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Always Have a Plan B

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“So, we’re really going to do this?” Daniel met the eyes of each of his dinner companions in turn. The question was wholly rhetorical. No one at that table was going to let the Aschen win without a fight. “Can we do it?”

Sam nodded firmly. “I can get the solar flare projections. My concern is getting to the ‘gate to send the message through. The Aschen automated defense system is deadly accurate.”

“It is regrettable that O’Neill chose not to attend the ceremony,” Teal’c lamented. “His expertise would be most valuable in such an undertaking.”

“Yes, it would,” Sam agreed. She waited a beat. “That’s why I’m going to see him.”

“What?” Daniel winced. He and Janet had issued the challenge in tandem, and the resultant echo had drawn the attention of diners at the next table. He smiled and waved an apology to the woman scowling in their direction.

Leaning across the table, Janet lowered her voice. “Is that a good idea?”

Sam shifted, much less confident than when she had proposed hijacking the Aschen computer. “It’s been eight years. Surely he’s gotten over some of his anger. Besides, I’m not asking for me; the entire human race needs him.”

“That’s a far less convincing argument for Jack these days,” Daniel reminded her.

“It did not appear his anger had waned the day of the memorial service for General Hammond,” Teal’c piped in.

“Yes, and unless he’s undergone a total personality change,” Janet added, her tone indicating the very idea was ridiculous, “It’s not likely he’ll pardon Joe…or you any time soon.”

“We did all we could at the time,” Sam protested. “I begged Joe to talk to them. He did everything short of walking away from negotiations to get the Aschen to help Daniel. They absolutely refused to do anything until Earth became an official member of the Aschen Confederation.”

“Its okay, Sam,” Daniel felt compelled to soothe her.

Sam calmed marginally. “See, you’ve gotten over it.”

“I had no problem recognizing that the needs of billions of people outweighed my need to be cured of radiation sickness. Plus, in all honesty, I didn’t want any heroic measures; I was ready to move on. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Aschen had agreed to help.” He shrugged. “Clearly, Jack saw things differently.”

“Why, because he’d lost one of his ‘kids’? You think he’s being so unreasonable because his ego took a hit?”

Janet tsked. “I doubt it was anything so trivial. Besides, he kept right on leading SG-1even after Daniel…left you.”

“It was not merely the Aschen’s refusal to heal Daniel Jackson which led to O’Neill’s estrangement. Though, I believe it was at that moment that he determined they did not have Earth’s best interests in mind.”

“If not that, then what?” Sam turned her gaze on Daniel, who fought the urge to look away.

“It was as much my fault as yours, Sam.”

“We all supported the treaty,” Janet added diplomatically.

“It was Major Carter who insisted that Daniel Jackson was best qualified to assist Joe Faxon in his negotiations.” Ever the voice of truth, Teal’c delivered his verdict without apology or blame. “Do you not recall your impassioned argument concerning the scientific advances the Aschen would afford your species? And your plea to Daniel Jackson to provide your suitor with necessary reinforcement?”

“Daniel’s skill at negotiating with alien species was instrumental in overcoming all of the Aschen’s objections.” Sam sounded a little too defensive for Daniel’s comfort. “Joe couldn’t have delivered the agreement without him.”

“Over the colonel’s protests.”

Sam sighed. “Yes, it did become a bit heated. Joe listened to the colonel’s complaints…and so did you, Daniel. You both discounted them.”

“No, not discounted. I just didn’t have the same reservations.”

“You were in a difficult position, Daniel Jackson, captured between your desire to appease Major Carter’s desire to assist the man she intended to marry and your friendship with O’Neill.”

Sam gasped. “Is that how it was? You feel like I asked you to take sides?”

“No,” Daniel said emphatically. “No, I helped Joe with the treaty because I genuinely believed an alliance with the Aschen would benefit us. Jack’s arguments weren’t strong enough to counter that conclusion. I don’t think you did anything wrong, Sam. However, I’m not hopeful Jack will ever see things the same way.”

“You’re wrong. We were a team once; you don’t just shuck that off. I’m going. First thing tomorrow.

