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Jack lay in bed wearing only his boxers, the sling on his right arm, and the brace on his right ankle, eating lime Jell-o left-handed from a large bowl balanced on his chest. For some reason, Daniel found this oddly comforting.

"Uh… Jack?"

Jack tried to direct a particularly large and wiggly spoonful of Jell-o to his mouth. "Yes, dear?"

Daniel rolled his eyes at the epithet. "I'm pretty sure that Janet told you to eat healthy." Daniel leaned against the doorframe, knocking his head back so that his glasses slid closer to his eyes.

"Jell-o. Very low-cal while I'm out of commission." Jack tapped his right arm with the spoon before dropping the spoon into the bowl.

Daniel kicked off his shoes and walked over to the bed. "Remind me to cook you something decent," he muttered. He plopped down on the bed; the spoon in the bowl slid around the curve like a divining rod set on Daniel Jackson.

"What are you doing here? Didn't expect to see you until tomorrow." Jack poked a black bruise under his ribs. The flesh momentarily turned violet as the blood shifted away from the pressure.

Daniel's brow furrowed. "What? Why?"

"We, uh . . ." Jack glanced up. "Didn't exactly part on the best of terms."

Daniel coughed and shifted. That had been several hours ago. He vaguely remembered calling Jack something like a self-righteous, over-protective idiot. Jack seemed to take more offense at being called over-protective than an idiot. Daniel had taken some time to think—Jack wasn't an idiot.


Jack grunted. "Oh," he replied, as though that were an answer.

"Well, I suppose we've parted on better terms." Daniel picked up the bowl and moved it to the bedside table.

"We've parted from Goa'ulds on better terms." Jack scratched under his sling and crossed and uncrossed his legs.

Daniel turned away, making a show of massaging Jack's knee. "Knee's bothering you, huh?"

Jack flinched his knee away. "What gives? Come on, Daniel. No shows here, remember?" Jack reached for Daniel, but, given his limited mobility, couldn't even brush Daniel's thigh with his fingers.

Daniel stood up and paced to the other side of Jack's bed, placing himself on Jack's uninjured side. He lay down and propped his head with his hand. He traced the stitching on Jack's bedspread. Tan stitches arching over the navy blue in little dashes. Daniel took a deep breath before speaking. "I could have taken it, you know."

Jack nodded empathically, seemingly in agreement. "Not going to let you. Ever."

Daniel sat up. "So, what—I just sit back and watch them beat you every time we get captured?"

Jack snorted. "No—"

"Because it sucks, Jack. And I'm sick of it." Daniel wrapped his arms around his knees and ducked his head. Jack took hits for him. Jack backed up Daniel's inexperience in combat situations. Jack looked out for Daniel—too much. This was the last time—this time Daniel meant it.

Daniel tilted his head, barely seeing Jack in his peripheral vision. "I'm compromising you."

"What?" Jack sat up and winced at the sudden movement. He gripped his right shoulder. "Compro—? Where did you get that idea?"

"I opened my eyes." Daniel stretched out his legs and rubbed his temples. "We wouldn't have been captured if I hadn't been—" Daniel waved his hands. "—staring at rocks. And if they hadn't gone after me, you wouldn't have—"

"No." The tone in Jack's voice made Daniel turn sharply. "I do that for all of you—the team—and you know it. Don't." Jack's eyes were hard. Sitting up was obviously painful for him, but he clearly wasn't going to ease himself back down until they'd had this out. Daniel knew it—he also knew that Jack expected to win. Daniel wanted Jack to win. He didn't want to do what he knew he had to do.

"Jack," Daniel whispered. He reached over and touched Jack's bare thigh. The hair tickled his palm, so he pressed down more firmly, feeling the taut muscle twitch beneath the white flesh. He stroked Jack's thigh, making his strokes long and languid until his fingers were ghosting up the leg of Jack's boxers, then his whole hand disappeared beneath the fabric.

Daniel leaned over and kissed the thigh. He licked it, very gently—almost reverently. Up Jack's boxers, Daniel's fingers found his abdomen and barely touched the skin, avoiding Jack's penis. Jack inhaled, his breath hissing through his teeth—obviously torn between enjoying this and finishing their conversation. What Jack seemed to not understand was that they were both the same thing.

Daniel couldn't make this last long enough.

"You're not—" Jack's voice actually choked off.

