can we...?"
Daniel nodded, sitting down on the very edge of the couch with a stiff back, "Yes. And we need to make sure to get pictures when the lights come on again, too, just in case. I'm not sure that I can do that --" He was about to say 'sober,' but the word caught in his throat an image of sarcophagus withdrawal shot through him.
Teal'c reached over and gripped Daniel's shoulder firmly, "You need say no more, Daniel Jackson. You have nothing to prove with needless suffering."
He sighed, the pain screaming up his arm making his voice gruff: "Okay, okay, just... do it."
Sam stuck him, Teal'c squeezed his shoulder again and Daniel did everything he could to keep his voice neutral as he said, "Someone needs to grab my camera out of my luggage."
Teal'c nodded and stood, saying quietly to Sam, "I believe the water is close to boiling, Major. Perhaps you should check it?" Sam nodded and stood, snapping the cap back on the syringe and setting it down with a soft click before leaving Daniel to his thoughts.
The brunet was aching all over, riding the riptide throwing him in circles: He'd been sleeping with a married man. With a child. For half a year. He felt guilt, anger, loss – but most of all, he felt mortified. He thought about all the nights he'd spent with Robin, welcoming the man into his apartment, swallowing the lie about the police force not being able to know Robin wasn’t straight. He'd grinned and shrugged and blundered on with it like a gullible teenager. Pathetic. So hungry for someone to love me that I fell for the oldest shit in the asshole playbook.
Daniel stood then, trying to relieve the sudden feeling that the dark was pressing him deeper into the cushions. He swiped a hand over his face, pinching his features out of formation. He breathed in, slow; out, slow. His nerve endings focused on the feeling of his own eyebrows under the pads of his fingers while his mind zeroed in on the expression Jack'd had when he pulled him close. He couldn't deny that he missed Jack's touches... those random moments of physical affection felt like a reassurance, especially in the beginning, that he was where he'd needed to be. Especially while they were looking for Sha're. Then, after Sha're, Jack was the only one to believe him whole-heartedly about Shifu. Then, after Shifu... well, things started getting complicated.
Jack had steadily started pulling away and Daniel had no idea how to reel the best friend he'd ever had back to the half-way common ground where they could understand one another. Hell, for starters, Daniel would have settled for getting to a place where they could simply stand each other. He knew he'd never had a chance of being as close to Jack as he wanted, but he was truly happy and had learned to be satisfied with the unbreakable friendship they'd built.
Well, he’d thought it invulnerable until the past year of watching it slip from between his fingers. The more he missed Jack's reassuring contact, the more he snapped back. The less time Jack spent loitering in Daniel’s office, the less time Daniel spent doing the same in the colonel’s. Daniel missed the strangest things like a drowning man missed air: getting a crick in his neck while eating pizza on Jack's couch, stomping his boots off on Jack’s welcome mat in the middle of winter. Though, above all, he missed feeling accepted as a person, wanted as a friend and maybe even needed as a support by the complicated man.
He'd finally forced himself to try to move on, to find someone to spend his attention and affection on who actually wanted it instead of continuing to irritate the hell out of Jack on a regular basis.
It wasn't lost on the archeologist that he narrowed in on someone about as opposite Jack in demeanor as possible. He'd really started to believe that Robin was good for him; he'd really wanted Teal'c and Sam to meet him, to get to know him. He was nervous of Jack's reaction, true -- but somehow, he thought if he could be around Robin and Jack at the same time, it would seal things down for him. Prove to himself that he'd moved on.
He'd failed, of course. That much was obvious, from the night before. He'd called out Jack's name while coming, which was damning enough on its own, sure, but – more importantly – he’d taken shelter in the idea of Jack while Robin was hurting him. He'd been too overwhelmed and, to be honest with himself, scared to think hard enough about it to feel guilty. After that silent hug from Jack, though... that look of compassion from those sable eyes... Daniel felt like he'd betrayed the silver-haired man somehow.
He shook his head, pressing angrily at the renewed wetness in his eyelashes. ...Talk about pathetic. Christ. Drugs always make me --
"Oh!" The power clicked back on and Daniel swooned back onto the couch as the AC window unit kicked in, as well as the lights. "Ohh, that's nice." The brunet tipped his head back, letting his eyes slip shut and Sam had to grin as she saw the cool air ruffle his half-dried bangs -- turns out the archaeologist's Lightweight Drunk champion title didn't just apply to booze.
Teal'c carried the pot of boiling water into the living room with Sam on his heels: "How're the narcotics treating you, Daniel?"
His lips actually curled upward a bit before mumbling: "My hand feels less like fire and more like blistering sunburn, so... that's good, right?"
The two crowded near him, Teal'c ready to hold Daniel still if need be and Sam opening the sealed tweezers, "Yes, Daniel, that's good. Now, lay back and try to stay relaxed, okay?"
Daniel snorted then, shifting a bit and opening his eyes a crack as Teal'c took a hold of his wrist: "Don't think I could get riled up if I needed to, Sam."
She gave him a doubtful as well as apologetic look and gently gripped the edge of a shard with the rubber-tipped tweezers, tugging it out in one smooth movement and then glancing to her friend's face to gauge his reaction. Daniel's eyebrows drew together but he didn't jerk or make a noise. Sam dropped the shard onto a paper towel, letting out a breath, "One down. That didn't hurt?"
Daniel moved to shrug but Teal'c held his wrist still so he settled for shrugging one shoulder twice, "It wasn't so bad, like a sting? Like a bite, just a little bit... speaking of bite: how bad did Jack hurt not-Jack?"
Sam and Teal'c shared a glance and Sam went for the next piece of glass as Teal'c spoke softly and steadily to distract Daniel: "O'Neill did nothing that man did not deserve. Less, in fact, and only at your request. O'Neill has always--"
"I've always what now?" Jack asked, trying to shoot for playful but sounding more worried than light-hearted as he walked in the screen door, shutting it quietly behind himself. Daniel rolled his head to the side, opened his eyes all the way to peer at Jack. The colonel knew the look of those wide pupils and half-way puzzled eyebrows and he snapped at Sam, "You drugged him?"
Sam was tugging out one shard after another, blotting at the blood gently and focusing intently enough on the task that she actually snapped at her CO: "I couldn't get within inches of his hand and he was about to go into shock. Let me work or go get busy somewhere else." Jack's eyebrows shot up but Daniel's snort of laughter stopped him from replying.
"Oh Jack, let the nice lady work. You barked at her to clean me up anyway, 'member?" The older man stared into Daniel's clouded eyes for a moment, snapping his mouth shut with an almost audible sound. The brunet grinned and closed his eyes, feeling higher than a kite on Pike's Peak, "Maybe you should grab a beer. And Sam. ...I mean, grab a beer for Sam. I think she gets enough grabbing these days, you know, which is good 'cause these two both deserve --"
"Daniel!" Sam's face was beet red and she cleared her throat, "Hold still, okay? I've only got a few left and I don't want to break any of these off in your hand."
He nodded lazily, letting baby blue eyes slip back shut: "Okay. But I want brats when I wake up. And grasshopper ice cream. Which, incidentally, doesn't taste at all like grasshoppers, but sometimes it's good when things aren't what they seem, you know?"
Jack almost kept himself from reaching out to touch Daniel's hair; almost didn't smooth now-cold, half-damp bangs away from the younger man's forehead. He was glad he'd let himself do it, though, when one blue eye cracked open at him, corner crinkled in a small smile, "Hey… Hey, Jack?"
The colonel swallowed once, feeling drugged himself at the way his world narrowed down to Daniel's face, his voice, ultimately his safety but immediately by the flush of the brunet's skin, "Yes, Daniel?"
"Thanks." Daniel tried to move to see Jack better but grunted when Teal'c held him in place. Sam mumbled quickly about getting the last shard out just in time and started gingerly cleaning the wounds in preparation for bandages.
Daniel stilled when Jack laid a hand on his shoulder, face going quizzical as his glasses slipped up his nose a bit from looking at the silver-haired man over the back of the couch. Jack shook his head, ruffled Daniel's hair for the first time in what felt like forever and deadpanned, "Sit still for a little longer 'til Sam can bandage you up and then you're free to hug trees and run wild all flower-child style, m'kay?"
"...And eat brats? And grasshoppers?"
Jack's smile felt bone-deep and the warmth was contagious in the wake of the day they'd all had. All four of them felt a months-long tension start to give way to companionship again when Jack headed out to start the grill, quipping, "Ohhh sure, grasshoppers and spiders and all kinds of creepy crawlies, don't you fret your pretty little head, Danny."
When Sam had finished pulling the shards out and started sewing the small wounds shut, Daniel was aware that he felt... good. Excellent, in fact. Which was very strange, he knew, considering the events of the weekend. His eyebrows slumped together as he tried hard to remember -- there was something unpleasant he needed to do, or needed someone to help him do... What was it again? He lifted his free hand, gesturing sluggishly, trying to remember -- "Ah! Don't lemme forget th' pictuurs, mmkay?"
Teal'c laid a large, warm hand on Daniel's forearm, pushing the limb back to rest on the couch so the movements wouldn't shift and interrupt Sam as she neared the end of her delicate process: "I have already documented your hand, Daniel Jackson, and we will approach the rest of your wounds when Samantha has finished her task."
Daniel nodded, seeing his facial features jiggle in his mind, which made him grin, "'I don't do drugs, I am drugs'..." He swore he could hear Teal'c's eyebrow raise and so explained: "I feel like I belong in a Salvador Dali painting. He was a surrealist who melted clocks, made tigers jump out of pomegranates and had a funny mustache."
Sam, despite her fear and guilt and anger, found herself snorting at Daniel's summary of his favorite painter. She pulled her hands back from her task as the snort turned into a giggle -- to which Daniel fell like a domino into deep-stomach laughter. As the two Tauri laughed, Teal'c noted the tears in both of their eyes and inevitably smiled: he knew what coming down off a terrible adrenaline rush looked like and felt a wave of his own relief that they remained, after all these years, so fundamentally unbroken.
"Daniel, I -- oh my god, you're so... ridiculous," Sam gasped affectionately, gulping and wiping her eyes with the back of a wrist as she regained composure.
The archaeologist nodded his head in his best seated impression of an exaggerated bow and murmured, "Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week."
Sam shook her head and leaned in, neatly clipping the ends of her handiwork before wrapping it over with sterile gauze. When she finished, she laid his hand gently into his own lap and said his name until he lifted his head and looked her in the eyes: "Daniel... are you sure you want to take those photographs right now? We can always--"
Daniel held his hand up, eyes welling almost instantly at her gentle tone: "Sam! Stop. Please. I... I can't be emotional 'bout this or I won't make it through. I'mma have Teal'c help me and then take a nap, kay?"
Her eyes twitched in hurt -- and a small amount of embarrassment. She wasn't sure she could've made it through without crying herself and was ashamed of her relief. Daniel read her mind -- Damn you and your empathy, Daniel... -- and leaned forward to hug her tightly with one arm, "Sam, you've done more than enough. Don't you dare beat yourself up 'bout it." When he let go, the blonde busied herself with plopping tools into the still-warm pan of water and blinking hard. Daniel unfolded to his feet and steadied himself, moving his slow-tracking gaze to the jaffa: "Ready, Teal'c?"