“Okay,” Daniel smiled sadly. “Good luck.”

Sam rose and pushed her chair back with more force than was necessary. Teal’c stood at the same time.

“May I escort you to the nearest Aschen transport platform, Samantha Carter?”

“Thank you, Teal’c.” Sam caught Daniel’s eye, nodded confidently. “I’ll see you all when I get back.”

As she walked away, Janet sighed. “I hate that we had to bring up bad memories. You know how much Sam valued the colonel’s esteem.”

“I know, but this is too important a mission to worry about Sam’s feelings.”

“He’ll never listen to her, you know.”

“No, he won’t. Maybe he’ll listen to me.”

“Are you going to try to dissuade Sam from going?”

Daniel flashed a grim smile. “Would there be any point?” There was no need to wait for Janet’s response. They both knew the answer. “I think she deserves the opportunity to try. We should have a backup plan, though. Can I count on your help?”

“Of course. What do you need me to do?”

~oOo~

 Hurrying out of his apartment, Daniel mounted the Aschen transport platform down the street and keyed in his destination: St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Teal’c would have given Sam directions to the cabin. As often as Jack had invited her to join him there, she had never taken him up on it. Daniel, on the other hand, had spent countless downtime hours keeping Jack company while his friend ‘fished’.

It had become a ritual of sorts following an especially bad mission, initiated in the aftermath of Jack’s ‘meeting’ with his dead son. Aside from Jack’s ex-wife, Daniel was the only one who truly understood how devastated Jack was by that encounter. Daniel had invited himself to the cabin – actually, he’d planted himself in the passenger seat of Jack’s truck and refused to get out. He never asked whether Jack had intended to come back from that trip, but Jack did mention offhandedly that Daniel had once again saved his life.

Jack returned the favor, dragging Daniel off for a week of relative solitude in the wake of Sha’re’s death. It continued like that over the years, neither of them actually having to say he needed the support of his friend. They were just always there for each other.

Exiting the platform, Daniel looked around. The instantaneous transport would only get him part of the way to his destination. There was no Aschen technology where Jack lived. The cabin was another thirty-five minutes by ground. Fortunately, there were always taxis close by. Daniel hailed one, gave the driver the address and settled back into the seat. As it molded to his anatomy, Daniel’s thoughts returned to his relationship with Jack.

Neither of them was able to say for sure when they began to see each other as more than friends. Surprisingly, Jack – who generally required a crow bar to extract personal information – was the first to admit the attraction. Pleased to reciprocate, Daniel quickly pointed out the danger inherent in pursuing any sort of physical relationship.

“I’d never forgive myself if your career was adversely affected or worse, you were court-martialed because of me,” Daniel had reasoned. “Besides, Earth still needs us to protect it from the Goa’uld.”

That was probably the last time Earth’s safety figured into Jack’s decisions. Just over a year later, Daniel sacrificed his life ‘protecting’ the people of Kelowna from their own stupidity. Jack went on – what choice did he have – but his heart was never really in it.

Then Daniel returned…and promptly got dragged into the pursuit of an alliance with the beings who had refused him aid on his death bed. Not that it had bothered Daniel, but Jack had found it impossible to tolerate.

Treaty with the Aschen signed, the Goa’uld threat ceased to exist, and Earth’s military forces began disbanding, replaced by Aschen security personnel. Jack was gone long before then, opting for retirement at the cabin two years earlier, soon after Daniel quit the SGC to join the ambassadorial staff.

And how that burned. The irony that Jack was free to engage in a relationship with Daniel, but chose instead to run away because he couldn’t bear to see Daniel once again in the thick of diplomatic negotiations – the very type of activity that had gotten him killed on Kelowna.

“You’re sure you want out here?” Daniel looked up, startled to see the cab driver giving him the once over, suspicion clear in the scrutiny. “I can take you up to the residence.”

Daniel wondered briefly if crime was still such a problem out here that the guy’s distrust was warranted. He smiled affably and waved him off, hoping the gesture would alleviate the man’s concern.

“This is fine. I can walk from here. I’d like to surprise my friend, and he has ears like an old hound dog. He’s sure to detect the hum of your engine.”