Daniel unbuttoned his shirt and stood to take off his jeans, socks, and underwear. He laid his clothes and his glasses on the chair by the window. Jack's cock was taking an interest even though his lips tugged into a frown. Daniel refused to meet his eyes.

Daniel slipped his fingers beneath Jack's waistband and slid the boxers down. Daniel tugged and then Jack lifted his hips, allowing Daniel to strip him entirely. Daniel gently lifted Jack's injured leg, spreading Jack open. He kissed the injured ankle; he didn't want this to ever happen again. Somewhere in the back of Daniel's mind he understood that as long as Jack was part of SG-1, he'd get injured sometimes, but Jack should never again be injured because of Daniel. Daniel couldn't control the rest of the world, but he could control his involvement with Jack.

If he wanted to Daniel could control Jack.

Daniel gave himself over to the passion that normally embraced his nights with Jack—hot, unbridled, mind-curdling passion that lived in the dark places Daniel hadn't even known were within him. He licked and kissed and bit his way up Jack's leg, stopping at every place he knew would push Jack just a bit closer to the edge. He knew them all.

Daniel ran his hand up Jack's left leg, taking stock of every gasp—realizing that some of them might be from pain, but that most of them were from pleasure—and each one sounded perfect, filled with amazement and relief like Jack was saying, "This is the best thing that ever happened to me."

Daniel took special care around Jack's hips. He loved Jack's hips. The bones protruded just enough so that Daniel could really grab hold, but all the flesh was soft and it just—Jack tasted wonderful. Daniel licked into the hollow of Jack's hip, dragging his tongue toward the course hair at Jack's crotch.

Jack groaned when Daniel slid his tongue along Jack's length.

Daniel tasted the pre-come that had beaded at the tip. He liked the taste—it was sweet. It was one of the reasons Daniel liked giving blowjobs.

Daniel gripped Jack's hips, trying not to add finger-shaped bruises to the baton- and fist-shaped bruises already spotting Jack's skin. He took Jack's penis into his mouth and let Jack's scent fill his nostrils. He didn't let himself think about never doing this again—he just set to work, enjoying himself as much as he could. Jack's breathing hitched, quickened, grew shallower. Daniel flattened his tongue along the vein in Jack's penis. Jack tasted different just there—the blood was closer to the surface and sometimes Daniel felt like that's what he tasted—Jack's life.

Daniel pulled back.

Jack's chest rose and fell rapidly. His ribs were bruised and he had a row of six stitches along his right side. Daniel felt sick in the back of his mouth—the way he did the first time he had tried to give Jack an inexperienced blowjob. But this wasn't because of poor technique. Jack—in all his bruises and injuries—looked beautiful to Daniel. The pain that Daniel had caused made Jack beautiful.

Jack reached out, his fingers briefly finding Daniel's and twinning together. Their hands interlocked. Daniel almost raised his head to see the look in Jack's eyes. He knew it would be dopey and halfway sated already—Jack was a hero, a romantic at heart, no matter what the gruff exterior tried to sell. Daniel knew how Jack felt. The bruises on Jack's body were easier to read than Goa'uld.

Daniel blinked, pulled his hand away slowly, and then leaned over Jack, keeping his eyes on the bedside table. The lube was sitting on top of the table where they had left it before the mission. They forgot to put it away most of the time. There was no point to putting it away; they were always using it and going through it and buying another one. Jack probably wouldn't need another one for a while, even though this one was almost empty.

Daniel warmed some of the lube on his fingers and then reached into Jack. He bit and kissed Jack's abdomen, occasionally licking the head of Jack's penis. Daniel's fingers moved in and out of Jack, slowly stretching him open. Jack moaned—the sound sent fire down Daniel's spine. Jack had the perfect husky moan, clearly masculine but with enough spontaneity that Daniel knew Jack had momentarily lost control and shown what was under his mask. Daniel could always see under that mask, but it was sometimes easier—kinder to them both—to pretend that he didn't know.

Daniel smiled sadly and kissed Jack's hip.

He sat up, lubricated himself, and then positioned himself over Jack. He stared at Jack's chest, Jack's shoulders, Jack's neck as he sank into the tight, hot space. Jack sighed. Daniel held his breath.

Then he moved.