Inclining his head, Teal'c held out an arm for Daniel to lean on and replied, "From what you have taught me of Tauri image capture devices, the bathroom is best equipped in brightness for this purpose." Nodding, Daniel looped his uninjured arm around Teal'c's neck and led them toward the stairs.
By the time they reached the top, Daniel was feeling sick to his stomach with all the movement, enough so that Teal'c finally picked him up to make the last couple yards to the bathroom. Daniel would've mumbled something scathing about being a grown man, thank you very much, but he was too busy feeling relieved that he probably wouldn't slip free of gravity and float away into space.
"Teal'c... It's'a good thing I never tried hard drugs in college. I think I would've ended up in a psych ward, thinkin' I was a glass of orange juice or somethin' like that."
Teal'c set the brunet down gently on the porcelain edge of the tub/shower combination while rumbling, "That would have been a regrettable waste of your intellect, I agree."
Daniel put his wounded hand down to brace himself but tugged it up more out of reflex than perception -- Sam'd put in all that hard work and the least he could do was respect it. Respect the fact that people were going through so much trouble for him when it was his own fault he was messed up. Again. He heard the echo of a voice, an older teenager in one of the group homes he'd stayed in for a while, panting against his ear in the dark, dry humping him beneath a worn comforter and hissing, "This doesn't mean I'm a faggot like you."
The force of the memory surfacing so unexpectedly, so forcefully, was the last straw for his leaping stomach: "Shit, Teal'c, I gotta -- I'm gonna --"
Daniel turned then, collapsing halfway into the tub and retching. He gasped as he felt his own warm vomit coat his uninjured hand and swore as he slipped closer to bashing his forehead on the spigot. Teal'c caught him before he did, though, and then calmly reached over to turn on the water. Both men watched it while it ran for a few moments.
Once the water was warm, he rinsed both Daniel's hand and the bottom of the tub of vomit while murmuring, "Substances that chase off pain often also attract ghosts, Daniel Jackson. Attempt to stay in the present."
Daniel nodded, trying to swallow down the taste of shame, confusion and vomit away all at once, "Good point. Let's... let's do this, okay?"
Daniel tried to tug his shirt over his head but said skull was spinning so badly that he felt tears of frustration pop up again, "Teal'c -- I can't -- will you...?"
Teal'c crouched so that he was eye-to-eye with the younger man, holding his shoulders in two gentle hands, "Do you trust me, Daniel Jackson?"
He blinked, the moisture in his eyes cascading down his face as he nodded mutely. Teal'c nodded back to him and gently undressed the shaking man, following Daniel's quiet requests with precise, still hands. He managed to keep his rage completely internal, even when Daniel flushed terribly at the black bruises peeking up over his underwear line. Teal'c withdrew, wishing his close friend to keep some dignity and himself to not lose his temper and take off after the abuser he so desperately wanted to dissect.
"We... we have to... take those, too," Daniel ground out, biting his mouth even as quiet tears kept slipping off his face in a terrible rhythm. Daniel tried to ignore his earlier behavior in the same room, tried not to think of the abuse he'd dished back to Robin. How could you not tell he was rubbing off on you? You're so needy, so malleable, so ready to--
"Breathe, Daniel Jackson. Breathe."
Daniel let out a surprised whoosh of air, spiraling back down into the moment and nodding his head, Teal'c's steady voice affording him some strength, "Thanks, I am. I will. I mean... Okay. Let's do this."
Teal'c stepped back and fiddled with the camera longer than necessary to give Daniel a moment to wipe his eyes, push his hair back. When the man held his arms out and stared straight forward, Teal'c couldn't stop himself from counting the bruises, old and new. Dark and pale. He had hoped that this violence was a new development, but knew he could not deny the evidence that the younger man had been subjected to variations of such treatment for some time. Had he been less versed at keeping his mouth shut (one of the few useful skills service under Apophis had afforded him), Teal'c would have demanded to know why Daniel had allowed such abuse to go on for so long.
In the silence, broken only by an occasional, impersonal shutter click, Teal'c realized that it was the same reason he had been so ready to die for the crime of killing a cripple, had been so convinced that his life was the only thing he could offer to make things right: intense, soul-deep guilt. His puzzlement was so deep that it made his heart and head ache as he longed to ask What could you possibly done to believe you have deserved this, my friend?
Jack stood in the doorway of his bedroom, stuffed his hands in his pockets and mulled over the fact that high-as-hell Daniel'd pretty much begged Teal'c to deposit him into Jack's room instead of the one he and Robin had shared.
He grimaced a bit, his logical mind telling him it made perfect sense -- Daniel'd found out his boyfriend was a lying shithead in there not eight hours ago -- not to mention endured physical trauma... it wasn't exactly a paragon of safety. The older man grimaced again as his heart piped up with pride that his bedroom qualified as a comfort. Or it was the only other room upstairs, O'Neill, you hopeless old sap.
Jack had slammed a beer to get through Teal'c sharing his observations and conclusions with the rest of the team, including the extent of the brunet's injuries. A second went down just as hard when Teal'c started talking about the apparent guilt Daniel seemed to carry, just before and after he'd puked in the tub. Jack remembered similar reactions when he was first sprung from the POW camp. It was no comfort, however; he knew Daniel was a stubborn sonofabitch and it made his blood run cold as his imagination unhelpfully presented hypothetical scenarios that might drive the archaeologist to such sudden and violent PTSD symptoms. Happening right under my goddamn nose, no less.
Jack remembered opening the third beer to Teal'c recounting mumbled, half-unconscious apologies and worry from Daniel that he'd ruined the weekend, he was so sorry, never should have brought Robin and on and on. The airman wasn't surprised to find out that Daniel reacted to hospital-grade pain medication by alternating unpredictably between light heartedness and crushing depression but, again, not being surprised and not aching were two different things.
Just because I don't run my mouth while I do the same thing doesn't mean he's weird for it, Jack thought as he sighed quietly, pulling his hands out of his pockets to drag them through his hair in the dark hallway. Teal'c was pulling the brats off the grill, Sam was fussing with the grasshopper mix and there was no more putting off dinner. Or dragging Daniel back into reality. He'd talked the two into leaving dinner until it got dark but it was starting to make them crabby... and Jack had to admit that it probably wasn't a good idea for Daniel to go all day on nothing but pain medication and coffee, asleep or not.
The brunet's voice popped into his head, saying in that tumbling, chiding cadence he used when he was sarcastically pointing out the obvious: But of course it's okay for you to go all day with nothing but a handful of beers in your stomach... Jack rubbed his face, took a deep breath and stepped into his bedroom, throat clicking as swallowed hard. He reached the edge of the bed and turned the lamp on, saying softly, "Hey Danny, time for grub."
The younger man had the blankets pulled up around his shoulders but Jack could still see the bruise forming around the base of his throat -- instead of anger, however, the older man felt a fierce, gentle protectiveness that he couldn't remember experiencing since the time Charlie'd run off to the park in the next neighborhood without telling them first. As a CO, he was a firm believer in relieved anger as the best form of education.
This time, though, the former Black Ops soldier crouched next to the bed, folded his hands together and brought his head down to rest on intertwined fingers, silent as a tiger but suddenly as shaken as a rabbit crouching in a warren as a hawk shrieked away to a different hunt. His voice was low and soft: "Dammit, Daniel. You're gonna give me a heart attack one of these days."
Silver head tipped up, sable eyes searching, "You're awake."
Daniel reached a hand up out of the blankets to rub an eye with two knuckles and shrugged with half a shoulder, "I thought I heard you say something about mud?"
A snort of laughter surprised Jack as it came out of his own throat and he couldn't suppress a grin, "Ah, grub, actually. It should taste better than mud, I hope."
Daniel's baby blues crinkled as he blearily smiled back and rolled over, pushing the blankets part way down. They'd all been naked together so often over the years that it didn't occur to him to hide himself as he sat up, pushing his hair out of his eyes and yawning, "Coffee?"
Jack was about to stand but his knees wouldn't work. He was honest with himself, too, that it wasn't pain that kept him on Daniel's level, but rather a desire to stay close to the brunet.
"It's 9:30 at night; wasn't Janet just tearing you a new one for drinking coffee after noon?"
Registering the time seemed to flip a reminder switch in Daniel's head and he blanched. Jack watched, a sensation of helplessness crawling up his spine, as the younger man began chewing on the inside of his mouth and hunched over a bit, fidgeting with the edge of the patchwork quilt in his lap. Jack kicked himself, clenching his jaw.
"I... uh, morphine tends to make me groggy." The moment of silence after the statement flipped the atmosphere in the room from companionable to crushing as effectively as opening an airlock, and Jack knew it was from Daniel trying to close himself up as fast as possible. Before he could police himself, the airman reached out and placed a hand on Daniel's bare shoulder, thumb ghosting over a collar bone gently, once, twice. The sound of it was quiet, intimate. Daniel glanced over at Jack under his lashes, opening his mouth to speak. Seeing the younger man's adam's apple bob as he struggled for words broke the spell for Jack. Almost.
Jack leaned in then, just a bit, and pulled his hand from shoulder to carefully pass Daniel's neck before resting for a moment cupping the side of the younger man's head, applying gentle pressure on his ear. Both men froze for a moment as Daniel leaned his head gently into the touch. They blinked at one another, then Jack moved to stand, clumsily turning the caress into a hair-ruffle as he snarked, "Well, then, you're rested for a long night of brats and booze and cards. Pretty sure Sam was getting ready to chew her own arm off, shoulda seen her eyes."
Daniel let out a long breath he hadn't known he was holding as he felt their companionship click back into familiar territory, "Figures she'd resort to auto-cannibalism; she's too nice to try and take a bite outta you."
Jack shrugged, holding his hands up in facetious apology, "Can't blame her -- I'm too wiry. A Teal'c steak would've been better."
Daniel flashed a grin as he drew his legs over the other edge of the bed, settling his glasses back on his face. An unexplained joy was welling up as he muttered cheekily: "I thinks she's getting a fair amount of Teal'c steak as is."
Jack's bark of laughter carried all the way down the stairs and Sam paused, mid-bite of brat, to smile at Teal'c: "See? I knew Jack would cheer him up. ...Pass the sauerkraut?"
Pleasantly wasted was the name of the game by the time Daniel'd finished losing every single poker chip he'd started with -- including the stacks Sam had pushed his way when she decided she wanted another grasshopper more than she wanted to keep trying to make logical decisions with numbers while drunk.
"Well, good luck, Jack; Teal'c's got a helluva competitive streak," Daniel huffed as he carefully pushed up off his cross-legged position on the floor. Jack quirked an eyebrow at Teal'c and the jaffa merely gave a small grin.
"Daniel? You wan' another?" Sam asked as she walked delicately -- and purposefully enough to make Jack laugh, thinking Boy is she plastered... -- over to the coffee table. She placed another beer for Jack down near his shoulder and turned to Teal'c who, now free of his symbiote for some time, nodded thanks for another grasshopper as well.
Daniel was crouched by the record player, thumbing through the crate of albums he'd often teased Jack about, "Sure, Sam, you're damn good at them. Now, I'm thinking... ah!" He pulled out Jack's copy of 2400 Fulton street and stood up, bracing himself on the edge of the windowsill, "Jefferson Airplane, anyone?"
