A weapons blast whizzed past Jack's shoulder, leaving a smoldering hole in the bushes behind him.
"Shit," Jack muttered, ducking from his cover long enough to return fire. It'd been natives at first, spears and blow darts, like the one that had hit Daniel in the neck, but apparently the Calpheon had a few surprises tucked in their caves. Jack grabbed his radio.
"Carter! What the hell was that?"
"Bad news, sir. We need to get to the 'gate."
"Well, duh," Jack muttered. Daniel pawed at Jack's radio. He was half slumped on Jack, half slumped on the tree, his legs threatening to slide out from under him. His eyelids dipped heavily, head nodding forward.
"Oh, not just yet, Danny-boy." Jack hauled Daniel upright by his tac vest. When Carter's cover fire started, he pushed Daniel in the direction of the next clump of trees. "Run!"
The shove must have kicked in some adrenaline because Daniel didn't stumble. Half way to their goal, Jack turned to provide additional cover fire just as another weapons blast whipped past. Daniel cried out, and when Jack turned back, he was on the ground and not moving.
"No. No, no, no." Jack ducked, grabbed the straps of Daniel's tac vest and dragged him the rest of the way.
He propped Daniel in a sitting position against the trunk, running his hands over Daniel's dirt-covered uniform, feeling for the heat that would indicate that one of the black patches was a scorch mark. "Not again, not again." The panic was coiling in his gut, icy cold dread inching into his system, memories of Daniel's skin peeling away as nurses changed his bandages.
Jack cupped Daniel's face, taking in everything, the smear of dirt, the lopsided tilt of his glasses, the way his eyelids finally fluttered. "Daniel!" Jack kissed him, relief drowning out the fact that they hadn't done that in over a year.
"Mmm, Jack?" Daniel's voice was sleepy, barely audible over the sudden burst from a P-90 near their position. His mouth worked slightly and his hand found Jack's wrist, wrapping around it tightly. "Is it time . . . ?"
Shit, Jack cursed to himself, he'd kissed Daniel. After all the lectures—from Carter, Frasier, himself—on not pushing Daniel to remember the past six years, to let Daniel's memories either return on their own or never come back, he'd gone and kissed him. Way to not rush things, O'Neill.
"On your feet," Jack barked, stowing his personal dressing down for when he was back on terra firma. Daniel swayed once he was upright, so Jack held him in place, forearm braced across Daniel's chest and pushing him into the tree. Daniel's eyes widened, his mouth parting in a gasp, his hand finding Jack's wrist again for a moment, the touch dancing up Jack's arm in a way that wasn't useful in the middle of a hot zone.
Jack thumbed his radio again. "Daniel's about had it. I need to get him out now."
Carter came through a moment later. "Affirmative, sir." The burst of cover fire was more than enough to communicate Carter's thoughts.
They ran again, and this time Jack stayed close to Daniel, one hand wrapped tightly around Daniel's upper arm. They nearly tripped twice, but in moments Jack was pushing Daniel around the front of the DHD, turning to provide covering fire for Carter and Teal'c. He supported Daniel through the 'gate, one arm wrapped around Daniel's waist. Daniel mouthed something at him before he passed out, dragging them both to the deck.
It wasn't until after Jack had gotten Daniel situated in the infirmary and had a shower that he finally realized what Daniel had mouthed.
"Five-three-eight," he'd mouthed, finally remembering the thing Jack had been waiting for him to remember.
* * *
"We're not technically on a mission any more." Daniel tossed a twig into the small cooking fire, looking entirely casual except that what he'd just said was an emotionally loaded gun.
"No," Jack said slowly. "Not technically." A bead of sweat rolled between his shoulder blades, the jungle still sticky hours after the sun had set.
"And there's no surveillance, no aliens about to attack us. . . . It's just us, the ruins, and the alien bacteria we're fighting off with super antibiotics." He paused long enough for a tree frog to croak somewhere outside the crumbling ruin walls. "We can stop lying, Jack," he whispered.
Jack closed his eyes. He'd been lying for a reason. They'd had to be careful when discussing the thing between them—it was intense and usually boiled over into fighting, but there was a reason for that, too; they disagreed on everything between them because Daniel wanted to go for it and Jack didn't think he could live any more of a lie than he already did.
Daniel sat up, scooting closer, his jacket bunching beneath him as he narrowed the gap. "I know it doesn't change the argument once we're back home, but . . . we can have something, can't we? That's not against the rules, is it?"
Jack chuckled bitterly, wiping the sweat off his neck. "Everything about you is against the rules, Daniel." The firelight flickered over Daniel's features, keeping half of his face in shadow. He was annoyingly sincere, intense, Daniel.
"Jack . . . just . . . there's an opportunity here. I want us to take it." He rubbed Jack's knee, his hand hot and insistent as it traveled up Jack's thigh. Jack closed his eyes, inhaling sharply through his nose; they'd kissed a few times, pressed up against each other until nothing happened, but Daniel had never touched him so deliberately.
"There's nothing between us." Jack's voice broke on the lie, the words barely eking out of his mouth.
Daniel pushed up, drawing closer, his face falling into shadow. "Bullshit." He leaned in, and Jack didn't turn away. His hand slid forward as they kissed, and pretty soon it was evident that Jack wouldn't have to strictly say yes, so long as he didn't say no. He opened his mouth to Daniel, giving the permission needed.
