These wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase
. . .
When you’d cry, I’d wipe away of your tears
When you’d scream, I’d fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me.
Sitting up, Daniel threaded his fingers through his long hair, brushing the damp bangs out of his face. His breathing was rapid, and he forced himself to breathe deeply and slowly. At first, his wet face had been room temperature, but the sweat was cooling rapidly. It would dry and leave salt crystals. With a growl, he threw aside the bed covers and swung his legs over the side. A wave of nausea hit him, and thoughts of a shower were replaced with the need to make it to the toilet bowl. He just barely did.
His stomach muscles were strained by the time his body said it was over. Shakily rising to his feet, he turned on the shower, then brushed his teeth while he waited for the water to warm up. He forced his mind to focus on using his toothbrush while the emotional terror from the nightmare faded from conscious thought. It would not go far. His body thrummed with the tightness of shame and fear and if he let himself think about the reason for those emotions, anger and hatred would quickly follow, and the intense need for revenge.
Daniel stepped into the glass-encased shower and shut the door with a heavy, magnetic snap. It was the first time he had lived somewhere that did not have a tub and he wasn’t used to it, so he’d had to buy a stool to sit on. Its only purpose was so he could sit under the hot spray, letting it hit his neck and back while he bent his head down, chin nearly to his chest. Before two weeks ago, it had been a luxury to soothe the tension in his muscles. Now, it was a necessity.
Thank all the gods and goddesses for Doctor Janet Fraiser. Daniel had only been at the SGC for a little over ten months, so he hadn’t earned enough leave time. A little investigating, however, made him aware that he could take medical leave instead. He’d tried to make it work, to go on after, but when a week went by, he knew it was impossible, so he’d asked her for a month’s worth. He damn near didn’t get it because … Hammond did not understand.
The General was just starting to like him, and he thought of the man as a father figure, so it came as a shock when he learned that he didn’t want to authorize the time off. The Old Man, as Jack called him, even though they were close in age by about eight years, actually didn’t think what had happened to him was a big deal. Just brush yourself off and move on.
Men can’t be raped.
He hadn’t said it, but it had been implied, so Daniel’s high opinion of the man had taken a hit. It was clear that the commander of the SGC needed some enlightening, but Daniel really wasn’t in the mood to volunteer that service. At least Janet understood, and where the health and safety of the personnel at the SGC were concerned, she was the authority, and he was damned grateful.
A week had gone by since then, and it had sucked. Hard. Waking up several times during the night was taking a toll. Daniel knew, academically, what to expect from rape trauma. He knew how damaged your psyche would be. He knew about the five stages of grief. For rape, there were the seven, and it was grief. Still, they were stages of recovery and living it, he found, was an entirely different kettle of fish, even when it was textbook: Guilt. Shame. Helplessness. Fear. Anger/Rage. Hatred. Lastly, the need for justice, and if not that, vengeance. Many never got to the seventh stage, especially in the physical, legal sense.
Hopelessness sort of crept in there and sucker-punched him when he wasn’t looking. There would never be any justice in the traditional sense. A different sort of guilt had followed, knowing that this is what women felt all the time when it came to human justice. Or injustice. Women were expected to just shake it off. Deal with it. Falling apart is allowed for a week. Then you’re supposed to suffer in silence and behave as if nothing’s wrong. He’d seen it second-hand from a female friend at Brown and he’d railed at the ineffectual, purposely ignorant, justice system—on her behalf, and had discovered that doing things for the victim, on their behalf but without their consent, was a huge no-no. She’d just had her power taken from her. Must she keep losing it as others tried to carry it?
It was no different with him. Jack was going through his own trauma, having been intimately assaulted by being forcibly turned into a Jaffa—but Teal’c was there to help him through it. He already had a special relationship with their Jaffa friend. For Daniel, getting help was offered by strangers, and he’d lost contact with the friend he’d known eight years ago. He was thirty-two now and he still didn’t have a clue how to cope with sexual assault. You just had to … live through it. Oddly, he wished he had someone there to hold him as he had held her. Wasn’t he supposed to loathe touching?
Janet had offered, but he simply couldn’t abide the touch of women. She’d wanted to hug him—even if it had been overly cautious and awkward—and he’d shied away. Same with Sam. She’d been so worried about him, and for the first two days on leave, she’d called him every afternoon. And then they’d stopped thanks to their missions. She probably felt too awkward to call, and he completely understood. When you’re not in it, you have no idea what to do or how to behave. You’re walking on broken glass, not eggshells.
He wasn’t in the mood to talk anyway. To test himself, to see if he was overreacting, he imagined having his mother hold him, if she’d been alive, and even that caused him to shudder. The only person he wanted around him was Jack. But he wasn’t there. He’d made a cursory call the second day, five minutes after he’d hung up with Sam. And then, nothing. It made him feel dirty and alone.
Daniel wandered into his kitchen and stopped, staring at the cupboards, the counter. Why had he come in here? His stomach wasn’t going to allow him anything more than chicken broth. Or vegetable broth. Then he remembered. He opened the fridge and took out a bottle of 7-Up. He liked Coke more, but out of the blue, three weeks ago, he’d bought a bottled six-pack that had been on sale. He didn’t even know why except that lemon-lime seemed to feel better going down after a hot day. Weirdly, he’d then bought grape soda, which he hadn’t drank since he was seven or eight. It hadn’t lasted long, but the 7-Up had just sat there, day after day. He’d started to wonder if maybe he should buy some liquor and make cocktails, but he’d forgotten about an hour after thinking it.
Twisting off the cap, he took a sip, then decided it needed a glass and some ice. He started to go back to the bedroom, but he stopped in the hallway, did an about-face, and went to the living room and his computer desk. He fired up the PC, then began a journal entry. He wrote for an hour or so, pouring out feelings he’d be horrified for anyone to read.
… pissed off all the fucking time. All I want to do is savage the bitch. I don’t want to go on missions. I want to hunt her down and use a butcher knife …
After rereading the entry, he grimaced. But he saved it and closed the program, then the PC. He wasn’t really interested in surfing the web. Too much insidious predatory capitalism embedded in everything. All the wrong sort of anger and the stupidity it spawned. Twitter was full of it. At the same time, he couldn’t abide The Happy. He couldn’t tolerate the smiles and how people could just go on about their lives without feeling the need to scream at all the injustice in the world. Maybe the world was dealing with that ongoing trauma by burying its collective head in the sand. Or up its ass. Those who protested were almost like a version of influenza, wiped out periodically by the Status Quo, only to return in a different strain and get put down again. It was a mad, sick world.
He knew it wasn’t all bad, but his outlook was soured. Sick. He needed to do something to get his mind off it or he’d go even crazier than he already was. He’d get more depressed, and then Janet, who felt it necessary to check up on him, would prescribe some horrific anti-depressant that he would definitely not take.
With a heavy, defeatist sigh, he turned on the TV he’d bought three months ago. A DVD player had been bought at the same time, and both had rarely been used. He hadn’t had many DVDs to play, either, so the next thing to do was surf Netflix and Hulu and see if there was anything worth watching. He ended up watching several MARVEL series about people whose lives were more fucked up than his own. By the time he was finished, it was two days later. And he was finally able to sleep for about six hours. Before another nightmare started the process all over again.
He had twelve days of solitude—minus Janet’s phone calls. When his space was finally invaded, welcome or unwelcome, it was by Jack. And the man showed up on his doorstep with a black eye. It wasn’t a standard one. It was a yellow splotch under his left eye, underscored by a little ashy purple. Daniel stared at him, blinking a few times, then jerked his head and turned around, going back to the kitchen table and his laptop. He’d been journaling there instead of the desktop, having moved all his earlier entries to a USB drive. Shutting the lid, he waited a beat, and when Jack took a seat, he gestured indirectly around his kitchen.
“What do you want to drink?”
“Got a beer?”
Daniel fetched a bottle from the fridge. He’d bought some Heineken several weeks ago; its only purpose was to offer it to others--namely Jack, for when he would eventually drop by. It was the last beer brand he’d seen the man drinking, and that had been … four months ago, after Daniel’s assumed death.
After he’d come home, he’d learned about Hammond’s car window from Sam, and Teal’c had told him that he’d been quite concerned for Jack until he himself felt the same frustration. Daniel had thought it a bit alarming, however. Jack had been that upset. The question on Daniel’s mind for quite a while had been, in what way did Jack care that much about him? But there’d been no answer, and certainly not by Jack. Gaining no clarity had been disappointing, but on the other hand, Jack seemed to express deep emotion only when he was upset. It wasn’t healthy.
“You’re not drinking?” Jack asked as Daniel sat back down.
He shook his head as he pushed his laptop further away and took a sip from his fresh cup of coffee. “Don’t like it.”
“Why’d you buy it?”
Daniel ordered himself not to blush. “Because I have friends who visit who do like it.”
“Who else visits?” Jack asked, his brow arching. “Carter doesn’t really drink and Teal’c definitely doesn’t.”
He was assuming, and even though it was correct, Daniel felt his anger rising. He took a long drink of coffee and refused to answer. Instead, he pointed his coffee cup at Jack’s face. “What happened?”
“Who else visits?” Jack repeated, frowning.
Daniel grit his teeth. “No one. Just you, Sam, and Teal’c. Now you know how awkward I feel right now.” He cleared his throat. “So. Black eye?”
“You bought beer just for me?” Jack asked, and his arched brow went higher. The whites of his eyes were showing more and for a second, the brown irises looked too small. It was unsettling because Daniel never thought of Jack having beady eyes.
Brace yourself, Daniel. And don’t blush.
Jack cracked a half-smile, which Daniel had to admit was sexy as hell. Then he told himself not to go there because his body was still out whack and any romantic thought made his stomach queasy. The last thing he wanted to do was rush to the bathroom because of a stupid stray thought.
“Don’t be weird, Jack. Black eye.”
“Ah. Well.” Jack picked at the label on his beer, making it obvious that what had happened was embarrassing.
“Come on,” Daniel prodded, and he dredged up a small smile of his own. “If you don’t want me to laugh, then I promise. I won’t laugh.”
“It’s not funny anyway,” Jack replied, wincing.
“So, what happened?” Daniel asked again.
“I’ve been reprimanded and given a week’s leave without pay.”
Daniel rolled his eyes, even while, inwardly, he was shocked. His impatience was climbing. Couldn’t Jack ever give him a straight answer? “Who’d you hit?” It was a fair assumption. Jack had become Hammond’s favorite. If he’d been punished instead of warned, then whatever happened had been something bad.
Jack took a drink. “You remember Colonel Kennedy?”
Daniel frowned. “The guy who wanted to intern Teal’c and torture him for information?”
Jack nodded. “He asked where you were. Hammond told him you were on medical leave. Kennedy asked why, because he hadn’t read you were injured. Hammond said it was confidential … and … Kennedy said …” Jack grimaced angrily. “He said …” He closed his eyes. “And I quote, ‘So the hell what? Getting screwed by an alien doesn’t qualify. He should be on duty. If he can’t handle the job …’ … and he didn’t finish because I punched him in the mouth.” He demonstrated with a short, sharp strike. “Just … pop.”
Daniel didn’t hear anything after ‘getting screwed by an alien’ because his blood had filled his ears. He now heard only the ocean as he went cold. Some of the hatred he’d been feeling was instantly transferred to the object of Jack’s violence. It was, however, secondary to shame and embarrassment that flooded his mind. Goosebumps appeared all over his body, painfully tightening his scalp.
“I’m sorry—” Jack began.
But the goosebumps seemed to sharpen somehow, and his stomach did a weird little flip. His mouth began to water, and he tried to push it away by swallowing and pressing his lips together. He lost focus as he stared at the floor, then a clammy sweat appeared on his forehead.
“I’ll, uh,” Daniel started as he got to his feet. He swallowed again, pressing his lips tighter. But it was no use. He ran like hell to the bathroom and just barely made it to the bowl. To his horror, Jack was right behind him. His coffee came up, then bile, and after that, the dry heaves began, and he tried to force images and feelings from his conscious mind, but he just kept dry heaving. He heard the faucet running, then Jack was beside him, putting a cold washcloth to his forehead.
Daniel didn’t shy away or scream at his touch because the cold cloth felt good, but he waited until Jack’s presence forced to him ask him to leave. His hands shook as they grasped the rim of the bowl and he groaned in horrified embarrassment. His voice echoed inside the bowl as he said, “I’m so sick of this fucking shit!” He hardly ever swore out loud and he grew angry at the humor in Jack’s voice.
“Tell me how you really feel. I won’t mind.”
“It’s not funny,” he said, ordering himself not to turn and punch him. There were times when Jack’s need to diffuse with humor was amusing. Not this time. But Jack didn’t deserve getting attacked. The man was here. Getting him a washcloth. And he’d taken a hit on his behalf. “So you punched Kennedy,” he said, his eyes closed. “What happened? Distract me.”
“We were in the Briefing Room. He punched back. I hit him again, and he fell back against the observation window so hard, he put a crack in it. Frankly, I think that’s why Hammond got so mad. After Kennedy left, he said he understood the impulse but that I can’t let shit like that bother me. And I told him that this was an exception to the rule.”
“What’d he say?” Daniel asked, eyes closed, as he removed the washcloth and rested his forehead on the cold porcelain. The washcloth was no longer cold. He held it out blindly and Jack took it.
“He agreed. And then told me to go home. He said I was lucky. If Kennedy had been a General, I might have been court-martialed.”
Daniel snorted softly, then his head began to pound, and he groaned again. “You wouldn’t have hit him if he had been a General.”
“Maybe,” Jack said.
Daniel moved back, then pushed away from the toilet to get to his feet. He started to think about getting a Tylenol when Jack put a hand on his arm.
And he froze. He swallowed, and it was the only movement he could make aside from talking. “Jack. I’m really very sorry but …” His voice dropped. “Please don’t touch me.”
Jack removed his hand as if he’d been burned. “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t think.”
“Don’t be sorry. You’re concerned. I appreciate it, and you don’t know how much. It’s just that I can’t …”
“Hey, I get it.”
Daniel went to the sink, his brows knotting—mostly due to pain, but he was a little doubtful too. “How? You weren’t … you know.” He pictured Kennedy in his mind. “That bastard.”
Suddenly, the anger that he’d felt rising turned into rage in a matter of seconds, startling him. He knew he should stop, but he was so sick and tired of behaving the way everyone wanted him to behave. He screamed, “Bastard!” as he punched the bathroom mirror. A fist-sized schism of crushed glass formed instead of breaking apart the entire mirror, and it was unsatisfying. Daniel hit it twice more before Jack could stop him.
“Daniel, Stop!” Jack shouted, grabbing him despite Daniel’s demand. One arm went around his waist while the other hand grabbed his arm and pulled it back at the inside elbow. “Stop!”
Daniel didn’t. He struggled in his arms as his strength pulled Jack forward, his fist connecting with the mirror again, this time shooting pain up his arm. And still, the mirror didn’t shatter. It just formed another circle of crushed and fractured glass, except this one was covered with blood. The frustration merged with the stinging of his knuckles and Daniel abruptly sagged in Jack’s arms. He dropped to the floor in a sitting position as Jack kept hold of him and without warning, as with the hitting of the mirror, he began to sob. Jack held his injured hand while his free hand rubbed his back. He didn’t say any words of comfort and for that, Daniel was grateful. If he’d said, “It’s alright,” there would have been screaming and he might have punched him.
He didn’t know how long he cried, but when he began to cough and sniff, he knew the release was over. He started to feel horrified and embarrassed, so his mind diverted itself into going through the medical reasons why your nose and throat clogged up when you cried. After thinking that, he laughed at himself, then heard confusion in Jack’s voice.
“What’s funny?” he asked, continuing to rub his back.
“Nothing. Stupid thoughts running through my head. I’m not sharing.”
There was sympathy in Jack’s voice. “Okay.”
Eventually, Daniel sat back and looked down at his hand. His right hand. He sighed heavily as he took in the oozing, deep cuts and got to his feet—again, with Jack’s help. He wondered why he suddenly didn’t mind his touch as he turned on cold water and began to rinse the wounds. “Why don’t we ever have the presence of mind to use the hand we don’t write with?”