Jack cringed inwardly a bit --Of course you'd pick one of Sarah's favorite albums... -- but Sam's emphatic agreement brushed the sadness away. As the beginning cords of It's No Secret started crackling out of the machine, Jack let a long breath out, trying to call up the calm, happy emotional memories instead of the sucking hole where he stored most of his previous family. Taking a deep breath in, he glanced up at Teal'c -- only to be pinned under a raised eyebrow and a clear sense of playful challenge. That was all it took for Jack to settle back into a final attempt to whump Teal'c at poker.
His winning streak was interrupted an unknown amount of long, drunken minutes later by Teal'c staring over his shoulder, sitting very still. Jack shifted in his seat on the couch and felt his breath puff out: Somebody To Love was just starting and Daniel was unfolding to his feet and tugging Sam into his arms playfully. She pinched her nose shut with one hand, lifted the other and then wiggled her hips as she pretended to shimmy down underwater.
"That is a most... unusual pantomime," Teal'c commented, as close to absently as he was capable.
Jack reached for his beer a bit blindly, muttering, "It was a most unusual time in human history, T..." before taking a long drink.
Daniel reached over and turned the volume up before he and Sam turned face to face, shimmying their shoulders and singing, "Wouldn't you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love!"
Sam belted, "Your eyes -- I say your eyes may look like his--"
"Yeah but in your head, baby -- I'm afraid you don't know where it is!"
Then they were leaning side to side, then drunkenly shifting back to back and laughing through the last few lyrics so hard that by the time the guitar solo ending hit, they'd collapsed onto the thick-piled rug, laughing. When the soft tones of the next more subdued number started, they sobered a bit and clumsily clasped hands in an attempted warrior-handshake.
Daniel's bangs fell forward as he dipped his head down, laughing, and pulled Sam close to hug her tightly. As the woman glanced up over Daniel's shoulder she saw Jack and Teal'c observing -- and turned bright red in an instant. She disentangled herself and smacked his arm, gesturing to the two other men.
The million watt smile Daniel turned on his other two teammates was like a spotlight as he smarmed, "Awh, Teal'c doesn't mind if I hug you, it's not like I'm a thre--mmph!" Sam clamped her hand over his mouth, sputtering and Jack started -- for lack of a more dignified word -- cackling. He'd never seen his 2IC look so... flustered. It did his old, cranky heart good to see her show some humanity of the female persuasion. She's had too many boyfriends bite the dust, that's for damn sure. 'Bout time she falls for a tough one.
"He is correct, Samantha. I do not mind him expressing physical affection as a brother would to a sister," Teal'c spoke evenly, eyes glittering with is signature quiet brand of impishness.
Daniel finished an enormous yawn with a grin and lurched up, pulling Sam to her feet. Once they'd steadied each other, Daniel pushed his glasses up a bit and then splayed his hands palm-up into a shrug, "Hey, look at it this way -- at least Jack and I won't have threaten him for weeks on end to make sure he's good enough for you, right?"
Sam's eyes started to take on a distinct layer of worry as she glanced at Jack, trying to judge his reaction, but the colonel just mirrored Daniel's shrug, huge grin still in place, "I'm not blind, Carter, give me some credit. Anyway, I haven't held even illusions of the chain of command over you guys in a loooong time." He lifted his beer toward Teal'c, then Sam and, lastly with a small, initial hesitation, toward Daniel: ""S not traditional, not easy and definitely not kosher by Force standards, but... we're family, Sam; rules be damned and cheers to that."
As he drained the bottle, a little shocked at his own drunken eloquence, Jack saw the rest of this team reach for their respective drinks and take a swig. The music was up-beat but calm, the light low but buttery yellow, his team was safe and he had a friend's ass to kick at poker. Funny how the good life sneaks up on you sometimes, he thought as Teal'c began shuffling the cards for the next hand.
"I believe I have claimed victory, O'Neill."
Jack made a face and shrugged, pushing his cards toward the middle of the table, joking: "Indeed, T. Indeed."
The Jaffa grinned and began gathering the cards as Jack stood up and stretched, pivoting on the spot. Sam was curled up in an armchair, leaning against her hands and sound asleep. Daniel was laying on the floor, knees propped up and bandaged hand resting on his chest as he mouthed lyrics along with the music.
"Teal'c, you better take Carter to bed; she'll wake up a bear if she sleeps all night like that," Jack said as he ambled toward the kitchenette. Tearing his eyes away from Daniel wasn't easy -- his face was so expressive and it was clear he'd liked Jefferson Airplane long before he found the album crate. Jack wet his lips, opening the fridge and leaning into it to try and distract himself from images the beginning drums of White Rabbit brought up: he remembered hot hands and an eager mouth meeting his, how things had developed over the next few songs all those years ago. He was oddly happy that Daniel liked the album, too, even if it took his mind all sorts of places he didn't want to let it go at the moment.
His reverie was interrupted by Daniel clapping his good hand down on the top of the open refrigerator door, "So! I'm not really tired yet. Fire?" Jack stood up with a bottle of water and was about to open it when Daniel plucked it out of his hand and held it to the juncture of his neck and shoulder, grinning, "You read my mind, thanks Jack."
Jack mentally kicked himself for the images flashing into his head, grabbing another bottle for himself and thinking, Good thing you can't read mine...
Teal'c had woken Sam gently and led her, mumbling, past the two of them. Two pairs of dark eyes met and Teal'c's eyebrow raised in a question; Jack's jaw clenched a bit as swallowed and gave a small shrug in reply. Daniel missed the interaction as he held the bottle of water against his chest with a forearm and cracked it open with his other hand. He was chugging the bottle as Jack turned back to him.
"Cripes Danny, don't drown yourself," Jack knee-jerk muttered as he hastily shut the fridge and stalked toward the porch door, determined to focus on... anything else but the comfortably-hazy burn of attraction lapping over him.
As he arranged the logs he'd split earlier in the year into the firepit for optimum burn, he kept kicking himself: You're a grown man, O'Neill. Keep yourself under control, for chrissakes, this isn't the time to--
"Look at this!"
Jack glanced over his shoulder, still crouching and balancing himself on the large stones surrounding the firepit, "Eh?"
Daniel had the half-empty bottle of water tucked under an armpit and was waving a package in the air as he walked over, "Fireworks! It's gotta be past midnight by now... there were some bottle rockets, too, but Sam's sleeping, so..." As Daniel planted himself carefully in a chair opposite Jack's position, the older man bowed his head over the fire, wrestling with the happiness he'd witnessed on Danny's face and the gash of sadness the package of giant sparklers had opened up inside him. He got the fire started in double time, trying not to remember the last person who'd sat across the fire from him, gripping the other package they'd ended up burning through that other July night, years ago.
Daniel turned the package over in his hands, squinting at it as the fire leapt up large enough to illuminate the words and designs there, "Wow, these are old. Must be from, what? Early nineties? Why in the world -- oh! ...Oh."
Jack stood up, silent, stuffing his hands in his pockets. Daniel peered up at him, shoving the sparklers down to hide in his lap. That tight silence reigned for a moment before his voice eked out, strained, "I'm -- I'm sorry, Jack, I didn't mean to..."
Half a grin curled up onto Jack's face as his dark eyes stared past the fire into the dirt, "Nah... It's... it's alright." Jack looked up then, moved around the stone ring, pulling a light blue plastic lighter out of his pocket, "Y'know, Danny, it's good, actually. I think he'd want someone to enjoy them." He dropped himself comfortably into the chair next to the younger man and plucked said fireworks out of his lap, opening the cellophane with his teeth.
Daniel gulped, shifting in his own chair a bit as he saw Jack's pearly white canine clipping into the plastic, lips curling up and away. He took a breath as he noticed Jack's stubble glinting in the firelight, felt his un-bandaged hand twitch as he wondered what it would feel like under the pads of his fingers; he wanted to grab him, pull him into the circle of his empathy... but the archaeologist felt a bit guilty, too, because he didn't just want something as innocent as to empathize. Not if he had Jack that close. And what the hell is wrong with you, thinking such dirty things when you've just been--
The sound of the water bottle thudding through the chair arm and down to the grass brought Jack's eyes up to his, eyebrows questioning. It freed Daniel from his thoughts and he shook his head, pushed his glasses up as Jack now pried at the box with two hands, tugging out a dark-tan stick, "You better finish that bottle of water or Janet'll know and tan my hide."
Daniel bit the inside of his cheek at the mention of Janet. It reminded him of all the other reasons he shouldn't be thinking such intimate thoughts and as he dropped his eyes away from Jack's face, he noticed the steel beads of his dogtag ballchain also glinting in the firelight. Just because I can't be his partner doesn't mean I can't be a good friend, Daniel tried to soothe himself.
The hiss of the first sparkler was followed by a satisfied snort from Jack. The older man held it out to Daniel, saying, "Surprised they still work," as he stood up, walking a few steps toward the lake, "Charlie'd always bring me over here 'cause they're brighter away from the fire."
Daniel watched the spitting sparks, following Jack almost on instinct, "Smart kid."
He almost caught Jack in the back with the lit firework as the other man stopped abruptly near the treeline. He slowly turned to look down at the sparkler too, voice low, "He really was."
Daniel's eyebrows drew together an he studied Jack's face for a split second, lit by the yellow of the firework, and then said, "Where's yours?" Silver eyebrows matched Daniel's in frustration for a moment as a dark look came across Jack's face. Daniel held his novelty up a bit higher as he clarified, "Sparkler. Where's your sparkler?"
Jack huffed a breath out through his nose, shaking his head as a grin lit up the crow's feet around his eyes, "I think he would've liked you, Daniel." ...Where the hell did that come from? Jack thought as he pulled another one out of the box he'd stuffed into his cargo pocket. The smile just got warmer as he held the end of the unlit stick up to the one he'd given the other man. As it caught fire, Jack looked up to see Daniel smiling at him, too: unguarded, quiet. Happy to know Jack thought his son would like him, respectful of his grieving, happy to be near. Trusting. Intimate.
It was a moment before Daniel murmured, "To independence and the all things we fight to protect."
Jack felt someone lift a sandbag off his shoulders as he nodded once, adding, "And all the things we fight to love."
Daniel's smile turned into a mischievous grin, "Like cake?"
Jack snorted and leaned forward a bit, conspiratorially, as Daniel's suddenly playful mood caught, "Don't forget hockey..."
The younger man felt himself mirroring Jack's body unconsciously as his voice dropped, "That's the one with the sticks, right?"
Jack felt his heart speed up a bit as he glanced at Daniel's mouth, then back up to blue eyes dark in the unsteady light; his senses were completely occupied with the possibilities of their proximity, "Yeup. Nets, skates, pucks -- ringing any bells?"
He watched as Daniel's eyelids dropped the smallest bit, saw those perfect lips part just a fraction, saw Daniel's shoulders drop as the younger man began to lean closer... The airman tilted his jaw, just a bit -- then leapt back with a hiss as the inside of his forearm flared with pain.
