SG1 got up and began to file quietly out of the briefing room, but the General's voice halted one member of the team.
"Colonel O'Neill, would you mind waiting behind a moment? I need to discuss something with you."
Hammond's voice was serious and Jack's eyes sought out Daniel's. But he was already out of the briefing room. Jack sighed and nodded. When everyone had gone, Hammond opened the door to his office and led him inside.
"Sit down, Jack." He said kindly.
Jack pulled out a chair and slumped into it, warily eyeing his commanding officer. The fatherly tone did not bode well. It usually meant that Hammond had something personal to discuss and Jack really didn't want to get personal right now.
Hammond cleared his throat. "I have a problem and I think you can help me shed some light on it."
"Dr. Jackson has been acting very oddly these last few weeks. You have noticed I take it?
"Can't say I have, General. He's just Daniel being Daniel."
"No Jack, he's become withdrawn, he barely speaks except to answer direct questions and I haven't seen him smile in nearly a month."
"Okay, okay. Sir, permission to speak freely?"
"Always Jack, you know that."
Jack licked dry lips and cast the security camera in the corner of the room a worried glance. He wasn't sure how much he could safely tell the general. Daniel believed that George had no problem with their relationship, but Jack still found that hard to believe. He was also beginning to get the impression that George Hammond was not the only member of the SGC that knew what was going on.
"Things aren't going too well between us right now, sir."
This approach left the detail vague enough that Hammond could read between the lines if he wanted to.
"I thought this problem had been resolved months ago, Jack?"
Jack chewed on his thumb nail. "It's not exactly the same problem, sir. We got past that ...er ...issue. Now we have a little communication problem."
The General glanced up briefly at the camera above his door and sighed. This was neither the time nor the place to be asking his second in command for specifics, but things were deteriorating rapidly and he couldn't afford to let it get as bad as it had been before.
"Well Jack I'm counting on you to fix this. You have a week, use it well."
Jack got slowly to his feet aware that he had just been dismissed. He glanced at the general over his shoulder as he made for the door, but his CO was now poring over the pile of paperwork that never seemed to get any smaller to Jack. If things didn't get better, this could be how Jack spent the remainder of his time in the Air Force, chained to some desk drowning in a sea of requisitions and reports. He shuddered at the thought.
Daniel was alone in his office. A week of downtime meant that he could finally get caught up on reports and translations that he'd neglected for too long. The pile in his in tray had long ago overflowed across his desk and even now the cleaning lady avoided his office, saying that it was a health hazard!
He discovered a crust of pizza that was developing sentience poking out from beneath a scroll and threw it at the wastepaper basket in disgust. He missed. He stared at the crust lying there on the floor, taunting him and using Jack's voice to do so.
Pick it up, Danny; it'll…
“…only encourage the mice!"
He swivelled around in his chair, giving the man framed in the doorway a filthy look. This really was the last straw.
"This is my goddamned office! If I want to empty the contents of my trashcan all over the place, then I will. And there's not a damned thing you can do about it Jack, so why don't you just get over it?"
"You know how I feel about..."
"Mess? Yes, Jack. Yes, I do. You've taken every opportunity to point out to me how you feel about it since I tried to move..."
Daniel trailed off, casting a worried look at the surveillance camera in the corner. Usually the tapes were only reviewed when there had been a security problem but, it was always best not to take the risk. He sighed and shook his head.
"I'm going home Jack. I'll see you next week."
In the gear-up room, Daniel got dressed and deliberately left his fatigues on the bench. He knew it would drive Jack nuts, which was exactly what he wanted to do. He had always known that Jack was tidy, his house was always spotlessly clean and Daniel now knew that he didn't have a cleaning lady, but did it all himself. Daniel, on the other hand, was a slob. He did have a cleaning lady who kept the dust in his apartment down to a minimum and threw his washing into the machine twice a week. She did his dishes most mornings and ironed on Friday afternoons. Life was too dammed short to get hung up on housework!
It hadn't escaped the Colonel's notice that Daniel had said 'home', which meant he was going to his own apartment and not Jack's house where they had spent most of the last three months when not on base.
He took a deep breath and thrust his balled fists deep into his pockets, and began to follow his ex-lover down the hall, but found it too difficult to ignore one piece of unfinished business.
The pizza crust was exactly where Daniel had left it. He carefully tossed it into the basket and felt some of the tension leave his body.
Now that wasn't so hard was it?
Jack knew Daniel well enough by now to allow him to cool off before trying to make amends. He headed for the commissary. Sam and Janet were there already, heads close together, whispering and giggling. Those two were up to something again. He wished he had the enthusiasm to go over and ask outright, but he was finding it harder everyday to be sociable. He grabbed a coffee and slid into a vacant table inconspicuously.
"O'Neill, are you not eating?"
