Jack unlocked the front door and entered the silent house. He’d taken the newspaper from the delivery boy and headed for the kitchen to leave it on the counter to be read while he ate his solitary breakfast.
As he entered the kitchen, he froze.
Standing next to the stove, pouring coffee into a mug was a young man. He was barefoot and wearing only a tee shirt and sweats. Floppy blond hair topped a lean, 6ft 4inch body.
Although Jack couldn’t see his face, he knew it was a handsome face, made more striking by the large smoky gray eyes that were identical to his mother’s.
“Charlie?” Jack gasped breathlessly.
The man placed his mug on the counter and turned. “Dad? Shit. You okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Been for a run, that’s all. What are you doing here?” Jack queried.
“Er … I live here?” Charlie replied with a sardonic smile. “Remember?”
“Not what I meant. Whatcha doing in the kitchen? It’s only 0600 hours.”
“Making coffee. D’ya want one?” Charlie spun around reaching up to the shelf for another mug.
“Charlie!” Jack pulled out a chair next to the dining room table and sat down heavily.
“Okay,” Charlie said as he handed Jack the mug of coffee and sat down on the chair next to his dad. “I was awake early so I thought I’d have breakfast with you for a change.”
Jack sipped his coffee gratefully. “Nope! Not buying it. You’re never up this early if you can avoid it. What’s up?”
“Nothing, Dad. Well, not really. There’s something on my mind and I want to talk it over with you before I go to college.” Charlie looked pensive.
“Crap,” Jack groaned. “This is gonna cost me, isn’t it?” Nearly every time Charlie wanted to talk to him it was about extra money for some project or trip.
“No. No, it’s not money this time.”
“A girl then?” Jack suggested.
“A girl? No, Dad, I think I can manage my girlfriends. I don’t need any help there.” He gave Jack a wry grin.
“No, I guess you don’t. You’ve had enough of them.” Jack grinned back. “So … spill.”
“Er … can it wait until we’ve both showered? I was just going when you came in.” Charlie queried, then frowned as he continued, “where have you been, by the way?”
Jack explained that he’d woken very early and as it was such a bright morning, he’d decided to go for a run. The ACL problems in his knees meant the only exercise he usually took these days was in the gym where he could keep some of the weight off his legs. This morning, the dawn warmth had tempted him out, although he was now regretting it.
He’d only been out for 30 minutes when the pain had pulled him up. In fact he’d had to walk the last few hundred yards. It was only the thought of a hot shower that had kept him going for the last agonizing minutes.
“So, yeah, let’s get showered. Then we can talk over breakfast.”
Leaving their empty mugs on the counter next to the coffee machine, the two men made their way to the bathrooms.
As Jack was standing under the hot water, letting it run down his legs to ease the ache in his knees, he recalled how he’d lost Sara ten years earlier, but it could easily have been Charlie.
Two weeks before that fateful day, Charlie had wanted a water pistol like his best friend, but Jack had refused. Although Jack had to use a gun in the Air Force, and kept one at home for defensive purposes, he didn’t like them much and he certainly hadn’t wanted his 8 year old son to have anything that looked like one. Guns were serious, dangerous things and should never be thought of as toys.
They’d had a terrible argument but, with Sara’s help, Jack had made his reasons clear to Charlie and in the end, his son had reluctantly accepted.
However, Jack had felt sorry for being so hard on Charlie and had bought him a baseball and glove to make up for the argument. Charlie had been happy enough about the gift and forgotten all about the water pistol. Or so Jack had thought.
Two weeks later Jack had been home on leave. The weather was great and they’d decided to have a BBQ that evening.
Sara had been out in the garden, pulling weeds and planting flowers before the heat would drive her inside where it was cooler. Charlie had been playing with the baseball and glove that Jack had bought him.
Jack had called out to Sara, telling her he was driving down to the store for some beer and wine. “After all”, he’d said, “you can’t have a decent BBQ without alcohol.”
Sara had laughed, come over to kiss him and waved him goodbye.
When he’d returned, it was to find a furious Sara in the hallway waiting for him. He’d hardly had time to put the bottles on the floor before she’d rounded on him.
Apparently, Charlie had been very quiet so Sara had gone to check on him. She’d found him in their bedroom with Jack’s handgun in his hands. He’d said he was only looking at it and was going to put it back. However, if that wasn’t bad enough, when she’d taken it from him, she’d realized it was loaded.
She’d started screaming at Jack. She was so mad she couldn’t control herself. She’d needed answers to questions.
Why wasn’t the gun locked away in the drawer where it was usually kept? Why had it been left where Charlie could find it?
Jack had replied that he’d been cleaning it earlier, but he was sure he’d locked it away in the drawer and dropped the key back in Sara’s jewelry box, where she could find it easily if necessary. Also, the safety catch had been on. The last statement hadn’t been much help though, as Sara was sure if Charlie could find the gun, he could also have taken the safety off.
Jack always made a point of cleaning the gun when he was home, so it was ready if, and when, Sara should need it to defend herself when he was away.
Sara hadn’t been convinced; screaming at Jack that she couldn’t believe he’d been so careless with such a lethal weapon, and there had been nothing Jack could say or do to change her mind.
It wasn’t until months later that Charlie admitted that he’d been in his room when Jack had been cleaning the gun and had seen him drop the key in the jewelry box. Later, when he’d been on his own in the house, his curiosity had got the better of him and he’d crept in there to have a look, not realizing that his mom had returned to the house.
Jack could hear Charlie crying bitterly in his room, so he’d tried to calm Sara down, for Charlie’s sake as much as hers.
Finally, Sara had grabbed her car keys and stormed out of the house, saying she was going to her dad’s house and she’d be back later.
Jack had heard the tires screeching as she’d sped off the drive, but he’d known her bad mood wouldn’t transfer to her driving. She’d always been a very careful driver. Not only that, she had loved her little car and wouldn’t do anything to abuse it. Content in that knowledge, he’d gone upstairs, not only to console his son, but also to have a good talk to him concerning touching things that didn’t belong to him without asking first and about how he could have killed himself in the process.
So it had been a devastating shock when the police had knocked on the door later that afternoon. They’d informed him that they’d been chasing a hit and run driver who’d run a red light and plowed into Sara’s car. She’d been certified dead at the scene.
The next couple of weeks had been hectic and agonizing for all concerned.
Jack had been kept busy by contacting family and friends, arranging the funeral and trying to comfort a grieving Charlie. Sara’s dad, Mike, and Jack’s neighbors had helped out and there had always been someone around to prevent Jack from dwelling on his situation.
Once the funeral had been over and everyone had returned to their own homes, Jack had been left on his own. Mike had taken Charlie to stay with him for a few days to give Jack a chance to come to terms with what had happened.
As it turned out, it had probably been the worst thing he could have done. Jack hadn’t wanted to accept the situation, so he’d drowned his sorrows with alcohol. One bottle of beer turned into two, then three and so on. Finally, he’d started on the whiskey until he couldn’t think straight anymore.