Daniel jumped too, dropping his sparkler as he teetered back startled, confused, "What--? I --"
Jack peered at Daniel, rubbing his hand over the mild burn, feeling both relieved and disappointed at the same time, "Tryin' to set me on fire, Danny? Jeeze..."
Finally, the world was back on correct axis and Daniel said a bit dumbly, "Oh. ...Oh! Crap, Jack -- here, let me --" He strode hastily back toward the fire, snatched up his water bottle (after shaking his head once more to clear more hormonal haze out) and turned around to beckon Jack over. The older man was already there, though. Sable eyes watched Daniel held the open bottle gingerly in his wounded hand and held Jack's wrist in the other, pouring the water carefully over the sensitive skin already flaring red in the firelight, "Ah, Jack, I'm sorry -- maybe I shouldn't use fireworks even with adult supervision."
Jack gave an amused snort and waved it off with one hand, "Bah, it's fine. Probably a sign we should get some sleep after all."
When the bottle was empty, Daniel stepped close enough to pull his shirt out and pat Jack's arm dry with it, asking, "There's burn cream in the first aid kit, right? We should -- before we go to sleep -- I mean, I don't know how bad it is. Here, let me find the... stuff."
Daniel was already up onto the porch by the time Jack followed, his amusement clearly written on his face as he caught the screen door behind the archaeologist, "I can do it, Danny, it's in the kitchen. You just get your butt upstairs and get some sleep, drunko."
The rooting noise paused for a moment before continuing, "Ah, well, I think I'd, er, like to. Uh. I'm gonna sleep on the couch, if that's alright?"
Jack sidled up next to Daniel, sliding the tin box toward himself and shaking his head, "No way, Daniel. You, guest; me, host. I can change my sheets first if you want, but there's no way I'm gonna let you sleep on the couch."
"No! I mean... no, you don't have to change the sheets. We just got here yesterday, I'm sure they're fine."
Jack glanced over out of the corner of his eye, sizing Daniel up. ...He's just trying to be polite, O'Neill, don't get all excited about nothing. "Well, alright then. But I don't wanna see your face until you've slept another solid 8 hours or more, got it?"
Nodding hastily before pushing his bangs out of his face, Daniel started up the stairs, muttering quietly over his shoulder, "Yes, sir; of course, sir!"
Jack rolled his eyes, rubbing the burn cream over his forearm carefully and pointedly not watching Daniel walk up the few stairs he'd be able to observe from here. As he heard his bedroom door click closed, relief washed over him, hand in hand with exhaustion, and he dragged himself to the door, locked it and was halfway asleep before his head even hit the lump of blankets he'd substituted for a pillow.
The first thing Daniel registered when he woke up was the scent of Jack, all around him. It was faint and mixed with the soft tinge of humid wildlife, but it made his lips curl into the smile he'd become very good at rolling face-down into his pillow (or pack, or whatever they were using for headrests on a long-term mission). He pushed his hands out from under his head in a stretch, grunting as the one wrapped in bandages bumped the headboard, "Ow, what the--?"
Reality, as it had an unfortunate habit of doing to Daniel lately, plowed over him full-force. He rolled onto his back, shoving the green and beige quilt off his body and stared at the patterns of light in the room as he breathed rhythmically, practicing the method of clearing his head he and his favorite therapist once developed. Each breath in, he picked an item in the room and, as he held the breath for three seconds, he noted something physical he noticed about it; then as he breathed out, he let his eyes drift gently to the next thing.
Breath in, the looping grain of the wooden blinds under the bright summer light, breath out; breath in, the dark walnut stain of a somewhat familiar dresser... Oh yeah! Jack had stopped on a dime for it months ago, grinning and saying something about refinishing for the cabin, breath out...
The sudden image of Jack, shirtless, set up next to the small pond near the cabin with the dresser and a paint scraper, shoulders bunching and smoothing as he stripped the garish orange furniture bare -- the grin was firmly back on Daniel's face as he rubbed his eyes and sat up on the edge of the bed. Both Jack and coffee were waiting downstairs and he still had almost a week of vacation to enjoy; No time like the present...
Jack mumbled and shifted on the couch as Daniel made his way down the stairs in a t-shirt and cargo shorts and the brunet indulged himself for a moment as he walked past to the kitchenette to observe short, silver hair standing up at all angles, artificial cowlicks in full force from the bundle of blanket under the older man's head. One arm, stretched out over the arm of the couch, strong forearm dipping to slim wrist giving way to square-tipped fingers, half-way curled toward a callused palm. Daniel glanced at the clock -- 11am-ish -- and decided he'd see if he could get as far as frying bacon before Jack woke.
He'd raided the fridge and just started prying the package open when a snuffle warned that Jack was making his way back to wakefulness. Daniel froze, waited until the other man settled, then went about his business. Just as the bacon started sizzling in earnest, Jack's voice rumbled over, "Did I die and wake up in heaven? Bacon, sunlight and cabin?" He'd assumed it was Sam, unable to sleep due to hangover.
When Daniel replied, "Not unless I died too and this is some sort of purgatorial trial."
Jack sat up as he blurted half-conscious, "You think my cabin is purgatory?"
Daniel burst out laughing, carefully fishing out the first few pieces of bacon with a fork, "Well, there are fewer books than I thought I'd have in heaven, sorry Jack."
The grin on Jack's face just grew wider as he flopped back down on the couch to stretch, hands and feet pointing in opposite directions. He yawned, scratching himself, and muttered, "Figures you'd want to work even after you worked yourself to death."
Daniel shook his head as he laid more bacon in the pan, watching Jack stand up and pad toward him, "You wanna take over the bacon or make coffee?"
Jack's lips twitched in a small, sad smile: his mind was quick to offer a more domestic version of the moment -- one where Jack would walk up behind Daniel, wrap arms around the younger man's waist, bury his stubbly face in the crux of Daniel's shoulder and neck. Instead, Jack turned to grab the coffee beans and grinder, mentally shaking himself. Last night wasn't what it seemed like -- and anyway, what are you, some sort of prowler? Daniel needs time and space and--
"Jack, I can hear you thinking all the way over here. What's on your mind?"
The airman turned to see Daniel, fork in one hand as the younger man leaned on the opposite counter of the stove. His eyebrows were arched, mouth curled just a bit, glasses somehow catching the light and making his eyes shine blue as seaglass.
"I, uh... food. Trying to remember where I stashed all the gravy mix."
Daniel pointed at him with the fork, "Coffee first, gravy later!" Jack didn't glance at Daniel's ass when he turned back to the bacon, nope, no he didn't.
As Jack poured coffee beans into the grinder, his ears perked up -- footsteps on the porch, the rumble of a voice. His nostrils flared imperceptibly as his senses sharpened: So help me if that little puke is-- Teal'c opened the door, held it for Sam, and smiled at his other two teammates, "O'Neill and DanielJackson, you have returned to the country of the conscious."
"That's 'land of the living,' T."
Teal'c grinned but Jack missed it as Sam waved a small magazine under the colonel's nose, "We found eight lady slippers in the bog!"
Jack snatched at the colorful booklet, eyes lighting up, "Really? I knew there were a couple plants last year, but I haven't been out yet this summer to see."
Teal'c took his hat off and hung it on a hook near the door, approaching Daniel, "This state has an official flower referred to as a 'lady slipper' which is in fact what is called an 'orchid' and not, as I first suspected, a woman's house garment."
Daniel stretched his neck to glance at the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer in Jack's hand, "I can see where the confusion came from, Teal'c. I thought you had a vendetta against serial publications, Jack?"
The older man shrugged, "This one's from the DNR. Runs on donations. Lots of pictures, not many words. Perfect."
Sam took over the bacon as Jack finally ran the coffee grinder. Daniel, eyebrow raised with a hunch, flipped through the pages to the back of the magazine, quick eyes scanning the donator thank you section, "Huh. Says here a Homer S. contributed, repeatedly and significantly..." Jack shrugged, pouring the aromatic Highlander Grog grounds into the French Press and flicking on the electric teapot.
By the time the team all had coffee and food, Sam had decided they would gather on the porch to eat, insisting, "I want to listen to the cicadas!"
Sam and Jack sat cross-legged on the porch swing, Teal'c and Daniel settled into the two chairs near a small table and the cicadas were the only ones talking for a long while. Jack was the first to pipe up, food scarfed and coffee half-gone: "So, I was thinking we'd go tubing today; Silver Creek has some nice, open spots for that, and then we'd hop over to town for the fireworks display. Thoughts?"
Sam lit up for the chance at some sun and beers on the creek, Daniel and Teal'c both looked a little puzzled, so Jack went on, gesturing with his hands: "Ah... ha. So, basically, we lounge on huge, inflatable tubes, drink beer and talk shit while floating down a slow-moving river or creek. Tradition in this neck of the woods, you know." Daniel opened his mouth, lifting his wounded hand, but Jack mirrored the motion: "Ah-ah! We'll wrap that sucker in plastic and duct tape, there's no way you're getting outta this Danny-boy."
Always an anthropologist at heart, Daniel shrugged helplessly and grinned, "Could be enlightening, to see what you natives do for fun stranded here in the Midwest."
Jack nodded, drained his coffee and said, "Damn right it will be. Doctor Jackson, you might even -- wait for it -- enjoy yourself." Then Jack was on his feet, grabbing everyone's dishes and giving orders about swimsuits and sunscreen. "And don't forget to double-ice the cooler, Carter!"
She laughed as she and Daniel play-saluted one another in tandem, quipping, "Sir, yes sir!"
Fifteen minutes later, Jack and Daniel were in the cab of Jack's truck while Sam and Teal'c sat in back, one eye on the tubes and the other on the bluffs and forests barreling by through a thin cloud of dust as the four of them bounced down the gravel road toward the in-point. Jack found a country station and settled on blaring Johnny Cash's I Walk The Line, glancing surreptitiously over at Daniel: the younger man was basking in the wind from the open window, hair twisting and lifting around his head, making him laugh and squint. The airman felt his heart stop for a second then glued his eyes back to the road, fingers tapping on the steering wheel in time with the music: What I wouldn't do to keep that look on your face for the rest of your life, Danny-boy.
When they arrived at the in-point, Jack spent a few minutes talking to the driver volunteer for the weekend, Brian, about how half his party'd never been tubing before. The older, stout man laughed, making a good-natured quip about Sam's bikini and the contents of the cooler before agreeing on a pick-up time for Jack and company.
"Alright, kids -- sunscreen and then pick a tube and park your butts in the water!"
Teal'c and Sam shared a bottle of her sport sunscreen -- Sam always had it for riding in the summer -- and Daniel approached Jack with the dark-green bottle of camping/waterproof sunscreen, reading the label, "Hmm... so, this will keep the mosquitoes off, too?"
Jack's heart got to thudding a bit as he realized that he and Daniel were going to have to help one another. Cliches abound... and damn Carter for bringing her own bottle!
Jack pulled his shirt off and turned his back to Daniel, hunching forward a bit to give the younger man easier access, "There shouldn't be that many bugs over the water, it's nice and breezy today. But yeah, it -- AH!" Jack jumped forward, turning on Daniel, who was laughing and shaking the bottle at Jack, who demanded, "Did you throw that in the cooler on the way here?!"
Daniel shrugged, trying to look innocent, "I didn't know if it needed to be refrigerated or not..."