“Dominant hand syndrome?” Jack quipped as he looked in the medicine cabinet that was stationed over the toilet. “At least this cabinet isn’t in the usual spot.”
“Get me some water and some Tylenol, will ya? I left the bottle in the kitchen.” Daniel wrapped the used washcloth over his knuckles, then hissed and threw it to the floor. Sweat salt. He grabbed another washcloth off the bar behind the door and held it under the tap along with his knuckles. Jack appeared in the doorway and Daniel took a moment to take a few pills.
“Get the kit from under the sink and let’s go in the kitchen to fix this up.” Daniel always believed in being prepared.
Sitting at the kitchen table, with tweezers, alcohol, swabs, gauze, and a lot more water, Jack cleaned the wounds. He kept giving Daniel wary looks before he finally said, “Fraiser needs to look at this.”
Daniel shook his head. “I’m not going up there.”
“If Fraiser sees you didn’t come up to get this looked at, she’ll read you the riot act.”
“I don’t care,” Daniel said. “Now please help me put some medicine on these and bandage it up.”
Jack sighed and nodded. Daniel winced a few times but held still as Jack applied the antibiotic ointment and wrapped larger bandages around his knuckles to keep the smaller pads in place. It made Daniel wonder if he’d had to do this sort of thing in the field, or if it had been Charlie who’d given him the practice. He didn’t ask.
“Thanks,” he said lamely when Jack was done. He received a grunt in reply. He sat back, staring at the bandages, feeling the pain now, despite the Tylenol. His shoulder and elbow hurt, too. A heavier form of embarrassment and shame swept over him then and his cheeks colored. “I’m sorry,” he sighed, cringing his eyes closed.
“For what?” Jack asked. “You don’t have anything to be sorry about.”
“I lost control,” Daniel said, his eyes tearing up, and he scrunched up his face to push the tears back.
“Daniel,” Jack said, and the tone held such compassionate admonishment that Daniel damn near lost it again. Jack leaned forward and awkwardly put his arms around him again and Daniel rested his forehead on his shoulder. They stayed that way for a few minutes. Then Jack said, “I actually do understand, Daniel. It happened. To me.” A long silence, and Daniel didn’t dare break it as his astonishment filled his mind. “In Iraq.”
Jack didn’t say anymore, and Daniel didn’t ask for details. It was already a huge deal that Jack had just shared a confidence about something someone like him went to great pains to keep secret. And for the same reasons any rape victim kept silent. The first few steps of recovery. Daniel wondered then if that’s why Jack was so bent on never leaving anyone behind, or if it was simply his military nature. Probably a bit of both.
The silence continued, and it seemed that Jack was just fine with whatever Daniel wanted to do. Well, he didn’t know what he wanted to do. Except hug him back. Finally, the silence grew awkward. He felt it. It wasn’t a big thing, but he felt Jack move just a tiny bit, so he drew back and gave him a grateful half-smile. “Thanks.”
“Anytime. Only, don’t do that mirror thing again.”
A real smile spread over Daniel’s lips for a few seconds, then faded. “Promise.” He frowned in thought. “I think I needed to do that though.” Jack gave him a look. “I know. Nuts.”
“No,” Jack said, and took a sip from his beer. “It’s not.” He got up and stretched a bit. “You hungry?”
Daniel’s brows went up. “After all that?”
“Yeah,” Jack said, as if Daniel’s question was silly. “Even now.”
Daniel thought about it. “I don’t know. Nothing really comes to mind that doesn’t make me cringe.”
Again, Daniel thought it over. And strangely, the only thing he felt like eating was fortune cookies. Jack ordered Chinese food, but when the order came, with the extra cookies, all Daniel really wanted was the Chow Mein with a lot of soy sauce. It made Jack cringe, which pulled a sort of smile from Daniel. “I puked up salt and potassium for two days. This’ll give me one of them back. Sort of.” He had iced lemon water with the food.
They watched a few movies on cable, and all the while, Daniel relaxed more and more. Jack left him a little after midnight, with an admonishment about his hand. Despite that, and the earlier violence, Daniel felt peaceful for the first time in a while. It was as if he’d needed to expel the anger that had been building, like pus from a wound. He went to sleep in a bit of pain from his head and his hand, but the Tylenol was beginning to work.
And at four in the morning, he awoke from a reenactment nightmare, his body trembling and sweating, his stomach heaving. His lovely dinner came back up, and suddenly his head hurt worse and his hand throbbed like mad. He sighed as he set his forehead against the cold porcelain, shedding tears while laughing at his own stupidity.
Back on the couch, he stayed up until dawn, sitting in the dark and the silence while his mind whirled. Only when sunlight streamed through the blinds and fell on his face did he finally fall into a dreamless sleep.
Jack was insane. Too many people in the damn gateroom had heard him say it and now he’d never live it down. Damn him. What had made him say it?
In his newly assigned office-slash-lab, Daniel stood by the lab table and reached for his journal when he caught a slight tremor in his right hand. He made a fist. Then spread his fingers. It was still there. Had the sarcophagus done something? Panic made him leave the office and head to the infirmary, where he waited for Janet to finish with another patient.
“What’s up?” she asked at the door.
He held up his hand.
“Come over here,” she said and led him to an empty bed. “Sit.” She examined his pupils, his reflexes, listened to his heart, took his vitals.
She draped the stethoscope around her neck and crossed her arms. “Your vitals are fine, your heart is normal, as are your pupils.” She had him hold both hands up. A tremor. It was slight. No one would notice unless they stared at his hands as he held them level. So. Only him, and only Janet. She gave him a look, then gestured that he follow her into her office. “Let’s talk in private.”
“God, Janet,” he said.
“Don’t worry. I’ll schedule a CAT scan, but I don’t think that’s the problem.”
He didn’t like the sound of that, either. As they crossed the corridor, Jack appeared at the corner down the hall, walking in a hurry, with Sam and Teal’c right behind.
“Hey, Doc,” Jack said. “Daniel, you okay? You weren’t in your new office.”
“I’ll, uh, let you know.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Daniel repeated.
“You okay?” Sam asked.
“I’ll tell you later,” Daniel repeated emphatically.
Janet interrupted the well-meaning interrogation. “You were all cleared. Go home.”
“So was Daniel,” Jack argued. “Now he’s here.”
“For another reason. Go home. He’ll let you know later.”
“I’ll wait,” Jack said, and he crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. Sam and Teal’c exchanged looks, then decided to stay, too.
“Go home,” Janet repeated. Slowly.
“They might as well stay,” Daniel told her with as bland a look as he could manage. “Otherwise they’ll just wait for me in the locker room.”
Janet grumbled in her throat and tugged at his sleeve. “Come on.”
Daniel kept looking behind him, frowning at the behavior of his teammates. It suddenly occurred to him that they might want to celebrate, and he really, really wasn’t in the mood to continue to plaster a fake smile on his face and force cheerfulness into his tone. It suddenly occurred to him that Jack, Sam, and Teal’c must’ve recognized the insincerity. Shit. That’s why they were waiting to beleaguer him with questions he’d have to answer with lies. Except for Jack. He really couldn’t do it.
Once inside her office, Janet had him sit down and she took the chair next to him instead of sitting on the desk or behind it. “I have a theory and it’s a pretty good one.”
“Okay,” Daniel said slowly, then tried for a slight bit of humor he definitely didn’t feel. “Test the hypothesis.”
Her half-smile was sober. “PTSD. Both the ongoing business from Hathor and what happened on the Goa’uld ship.”
“I got shot,” Daniel said, mystified. “I’ve been shot before.”
Janet sighed. “It isn’t about that. But getting shot catches up with you. Even a career officer like Colonel O’Neill. Everyone at the SGC suffers one form of it and depending on the person and their exposure to violence or stress, it can become crippling. Over time, we’ve become somewhat inured to sudden scares and emergencies, but as a member of an SG team, you’ll experience combat fatigue due to being shot at all the time.”
“Janet—” Daniel said, not understanding. “It’s not—”
“A big deal?” she finished, arching a brow. “Yes it is. I’ve been talking to General Hammond and in my opinion, he needs to let the SG teams have more time off. You need it, to wind down, to have something mundane and boring, to reset what I’ll call your ‘normal’ clocks. Sooner or later, you’ll all need to decompress, and the sooner, and more frequent, the better. If you don’t, the result will be harmful to yourselves, and maybe others.”
“I hear what you’re saying,” Daniel told her as he considered her words. “But this tremor is PTSD? Are you sure? What if it’s—”
She held up a hand. “As I said, I’ll schedule a CAT scan tomorrow. If I don’t see anything, then it’s stress and you’ll need to wind down. In your case, I’m thinking stress because you’ve got good reason to have it more than most.”
“It makes no sense,” Daniel said, frowning and thinking. “I’ve been under a lot of stress during digs in Southern Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. Sometimes my life was in danger and I got shot at. I got used to it and filed it under ‘the cost of doing business’.”
“I’m not talking about getting shot at. Or shot.”
“But you said—”
“It’s an example of what I’ve talked to Hammond about. But you’re different because you were sexually assaulted.”
“I’m sorry, but your reaction sort of makes my point. It was only six months ago. You’re not going to get over it anytime soon. You were assaulted by a Goa’uld. Then you’ve been in battles with enemy Jaffa, and just now, you were on a Goa’uld ship, then attacked by one with a hand device. To make it worse, it was by someone you care about who’s been hijacked. In many ways, Skaara’s been an ongoing victim of assault.” Again, Daniel flinched. She put a hand on his. “Then you got shot, used his sarcophagus, and barely escaped before getting blown up. That’s a lot of horror for one day.”
Daniel sighed. “So if it’s not a brain tumor or cancer or something, it’s ju—” He’d been about to say, ‘just stress’, reminding himself that when you used the word ‘just’, you’re minimizing. His attack six months ago wasn’t just anything.
“It’s not. I think I’d see signs of it elsewhere. How’s your weight?”
“Still gaining a little?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said, making a face.
“Muscle weighs more than fat, Daniel,” she said, reminding him that working out with Teal’c and others in the gym would make him gain weight before it leveled off.
“Maybe,” he said, lifting his shirt to look at his abdomen. “I’m nowhere near a six pack. Exactly where’s this weight going?”
She grinned at him. “Your legs and back. If you work your abdomen more, the six pack will show up faster.” She arched a brow. “Is that what you’re going for?”
He thought about it, then shrugged. “Not really. Just staying in shape.” He made a face. “When I look at all the walking examples around me, I feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.”
She snorted. “You’re untoned, not flabby.” She got up and put a hand on his shoulder before going to the door. He got up and followed. “I’ll give you a call in the morning, or someone will leave you a note on your office door.”
“For what?” he asked, having forgotten already. He winced. “Sorry. CAT scan. Blocked it out. They’re such a pain.”
“I know, but they’re damn useful.”
He jogged his brows. “Thanks, Janet. For the talk. I’ll give it some thought. Maybe I’ll ask Teal’c to teach me how to Kel No Reem.”
She looked surprised. “You know, that’s a good idea.”
“Really?” he asked, equally surprised. “I was kinda half-joking.”
“I’m not. It’s a good idea. Meditation is another good tool, and you can’t have too many.”
He snorted and left her office, finding Jack, Sam, and Teal’c still waiting. He sighed and held up his hand. The tremor was slightly less, and he frowned. He eyed them, watching him carefully, and heaved an exasperated sigh. “I have a tremor.” He held up his hand. “It was worse. I’m having a CAT scan tomorrow to make sure it’s nothing physical. Janet thinks it’s ju … uh, PTSD.”
“She did?” Jack asked
“It’s what she thinks it is.” They headed down the corridor toward the elevators. “She’s lobbying General Hammond for more time off for SG teams in order to control the severity of our ongoing PTSD.”
“PTSD,” Teal’c repeated. “Stress?”
Daniel didn’t respond so it was Sam who took on the role of teacher. After getting in the elevator, she said, “I got a bit of it when my mom died.”
It surprised Jack. “People get PTSD from someone dying?” Daniel gave him a knowing look and Jack backtracked. “Right. I guess …” He didn’t finish the thought. He had his own pain with Charlie that would never fully go away. That, at least, Daniel understood, given the death of his foster parents. And Shau’re.
. . .
The four of them went out to dinner to celebrate and for a while, Daniel found himself relaxing after forcing himself to do it for their sake. He should do for it his own, but he couldn’t muster the will. If the CAT scan didn’t show anything, he’d ask Janet for genetic testing to see if he carried a risk factor for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. It might be a warning sign. Thinking that, it was a stressor all by itself. Typical.
In the parking lot, Jack said, “Hang back. Wait till Carter and Teal’c leave.”
Curious, Daniel nodded and after getting in his car, he waited, waving at the two as they drove off. He got back out and opened the passenger door of Jack’s truck. “What?”
“Uh, come on over? I’d like to hang out for a bit, if that’s okay?”
Daniel frowned at him. “You’re worried about me.”
“No, not exactly.”
“Come on over. We’ll talk.”
Jack looked a bit embarrassed. Though he hid it well, Daniel could still tell. “Okay.”
“Great,” Jack said, and Daniel shut his door and got back into his car.
Daniel stopped off at his apartment first. All the way there, his mind raced. Jack was acting weird. Talk? What the hell did they have to talk about? If Jack was going to give him the same PTSD talk that Janet gave earlier, Daniel planned on slapping him upside the head. He wasn’t a child who needed protecting, nor have things repeatedly explained. While he appreciated Janet’s warning as a Doctor’s prerogative, he wasn’t going to tolerate it from Jack. Nearly six months ago, he’d helped him through a bad night and it had brought them closer as friends. That was okay. And as a friend, he expected Jack to care what happened to him. But some things went a bit too far.
Once upon a time, he’d fantasized about being with Jack in more intimate ways, but their lives hadn’t been heading in a direction that would allow for the possibility of it coming true. He didn’t really have confirmation that Jack was Bi, but his own radar sense said there was something there. Maybe it wasn’t even actualized. Jack might be a late bloomer, but Daniel didn’t think so. So perhaps the deepening of their friendship was his inner self’s way of overcompensating. It was a shame. He could see the two of them …
Daniel cut off that thinking as he finished changing into jeans and a black and red plaid shirt. He left it untucked in case a stray thought from the fantasy brain swam up from the depths to betray his logical mind and suckerpunch him into doing something stupid. Like reacting the wrong way to something he would normally ignore. Long shirts were good at covering up those … accidents.
When he arrived at Jack’s, he found his truck gone. Daniel frowned as he parked and shut off his car, then grabbed his cell and called him. The house phone’s voice mail turned on. He called Jack’s cell, which he should’ve done first. It rang for a while, then went to voice mail. Daniel knew there wasn’t an emergency at the mountain because he hadn’t received an alert. Had something bad happened to Jack on the way home?
Daniel backtracked from Jack’s home to the restaurant, knowing which route Jack was likely to have taken, including stopping off at the store for beer or snacks. There weren’t any signs of an accident. He called Jack’s number again as he drove back toward his house. Voice mail.
“Where are you?” he said and hung up. He waited five minutes, then called again. As he reached Jack’s, he still wasn’t there. The voice mail came on. “You know. Whatever’s going on, call me. You wanted to talk and maybe you’re chickening out. Whatever the hell it is, you know you can talk to me.” Daniel went back to his apartment and by the time he reached his door, a summer squall had descended. “Perfect.” He barely escaped getting drenched.
Over the next hour, the thunderstorm raged, leveled the area with golf ball hail, then dissipated and vanished completely as if it had never happened. Apart from the frozen litter everywhere, which would melt in another hour thanks to the humidity. Rocky Mountain weather.
He changed into his night time gear: sweatpants and white tank top undershirt. Both were old and soft as hell. The edging on the shirt was fraying at the shoulders and there were a couple holes in the sweatpants, primarily at calf-level where he’d caught them on either a corner of a coffee table or a metal bed frame. These days, he bought coffee tables with rounded corners and bed frames that were boxes instead of raised metal on wheels. He didn’t bark his toes anymore, either. Except in the dark and on door jambs.