Jack had blamed himself. Not for the accident. As he’d suspected, Sara had been driving perfectly. She had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, he did blame himself for letting her go. He should’ve stopped her; held her in his arms and calmed her down. Then they could have talked to Charlie together and when the air had cleared, had their BBQ.
At least he should have made his peace with her before she had gone out. He hadn’t been able to tell her he loved her before she’d died and that had hurt deeply. They’d always spoken those three little words to each other before they had parted to go anywhere alone. This time, Sara had been too mad and the words had been left unspoken.
Jack had retired from the Air Force, ostensibly to look after Charlie, although it had been the other way around. Even though he’d been wracked with grief and guilt for causing the argument, Charlie had been forced to grow up fast and try to help his dad out of the depths of despair. It had taken Jack some time to realize how Charlie was feeling; he’d been so bound up in his own grief. Soon, however they had been able to talk things out and help each other.
Jack still loved and missed Sara, but once he’d been recalled to active duty, his job with the SGC had helped him through the last few years and had taken the edge off the ache in his heart.
Jack finished his shower and dressed, still wondering what Charlie had wanted to talk to him about. He went downstairs and fixed breakfast for the two of them.
Once Charlie had joined him and they’d eaten, they took their coffee into the living room.
Jack sat in his easy chair and Charlie took the couch.
“So, what’s this about, Charlie?” Jack had noticed the concerned look on his son’s face.
“Dad, I don’t know how to put this, so I’ll have to come out with it. Okay?”
Now Jack was really worried. This sounded bad, so he gave Charlie his full attention. “Alright, hit me!”
“Dad, how friendly are you and Daniel?” Charlie asked carefully.
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” Jack couldn’t help but wonder what Charlie was insinuating.
“Sorry, I know this is going to sound strange, but just how friendly are you?” Charlie persisted.
“Not liking this, Charlie. We’re very good friends. You know that.”
“Look,” Charlie sighed as he tried to find the words. “Whenever Daniel’s around, you’re a different person. When he goes away for a long period of time, you’re quiet … withdrawn, but when he’s here, you’re more … you know …”
“Er … no, I don’t know. Where’re you going with this?”
“Just … hear me out, please. After you were recalled to the Air Force, you met Daniel, went to Egypt and he stayed there for a year. Right?”
That had been the cover story Jack had made up to tell Charlie. “Right,” he agreed.
“When you came home you were like a totally different guy. You were happier and spent more time with me than you had after mom died. You retired again and life was great for a while, but then you started to become more introverted. You were recalled again and had to return to Egypt to bring Daniel back. That was when you went back to being your normal self.”
Jack had heard enough and tried to stop Charlie before this went any further. “Charlie?” he warned.
“No Dad, please listen. Obviously you helped each other and that’s why you became good friends. You’d lost your wife and he’d lost his to those mercenaries you told me about.”
Yeah, another cover story.
“Anyway, you’re always sad when he goes away. Like when he went away for a year studying Mayan Temples in Belize and recently, when he was captured and held hostage for two weeks. You were almost out of your mind with worry. Don't say you weren't because I know you were. Now he's been back for a week and you can't stop grinning. All I’m saying is it seems you and he are very close friends; soul mates almost. Does that make sense?”
That made perfect sense to Jack. The Belize trip had been a cover for when Daniel had ascended and recently, it was true, he had been captured, but it was by the Replicators. “Yeah, I guess so. We are able to talk to each other about issues that no-one else could help with. So! You gonna tell me what this is leading up to now?”
“Okay. Before Daniel was captured, Tom and I went to stay in Albuquerque for the weekend so we could go to his friend’s birthday. You remember?”
Tom was Charlie’s best friend at college. In fact it had been Tom’s parents who had helped Jack so much when Sara had died.
“Yeah, of course. I had a whole weekend without loud music and you coming in and going out at all hours of the day and night.” Jack grinned as he recalled that weekend where he could relax and had the house to himself for a change.
“Very funny! Anyway, we met up with some more friends and, as it was only a few blocks from the hotel to the venue, we decided to walk. There were quite a few clubs in that area and two guys came out of one and crossed the road to a small sleazy hotel. One of Tom’s friends said it was a gay club and one of the guys had probably picked up a hooker for the night.”
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud, Charlie, what the hell’s that got to do with me and Daniel?”
“Dad, the guy with the hooker was Daniel.”
Jack stared at Charlie, his mouth open. He was speechless. Daniel? In a gay club? Not only in the club, but leaving with a hooker? Why? Not why was he in a gay club; that bit was obvious. Why did he feel the need to go with a hooker? He was a good looking guy. Surely he could find someone of his own?
The question that was tearing Jack apart though was why hadn’t he known? Why hadn’t Daniel told him he was gay? All these years and he’d never let on. He’d just snuck out of state and paid a hooker to get his kicks.
Jack realized he was still sitting with his mouth hanging open when Charlie spoke again quietly. “You didn’t know, did you?”
“No. No. I didn’t. Are you sure it was him?”
“Yes, it was Daniel. Sorry, Dad. I thought … I thought that maybe you … and he … were more than … um … simply friends and I wanted to warn you.”
“WHAT?!” Jack looked incredulous.
“Er … I thought … um … I thought you …” Charlie said hesitantly.
“I heard what you said! What the hell made you think that? I’m not gay. For cryin’ out loud, Charlie, I was married to your mother. I loved her and our marriage was for real.”
“I know that, but you are really close to Daniel and you are happier when he’s around. I know we haven’t discussed it but I thought that maybe you could be bisexual or, at least, bi-curious.”
“Now look! One – you shouldn’t know about things like that and, two – this has gone far enough.”
“Aw, Dad! I’m 18 years old. I’m not a virgin and I’m certainly not as naïve as you think. I love women but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about men. I’ve watched porn with the other guys at college and I—“
“No!” Jack interrupted. “No! I don’t want to hear that. I’m not listening. We are so not having this conversation.”
“Yes, we are and you will listen to me, Dad. Every time Daniel comes to the house I see you checking out his butt.” He put up his hand to stop another interruption. “Don’t deny it, because you are. You want him. It’s fucking obvious and it’s about time you did something about it.”
“Charlie! Language!” Sara had always been against swearing in the house. A few mild expletives were okay, but she’d have been horrified if she’d heard Charlie using the ‘f’ word.
However, Jack couldn’t deny it. He had been checking Daniel out. Not just his ass either. He’d known for a long time that he was attracted to Daniel. But Daniel had married Sha’re. She’d been taken by Apophis but he’d never given up looking for her.
Since they’d grown closer over the years, Jack had thought Daniel might have been interested in him, too. But when Sha’re died, Daniel had been so distraught; Jack had to accept the fact they were just close friends – nothing more.
So, Jack had started dating women again. Not that it worked out very well. A couple of dates and it was usually over. Not the woman’s fault. Jack’s heart wasn’t really into having a lasting relationship.
The only exception could have been Kerry Johnson. That had lasted a while, but she’d ended their relationship while Daniel had been away the last time. She’d told Jack he had issues that needed solving. She was right. Yes, he did have issues, but not about Carter as Kerry had suspected.
So, Charlie had noticed him checking out Daniel’s ass.
