"Well, Doctor Jackson, you'll be happy to know you're fine. You don't seem to have suffered any residual ill effects from the zat gun blast."
Daniel rubs the back of his neck and makes a face as Janet signs him off on our post mission medical. "Whatever you say, Janet," he answers, looking anything but convinced as he tilts his head from side to side like he's trying to work a serious kink out of his neck. "God, I really hate those things," he mutters, slipping off the examining table, his jaw working like he's trying to get his eardrums to pop. "Sets my teeth on edge every damned time."
"So, how about me, Doc?" I'm addressing Janet, but my eyes never leave Daniel. He's been acting a bit off ever since we got back from P7S-441, kinda weird and distant, and I've got a feeling whatever's bugging him has got nothing to do with getting zatted. "Can I go too?"
I gotta admit I'm a little disappointed by his seeming lack of enthusiasm for my safe return to the fold. Not that I was expecting him to hug the shit out of me in the gateroom and shower me with endearments, admittedly, that's more my speed, but still, he didn't even say, 'Gee Jack, so glad to see you're not dead'. Or squat, for that matter. I was MIA behind enemy lines for almost two days, just me and an alien we all thought was a member of the team but really wasn't, I coulda been shot up and deader than dead a zillion times over for all he knew.
So what's up with the 'so you're back, so what?' routine?
Crap. Janet's giving me her hundred watt Napoleonic power monger grin. I'm so not going to enjoy this.
"Oh, I'm sorry Colonel, but we're not quite finished with you yet." She keeps right on with the 'I so own your ass' smile as she says the very last thing I want to hear right now. What's with this 'we' crap? All I see is one very little woman with a very scary smile who right now I'm figuring is enjoying her job way too much.
Note to self: buy pixie repellent. Lots of it.
"You've had much more contact with the alien than the rest of SG-1," the Doc continues, in that perky and yet implacably firm way she has of breaking it to you gently while also calmly informing you you've got to take what's coming to you like a man and all arguing with her will get you is a longer stay in the infirmary. And possibly the odd extra retaliatory needle. I'm just saying. I've got no proof the injections are unnecessary, but I've got my suspicions. Sonofabitch, she's still prattling. I endeavour to focus and convey the impression I give a damn about what she's saying.
"I'm a little concerned about the length of time you were exposed to the alien chemical so I want to run a few tests to determine if your brain chemistry has returned to normal and ensure you're not suffering any residual effects from your prolonged exposure."
Crap. I'm going to be here forever. And Daniel is already heading for the door.
"Daniel!" I call after him as Janet is taking me by the arm and leading me to my fate. "I'll catch up with you later, okay?"
He doesn't look back, just waves a hand at me and mumbles something as he walks out the door. Peachy. Now I'm really confused.
"Right this way, Colonel," Janet coolly instructs as she pulls me in the opposite direction from where I want to be going. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I could swear she's gloating.
By the time I'm actually able to make good on my promise Daniel has cleared out long ago and I've been brought up to speed as to what went down while I was roughing it with 'Lieutenant Tyler' on 441. All I can say is it's a damned good thing for Simmons he's long gone as well, and maybe Daniel's reaction is making a little more sense. He didn't let on to anyone what was said during his interview with fuckface, but after what Carter and Teal'c told me, not to mention Hammond, I'm guessing the whole thing was pretty down and dirty.
I'm also more than confident my boy spit right in the bastard's eye.
We've got some serious damage control ahead of us. Both Hammond and I fully intend to find out who's pulling Simmons' strings but right now my first priority is Daniel. I gotta admit, I'm still a bit bothered the way he took off. Still something not quite right about it. Maybe a few months ago, yeah, I could see him booking like this without filling me in, talking it out, but we've been taking care of that rough patch we both went through. Friends again. At least, I THOUGHT we were.
Friends again. Not as much as I want, but certainly better than it was, and realistically, all I can have. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but almost losing him a couple of times and finally seeing how I was driving him away because I didn't want to accept I couldn't have more, kinda brought me to my senses. I need Daniel in my life, and Daniel as my friend and only my friend is much better than no Daniel at all.
And I'll keep on telling myself that until I actually believe it.