Jack twisted round and looked up at his Jaffa friend. Teal'c carried a tray groaning with foodstuff, the majority of which seemed to be fruit, but Jack could see several wedges of pie in differing flavours sticking out from beneath two bananas and a bunch of grapes. He shook his head and turned back to his coffee, aware that he was being rude, but not wishing to talk to anyone right now either. Teal'c did not take the hint. He placed his tray on the table and slipped in opposite his friend.
Carefully he selected a red apple and bit into it with relish. Jack winced on behalf of the apple and sighed. After a few moments of contented munching, the Jaffa pinned Jack with curious eyes.
"Are you not hungry, O'Neill? It is already well past luncheon."
"Lunch. T, we call it lunch."
"Indeed. I believe that you did not partake of breakfast this morning either."
Jack frowned at his friend as he sipped his coffee. That was true, but there was no way Teal'c could know it. Either Daniel had told him (extremely unlikely) or he was guessing. Jack put the cup down and schooled his features into his best poker face.
"See, now that's where you're wrong. I had fruit loops."
Teal'c selected a banana and peeled it slowly whilst staring at Jack. The Colonel could feel a trickle of sweat roll down his neck under the steady scrutiny. Damn, but he was good!
“You are lying."
"During this morning's briefing, I distinctly heard a noise indicative of hunger, issue from your abdomen."
"Oh, fer crying out loud! My stomach was rumbling! How can you not know how to say that? Indicative of hunger? I ask you?"
Teal'c went down on the banana and came back up chewing. Jack looked at the almost empty skin lying limply across his friend's dark hand and gulped. Damn! Everything seemed to be about sex these days. Hardly surprising seeing as how he wasn't actually getting any.
Jack had gone for a very long time without sex until he and Daniel had finally got it together; and in the three months since that fateful trip to Minnesota, he had definitely been making up for lost time. His knees were complaining quietly at the unaccustomed exercise plus the extra wear and tear, but he had still managed to keep up with a man ten years younger and several wars fitter than he was. A secret source of pride to the crusty old Colonel.
So when that hot weasel sex was cut off suddenly, he found himself three times more frustrated as when he hadn't been getting any at all. It wasn't fair! Now he was looking at Teal'c through narrowed eyes, thanking any god that was listening that the Jaffa couldn't read minds. Teal'c stared back, giving Jack the distinct impression that he actually could!
"You will eat dinner, O'Neill. Arrangements have been made."
Jack felt another trickle of sweat join the first. Carter and Fraiser giggling, Teal'c making arrangements. This did not bode well. He knew from experience that none of them would tell him what was going on until it was too late. He drained his cup and got to his feet.
"No need to worry, T. I'll grab a pizza on the way home. Double Meat Feast, plenty of protein. I'm cool honest."
Teal'c dangled the grapes above his open mouth and watched O'Neill from the corner of his eye as he slowly sucked one into his mouth. O'Neill's mouth went completely dry.
Damn! "Gotta go."
Daniel swore under his breath as the door bell rang, interrupting his train of thought. He was making absolutely no progress on the translation he had brought home; his mind too full of Jack O'Neill to be of any help to him. The bell rang a second time and he sprang up from the rug leaving the scrolls scattered where they were. He knew it would be Jack at the door and he knew Jack would stare disapprovingly at the mess, but he didn't care. This was his apartment and if Jack didn't like it, well he could just bugger off!
But it wasn't Jack that stood on his doorstep, it was Janet Fraiser. She smiled warmly and thrust a large covered casserole dish into his surprised hands.
"So, what does a girl have to do to get invited into chez Jackson?"
Daniel hastily stepped backwards and motioned Janet inside. He peered out the door, scanned up and down the hall, but Janet was alone. He caught the faint whiff of lamb stew and glanced down at the still warm dish of food. His stomach contracted with a hunger he hadn't even been aware of until now. For the past few months, he had been living off pizza and Chinese carry out, the two main staples in the 'Jack O'Neill culinary experience'.
Janet was shrugging out of her jacket and Daniel put the dish down to help. His manners seemed to be suffering too. Smiling, he hung up the coat and headed into the kitchen.
"Er, so Janet, coffee or would you prefer...?"
"Coffee's fine. Can I stick this in your microwave, Daniel?" She picked up the casserole dish and waved it hopefully. He nodded towards the corner of the kitchen where his microwave was situated and smiled broadly as he fussed with the coffee grounds.
"Go ahead. I take it you decided, as my doctor, that I needed fattening up?"
"You could stand to put on a bit more weight Daniel, but I noticed you haven't been eating recently. At least, not on the base. I made too much of this so I figured if I could get you to eat it, then it wouldn't be a waste."
Daniel began to slice up a large loaf of crusty bread. "That was very nice of you Janet. Will you be joining me?"
She smiled and shook her head, watching his long fingers on the bread knife.
"Cassie and I ate earlier. I'll stay for a while and have my coffee, if you don't mind?"
Daniel found some soft butter in the refrigerator and spread some on his bread just as the timer on the microwave went 'ping'. He glanced at her over his shoulder. "To make sure I actually eat?"