After eating dinner, he poured himself some wine and relaxed on the couch with his laptop and researched meditation techniques. He’d talk to Teal’c tomorrow, but it didn’t hurt to study up on other methods. He already knew the basics, having used them in the past order to go to sleep during a dig that was set up near a jungle. The noises were unbelievably loud at night.
Sleep itself wasn’t a problem anymore, for the most part. The nightmares had died down to a couple per month. He held up his hand, checking on the tremor. He’d almost managed to forget about it. It was still there, but it now needed staring at his hand for more than ten seconds before catching it. He made a fist, then shook his hand and held it out again, stretching his fingers. A wibble. He sighed and flexed his fingers a few times and went back to reading.
At fifteen minutes to eleven, his cell rang. He’d left it on the kitchen table and walked to retrieve it, forcing himself not to hurry. He’d programmed it to ring for a while before the voice mail clicked on so when he reached it to see who it was, he had time to sigh and pick it up.
“I hope to god you’re not in the hospital. Although if you were, you shouldn’t be able to get a call out to—”
There was a strange mechanical whine, like feedback, then dead air. He stared at his phone. Did Jack just hang up? A second later, there was a knock at the door. He looked over his shoulder and narrowed his eyes. “What the …” Walking over, he looked through the peephole and found it was black. If it was Jack, he was covering the damn thing. He turned the lock and yanked open the door. “Jack, what … in the hell …” His words faded. Jack stood there in half-drenched clothing and wet-but-drying hair. He was leaning oddly. “Are you …” Daniel began, mouth dropping open in shock. “Are you drunk?”
“Uh … yeah.”
Daniel sighed heavily and held out his hand. “Give me your keys and get your ass in here.” When Jack complied, Daniel shut the door and turned the lock. “Shame on you. Go in the kitchen. I’ll be back with some towels and a bathrobe.”
“Uh … okay.”
As he went to the bathroom cabinet, he heard the scraping of a kitchen chair and winced. Hardwood flooring. He knew he should have put those damn covers on the leg ends. He grabbed a towel, then his bathrobe off the hook behind the door. When he got to the kitchen, Jack was retrieving a Coke from the fridge. Good thing. If it had been a beer, he’d have decked him with it. Okay, maybe not decked. But Jack would’ve been on his butt.
“Here,” he said, setting the towel on the table and the robe on the back of the chair. He took the corner chair and sat down. “What the hell happened?”
As Jack toweled his hair, he said, words slightly muffled, “I panicked. So I went to get a drink. Then it turned into a few more.” He got up. “Bathroom,” he said, and disappeared.
“You gonna throw up?” Daniel asked, rising. He was prepared to tell Jack to make it to the toilet or he’d be cleaning the bathroom himself.
“No, just have to piss like a racehorse.”
His speech was only slightly slurry. “Ah huh.” He got up, grabbed the robe, then followed him. After Jack was finished, which Daniel did not watch, he waited till he flushed, then tossed him the robe. “Change. Then come back out.”
“Wanna—” Jack began, but then shook his head and closed the door in Daniel’s face. “No, nothing.”
Daniel frowned, and a blush of embarrassment started to creep up the sides of his neck and tweak his earlobes. What in the hell had he been about to ask? Help him out of his clothes? No, no. That couldn’t be it. Take a shower? No. What?
Your imagination needs to take a nap, Jackson. Wake it back up after he leaves in the morning.
When he got to the kitchen, he took Jack’s keys and hid them in the bread drawer behind a pack of bagels. Hopefully, Jack wouldn’t do a search while he was asleep. They definitely had to talk in the morning. He went over and closed his laptop, then took it with him as he headed for his bedroom. Jack paused in the bathroom doorway, toweling his hair with a fresh towel, and wearing the black bathrobe. Daniel sighed and shook his head, then paused at the hall closet and got down a blanket and pillow. “Here,” he said, handing them over. “I’ll see you in the morning. Don’t look for your keys.”
He went into the bedroom and closed the door. He was tempted to lock it, but he’d never used it and given the type of lock, a firm twist would break it. Two steps toward the bed and Jack was knocking. With another heavy sigh, he opened the door. “What?”
“Can we talk?”
“While you’re drunk? Are you serious? You know that if you say something you’ll definitely regret, you’ll use the ‘I was drunk’ excuse. So, no, Jack. We’ll talk in the morning.”
“It’ll be too late,” Jack said, rubbing at his hair—which was mostly dry and all it did was stand up.
Daniel resisted the urge to smile. Jack was a cute, silly drunk. He was also a bit introspective and could go on and on about a subject until he put a person to sleep. The next day he’d be embarrassed and announce at breakfast, “All that stuff I said? Forget I said it.” It was never forgotten. Just filed away for a rainy day and ready teasing as a means of payback for something or other. Usually when Jack had embarrassed him in front of others. Daniel sometimes felt that Jack did it on purpose just to be able to spar.
“C’mon,” Jack insisted. “Talk to me.”
“No,” Daniel drawled. “And you came here to talk, not to listen to me do it. I know you have something to say, Jack, but couldn’t it wai—”
“I love you.” Jack was wavering a little as he leaned against the door jamb.
Daniel sighed and allowed a tiny smile. “Yes, and I love you, too. Now, go to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.” He gently closed his door, forcing Jack to take a step back, then turned off the light. As he got into bed, adjusting his comforter, Jack said through the door, “No, I mean I Love You.”
Those words had Capitalized Emphasis. Daniel frowned in annoyance and didn’t budge as he turned on his side, back to the door. “Thank you, Jack, I love you too. Now Go to Bed.”
Finally, there was silence, and creaking. Jack had gone back down the hall. Daniel lay there in the dark, replaying the entire half hour in his head. Jack had skipped their meeting and had gone out to get drunk because whatever it was needed liquid courage. He’d then shown up at his apartment in his inebriated state knowing damn well he’d get his keys get taken away. Which meant he planned to either stay the night or get driven home.
What the hell was it that made him get drunk?
It was hypothesis time.
Theory Number One. He’d said I Love You twice, while drunk. Had he planned on saying it at his house, but chickened out and needed alcohol first? Possibly. Corollary: The only reason to say those words, under those circumstances, was because they were the romantic kind and he was afraid of rejection. That needed liquid courage to face.
Theory Number Two. He wanted to talk about something else, and he felt he needed the liquid courage for that. The I Love You business was just happy drunk talk because Jack was like that. Which is why he rarely let himself get drunk. But … if Theory Number Two was the correct one, it didn’t explain why he wasn’t demanding to talk instead of being forced to go to bed.
He stared harder into the darkness as he weighed one theory against the other. Which scenario was the right one? The only thing he could do was go by Jack’s actions to date, combined with his personality and character, then add what he knew about him. Logically, everything led to the latter supposition. The non-romantic one. A part of Daniel wished for the romantic explanation, but he ditched it because it just wasn’t Jack.
Growling because he wouldn’t get any sleep until he found out, he threw the covers aside and opened the bedroom door. Jack was in the bathroom, brushing his teeth. Thankfully, he was using the spare toothbrush. Daniel crossed his arms. It was defensive, and he didn’t care.
“Why’d you get drunk?”
“To get the courage to tell you I love you,” Jack said, words distorted around the toothbrush.
Daniel stared back, ordering himself not to fidget. It wasn’t the first theory. It couldn’t be. It made zero sense. “But why in the hell would you need to get drunk to tell me that? I already know.” He watched the man finish, and it was obvious that wasn’t as drunk as Daniel thought he was, but he was still too drunk to drive. Jack shut the light off, then walked over to him. He seemed to hesitate, as if he didn’t know what to do with his hands, then he held out the right one. “What?” Daniel asked, staring at it.
“Jesus, Daniel,” Jack said, and tugged his arms apart and took his left hand. He threaded their fingers together and it was so unnerving that Daniel pulled his hand away and took a step back.
“What the hell has gotten into you?”
Jack blushed, then took a deep breath and seemed to will it away. It was fascinating to watch the skin color fade to normal. “I thought you were dead,” Jack finally said. “Then you weren’t. It happened twice in seven months. What if …”
He swallowed and reached for him again, but Daniel stepped away from him. He needed distance to take in what Jack was saying. But the man was exasperating, following him into the darkened bedroom.
“Hey, now, Jack,” Daniel said, trying to sidestep, but the room wasn’t big enough for that. He pushed at his shoulder. “Can’t this wait?”
“I need to get this out,” Jack insisted.
“In my bedroom?”
And to Daniel’s horror—well, not exactly that—a tiny smile appeared on Jack’s lips.
“Well, sure, eventually.”
The silence after that was deafening. “What?” Daniel whispered.
“I can’t keep it to myself anymore. What if you die for good next time?”
“I wasn’t dead before,” Daniel countered.
“You know what I mean,” Jack said, and he reached for him, his hand moving in a manner that said he was going to put his arm about his waist.
Daniel panicked and stumbled backward, nearly falling on the bed, and he pretty much contorted himself into avoiding it. It made Jack laugh.
“You’re cracking me up. I can’t help it.”
“Then make some sense, and … stop moving.” Daniel held up his hand but not close enough for Jack to grab. But he soon would because he took another step. “Goddammit,” he breathed, scowling, and did a quick roll over the bottom corner of the bed, heading for his dresser. “Okay,” he said, breathing a tiny sigh of relief. “Now.” He swallowed then because Jack was still coming toward him. “Stop. Moving. Just say what you need to say without getting all …” He made an undefined wave of his hand at the man.
Jack stopped and started giggling. Giggling. “What was that?” he asked, trying to imitate him. It looked like a figure eight. He then went to the bed and stretched across it, then held out his hand. “Join me.”
Daniel let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah right. You are … what in the hell has gotten … what have you been drinking? Absinthe with a pot chaser?”
Jack fell onto his back with a sigh. “I wish. Daniel, come here. If you don’t come here, I’m coming to get you. You apparently don’t want that.” He suddenly turned on his stomach and stared at him. His face was somewhat indistinct, but Daniel knew it well, so he could read him. There was a focus there. One that meant …
“You can’t be.”
“Can’t be what?”
“That,” Daniel asked, gesturing at the bed. “Meaning that.”
“Why not?” Jack asked.
“Well …” Daniel swallowed. “Because you’re you and I’m me. And we’ve never talked about stuff like that. I mean, about who we like and … you know.”
“I know,” Jack said, swinging his legs off the foot of the bed and sitting up. “It’s what I wanted to talk about. And tell you how I feel. But I kinda panicked.”
“Kinda?” Daniel asked, barking out a laugh. “I’d say you jumped ship, Jack.”
The man snorted. “Maybe so.” He paused. “Okay, yeah. You’re right. I did. I’m sorry I stood you up. I just …” He got to his feet and reached out, grabbing Daniel’s arm before he got away. “I need to tell you this up close, so you’ll take it seriously.”
“No need. I heard you before,” Daniel said, backing up, trying to pull out of his grasp. The man had a hard grip. It sent Fantasy Brain up to the surface and Logical Mind tried to drown it. He realized he was being backed toward the wall. He sidestepped, then Jack yanked hard and a giggle escaped his throat as they both landed on the bed. Jack’s arm was around his waist and part of his body was pinning him to the bed.
“Let go,” Daniel breathed. “This isn’t the way we should be talking about this.”
“You wouldn’t talk to me elsewhere,” Jack insisted.
Daniel started to sit up, to roll away, and Jack reached up to grab his shoulder. There was a bit of wrestling, and Daniel was suddenly rolling toward the pillows. Jack’s body was against his and there was a gap that told Daniel he had to take it to escape. Except. Jack closed it by fully putting his arms around him and planting his lips on his.
Daniel froze for a millisecond before Fantasy Brain took over and gave the wheel to Want. He opened his mouth, met Jack’s tongue, and surrounded him in his arms as the kiss took over. It was firm and soft and warm and cool. All of them at the same time. The taste of mint from the toothpaste. The barest hint of alcohol. Then Jack moaned. Deeply. The sound of it melted Daniel’s spine. Their tongues twined and rolled, creating saliva that each swallowed as if they were consuming each other.
When Daniel felt Jack’s hard cock against his thigh, that broke the spell as Panic cold-cocked Fantasy Brain and he shoved him away, straight-arming some distance. “No. Stop. We so can’t go any further. Don’t make me quote Jimmy Stewart.”
“Okay,” Jack said, relaxing on his side, head tilted thanks to no pillow. “But can I sleep here? That couch is too short.”
Daniel winced. He hadn’t thought of that. Still, he narrowed his eyes as he rolled over and turned on the side lamp. Jack grimaced and shaded his eyes for a moment until he got used to it. “It’d serve you right you know,” Daniel told him as pointed at the far pillow. “You’re on the left.”
They both got into bed, and when Jack made to snuggle close, Daniel held up a finger, Jack-style. “No. You sleep over there. I sleep over here. We’ll have a talk tomorrow, and providing we aren’t on a mission tomorrow night—”
“We might have a few days off. For saving the planet.”
Daniel arched a brow. “Huh. Go figure.”
“Right? You’d think it’d be an automatic thing.”
Jack behaved himself and moved a foot away, but he lay on his side, facing him. Watching him. Daniel turned out the light and lay down, on his side. Facing him.
“It’s gonna be different,” Jack said.
“Ya think?” Daniel replied, making the man smile broadly. When Jack did that, it made him look a lot more handsome than usual. Damn him. “Why now? Just because you thought I was dead?”
“Yes. What purpose does regret serve if not to tell you how stupid you are?”
Daniel blinked at him. “Wow. That was … rather deep.”
“Don’t make fun. I’m serious.”
“You’re not. I can tell.”
“No you can’t.”
“Yes I can.”
“No you can’t.”
“Yes, I can.”
Jack paused. “Okay. You can.” He was silent for a few long seconds, then said, “You were hard.”
Daniel coughed. “Yeah, well.” He cleared his throat several times. “So were you.” Jack started to reach for him and Daniel slapped at him. “No. You want this to be done drunk or sober? I vote the latter.”
Jack sighed. “Me, too.”
“Now, close your eyes. Go to sleep.” Daniel closed his, though his ears were attuned for a while, waiting for Jack to move, and soon, he was asleep.
When Daniel awoke in the morning, Jack was gone. But there was a mug of coffee on the side table, with a note that read, “See you at work.” And the coffee was still hot. Daniel then remembered that the reason he’d woken up was the faint sense of a kiss on the forehead. A cautious smile formed on his lips, and with it came the very tactile memory of their first kiss. He swallowed as he sat up, moving the note aside as he picked up the mug. As he carefully sipped, sighing at the first taste of coffee, he noticed that there was some writing on the other side of the thin notepaper. He flipped it over.
“You have no idea how much willpower it took not to make love to you this morning.”
Daniel spilled his coffee as it went down the wrong pipe.
Jack had been right. They were given time off for saving the planet. Three whole days. It was unfair. Everyone else in the world had three-day weekends just because of certain holidays. In his opinion, they deserved a month off. Still, he wouldn’t refuse the three days. But first, CAT scan. He reported to the infirmary after the meeting with Hammond and afterward, Janet found him in his lab. In her hands was a large envelope, the kind that carried x-rays.
Daniel had been studying images on the computer and he stood up, eyes wide with apprehension. “Well?”
“You’re fine,” she said, pulling out the images to show him. “See these areas?” She pointed to a spot behind the brain stem. “The cerebellum. It’d have some abnormal areas showing degeneration if your tremors were a physical abnormality. But there’s nothing wrong.”
He heaved a sigh of relief. “Good. Which means the tremors are PTSD.”
“Probably,” she nodded.
“Probably?” he asked, worry rising again.
“Have you noticed if they’ve decreased or increased?”
He slowly nodded. “Actually, yes.” He held up his hand and the tremor was almost non-existent.
“That’s good news!” she said, smiling. “Did you notice when, or was it just this morning?”
“Last night,” he said absently, then recalled the late evening. “Early evening.”
“Anything different about last night?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Nothing.” She eyed him doubtfully and he cursed himself for not hiding the fact that he was omitting something. “Nothing,” he said, emphasizing. “Really.”
“Okay,” she said, and it was obvious that she still didn’t believe him. “I’ll leave it. You have a right to privacy.”
He gave her a look. “I’d share, but it’s very personal. I’m not ready.” It was the truth, so he could sell it.