Daniel's world narrowed to the sensations he felt around his cock, the sounds of his and Jack's panted breathing, and the smell of sex. Daniel moaned—he couldn't contain his voice any more, but it was wordless, a meaningless sound pouring from Daniel's parted lips. Jack responded with a groan that was almost Daniel's name.

Daniel canted his hips faster, plunging into the heat with renewed vigor. He knew this wouldn't last long enough. Forever wasn't long enough, and he and Jack . . . he and Jack didn't even have tomorrow.

Daniel took Jack's cock in one hand and quickly brought him off, thrusting into him erratically. Jack's mouth opened and his breathing stopped as he orgasmed over Daniel's hand. Daniel placed that slick hand on Jack's chest to brace himself for the short, quick, hard thrusts that would finish him off.

He felt the explosion building behind his eyes, and—like a shock grenade—Daniel was blinded for a moment, living in a perfection that couldn't be seen.

He shuddered, holding himself up, and then pulled back enough to slip out of Jack. He lowered himself on top of Jack, his shoulder landing in the pool of Jack's semen. He took a deep breath and tried to steady his breathing.

Jack's free hand tangled in his hair, stroking gently. Daniel closed his eyes.

Jack's breathing evened out. Daniel heard his heart beat echoing coldly in his stomach; it made Jack sound far away. Daniel was touching him, but Jack seemed so far away.

Daniel clenched his fingers against Jack's side. Jack flinched.

"I should probably get some sleep." Jack's voice was rough—like he'd been screaming for hours.

Daniel nodded against Jack's stomach, but didn't open his eyes until Jack's hand moved away from his head. Daniel inhaled deeply and kissed Jack's skin. He stood, turning away from the bed, facing toward his clothes on the chair. He wiped off his dick and dressed, feeling Jack's come still wet and cool on his skin; its acrid scent still strong as he buttoned his shirt.

Daniel went to the bathroom and grabbed a towel. He came back to Jack and cleaned him up methodically. He repositioned Jack's legs and helped guide his boxer shorts back into place. Jack let Daniel futz however he wanted, straightening Jack's boxers in the way that Daniel thought looked most comfortable.

Daniel could feel Jack watching him; waiting for Daniel to just be done.

Daniel moved back to the right side of the bed and patted Jack's shoulder, fixing a tight smile on his face.

Jack's mouth was expressionless.

Daniel schooled the hurt out of his own eyes.

"Guess I should go—if you're going to get any sleep." Daniel pushed his glasses onto his face, feeling the nosepiece cutting.

"You, uh. You're—" Jack gestured, not quite explaining anything with his words or hands. "You can let yourself out?"

Daniel nodded quietly and picked up the towel he had used to clean up Jack. He walked back into the bathroom and tossed it on the counter. "Yeah, no problem," he called back. He looked at the liar in the mirror. His face was white; his jaw tight and his mouth pinched.

He couldn't do it like this.

With long strides, Daniel returned to Jack's side. He leaned over and kissed his lips, relieved when Jack opened his mouth to Daniel's tongue. Daniel took a lazy time of it, exploring Jack's mouth, tasting lime Jell-o, loving it.

They broke the kiss and Daniel hovered over Jack's lips, the two of them breathing the same air.

"I'm sorry," Daniel whispered.

"Leaving won't change anything," Jack replied.

Daniel nodded. "I hope it doesn't." He kissed Jack's lips and then bit his own. He stood, one hand still pressing against Jack's neck.

"You come back if I'm right." Jack put a slight question at the end of his sentence, but not enough of one that it wasn't still a command. Jack lifted Daniel's hand off his neck and shook his arm.

An involuntary hint of a smile curved one corner of Daniel's lips.


Daniel's eyebrows arched.

"Would you mind handing me the Jell-o?" Jack grinned in that crazy, cocky way that only looked sexy on Jack O'Neill. His eyes belied his grin, though. Daniel saw the uncertainty, the hesitation, and hoped his eyes didn't mirror those same fears—that they'd never be the same.

Daniel closed his eyes, inhaled through his nose, and shook his head. He placed the bowl back on Jack's chest and patted his shoulder again, lingering. "I'll be by to check on you in the morning."

Daniel was to the door when he thought he heard Jack reply, "I'll be waiting." Daniel sighed, he hated to get up early, but he also knew that Jack hated waiting. If there was one thing Daniel learned tonight it was that there were a lot of things he could force himself to do for Jack.

Though he wasn't sure that getting up early was one of them.