Daniel smiled despite his slight irritation. She was only looking out for him. She was being a true friend. He couldn't blame her for that.
Jack was sure he was being followed as he drove down the mountain on his way home. He didn't recognise the car, but it had stayed behind him the whole way, never varying in distance. Jack sucked his front teeth in irritation. It looked like general Hammond had ordered him followed. He obviously didn't trust his 2IC to sort this out by himself. That hurt a little, but he was within his rights to order surveillance on anyone under his command.
He drove on, one eye on the road, the other on his tail in the rear-view mirror.
Yup, still with him!
Eventually Jack reached the town of Colorado Springs and headed for Daniel's apartment building. If Hammond was watching him, he'd better at least make an effort to patch things up with his ex-lover.
Jack pulled into a space outside Daniel's apartment and switched off the engine. He sat for a while remembering another time, three months ago when he had been right here staring at his hands and trying to find the strength to drive away. Daniel had made that decision impossible. It had been a long time coming.
Longer in coming, ultimately, than it had lasted. That was the big shocker. Daniel and Jack loved each other desperately, but they had recently discovered that once the initial bloom of romance had died off, their assorted bad habits and foibles had driven each other nuts in no time at all. They had tried living together and ended up fighting like cats and dogs.
Jack couldn't stand how untidy his lover was and Daniel couldn't stand how anal-retentive Jack was about it. They had argued more and more in the last two weeks than they ever had before becoming lovers. It had gotten so heated that Daniel had eventually packed his bags and left, along with the accompanying slamming of doors and screeching of tires. Jack was devastated and more than a little hurt.
It was difficult enough for two adult men to make a life together, that went against everything they were, or everything they had thought they were, without having to deal with stupid things like this. Little things that somehow seemed blown out of all proportion, things that really didn't matter in the grand scheme, were suddenly the most important things in the universe.
Instinctively, Jack knew that their problems had nothing to do with who left the toilet seat up, or who drank the milk right out of the carton. (They were guys, they both did those things!) Something else was far wrong and he had no idea what. He wanted to talk to Daniel, but the anger he had seen in his one-time friend's eyes as he had left earlier that day had him reaching for the ignition just as the passenger door was yanked open and a smiling Sam Carter jumped in.
Jack gaped at her in surprise. "Carter?" he rasped.
"Hey, sir. Janet sends her regards and her apologies."
"For what? Ouch!"
Jack looked down at the hypo as Carter drew it back from his arm and smiled at him reassuringly.
"Just a little prick," she teased.
Jack felt the world tilt alarmingly and his head began to fill up with cotton wool. He glared at his 2IC angrily as things began to float in and out of focus.
"Is not..." he slurred, pitching forward, forehead impacting with the steering wheel.
Daniel picked up his empty plate and got up from the table intending to take it through to the kitchen and thinking that at least some of Jack's fastidiousness had worn off on him. As he stood, he felt suddenly dizzy and had to put the plate down, bracing his hands on the table for support. Janet's voice sounded odd to his ears.
"Daniel, how are you feeling?"
"Er, actually I feel kinda..."
The world began spinning and Daniel's legs gave way. He missed the chair completely and landed ass first on the floor. As he slumped sideways, he could hear Janet talking from somewhere a million miles away, but he couldn't make sense of her words. She seemed to be saying, "Trojan Horse to Wild Weasel, mission accomplished. Proceed to phase two, over."
Then a voice that could be only Sam Carter's answered, "Wild Weasel to Trojan Horse, roger that. Target 2 has been bounced. Fox E1 is on his way."
Then Daniel heard his door opening and as he slipped into the land of nod, Teal'c's voice boomed close to his ear, "DanielJackson will not be happy when he awakens, Doctor Fraiser."
"Neither will Colonel O'Neill!"
"Little light headed but fine under the circumstances. Also… naked!"
"Ditto. What happened?"
Jack blushed as he tried to recall how he had wound up in this predicament. They were in his cabin, they were definitely nude and it was getting quite dark outside. The temperature was dropping rapidly and gooseflesh was in abundance. He shook his head and tried to get his eyes to focus.
"Carter tranked me. I assume she drove us up here. What about you?"
Daniel groaned and sat up. They had been deposited on Jack's bed.
"The good doctor slipped me a 'Mickey Fin' in the guise of homemade Lamb stew. I heard her talking to Sam over her radio. She said you'd been bounced?"
"God damn it. That’s Air Force Lingo. When one aircraft is unexpectedly attacked by another, we say it was 'bounced'. Well I sure didn't expect to be attacked by my 2IC so I suppose I was bounced right royally!""
Jack looked down at his shivering naked torso in disgust. Now that the feeling was beginning to return to his limbs, he was painfully aware of how cold he felt and scooted closer to Daniel’s warmth. When a flurry of rain skittered against the windowpane, he shivered even more.
"Jack, why the hell did they do this to us?"
"C'mon Danny, they're not stupid. I think they worked it out before we did. They know we had a falling out and they're trying to make us sort it out."