Convinced by the smile or the story, the driver shrugged and powered down the vehicle. Daniel closed his eyes as the car descended – after all these years, the anti-gravity propulsion still made his stomach flip.

Swiping his credit card through the currency reader, Daniel added a generous tip and climbed out of the taxi.

“I’ll need a ride back to St. Cloud in an hour or so. Can you come back? Feel free to keep the meter running.” What did it matter how much the trip cost him?

The driver touched a screen on his dashboard, and Daniel’s phone buzzed, downloading his contact information. “Just give me the signal,” the driver instructed and skimmed away.

Daniel listened to the hum recede as he chose his path.

The cabin was still a mile up the dirt road. He opted for following the drive for the first half mile then ventured into the surrounding trees. He and Jack had walked these woods numerous times, sometimes talking over whatever was troubling them, but more often just taking solace in each other’s presence.

It wasn’t long before Daniel caught sight of the cabin’s roof. A thin trail of smoke escaped the chimney, unceremoniously shredded by an occasional puff of breeze. Despite the full sun, the air maintained a distinct chill. Not that it mattered to Jack what the temperature was outside. He built that fire first thing every day, setting his antique coffee pot to percolate (taking great amusement in Daniel’s complaint that such method caused an unacceptable delay in getting his morning charge of caffeine) and kept it going until he banked it just before going to bed. The fire was not only Jack’s sole source of warmth, but also his only means of cooking, heating water and, often, it provided the only light in the cabin.

Skirting an overgrown chokeberry bush, Daniel crept to the cover of a small stand of trees just behind Sam’s rental car. From this vantage point he had a view of most of the property.

Sam had just turned away from the front door. She crossed the porch and headed towards the back of the cabin. Jack rounded the side of the structure, and her determined gait faltered, downgrading to an uneasy lope.

Her first glimpse of her former CO in six years had to be a shock. Clearly, Jack was not expecting company. Unshaven and unkempt, he looked more like a hermit than a former Air Force colonel. Daniel could just imagine Sam’s report of the meeting:

“You should have seen him; he was all scruffy and it looked like he hadn’t showered in days. If I didn’t know he owned the cabin, I would have thought he was a homeless squatter.”

It wasn’t as bad as all that, but this incarnation would clash so violently with her mental image of the perfect military leader, she would have to resort to hyperbole to fully express it.

Jack sat, Sam taking a chair next to him. Daniel couldn’t hear anything but Jack’s attention was focused on Sam, so at least he knew Jack was listening. It was hard to read his expression from this distance, but he shifted back into his chair, seemingly relaxed and receptive…right up until the moment he shot out of his seat and stalked away from her.

Sam followed, undeterred by the hostility stiffening his back. She became more animated as her attempt to persuade him shifted into higher gear. Jack moved to a nearby picnic table, presenting his intransigent back to Sam even as she worked herself up to the core of her argument.

Turning, Jack parked himself on the table, his unwavering gaze penetrating Sam’s equally recalcitrant stare. A short back and forth turned into raised voices loud enough for Daniel to discern.

“I warned everybody,” Jack growled. “I threw up the red flag and everybody—including you—shut me down.”

“I'm asking you to put that behind us.”

“You're not happy with the way things turned out…I’m sorry to hear that.”

Sam’s face hardened, her jaw clenched in anger. She’d probably figured out, just as Daniel had, that Jack was not swayed by her entreaty.

Jack turned his head, his delivery softening so that Daniel missed what he said next. After a moment, Jack stood, walked towards Sam, got into her face. Daniel braced for more harsh words, but it appeared Jack was tired of fighting. He made his point – probably that he had no intention of helping them – and walked away from her again.

Still Sam couldn’t let it go. She threw out a challenge, “Our chances are a lot better with you than without you,” and for a second, Daniel thought Jack might actually be considering her plea. Then he turned and with just a few words, had Sam fleeing back to her car. Daniel retreated further behind the trees, concealing his presence from Sam. It was clear from her indignant expression that Sam had not said all she’d intended to say, and Daniel expected her to turn on her heel and start the argument anew. Instead she flung open the door of the rental, threw herself inside and, with an unholy whine of the engine, sped away. Had the car had wheels, Daniel would be ducking rocks and branches.