I'm almost to his place as I dial his number on the cell and get the machine. Again. On a hunch I give it a minute while I pull up and park, then dial the number again. No machine this time. Hah! Gotcha, Dannyboy. You're home.
The unguarded instant of naked joy on his face when he first opens the door and sees me - more like it! Then - wham! It's gone. Erased from existence, replaced by - I'm not really sure what the hell I'm seeing on Daniel's face. Sad, he looks sad. Like part of him is grieving over some loss he's keeping closer to his vest than a three-time loser who's just been dealt an unexpected royal flush.
What the HELL did Simmons say to him? And how come it only seems to bother him when he looks at me?
I've got no idea what I'm dealing with here, so I decide to go for the frontal assault. "I'm baaack!" I crow at him as I spread my arms wide. "Miss me?"
Daniel winces and shrinks back from the door like I've backhanded him, his mouth twisting in an angry, defiant line. "Don't be an ass, Jack!" he snaps out bitterly.
Okay. That was interesting. Not to mention disturbing. I hang by the open door watching Daniel's swiftly retreating back as he books into his apartment. "I could - ah - leave and come back again," I call after him, still trying to keep the tone light. "Give you a shot at slapping me up the other side of my head? What, has giving a damn suddenly become a crime in your book?"
I close the door and follow him into the apartment. Even though his welcome has been less than warm, if he really didn't want me to be here, he would have said so, right up front, before he even let me set foot in the place. We don't play those kinds of games with each other. Nope, not those kinds. Just the 'I'm so gone on you when I see you like this it's all I can do stop myself from taking you in my arms and giving you something else to think about, but I've got to settle for not letting you see what I really want to do for you and falling back on simply offering you the friendly shoulder' kinds of games.
It suddenly hits me just how much that sucks. If I was half the man I claim to be...
"What are you doing here, Jack?" Daniel sighs as he sags into the nearest sofa. He looks even worse than he sounds. Really tired, worn right to the bone. Even though he hasn't acted like he was much put out by my enforced sojourn on 441 I can see the effects the strain of the last few days have had on him now. He was worried about me. I'm not sure why he won't own up to it, but he sure can't hide it. Not from me.
"What - I need a reason, now?" I don't hold back with the affront in the voice as I park my butt on the opposite arm of the couch to the one that's holding him up. "I can't just drop in on my good buddy Daniel, just 'cause?"
Score! That one got him. He flinches, ducks his head and screws his eyes shut as he wearily pinches the bridge of his noes like he's got a headache. "No - no, of course not," he exclaims quickly. "I'm - I'm sorry," he sighs again and slumps against the back of the sofa, all the fight draining out of him. "You're right. That was rude. Of course you don't need a reason." He pushes his glasses back up as he lifts his head and sort of smiles while not quite meeting my eye. "Do me a favour, huh, Jack? Don't pay any attention to me right now. I'm a little - off."
You don't say. I reach down, nudge his legs over so there's room and then slide down onto the couch beside him. As soon as I land I lay my arm across the back of the couch, reach over and poke him gently in the shoulder. "Of course, just because I don't need a reason to be here doesn't mean I don't have one," I grin at him.
Daniel groans loudly and expels a mirthless laugh as he lets his head drop wearily against the back of the sofa. His hair is inches away from my fingers. I can feel them start to twitch with wanting so desperately to close the gap and feel the seductive softness so near and yet so far.
"Why do I always let you do this to me?" he mutters. "Eyes wide open and I still walk straight into it, every single damned time."
"If I said it's 'cause you're easy would you hit me?" Hand. Stop. Now. Fingers - on the cushions. NOT in the hair. Cushions good. Hair - BAD.
"Would it do me any good?" he scowls at me and shifts just a bit. Crap. Hair touching hand. Not good. Should move hand. Out of harm's way. Really should. Yup, I should.
Don't want to.
"Might slow me down a bit but certainly won't stop me." Ohhh God. Maybe he won't notice if I just...ruffle it. Just a little bit...
He laughs again and solves my moral dilemma for me by shifting his head until it's resting in the crook of the sofa's arm, well beyond the reach of my fingers. I then get an uncomfortable 'out of the firing pan into the fire' kind of feeling as he scoots around until he's lying on the couch with his legs drawn up, his feet - his bare feet - bare toes butting up against my thigh.