"Did they have to knock us out for that? They abandoned us in a cabin in the woods with no transport, no food, in the middle of winter, Jack!"
Jack got up from the bed trying not to think how the hell he had got naked in the first place. Doc Fraiser had seen his assets more than once, but there were still some things he hoped his 2IC would never find out about. He patted Daniel gently on the knee then padded to the kitchen.
"Easy Danny, there's tinned food in the cupboards and it's only early November, hardly the middle of winter."
"Tttttell that to mmmmmy ttttoes!" stammered the miserable archaeologist, pulling the rough woollen blanket around his shoulders.
Jack went to check out the log pile, telling himself that his team wouldn't let them freeze or starve to death up here and was relieved to find plenty of freshly chopped wood waiting in the pile. The fire was set, ready to be lit and there was a note pinned above the hearth. Jack tugged it free and walked back over to Daniel carrying the woven throw that had graced the back of his chair.
"Wwwwwhat's tttthat?" Daniel asked as he gratefully took the big colourful blanket and wrapped it tightly around his shoulders over the woollen blanket.
"I think it's our explanation." Jack said, voice dripping with sarcasm as he ripped open the envelope. He immediately recognised Carters precise neat handwriting. Tilting the page towards the battery powered lamp that burned on a side table he began to read out loud;
Sir, you and Daniel need to get this thing sorted out. We can't help directly without asking, then you would have to tell and it would all end badly!...
“There you see – they know. Probably longer than we did!”
We will come back for you on Sunday afternoon and by then you will either have made up, or killed each other...
“My money’s on option two.”
...Either way General Hammond wants to see two bodies on Monday morning. Don't be angry with Janet, she didn't want to do this, but we made her. If you want someone to blame, I guess that would be Teal'c and me. More Teal'c than me actually (and I'm not just using him because he's bigger than you both and could take you with his hands tied behind his back...)
“Hey! I resent that!”
...but we all care about you two and want to see you happy again.
“Kiss, kiss, happy face, yadda yadda.”
Daniel took the page from Jack's unresisting fingers and used it to light the fire.
His mood didn't improve any even after the fire had warmed the room and Jack had cooked him something to eat. They had found a bag containing sweat pants but nothing else. A t-shirt would have been nice but obviously the other half of SG1 wanted them to huddle together a lot! At least they were no longer naked but Daniel refused to see the lighter side of the situation. As far as he was concerned, the other team members had betrayed them. Not even when Jack handed his friend a mug of steaming coffee did the archaeologist brighten up.
Well at least if he was pissed with the others, he was leaving Jack alone! The only thing was that Jack didn't want to be left alone. The tantalising glimpse of naked toes poking out from beneath the throw was enough to kick start his libido with memories of what those toes could do to a man if left to their own devices.
He was recalling an incident about two months ago in a Mexican restaurant in Denver. Daniel had been delighted to find out that the restaurant's tablecloths were the old fashioned type that went right down to the floor. Despite the fact that the whole team were sitting at the same table, he had kicked of his shoe and placed his foot in Jack's lap, smiling a secret smile at his lover's discomfort.
A few moments later, Jack's face had flushed so rosy that Janet had almost pulled out her pen-light. Only Jack's strangled assurances that he was okay and that his current state of high colour was due to him biting into a red chilli pepper buried in his Taco shell. Daniel had stilled his foot until Jack managed to get his breathing under control, then had wrapped his toes skilfully around the burgeoning cock and set up a gentle rhythm. Jack squirmed uncomfortably. Daniel had to stop doing what he was doing and stop it pretty dammed quick or the Colonel would be coming in his pants in a restaurant surrounded by his friends!
When a second foot joined the action, Jack had to draw the line. He reached under the tablecloth and grabbed the foot that was jerking him off through the rather rumpled fabric of his chinos and squeezed hard. Daniel tugged his foot free and let it drop to the floor but the look on his face clearly said 'wait till I get you home'. Jack had made it a night to remember.
"Jack, what the hell's so amusing?"
The Colonel dragged his mind back to the present and focused on his friend's creased brow. Daniel was still no closer to finding Nirvana. Jack sighed and banished the thought of happier times to concentrate on cheering his cellmate up.
"I was just wondering if I could cobble together a fishing pole. Tinned food is okay, but a nice bit of..."
"Jack! There. Are. No. Fish. In. The. Lake!" Daniel enunciated loudly.
Jack looked hurt but refused to rise to the bait. Daniel was trying to vent his anger and frustration on his friend, him being the only other living thing for miles around (if you didn't count the fish - which Jack did!)
Daniel got up, trailing his cover along the ground like a disgruntled child. A quick flash of bare shoulder was quickly covered but it was enough to get Jack hard again. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair whilst watching Daniel make more coffee.
He stared into the fire, trying to figure out why it had ended. The first two months had been great. Being in love was an almost forgotten, but pleasant memory to Jack and he had gone out of his way to be everything Daniel could want in a lover. Being new to this whole 'same sex' thing made it difficult to know exactly what that would be, but on the whole, he thought he had managed quite well.