Jack turned back around, muttering, "Says the white kid who grew up in Egypt..."
Daniel squirted a bit more on Jack's back and rubbed it in, trying to keep his mind out of the gutter... Walking the curb next to the gutter isn't so bad, is it? He thought to himself as he felt the texture of Jack's fine body hair under his palms. He pushed his quickly-warming hands down the groove of muscle on the airman's spine, then ended with two soft swatches across the older man's lower back to finish out, "There. Hopefully you won't fry now."
Daniel tugged his t-shirt off, rubbing the sweat off the back of his neck and the middle of his chest after Jack turned around and snatched the bottle out of his hands. Jack's eyes settled on Daniel's hand, clutching the piece of clothing. His eyes followed, held hostage, as the younger man dragged it down from his chest across his stomach to drop at his side. When Jack glanced up, the air between them suddenly felt a hundred degrees hotter, the sun brighter, the bugs louder.
Daniel watched as Jack's sable eyes narrowed just a bit, bordering on sultry of all things... There's no way he's -- that -- but could he? ...I mean, this is Jack we're talking about here. Right?
Jack couldn't help but notice how Daniel's lips fell open, just a bit, just like the night before; how his shoulders dropped, coiling infinitesimally. He -- could he really? After all this time -- but? ...No, this is Daniel we're talking about here. Right?
When Teal'c announced that he would like the gold colored tube, the spell collapsed on itself and Jack spun Daniel around by one shoulder, muttering about it was bad enough to have a civilian on his team much less a lobster. Daniel's back and shoulders were both still happily tingling by the time they all waded into the water and scrambled into the tubes.
As Jack lashed all of the tubes together with room to float apart but not away, Sam pulled out a beer for each of them, cracking the last open for Jack just as he finished and laid back, "Here's to you, sir -- your cabin, this week and everything you've done for us in general."
Jack's blush was subtle and washed out but the direct sunlight, but he smiled and nodded, "Well thank you, Carter. It's about time you all listened to me for once and came up here to paradise."
About fifteen minutes later, the four of them floated up on a huge conglomeration of tubes, the outer side of which consisted of half a dozen kids, singing the chorus of some strange pop song over and over, splashing one another in-between. Their laughter brought a small smile to Jack's face and he raised a beer to the parents, wishing them a happy fourth. Sam was watching the kids, too, but it was Daniel who spoke first, "You know them?"
Jack finished his can of beer, motioning to Carter for another, "Yeah, Craig and Laurie. They have the cabin down the road a few miles; they always bring up their nieces and nephews for a couple weeks in the summer."
Sam traded Jack his empty can for a full one, dropped the empty back in the cooler and said, "You know, I wonder sometimes what it's like to have kids."
Daniel and Teal'c both looked at her, Jack's gaze following. She flushed a little, then shrugged and grabbed another beer, "I've never really wanted any of my own, even before we were going offworld all the time. I think it'd be nice to have nieces and nephews close though."
Jack nodded, feeling a warm glow about his son in place of the years-long ache: "They're a handful like you've never had, but... well, for me, Charlie always represented the best parts of Sarah and I. Our DNA, sure, but our personalities, too. And you really don't know what the word 'unconditional' means until you've got a little monster running around."
Daniel laughed at that, and Teal'c nodded, voice warmer than usual, "Rya'c brought the grip of fear to me many and many times more than battle, to be certain."
Jack chuckled, nodding, "Yeah, but then you watch 'em -- see 'em teach themselves how to climb or get into something they're not supposed to have, it's..." Jack blinked hard suddenly, then swallowed, refusing to let the moment fall dark, "It reminds you how goddamn smart they really are. How much smarter they're getting by the day."
Daniel nodded, staring at his beer can and remembering the night before with Jack and the sparklers. Sam reached a foot out and nudged Jack's knee, "Did you hear that Cassandra got engaged recently? She told me that she was going to break down your door if she had to so she could tell you in person."
Jack's face lit up and he nodded, "She almost did, too, crazy little whirlwind. Asked me to walk her down the isle, actually."
All three of them could hear the pride in Jack's voice, even if he didn't intend to let it creep in, and from that moment, the conversation relaxed back into familiar territory. They talked about Sam's motorcycle, Daniel's abysmal swimming skills ("And yet, you bully me into going tubing!" "Bully? Bully?! Anyway, the water's only five feet deep for crying out loud!"), Teal'c's burgeoning candle-making ("Must save ya a pretty penny, huh T?"), Jack's record collection ("I'm sure the Smithsonian would be interested in a few of those; it's rare that dinosaurs collect vinyl, you know...") and, sometimes, nothing at all.
By the time they hit the out-point, the team was glowing with sun just this side of burnt and pleasantly buzzed. Well, except for Jack, who laid off the beer halfway through knowing he'd need to drive them back to the cabin after they got dropped at the truck. Both Sam and Teal'c made it out of the water with little drama, but Daniel managed to flip his tube and damn near lose his glasses in the sugar-sand at the bottom of the creek.
With the help of a few kids from Jack's neighbor's group, they found the archaeologist's glasses -- and a few interesting rocks, which Daniel turned over to the delighted little girl as a reward.
Sam and Daniel took the back of the truck on the way back, Sam unwrapping the plastic and tape only to praise Jack and his skills -- there wasn't a drop of creek water on Daniel's bandages. Daniel smiled brightly at Sam and hugged her, thanking her for her support as well as pointing out how quickly her hair was drying in the wind of the truckbed. She shoved him playfully and made a face at his own quickly-forming rat's nest.
The four of them were watered, showered and changed in the space of an hour, just as the sun was starting to descend behind the bluffs in the distance, and Jack ushered them right back into the truck, crowing: "The casino's gonna have an awesome buffet tonight and I'm starving. I wanna get there so we have some time to stuff our faces before things start exploding!"
Teal'c and Sam took the back again, her golden hair tucked into a bandana that matched Teal'c's. The Jaffa watched as the sky began to turn colors and fade darker and cooler, arm resting around Sam's shoulders. Jack was relaxed, too, sunglasses tucked into his shirt and stomach growling in anticipation of steak, but Daniel was a different story.
As they neared town, his cellphone started beeping and vibrating incessantly as messages waiting at the tower finally got channeled through to his inbox. Jack glanced over just long enough to see Daniel's face freeze and go a bit pale at the first few texts. He had a feeling he knew exactly who all the messages were from and it made his ribcage swell with anger that he could visibly see the confidence and happiness of the day deflating out of Daniel like someone'd stuck a needle in him. Making a quick decision, the airman barked, "Give me that."
Daniel moved to hand it to him automatically, dazed by the sudden unhappiness and fear the text messages had prodded awake. Jack snatched the phone, glanced down and saw everything he needed to see with the first few messages stacked on Daniel's homescreen:
i cant fucking believe your ignoring me after that
daniel unless you talk to me ill have him put away
im not fuckin around here!!!!
He flicked his wrist and neatly chucked Daniel's phone right out the window. It bounced down into a small creek passing by the road and Jack nodded, then rested his arm back on door, fingertips pressing against the warm steel of the truck as he tried to get his anger to subside.
"...Jack! I -- did you just?! -- I -- My--!"
Jack just shrugged a bit, keeping his eyes directly on the road; his voice was low and steady, unconcerned: "I'll buy you a new one when we get home."
Daniel sputtered a bit, holding his aching, cut-up hand with his other one to keep them both from shaking as noticeably, "That's not -- I mean, I should --"
Jack took the wheel with his left hand, reached his right out without taking his eyes off the road and planted it gently over Daniel's wringing hands, speaking quietly but consistently: "Danny, you don't need to say a damn thing to that waste of space. Tonight, all you need to do is focus on yourself, the team and having a good time. Tonight's about you, SG1, Sam, Teal'c -- tonight, you're ours, okay?"
Daniel swallowed hard, trying to still his hands while feeling how warm Jack's palm was against his knuckles. His voice came out thin and shaky, "I didn't mean for him to -- to make such a mess of... I mean, I didn't know his son -- that he had -- fuck, I'm so, so sorry... And so... just--"
Jack burrowed with his hand carefully, fished Daniel's good hand out from the pile and interlaced their fingers, "You're so what? Human? Trusting? Patient? Those aren't bad qualities, he was just a bad guy who didn't deserve those things from you."
Jack remember having this talk, or something like it, with a good many of his fellow Special Ops soldiers -- "The things they order us to do are vicious, dark, not always what we want to live with -- but that doesn't mean we're all those things." This time, it meant so much more to him, and he went a step further, a step more intimate: "Tonight, Danny, don't worry about being anything but nerdy, observant and here, okay? We all understand PTSD, we all care. You're on our team, my team; when you're near me, you're safe. Understood?"
Daniel looked up for a moment, searching Jack's expression in profile, which he found to be warm, non-condescending and even more than a little protective. The younger man finally squeezed his hand back, imperceptibly, and nodded, looking out the window on his side as Jack squeezed once more then let go. Daniel, against all odds, found it easy to smile.
Daniel was at a loss as he handed his driver's licence over to the uniformed girl at the entrance to the casino floor, "I -- I mean, in Minnesota, it's 21, right?"
Jack laughed, leaning on the podium with one elbow and grinning a little smugly, "Lisa here takes her job very seriously, Danny. Can't just let any snot-nosed kid waltz in here, right, Lis?"
The girl read Daniel's birth date and blushed a bit, looking up at him with shining eyes. "Uh, well, you're -- yeah, that's -- happy early birthday!" She blurted as she handed the little plastic card back. She asked for Sam's next, responding to the blonde's warm, understanding smile with a giggle.
Daniel stammered a thank you as he stuffed his wallet back into his back pocket, having to switch hands after automatically trying to use his wounded one. The flush on the girl's face didn't fade as the four of them walked past her into the chaotically-lit area. Jack turned and caught Lisa staring at Daniel's back with a nervous grin on her face. She jumped a little when she saw she'd been caught but Jack just nodded, mouthing, "Right?!" playfully at her -- to which she responded by laughing. Jack smiled as he turned back around to follow his group, glad that she'd noticeably relaxed.
"This location is quite intriguing, O'Neill. On Chulak, gambling was done using dice and playing cards; these machines are..."
"Loud? Flashy? Exciting? Complete and utter overkill? Yeup. The buffet doesn't open for another half-hour so I figured we'd take a little spin around to place. Oh, and these?" Jack snagged a bright blue drink off a floorgirl's tray, exchanging playful smiles with her as she walked away, "These are free, so drink up!"
He handed the drink to Sam, who handed it off to Daniel, wrinkling her nose and asking, "Is whiskey an option?"
Jack laughed and gestured over toward the card tables, "You still as good at Texas Hold'em as last Christmas when you ruined me at the base party?" The brightness of Sam's smile was on par with the multiplicity of LED bulbs rioting around them.
Twenty minutes later, the group was at the buffet and Jack was heckling Daniel about paying for dinner. "Now that you've climbed the financial ladder into new money and all..."
Daniel grinned as he tried to decide which mussels he wanted from the steaming tray in front of them, "Two hundred dollars hardly constitutes a fortune, Jack."
Jack reached over, snagging a couple crab legs and grunting, "Since when were you so good at cards, anyway?"