Wait! Charlie had noticed? His son had seen him watching Daniel? Crap! So much for his stealth training then. Observe, but don’t be seen to be observing. He felt Charlie watching him and looked up. He even had the decency to look embarrassed and blush a little. “You … you noticed?”
“Sure did. Oh, don’t worry. I doubt anyone else could see it. They don’t know you like I do.”
“Dad, it’s okay. I like Daniel; he’s cool. If that’s what you want; who you want, it’s okay. I understand. I know how you feel about mom, but she’s been gone a long time and if women don’t do it for you anymore, then find someone who will. You’re not getting any younger, yanno? Look, I’ll need a place of my own soon and I hate to think of you being alone. You deserve better than that.” Charlie took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Okay, I think I’ve gone far enough now.”
“Fuck!” Jack exclaimed. How did he deserve such an understanding kid? When had his kid grown up to be a guy who talked about gay relationships like it was the most normal thing in the world? When had his kid grown up this fast, period? And how could Charlie figure out Jack's feelings for Daniel just by observing them?
“Dad! Language!” Charlie grinned and then started to laugh.
“You … you …” Jack’s voice trailed off and he joined in with the laughter.
“So, whatcha gonna do about it?” Charlie asked when they’d stopped laughing.
“Dunno, Charlie. I really don’t know.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to think about it. Now I need to go or I’ll be late. Don’t forget my car’s going in to have the brakes fixed. You haven't forgotten you’re going to pick me up from college, have you?”
“Nope! I’ll be there.”
Charlie stood up and walked towards the door where he’d left his bag earlier. He stopped, turned around and went back to Jack. Bending down he wrapped his arms around his dad. “I love you, Dad,” he said simply.
“Backatcha kiddo,” Jack replied. He’d never been good with endearments, but he was sure Charlie knew what he meant.
When Charlie had left the house; Jack loaded the dishes in the dishwasher and drove up to the SGC for his first meeting of the morning.
Jack sat watching the two new SG teams as they listened intently and ardently to Daniel briefing them on what to expect and what to look for on the planet they were gating out to.
Jack had heard it all before - many times. Usually this was his chance to surreptitiously check Daniel out and/or doodle, but this time he found he couldn’t look at Daniel in case someone noticed and, although he’d put his pen to paper, his hand wouldn’t move.
He let his mind drift over the information Charlie had given him about that night in Albuquerque. Should he say something or would it be prudent to stay silent? What if he told Daniel he knew? What if he offered himself to Daniel?
What the fucking hell was he thinking about? He couldn’t do anything about it. He’d only recently been promoted to general. He couldn’t do anything to jeopardize that. If anyone found out, he’d be out. He wasn’t ready to retire again yet.
“Jack? Are my briefings so boring for you? It would help if you could show the teams a little bit of enthusiasm.” Daniel’s voice brought him out of his reverie.
“What? Oh, yeah.” He looked around to prove to the teams he’d been listening, but the room was empty, apart from Daniel who was glowering at him. “Um … oh, er … things on my mind.”
“Obviously. Can I help?”
“No!” Jack snapped, then changed his mind. This could be the right time to talk to Daniel. “Er … yeah. Maybe. My office?”
The two men went into Jack’s office; Jack sat in his chair behind the desk and Daniel seated himself in the chair opposite.
After several minutes of silence, Daniel sighed. “So? What do you need help with, Jack?”
Jack didn’t know where to begin. He could understand how Charlie must have felt this morning when he’d told Jack.
“Are you gay?” Jack asked brusquely.
Daniel looked totally stunned. “Wow! I wasn’t expecting that one. Where did that come from?”
“Well, are you?” Jack said quietly as he gazed intently at Daniel’s face.
“Shit, Jack! W-what the fuck has it got to do with you either way?” Daniel waited for an answer, but Jack sat there straight faced. “Okay,” he said finally. “Okay, you really want to know? No, I am not gay, Jack.” He watched as Jack let out the breath he’d been holding. “But I am bisexual. Is that what you wanted to know?”
Jack had so hoped Charlie had been wrong; that it hadn’t been Daniel he’d seen. Now, he wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Er … yeah. I guess.”
Daniel pushed his chair back and stood up. “Well, now you know. If there’s nothing else I can help you with, I’ve got work to do,” he snapped. He turned towards the door but stopped as he heard Jack’s voice.
“Daniel, where were you on the weekend before you were taken by replicator Carter?”
Daniel spun around to face Jack, his face drawn and angry. “What? Where was I …?” He thought fast, recalling where he’d spent the weekend. Then the truth dawned on him. “Shit! I was seen? Oh God, I’ve been so careful. Who else knows, Jack?”
“Daniel, please? Where were you?” Jack had noticed when Daniel realized what he’d been asked. But Jack needed Daniel to tell him. He needed confirmation.
Daniel sighed deeply. “I was in Albuquerque, as you obviously know.”
“Why? I don’t understand. Why would you need to pay a hooker for sex?”
“A … a hooker? Is that what you’ve been told?” Daniel looked horrified. “That I paid a hooker for sex?”
“Well, did you?” Jack persisted as he leaned back in his chair.
“Not that it’s any of your business, Jack, but no, I did not pay for sex. I have never paid for sex. Unless you call buying dinner and a room for the night paying for sex. If you must know, Joe is someone I’ve known for a long time. He makes himself available whenever I need him. He is not a hooker. He’s a married man with kids, who likes the company of men, which is why he goes to a gay club. I need someone occasionally, so we arrange to meet and have safe sex. Safe sex, Jack. I’m careful; very careful. Oh, and before you ask, yes, his wife does know. It’s helped to keep their marriage together. So, who saw me? Who else knows?”
“Charlie saw you, Daniel. He was staying with some friends for the weekend. He hasn’t told anyone else. And he won’t. He was as shocked as me.”
“Good. Let’s keep it that way. Now, I’ve got work to do. See you around.”
Daniel opened the door and walked into the corridor, slamming the door.
Well, that went well. Not! Jack had his answer, but Daniel was mad at him now. He wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to approach the subject. He decided to leave him alone for the rest of the day, then he could approach him later. Perhaps even persuade him to talk over a beer at home. If he’d calmed down by then.
So, Daniel was bisexual. Huh! That’s what Charlie had thought Jack was. He knew he was bi-curious but bisexual? Was he? He didn’t know. Never had the chance to find out. He’d never been with a man, so how would he know? He’d watched a lot of porn. Many of them, after he’d met Daniel, were gay porn. He’d researched it as well. He knew what they did and he thought he could do it. With Daniel. He just needed a chance to put what he’d learned into practice.
Walter knocked on Jack’s office door later that morning, informing him that a member of the rogue NID had called, saying he had evidence about who the other members were, but he would only give the information to Jack. He’d left instructions that Jack was to be at a certain abandoned industrial complex on the other side of town at a specific time and he would hand the data over. He had confirmed that if Jack was not alone, he wouldn’t hear from him again.
Jack sighed. Why was it always him? Oh well, it would mean he could go off base for a couple of hours, giving Daniel a chance to cool down.