Several close calls on missions had brought out the overprotective streak in the Colonel, but he figured that Daniel was used to that. He had always been like that, even before they were lovers. There had been a one week's enforced celibacy while Jack was on bed rest after taking a glancing blow from a staff weapon, but once the wound had healed, they were back to making out like bunnies again.
They spent so much time at Jack's house that it had seemed sensible to move in together and, at first, it had been great. Then the little things that hadn't mattered before began to grow in size. Things had deteriorated gradually. Jack found himself feeling defensive more and more around Daniel. It was his house and he needed Daniel to understand that things should be done a certain way. Daniel didn't seem to get that and the fights had begun.
He wondered if all relationships went though this readjustment period after the initial blush faded. When the snoring that you found so cute before became a racket that kept you awake half the night? When the cold feet pressed into the back of your legs that had previously had you thinking up devious ways of warming them up, now had you leaping angrily in the air and wrapping the covers around yourself? When the teasing jokes began to sound like sarcastic criticisms?
He glanced up and watched as Daniel pottered about in the tiny kitchen, muttering under his breath at the injustice of it all. No matter how the little things annoyed Jack, he doubted that he could ever forget why he loved Daniel. It wasn't the fact that he was the most beautiful person Jack had ever seen and, it wasn't the fact that he had the body of an athlete and the mind of a genius.
Those things made Daniel special, but what made him loveable were his vulnerability and his morality. Jack looked at Daniel and saw all the things he wasn't and wished he could be. Daniel was his ideal, his goal, the ying to his yang. Daniel was the other half of him. Without him he had been half a man, half alive, half dead and buried in a hole next to a small white coffin. Daniel had brought him to life again and he would love him until the day he died. That was not in question. The question here was, 'could they share their lives as well as their hearts'?
He had really thought they could.
Daniel appeared behind him and leant over his shoulder to place Jack's coffee on the table. Before he could straighten up, Jack pulled him onto his lap and stilled his half-hearted protests with firm hands.
"I'm sorry, Danny. I fucked it all up."
Daniel stared into the fire and refused to meet the chocolate brown eyes. He knew that if he did, he would cave, as he always did. Jack was very good at saying sorry and Daniel knew he meant it every time he said it; but he had to say it too often. He had to have things his way; in the field, in the home, in their bed, Jack had to be the Colonel. Most of the time Daniel didn't mind, but sometimes, he wanted to be the one in charge. He wanted to make a decision about what movie they would rent, or what topping they had on the pizza but Jack didn't let him.
Daniel tried to free himself from Jack's tight grip and was a little surprised when the firm grip relaxed allowing him to stand up. He stared down at Jack and felt his heart contract painfully. Jack looked closer to tears than Daniel had ever seen him.
He also looked defeated.
Now that was a look that Daniel never wanted to see in Jack's eyes. Unfortunately, it was also a look he needed to see because until that moment, Jack had not truly believed their relationship was over.
It broke Daniel's heart, but it had to be faced.
He took Jack's unresisting hand in his own and raised it to his lips. "I'll never stop loving you Jack. You know that don't you?"
Jack took a deep breath, which seemed to be drawn right from the soles of his feet. He held it for a moment then let it go, along with any hope he might have been harbouring. " I can't live without you."
The words sent a cold finger of fear racing down Daniel's spine. He shivered and crouched down next to Jack, clutching his hand tightly. He looked into Jack's dull brown eyes and felt a surge of panic rising. "Don't say things like that, Jack! We've both survived much worse tha..."
"NO! I've had enough,” Jack said, surging to his feet. He made it to the cabin door in three long strides and reached for the door handle. “A man can only take so much before it breaks him!"
It was pitch dark outside and the rain was blowing fitfully against the windowpane. Daniel darted swiftly in front of the older man, blocking his exit with his body. Jack's momentum carried him into Daniel's arms and they clashed briefly, Jack struggling to open the door, Daniel pushing him determinedly backwards.
But Jack was better trained than Daniel and in the end, he threw the door open letting the freezing rain blow in, and was outside before Daniel could think of the words to stop him.
Daniel stood in the doorway watching as Jack ran to the pier and stood at the end staring out over the rain-lashed lake. He began raging at the sky then, screaming his frustration to the powers that be and swearing to any god that might be listening that he was through saving the fucking planet if they couldn't even let him have a fucking life as pay back! He grabbed a loose railing and tore it free, wielding it like a weapon, swinging it like a sword, smashing the other railings to smithereens in a blind rage, and then throwing it into the lake.
Finally he collapsed to his knees, chin resting on his chest, arms dangling limply at his sides.
Daniel hurried to his side, touched his shoulder lightly, hoping not to startle the older man. Jack let Daniel guide him back to the cabin. For the first time in their lives, he let Daniel lead.