She nodded as she rounded his chair and lifted his previously injured hand to examine the scarred knuckles. “How’s it feeling?”
“Fine. No nerve damage.”
“You’re lucky, you know,” she said, letting go and giving him a long look. “You only cracked the bone of the middle finger. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
“I know. And thanks for not telling Hammond how it happened.”
She shook her head admonishingly. “Just don’t—”
“Do it again,” he said at the same time. “I won’t.” He gave her a guilty look. “Unless the mirror deserves it.”
“Daniel,” she chided.
He held up both hands. “I give. It won’t happen again.”
Mollified, she left his office, but he was nearly lying. If something happened and he lost his temper again, he knew he’d punch something breakable. Sooner or later, something would come up that would cause a relapse and the nightmares he thought were gone would come roaring back.
As the morning went on, he tried to wrap up a few things before going home, but his mind kept returning to last night, and the way he’d gone to extremes to keep Jack from touching him. After a while, he knew that his resistance wasn’t because Jack had been drunk. He replayed the moment their lips had met and the way he’d opened to him. It was almost without reservation, and he’d pushed past the alarm bells in his head for a minute or two, but then panic had taken over.
Had he wanted Jack, but fear of intimacy stopped him? His heart and stomach fluttered with need when he thought of Jack’s arms around him. When he thought of his lips and more kissing. But the need turned to fear when he thought of Jack going down on him or kneeling between his legs. There was need, but it was taking a backseat to fear, and the fear wasn’t because he was afraid of being intimate. He didn’t have that.
He was afraid of freezing up, confirmed by the stiffness in his muscles when he thought about sex. Afraid that when they got down to the real deal, aggressively seeking pleasure, that his PTSD fears would surge and override his conscious desire.
It had happened already, and he’d been by himself. Jerking off had become a problem. A few days ago, he’d been horny as hell and he’d had a good fantasy running in his head, where Jack was fucking him in every position possible. And then suddenly, on his stomach, with his arms over his head, he’d frozen up and his erection had died unfulfilled.
Picturing that scenario was an oft-used fantasy. Having his hands pinned over his head while someone, lately Jack, fucked him and jerked him off at the same time. But the act of being restrained had forced his blood to run cold, and so recede from his cock.
It, in the form of a beautiful woman, had pinned him down while riding him. Her eyes had glowed, and her teeth had bared. And somehow, she’d clamped down on him while she used her abnormal strength to pin him painfully against the mattress.
In his fantasies, there was no pain. And he thought he’d gotten past the fear of her, but a few days ago, it had reared its ugly head without warning. Without his consent. A double whammy. His own mind raping him again with the sense memory.
He could tell Jack not to do it, but the man loved wrestling with him last night. Holding him down—although it was more being held tightly, but that was way too close to the horrible reality.
And so. Panic.
Daniel loved being held down. He’d loved the mild form of bondage. Then Hathor had taken that from him for a few months. Alone, fantasizing, the desire had returned. But now it was gone again. It now made his stomach flutter in the wrong way and he couldn’t get rid of the fear.
So that was that. He didn’t refuse Jack because he was drunk. He refused him because he panicked. Being held down, however inadvertently, would make him freeze, and he didn’t want to do that in the middle of making love. What if things went well, and Jack was inside him? Then suddenly, in the middle of fucking, Jack would clasp their hands together—as Daniel would want. But in doing so, it would feel like he was being held down? Then he’d have to stop. He’d push Jack away. And then there’d be the resentment and frustration. He’d think he was a cock tease, wouldn’t he? No, maybe not. But what if he did? Daniel couldn’t risk it. And so whatever happened later, with Jack, sex couldn’t be part of the equation.
Daniel sagged on a lab stool as a defeatist melancholy swept over him. This would be the moment when he found out if Jack was someone who’d be patient. If he wasn’t, would their friendship survive?
That night, he explained things as they sat on the couch in Daniel’s living room. Jack just looked at him, intense worry in his eyes. After a minute or so, he got up and surprised Daniel by giving him a kiss atop his head. “Okay. Then what we’ll have is a friendship and nothing more.”
“I …” Daniel began, getting to his feet to look him straight in the eye. “I don’t want that.”
Jack gave him a sad smile. “I don’t either, but it seems that you’re not ready. I hope you will be but if someone else comes along and I fall in love with them …”
Daniel stared. And got mad. “You mean, if I don’t put out in a certain amount of time, you’ll move on? Isn’t that kinda asshole behavior? Giving me an ultimatum?”
Jack frowned, staring into his troubled blue eyes. “You think that little of me?”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open. “You just said that your heart can be led elsewhere because we won’t have a sexual relationship. What else am I to deduce from that?”
Jack heaved a sigh and pulled Daniel into a loosely-held hug. “Listen to me. You know damn well that a man has needs. A person, in general, has needs. I can wait, Daniel, but if you ask me to wait the rest of my life, it might not happen.”
“But I didn’t—”
Jack pulled back a bit, hands on Daniel’s forearms. “What happens if you’re not ready in two years? Six? Eight?”
Daniel frowned back. “It’s not going to take me that long. I won’t allow it. I’m going to work very hard to overcome this brutalization that Hathor forced on me. You’re not the only one with needs.”
Jack hugged him again. “I’m not giving you an ultimatum. It’ll take what it takes. I’m … just sayin’.”
Daniel sighed and closed his eyes. “So am I.”
Daniel found that Jack turned out to be both patient and impatient. He waited. There were times when he silently teased him into a sexual response. Sucking on a strawberry, or a cherry tomato. Eating a banana. Daniel didn’t mind but good god. Still, their relationship was stable.
Until they found that planet with the old man who faked being a Goa’uld, his granddaughter Shyla, and that goddamn sarcophagus. The things he’d done to Jack, Sam, and Teal’c, all because he was afraid her capricious fantasy would make her tell father to murder his friends. She was, plain and simple, a conniving bitch. Lonely, yes, and that was the innocent part of her, but her mind had been ensnared by that device. He’d been disgusted with her, even as he played along. Until the machine had taken him over. Now he was disgusted with himself.
Daniel sat on the edge of the bed in his single occupant infirmary room, waiting for Janet to release him, trying to deal with the tremendous guilt. Two days before, the scene from the bathroom almost a year earlier had replayed itself in a supply room—except that he’d had a gun. Thankfully, his rational mind had reasserted itself and he’d dropped the gun, sobbing uncontrollably as Jack held him. Again. What he’d done to him, made him suffer through, was beyond shame, and now, Daniel couldn’t be alone with him without feeling that he’d lost him for good. There was a deep sadness in the man’s eyes, coupled with a wariness that had never been there before. How long would it stay there? Was it permanent?
For himself, the withdrawal had been bad. Double restraints had to be used to make sure he didn’t lose control and assault someone again in an irrational, fruitless attempt to go back to the planet and the sarcophagus. Right before the mission, he’d been making plans for a romantic evening with Jack. He’d pretty much licked the cavernous dread that filled him whenever he thought about being held down, however lovingly. He’d also licked the same dread when it came to imagining his body being filled. It had taken a while, with the use of a sex toy, and he’d damn near scared himself into a sobbing fit the first time he’d used it, but he’d ordered himself to get a damn grip. Jack would never hurt him. Ever. So he’d tell Jack when they got home that it was time.
Not. Any. More. Thanks to her. That device. And those goddamn fucking straps. As a result, the nightmares had returned, too. Swell.
The door opened, and Janet came in, looking over his chart. “You’re all set. Vitals and other tests are good. You’re back to normal.” Daniel snorted derisively. “I know, I’m sorry. You’re in good health, physically.” He nodded. “I’d like you to see a psychologist.” She tapped the restraints with the back of her hand. “Particularly because of what these caused.”
“I’m not seeing that shrink,” he told her with a frown.
“Doctor MacKenzie is a psychiatrist, yes, but I said psychologist. MacKenzie deals with abnormal minds. PTSD isn’t abnormal, and neither is rape trauma. They’re both medical conditions brought about by extreme emotional and physical stresses. He’s not the right man to see to your needs.” She handed him a card. It read Doctor Sheila MacIntyre, and there was a slew of credential abbreviations after name. They basically said she was a medical doctor and a licensed clinician with a master’s degree in psychology.
“Are you sure she can help?” he asked, pocketing the card.
Janet nodded slowly. “She’s also a trained rape counselor.”
He flinched. He still hated that word. Maybe he did need to see her. He could discuss … He blinked. “Wait. How can I talk to her about what happened without lying? Doesn’t that—”
Janet held up a hand. “She’s cleared.”
“Oh.” He picked up the cane that had been draped over the guard rail at the foot of the bed. “Do I really need to use this? I can walk just fine.”
“For vertigo. You might experience it for another a week. So keep the cane with you, just in case.” She opened the door and they both left.
“What’s she look like?” he asked. Janet gave him a puzzled look. “So I know what to expect. I don’t like surprises.”
“Why would you be surprised?” Janet asked.
Daniel opened his mouth, but paused, thinking it over. He’d been about to tell her that he needed to be sure he was meeting the right person, but that assumed that someone else would be taking her place at the last minute. And there was no reason to think that.
“I think I’m being paranoid,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Headache?” she asked.
His brows were knotting deeper as he realized that he’d had one and it was increasing. “Shit. It’s starting.”
“Damn.” She pulled a prescription bottle out of her pocket, opened it, handed him a pill, and went to the nurses’ station to get a plastic cup from the dispenser. As she filled it with water, Daniel found he needed the cane to lean on, then gave up and used the infirmary room’s door. When Janet returned, she moved him aside and opened the door, then led him back to the bed he’d been so keen to get out of. “Take this and lie down.” She turned the overhead light off as he took the pill and laid down.
“How long am I going to be plagued with these migraines?”
“I don’t know, Daniel, I’m sorry. This is all new to us.” She set the prescription bottle down with the glass of water, half full. “In case you need another, but you can’t take more than that.”
He lay on his back, having left his sneakers on, and covered his eyes with his left hand. “Fucking sarcophagus,” he whispered, then groaned and waved her away. He needed blackness and silence, as he had for the last day and a half. He knew she’d be back in four hours to check on him. That seemed to be the time frame for the headaches. He heard voices in the hall and pulled the pillow out from under his head and covered his face and ear as he turned on his side.
He meant to say, “Go away,” but all that came out was a mouthed, “Ow.”
. . .
He wasn’t allowed to drive, and it was embarrassing to say the least. But as Jack for his chauffeur, it wasn’t as bad. Still. He was driving him to his first appointment with Doctor MacIntyre.
“Why are all the shrinks we know Scottish?” he asked, randomly, as Jack pulled into the office building near the base of the mountain. He looked down the street and could just barely see the top floors of the Academy hospital.
“That’s an odd question,” Jack said as he drove around, looking for the suite with her office name. She didn’t have a business name. Janet had told them that all she had was her name on a glass door with the suite in big numbers and letter above it. 164A.
Daniel didn’t answer, and Jack suddenly backhanded his arm. “Ow!” he said angrily, rubbing the bicep. “What?”
“You’re biting your thumbnail.”
“It’s a bad habit to get into. Don’t start.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake.” He held it out next to the steering wheel. He didn’t like people abruptly putting things in his face, so he made damn sure he never did it to others. “Look. It’s torn, and I was biting off the sharp bit. Jesus, Jack.” He went back to biting, then rolled the window down and spit. He rubbed at it. “I need an emery board.”
“Use the bit on your fingernail clipper attached to your house keys.”
“Oh yeah,” Daniel said, digging in his back pocket to retrieve them. As he started the rough filing, Jack pulled into an empty parking spot in front of darkened office suite. “Is anyone home?” he asked, squinting.
“It’s tempered glass,” Jack said. “For privacy.”
“Oh. How can you tell?”
“Look at the corners.”
Daniel did, but he couldn’t really tell. “I don’t see it.”
Jack looked over and snorted. “Where’s your glasses?”
“I’m wearing contacts.”
Jack’s brows went up. “You are?”
Daniel glanced at him and looked back at the office glass. “It won’t last. Never does. They’ll start bothering me after a while, thanks to my allergies. Pollen or dust will get on them and …” He sighed. “Be a week or two.”
“Oh. Why are you wearing them in the first place?”
“I’m getting new glasses. Remember, I had that exam a month ago? Takes a while to get the glasses made. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m not paying for them.” There was an awkward silence between them, but it was mostly caused by Daniel’s hesitation to go see the therapist. Mostly. “What, uh, happened with the sarcophagus.” He purposely didn’t use her name. When he did, he grew angry. At her. At himself. Therapist fodder. “Please tell me it was destroyed.”
Jack nodded, looking at him pensively. “I did it.”
Daniel nodded. “Good.” He opened the door and Jack put out a hand, stopping him.
Daniel turned to him in shock, eyes wide. But as he thought about it, the shock faded rather quickly. “Threw herself over that cliff, didn’t she?” Jack nodded mutely. Daniel nodded back as he got out of the truck. “Good,” he said, shutting the door. He knew the expression Jack would be wearing right now but he didn’t want to see it. “I’ll be done in an hour.”
“I’ll be here.”
. . .
At Jack’s, he went to the living room and sat down while Jack got them some coffee. While it was afternoon, Daniel needed calming down and even though coffee was a stimulant, it had the opposite effect if he didn’t drink too much of it. The appointment hadn’t gone badly but talking about everything as a basis for getting to know the therapist and for her to learn what’s been going on over the last year, it had dredged up things he’d thought he’d put behind him. He’d tried to explain as much to Jack but getting the words out had been difficult while they’d been driving in his truck. Not exactly a conducive atmosphere. You can’t think straight in a car because your attention is on the road, whether you’re driving or not.
He dropped his head back on the seat back cushion and stared at the ceiling and the overhead five-bladed fan that lazily whirled. It was almost mesmerizing, but his mind couldn’t settle. He’d talked about her. Not Shyla. Hathor. Her touch. Her breath. The nish’ta. Teal’c had told them what the drug was called. It was inherent in queens, he’d said, but sometimes very old male Goa’uld could summon it. As if it was a living thing.
He’d been initially fascinated with her, and it made him believe he’d subconsciously offered himself up as a victim. Sheila had told him otherwise, and her knowledge of the Goa’uld was astonishingly accurate. It would have to be.
“You’re blaming yourself for another’s actions. For the moment, disregard the Goa’uld aspect. If she’d been a human man, would you still blame yourself for a date rape? You’d be attracted to him. You’d be interested in being intimate. But then the decision was taken out of your hands and what should have been a normal interaction was turned violent. Remember, Daniel. Rape is about power, not sex. Predators use it as a weapon to control others, making them, in one form or another, sexual sadists. Having been initially fascinated and attracted to Hathor from an academic perspective, you’ve reacted the same way others in your position have: you’ve blamed yourself. You aren’t responsible.”
“I know that.”
“You do, but you don’t believe.”
“Your body language when I use the word rape tells me that you also suffer from the societal stigma. Rape is for women. If you’ve been raped, you’re somehow female.”
“That’s not … no, I don’t. I don’t believe that.”
She’d described to him what she’d meant, and he’d had to admit that every time he flinched when the word was used, it was shame at the very fact of it happening to him. A man. He hadn’t realized he’d felt that way, but it had been true, and several months ago, he’d been disappointed in Hammond for thinking the same way: men can’t be raped. Part of the ‘deprogramming’ he had to go through would include removing the stigma from his mind.
“But don’t all rape victims—”
“Survivors. Don’t all survivors flinch when we hear the word?”
“Yes, but for different reasons. Women flinch because it recalls the act. Men flinch for that, but also because of the stigma. And because it brings up the intense shame because a man equates consent with an erection, and don’t understand that many times, he can’t control himself.”
“That isn’t my problem. I was drugged.”
“Yes, but there is still shame. You curse yourself for your initial reaction to her. The fascination. So you blame yourself. But, aside from Teal’c and the women on the base, all the men fell under her power, thanks to that drug. You did nothing wrong.”
There was a lot more to it and she used a lot of terms he was unfamiliar with but understood their meaning all the same. It was refreshing to have her use those clinical terms, knowing that he’d understand exactly what she meant. She treated him with professional courtesy and it was a refreshing change. Unfortunately. People at the mountain weren’t as thoughtful. That included Sam and Teal’c. Jack had come around, thankfully.