After telling Walter to have a backup team on standby, he went to the locker room and changed into his outdoor clothes, tucking his handgun into the back of his jeans. After putting on a bullet proof vest and his leather jacket, he signed out and drove across town to the rendezvous.
Jack parked his truck in the deserted yard and stood next to it looking around for the guy who’d arranged the meeting. He checked his watch. It was now 20 minutes after the time they were supposed to meet. He’d give it another 10 and then put it down to a no-show and go back to base.
Unexpectedly he heard a voice. It was coming from behind a pile of crates nearby. “General O’Neill? Over here.”
Jack pulled the gun from his waistband and walked unhurriedly towards the crates. As he rounded the stack, he saw a guy waiting, pointing a gun at him. He stopped and waited. Both men stared at each other, fingers poised on the triggers of their guns.
The man dropped the arm holding his gun. “Thank you for coming, General. I’m sorry to make you wait but I had to be sure you’d come alone.”
“Well, now you know. What’ve you got for me?”
“Straight to the point, eh? Okay. In here,” he opened his other hand to show Jack a capsule, “is a microchip. It gives details of all the members of the rogue NID.”
“What do you want in return?”
“Immunity. My name is the last one on the list. When you’ve rounded all the others up, you let me go and I get to leave the country to start a new life. Have we got a deal?”
“I guess. How d’you know I won’t renege on the deal?”
“I don’t, but your reputation for fairness precedes you, General. I have to believe you’ll keep your word.”
The man tucked the gun away in his pocket and approached Jack. Jack jerked his gun at him, gesturing him to keep his distance.
“It’s okay. You’ve got the gun. I only want to hand you the capsule.”
Jack nodded and the man got nearer. When he was close enough the man extended his arm to give Jack the capsule. Jack held out his hand and the other guy dropped the capsule into it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the movement of the guy's other arm. But Jack was too slow. Before he could draw back or block the attack, he felt a sharp sting in his neck and slowly collapsed on the ground.
Jack was awake but unable to move. How the fuck had he fallen for that trick? What had the guy given him?
“Sorry, General. The drug will not harm you. It’s one the NID use; similar to Rohypnol. You’ll be able to move and go home in about an hour.”
The man bent down and took the capsule from Jack’s hand. After forcing Jack’s mouth open he dropped the capsule inside. Taking a small bottle of water from his pocket, he flipped the top off and gave some to Jack, holding Jack’s nose to force him to swallow. Then he checked to confirm Jack’s mouth was empty.
Jack coughed and spluttered as he gulped down the capsule.
The man disappeared and after a moment of silence Jack heard his truck being driven around the back of the crates near to where he was lying.
“Okay,” the guy said as he came back to Jack’s side. “They’re out there somewhere looking for me. If they find you and you haven’t got the capsule, they’ll think I still have it. You’ll be able to get it back to the SGC. If they find me first, don’t worry. I’ve got a fake capsule in my pocket. By the time they realize it’s not the real one, you’ll be long gone. Nice doing business with you, General. See you!”
Jack was left alone. He could hear the man running across the yard, then shouts, gunfire and silence. A voice shouted, “Is he dead? Search him!” Another voice called out, but Jack couldn’t hear what it said. Then the first voice again, “Okay. Give me the capsule. Put him in the van. We’ll dispose of him later.”
After that, Jack heard no more.
It was at least an hour before Jack was able to move. Until then, the only movement he had was his eyes. Then he was able to move his head. Gradually he started to feel all his limbs again and shakily managed to struggle to his feet.
He pulled out his cell phone and called the SGC. When he arrived back at base, he was taken immediately to the infirmary where X-rays and other tests were taken in case the capsule was booby trapped or radioactive. Apparently there was no danger. Doctor Brightman gave Jack a choice. He could either let the capsule take its course and pass out of his body naturally or take a strong laxative to speed up the process. Jack was not a lover of laxatives and the pain and other problems they could cause, so he chose the former. He would, however, have to stay at the SGC until that happened, which would probably be the following morning.
Well, that was okay. He’d stayed at the SGC before. He’d already bought a few Simpsons videos from home in case he had to stay any time.
He went back to his office and started on some dreaded paperwork, then he remembered Charlie. He was supposed to be picking him up from college later that afternoon.
He was about to look for Teal’c but remembered he had gone to the Alpha site to train some new recruits in Jaffa fighting methods. Carter was away visiting her brother and his kids, so he couldn’t ask her. There was only one person left. It would have to be someone Charlie knew, so Daniel was the obvious choice.
He left his office and entered the elevator, pressing the button for Level 18 and Daniel’s lab. Jack hoped he’d be there. This was confirmed by the strong aroma of coffee as he neared the door.
He knocked and entered to find Daniel at his coffee maker, filling a mug with his favorite strong drug of choice.
“I’m not discussing it with you, Jack.” Daniel snapped.
“No. No, it’s not that.” This was not a good time to be asking favors and Daniel had every reason to say no, but Jack had no-one else he could ask. No-one that he could trust. “Daniel, I know you’re still mad at me, but hear me out, please?”
“Okay, but it’d better be good!” Daniel stood, hands wrapped around his mug, a frown wrinkling his brow.
“Charlie’s car is in the garage and I promised to pick him up from college. I can’t leave the base tonight, so could you … um …”
“You want me to take him home, after what he knows about me? Are you out of your mind?”
“He’s okay about it. He won’t say anything. Please, Daniel. I wouldn’t ask, but there’s no-one else I can trust.”
Daniel eyed Jack suspiciously. “So, why can’t you go?”
Scowling, Jack explained what had happened and why he had to remain at the SGC.
Daniel gave a wry grin. “Can’t believe you fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. You must be getting old, Jack.”
“Yeah, thanks. So, will you do it?”
Daniel was silent as he thought about it, then he agreed. “Okay, but don't make it a habit. I'm not your personal driver and I do have important work to do around here.”
“Yes, I know what work you’re doing. I do read my memo’s sometimes, yanno?” Jack grinned as Daniel’s expression told him how unbelievable that statement sounded.
“I said I’d be there about seventeen hundred. I’ll owe you a big one for this, Daniel. I’ll call him and let him know. Here,” Jack stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out his keys, throwing them over to Daniel, “you can take my truck.”
“Wow! You trust me to drive your truck? You must be desperate. Thanks.”
Jack turned to walk out of the room, but called back over his shoulder. “Be sure you bring it back in one piece.”
“Charlie? Is that your dad’s truck outside?” Tom asked as he turned back from the window overlooking the parking lot.
Charlie crossed the room to look outside. “Yep!”
“Who’s the guy that’s just got out? It’s not your dad.”
“No, that’s Daniel. He works with my dad. Dad’s been held up at work, so he’s sent Daniel to take me home.”
“Wow, he’s a looker! Got any jobs going there? I wouldn’t mind working with him.”
“Tom! He’s a good friend, he’s too old for you and he’s an archaeologist and linguist. Way out of your league.”
“Hey, thanks. I thought you were my friend? You gonna introduce us?”
“No way! I’ll see you tomorrow. Okay?”