Jack woke up as the first rays of sunlight peeked in through the closed curtains. He was alone in the bed. Pulling back the heavy curtain he saw Daniel curled uncomfortably in the chair by the fire, his soft snores confirming that he was asleep. Jack slipped out from under the covers and padded silently over to the chair. His sweat pants were still slightly damp and chafed his thighs as he walked, but he ignored the discomfort, focused as he was on the sleeping form by the fire.
Daniel looked like a small child when he slept; innocent and vulnerable, which never failed to bring out the protective streak in Jack. As he watched, a deep sadness settled around him. When they got back to civilisation, Jack would be retiring. He knew now that he could never fly a desk, or lead any team, other than his team. He was more at peace with the whole concept after three months with Daniel. Now he could fill his retirement with memories that would have to last a lifetime.
He had lied last night. He could live without Daniel; he just couldn't function properly. He would always be half a man. Daniel stirred and the brightly woven blanket slid to the floor. Jack picked it up with numb fingers and settled it around the younger man's hunched form. As he sadly turned away, a sleepy voice halted him.
"I can't live without you either."
Jack turned back to see bright blue eyes gazing up at him. He knelt down next to the chair and sighed. "So what do we do?"
Daniel got up and took Jack by the hand, leading him back to the bed. This time though, Daniel slipped in beside him as he snuggled in close. His damp sweats rubbed against Jack's and his feet were absolutely freezing as they burrowed between Jack's legs, but he refused to flinch, accepting the cold feet as a part of Daniel he had to put up with if he ever stood a chance of having the rest of him again.
Daniel hitched himself up on one arm and peered down at his Colonel. Leaning forward he gently kissed the tip of his nose.
"I did a lot of thinking last night, Jack. I think I know what went wrong."
Jack ran a hand up Daniel's thigh and settled it on his hipbone, his thumb softly caressing the exposed flesh just above the waistband of the still slightly damp sweat pants.
Daniel shivered a little, but continued talking, "You tried to change me, Jack."
The thumb froze in place and Jack's eyebrows knitted together in a frown. “I did?”
Daniel moved a little closer and laid his head on Jack's chest, the steady rhythm of his heartbeat soothing him and making him feel at ease. He had never talked about this to anyone, but Jack deserved to know why his recent behaviour had so deeply hurt Daniel.
Taking a shaky breath be began, "When I was a kid, I was placed in this really good foster home. It was one of the better ones. The mother was a big kind woman who could cook and who loved to cuddle all her kids, the foster ones and her own, but the father was quite strict. He had a big hang-up about tidiness. I struggled to measure up to what he wanted. I guess I've always been a bit of a slob!"
Jack snorted but wisely did not interrupt; he just wrapped his arms ever more tightly around his friend and squeezed encouragingly.
"I thought if I could please him enough, then he might learn to love me and then they might adopt me. But it never happened. They adopted a girl called Megan with blonde hair and blue eyes and I went back to the children's home. In the end, I wasn't what they wanted, no matter how much I tried to change. It hurt me, Jack. I vowed that no one would ever do that to me again. I would never change who I am in order to measure up to someone else's ideals."
Jack let the hand that had rested on Daniel's hip trail slowly up his chest, to caress the tiny hollow where his neck and shoulder joined. It was a move calculated to drive the younger man wild and it never failed. Daniel gasped and his eyes closed.
"Daniel, I think we kinda rushed into the whole moving in together thing. We knew each other for so long before we became lovers that it seemed like the next move, but we didn't consider the fact that being in love changes everything. You become so much more invested in the other person that everything they say or do impacts on you. You own me, Daniel, but I know you'd never take advantage of that power."
"And you own me too Jack, body and soul."
"I don't want to change you Daniel. If I did that, you wouldn't be the person I fell in love with,” Jack said.
Daniel raised his head and looked into eyes that now sparkled with renewed hope. This was a look he much preferred to see on Jack O'Neill and the fact that he had put that hope in those smoky brown eyes filled Daniel with a sense of optimism that had been lacking in his life for some weeks. Perhaps there was hope for them after all. He decided to test the waters.
"Do you think you could ignore a pair of my shorts if I left them on the bedroom floor for a week?"
Jack smiled into the soft hair tickling his chin. "Nope, but from now on, I'll just pick them up and throw them in the laundry myself without making a fuss."
"Could you let me choose the topping for our next pizza?"
"How about we split it in half and choose our own toppings?"
Daniel found himself smiling against Jack's chest. He wasn't exactly being given free reign here, but neither was Jack going to offer false platitudes or promises. He was offering compromises, which were, after all, the foundation upon which all good relationships were based. But there was still one burning question that needed answering.
"And if I want to be top tonight?"
In the three months they were together, Jack had never managed to pluck up the courage to let Daniel enter him. They had come close on a number of occasions, but Jack's obvious distaste had held them back. In this respect, Jack was still very straight!