Crap. Not the toes. Not right now. I thought the hair was bad enough, but the toes? For crying out loud, I'm only human.
If I didn't know how badly he needs me to be here I'd be taking the chickenshit's path of least resistance and bailing before the toes and the hair and the pout - we're not even going to think about the eyes -
"So we're back to my original question, then," Daniel says as he takes off his glasses, places them on the coffee table and throws his arm across his eyes. He suddenly looks so bone weary I'm cut to the quick and the concern boiling up within me almost cancels out my intense awareness of toes massaging my thigh. "Why are you here?"
Almost - but not quite. Jesus, that feels so gaddamned...erotic. Ohhhh Momma! He can't realise what he's doing. Can he? Mind you, if he takes a look at the way I'm sweating, not to mention - well, maybe we just won't mention it -
"I thought you might want to talk." Crap - I sound like Minnie Mouse. Down boy!
"Why would you think that?" he murmurs sleepily from behind his arm, wriggling his butt into the cushions in a way that might be making him more comfortable but is only making my problem more - pronounced. I got toes digging into my thigh and an ass I want pressing into my face the way it's working its way into those cushions. I'm one sad, doomed fuck.
"Oh I don't know," I gulp, realising I'm way past being capable of casual and trying for at least not sounding strangled. "Me being stuck in Jaffaland while you were all locked up and under suspicion of being compromised, topped off by getting the third degree from the King of the Beasts? Stuff like that?"
"Oh - that," Daniel waves a dismissing hand.
"Yeah - that?" I wait for a bit, but other than continuing to make with the toes, Daniel doesn't say anything. "So spill, already," I prompt. "What did Simmons say to you?"
Daniel sighs heavily, shrugs and stretches out his legs. It takes me a minute to realise he's started talking again because I'm having a hard time processing my current reality of Daniel's feet in my lap.
Daniel's feet are in my lap. His bare feet. My lap. Feet. Lap. Jeeezus...
I think this is about where the alarm goes off and I wake up.
Or - not…
"Oh, nothing much." Daniel's not doing much better in the 'trying to come off as casual' department either. "He threw a picture of Sarah at me and then accused me of being a Goa'uld sympathiser because an old girlfriend was now a host. But I guess he's not a complete bastard. Or not as clever as he thinks he is. He either forgot or didn't resort to hitting me with the obvious, going straight for the jugular, let's completely bum the geek out with the old 'oh yes, lest we forget, wasn't your wife one too?' - ploy. "
Daniel tries to laugh it off, but I can feel the pain and bitterness jolt through him and the hand at his side momentarily clenches into a fist, then releases.
Next time I see Simmons I'm going to rearrange his face for him, free of charge. Least thing I can do for such a nice guy.
"Not that it would have done him any more good than trying to knock me off balance with Sarah," Daniel quickly explains, hastening to hide the hurt behind a verbal smokescreen. "He's an asshole." Daniel emphasises his assessment with another casual wave of his hand. "No big deal. I can handle assholes. Years of practice. And I didn't mean that the way it sounded," he adds quickly after a brief silence.
Don't sweat it Daniel. I know what you meant.
I'm looking down at Daniel's feet trying to fumble out something supportive and consoling while also trying not to give into the almost overwhelming urge to fondle. Fondling is looking more and more inevitable as Daniel lifts his arm a bit, just enough so he can shoot a glance at me. I feel his eyes on me and turn just in time to catch the fond smile on his face before he drops his arm back over his eyes again.
"Don't worry about it, Jack. I'm fine," he soothes. "It'd take a lot more than what that jerk has got to get under my skin. After some of the characters I've matched wits with, he's strictly small potatoes."
No shit. I've met the harridan who lives down the hall. here. She'd eat Simmons for breakfast and still have room for Maybourne, is just barely letting me live, but Daniel, of course, has her wrapped around his little finger.
She's not the only one.
"So you're telling me Simmons isn't what's eating you," I reply as I drop my hand down on his right foot. Okay, I know it's crazy, but if he didn't want me to touch it he shouldn't have put it where I could.