“Okay! Tell him I’ll see him in my dreams tonight,” Tom laughed.
“You’re incorrigible! Bye.”
“Bye Charlie. See you!”
Charlie picked up his bag, ran down the stairs and out of the building to where Daniel was waiting. They greeted each other, got in the truck and set off towards Jack’s house.
Both men were quiet as Daniel negotiated the traffic. Once they had left the highway, Daniel said, “I’m sorry, Charlie.” He caught the puzzled look on Charlie’s face before he continued. “Sorry you found out that way. Jack told me.”
Charlie groaned. “Oh God, I didn’t know … didn’t think he’d say anything to you.” He didn’t know what else to say. He couldn’t explain to Daniel why he’d told his dad; that he’d thought there was more to their friendship than just friends.
“Yeah, well, he knows now. I hope nobody else finds out.”
“I won’t say anything, Daniel. It’s up to you what you do.”
“Yes. Yes it is, but we’d better get one thing straight.” Daniel went on to explain who the guy was Jack’s son had seen him with; the same explanation that he’d given to Jack earlier. “So, you see, he’s not a hooker and I don’t pay for it.”
Charlie had the decency to look a little shamefaced. “Oh! Got that a bit wrong, didn’t I? Shouldn’t jump to conclusions, I guess.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” Daniel agreed.
By this time they’d turned into the road leading to Jack’s house. As Daniel slowed the truck, Charlie put his arm out of the open window to wave to a neighbor. She was unloading groceries from the trunk of her car.
“Hi, Mrs. Murphy,” Charlie called. “How are you?”
“Hello Charlie, I’m fine thank you,” she replied as she waved back.
Kathleen Aine Murphy had been a godsend to Jack when Charlie had been younger. Most of the time, Charlie had stayed over with Tom and his parents when Jack had been off world. If they weren't available, Mrs. Murphy had always been on the other end of the phone and had often taken the small boy into her house until Jack had come home to pick him up.
Daniel stopped the truck at the end of Jack’s drive and switched off the engine.
“Do you need anything before I head back,” he asked.
“No thanks, Daniel, although …”
Daniel turned to look at Charlie and could see something was troubling the young man. “What is it?”
“Can I ask you something? Something personal?”
“You can ask, Charlie, but I’m not promising I’ll answer. It depends what it is.”
Charlie shifted in the seat so he was facing Daniel. “Why didn’t you tell my dad you were bi? Before now, I mean. I thought you were really good friends.”
When no reply was forthcoming, Charlie noticed Daniel was staring suspiciously down the road. “Um … who are those guys?” He nodded his head towards a couple of casually dressed men hanging around.
“Never seen them before. Why?”
“Oh, it’s just … probably nothing.” Daniel was watching the men warily. He didn’t know why, but the sight of the men had the hairs standing up on the back of his neck.
Just then a couple of kids kicked a ball to the men and they returned it. The kid’s dad came out of the house and talked to the men, who exchanged words and laughter with the kids. One of them kicked the ball across the front lawn and the kids chased it. The men waved a cheery goodbye to the kids' dad and started walking down the road towards Daniel and Charlie, still talking and laughing.
Daniel breathed a sigh of relief that his intuition about the men was wrong and turned his attention back to Charlie. “Sorry, where were we? Oh yeah, why didn’t I tell your dad? Because it had nothing to do with anyone else. Still doesn’t.”
“Oh, okay, got it. But you were married. What about your wife?”
“Yes I was, but when she died I had to move on.”
“Daniel, I don’t know whether I should say this or not, but my dad wanted to move on too. Unfortunately the person he wanted didn’t seem to be available. Now I find out he probably was.”
“He?” Daniel paused; the look on his face changing to one of astonishment. “Oh! You mean … me? Jack wanted me? He’s straight, Charlie. He wouldn’t want … ohgod!”
Daniel and Charlie had been so intent on their conversation they hadn’t seen the two strangers pass the truck. They also hadn’t seen them double back until they appeared at the open windows.
Daniel saw the man at his window first. “What the …?” his voice trailed off as he felt a sharp sting in the back of his neck.
As Daniel slumped forward unconscious, Charlie yelled at the guy at his window, “Hey! Who are you?” Then he too felt a needle as it pierced his skin before he blacked out.
Neither Charlie nor Daniel saw the black van slide up behind Jack’s truck and the two burly men who got out. They didn’t know that the four guys lifted them out of the truck and laid them in the back of the van before it sped away down the road.
Mrs. Murphy, who was still carrying her groceries inside, had seen the van as it drove slowly past her drive, but she had assumed it had been passing through, or looking for the right house. She had noticed the letters on the license plate though, as they were her initials.
Jack was bored with the paperwork. In fact, he was bored – period! He wished he could talk to Daniel; perhaps take him to the house and give him dinner. He’d even buy him a bottle of his favorite wine, if it would help.
He checked his watch. Two hours had passed since Daniel left the SGC to collect Charlie. He should have returned by now.
Jack called Daniel’s lab, but there was no reply. He checked with the gate staff, but Daniel hadn’t been seen.
He called Daniel’s cell phone, then Charlie’s, then their home number. All of them went to voice mail. Where the hell were they? He tried them all again, several times, but to no avail. Now he was worried.
He rushed out of his office, shouting at Walter to find Colonel Reed. He knew Reed’s team was on stand down, but would still be on base.
When Reed appeared, Jack explained the situation. He gave Reed his house key and sent him out to see what had happened to Charlie and Daniel.
He spent the next half hour pacing up and down his office, waiting for the phone to ring. When it did, the news wasn’t good.
Reed reported that Jack’s truck was parked outside the house, unlocked with the keys inside. There was also a bag on the floor, which Jack recognized as being Charlie’s. On the seats they’d found both cell phones.
They’d checked the house, but it had been locked and nothing inside seemed amiss.
Reed informed Jack he and his team were knocking on doors to find anyone who could give them any information.
Jack had to wait a bit longer.
When the phone rang again, Reed reported that Mrs. Murphy had seen a black van earlier and had remembered part of the license plate. Only one number and the three letters that were also her initials – KAM. Not much, but at least it was something to go on.
Jack ordered the men back to base, while he set about following up the small lead they had.
A couple of hours later, with the help of the local police, they’d discovered that the van had last been seen heading north on the I-25 towards Denver, but since that sighting there’d been nothing.
Jack was really frustrated. He wanted to go out and look for the missing men, but he knew he couldn’t leave the base.
However, Colonel Reed and his team had rounded up many other volunteers to go out and look for the van.
Meanwhile, they’d found out that the van was owned by an ex-member of the NID, but when a team had gone to the address listed on the documents, it was a vacant lot. Apparently the house had been demolished a couple of years earlier.
At least Jack now knew why they’d been taken and it was all to do with that little capsule that was working its way through his intestines. All he could hope was the kidnappers would call so he could explain the situation, before they hurt Charlie or Daniel. Jack couldn’t bear the thought of either of the men being hurt, or worse.
As Daniel fought his way through the fog clouding his brain, he knew something bad had happened.
As he lifted his chin off his chest, stretching his neck muscles, he could feel the bindings around his hands, arms and feet, before he opened his eyes.