The brunet shrugged, zeroing in on the pieces he wanted and transferring them to his plate, "There's a lot of time to kill on digs and strip poker makes a lot of sense in the middle of the desert."
Jack swallowed, shaking his head, "Just full of surprises, aren't we?"
The younger man glanced at him sideways, moving further down the line to some tender-looking sliced fruit, "A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; that's me."
"Churchill, eh? Ever hear the one he said to some lady MP who accused him of being a lush?"
Daniel laughed, pleased that Jack shot him back another reference, "Don't try to distract me, Colonel O'Neill. My newly-attained WASP status still demands you replace my cellular device post haste."
Jack bumped his tray 'accidentally' against Daniel's on the running rack, trying to think of something to say to keep them out of such painful territory but Daniel beat him to it, pausing and turning slightly to look right into Jack's eyes: "Thanks for that, by the way." He let his gaze drop down to the sliced watermelon their trays were parked in front of: "Seriously. Quick thinking and impudence really suit you."
Jack's scalp tingled at the the compliment and he still couldn't grasp something witty to reply with... You're losing your touch, old man! so he shrugged instead: "Assholes are assholes the galaxy over. Don't worry about it."
"T, I'm pretty sure you just ate an entire catch of shrimp, buddy..."
"They are most delicious," Teal'c nodded, rubbing his stomach in an unconscious reply to seeing Sam do it a few moments before. He felt the scar along his stomach but Sam caught his eyes starting to look far away and bumped her knee into his, smiling when he titled his head to gaze at her. She blushed and smiled, pleased as Teal'c dropped the hand down and over to rest just above her knee.
Jack missed the interaction, drinking the rest of his soda, but Daniel smiled and looked down at his plate. The older man stood up, clicking his glass down onto the table when he heard the first boom of fireworks, "Alright, let's go! They're already starting!"
As the team walked through the parking lot, people here and there called greetings out to Jack who waved back, face bright and expressive. Daniel kept having to glance away as his heart swelled -- and promptly walked into Jack when they reached the truck.
"Whoa, whoa Danny, calm down! There's blankets enough for all!"
Sam threw a blanket across the hood of the truck, laughing as Teal'c boosted her up a little too enthusiastically. Jack glanced over at her, a slightly suspicious look on his face, eyebrows raised as he gestured to the bed of the truck: We're not sitting all together?
Sam's eyebrow arched, very Teal'c-esque, as she nodded toward Daniel, then to the bed of the truck, eyes ending up back on Jack. Jack blinked, head jerking a little bit as he dropped the blanket he'd been about to spread over the hard-rubber coating. ...Cripes, have I really been that obvious? Sable eyes glanced back up at her to plead but only found Teal'c, gazing at him as Sam whispered in his ear. Teal'c's barely perceptible head-tilt and eyebrow-quirk made Jack -- much to his displeasure -- blush like a goddamn teenager. He made a face and leaned down to grab the blanket, turning away from the sneaky little bastards to spread the blanket out.
As the material fell into place from where he'd forced it into the air, it revealed Daniel standing at the end of the truck with one hand resting on the locked tailgate, face upturned into the sporadic light. His glasses obscured his eyes, just a little bit, but Jack noticed the small smile that wavered in and out of existence every time another shell bloomed in the sky. He stepped forward, opening the tailgate and leaning down to offer Daniel a hand, "Doctor Daniel Jackson?"
Daniel started as his hand dropped off the truck, eyebrows raised and lips slightly open with confusion as the title called him back out of his thoughts, "Huh?"
Jack wiggled his fingers, nodding to the blanket: "You have been cleared to board." The younger man reached out with his good hand, laughing, and neither of them had time to be nervous about proximity as they settled up against the back of the cab. When they stopped moving, one of Daniel's Indian-style-crossed thighs was tucked into the empty space underneath Jack's propped knees. The airman glanced surreptitiously over at Daniel, relaxing when he realized he didn't need to be sneaky -- Daniel was back to staring at the display, his head at just the perfect angle to make his glasses reflect the red and blue embers cartwheeling through open air without hiding the shape of his eyes.
Jack let himself observe the man who'd popped out of civilian academia and landed himself smack-dab in the middle of his world. He knew the other man had been through his own gauntlet of trauma, and somehow managed to only grow more resilient with damage... Jack'd always relied on outward stoicism and distraction to keep him going when things started getting too heavy. It'd pissed him off to no end in the beginning when Daniel tried again and again to drag him into conversations -- but with time, Jack found himself opening up to the persistent little bastard. Trusting him, even. And falling in love with him, don't forget that little number.
Jack let himself smile a little and finally turned his attention up to the sky, resting his forearms on his knees and loosely clasping his hands together. Daniel felt his attention move away and took his turn examining the older man: shadow of stubble, lanky, relaxed but always a millisecond away from full-bore action and razor-edge attention. Daniel spent so much of his life feeling out of his element that it was a complete mystery to him how comfortable Jack was in his skin, in any situation. Strong, competent, more than a little bit crafty. He'd known early on that Jack played dumb when it suited him; it'd pissed Daniel off to no end, but eventually he learned to jab back, slip comments in that showed he clearly understood and thought the whole thing was a silly front for such an intelligent person.
He was thinking about how good it felt to have even part of his body tucked in close to Jack's when the finale started, lighting the parking lot up almost as bright as mid-afternoon. He couldn't help it -- he whooped up at the sky, feeling so alive he couldn't contain it. A few kids down the row screeched in answer and it wasn't long before almost the entire parking lot was hooting and clapping and whistling. Daniel'd never remembered feeling so connected to the human race as he did just then -- sure, he was a humanist, always pushing for education, compassion and thought, but for once, he felt folded into that category; like he finally found his home, like he really belonged right where he was.
Kansas always sucked anyway, he thought giddily, leaning a little bit closer to Jack.
"Carter, what exactly do you think you're doing?" Jack asked, a hint of anxiety peeking through his voice. Sam smirked at her commanding officer, leaning over the side of the truck toward the open driver's side door, and closed said door without a word. Jack cursed a bit and scrambled back into the truck bed where he opened the back cab window with no little difficulty -- it'd been a while since he'd had to -- and stuck his head as far as in as he could manage, "Carter..."
"That sounded more like whining than a threat, sir."
Jack sputtered, "What?!"
"It's not like you to be so... wimpy."
"I have never known Daniel Jackson to bite, this is true."
"You--! You two! Unbelievable...!"
Teal'c merely gazed at Jack, saying quietly enough Daniel wouldn't hear through the glass over the sound of cars starting up and heading out around them: "It appears Samantha Carter and I must assist you by jarring the vessel."
Jack gaped, turned his head toward Sam, mouth moving as he grasped for words. She reached up and -- ...The hell?! -- patted the top of his head with a gentle hand, letting it sit in place as she said quietly, "I agree. That's why I'm driving us back."
Jack sputtered more, all kinds of negative emotions and glaring troubles creeping up on him as he tried to gain his feet again from the rug of No One Really Knows being yanked out from under his feet for umpteenth time, "Do you even know the way --"
"Yep." A small nod.
"Are you sure? It's different at --"
"Trust me, I memorized it." Cheeky grin starting to bloom.
"Only one attempt at stalling? Wow, you've got it bad, Jack." A bigger flash of a grin, blue eyes shining.
Jack kept grasping for words but language was failing him in a most inconvenient way -- and Carter was still touching his head, patting it once or twice every time she answered a question.
"So, you're saying you -- I mean, that's not to say I -- but with the Air Fmphm --"
Sam brought her other hand up and sandwiched his face between her palms, pretending to look serious for a moment, then cracking a huge smile as Jack huffed an offended breath against her skin. She dragged her hands off his head, mushing his face out of order like (Charlie) kids always used to do to him.
"Jack." The tone of her voice was very stern and more than a little exasperated. Sheesh, you'd think I'd kicked a shoebox full of puppies or something! "I'm not asking, and the only thing I have to tell is that you better get your ass back there and go for it."
Jack was about to blurt something at Sam (he couldn't decide between a curse or a roundabout thank you) but Daniel, who hadn't heard a damn thing because he was too busy watching all the teenagers play Roman Candle Tag, tugged on Jack's belt slightly, "What's going on? Everything okay up there?"
Jack popped out of the window doublequick, hitting the back of his head then flumping down on his butt, "Fine! Everything's --! Fine. We're good." The colonel flicked his gaze to the rear view mirror as he smoothed silver hair down over the sore spot on the back of his head. Sam was watching him, that grin on her face she always got when she cracked some problem or puzzle they'd been working on for hours. He made a face at her, his characteristic eye-narrow and chin-tilt, and she stuck her tongue out at him for a moment before pulling out of the parking spot. Jack blinked, then shook his head. Brilliant astrophysicist. Amateur matchmaker. Cheeky little snot.
Daniel was moving to kneel in front of Jack and asking about the older man's head when Sam pulled away from their parking spot. He let himself fall down onto his knees, keeping his balance by putting a hand out above Jack's knee to catch himself, "Hah-! Jeeze..." Heat was not racing up Jack's leg, shooting past his hips and groin to jump-start his heart; no, nope. Not at all. "Are you okay? I can't believe you let Sam drive your truck." As Daniel sat back and settled in across from him, a comfortable smile on his face, Jack felt the head pain trickle away, the sparks the pain and unexpected contact had deposited in its wake seeming to expand when Daniel's smile hit him full-force, "I'm guessing 'let' isn't the operative word."
"Yeah, pretty much."
As Daniel laughed, the colonel shuffled the blanket around until it was more or less back in place. Daniel tried to push his hair out of his eyes a few times as they exited the paved road and started down the gravel road looped between lazy, loping fields of knee-high corn, then gave up as he noticed how deep and wide the sky seemed to open up without the light pollution, however small, of the town.
Daniel was smiling again, that dreamy, optimistic look that had been absent far too often for Jack's liking these days, and the older man acted before his safeguards could interfere: he reached out, smoothing Daniel's hair away from his face with one hand and producing a clean light-blue handkerchief from his side pocket, "Here -- for your -- " As soon as Jack almost said the word 'hair' out loud, he realized he was still damn near cradling the younger man's head and snatched his hand back.
Daniel, who'd been enjoying the clean, surprisingly cool wind tugging his hair around his face and ears in stark juxtaposition with the heat and roughness of Jack's hand, wet his lips as he tried to ground himself. "Uh... thanks. Good idea." That was... that was totally flirting, right?
"Eh... no worries. Force of habit." That was... that was close. Back off, Jack; you ass.
Jack waited until the bandanna was in place (Damn, that thing sets his eyes off like this in the dark; gotta see what it does in the day) then grabbed Daniel by the upper arm to manhandle him down until he was lying face-up on the truck bed. The younger man's heart leapt directly into his throat and he adjusted his glasses in a fidget. Jack was next to him, silhouette taking up part of the star field; he noticed the blinking trajectory of a satellite and wished on it as per he and one of his best friend's speculation of the merits of wishing on something that would last forever versus something that burned itself out in a relative instant. He's going -- oh god, no way, this is--! Yes! He began to lift his hands, anticipating the meeting of their mouths, intending to hold onto the older man until he tapped out.