"Nope." He wriggles said foot and moves it a bit closer toward my crotch. I gently nudge it back before he gets a first - uh - hand introduction to a side of his best friend he might not want to know about.
I'm also guessing asking him for an ice pack might strike him as a bit odd as well. Especially as the swelling I want to reduce isn't anywhere near my knee.
"But something is," I press on, trying to focus on Daniel's problems and not mine. Even though right now he's the direct cause of my biggest one.
"It - it's not important," he says quickly, his tone suddenly shading into self-conscious. I can feel him preparing pull away from me, to curl up into himself and tighten my grip around his ankle just in time to stop him.
"It's - it's silly," he says a little plaintively, making another half-hearted attempt to extricate his feet from my grip and my lap.
"Sez you," I tell him gently. "Why don't you let me be the judge of that? Spill."
"Don't want to," he says petulantly, pulling against my hold.
"Sure ya do."
"Don't. Let go." He's pulling harder, getting a little steamed, but we're still okay. He's mad at himself, not at me, and if he really wanted to get away he would have kicked me a good one. He could get loose in an instant if he wanted to. We both know that.
I wouldn't hold him if he really didn't want to be held.
"Nope." I shake my head and give his feet a little pat. "Not until you tell me what's bothering you."
He stops struggling, crosses his arms stubbornly across his chest and rolls onto his side, turning his face into the back of the couch. "No!" he retorts, his indignation slightly muffled by the upholstery.
Time to play dirty.
I hoist his right foot up by the ankle and position my fingers over the strategically displayed and entirely vulnerable bare sole beneath. "I'll tickle!" I leer.
"You wouldn't!" he exclaims, horrified.
"Oh, but I would," I fervently assure him. Trust me on this Daniel, you've only yourself to blame.
"You are such a prick!" he fumes.
"Yeah, but you love me anyway," I glibly throw back at him and then promptly wish the Earth would open up and swallow me.
He instantly mutters something into the couch again, but I'm so busy hyperventilating from the shock of having said the incredibly stupid thing I've just said I must have heard him wrong.
Had to have. There's no way he said 'Yeah, I do'.
"Fishing!" he suddenly blurts out as he rolls onto his back again.
"Um - WHAT?" is my incredibly brilliant response.
"Fishing," he reiterates stonily, his face crimson with embarrassment. "That's what's 'eating' me. Fishing. Told you it was stupid."
"Out of context it's just - confusing," I reply, returning his foot to my lap and loosening the grip I have on his ankle, but not entirely removing my hand. He can break my hold if he wants to. But he doesn't. "You want to give me a little more?" I ask him.
He sighs and starts furiously studying the hand which is gently stroking the cushion beneath it. I'm really starting to hate his couch. I think I might need professional help. Soon.
"You asked an alien to go fishing with you," he says quietly.
Okay, that's another 'huh?' but what the hey. For a linguist Daniel can be pretty damned cryptic at times. And unfortunately he does not come with a manual.
"Well, yeah, but I didn't know he was an alien at the time - " I start to babble, but he cuts me off.
"You asked Sam to go fishing. Asked Teal'c, too."
Crap. He's really upset about this. Fishing?
"I asked you as well, if you will recall." I remind him.
"When you knew there was no way I could GO!" he retorts indignantly. "While I was lying in a hospital bed recuperating from surgery. No way I could go…" He's quiet for a minute, and then looks at me accusingly. "Even though I wanted to. Told you I wanted to. I would have gone if I could have. How come you've never asked me again - when I could have?"
The hurt in his eyes is devastating. Woah! Back this wagon train up just a minute, I think I missed something! This isn't about fishing. It's about everything that happened after I extended him the first invitation he couldn't accept, about what I did to him after that he doesn't understand. Why I suddenly pulled away from him and stopped talking to him and just stopped being there for him in all the ways I used to be. This is about him wanting to know why I shut him down and out without a single word of warning. We've mended the fences, put the past behind us, closed that gaping gap between us, but I've never once explained to him why it all happened. How could I? How could I tell him I turned away from him because having him so close while never being able to have him -
How could I tell him I was a selfish rat bastard who turned on a friend because I wanted to be so much more. I wanted to be his lover.
Still do. Always will.
He's still talking. It's like this one small admission has broken something loose, he's on a roll and he's not going to stop until he gets it all out.