He turned his attention to Jack, who watched until the car started back down his driveway, an oddly regretful look on his face, then stalked back to the cabin, slamming the door shut between himself and the past Sam had brought with her.

A few hundred yards distant, the car wound down to a gentle hum as Sam pulled over. Likely to keep her promise to Janet.

The assistance he’d enlisted from Janet was to delay Sam’s arrival at their designated meeting place until Daniel had returned to the Springs. They’d both agreed, given his dispute with Sam’s husband, and by extension, with Sam, that Jack was unlikely to be influenced by anything Sam had to say. Janet had convinced Sam to let her know immediately how her meeting with Jack went.

Daniel estimated Sam sat there twenty minutes or so. At one point she dropped her head, and Daniel imagined it falling into her upturned hand, cradling her forehead as she wept out her frustration with her best friend. Finally, the car began to move, more slowly than before, and as it disappeared around the trees that lined the curvy road, Daniel’s phone vibrated.

She’s coming here, read Janet’s message. You have an extra hour.

Going with Plan B, Daniel shot back.

An hour. Having supported her friend through numerous tough times, Janet had gotten good at estimating the amount of time it would take her to calm Sam down. Turning, Daniel pressed his back against the tree.

Damn it, Jack. I know you’re pissed but I never thought you’d abandon us. Not now, when the fate of humanity is in the balance.

Daniel sighed. How many times had that card been played? How many times had they all put life and limb on the line to save the world? It was, as Jack had once suggested, getting old.

If they let this go, though, if they didn’t at least try to erase the current timeline, they would be as culpable for the extinction of Earth’s population as those who sought to eliminate them outright. It was possible they could pull off their plan without Jack, but their former team leader’s participation increased the odds of success significantly. No doubt Sam had made their case with great proficiency, but Jack had never been persuaded by cold, hard facts. Someone had to get under his skin, and no one did that better than Daniel.

Shoving himself away from the tree, Daniel stalked determinedly to the front door of the cabin. His fist came up, prepared to pound. A flash of memory stayed his hand.

“I’m sorry, Doctor Jackson,” Hammond said. “The official record states that Doctor Rothman was killed in an accident.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ve already spoken to Jack.” Daniel stared at his hands, numb. Robert Rothman was one of his oldest, most stalwart friends. Added to the pain of losing him was the fact that Jack was the one who had killed him, forced to shoot Robert to stop the Goa’uld who had possesed him from killing everyone else on his team.

“Report to the infirmary. Pending Doctor Fraiser’s okay, you can go home. Your team is on down time for one week.”

Of course Janet had insisted he spend the night in the infirmary. First thing the next morning, Daniel had hopped a plane to Minnesota.

He’d gone seeking to comfort and be comforted by his best friend. He’d returned with so much more. Knowing Jack had feelings for him, even if they couldn’t act upon them, had buoyed him through some excruciatingly difficult times.

Including the last time he’d seen Jack, following Hammond’s funeral. Jack had asked him to chuck it all and move in with him. But Daniel’s work on the Aschen treaty was not yet complete.

“Ask me again when we have the deal,” Daniel had said, knowing even avoiding contact with the outside world, Jack would learn the news of a signed treaty. Within months, Earth and the Aschen had come to terms and Earth became a confederation planet. Jack had never repeated his offer, though and Daniel figured he’d missed his opportunity.

Still, the hope survived that he could reach Jack when no one else could.

Absently, Daniel knocked on the door. He startled when it swung inward almost immediately, the open space filled by Jack’s strong frame, bifurcated brow raised inquiringly.

“Jack,” Daniel greeted. The genuine smile that had blossomed upon seeing his friend drooped at the look of annoyance on Jack’s face.

“Daniel?” Jack returned.

They stood staring at each other through the doorway, Daniel’s heart lurching, the moment too much like another occasion that had ended in Jack’s proclamation that their friendship was a sham. Daniel shifted, groping for an opening. Surprisingly, Jack spoke first.

“You and Carter not talking now?”