Jack leaned right over him and grabbed a rolled up blanket, scooped Daniel's head up with a matter-of-fact hand and shoved the makeshift pillow under it. The airman dropped his head onto it and moved away quickly, saying, "Here -- these gravel roads are bumpy. Okay! So, now we just --"
Daniel let his hands drop to rest on his own body as Jack moved away from him to grab another blanket roll before lying down next to the younger man, also staring up. As Jack started to explain the merits of watching the sky move slowly above you while lounging in the back of a pickup truck in a late Minnesotan summer night, the archaeologist's hands tightened on his own shirt a bit, one above his solar plexus, the other at his stomach.
Jack had a hunch that Daniel was somewhere far off and went on a tangent to test the younger man: "...and, if those reasons aren't enough for ya, if you hold your breath for fifteen seconds, hot, naked man-angels will descend upon us, filling this truck bed with jello and, if we win the match, they bake us cupcakes forever and ever, amen."
When Daniel didn't respond, Jack turned his head to look over, suspicions confirmed: he was watching something in the sky, intently, that much was clear -- Jack just couldn't tell what it was.
He propped himself up a bit using his elbows behind him and said, a little louder, "What'cha looking at, Danny-boy?"
Daniel moved his hands up, unconsciously trailing those long, precise fingers up his torso before folding them behind his head. He didn't blink, didn't turn to look at Jack, couldn't fathom what to say. Damn it, I'm going to have to make the first move here, I just know it. But there's so much risk involved... and his career, I mean, he's worked his whole life to... but his face. That look on his face! ...He's probably trying to be considerate, maybe; the whole not-taking-advantage-of-people-in-need thing--
"Danny?" An eyebrow raised. "Earth to Doctor Jackson, come in Doctor Jackson!"
"Why now?" Daniel said, snapping at that other man. "Why choose now to be so goddamn... polite? Irreverence is your middle name!"
Jack barely caught anything but Daniel's tone, and so readjusted his arms and body until he was laying on his side, head propped on a hand and elbow propped, "Say again?"
Daniel brought his elbows up to block his face from Jack for a moment, pressing the insides of his forearms against his temples while he took a deep breath, eyes still stuck on the satellite. His voice was a little louder and more than a little frustrated. His question came off short, cold: "Are you walking on eggshells or just completely and utterly oblivious of your behavior?"
Jack's eyebrows drew together at Daniel's angry, becoming-more-distant-by-the-word voice and the colonel snagged one of the younger man's elbows, trying to push it down so he could observe the congruent expression. Daniel shook his hand off, rolling to the side a bit in a move to sit up, but Jack was quicker and the younger man grunted as Jack grabbed him.
"Hey, what's gotten into you all of a sudden?" Jack demanded, rolling Daniel back onto the truck bed, firm hands gentle but still controlling. Blue eyes flicked up at him, then a sigh, stubborn head shake. Daniel mumbled something that Jack couldn't hear -- Dammit, am I really getting that old?! -- so the airman leaned closer, half imploring, half ordering: "Danny, I can't hear you. For cryin' out loud, speak u-umph!"
Jack never had patience for people who thanked whatever powers-that-be when things went well. He'd heard so many trite comments about God 'taking Charlie home' that he'd slipped into his colonel bark, right in the middle of the wake, snapping: "If god doesn't have to take responsibility for this shit, then he doesn't get to run around smelling like roses, either." He'd known, in his logical mind, that people were just attempting consolation in the way that made most sense to them, but he hadn't slept in days, a tinderbox waiting to ignite. Sarah made him apologize on the spot, showing the first real hairline crack of her faith in Jack to be supportive.
Years and veritable lifetimes later, in the back of his truck, the sheer cosmic coincidence of that massive pothole in a shitty, barely-maintained country road became a story he shared more times than he could count over the course of the rest of his life. Daniel was downright huffy by the time Jack had him pinned, and was about to give the colonel a piece of his mind (but not cry, oh no, he definitely didn't feel frustrated tears coming on at the seemingly mixed signals...) when the world lurched and shifted, throwing their lips together for the barest of moments.
Bullet time was one of Jack's all-time favorite parts of the Matrix but he'd never felt it in motion before that moment just after: When their eyes met, both of their mouths tingling, demanding more, Jack swore he could feel every blood cell tumbling against the walls of his capillaries. Daniel's hands slipped from behind his own head, reaching for Jack, as the younger man felt an emotional and physical thrill crash through him. It was the full-size version of a sensation he'd only ever felt in infinitesimal increments on digs and circumvented crisis, cracking open an undiscovered tomb, successfully communicating with an alien culture, discovering sentient life...
The moment crescendoed and they finally kissed, purposefully, hands tugging at one another's heads to delve further and wider, their mouths a fulcrum between years of imaginative longing and the indomitable force of the present moment.
Jack didn't hear Daniel's moan so much as he felt it against his tongue, hands roaming up from the back of Daniel's neck to burrow into his hair and knocking the bandanna off. The younger man rose closer, bad hand pressing against the back of Jack's head while the other knotted itself into a fist, trapping part of Jack's shirt. Another pothole broke their kiss but bounced them closer; bodies much obliged to be remembered pressed close to one another as Jack tugged Daniel's head to the side, angling his mouth for easier exploration.
Daniel let his hands wander down, pushing, observing with his fingertips: muscles cradling that stubborn spine, shoulder blades shifting as Jack pulled him closer. He found the waistband of Jack's shorts and clutched onto the belt loops there as the truck jumped again and Jack decided to kiss across his face, huff a slightly-out-of-breath pant against the underside of his jaw and whispered in his ear: "Danny."
Daniel swallowed hard, tingles cascading over his shoulders from Jack's hands in his hair, "Uuh?"
"Danny." The airman emphasized each syllable by pressing his body closer, gripping a little tighter.
The younger man felt Jack's smile along his stubble; still felt it when their mouths met again, Jack intoning, "Just wanted to hear you say my name; sounds good." Smug bastard... "Sounds damn good." ...smug, insufferable and incredibly sexy bastard!
Daniel groaned, pulling hard on Jack's belt loops as he writhed against him for a moment, voice low and airy at the same time, "Jack, Colonel O'Neill, Jack O'Neill with two Ls... If you don't shut up and get back to the task at hand, I swear --"
The appreciative hum as he followed Daniel's made Jack's erection twitch, trapped against the younger man's thigh; the answering twitch against his own thigh made Jack's throat answer spontaneously. His mind was hurtling through space, but his body, as per his training and, beneath that, his very nature, was still aware enough of their surroundings to tug Daniel down quickly, shoving his head against his chest as he curled protectively in a split second around the younger man. He was silent as his back slammed into the the cab -- Carter'd stood on the breaks like nobody's business.
"This had better be good," he growled as the truck lurched all the way to a stop. He let Daniel go and sat up, peering over the edge of the still-open window and into the cab, snapping, "Carter? Care to enlighten me?"
"Sir... your... the yard. Look!"
Jack crawled up into a crouch so he could look over the cab of the truck and a muscle in his jaw twitched as he immediately scanned the area for a car or person out of place. Not spotting anything suspicious other than his stuff absolutely everywhere -- lamps smashed on the porch, blinds lolling out broken windows, blankets half-thrown in the water over the edge of the 'dock' on the itty bitty pond right next to the cabin.
"You've got be fucking kidding me..." Jack jumped to the ground, landing like a hardass before stalking angrily over toward the low-smoldering fire pit.
Teal'c and Sam helped Daniel down before the three of them strode over to the colonel who was again still as a statue in his yard, staring into the fire: Half-burnt vinyl, corners of photos from the shoebox under his bed... He was seeing red, even in the black of night and Daniel was the first to break the quiet, "...Robin. It... it had to be him. Jack, I --"
Jack put his hand up, flat eyes turning up toward Daniel who shivered. Jack's face softened a bit as he reached out to squeeze Daniel's shoulder, "Don't. None of this is your fault, Daniel." Jack looked over at Teal'c who was seething almost as hard as he was, and asked, "You still have the camera, right?"
Teal'c pulled the device out of his pocket, nodding, "It was wise of us to take it to the explosives display, O'Neill."
Sam looked between the two of them, eyebrows raised, "You thought this might happen." A statement.
Jack shrugged, ruffled his hair off the back of his neck and said, "Yeah. Wasn't totally sure, but it’s better safe than sorry. Let's get some pictures of this shitshow and pack up. I wanna be at a hotel before dawn."
Sam nodded and grabbed a flashlight to help light Teal'c's way as best as she could. Jack nudged one edge of a half-charred record cover with his foot, making a rude noise with his mouth. Daniel let out a shocked huff of breath, turning to Jack, his face knit with guilt and disbelief at the carnage.
Jack crouched down to fiddle with the cardboard he'd been toeing; from beneath it, he tugged a half-way intact photo of he and Charlie. He was dark-haired still, crouched down, cigarette in hand touching to the edge of an un-lit sparkler while Charlie held the other one aloft, a hilariously eager look on his little face. Jack snorted and stood, turning to hold the photo out to Daniel, "He tried to burn all my arm hair off, too -- almost immediately after Sarah took this."
Daniel, lost for words, reached out and took the photo, turning his eyes down to look at it for a moment before he heard Jack dig in the cooler for a beer. He held the photo out, trying to return it, but Jack just flicked his bottle cap into the fire and leaned back on the picnic table, taking a drink after saying, "Nah, you keep it."
The younger man sat down next to Jack, worry etched into his body language, demanding, "What... why aren't you angry right now? Are you in shock? I mean--"
Daniel paused as Jack leaned forward quickly, twisting and bringing his free hand around to gently catch the brunet's head. He kissed him, gently, open-mouthed but not demanding, then patted the side of his head before relaxing back into place, "No one got hurt. Stuff is...” He gestured vaguely, “Just stuff. It's not like I can't make new memories."
Daniel licked his lips, then forced himself to focus: "But -- he just ransacked your cabin!"
Jack shrugged, carefully tilted his beer bottle for a lengthy swallow, then brought a hand up to wipe his mouth, which he then gestured up and out with, "Well, cest la crazy exes. It happens. Getting pissed just gives them the satisfaction, Danny boy. Anyway, right now--" Jack put his beer down, opened another one and handed it to Daniel without asking, then stood up with two more bottles in hand for Sam and Teal'c. "Just worry about suitcases. Pack 'em if you've got 'em and let's go so we can find a hotel with a hot tub before I get too tired to soak in it like a goddamn geezer."
THANK YOU FOR STILL READING. T^T
I... would apologize for being MIA for so long (again), but actions speak louder than words so I'll just do my damdnest make it up to you lovely folks~! <3
When they walked up to the front desk of the hotel connected to the casino, the night manager greeted Jack with a big smile and wave, quipping, "Just can't get enough gamblin', eh Jack?"
Jack gave a somewhat distracted smile and shrugged, "Well, I'm actually here for a room -- I know it's tourist season, but I thought I might get lucky? Ah, the hot tub sounds damn good, too, I gotta say; any way we could sneak in there?"
Sheryl brushed her dark braid over one shoulder, peering at them all -- and a blush came over her face when she saw Sam. Her eyes flicked down to Teal'c's arm around the pretty blonde's waist; she cleared her throat and said, "Of course, Jack; just keep it quiet. The first complaint I get, I gotta kick you out. Got it?"