Daniel fisted his other hand in Jack's shirt, holding tightly while he straddled Jack's lap. He bunched the shirt in his hands, pulling it up, breaking a moment later to pull it off, clearly not giving Jack a chance to change his mind. There was a buzzing in the jungle, the constant drone of insects that just got louder as the jungle slipped further into the night.
Jack pushed his hands up the back of Daniel's t-shirt, and then Daniel tugged it over his head, putting both shirts out of the way. He smiled at Jack before leaning in to kiss him again, the kind of kiss that left Jack wondering how he'd thought this should ever be something they ignored. Hands frantic, mouths chafing from five o'clock shadows; it wasn't long before they were awkwardly rutting together, Daniel perched in Jack's lap, urging him to lie down in a more comfortable position. Jack leaned back, arching in the dirt, as Daniel kept thrusting over him, hand between them as he undid their pants.
"Touch?" Daniel panted, and Jack could only nod in response, mind spooling out when Daniel worked their flies open and pulled down boxers to fit them both in his hand.
Jack's mind blanked out in those first few moments, like the few seconds after being hit by a zat. Daniel's hand was a live wire, sending sparks up Jack's spine and nearly making him beg for more.
"Daniel," he gasped against wet lips. "Oh, god." He squeezed his eyes shut, but he could feel Daniel's grin, and while part of him was embarrassed for sounding so needy, he didn't regret the reason Daniel was smiling like that.
Pressed together as they were, it wasn't long before Jack felt himself tighten; he clawed at Daniel's back, trying to hold on long enough for Daniel to join him, but then he was spilling over Daniel's hand and not caring at all about much more than making the feeling stretch out as long as possible.
Daniel mumbled something, pressed a kiss to Jack's cheek, and a moment later his back tensed for a held breath, and then he was breathing hard over Jack's skin, loud in his ear, the two sensations sending a shiver up Jack's spine. Daniel groaned into a messy kiss, then shifted his weight to lie beside Jack.
The sounds of the jungle filtered back in as they caught their breath—the frogs, the crack from the fire, the finally cooler breeze shifting through the ruins.
Daniel held up his sticky hand. "Uh . . ." But before he could ask, Jack grabbed one of their shirts and tossed it over, using it to clean them both.
"Should've done this on the sleeping bags at least." Jack groaned, stretching his back.
"Maybe next time." Daniel smiled softly and Jack didn't fight when he tangled their fingers together. "I want to figure this out."
Jack held his breath, waiting to argue against it until Daniel had clarified what he meant.
"Us, Jack. This . . . this is more. I want more."
Jack groaned again, scrubbing his face with one hand. "We can't have more. We can have this, right now, but not—"
"It doesn't need to be every day," Daniel argued. He rolled over, leaning half on Jack, a proper position for pillow talk. "It can be whenever it's safe—on your schedule, Jack, just . . . please. I'm not willing to give this up. Not so easily."
He wanted to be annoyed, to shove Daniel to the side and be cruel, but he ran his knuckles over Daniel's cheek.
Daniel grinned, always able to read Jack. Sara was the only other person who could do that, though Carter and Teal'c had started understanding him more often, too.
"We'll figure it out," Daniel promised before leaning in to kiss Jack.
"Yeah," Jack agreed quietly, for the first time believing they might make it work. "We'll talk about it."
Two weeks later they went to Kelowna, never able to have that conversation.
* * *
"Hey," Daniel said softly. "Can I come in?"
Jack stepped back, gesturing widely, shutting the door behind him. He didn't really know what to say, but he'd already swept the house for bugs, knowing this conversation was coming.
"Five-three-eight," Daniel said, nodding deeply.
"I take it you remember now." Jack skirted the couch, angling for the recliner and isolation.
"I'm sorry I didn't earlier." Daniel sat on the couch, dead center, totally open as always. Jack snorted.
"I didn't expect anything, Daniel."
"You didn't?" He sat back now, pinching his lip. "You kissed me, Jack."
Jack shrugged, going for noncommittal. "Still doesn't mean I expected anything."
Daniel sighed, pushing a hand through his hair. "What do we do now?" He narrowed his eyes. "There isn't anything else I need to remember, is there? We're not married?"
Jack held up his bare left hand. "Still unwed."
"What now, then?"
Jack frowned, shrugged again. "Don't know. We didn't get that far last time."
Daniel licked his lips slowly, his lower lip glistening. He hesitated and then moved over to sit on the edge of the coffee table, as close to Jack as he could get. "Are you still willing to figure it out?"
Jack's heart thumped harder in his chest. He could let this go—being with Daniel and watching him die had been horrible and Jack had a second chance to avoid that. Any time they had together would be borrowed, in snippets and moments and it would largely be unsatisfying. Being with Daniel would hurt all the time because it would always be a secret.
"Okay. . . . " Daniel swallowed hard. "Okay. That's the answer." He started to lean back, but Jack leaned with him, catching the back of his head.
"I've always been willing to figure this out." He kissed Daniel, letting down his walls, knowing now what it would really mean to be with Daniel. He pressed their foreheads together when Daniel's grin broke their kiss.
"We'll talk after, right?"
Jack chuckled as Daniel pulled him to his feet. "Yeah, I think that conversation can wait." He followed Daniel to the bedroom, promising himself the conversation wouldn't wait too long.