“What? Why would you think Sam and I…oh. No…um, I mean yes, I know Sam came to see you.”

Shrugging awkwardly, Daniel sniffled, and the distant ghost of an allergic reaction twitched his nose. He’d suffered more than one autumn day standing by the lake, showered in pollen from the red pine trees. Rather than the cloying smell of pine, a more aromatic scent assailed his nostrils – sandalwood, with a citrus chaser. Jack’s scent. It occurred to Daniel then that, in the twenty minutes or so between Sam’s departure and Daniel’s arrival at his front door, Jack had taken time to shower and shave. He’d donned clean sweat pants, a fresh tee shirt replacing his oversized flannel.

Daniel sniffed again, with purpose. God, Jack smelled good.                                                                                                 

“If you had gotten here a little sooner, you would probably have bumped into her on her way out.”

“What?” It took Daniel a second to realize they were still talking about Sam. He ducked his head. Not that avoiding eye contact would help. Jack was on to him.

“Ah,” Jack breathed, confirming Daniel’s fear. “You timed it, didn’t you, so that you wouldn’t run into her? You knew I wouldn’t listen to Carter.”

“You were the one who taught me the wisdom of having a Plan B.” Daniel grinned, hoping a little flattery would increase his chances. Jack put the kibosh on that hope almost immediately.

“You’re not going to change my mind.” He turned and walked back into the cabin, failing to close the door between them. Daniel took the omission as an invitation to enter.

Jack lifted a beer bottle from a coffee table fashioned from the section of a huge tree trunk, hoisted it into the air by way of offering a beverage to his visitor.

“No, thank you,” Daniel waved him off. “Kinda have a big day tomorrow. Probably need to be clear-headed.”

“More for me.” Jack dropped into an overstuffed chair, tipped his bottle to his lips, sucked greedily. He gestured at Daniel with the empty bottle.

“Nice glasses.”

Face and neck warming, Daniel flashed a self-conscious grin. “You don’t think they’re an improvement over the large frames? No quite so ‘geeky’.

“It wasn’t the glasses I found geeky.”

Headed to the chair opposite Jack, Daniel nearly stumbled over the table, his gaze snapping to Jack’s. Locking his eyes to Daniel’s, Jack pulled a crooked smile.

Daniel nodded understanding. Jack had made that same crack numerous times over their time together. As awkward as their first meeting in six years had been, the comment felt right, putting Daniel more at ease.

Lowering himself into the chair, Daniel tried and failed to avoid a glimpse at the old, beaten up reclining sofa. Over the years, Jack had replaced or reupholstered every piece of furniture in his cabin. All except that couch – the place where they had admitted their mutual attraction, shared a kiss. He had, since Daniel was last here, managed to find a complimentary shade of duct tape with which to mend the tears.

“You don’t have to go back.”

For the third time since the door opened, Daniel found himself dropped into the middle of a conversation, dragged out of a happy memory to face a harsh reality.

He searched Jack’s face, held his earnest gaze, and determined he was serious.

As much as he hated to, Daniel replied, “Yes, I do.”

“Why? You’ve already sacrificed your life once for a bunch of ungrateful humans. Why do you want to do it again? How the hell can you care so much about people who don’t give a rat’s ass about you?”

“Jack–”

“They had their chance to be done with the Aschen and they blew it. I could have retired; we could have had a life together. It’s because of those damn Aschen that we missed out.”

“Or,” Daniel countered, “we could all have died or been enslaved by the Goa’uld.”

“We would have found another way. We didn’t have to give everything up to those God-forsaken humanoid robots. You didn’t have to give up everything.”

“That’s who I am, Jack,” Daniel sighed. “You know that. It’s who you are, too. You just won’t admit it.”

Jack growled. “That’s where you’re wrong.”

The room wavered, metamorphosed, transitioned into a compact, round room, a room with no door. Dazed, Daniel looked up and gasped in recognition of the tall cylindrical walls that comprised Jack’s prison. Jack was being slowly undone by a cycle of death by torture and resurrection by sarcophagus, and unless Daniel got through to him, convinced him to ascend upon his next death, he would lose Jack forever. He steeled himself for one more try.