When he managed to force his eyelids open, he could see he was in a large, empty warehouse. As he looked to one side, he noticed Charlie on a chair next to him, still unconscious.
He tried to move his arms and legs, but they were chained to the metal chair he was sitting on. He made an attempt to move the chair around, but it was bolted to the floor. There was no way he was going to be able to move.
Charlie started to stir.
“Charlie?” Daniel called softly. “Charlie? You okay?”
“Er … no,” he groaned in response. “Where are we? What happened?”
“I don’t know where we are or how long we’ve been out of it. I’m sorry. I laughed at your dad for falling for the needle trick earlier. Remind me not to do it again, will you?”
“Needle trick? Oh, shit. I thought he was sick. At least, that’s what he told me when he called to let me know he had to stay on base overnight and couldn't pick me up.”
“Oh! Oh shit. Forget I said anything.”
“It’s okay, Daniel. I’ve never believed all the cover stories he’s told me over the years.”
“You haven’t? Um … I can’t … I mean I …”
“You mean you can’t confirm or deny anything because it’s classified. I do understand. I wish my dad would stop treating me like a kid sometimes and tell me at least some of the truth.”
“Charlie, you are a child to him. You always will be, but yes, I suppose we could all give you credit for a bit of common sense now and again.” Daniel had seen Jack's kid grow up. They had played baseball and frisbee in Jack's backyard on team nights. Daniel had helped Charlie with his history classes and Charlie let Daniel sign his cast when he'd broken his arm when he'd been 12. But the kid had grown up and turned into a young man with his father's sharp mind and wit.
“So, how do we escape then?”
“I’m not sure … yet. Can you move at all?” Daniel squirmed in the chair trying to discover if any of the chains were loose. They weren’t; which was to be expected.
Charlie had also been trying to move, but he had to confirm to Daniel that he couldn’t.
Just then the door opened and the men who had kidnapped them, walked in, followed by the two other larger guys.
“So,” one of the men said. “We get two for the price of one.” He was tall with dark hair and wearing dark glasses. The other guy was slightly smaller and bald. Both were now wearing dark suits.
“Oh, I should’ve guessed. NID? No. More like the rogue faction of the NID. What do you want with us?” Daniel asked.
“So that’s the way you’re going to play it then?” said the tall guy. “Pretend you don’t know. Come on, Doctor Jackson, we’re not that stupid.”
Daniel made a face and raised his eyebrows letting the guys know he was questioning that last remark.
The guy continued. “Let’s not play games. You, as in the SGC, have something we want. We have something they will want back.”
“You think blackmail will work?” queried Daniel.
“Oh yes, we’re sure General O’Neill will want his son back. As for you, Doctor Jackson, you got in the way. We only intended to pick up Charlie. You were an added bonus.”
“Mr. O’Neill,” Charlie snapped before Daniel could reply. “You can be polite to Daniel and call him by his title, so you should call me Mr. O’Neill, not Charlie.”
“Oh-h, you are a chip off the old block. I do apologize Mr. O’Neill.” The tall guy looked at his companion and they both laughed.
“Anyway,” continued Charlie, “what makes you think my dad isn’t on your tail right now?”
“We know he isn’t.” The smaller guy spoke up now. “We let them believe we’d gone north out of town, but we doubled back. They have no idea where to find you.”
“Now then, Mr. O’Neill,” the tall man said. “We want you to make a call to your dad. We know he can’t hand over the microchip yet, but we need him to know that we’ve got you and we’ll be in touch with him later.”
“Never gonna happen!” Charlie exclaimed, sounding so much like Jack, Daniel snorted with suppressed laughter.
“You think it’s funny, Doctor Jackson? Let’s see how funny you find this?”
The tall guy drew a knife from his pocket, jabbing Daniel’s throat with the point.
The other guy held a cell phone in front of Charlie. “Give me the number or Doctor Jackson gets it!”
“Daniel?” Charlie sounded fearful now as he looked across at Daniel.
“Don’t do it, Charlie. They’re bluffing.” Daniel said confidently hoping to allay Charlie’s fears.
“You think so, do you?” the tall guy growled as he nicked the side of Daniel's throat with the point of the knife, drawing blood.
Daniel gasped with surprise and Charlie quickly shouted out his dad’s cell phone number.
“That’s better,” the smaller man said. “Now, you’re going to speak quickly and concisely. Tell him you and Doctor Jackson are alive and you will remain that way if he does as we tell him. We know he is waiting for the microchip to make an appearance and we will be in touch again in the morning to negotiate the exchange. Do you understand?”
“What microchip?” Charlie asked.
The tall guy shrugged. “You don’t need to know. Just give him the message. Tell him not to try and trace the call because we’re going to destroy the cell after you’ve spoken to him.”
The smaller guy dialed the number Charlie had given him and then held the phone to Charlie’s ear.
The tall guy still pressed the knife against Daniel’s throat, warning Charlie. “Don’t get any ideas, or else …”
Charlie didn’t need to be told twice. He didn’t want Daniel to be hurt. He heard the phone ringing at the other end and waited.
Jack was pacing again when his cell phone rang. He dug it out of his pocket, checking the number on the display. It wasn’t one he recognized, but with Charlie and Daniel missing he couldn’t take a chance and ignore it.
He pressed the button and put the phone to his ear. “O Neill.”
“Dad?” Jack was so relieved to hear Charlie’s voice on the other end.
“Charlie, where are you?”
“I don’t know. Listen. I’ve got to tell you something quickly or they’re going to hurt Daniel.”
“Okay, calm down.” Jack said coolly. “Go ahead.”
Charlie went on to quickly tell Jack what the men had told him. Jack realized as he listened that Charlie was trying not to show he was frightened, but this was a little out of his sons comfort zone.
When Charlie stopped talking, Jack said quickly, “It’ll be okay, Charlie. I’ll get you both out of there. Just hold on.”
Charlie sighed in relief. “We will. I love you, dad.”
“Backatcha, Charlie. And tell Daniel … tell him …”
“I know, Dad. Gotta go. See you soon.”
Jack heard a click and the phone went dead. Despite Charlie’s instruction, he tried to call the number back with no success. He gave the number to Walter who checked it out, but there was no way to trace the number or where the call had come from. Jack would have to wait until morning.
As the man took the phone from Charlie’s ear and ended the call, Charlie breathed a sigh of relief. His dad knew they were okay and he would come for them the next day. Soon this would be all over.
“That was good, very good,” said the tall man. “We’re going to leave you now, but we’ll be back in the morning so you can call your dad to make the arrangements.”
Then, to the other guy, “Smash the phone and get rid of it. We’ll buy another one.”
They started to walk towards the door, then the tall guy stopped. “Oh, I nearly forgot,” he said. He spoke briefly to one of the large guys at the door, who disappeared for a few moments, returning with a large bottle of mineral water.
He placed the bottle between Daniel and Charlie’s chairs and removed the top.
Daniel was puzzled. “How are we supposed to drink that?” To prove his point he tried, and failed, to move his arms.