A year ago, and on a basic level, Daniel had understood all the steps a rape survivor would go through as they dealt with the aftermath of the assault. But he’d still fallen into the traps, even knowing he shouldn’t. Sheila had gone on to explain a lot of what had become habit in his thinking and their goal was to correct it. But it wasn’t his only reason for going to see her.
He’d nodded. “Sheila. There’s something else I need to discuss. It’s about … intimacy. I want to be sexually involved with someone but I’m afraid of closing down.”
As he’d talked, the blush began and got worse as he went. He hadn’t been prepared for details, but she had impressed him, and he’d liked her manner. Kind, but she didn’t pull punches.
“… uh, and freezing up. I don’t want to do that. How can I work through that? I thought I was over it, but when I was getting over the sarcophagus addiction, I was strapped to a bed, and the fact of that, the restraints, it reminded me of … her … of being forced. And those restraints brought it all back, and now, I don’t know if I can … surpass it. I used to like to be held down. Now, it makes me physically sick.”
“I fully understand, and I mean from a victim’s point of view.”
He’d been surprised. “You do?”
She nodded. “I’ve been the target of a sexual assault. Being intimate with my husband was impossible for nearly eight months. But it worked out because we’d been together for ten years. We love each other. Trust each other. He already knew what to expect in my reactions, and how he was supposed to behave in response, but it was so difficult for him not to want to ride to my rescue. You’re aware of the need for a survivor to regain their power?”
“He made it easy, even if what he really wanted was to hunt down the perpetrator and kill him. It’s the ancient protector in him, inherent in most men. But he had to back down and let me make the decisions. Has your partner—”
“He’s not. My partner, I mean. Not yet. I wanted him to be but I’m afraid to go there and disappoint both of us by reacting as if I’m being raped all over again.” He’d gotten up to pace. “I liked being held by my hands, my wrists. A sort of mild bondage.”
He’d gone beet red, but he’d forced himself to keep going.
“You know, when you’re in the middle of the act, and you’re holding hands? His weight, or my weight, when I was with women, would literally be like holding me down. And with J… uh, with him, I’m afraid that it would make me freeze up and … so I can’t. I can’t have our First Time result in disaster. So it’s making me … us … go nowhere.”
He’d begun to tear up and she watched him carefully, then got up and went to him, putting a hand on the back of his shoulder.
“It’s normal. Maybe you’ll never want that again. Maybe you will. But you have to give yourself permission to feel that. To accept that it might not ever be that way again. So. You want a piece of advice?”
“Please,” he’s sighed.
“Let him know it’s one thing you can’t do. Treat it as a fetish. A kink. So your first time can be done a different way.”
He’d been surprised. “Really?”
“It’s no different than a kink you’re not comfortable with, and it’s okay. If you ever change your mind, great. If you don’t, that’s great, too. Do you see what I mean? Treat all your current fears that way. Diffuse them.”
“Okay,” he’d said slowly.
“But Daniel, there’s an element here that’s different in homosexual relationships compared to heterosexual ones.”
“Dominance. Males are, by predisposition, and hormonal levels, naturally aggressive and seek to be the protector, as I mentioned before about my husband wanting to protect me. Some men tend to overcompensate and think their protector role also means they’re in charge of everything.”
“You mean the Alpha Male thing?”
“Are both of you Alpha Males or is there a give-and-take? A balance. It’s one of the problems with strong females in hetero relationships because the insecure male who sees it as a threat will sour the relationship. The same goes for gay or bi relationships. If the two of you aren’t secure in your sexuality, and your position in the relationship structure, there may be problems added to your desire to ‘go back to normal’.”
“Oh. I get it.” The blush had begun to fade, and he’d been grateful that she’d chosen not to comment on it. “Thing is, I don’t know the answer. He is a natural leader. Confident, sometimes aggressive, career military. But he’s also just as happy to retire and do his own thing. He can be mission-oriented and tunnel-visioned. But I think I’m the same way, but more so. I can work on a translation or an archaeological dig until I’m exhausted. My curiosity can be a detriment sometimes. I can be a workaholic when I have puzzles in front of me to solve.”
“Is he supportive, in general?”
“Yes. I just don’t think he’s patient enough. He already told me that if it takes me years to be able to be intimate, he may meet someone else in the interim, so I should be prepared for that.” She hadn’t said anything because she was writing on her clipboard, so Daniel added, “He said it wasn’t an ultimatum, but it sounded like one. To me.”
“It was, and it wasn’t. He was giving you a warning. Politely or not, it was a warning. He was thinking long-term, not short-term, so that is good news. He’s not going to pressure you in terms of days, weeks, or months, but in years. So it frees you up to work on the day-to-day. Sounds like, however, that you’re too focused on it. Relax, forget about it. Work in the here and now, Daniel. Not the future.”
Daniel had nodded, but he was troubled, and it had showed on his face. He’d thought that he and Jack had settled the matter but bringing it up only told him that he hadn’t really believed Jack would wait. And so that was set aside as another problem to discuss…
In the end, it had been a good start. He’d been given some good advice. He just wasn’t sure what to do with it. Why did emotional trauma have to take so long to get over? People developed thick skins by repetitive small-t trauma. Like being made fun of constantly in college because he’d been sixteen as a Freshman. But you couldn’t develop a thick skin where sexual assault was concerned. You had to find a way to deal with the fears and the shame or it would cripple you for the rest of your life.
He thought he’d gotten rid of the shame, but every time Sheila had said ‘rape’ when referring to what had happened to him said that his shame was still there. It was stuck beneath the surface like a splinter that had been stuck under a callus. He needed to dig it out and get rid of it. And regrow the callus. The thick skin.
And he’d just gone full circle in that train of thought.
He looked up, realizing that Jack had been standing there with two cups of coffee, watching him. “Hey,” he said, sitting up.
“Hey,” Jack said, finally moving. He handed Daniel his mug, then sat down next to him. He was only a foot away, and closer than normal. At first it was worrying until Daniel remembered he’d told the man to do that. To test him. To make him get used to it.
To grow the thick skin.
He grinned a little as he sipped his coffee.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Jack said, relaxing against the cushion.
So Daniel told him about the visit. He watched Jack as he spoke, noticing the thoughtfulness that passed over his face. When he came to the part about using the hand holding during the typical position of lying on his back as a kink to be avoided, Jack had turned toward him, eyes wide.
“What?” Daniel asked warily.
“Treat it as a kink?”
“But … that implies there’ll be first time for us. Will there be? Is that what you’re saying?”
Daniel blinked in surprise. “Of course there will. I always planned it. I just don’t know how to get rid of the fears that would inevitably come up. I told her I’m afraid of freezing up. That was one solution. She might have other ideas in the next session, or we might just be going over the assault. Or the addiction. I don’t know.”
“Okay,” Jack said slowly. “And she talked about dominance and relationship roles.”
“So … what do you want for us?”
“A compromise,” Daniel said slowly. “Things I want. Things you want. Avoid stuff that’ll scare me. I’m just …” He frowned. “Are you … do you … are you asking about who tops and who bottoms?”
Jack abruptly colored. “I made an assumption, so now I have to ask.”
“What do you prefer and what do I prefer?”
“I prefer to pitch.”
Daniel grinned a little. “Sports metaphor. I like it.”
“You’ve never heard that before?” Jack asked, surprised.
“I might have and just forgot it.”
“Hmm?” Daniel asked, then shook himself. “Oh, right. Sorry. I’ve always been in the catcher position with men. Obviously pitching with women.”
“Obviously,” Jack said, cringing a little.
Jack winced then. “Can we permanently table any mention of hetero sex?”
“We can,” Daniel said, wary. “Why though? Because it’s women or because it’s who we were with previously?”
“Women,” Jack said promptly. “I don’t have a problem with former partners. I just don’t want to discuss the women. Not mine, not yours. It’s just … a different matter entirely, ya know? I’ve never gone out with women and men at the same time. I chose one first, then the other.”
“You mean, you were with men for a while, then switched to women only for a while?”
“Oh. Okay,” Daniel nodded. “I didn’t think of it as a thing, but I get what you mean, I think.”
Jack’s gaze was intense, emotional. It made Daniel’s body flush from his head to his toes. Not a blush. This was a travelling heat. Like arousal, but different. Security. And it was nice. “What’s on your mind?” he asked, studying him. “You look like you want to ask me something very personal.”
“Ask? Not exactly.” He paused, then said, “I want to kiss you.”
Daniel experienced another flush. He swallowed. Hard. “You … do.”
“Don’t you want to kiss me?”
Maybe it was inappropriate, but Daniel barked out a laugh. “All the time, Jack. All the damn time.”
Jack frowned in obvious confusion. “Then, why don’t you? Don’t we?”
A blush this time and all over his ears and cheeks. “Because kissing you that time … I wanted so much more. And when I think of kissing you, I don’t want to stop there. It feels incomplete if we just ‘made out’. Does that sound stupid?”
Jack was quiet as he thought it over. “No,” he said slowly. “I don’t think so. I think of kissing you. And I think of doing a lot more. And … I was wondering.”
Daniel was overcome by curiosity. “Go ahead.”
“Why do you think that we should fuck the first time out?”
Hearing him use the blatant verb made Daniel’s blush deepen. “Oh. I, uh …”
Jack cleared his throat a few times and looked down at his hand as he unnecessarily smoothed a wrinkle in his jeans. It was unnecessary because it was created by his knee, which he’d brought up on the sofa when he’d turned toward him.
“I’ve been dreaming about … fantasizing about …” He swallowed. “Going down on you.”
Another flush spread throughout Daniel’s body and it settled in his crotch. “Me, too,” he breathed. He had. Dreams of making love to him had only involved sucking his cock and using his fingers.
“So why haven’t you let me know we could be intimate in that way only until you’re ready to go on to the other stuff?”
Daniel looked down into his coffee. “Because it …” He blushed with embarrassment. “God. Because I hadn’t thought of it as being one or the other. I thought we had to have it all or none.”
Jack blinked at him, incredulous. “For a smart man, you are so dim sometimes.”
Daniel nodded and put his coffee on the coffee table. “Could we switch to Jack and Coke?”
Jack was taken aback. “Uh, sure. Why?”
“So I can … relax my inhibitions.”
Jack studied him. “It’s not a good idea to think that way before sex. It’s becomes a crutch.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “I know that. It’s just that I think it’s necessary. For now.”
“Mind if we test some things out first?”
“No,” Daniel said softly, wishing the blush would go away. “What’s on your mind. Other than, you know.”
“It’s called fellatio. A blow job. Getting blown. Sucking off. Taking—”
“Alright, alright!” Daniel laughed as he covered Jack’s lips with his fingers. “Enough.”
“Not nearly,” Jack said, taking his hand away but he kept hold of it, threading their fingers together. “Kiss me?”
Daniel started to lean forward.
And both their phones’ text alerts went off nearly at the same time.
“Oh for fuck’s sake!” Jack growled. Their phones were in the kitchen and they got up to check them. The standard call back to work. “Mountain.”
Daniel sighed and stuffed his phone into his pocket. “Guess we’ll have to table this for later.”
“Maybe not. We can spare five minutes.”
Jack closed in and slid his arm around his waist. Daniel forced himself to relax as he slid both his hands over Jack’s chest. He loved the shape of his pecs. Lifting his chin slightly, he met Jack halfway for their second kiss. Closed-mouthed, at first. An introduction. Soft and warm, and he closed his eyes and breathed out a sigh through his nose as Jack’s lips parted and his tongue touched Daniel’s lips, seeking his own. Daniel opened to him and as their tongues met, he wrapped his arms around his neck for a deep, deep kiss. It went on and on until their lips went numb. Reluctantly, he pulled back, breath shaky.
“Till later then?”
Jack laughed, and his breathing was just as shaky. “Till later.”
They were busy for ten days straight after getting in contact with the Asgard, and they’d stayed behind for a while to helping the Cimmerians clean up the destruction caused by Heru’ur’s Jaffa. Jack had been over the moon seeing the Asgard ship wipe out the pyramid buildings. He hadn’t said much, but his energy level and mood had been like a kid at Christmas.
All the while, Daniel had been a bit subdued. It was bad enough dealing with his inner turmoil and the guilt associated, but like he’d told Gairwyn, he believed they’d been lucky to find the Asgard in the first place. If they hadn’t, their story would have ended quite differently. And permanently.
But Jack. Jack was a glass half-full kind of guy. Hammond, too, was like Jack. Impressed to have made contact and thankful his team had come home safe and sound, so he’d given them a break: off Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
Normally, Daniel was optimistic as well, but maybe his personal fight was infecting his general outlook of optimism. He wasn’t in all that great a mood when he was finally allowed to drive himself home—now that he hadn’t had a migraine for a while and had managed to avoid one during their mission. But he felt listless. Rudderless. What now? Be thankful they weren’t dead? It was getting old.
Changing into his standard loungewear, sweatpants and tank, he puttered about the kitchen, making coffee, as he decided whether to call for delivery or get dressed and go grocery shopping. He didn’t have much in the way of food. So, it was decided. Go to the store. He was about to go get dressed when there was a knock at the door.
Brows knotting, he answered it. Jack. Holding a big bag of Burger King. He couldn’t help the smile. “Hey, Jack.”
“Hey, Daniel. Last I checked, you still had to go shopping.”
Giving him a sheepish grin, he stepped back and waved Jack inside. “By all means, gloat. What’d you get me?”
“You?” Jack teased. “I just brought my own.”
“You’re very funny,” Daniel said, rolling his eyes as he followed Jack into the living room. The early dinner was set up on the coffee table. Two burgers each, fries, and Coke.
As they ate, Jack asked Daniel to describe the meeting with Thor for the third time, grinning his head off, pleased and smugly satisfied.
“I just loved seeing that ship.”
“I know,” Daniel said, somewhat bored, but amused. Jack arched a brow. “Yes, it was impressive.”
“So,” Jack said around the straw as he finished the Coke. He made the customary loud sucking noise through the straw.
“So,” Daniel replied. He hadn’t been hungry enough to eat the second burger, so he got up to put it away.
“Hang on,” Jack said, taking his hand. “That can wait.”
Daniel looked down at him and tugged Jack’s hand affectionately. “What?”
Daniel rolled his eyes as he complied. “Fetch. Roll over.”
“Hilarious,” Jack said, momentarily narrowing his own. “Want to invite you to stay over. I have visions of making us breakfast.”
Daniel tilted his head slightly as he looked down at their entwined fingers. “Really.”
“Really. Please say yes.”
Affecting a false sigh of weariness, Daniel got to his feet. “Well alright. I’ll go get dressed.”
Jack rose. “Your enthusiasm is overwhelming.”
Daniel giggled as he went to his bedroom. He put on the shirt and jeans he’d come home in and carried his sneakers as he came back, stopping at the kitchen table to pick up his phone and keys. Hopping on one leg, he put one shoe on, then the other.
Jack waited by the door, shaking his head. “Why don’t you sit down when you do that?”
“Do what? Put on my shoes?”
“I do, most of the time.”
Again, Daniel rolled his eyes as he approached the front door. “Come on, nag. Let’s go.”
As he followed Jack into the house, the man stopped at the door, waiting, then shut it and asked, “Listen. Do I have to ask every time I feel like grabbing you and kissing you?”
Daniel looked over his shoulder as he passed him. “No. You don’t.” He was sensing a game of chase, but only in his mind. Jack simply wanted to grab him and kiss him. But growing within him was an air of contrariness, of rebellion. Part of it was to simply fight the goddamn fears. Part of it was to … well … make Jack work for it. It made no sense.
But what the hell.
He walked backward as he took off his glasses and set them, his car keys, and his phone on the table by the door. “So what’s on your mind? You want to actually grab me and kiss me? Seriously?”
“Sure,” Jack said, walking toward him as he, too, put his keys and phone with Daniel’s. “And you just gave me permission, so why are you backing away?”
“I’m not sure,” Daniel said, and his heartrate was climbing as excitement roared through his body. Where was this going to go? He wanted so badly to feel normal. To play. He and Jack had played keep-away a few times when he’d taken away the pie that Jack had brought to Daniel’s office from the mess hall. There’d been some grappling, and then Daniel had let him have his dessert. In had been innocent, but looking back now, there’d been a hint of sexuality to the game.