“Jack!” he began, a full measure of frustration raising his voice.

Pain flared just above his elbow, and Daniel glanced down to see Jack’s hand wrapped tightly around his arm. He lifted his gaze, stared into dark brown eyes enlarged in concern. The prison walls behind him began resolving into the living room of Jack’s cabin.

“Whoa,” Jack breathed. “Where’d you go?”

Inhaling slowly, deliberately like Teal’c had taught him, Daniel brought himself fully out of the past. He turned to Jack, smiled softly at the familiar mix of concern and irritation on Jack’s handsome face.

“What the hell was that?” Jack demanded.

“Um, the Aschen have been helping me recall the information I learned as an ascended being. This is an after effect, sort of a flashback. Something you said triggered a memory. I came to you when you were captured by Ba’al.”

“Yeah, can we not talk about that?”

“I offered you ascension. You turned me down.”

“Well, when I said I wanted to spend my life with you, the otherworldly glowy thing was not what I had in mind.”

“Right.” Daniel closed his eyes, pressed his fingers into his temples.

Jack’s hand tightened on his arm. “You okay?”

“Yeah. It just takes a few minutes to re-orient myself.”

“I’ll bet,” Jack chuckled, sounding infinitely more pissed than amused. “You really let them play with your head?”

“We’d been wanting to access that information; I thought it could be useful,” Daniel defended. “I didn’t know then what we know now.”

“That they’re greedy genocidal fucks who just want our planet and are okay with destroying our species to get it?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Did they find anything? Anything useful?”

“According to Molum, no. Nothing the Aschen could use.”

“Uh huh.” Suspicion dripped from the utterance.

“You think he lied?”

Jack’s raised brow was answer enough.

“So, not only have the Aschen basically managed to gradually eliminate the entire human population of Earth,” Daniel concluded, “They also have all the knowledge of Ascended beings.” His eyes widened at the implication. “We definitely can’t let them go unchallenged.”

Rising abruptly, Daniel skirted the chair, headed for the exit. Jack was hot on his heels. He slammed a hand against the door as Daniel pulled it open, pushing it closed again.

“Don’t,” he whispered harshly, as close to begging as Daniel had ever heard from him. He pressed himself against Daniel’s back, breathed into his ear, “Don’t go.”

“Jack,” Daniel groaned, the instantaneous longing stirring in his belly threatening to overwrite his duty to his mission.

“The Aschen have had charge of the Earth for the last six years. Another half hour won’t matter.”

A hand gripped his shoulder, and Daniel found himself spinning, coming face to face with Jack. The movement came far too easily for Jack to have shifted him unassisted. He fell back against the door, and Jack leaned in, chest to chest, holding him there. He devoured Daniel with his eyes, his dark gaze deepened by the enlargement of his pupils.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” Jack promised, and Daniel gasped as Jack’s erection pressed into his hip. The room was suddenly close and hot – or maybe that was Jack – and beads of moisture dribbled down Daniel’s back, collected in the crack of his ass, enhancing the sense of eroticism. Jack’s aftershave filled his nostrils, and Daniel felt giddy, not because the scent was overpowering but because it confirmed that it was Jack who held him so provocatively captive. Jack who nibbled at his collarbone.

“I asked you to stay once,” Jack scolded between tastes of Daniel’s throat. “You turned me down.”

Dragging his attention away from the heavenly torment of Jack’s mouth on him, Daniel managed to groan, “I had responsibilities. You were supposed to ask me again.”

Jack pulled away briefly, offered a seductive smile. He reached up, slid the glasses from Daniel’s face and tossed them on the entryway table. “So, I’m asking now,” he said, the raspy response sending heat straight to Daniel’s groin. “We could have a second shot at happiness right here, right now.” His hand slid from Daniel’s shoulder, worked its way under his tee shirt to the waistband of his jeans. Seconds later, the button was undone, and Daniel’s breath hitched as warm, masculine fingers teased along his skin, on their way to the small of his back.

“Jack!” Daniel cried out, half protest, half plea. “I can’t –!”