“Don’t worry, I told you we weren’t stupid. We’ve thought of that, too.”
The large guy pulled two long plastic tubes from his pocket and inserted them into the bottle, then the other guy produced two metal frames.
Charlie remembered seeing something similar to them before. Some singers who also played the mouthorgan used metal frames like that. The frame was put around their necks so they could play the organ without using their hands.
The smaller man clipped one frame around Daniel’s neck, attaching the end of one of the tubes to it, so it was in easy reach of his lips. Then he did the same to Charlie.
They set off again towards the door.
“Wait! Wait! What about Daniel? He’s bleeding.” Charlie’s concerned face was turned towards his father’s friend.
“He’ll be fine. I only nicked him. It looks worse than it is.” The men left the warehouse, closing and locking the door. The only sound after that was their vehicle driving away into the distance.
“Are you okay?” Charlie asked.
“Yeah sure. I’ve had worse.”
“Yes, I know. Dad said you spend a lot of time in the infirmary.”
“I’m not the only one. He’s spent some time in there too.”
“Yes, I know, but he had a dangerous job until he stopped going into the field. You’re just an archaeologist and linguist.” After a moments silence, Charlie continued, “Um … I didn’t mean to belittle your work. All I meant was he’s been trained to fight, but your job doesn’t require that, does it?”
“No, I guess not,” Daniel said carefully.
As Charlie was watching Daniel he had an epiphany. “You're more than an archeologist, aren't you? I know it’s classified so you can’t tell me, but I never believed someone could be hurt by so many rock falls and cave-ins as you did. You do more than collect artifacts and translate languages.” Charlie grinned. “You're probably like Indiana Jones or something.” Then he sobered. “Daniel, you don’t have to confirm or deny it. I know you can’t. I want you to know that I’m not as dumb as my dad thinks I am.”
“You’re not dumb, Charlie. Far from it. But you’re right. I can’t confirm or deny it, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Can you tell me about the microchip? Why my dad can’t hand it over until tomorrow?”
Daniel thought for a few moments before replying with a grin. “Yeah, I guess I can answer that. Your dad was forced to swallow it.”
“Oh, I see.” Charlie said, then, as the reason for waiting until the morning dawned on him, “OH!”
Both men fell silent for a while until Daniel heard a snort from Charlie, which turned into a snigger, then a chuckle, then a laugh. He looked across at Jack’s son to see his body shaking with laughter.
“He … he … had to ….? Oh … I wish … I wish … I could have … seen his face,” Charlie managed to say between bouts of laughing. By this time, Daniel was laughing too, despite their circumstances.
“He wasn’t a happy camper, that’s for sure.” Daniel said when he’d calmed down.
“He told me he had a stomach bug. He wasn’t kidding, was he?” This started another fit of laughter.
When the laughter finally died, both men needed a drink and luckily both tubes worked successfully.
“Charlie, what you said earlier? About your dad being attracted to me. You were kidding, right?”
“No. I think he’s been attracted to you since you met. He didn’t realize it.”
“So, why now?”
“I guess I made him face the truth, after I told him about seeing you that night. Women don’t do it for him anymore, Daniel, but I think he was worried about what I would think if he let me know he was interested in you. I don’t know why, because I told him I’d suspected it for years.”
“Why? What gave it away?”
“I don’t know really. Just small things, I guess. The way he checked you out when you were at the house, why he insisted on staying at the SGC whenever you were in the infirmary and how depressed he was when you were gone for a whole year. I mean, I missed you, too, Daniel. But dad... he was like, uh, like a different guy. He withdrew into himself and put up a barrier almost like he did when mom died. I tried, but I couldn’t break through. As soon as you returned he was back to his old self again. As I said, I suspected it, but he was still dating women so I didn’t know for sure.”
“I see.” Daniel frowned as he digested Charlie’s words. “And … and he admitted it to you?”
“Not in so many words, but he didn’t deny it. He told me he didn’t know what to do about it.”
“So, what about you?”
“I’m not gay! I’m too much into women, although my friend Tom thinks you’re hot!”
“He … he does?” Daniel’s eyes widened and his brows shot up nearly into his hairline. “Um … well … I don’t know … er … what to say about that, but I wasn’t asking if you were gay. I wanted to know how you feel about Jack finding me … um … attractive.”
“If you can make my dad happy, I’m all for it.”
Daniel stared at Charlie trying to figure him out. He was, more or less, giving Daniel the okay to pursue and have a relationship with his father. Having said that, it didn’t seem as though there’d be much pursuing to be done.
Jack wanted a relationship with Daniel? Wow! If only he’d known years ago. Well, he knew now and when they got out of here he was going to make Jack sit down and talk to him. Jack didn’t do talking very well, which was probably why he’d never said anything before, but he was going to have to now.
“What? Wha-at?” Charlie exclaimed screwing up his face, as he noticed Daniel staring at him. Again Daniel thought how much he sounded like Jack. What was it that guy had said? A chip off the old block. Charlie was certainly that.
“Sorry, just thinking. You love your dad very much. Jack’s a very lucky guy.”
“No, I’m the lucky one. He went off the rails for a time when mom died but I couldn’t have wished for a better dad.” He grinned. “Even if he does lie to me about what you both do and where you were when you went away.”
“Yeah … well …” Daniel let the words trail off. He couldn’t say any more about their careers, but Charlie knew that and accepted it.
After a short silence, Daniel suggested they try and sleep. It was almost dark in the warehouse now; only the moonlight shining through the small barred windows along the top of one wall.
It took a long while, but eventually they both fell into a fitful sleep.
Back at the SGC, Jack was still sitting in his office, head in hands. The last time he’d checked it was 2am, but he couldn’t sleep. He was concerned about the two people in the world he cared most about. But there was something niggling him that didn’t seem right. Something he couldn’t quite grasp, but was there, in the back of his mind. If only he could think what it was, but he was too worried.
The door opened and Teal’c came in carrying a tray. He put it down on the desk. On it was a plate containing a large piece of pie, a fork and a steaming mug of coffee.
“What this, Teal’c?”
“Pie, O’Neill. I have been reliably informed that you have not eaten this evening.”
“I couldn’t eat if I wanted to.”
“You must eat if the pod is to discharge itself quickly.”
Jack looked up at the large man towering over him. He knew Teal’c had returned from the Alpha site earlier that evening but had assumed he had retired to his quarters. “Pod? What …? Oh! It’s a capsule T, not a pod. I’ve not swallowed a fucking spaceship.”
“Your language is very complicated, O’Neill. Nevertheless, I will stay here until you have eaten.” Teal’c sat down in the chair opposite Jack, his face set and determined. Jack knew he wouldn’t be allowed to ignore the food, so he agreed to try some. He picked up the fork, cut off a piece of the pie and put it in his mouth. As he chewed, he murmured, “Mmm, peach.” He swallowed the first mouthful, realizing how hungry he was, then he devoured the remainder.
He finished every morsel and sipped the coffee gratefully. “Thanks, Teal’c. I needed that.”
“As I suspected. CharlieO’Neill and DanielJackson will be unharmed. You will see them in the morning.”