He smiled at her flustered pretend-gruff and promised they'd behave. He was more than a bit surprised when the middle-aged woman handed over two room keys; he raised his eyebrows at her and she shrugged, "We had a family call and say they couldn't show but didn't want their money back." She crossed her arms and stared him in the face, daring him to argue... but Jack graciously bowed and gave her a small salute before leading them team back toward the rooms.
Passed on a poolside room, my ass... Jack shook his head, making a metal note to get back at her somehow -- he knew she was raising her niece, there had to be something he could do to help. Daniel interrupted his thoughts by clearing his throat and asking, "So, you know everyone up here, huh?"
Jack shrugged a bit, "Cabin's been in the family for a while; Sheryl and I used to fish together when we were kids."
"Did she ever catch anything, sir?" Sam smarmed, to which Jack replied by tossing her the key for the upstairs room and making a face.
"We're in P13, let's meet for brunch around noon," he said, herding Daniel around the corner toward their room and pointedly ignoring Sam's knowing snort.
Daniel coughed a bit and pushed his glasses up before crossing his arms while he waited for Jack to unlock the door. Once they both walked in, Jack threw their luggage on the bed nearest the pool and started to dig for swim trunks while Daniel inspected the complimentary coffee pot, unaware his expression made him look a bit crestfallen.
"We'll find some real coffee in the morning, Danny," Jack said dryly a moment later, leaning toward the closed slat curtains on the poolside door and slipping his khakis off to change into swim trunks. Spotting his own trunks laid out on the other side of the bed, Daniel wet his lips as he approached them, unnerved by Jack turning away to change.
He spoke up while he pulled his trunks on, back toward Jack, voice anxious, "Are... are things different now? I mean, on base, in the locker rooms... stuff like that? Or were you turning around because you thought I was nervous? Because I'm not. Well... I mean, not about that, I'm just--"
There was a familiar snort of laughter behind him and before Daniel could turn around, Jack's arms looped his torso loosely, hands curling under the front hem of his t-shirt to help him pull it over his head. The brush of warm fingertips and Jack's low voice behind him made goosebumps break out on Daniel's forearms: "I was just peeking out the blinds to see if anyone else was out there."
Daniel mentally sputtered, not saying anything; Jack put his hands on Daniel's hips and turned him around, slowly, sable eyes staring straight through the other man. They stood like that for a few moments, until Daniel couldn't take it anymore and broke the silence, voice earnest: "What?"
"I think you think too hard, Danny, that's what. Let's go soak in the hot tub."
With that, Jack's hands were gone and he opened half the blinds and the faux patio door before gesturing toward the poolside, "After you, Doctor Jackson." Jack was relieved to see Daniel roll his eyes before he padded out onto the tile, barefoot. No way I'm gonna let you get lost in that head of yours now, nu-uh.
The pool area was shadowed, blueish safety lights at each exit and the glass ceiling the only sources of illumination. Daniel had already turned the bubbler on and was halfway down the steps by the time Jack caught up to him. He grabbed a couple towels from nearby shelves, dropped them next to the railing and then stepped into the water as well, focused on the bubbles tickling the backs of his knees instead of seeing Daniel stare at him.
The younger man watched Jack with hawkeyes, the moment of anxiety shifting away as he drank Jack's movements in -- movements he'd watched surreptitiously a hundred times, then tried his damnedest to ignore hundreds more times. The groan Jack gave when he settled back into the ledge of the hot tub made Daniel unconciously bite his lip -- and that, to Daniel's mild exhasperation, Jack saw. Before Daniel could backpedal himself into oblivion with anxious words, Jack gave him a small grin the likes of Daniel'd never seen before and lifted his stubbled chin a bit, beckoning the younger man over to his side of the hot tub.
Daniel caught the hint of challenge in that look, paired with amusement and -- yes, that was definitely lust. Jack wouldn't have... couldn't have faked a kiss like that, in the back of the pickup... what are you waiting for?! Holding his bandaged hand out over the edge of the steaming water, he made his way toward Jack like he was going to sidle up beside him, but at the last moment moved closer to straddle his hips, sitting gingerly in his lap. As Jack shifted to give him more to perch on, Daniel rested his hands on Jack's now visible shoulders -- and unconsciously squeezed when Jack gripped his hips again to help steady him.
"Hello, Daniel. What brings you to this neck of the whirlpool?" Jack asked, voice quiet but low, joking but gravelly.
Daniel opened his mouth to find words, but found himself leaning down to kiss Jack instead, pinpricks firing all over his body when Jack's tongue swiped at his bottom lip, questioning; Daniel answered by parting his lips and mimicking the question. Jack groaned again, hands moving up Daniel's sides and settling on his ribs to pull him closer, avoiding gripping his bruised hips. When their torsos slid against one another, Daniel shuddered, mumbling against the older man's mouth, "I can't believe this is hap--"
Jack pulled one hand out of the water, gripped the back of Daniel's head and kissed him in earnest, swiping his tongue across the younger man's to stop his sentence. When he pulled back, Daniel looked dazed, pulled his bottom lip through his teeth and said, "This is probably some kind of--"
Jack kissed him again, not irritated in the least that Daniel didn't get his point -- it was a good excuse to keep taking the words right out of his mouth. The younger man leaned into him, deciding that kissing was good, yes, much better than trying to talk himself out of enjoying this. Who knew Jack kissed so well? Dear god...
Minutes passed between them like this, until Daniel broke for a truly deep breath, body lit up while reality continued to shift into place. As he leaned his head and shoulders back in, he canted his hips away so he wouldn't be pressing his erection into Jack's stomach. Well, that won't do... the older man thought, and moved his underwater hand to Daniel's lower back, pulling his body up to him and then holding him in place. Daniel broke the kiss as his hips rolled reflexively, then leaned his head over Jack's shoulder to whisper, "Oh god -- that's -- I'm sorry --"
"For what?" Jack murmured in Daniel's ear, jawline and stubble rasping against the younger man's cheek, "Being nuclear hot?" Daniel's face flushed even more as he quietly cursed and squirmed, knees slipping a bit on the underwater seat. He gripped the dry-ish edge of the hot tub and bit back a small groan of his own when he accidentally pressed himself back and down into Jack's erection.
"Unh, Jack?" The silver haired man grinned, peering at Daniel as he raised an eyebrow to show he was paying attention. Daniel closed his eyes for a moment, trying (and failing) to catch his bearings before he murmured, "Can we -- what if people -- can we go to the room?"
Jack's hushed laughter bounced Daniel slightly and the brunet swallowed hard at the sensation. Jack stood up, making sure Daniel found his feet before letting him go, and grabbed the towels as he stepped up the few short stairs to the poolside. He tossed one towel to Daniel, then scrubbed his face and hair with his while Daniel stood like an idiot, holding his towel in two hands and staring: Jack's trunks, a nice pair with mesh lining, cradled his erection against up against the line of muscle joining thigh and groin, the sopping wet fabric leaving very little to Daniel's hazy imagination. "Holy crap," he huffed and pushed his glasses up again.
When Jack turned a quizzical look at him, then followed Daniel's line of sight, the older man gave a short bark of laughter. He turned as he adjusted himself a bit and then walked toward the sliding glass doors to their room. His face almost ached with the intensity of his grin, hearing Daniel's bare feet padding after him.
As Jack slipped the door open and stepped inside, he snarked to Daniel, "See anything else you liked?"
Daniel slid the door shut with an arm behind himself, then stood there, swimtrunks dripping on the carpet. Jack turned to look at him, towel around his neck: ...Why so quiet all of a sudden? The colonel leaned over to flick on the small bedside lamp, bumping the off-white shade and then steadying as he peered over the bed.
The younger man looked up from the bedspread, twisting the towel between his hands as he clenched his jaw. He didn't speak, but Jack saw his body locking down, muscle by muscle. He pulled the towel from around his neck and walked over to him, speaking lightly, "Hey, you're dripping all over the carpet there, Danny boy. Why don't we just..." He let his voice drop off as he put the towel around Daniel's shoulders and began to gently dry him, rubbing in small circles, not lingering in any one spot too long.
As Jack finished with his torso and crouched down to dry his calves, Daniel let go of the towel with his injured hand to rest it on Jack's shoulder. When Jack glanced up, eyebrows raised; Daniel wasn't aroused anymore and wasn't looking at him either... "Talk to me, Daniel; gimme a clue."
It took a couple swallows, but Daniel finally managed to mutter, "I'm sorry, I feel like an idiot, I just -- one minute I was fine, more than fine... and the next I just... I'm sorry."
When Jack stood up, he took Daniel carefully by the shoulders and made the younger man look him in the face. His eyes were wet behind his glasses and it just about broke Jack's goddamn heart, but he kept his voice amicable and gentle, caring but not simpering: "Listen to me: it's been a loooong couple'a days, Daniel." He moved his hands up to either side of the younger man's jaw, tipping his chip up just a bit, "I'll have you know I wasn't planning on complete debauchery, anyway, so save your apologies for the next time you get your butt in major trouble 'gateside." Jack was smiling by the end, just a little bit, but also holding his breath -- C'mon Danny, it's me, right here; I've got you...
Daniel blinked a few times as Jack's voice grounded him. He scrubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, taking a deep breath, then finally nodded, "You're right. It's been... yeah. Yeah. I'm gonna rinse off quick and then just... take it easy." He walked past Jack a couple steps, paused, then back pedaled, his eyes lighting up a bit, "Did you finally starting using that thesaurus Teal'c gave you for Christmas?"
Jack gave him a baffled look and Daniel's dimples showed up as he quoted: "Debauchery?"
"...Could you at least pretend not to be surprised that I used a word with so many syllables? Thanks so much," the silver-haired man bitched playfully, looping the now-sodden pool towel into a long spiral between two hands in a clear threat of butt-snappery.
"Yeah, that's what I thought, Doctor Smartass!" Jack crowed after the definitely-not-scurrying-away multi-doctorate intellectual disappeared into the bathroom. Jack dropped the towel on the bed and started rooting around his luggage for dry pajama pants while Daniel leaned his back against the inside of the bathroom door, their faces mirrors of one another's giddiness.
Twenty minutes later, Jack was exiting the bathroom towel drying his hair for the second time that night. Sleepy eyed, crashed-hard Daniel lifted his head off the pillow and peered at him from the edge of the comforter, "Jack?"
"Get over here."
Jack walked closer, giving Daniel an amused look he wasn't sure the squinting man could even see, "Like here?"
"...How about here?"
Daniel slipped an arm out of the covers and grabbed Jack's wrist, pulling him down so he could lean up to smooch the older man. Jack leaned further down take the back of Daniel's head in his hands and give him a short kiss, too, to which Daniel responded to by humming and burrowing back into his nest.
"I need to find a vending machine or something; I'll be back in a little bit, alright?"
When he saw the brunet nod against the pillow without opening his eyes, he reached down and turned the bedside lamp off; as Jack walked toward the door, Daniel mumbled, "Jack -- remember to turn the entryway light off before you come to bed, okay?"
Jack's face could've lit up a couple dozen entryways when he heard Daniel's permission to sleep next to him behind the reminder. As he closed the door, he replied, "Don't worry, Danny; I will."