Jack claimed his lips, cutting off the cry, tongue darting, caressing the inside of Daniel’s mouth, stroking over his teeth. Of its own volition, Daniel’s tongue rose up to meet it, entwining wetly, a miniature parody of their embrace.

A growl of complaint passed Daniel’s lips as Jack suddenly broke contact. He stood upright and just as quickly bent and pushed down his sweats, stepping out of them in a move so surprisingly fluid, Daniel made a mental note to ask how often he’d practiced it. Jack’s tee shirt joined the sweats on the floor, his exposed penis standing at eager attention. Daniel’s cock twitched at the sight. Jack advanced on him, and Daniel found himself incapable of any further thought.

He felt, though. Boy, did he feel. His dick was so hard, his balls so sensitized, it wouldn’t surprise him to learn every ounce of his blood had drained to his groin. Jack’s knee nudged his leg, and Daniel shifted his stance, breath hissing as Jack moved in, molded himself to Daniel, and pressed his thigh into Daniel’s groin. Unable to help himself, Daniel humped against it, whining pitiably as Jack withdrew.

“Not what I had in mind,” Jack chided.

Blinking at the narrow-eyed look that dared him to argue, Daniel inhaled erratically as Jack grasped the zipper of his jeans, lowered it slowly. Jack leaned back in, curled his arm around Daniel’s waist, and settled his palm low against Daniel’s back. Diving beneath the waistband of Daniel’s jeans, the hand briefly cupped the slick globe beneath. Second hand joining the first, Jack tugged and shoved at the barrier, expertly guiding the rough fabric over Daniel’s shaft and down his legs.

Daniel watched, marveling that, though it had lost a bit of its hardness in the scuffle to freedom, his cock quickly rallied at the look of appreciation with which Jack favored him.

“Well, hello there, Doctor Jackson,” Jack purred, a sound that sent a jolt from Daniel’s balls that spread throughout his body.

Gingerly grasping Daniel’s cock at the root, Jack stroked up and down, letting his palm slide over the slick skin. He thumbed the sensitive underside of the penis crown, and Daniel’s head fell back, a guttural moan rumbling from his throat. Hips surging forward, Daniel shoved into the hand. The rumble became an urgent muttering.

“Damn it, don’t you start without me,” Jack warned.

Daniel panted, a distinct groan tagging on to the exhalations. “You’d better hurry up, then.”

Jack let him go. Within seconds a searing heat shot through his groin, Jack’s hardening dick joining his, bound together in Jack’s loose fist. Firm fingers pressed and rolled, gliding over smooth skin. Daniel thrust against the rhythm Jack set, his achingly hard cock squeezed between Jack’s strong hand and unyielding dick.

Teeth scraped over his bottom lip, Jack’s aim slightly off as he moved in to devour Daniel’s mouth. His tongue plundered, delving deeply. He moved closer, pressing the length of his firm body to Daniel, his free hand reclaiming Daniel’s ass.

A burning tingle arose at the base of Daniel’s balls, surged upward, engulfing his groin. He bucked, the rhythm he and Jack had found shot to shit in the frenzied thrusts his dick demanded. The tingle evolved, his balls tightening, and seconds later, his shout muffled by Jack’s mouth, he was coming in hot spurts all over Jack’s hand, their bellies.

Mere moments behind, Jack shuddered against him. Releasing his lips, he buried his face in Daniel’s shoulder and moaned, his shaft unloading between them, the blending of their musky scents and sweat a heady mix that left Daniel dizzy.

His knees went weak, and for a second Daniel thought he might pass out. The only thing keeping him from crashing to the floor was Jack’s weight pressed against him and the hand cupping his ass. Jack’s panted breath bathed his neck and chest with glorious warmth.

Once his breathing evened out, Jack shifted off of him. Their eyes met, and Daniel smiled, noting Jack’s gaze was just as heavy-lidded and dazed as his own. With a quick buss, Jack took Daniel’s arm. Guiding him gently to the floor, he slid down the wall to sit beside him.

“Wow,” he wheezed, “that was…”

“Quick?”

A half shrug and a crooked smile were Jack’s only reply.