Seeing as how I started this, guess I owe it to him to take everything he's going to dish out to me.
I asked for it, and now I'm going to get it. Right between the eyes, no doubt.
"I was worried sick about you while you were out there. Simmons is nothing - just a big fat military jerk. Like I've never had to deal with his kind before. He was fishing - I have no idea what he was looking for, but I'm not stupid enough to fall for his pathetic attempts to goad me. I just dusted him off," he snorts scornfully. "Got him out of my face and then didn't waste another second on him. All I could think about was you - how we had to leave you behind. They wouldn't let us go back for you - Jack, they actually threatened to shoot us if we tried! So worried about their stupid, goddamned rules when they should have been helping you! Rules!" he exclaims, pounding his balled fist against the cushions. "Fuck 'em! Too many goddamned, stinking rules. Rules that aren't fair, that make no sense, that - that - that just plain SUCK! Well, you know what?" he mutters fiercely, his face dark with frustration and anger. "They can all stick their fucking rules! You were out there - alone - you needed us! We should have been there for you. Fuck the goddamned rules!"
Holy. Three 'fucks' and three 'goddamns' in one rant. This is really serious. Daniel hardly ever swears. At least not in any language you can actually understand. He's pretty upset, and from the way he's foaming at the mouth and abusing the upholstery what this incident has touched off is something he's been keeping the lid on bigtime. For a long time. When Daniel starts throwing the expletives deleted around, not to mention soft furnishings, run for fricking cover! He's about to blow.
"You were there, Daniel," I tell him gently, trying to console him.
"Only just!" he protests angrily. "If we'd been a few seconds later - "
"But you weren't. You were there when it counted the most. It's okay."
"I was angry at you when you got back," he blurts out heatedly like he hasn't heard a word I just said. "You almost died - and all I could think about was - was… "
His voice trails off and he looks away, blinking furiously. When he finally starts speaking again his voice is shaky and so quiet I have to strain to hear him.
"Fishing. We never got to go fishing. You never asked me again, Jack. You almost died and we - we never…"
He looks at me again and I don't know what I hate more. The pain and hurt pouring out of those eyes or the stupid, dumb, selfish bozo responsible for it being there.
"Why didn't you ask me again, Jack?"
He's almost in tears. He's not the only one.
"I can't tell you." Can't look at you right now, either.
"Why not?" he asks softly.
"You'll hate me."
"Why don't you let me be the judge of that?"
He's finally taking his feet out of my lap, and I'm not stopping him because he only moved them so he can shift the rest of him my way. I can feel a tightness in my chest, a rising wave of fearful hope and breathless, heady disbelief threatening to bust me right open as he gets cautiously, carefully closer and what I think he's saying starts sinking in.
"Ask me, Jack." he murmurs. His hand is curling around the back of my neck and his lips brush against my ear, his warm breath swirling shocks of desire through me.
I turn towards his flushed, hopeful face, so close to mine now, his darkening, smoking eyes mesmerising me with their expectant, eager passion.
Right here, right now, the sooner the better.
"Daniel, do you want to go fishing?" I bleat and make a grab for him.
"I thought you'd never ask," he breathes as happiness sparks in his eyes and his full, lush lips curve in a small, sweet smile before his mouth meets mine.
I pull him close to me, over on to me and he tumbles willingly, as readily as I'm falling into him. The taste of him, the feel of him, I've wanted him for so goddamned long, just like this, but never in a million years did I ever think I'd have him the way I've hoped and dreamed, his oh, so hot and willing body wrapped all around me while his mouth is already taking me places I didn't dare dream I could ever go.
I'm such a schmuck. All this time, he could have been mine. We could have been doing - this. All I had to do was ask.
We come up for air only because we have to. I grab a quick lungful, give him a second to do likewise, and then pull him back down for more liplock. He brushes his lips over mine and then chuckles softly against my mouth.
"What?" I ask as I start working on the shirt buttons. I'm a little out of practice but I'm making progress.
"I think I'm pretty good at this fishing stuff," he nuzzles my neck and then - oh - oh my - licking. Licking is good. "Landed me a big one, my first time out."