This time, there was no hint. It was intentional because it was the entire point. So could he lead Jack where he wanted him to go, or just let Jack corner him? There weren’t all that many places to go, frankly. He’d backed himself into the living room. The only place to go was out on the deck and while the backyard was fully enclosed by tall hedges, it might not …
Daniel suddenly realized what would happen when Jack caught him. He’d get pinned before getting kissed. How did he feel about that? He considered the feeling as he made his way toward the back door. There was a bit of panic. But what was he was thinking about before they’d gone to Cimmeria? What was that about growing a thick skin? Wasn’t this the same? Force the feeling of panic, then find out that nothing bad would happen. He’d only get kissed and caressed. Do it over and over. Insist on it. Was that the answer?
These thoughts lasted only seconds as he backed out the door, then bolted. Jack was right on his tail and as he jumped off the deck, Jack tackled him in the thick, soft carpet of grass. And to his surprise, the man wrapped his arms around him, leaving Daniel’s arms free, and rolled them over and over until Daniel was on top. The only confinement came from Jack’s legs as he locked them together. He wasn’t pinned. Then Jack’s hands were framing his head as he pressed their lips together.
Mid-kiss, Daniel rolled them over and re-locked their legs. Their groins pressed against each other and he slid his arms under Jack’s and pulled him down hard as he opened his mouth to invite his tongue for another kind of wrestling match. Jack rolled them over again. Then Daniel did. It went on and on for ten minutes until they ended up against the rose bushes that edged the house. Daniel was on the bottom and Jack released his grip, both hands and legs, relaxing his body so he appeared to be no threat.
That act of consideration was a huge turn-on. Daniel looked up at him as Jack threaded his fingers through his hair, pushing it out of his face. “I’m okay,” he told him.
“I can tell,” Jack murmured, kissing him lightly.
“Your eyes aren’t scared. There’s a shine to them when you get scared.”
“There is?” Daniel asked, astonished.
Jack nodded. He suddenly winced and pushed off him. “Damn.”
“What?” Daniel asked as Jack pulled him to his feet. They began brushing each other off as they headed for the back door.
“I have to take a piss.”
Daniel laughed, then frowned in thought as his bladder told him the same thing. “Me, too.”
In the bathroom, Daniel waited while Jack relieved himself. He purposely didn’t look. That could wait.
“That was fun, by the way,” Jack said, finishing.
“Yeah, it was,” Daniel agreed. His heart was still racing, but gradually calming down.
Jack left Daniel to his business and from down the hall, he asked, “What made you decide to do that?”
Finished, Daniel left the bathroom and followed his voice. Jack was in the bedroom. He was stripping down. Daniel blinked. “Uh, I don’t … what are you doing?”
“Gonna take a shower,” Jack said. “Wanna join me?”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open as he took in Jack’s nudity. It was just like that. And so casual. Without a hint of blushing. Brazen. Arrogant. And fucking sexy. “Your shower’s not big enough,” Daniel replied as he followed his example and began to remove his clothing. Jack walked around him, heading for the bathroom. Daniel turned to watch. That was … interesting … ly … hot. Long legs. Tight, round buttocks. Lean, muscular back. Somewhat dirty from the action that morning offworld.
He tripped when his foot got caught in the jeans leg and he fell onto the bed. Righting himself, he paid attention to pulling off his jeans. Then his briefs. His clothes were dirty, so he imagined his body was, too. Like Jack’s. And the smell of him lingered in the bedroom. He recalled the sweatiness in the grass and his groin warmed. His cock didn’t exactly jump or twitch, but it was taking notice of his feelings.
“You coming?” Jack asked.
The water had already been running for a couple of minutes.
“Yeah,” Daniel said, bracing himself as he walked toward the bathroom, giving Jack a good look. The man swallowed, eyes on his cock. Was it hunger in his eyes? On his lips. Daniel looked, too. Then he remembered Jack’s conversation about … going down … and the other terms for it. He blushed from his cheeks to his crotch and this time, his cock really did twitch. Yes, there was hunger. It made the inside of his cheeks tingle as if he’d licked something tart. Want.
He met Jack’s gaze finally, realizing the man had been watching him. He came forward and Jack pushed the curtain aside and stepped into the large tub. It hadn’t seemed that large before, but it was. Not enough to stand side by side at the width, but large enough to face each other and not have your heels caught by the curve of the tub. The water cascaded down their faces, running over their bare skin.
“Wash first?” Jack asked.
First? The inside his cheeks tingled again. “Yeah.”
It was torture. They washed each other, sliding hands over slippery skin, and as the body wash foamed and lathered over them, their faces were rinsed clean long enough to be interrupted by a long kiss. Daniel moaned in his mouth as his own body rubbed against Jack’s hard muscles. He suddenly wrapped his arms around him, fingers splayed over his chest as he pushed Jack against the wall and kissed him hard. The aggressiveness surprised him and turned Jack on. Their cocks were hard, sliding against each other, and it was maddeningly good.
Eventually separating to rinse, Daniel looked down as the soap washed away, leaving a glistening penis just waiting for …
Swallowing hard, Daniel abruptly dropped to his knees and pressed his face against Jack’s crotch. Jack sucked in a breath of surprise as his fingers threaded through his hair. Daniel’s lips brushed over the shaft and he inhaled the clean, masculine scent. There was the tart scent of pre-come as his mouth reached the head and he wrapped his hand around the shaft.
“Oh god,” Jack gasped, and he abruptly, frantically, pulled Daniel to his feet. “We’re done in here.”
Daniel met his gaze, finding a matching heat in the darkening irises. “Yes.” He expected to dry each other off, but Jack grabbed his hand and led him quickly into the bedroom. He pulled him onto the bed and attacked his mouth. His hands were careful not to hold tightly or pin down and it was such a turn-on that Daniel pushed him onto his back, breaking the heated kiss. He threaded his fingers through the man’s wet hair as he kissed his face, then his throat. “I have to taste you.”
And then he ran his lips and tongue over Jack’s body, loving the earthy scent, the heady odor as he drew closer to his crotch. Jack didn’t have much hair. He groomed himself meticulously, just as he himself did. Only a little hair tickled his nose as he purposely bypassed his cock and just let his nose do the tactile introductions. Finally, he stuck out his tongue and licked up the shaft, eliciting a groan of need from Jack’s throat.
By the time he got to the head, his mouth was watering, and he sucked it in as he wrapped his fingers around the shaft. He played with it, rolling his tongue around the ridges, making it stiffer as he probed the vein. At last, he took in the head and swallowed him, sliding up and down. They rolled onto their sides and he grabbed Jack’s ass, clutching firmly with his fingers as he encouraged him to thrust. Jack seemed hesitant and went about it carefully, moving only a little and letting Daniel do most of the work. He bobbed, sucked, and swallowed, and eventually caressed his balls, rolling them in his hand before his fingers moved to the perineum. When the middle one grazed Jack’s anus, the man groaned again and ran his hands through his hair.
“Yes,” Jack whispered.
Daniel looked up his body and found his head tipped back and his eyes closed. He sucked a little harder, pleased with the gasp he provoked. Easing back slowly, he let Jack’s cock fall from his mouth. “Do you want me to use my finger?”
Jack swallowed as he opened his eyes and looked down. He let out a hungry moan. “Jesus Christ, you’re gorgeous.”
Daniel grinned. “Lube?”
Jack groaned again, this time with frustration. “Hang on.” He turned over and reached for the end table’s top drawer and withdrew a small bottle. He passed it down and started to move onto his back, but Daniel stopped him.
“Stay on your side. Unless you’d like to spread and raise your knees?” For some reason, Jack colored, then abruptly sat up and pulled Daniel up beside him. “What’s up?” Daniel asked, confused.
Again, Jack swallowed as he ran his hands over Daniel’s chest as he gently pushed him onto his back. “If I do that, I’ll want more than just your fingers.”
Daniel’s eyes widened and turned back on his side. “I thought you preferred to pitch?”
Jack nodded. “I do. But I also … I …”
“Let’s just play it by ear?” Daniel suggested as he leaned over and kissed his lips, then his throat, and for a while, they simply embraced each other, kissing.
Then Jack moved to his throat, pushing him onto his back, and it was his turn to go down his body, eliciting moans and gasps, until he was at his groin and his fingers were busy over his balls, then behind them. He breathed over his cockhead, then suddenly sucked it into his mouth. Daniel tipped his head back and slid his fingers through Jack’s hair. “Oh god yes.” Unlike Jack, he thrust when encouraged, and soon he was being driven insane with the heat of his upper throat. The very action of his thrusting sent hyper-acute flushes of heat throughout his body and when Jack’s fingers slid over his anus, he instinctively spread his legs. Jack then distracted him thoroughly with his mouth and only faintly did he hear the snap of a plastic cap. Then cool gel spread over his anus and Jack slipped a finger past the puckered hole.
Daniel clutched at him, body tensing, and Jack froze his movements. “Yes,” he said, giving further permission, letting Jack know his tension was out of need, not fear. “Do it. Please.”
Again, Jack sucked him, and his finger pushed further in, then pulled out. He repeated it a few times, then slipped another finger inside. Both curved a bit as they thrust inside him and as his mouth sucked the head hungrily, Daniel was aware what Jack’s fingers were going to do. His mouth dropped open and he bent forward, spreading his legs. “You do that and I’m gonna come.” Jack’s eyes locked on his while he smiled knowingly around his cockhead. He pushed his fingers further in, then came the hot, almost agonizing rush of pleasure throughout his cock and balls and a spot deep inside. “Damn you,” Daniel breathed, his voice high and hitching. Jack did it again and Daniel threw his head back and bowed his back. “Goddamn you! Fuck me!” He thrust uncontrollably and came hard, spilling into Jack’s mouth as he yelled, “Oh god,” over and over.
Jack was smug as he moved up beside him and even before the pleasure tremors had stopped, Daniel attacked him, kissing him hard as he wrapped his fingers around his cock and began to jerk him off. Jack thrust into his hand, moaning into his mouth, and it encouraged Daniel to break off and move downward, intent on returning the favor. This time, Jack thrust a bit more urgently, and by the time Daniel’s fingers were inside him, stroking and searching, he was panting and begging. With a deep hungry need to get him off, to instill the same hard orgasm he’d experienced, Daniel sucked him fully as his fingers found their target. “Fucking hell,” Jack gasped, eyes wide as he thrust madly, coming down his throat.
The sex had been wonderful, and free from fear. Daniel felt only bliss and the need to do more. But he moved back up and allowed Jack to push him onto his back and reward him with deep kisses and warm, caressing hands. Wrapped in each other’s arms, they dozed through the afterglow.
That night, after dinner, they retired to bed and the love making was as good as before. As they drifted in satiated glow, Daniel grew sleepy, but he was roused when Jack said, “You said ‘damn you’, ‘goddamn you’, and ‘fuck me.’ I expected the last one, but the first two?”
Daniel knew he was teasing. It was in his tone. He snuggled against him as Jack spooned behind. “It was just … intense. I hadn’t felt that stimulation in a long, long time and those words just flew out of me. I have no idea why I said them.” Jack sighed. “Does it matter?”
“No. It’s just a bit interesting. Maybe you should tell Sheila, see what she thinks.”
“That is so not funny.”
Jack laughed against his ear, then kissed his neck. “’Night, Daniel.”
He’d finally needed the cane Janet had given him seven months ago. His damn knee was only just cooling down, thanks to the ice pack and the burn cream Janet had given him. While the deep, gaping wound had been caused by shrapnel he’d fallen onto after hitting the ground during an explosion caused by a Jaffa tower cannon, the metal had been hot as hell. Hammond had commented later that he’d like Teal’c to find out where to get the specs on such a weapon. They could use several at the Alpha Site.
That had been two hours ago, and he’d come home wearing deep plum nurse’s scrubs pants in place of his jeans, which he’d left in Jack’s truck because he couldn’t drive with one leg. And the scrubs were of the drawstring type. There were others, with elastic waistbands, but for some reason, Janet had given him the easy-open variety that had a wide opening at the crotch and no buttons or zipper. It simply tied closed at the waist. Jack had made some sort of joke, under his breath, trying to get him to smile, and so he’d rewarded him with a small one. But it had only been half-hearted.
It was late. They’d eaten and hit the sack, and Daniel’s mind had been on autopilot. He’d been uncustomarily subdued during the debriefing, adding comments only when Hammond had asked him a question. There had been too much crammed into his noggin for him to process.
Jack seemed to feel his turmoil as they lay in the dark. “She’s dead.”
“I know. I was the one who did it.” Jack kissed his temple, where the bruise was from that fucking memory device implanted in his head and Daniel abruptly turned and hugged him tight. “You could’ve disappeared tonight,” he choked. “If it hadn’t been for that Tok’ra woman.” Jack said nothing. “We take so many risks, but this was out of the norm and …” He suddenly sat up, wrapping his arms around upraised knees. “I’m … in trouble.”
Jack sat up and put both arms around him. “And I’m the one who was snaked.” It was a stab at making light of a dark situation and Daniel huffed out a half-laugh, half-sob.
“I almost lost you.”
“Right backatcha,” Jack said softly. “I’d have lost myself, but you too. And Teal’c and Carter.” He squeezed Daniel tighter and buried his face in his neck. He used to be able to do that in his hair. Jack pulled back and combed his fingers through Daniel’s now-short hair. It made Daniel brush it down unnecessarily.
“Why the hell did they have to cut it?” he asked rhetorically. Jack couldn’t answer the question any more than he could. “Fuckers.” Then he yelled, “Goddamn, I hate the Goa’uld!”
“Ditto,” Jack said, soothing his hair. It was also unnecessary, but Daniel knew he was doing it as a calming measure.
“Always.” There was a pregnant pause. “Wait. For what?”
Daniel turned his head, keeping it on his knees, and looked at him. “For not … I don’t know … giving me a look of horror after what I’d done.”
“You killed a Goa’uld,” Jack said, frowning. “Why would I give you shit about it?”
“The way I did it.”
To his surprise, Jack jogged his brows and looked rather astonished. “I’m actually surprised you knew how to do that.”
Daniel heaved a sigh and looked away. “I didn’t. I just squeezed hard enough that her neck broke. I was actually trying to strangle her to death with a choke hold.” He paused, then added in a whisper, “I was so mad, Jack. I literally saw red. She was attacking Sam. You were in that cryo unit. I thought you were gone. I was about to lose Sam. There was no way in hell I was going home alone, nor risk getting killed by that bitch or her psycho Jaffa.”
“Speaking of psycho Jaffa,” Jack said. He diverted the conversation with, “Hammond or Teal’c tell you just how many Jaffa on Chulak don’t want to listen to him about the Goa’uld?”
Daniel meant to say that he’d heard Master Bra’tac talking about it, but all that came out was a grunt, followed by, “Don’t do that.”
“Don’t do what?”
“Change the subject.”
Jack sighed and lay back down. “Danny,” he said tiredly. “All of it runs together. It’s not changing the subject.”
“But she didn’t rape them.” He didn’t stumble over or flinch from the atrocious verb. At least that much had been gained in therapy. Well, a lot more than that.
“Come on,” Jack said, pulling him down. “Let’s try to get some sleep. I have a feeling we’ll both lose some over the next few days. Or weeks.”
Daniel tried. As Jack drifted off, he just stared at the ceiling. The street light out front illuminated the tree outside the bedroom window, so he had leaves and branches for shadow puppets. He gazed at them, following their movement created by the wind, but he really didn’t pay attention. Instead, he saw what was behind his eyes as the events replayed themselves in horrifying detail.
He remembered the feeling of dread as Hathor walked down the ramp, her eyes on him. He wanted to run but he couldn't move. The voice in his head that was screaming in rage ordered him to put his hands around her throat, but when she touched his face and called him Beloved, the creep factor ratcheted up to a hundred and again, all he wanted to do was run. When she passed him by, he hurriedly sidled up the ramp and took comfort and shelter between Sam and Jack. It was irrational, seeking comfort when all three of them were in danger.