Daniel had wanted to try, out of curiosity, and had found it not entirely unpleasant. Of course their first time, they had both been extremely nervous and completely clueless as to the mechanics. Daniel had gone on to do what he did best and indulged in some fairly extensive research. Their next time had been much better, and Daniel had hoped that one day, Jack would want to try too. He never had.
Jack reached up to grab the headboard. Daniel raised his head again and was surprised to see a smile forming on those talented lips.
"Why wait till tonight? Knock yourself out, Danny." He grinned.
Daniel got onto hands and knees and tugged the soft jersey material of Jack's sweat pants down his legs. He quickly got rid of his own and straddled Jack before he could change his mind. This would be the ultimate proof of Jack's trust. If he could let Daniel do this, there was real hope for them as a couple. Their relationship was nothing without trust. He bent his head and let their lips meet softly.
"Jack, do you love me?"
"You know I do."
"Then repeat after me... there are..."
"...fish in the lake."
"Fish.....wha? Now Daniel that's a low blow. I landed a great catch last time we were here."
Daniel rocked his hips sensually against his lover's thighs, eliciting a strangled hiss of pleasure. "Are you comparing me to a fish, Jack?"
The rocking motion became more intense as Jack's interest grew. "Not a fish...ah fuck. More like an eel the way you.... oh god... wriggle!"
Daniel leaned forward to lick a trail up the exposed throat before him, never breaking his steady motion, and making Jack pant with barely controlled desire. But Jack refused to move; he had given the wheel to Daniel. He was a passenger for this ride. Daniel found a nipple and Jack lost the power of speech.
Daniel slid down Jack's chest, raining a flurry of kisses and tiny nips over his stomach, until he finally reached his ultimate goal. Jack's writhing made achieving a target lock problematical, but he was nothing if not resourceful. Angling his body so that he was pinning Jack's legs and hips with his weight, he lent forward.
Jack was a lot stronger than even Daniel realised, and one final anticipatory and totally out of control thrust of his hips saw Daniel's mouth close on fresh air. The target slipped across his cheek and his lips buried themselves in the warm fuzzy juncture of hip and thigh. He giggled and raised his head a fraction.
"Well, that was the one that got away!"
Jack groaned at the bad joke and willed his body to stay still.
"Was it a big one?" he gasped out as Daniel sucked one of his balls right into his mouth. He loved when Daniel did this to him as it drove him insane with lust. Another minute and he would go off like a rocket.
"Yeath it wath this sizthe," Daniel mumbled around his mouthful and slid one hand down Jack's inner thigh to caress the sensitive area behind his knee and the other up to tease a nipple. Jack threw back his head and howled.
A moment later, Daniel's mouth was on the move again, this time slowly licking its way up Jack’s straining erection. He closed his lips around the head and Jack went ballistic.
Daniel was very talented at this. In fact, there was nothing that they had tried yet that Daniel was bad at. As far as oral sex went, he sucked! In a good way of course. Jack fought the mounting tension as long as he could, his eyes fixed on a point on the cabin's ceiling. When he couldn't take it any longer, he let his hands slide into Daniel's hair and tugged which was their secret code for 'stop now or swallow the consequences'. Daniel had always gone for option one in the past.
This time, however, he didn't pull back but began sucking with added vigour, one hand closing on Jack's tightening balls, the other grasping the base of the vibrating shaft in his mouth. Jack wanted to warn him, to shout out his name but no sound came out. He felt his body contract in on itself and everything went black and sparkly for a moment. Then he felt the waves overwhelm him and he was coming endlessly, milked dry by that beautiful, talented, sexy-as-all-hell mouth!
Jack could barely draw breath, his vision was swimming in and out of focus and he was sure that that had to go on record as the single most mind blowing blow job he'd ever had. Daniel was grinning like the Cheshire cat from ear to ear. Or the cat that got the cream might be more apt.
He got back up onto his hands and knees and urged Jack to roll over. In a haze of apres-coitial languidity, Jack complied, flopping onto his stomach with a grunt. But Daniel tugged at his hips and made his intensions obvious by poking his neglected erection into Jack's left butt cheek.
Jack gulped. So he had been serious about that, huh? Well, there was no backing out now. Daniel had swallowed, so Jack had to take it like a man. He hitched up onto his knees and glanced back at his lover over one shoulder.
"You'll be gentle right?"
"Of course," grinned Daniel against his back as he reached for the lube Jack kept in the bedside drawer.
Jack was trembling all over. Daniel quickly coated his fingers and his cock, with more than enough lube, and took a deep breath. He leaned as far forward as he could until he was draped over Jack's sweat drenched back.
Jack twisted his head to look into the glacier blue eyes.
"I love you."
Daniel kissed the trembling lips slowly as he slid his finger over Jack's buttock and down the cleft to rub over the sensitive ring of muscle that was firmly clenched shut. Another pass saw the muscles relax a fraction and a third allowed him to push the tip of one finger inside.
Jack gasped and clenched his butt cheeks again.
"Jack, if you relax, it won't hurt at all." Daniel assured him.
"Trying," Jack said through tight lips.