"You're definitely using the right bait." Buttons undone, shirt is coming off, I decide to do a little nuzzling of my own and nip the side of his neck. "Looks like you've got a bite."
"Do you think I'll need a net?" he groans as he grinds into me. God, he feels good!
"Nope, I'm well and truly hooked. I promise I won't put up a fight." Not only am I hooked, I'm fucking landed, beached, ready to be skinned and sizzled. Not going anywhere. Not me. No way. Not when I've got all this bare skin to play with and we're only getting started with the touching and the licking and the - Ohhh, yeah, bring it on! Do it again! Just like - oh, oh God, yeah! Just like that.
"Oh, now that's no fun," he grins wickedly and rocks into me again. Oh momma, fishing never felt so good.
"Wanna play with my pole?" I leer into his ear. He instantly collapses on top of me snorting helplessly.
"I can't believe you just said that!" he chortles and raps me lightly on the chest.
"What - too obvious as euphemisms go? Don't look at me like that!" he lifts his head and cocks a sceptical eyebrow at me, so I kiss the tip of his nose. "I'm not a complete clod. I know what a euphemism is."
"I'm sure you do," he smoulders at me. "And speaking of euphemisms, are we going to lie here all day talking about it or are we going to do some 'fishing'?"
"Sweet," I look up into his shining face. He is. He really is. Sweet. Never more than he is right now. "What do you know, we've got another 'f' word. We can talk dirty while everyone else thinks we're talking about fishing...stuff and no one will be the wiser."
"Go fish?" Daniel smiles invitingly as he languidly pushes up from me, gets to his feet and then reaches down to take me by the hand. I follow willingly and he opens his arms to embrace me, pulling me into a hug completely encompassing me in a way he's never let himself yield to me before.
"I can't believe this is really happening," his hushed, awed voice sounds close to my ear. He trembles in my arms for a minute, and then pulls back. A slight crease furrows his brow as his searching, burning eyes roam my face like he's never seen me before. I don't know what he's looking for but I'm content to let him look and touch all he wants while slightly shaking fingers lightly feather across my cheek, caressing my features as avidly as his eyes.
"I know I'm going to wake up any minute now and this is all going to be just a dream, but until I do…"
Oh God, there is it. The look on his face. That one! Right there! I'll be damned, that's - that's the look! The one I'd sometimes catch, in passing, when he was watching me and didn't think I was watching him. Watching me. I'll be damned. I'd see it on his face for just a split second, once in a blue moon when I'd look over and there he was, staring at me with the look, the little, inscrutable Mona Lisa smile and the eyes, and the sparkling, just like that, I'd just start to see it and then it was gone. Like it had never even been there. I thought I was imagining the whole thing. Funny, but I imagined it a lot.
Well, I'll be - Daniel's been holding out on me as long as I've been hiding out from him. Maybe longer. I'll be damned!
Does that mean we're both schmucks?
"Trust me, Daniel, you're not dreaming," I tell him between kisses. "If you want, I'll pinch you just to prove you're awake."
I don't wait for him to give me the go-ahead, just grab two handfuls of his ass and squeeze hard as I bring him on home to poppa. The ensuing groan coming out of him as our erections connect almost makes me come on the spot.
"What do you say, Captain Nemo?" I grunt. "You don't start reeling me in, like soon - "
"I get the picture," Daniel's smile is fleeting, but sincere. "The ship will have sailed. Good thing you didn't call me Captain Ahab, though," he teases as he takes my hand and starts to lead me toward the bedroom.
"And why is that?" What the hell, I'll bite. Oh wait - I already have.
"'Cause that would make you Moby Dick," he chortles. "At least the 'Dick' part is appropriate."
"I'll show you a dick!" I swat him on the ass and 'help' him on his way. "Move it and lose it!"
Not so long ago I told Teal'c fish weren't as important as the actual act of fishing itself. In that context, that particular piece of profundity was accurate, but it definitely doesn't apply across the board. I had no idea when I set out on this particular little fishing expedition I was destined to land the catch of the day, but there you go. Not only am I not throwing him back, I'm gonna let him fish me senseless.
"Promise?" Daniel quips provocatively over his shoulder before darting into the bedroom.
Oh, I promise. My word as an officer and a gentleman. And an angler from way back.