It was close to eight p.m.
The wait was excruciating. The separate face to show the world was exhausting.
Daniel locked up his office and started down the hall. At the elevator, his phone beeped, telling him he had a text message. He checked.
Daniel replied, a grin growing wide. Jack hadn’t updated his phone image in the three years he’d had a smartphone. A flip-phone was just fine. But the SGC now used them to recall personnel during off-hours. Reluctantly, Jack had grown used to the idea, particularly when he realized he could simply send emojis. Those grew increasingly bizarre until surreality kicked in.
Daniel frowned at the message, but his expression was one of sarcastic amusement not dismay. New locker room? Rank hath its privileges.
He took the elevator down to Level 27, though it was technically Level 27a. Wing A, 27th floor. Wing C led to the Gateroom Armory and Supply, where they now kept the weapons, Security Force supplies, and mission vehicles, which included the UAVs. Wing B was a small section that contained the secondary security station. Master Sergeant Siler was now in charge of all of it. Or as Jack liked to quip, “Sparky.” Daniel wondered if being in charge meant he had to stop with the verbal nicknames. He chuffed out a snort. Not likely.
He found an unmarked door two down from Jack’s office . . . and that would take getting used to. Jack’s office. Not Hammond’s. He knocked.
“What?” came Jack’s Annoyed voice.
“It’s me,” Daniel said.
“Come on in,” Jack said, and his voice was muffled.
Daniel opened the door, expecting to find the man changing clothes—the reason for the muffled voice. Instead, he found Jack wearing what looked like an elaborate hockey mask that looked more like a piece of art. He paused at the door as he shut it behind him.
“Daniel,” Jack said in his smug voice.
A smirk slowly formed on Daniel’s face. “Whatcha doin’?”
“Trying on the new mask for the Colorado Avalanche. Hammond’s a fan. He left this for me. Cool, huh?”
Daniel let out a short laugh. “Sure. If you say so. You sort of look like a Transformer.”
Jack’s expression wasn’t visible but the tone of his voice said it all. “Yeah? Cool. And yes, I say so. Wanna fight me for it?”
Again Daniel laughed. “Pass.”
“Oh c’mon! It’ll be fun.”
“It’s your sport, not mine, remember?” Daniel said as he moved forward cautiously, just in case Jack was in the mood for boxing and he needed room to dodge and feint.
Jack slid the mask upward and left it on his head like a hat. “Party pooper.” He eyed him. “What was your sport again? Some egghead academia thing?”
Daniel expected the comment. He smirked again. “It’s called curling, as you well know, and I know you like the sport.” Jack had pulled an all-nighter watching Olympic curling.
In mock defensiveness, Jack said, “It took me that long to figure out the scoring.” He took the mask off and looked at it. “This is just so much cooler.”
“Minus the broken bones,” Daniel said drily. Jack pointedly ignored the comment, making him grin. He looked around. While it was called a locker room, the only part that made it look like one was the metal locker. A very wide one that would’ve been known as a wardrobe if it weren’t for the metal construction. There was a bench, a large chair, and a laundry hamper. The floor was carpeted and the room felt warm, not chilly or muggy, as the team locker rooms did. Daniel crossed the floor to check out where the open door went. A bathroom and shower. “Nice.”
“Right?” Jack said smugly.
“And lonely,” Daniel said, taking a seat in the leather-stuffed chair.
Jack threw him a smoldering look. “Private.”
Daniel’s grin grew impish. “Solo.”
“Not right now,” he said slowly.
Daniel lifted his brows. “You’re not serious.”
Jack pulled out a card from his uniform’s breast pocket went to the door. Looking at Daniel, he passed the card over a small green light within a black panel stationed by the doorknob. It beeped and turned red. “Completely.”
He then walked over, took Daniel’s right hand, and pulled him to his feet. “How about a proper hello finally?”
Daniel wrapped his arms around his head and neck and met Jack’s lips in a long, open kiss that quickly turned passionate. After a minute, Daniel broke it off. “As forbiddenly hot as it might be, I’d much rather we continue this at home.”
Jack kissed him again, hands sliding down Daniel’s back to rest over his ass cheeks. He squeezed and pulled forward, grinding their groins together. “You may be right but this is so tempting.”
“And non-sound-proofed,” Daniel said, finally stating the point.
Jack paused in the third kiss and chewed at his bottom lip. “You may have a point.”
Daniel slid his hands down his back and grabbed Jack’s ass cheeks. “I’m in no mood to hold back my . . . enthusiasm.”
“Gotcha,” Jack said quickly and stepped away to begin hurriedly changing.
The blush on his cheeks was adorable. “Door,” Daniel said. Jack threw him the card and Daniel unlocked it, then set the card down on the bench. “I’ll meet you at home. Want me to pick up anything?”
“Some gel. There’s this new line of—”
“I saw it,” Daniel said hurriedly. “I’ll grab some.” He left the locker room to head to his own while he mentally mapped out the route home via a few pit stops. The new peppermint gel was going to be worth a homecoming celebration. And a stop at the Grill for takeout fajitas and mojitos would be the afterglow fix. All in all, this would be a much better homecoming than the one he received. Jack had all his faculties intact—and it would be ludicrously well worth it just to make certain of it.
Jack was home.