Daniel pulled at his shoulder until Jack straightened up then he shuffled them both up the bed. Jack braced his palms against the wall above the headboard and tried to relax. He really wasn't sure about this. It was the only thing in his relationship with Daniel that gave him problems. He knew that if he truly loved this man, then this act could be a wonderful thing, and Daniel seemed to enjoy it, but he was fighting years of conditioning here and it wasn't something he was able to accept overnight.
The words of reassurance being whispered in his ear went a long way to help him relax and the feeling of Daniel's long fingers sliding repeatedly over his anus, was actually quite soothing. Then he felt teeth sink into the back of his neck and he gasped, neck arching back at the erotic pain/pleasure sensations ripping though him. At the same instant, Daniel gently pushed his finger inside and Jack's eyes flew open in shock. It didn't feel that bad. In fact it felt...
The finger slowly withdrew and Jack's body relaxed a bit. Then the finger slid in again, this time rubbing over something deep inside Jack that had him seeing stars.
Daniel began moving his finger more aggressively and added a second to the mix. Jack growled and his hands curled into firsts against the wall.
Daniel was gasping now himself, unbelievably turned on by the noises Jack was making deep in his throat. When Jack began to push back against Daniel's fingers, he knew his lover was as ready as he would ever be. Daniel removed his finger and positioned himself carefully then held onto Jack's hips and pulled him down to meet the eager press of his erection against the now much more relaxed opening.
Jack let out a groan that seemed to echo from the depths of his soul as Daniel slid gently inside stopping only when Jack's balls slapped against his own. "God Jack..." he muttered thickly at the incredible sensations sleeting though him.
They stayed still for a moment while Jack adjusted to the feeling of being filled so completely. Then Daniel began to slowly withdraw. Just before he would have slipped out, he thrust gently back in, angling for Jack's prostate and by the strangled gasp he heard, hitting it the first time. Once he was sure he had the angle right, he began rocking his hips, delighted to find Jack matching his movements and more.
Almost immediately, Jack was pushing back into each gentle thrust and the sweat breaking out all over Daniel's body was a testament to how hard he was trying to hold back. He desperately wanted to bury himself to the root in his lover but was sure that would be way too much for Jack to handle this first time.
Jack thrust his hips back forcefully, using his hands on the wall to add extra force to the manoeuvre. Daniel cried out and bit Jack's shoulder hard enough to draw blood. But even that didn't bother Jack. He was gone now, totally focused on the never before experienced, but definitely to be repeated sensations gripping his body.
Daniel met Jack's aggressive movements with equal vigour, tiny grunts escaping his parted lips with each thrust. He sounded like he was hyperventilating but Jack didn’t care. He could no more stop this now than he could stop his own heart from beating.
"D...Danny!" his voice was so hoarse it cracked. Daniel was pounding into him now, harsh ragged breaths torn from tortured lungs. Sweat dripping and muscles screaming as they rode the rapids together. Daniel's rhythm faltered and Jack could actually feel his lover's cock pulsing deep inside him as he came. It was the most amazing adrenaline rush ever and it grabbed him by the balls and threw him screaming over the precipice.
They collapsed into a tangle of arms and legs and twisted sheets. Neither of them able to form a rational sentence and neither of them willing to try.
A long time later, Jack tapped his lover on the shoulder. Daniel turned to face him and smiled happily. Jack returned the smile.
"Are we okay?"
"I think we're getting there, Jack."
"You're still moving out?" There was a faint hint of sadness behind the words, but Daniel nodded and hugged him tighter.
"I think we need more time, Jack. You said yourself that we rushed into this. Maybe one day....?"
"Maybe when I retire? We could live here?"
Daniel's smile grew wider at the hopeful look on his lover's face. Somehow the thought of sharing this tiny space with Jack, watching him pretend to fish, watching him swim naked in the lake, just watching him in general, filled him with a deep feeling of contentment.
"Yeah, Jack. Maybe."
Jack stood at parade rest in front of the oak desk, enduring the paternal regard of his Commanding Officer stoically.
"Yes, Sir. I was able to resolve the.... er, the.... problem and re-establish the lines of communication between myself and Dr. Jackson. Everything is fine now."
Hammond nodded wisely and looked Jack up and down. He looked tired, but unquestionably happy and more than a little smug. The smile Hammond gave him was both relieved and knowing.
"Let's work on keeping it that way, Jack. They pay me to be a General, not a marriage guidance councillor."
Jack saluted and left the room quickly before Hammond could get in any more smart comments. As the door closed behind him, General Hammond rose and opened the office's other door, which led directly into the briefing room. He smiled at the group of three people sitting patiently at the huge table.
"You can all relax people; it appears that once again, disaster has been averted."
They got up and began to file happily out of the briefing room, but the General's voice halted one member of the team.
"Doctor Fraiser, would you mind waiting behind a moment? I need to discuss with you the unauthorised misappropriation of certain Air Force pharmaceuticals."