Daniel drew a deep breath, let it out in a gust. “Sorry. I’ve been on a hair trigger for years. I’ve wanted to do that – and more – for so long…”

“Even when you were…you know?” Glancing at the ceiling, Jack hoisted his hand skyward, fingers fluttering.

“No. Um, ascended beings have developed beyond the need for physical release. That’s why they’re called ‘superior beings’.”

“That may be why you call them superior beings,” Jack countered. “I’m not so sure, now. I mean,” his hand fell from his lap, knuckles knocking the floor. Jack pushed the hand over and pinched Daniel’s exposed cheek. “What kind of superior being would pass on a great ass like this?”

Daniel shot him a narrow-eyed glare, unsure whether to be offended or amused. Jack returned the look with a tight-mouthed grin, which almost immediately slid away as Jack turned somber.

“So, about this note to our past selves…” he paused, and Daniel concluded Jack was still trying to wrap his head around that concept. Right until Jack looked at him, and the sun slanting into the window enhanced the gleam in his eye. “Can we add a message addressed to ‘hard-headed colonel’? Something along the lines of ‘screw your career, fuck the archaeologist’? Carter said anything could happen once the clock is reset.”

It was a ridiculous question, but Daniel smiled in spite of it. Jack had said ‘we’; he was going to help them. “No, sorry,” he replied a bit regretfully. “There’s always the chance we’ll make that decision ourselves next time.”

“Maybe.” Groaning, Jack climbed up from the floor. He wiped himself clean with his discarded tee shirt and, making a quick trip to the fireplace returned with a cloth, dipped in the pot of water left there to warm. He offered the cloth to Daniel.

“You want to…?” He gestured at the mess surrounding Daniel’s navel. “Or should I…?”

“I’ll do it.” Daniel took the cloth from Jack. “If you start messing around down there, I may never get out of here.”

Once Daniel was clean, Jack offered his hand, pulled Daniel to his feet, and tossed the cloth at the kitchen sink. He slipped back into his sweats while Daniel pulled up his pants and reclaimed his glasses.

“As much as I hate this to end, you’d better go. If we’re going to do this, I have a few things to take care of in case…”

“Yeah.” Daniel’s heart was suddenly heavy. If things didn’t go as planned, this time tomorrow one or both of them could be dead.

“If we do…you know, and Oma comes calling, maybe I’d take you up on an offer to go with you this time.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Well, if they’ll have me. I don’t think I’ll ever advance so far as to forego sex. Who knows? Maybe we can remind them what they’re missing.”

“If Oma comes, I’ll make sure to invite you along.”

“Good.” Jack’s contented grin faded. “Well, since you went to great lengths to avoid Carter – not that I understand why you’re so conscientious of her feelings – I guess you’ll need to pretend it was her that convinced me to help.”

“I don’t need the credit.”

“Yeah. You never did. It’s one of the reasons I love you.

Daniel blinked, the passion burning in Jack’s eyes at that moment threatening to bring him to tears. “I love you, too, Jack.”

Tearing his gaze away, he dug his phone out of his pocket and messaged the cab. He turned to the door, Jack’s heat warming his back.

Reaching around him, Jack grasped the doorknob and tugged the door inward. Daniel turned and stepped into Jack, who canted his head to receive Daniel’s kiss.

~oOo~

 It was sweet and tender and too damn brief. Daniel broke the embrace, smiled bravely and, spinning on his heel, headed down the road. Jack watched him until he disappeared around the bend then got busy collecting what he’d need to take with him.

Damn, their timing sucked. They could have been – should have been – living happily together for years at this point. Chances were they wouldn’t survive their assault on the Aschen, and Jack really had little faith that Oma would come through for them. Daniel may believe they’d get it right the next time, but Jack knew Daniel far too well. He would ever put his own needs above those of the people of Earth.

He’d only been half joking when he’d suggested the addendum to their note to the past. Jack snatched open the drawer on the side table near his chair, grabbed a notepad and pen and scribbled hurriedly. He tore the page off, shoved it in his pocket and headed to the bedroom.

What the hell. If he’d learned nothing else, he’d learned he should always have a Plan B.