"What did you think was going to happen, you idiot?" he whispered at the ceiling, as if it were a construct of his subconscious mind.
He winced as his knee twinged, and with that came the memory of running across the field that held the stargate, dodging tower fire, and getting hit by rock shards. He'd hit the ground hard, getting his breath knocked out, and Sam was yelling at him to get up, but he couldn't answer because he had to find air. Somehow, as she'd grabbed his arm, he'd sucked in a little, then a little more. He’d taken a step and a pain had shot through his leg and he'd damn near fallen again. Tower fire exploded nearby, and he’d had no choice but to awkwardly run for cover. Then Sam had led them toward a purple light and Makepeace had been shouting something.
All the while, since running for the surface, his mind hadn't been on seeking shelter or fighting back or wondering how to get reinforcements. He'd been thinking of Jack. Hearing him cry out as the snake had breached his neck. The anguish in his heart and mind had been overwhelming to the point of freezing his ability to think. Only his instinct had him running with Sam, obeying her directions, responding in a monotonous sarcastic tone to her questions or Makepeace's assessment of his injury.
"Oh, just a deep, gaping wound but I'll be fine." They hadn't even blinked at his smart mouth, which said a lot. Normally, Sam found his humor rather droll. In his opinion anyway. He'd never really asked.
When she suggested he stay with the Marine Colonel, Daniel had steadfastly refused. He would be with her no matter what. Sure, he was injured so it slowed him down, but what good could he be, forcing Makepeace to drag him around like almost dead weight? He'd told her as much as soon as they'd been out of earshot of the Marine.
"He's a jarhead, Sam. He needs to do his thing. How is he supposed to do that and guard me at the same time? I'm better off with you and you know it." She'd relented. Even if she hadn't, he'd have gone off on his own to find that cryo room and save Jack somehow.
Jack. Frozen in carbonite, as the man had joked about afterward. After they'd been safe, getting debriefed. If it hadn't been for that Tok'ra woman, Jack would have become a Goa'uld and there wouldn't have been a damn thing they could have done--except kidnap him and bring him home to keep him out of enemy hands. With Jack's knowledge of Earth’s defenses and capability of the SGC, they would all have been in deep shit. What had her name been? The host? The Tok'ra's name was Divana, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember the host's name. What the hell was going on with his memory? Maybe it had been hijacked by the stress of meeting up with his greatest enemy. Until Hathor, that had been Apophis. But Apophis was dead.
They’d found the Tok’ra, injured, and Sam had started to ask about a generator, but the woman had pointed to the cryo unit and the controls.
“The symbiote is dead, due to the freezing process. Press that inner green button and it’ll start the thawing process automatically.”
Daniel’s heart had gone from zero to sixty in one second and he’d managed to hit the button just before getting knocked down from behind. Hathor had then gone after Sam. Her hubris, her arrogance, had deemed him unthreatening, and perhaps that was because she felt she still had him under control, even without the nish'ta. But the moment her attention was on killing Sam, he'd found his moment.
As he’d told Jack, he’d seen red. People always used that as a metaphor, but for Daniel, it had been real. The pain in his head, combined with the absolute cold of the room, had somehow turned his sight red. Perhaps it had been the blood rushing back into his head after he'd felt the neck pinch from the strike by her hand? Whatever had been the cause, he'd seen only one thing through the haze of rage: her back.
He’d limped up behind and had his arm around her neck, putting her in a choke hold as his other hand secured the locked leverage. But he had no intention of knocking her out. He'd squeezed, holding on for dear life as she'd kicked at him, knocking them both to the floor. They'd rolled around, and she'd dug her fingers into his crotch, trying to get him to let go, but by that time, her grip had been weak. Thankfully.
He'd squeezed harder, and harder still. Then there'd been a deep, dull, cracking sound. It was oddly like the cracking of your spine when you were trying to put the discs back in order, only a bit louder. And without the multiple popping sounds caused by the bursting of nitrogen bubbles.
He heard the cracking again and again as his mind replayed his position, the strength his hold, and breaking of her neck. He breathed slowly, willing the sound to become to normalized, and therefore forgettable. But it wasn't working, and he had to force himself to block it from his thoughts.
Whatever. She was dead, right? He and Sam had thrown her body into the cryo tank, just in case that snake had lived. Hadn’t he heard that tell-tale screech when she’d fallen in? He wasn’t sure, even in recollection.
Then the cryo unit had opened and he and Sam had not-so-gently pulled Jack out the thing. He’d been covered in frost, shaking violently, despite the thawing procedure. Or maybe they’d removed him before he was supposed to leave the thing. It hadn’t mattered. Jack was alive. Now they had to search for a generator to take down a forcefield or other. Daniel hadn’t understood what Sam was talking about.
And that had been because he’d been hit with one of his migraines. Right in the middle of the Goa’uld outpost, still under the control of Hathor’s idiotic First Prime. They’d had no choice but to leave him with the Tok’ra while they’d gone to take care of business.
So what now? Couldn’t he could more properly heal now that his tormentor was dead?
Yes. He'd already done a lot of the hard work, and he'd been close to negating the fear of being entered. That, he'd discovered, had been the real fear. Of being violated again, even though Hathor hadn't committed anal rape. Sheila had helped him discover it through a type of meditative hypnotic state. It hadn't been standard hypnosis because he'd discovered that his mind was too well-conditioned to allow itself to be manipulated that way.
The revelation about anal rape had come from his replay of hazy events during the act. The nish’ta seemed to fog up his mind, even in remembering. But there'd been something missing as he'd talked about the fear of being held down. That she’d held him down while raping him.
Through meditation, he’d realized that 'held down' wasn’t the correct phrase. That was only half of the thing he was afraid of:
"Held down and violated."
In his subconscious, he'd treated all forms of penetration the same. So vaginal rape had become anal rape. He’d conflated their actions. She’d held him down. She’d violated him. And normal kink had been turned into something horrific, screwing up his sexual life so badly that he couldn’t heal without help. Before this kidnapping, he’d succeeded in re-shaping that kink and making it his again. Now, with Hathor having stroked his face and alive to …
No. She was dead. He repeated it, even though Jack had said it. He’d said it himself. He’d relived the killing of his enemy. And until now, it hadn’t actually been real.
Something clicked. Like the turning on of a lamp. The thought of sex, anal sex, no longer caused his body to retreat in horror—in that analogy he’d used before: going over a steep hill at high speed. Instead, there was a thrill of anticipation. He’d never had that before when thinking about sex with Jack.
Because of one reason: The bitch was dead.
As he lay there, staring at the shadowboxing of leaves, he reached down and rubbed his hand over his scrubs-covered cock. There was a normal response, muted of course by her presence in his thoughts. If he thought about making love--not now, but later--he was almost certain that they could finally do it. He could bottom. Be the catcher.
They'd almost done it the other way, but Jack wasn't really comfortable with it, and to Daniel's relief, neither was he. Right now, he was fairly certain there was some pent-up frustration, thanks to having their last lovemaking session cut short by a call to the mountain. So they'd hurried. Afterward, with only a look between them, they'd decided to never do that again. It hadn’t been fulfilling. Not like a quickie was, when you were forcing yourself to hurry because you simply had to have it now. It meaning intercourse. That was easy to quicken, but … you simply couldn’t hurry a blow job. Why was that?
Catching his attention, Jack suddenly stirred beside him, legs moving, upper body jerking. Then came a short moan. One of distress. When Jack moaned again, louder, and tossed his head back and forth, Daniel snuggled against him and murmured into his ear.
"Jack," he whispered. "It's gone. You're alright. You're alright, Jack."
Jack didn't hear him, so Daniel raised his voice to normal volume. "Jack. You're okay. There's no snake. You're okay." Jack's body shook once, startled, and his eyes flew open as he started to rise. "Shhh," Daniel soothed. "Come here. You're okay."
Jack groaned with disgust as he slapped his hand on the mattress. "Goddammit."
"I know. It'll be horrible for a while."
His lover sighed in aggravation. "Fuck."
There was a pregnant pause, then Jack turned on his side to look at him. "Why are you awake? Did you have a nightmare?"
"No," Daniel sighed. "I can't sleep. Or more accurately, I'm afraid to because I will have a nightmare. So I've been forcing myself to relive what happened. Maybe if I do that, a nightmare won't be as bad."
Jack snorted. "You're only going to drive yourself into a fit, doing that.”
Daniel shook his head, letting Jack see the amazement in his eyes. “I only needed to do it once.”
Jack studied him. “What are you saying?”
“That …” Daniel paused, considered some more, then said slowly, “That when you’re ready, so am I.”
“Ready,” Jack said, as if testing the word. “For?”
“Regular old sex,” Daniel said softly, in almost a whisper, as he leaned in and kissed Jack just as softly. “I think we remember how that goes.”
Jack studied him some more and it was clear that he wasn’t taking it as lightly as Daniel was making it sound. “Don’t rush. It’s been, what, twelve hours since … she died. How can her death, and how she died, help?”
Daniel studied him back, then used the information he’d learned over the last seven months. “Because the threat is gone. Many survivors can’t move on because the rapist is alive and therefore still a threat. Hathor was free. She was an ever-present threat, no matter where she was. Now she’s not.” He closed his eyes. “I’m free.”
He was startled slightly when Jack’s mouth was suddenly on his, kissing him deeply, passionately. A celebration. Daniel smiled around his mouth and kissed him back. When it slowed and eventually stopped, he rubbed his nose against Jack’s and closed his eyes.
There were nightmares, but they didn’t seem as scary as they had been before. All he needed to do now was nurse Jack through his own. When things were more stable, they could finally be together in a more intimate way.
Daniel had forgotten about the knee surgery he had to have. And the physical therapy required afterward. Because of that, no anal sex. And blow jobs had to be done with care. It was frickin’ maddening.
. . .
Daniel winced only slightly as he pushed both legs straight, raising the heavier twenty-pound weight on the leg press machine. At first, two pounds had been a lot for his right knee, but gradually, over six weeks, he’d finally reached twenty. The gash wound hadn’t compromised the kneecap or the ACL, but it had cut into the muscles above, nearly severing the major femoral tendon. The damage had been severe enough, but thanks to walking and half-running after the injury, it had exacerbated the tear. If he wanted to be on active duty with SG-1 again, he needed to be able to run as before.
It was unfair, he thought, as he went through the repetitions. Jack had had some prior ACL damage and he couldn’t sprint like he used to, but he was still in command of SG-1. So why in the hell did they expect Daniel to be able to go back to pre-injury status? A part of him, not really used to paranoid thinking, made him suspect there was a conspiracy to get him kicked off SG-1 and someone more political, and beholden to the Pentagon, put in his place. He suddenly grinned to himself. Even if such a nonsensical plan were possible, it wouldn’t work. Jack wouldn’t tolerate it, and he’d quit before allowing anyone else to take Daniel’s job. Or Sam’s or Teal’c’s, for that matter.
At the moment, Jack’s patience was being tested because SG-1 wasn’t active and he’d been going slowly mad with boredom. It was his own fault. He hadn’t liked any of Daniel’s temporary replacements, and after the fourth rejection, Hammond had benched the team rather than put any more scientists through Jack’s over-critical expectations.
And speaking of the devil …
Daniel heard Jack talking to Teal’c two rooms away where the gym lockers were stationed. He couldn’t make out what he was saying, but the tone was clear: impatience.
“Brace yourself, Dave,” Daniel said to his physical therapist. “He’ll come in here and harass you about my readiness. Don’t take it personally.”
Standing next to the weights on his left, the tall dark-skinned Staff Sergeant grinned down at him. “Don’t worry. Doctor Fraiser has asked me to refer his questions to her, keeping me from bearing the brunt.”
Daniel’s brows rose. “She did? She anticipated it? Good god, she’s quick.”
“More likely, she just knows Colonel O’Neill.”
“Who knows me?” Jack said, entering, wearing his blue utility uniform, in contrast to Dave’s white uniform and Daniel’s white tank top and black shorts. He’d been offered Air Force gear, but he just wasn’t going to wear standard issue anything. He was comfortable in his own work out gear, thank you very much.
“Janet,” Daniel answered. “If you’re here to berate Dave about my progress, you’re to talk to her, not him.”
Jack frowned as he stopped at the bench press to Daniel’s right and sat down. “No,” he drawled, looking up at Dave and nodding at him. “Staff Sergeant. How’s our boy?” Daniel glared at him and Jack pretended not to notice by keeping his gaze resolutely on Dave’s.
“I think I can safely say that he should be cleared by the CMO next Friday.”
Daniel’s glare vanished, turning to surprise as he looked up at Dave. “No shit?” he asked, stopping the leg press, knees bent. Today was Wednesday. Ten more days.
Dave nodded. “Twenty pounds. No pain. The wincing you were doing is soreness only, not stress. We’ll transfer to the indoor track this Friday and we’ll do that all next week. I’ll give her my recommendation a week from tomorrow.”
“Cool,” Jack said, grinning at him. “You done for today?” he asked them both.
Daniel nodded, and swung a leg over to stand up. He looked over his shoulder. “Tomorrow afternoon?”
Dave nodded. “Tomorrow afternoon. Remember. Ice only if necessary and no heat.”
“What would make it necessary?” Jack asked.
“If you decide to go kickboxing. Or kick down doors. Or run from a horde of Jaffa.”
Daniel let out a bark of laughter. “Not likely.”
“Around here, who the hell knows. So the advice is out there.” He grabbed a towel and exited the weight room.
Jack grinned. “I like that guy.” He watched the way Daniel walked as they, too, exited the weight room.
Daniel snorted. “You say that each time you talk to him. You’re either getting forgetful or you’re rambling in place of something else on your mind.”
Jack’s crooked grin appeared. “I don’t know what you mean.”
They walked through the locker room and headed out of the gym. Daniel didn’t plan on showering because he was heading home. And the base’s gym shower room was communal. No thank you. He didn’t have a problem with nudity or seeing other men nude. He had issues with men who thought shower time was play time. And sometimes those games weren’t at all funny. He’d learned that in High School, witnessing how bullies acted, and ever since, he would never enter another one.
“You’re in deep thought,” Jack said as they entered the elevator.
“Thinking of a shower,” Daniel replied absently, pressing the Level 16 button. Dismissing thoughts of the past, he thought about laying in the sun in Jack’s backyard. Jack’s. Not for the first time, it occurred to him that he was treating Jack’s place as if it was his own. “You done for the day?” he asked as the elevator began to go up. Jack hadn’t pressed a lower-level button.
“Yep. Get changed, go home. Gotta do some shopping first.”
“Yep. Need to restock on the usual. You coming over, or going home first?” Daniel didn’t answer right away, and it seemed to make Jack nervous. “What?”
Daniel shook his head. “Nothing.” Jack’s brow went up and he knew his friend and lover hated it when he answered that way. “I mean that there’s nothing wrong.”
He waited until they were in the locker room before he finished his line of thought. He sat on one of the benches next to their set of team lockers and watched as Jack changed. “Anyway, I was just wondering if it’s wrong that I’m treating your place as if I lived there, too.” He cleared his throat and waved the spare key on his key ring. The one Jack had given him. “You’ve given me this, but I’ve never used it because, well, it’s not my house, and I’m not going there alone unless I’m picking something up for you.”
“And?” Jack asked, changing out of his trousers.
“And …” He sighed with frustration. “I don’t know. I don’t know where I was going with this.”
“Maybe it’s because you want to move in,” Jack said, grinning, and not looking at him as he changed out of his fatigue shirt and undershirt. “It wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Well I can’t,” Daniel answered immediately, “so no, I’m not thinking about that.”
“Ah huh,” Jack said as he grabbed his civvies off their hangers.
Daniel knew that tone. The man had more to say. “What?”
“Let’s finish this at home.”
He had a thoughtful, quizzical grin on his face. If the past was prologue, then Jack would conveniently forget what he’d been thinking by the time they got to his house. Or at least, it seemed convenient to Daniel.
They said nothing else until they got home. Even going through the grocery store, nothing was said, but then, Daniel noted, nothing needed to be said. They went through these silences comfortably, not needing to say anything because they could read each other well. But on the way home, Daniel used their comfortable silence to replay what he’d said, what Jack had said. What had that look been about? He hadn’t made any headway until he was following Jack on the walkway to the front door, carrying two bags of groceries, when he suddenly stopped mid-step.
“It wouldn’t be a problem.”
He’d ignored that last bit. Bypassed it, actually. He’d focused only on the first part of the comment. “Maybe it’s because you want to move in.” Why had he ignored the second bit? Because he’d had his head up his ass, that’s why. Slowly, he went through the open door, into the kitchen, placed the bags on the counter, then opened the fridge, grabbed a can of hard lemonade, and chugged half of it. It burned nicely, clearing his head. The alcohol sort of defeated the purpose though. It’s what he got for not grabbing the Coke but a part of him had wanted the alcohol. Dumbass thing to do. Where the hell was his brain at? Oh wait. Hadn’t he just decided it was firmly shoved up his butt?
Jack moved around him, putting a few things in the still-open fridge door, when Daniel stopped him, put his arms around him, and kissed him. Hard. Passionately. Jack gave it back with enthusiasm. When they broke for air, Jack just grinned, stepped away, and continued putting the groceries away.
Daniel realized that that was how it was decided that he would move in. Just like that. Daniel snorted to himself, knowing that a conversation was needed to discuss when he’d move in.
“Something?” Jack asked.
“When?” Daniel asked, placing some things in a cupboard. Yeah, brilliant conversation, that.
“When we have the time off,” Jack answered. “Or just bits at a time. Like you have been doing for a while now.”
“Right,” he said with a doubtful tone. Till he thought about it. He had a little space in Jack’s closet. And top dresser drawer. And a corner of a shelf in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. And a space on a shelf over the washer. And … room in the linen closet. “Right,” he said, more sheepishly.
Jack grinned at him and walked past. “Weren’t you going to take a shower?”
“Yeah,” Daniel drawled, rolling his eyes. “As soon as the groceries were put away.”
“Just don’t use up all the hot water,” said the man as he disappeared into the bedroom.
Daniel frowned in mock consternation. Jack had put in a new water heater, so that statement was meant for teasing because he sometimes took long showers. He hadn’t been able to lately, of course, because he wasn’t supposed to strain the knee.
“You can take yours first,” he called down the hall.
“No,” Jack said, appearing in the doorway in his boxers.
It was a little odd. If Jack wasn’t going to get into his scrounging clothes—which were like his own: clean but full of holes—then he was playing with him. Teasing.
And suddenly, Daniel wanted to stall. There was a perfectly good reason. A perfectly good irrational reason. Because he was being a chicken. For the first time since they’d gotten together, Daniel realized that he wanted to let Jack lead. Maybe it was because he didn’t know what to do first. Or second. Or … hell, just the steps to get relaxed, to not freeze up out of some idiotic fear of …
He swallowed, took a deep breath and went down the hall. He met Jack in the doorway, nearly pressed together as they faced each other. “No? Okay, um …”
“You’re panicking,” Jack said softly. “Want to just jerk off instead?”
“No,” Daniel said quickly, without thinking.
Jack smiled gently at him, then steered him toward the bathroom. “C’mon. Think about normal stuff. Think about what we’ll have for dinner. What’s on TV. And then think about what we normally do. Before dinner. After dinner. At bedtime.” He slapped his ass, then ducked out of the way when Daniel turned to slap him back. Moving down the hall, he called back, “Think about what you’d normally do. What we’d normally do. Okay?”
Daniel nodded. And found that while in the shower, it worked. What they’d normally do when they got home was to always play it by ear. They also didn’t have to wait to be in the mood because they always were. All it took was a look. Or a simple caress. Or hell, just waking up in the morning or coming home at night. For cryin’ out loud, breathing in the same room could set them off.
Daniel paused as he rinsed his hair. Wasn’t he supposed to be thinking of normal non-sexual stuff so he’d stop pressuring himself? He heard the door creak and looked around the curtain. Jack was naked and heading his way. “You wanna share?”
“Isn’t that what it looks like?” Jack asked.
Daniel smirked at him as he moved back. Jack stepped into the tub, then quickly warmed up under the water. This was an easy thing for them. They rarely spoke anymore when they shared the shower. It was almost always for one reason: foreplay. Wash each other. Get clean, of course, but the washing was for caressing. Sometimes they’d taste each other and sometimes they’d resist and wait until they were half dry. Then they’d move to the bed, caress each other again, this time with firmer purpose.
Three weeks ago, Jack had surprised him by the presentation of a set of dildos. They were gradual in size, and the largest was one Daniel had rejected. He didn’t want anything bigger than Jack’s cock. After that, they’d played. And played. But when it came to orgasm time, the only thing he wanted was either Jack’s fingers or his cock.
Daniel brushed aside the shower curtain and stepped out, grabbing a towel and quickly drying himself. He threw another into Jack’s chest, making the man grin at him, then made it difficult for the man to dry himself off because he took his hand, led him rather briskly into the bedroom, and with the same briskness, he sloppily toweled him off, swiped at himself once more, then—
Then Jack grabbed his hands and forced him to stop moving. Daniel was shaking. “Breathe.”
Daniel swallowed first. Then took a deep breath through his nose. Then swallowed again. He let out a nervous laugh. “I’m not a virgin, dammit.”
“Well …” Jack said and waggled his right hand. “In a way, you are. You’ve gone through your own crucible, forced to redefine your own sexuality. I think maybe that means you’re a metaphorical virgin.” Daniel giggled, then winced. “Never mind,” Jack said. “Laugh however you like. No judging here.”
Daniel gave a short laugh. “Yeah.”
“Now …” He held Daniel’s hands flat between his own. “How do you want to do this?”
Daniel was confused. “What do you mean?”
“Do you want to guide this or have me do it?”
“Oh,” Daniel said, though he mouthed it. He couldn’t help the blush that tipped his ears. “I’d like you to take charge. Lead.” He swallowed hard. “I mean it.”
“Okay,” Jack began, dubious. “You’re sure?”
“Yes.” Then Daniel put his hand on Jack’s chest, abruptly stopping him from moving to the bed. “No dildos.”
Jack frowned, perplexed. “Of course not.” He suddenly took Daniel’s hand and placed it over his cock. “You have the real deal. We can throw those toys away.”
“Well,” Daniel said, making a face. “Put them away. You never know.” Jack’s eyes widened. “What? Kink, Jack.”
“Exactly how would …?” Jack asked.
Daniel gave him a sly smile. “Well, one day, you’d be in me, and maybe I’d then have something in you.”
Jack snorted. “And that would be a little awkward, wouldn’t it?”
“Only for someone with short arms,” Daniel said, brows arching.
Jack started laughing and pulled him toward the bed. “Now, when you say you’ll let me lead, exactly how much of a ‘take charge’ attitude should I have. If I order you to do something, will it be taken wrong?”
“Order me to …?” Daniel queried.
Jack gently pushed him onto his back, his feet still on the carpet. “Back up to the pillows,” he ordered softly.
“Oh,” Daniel said, and again, he mouthed it. “Okay,” he said, nodding, giving approval. Permission. And he complied, scooting up the bed. Jack walked around the bed and took the lube out of the side table drawer, then hesitated, looked at Daniel, then removed a red square: a condom. “You want to use this?”
Daniel nodded slowly. “At first, I think. If it hadn’t been for the toys, it would be necessary. Remember the first time we used one?” Jack had gone slow, but it had been a long time since Daniel had had anal sex.
“I remember,” Jack said softly. Purposely, he stroked himself. “Real deal. Totally different.”
Faking ignorance, Daniel sighed dramatically. “I somehow remember …”
Jack grinned and shoved both the lube and condom under the right pillow, then crawled over to him. He paused, looking directly down at him before he slowly lowered his lips to his for a light kiss. “I think maybe I should tease you for a while. What do you think?”
Daniel swallowed, and his dick twitched. “Tease me?” he said, affecting an innocent look he used to make Jack laugh.
The man didn’t laugh. He narrowed his eyes slightly instead, with a familiar heat darkening his eyes. The right corner of his mouth turned up. “Yes, tease. With some slow foreplay.”
A rush of heat spread throughout Daniel’s body while his mind said No. And just like that, his feelings cemented, and he knew what he wanted. He took momentary charge and said, “No.”
Jack looked a bit puzzled. And worried. “No … to what?”
“We’ve been teasing for weeks. It was actually foreplay. For weeks.” He swallowed and reached under the pillow and pulled out the bottle of lube. “I’m done waiting and I’m past ready, dammit. Please.” He dropped the bottle and pulled Jack down on top of him and did something he hadn’t dared to do since they’d been together. He wrapped his legs around his hips and his heels spread Jack’s thighs apart. His lover let out a startled but happy moan and writhed against him as he brought their lips together in a passionate kiss. Their tongues slid together as they always did but it was more like a new introduction than a casual hello. It was as if they were saying, “This is beginning of our First Time.”
Daniel slid his hands up his back and thrust upward, rubbing, doing his own teasing, and Jack responded with a deep moan down his throat as he put his arms under him and pulled him up at the same time as he sat back. Daniel straddled his thighs, arms wrapped around his neck, and their kiss still hungrily demanding. He blindly searched for the lube and flicked the cap open.
“Get me ready,” he murmured against Jack’s lips. Jack held his hand up and Daniel squirted a good amount of gel onto his fingers. Jack pushed him back down and reached between his legs, all the while keeping their eyes locked. The action was familiar, with a muscle memory making it easy for his fingers to slid in and out, to prep him thoroughly and quickly. “Yes,” Daniel whispered and grabbed the condom. He ripped it open and looked down as he carefully slid it over Jack’s cockhead, then down the length, eliciting a deep groan.
“Up here?” Jack asked, indicating that Daniel sit back up again. “Or where you are?”
Daniel got back up, but his knee was too tight and he winced. “Not quite yet for that,” he said, lying back down. He pulled Jack back down on top of him. “This way.”
Jack reached between his legs and once more, added lube and slid a finger inside. He then added more to his condom-covered cock before wiping his hand on the bedspread. Without a word, they stared into each other’s eyes while at the same time not really seeing. Their awareness was focused on their impending contact. Jack rubbed the head against his anus and Daniel couldn’t help the moan of need that escaped.
“Yes,” he whispered, his voice strained.
Hot, tight. And then he was being filled. Slowly. “Yes,” he breathed. “The real deal.”
Jack slid both hands under his shoulders and held him loosely as he pulled back and stroked, deepening his entry and adjusting the angle. Daniel’s eyes widened at the heat and the longing now being fulfilled. He dug his heels into Jack’s buttocks and pulled him in with a loud groan. His eyes closed, and he tipped his head back, mouth opening, as he gave himself permission to just feel as Jack sank into him fully.
“You alright?” Jack asked, kissing his chin. He stroked a few tentative times, then began to thrust in a moderate rhythm.
“Yes,” Daniel said tightly, teeth clenched as he tipped his head further back. “Oh god yes.” He froze that way, raising his knees. “Oh god, Jack,” he murmured softly. “Just fuck me. Fuck me.” Jack bit at his throat as he complied, moving deep and speeding up. He pulled demands from Daniel’s throat. Pleas. Begging. And Daniel couldn’t stop talking. He kept telling himself to just feel and take it all in, but the pleasure was so intense, so long sought after, that he just couldn’t stop telling him to go faster, deeper. Minutes passed that felt like seconds, until Jack’s rhythm created a rocking that both of them melted into and rode for a while.
Finally, Daniel spread his fingers on each side of Jack’s head, his thumbs brushing over his lover’s lips. “Hard,” he managed, huffing out the word. His eyes widened even more as Jack gave it to him with a bright fire inside his own brown eyes. “Do it,” Daniel said, his voice straining. He did. Hard, again, and again. He established another rhythm and the bed shook with it. It was bliss. Heaven.
Then came the surge of heat deep in his balls. Daniel’s eyes widened in shock, in disbelief. He didn’t want it so soon, but Jack felt too goddamn good. “I’m gonna … I’m …”
He began to suck in breaths and Jack sat up and raised Daniel’s legs to rest against his chest, feet over his shoulders, and thrust into him unbelievably fast. The friction was glorious, and Daniel arched his back again and clutched the bed sheets repeatedly as he came hard, crying out “Yes!” repeatedly. Jack fell on top of him, arms around his head, kissing him just as hard as he, too, climaxed, spilling his pleasure into him.
Daniel kissed him back, as if desperately needing to, as he rode out the trailing ends of his orgasm. The kiss, like their hearts and the pleasure that rushed through them, slowed over time. Rolling them both on their sides, he combed his fingers through Jack’s hair. “We are so not done.”
Jack curled a leg behind Daniel’s knee, pulling them close. He gently bit his chin, making Daniel smile. “You’re damn right, we aren’t.”
They showered again, then fixed something to eat, each taking furtive, impatient glances at the other. It was as if they’d discovered a kink they couldn’t get enough of, even though it was just basic anal sex. Sore and sated by the time they decided it was time to go to sleep, Daniel snuggled against his best friend and lover, hoping that everything would still look the same come morning.
“Thanks,” Daniel said as Jack handed him a Jack ‘n Coke.
“Sure,” Jack said.
They sat down on the sofa and Jack watched him with an enigmatic look on his face that Daniel couldn’t read, and it bothered him. He didn’t want to believe there was a bit of an awkward gulf between them, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. “Thanks for believing me. In me.”
“Thanks for not being mad,” Jack replied.
Daniel nodded, sighing. Silence invaded the living room and he was thankful that Jack didn’t turn on the TV to break it. It was maddening and disappointing and sad and horrifying when you thought you were losing your mind and everyone around you thought so, too. Only to find out that bastard Machello had gotten the last word in a royal mind fuck.
“I wish he was alive, so I could kill him,” Daniel said finally.
“You don’t mean that,” Jack said softly.
Daniel considered it, making Jack’s brows rise. “No, I don’t. Maybe a really good ass kicking.”
“That would work for me.”
Everything had been going well, more or less. Apart from the Goa’uld and the Asgard. The real Thor. Daniel felt a bit annoyed, and maybe it was irrational. Why hadn’t Thor contacted him? He’d been the one to make contact, not Jack. But he wouldn’t bring it up again. He didn’t want Jack to lapse into another round of laughter. Bastard. Lovable. But bastard.
And now, being crazy was going to stick for a while, even if it hadn’t been real. He felt he had a slew of new things to talk to Sheila about. And maybe—
Jack suddenly got up and pulled Daniel to his feet. “C’mere,” he said, pulling him into a tight hug.
Daniel hugged back, relieved. Maybe happy. Or at least, something that lived on the same block as happy. “What’s this?” he asked, then winced, wishing he hadn’t said it, but it didn’t faze his lover.
“What we need,” Jack said, kissing his temple. “Besides, I don’t need a reason. And if you don’t mind, maybe a good round of lovemaking would help wash off the stain of these few days.”
Daniel sighed. “No. I don’t mind.” He rested his forehead against Jack’s. “But I want you on top and me on my back. I need to feel you against me. The other positions are getting boring.”
“Seriously?” Jack asked, looking at him. “You shoulda said.”
“I just did.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I was … I was happy. Wanted you to be, too.” Now Jack was frowning, and Daniel winced. “That came out wrong, I think.”
“I’m happy, Daniel,” Jack told him firmly. “I’m happy that we’ve gone through a dark phase and come out the other side. I’m glad that you feel healed. Whole. I’m glad that you …” He gave Daniel the crooked grin he loved. “Like the way I please you.”
“And you?” Daniel asked as he turned his head a little, eyeing him. “I’m thinking you’re glad about your side of things, too.”
“Yeah. But I’m not the one who needed to find his … true self again.”
Daniel nodded, leaving it at that. He wanted Jack at that moment and he put aside further introspection until later. When he had that moment, he considered that while going crazy had been awful, he’d already experienced the long-form version of it over a year and a half before and it took almost that long to come out of it. He’d gone through a series of emotional hurdles he didn’t want to visit again. Maybe they’d made him stronger, but he’d rather have walked over hot coals. And he still had occasional nightmares. Always would. The only true positive out the entire clusterfuck was Jack. His rock. And while he himself had done the hard, emotional work, he couldn’t have come forward without him.