“I know it’s ridiculous but something about that exchange doesn't sit right. Things are never that simple, T.”
Every time he thought about making the exchange, the hairs on the back of his neck started prickling. He often had that feeling when events had taken a turn for the worse. Tomorrow should be straightforward enough, so he wasn’t sure why he was feeling apprehensive. But he could usually rely on his gut feeling.
Teal’c opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again as Walter burst into the room without knocking.
“Walter?” Jack boomed, putting his palms on the desk as he stood up to glare at the man who never usually came barging in like this.
“General, sir. Sorry, but I have bad news.”
“No sir. No, it’s the men who kidnapped them. The van was spotted in Colorado Springs earlier this evening and one of our surveillance teams gave chase. Unfortunately, the driver lost control and the van overturned down an embankment outside town. There were four men in the van, but they were all DOA by the time they reached the hospital.”
“All of them?” Jack sat down hard as the shock of what Walter was saying hit him.
“Crap! Any clues to where they’re keeping Charlie and Daniel?”
“No sir. We’ve been over the van thoroughly. There’s nothing. Sorry.”
“We’ll start a full scale search in the morning, General.”
“Yeah, and I’ll go out with them, when the Doc’s got the capsule.”
“Yes sir,” Walter agreed as he turned to walk out of the door.
“That’s it!” Jack yelled. “That’s what was bugging me. Get Doctor Brightman in here – now!”
“Y-Yes sir.” Walter went immediately to the control room to put a call out for the Doctor.
When Doctor Brightman arrived, Jack got straight to the point. “Who knew about the capsule? Apart from you and me, who knew?”
“Only the two nurses who were with me when you came in. Why?”
“Are they still here?”
“No, they went off shift at midnight.”
“Teal’c. Round up Colonel Reed and his team if they’re still on base. Go to the nurses homes and bring them in here.”
“Why do you wish us to do that, O’Neill?”
“I didn’t think to question it before, but the kidnappers knew I had it. But the guy who gave it to me was killed and he had a fake capsule. Even if they figured that out, they couldn't have known where the real one is, unless someone told them.”
“God, General. You’re right,” agreed Brightman. “I’ll get their names and addresses.”
She marched off back to the infirmary, leaving Teal’c and Jack wondering if the nurse knew where they could find Charlie and Daniel.
Charlie and Daniel had not slept much. Their limbs were getting stiff from sitting. They were able to move very slightly in the chair but not much. All they could do was flex their muscles now and again to stop them from seizing up.
They could tell it was now morning by the sun slanting through the high windows.
They’d already drunk half the water in the bottle and Charlie was starting to fidget in his chair.
“Charlie, you okay?”
“Yeah … no. I really need a leak, Daniel. I have for some time but it’s getting painful now. When d’you think they’ll be back?”
“I don’t know. Looking at the rays coming through the window, I’d say it’s mid-morning. They should have been here by now.”
“I hope they’ll be here soon. I can’t hold on much longer.”
“Don’t be in pain, Charlie. Do it. Let it go. You can cause damage to your body if you hold it.”
“Yeahsure. Not gonna happen. Not pissing myself. What’ll Dad say?”
Daniel didn’t answer. He sat quietly in his chair. Charlie looked across at him to see a dark wet stain spreading across his pants. Then he heard the urine dripping on the floor.
“Now do it. If I can, you can.”
Charlie did as he was instructed and breathed a heavy sigh of relief when he’d finished.
“Yeah. Much. Sorry.”
“Forcing you to pee yourself just to make a point.”
“There was no forcing, Charlie. I needed it as much as you did. We’re in this together and we’ll get through it together. If you need to do … er … anything else, don’t hold back. We can clean up when we leave.”
“Okay, but eww!”
They waited and waited, but nobody came. By this time their stomachs were growling. Neither of them had eaten since lunchtime the day before.
Daniel looked at the amount of water they had left. “Charlie, something’s gone wrong. I don’t think they’re coming back. We’d better ration the water.”
“It’s okay. Dad’ll come for us.”
“We don’t know if he knows where we are.”
Charlie looked thoughtful and concerned. “You mean we could die? No food, little water. Add to that our bodies are going to seize up. It doesn’t sound good.”
“No, no it doesn’t, but the body can keep going for several days without water; longer without food. We’re both fit and we can keep flexing our muscles. That should help.”
“You’ve been here many times, haven’t you? I mean in this sort of situation. No need to answer that one. I’m glad you’re with me. You must have survived before.”
“I can’t give details, but yes, you’re right, I have been in similar situations. Your dad will get us out. He’s always got me out, so I’ve no reason to doubt him now.” Daniel’s voice had softened as he spoke Jack’s name.
Daniel smiled as he thought about Jack and how they’d managed to extricate themselves from so many dangerous situations before. Jack’s leadership skills were second to none and they’d saved each other’s lives so many times.
Charlie heard the tenderness in Daniel voice and watched the change in his face as he spoke and thought about Jack. “You… Holy fuck! You love my dad!”
“Oh … um … well, I … er…” Daniel paused as he tried unsuccessfully to find the words to deny the truth. He didn’t want to admit it to Charlie. He was Jack’s son, for fuck’s sake. Can you tell someone you’re in love with their dad? He looked at Charlie who was still waiting for an answer and quickly made up his mind. Charlie had figured it out anyway. And he'd been great about it, too. He wasn't a kid anymore and he deserved the truth. “Yes,” he said quietly. “Yes, I do.”
“God, Daniel, why haven’t you told him? Why did you go with someone else? I know about DADT but surely you could have worked around that?”
“How could I tell him? I believed he was straight, which, technically, he is. Has he been with another man? No, sorry, you can’t answer that, can you? Anyway, why did I go with someone else? Because I had – still have – needs, Charlie. There’s only so much your right hand and sex toys can do for you. I needed the warmth and comfort of someone’s arms around me; someone to touch me, make me feel wanted.” Daniel lapsed into silence. He knew he’d probably said too much already.
After several minutes, Charlie spoke quietly. “He hasn’t. Been with a man. He told me. He’s done some research and watched videos, but that’s all. Yes, we all have needs, Daniel. Even Dad. I think … I think he needs you. All I know is he’s attracted to you and he wants to be with you, but you’ll have to talk to him when we’re home. If you want to, of course.”
“Yes, I do want to and I will. If I can get him to talk to me it’ll be an added bonus. Jack doesn’t do talk very well, does he?”
Charlie chuckled then. “Hah! No, he doesn’t.”
They lapsed into a companionable silence then, both thinking about Jack, but for different reasons.
By the end of the following day, all their water had gone. Daniel knew a body could last for about 4 to 5 days without fluids. He hoped someone would come and rescue them by then. They’d already been here for 2 days without food.
Daniel was worried about Charlie. He knew he hadn’t taken a leak since that morning. It was a bad sign. It meant he was getting dehydrated. He hadn’t managed to pee either, but he’d been in this situation before. Charlie hadn’t.
All he could do was pray that Jack would arrive before it was too late.
“O’Neill, you must rest. You have had no sleep for several days.”
It was early morning and Jack had returned to the SGC to see if anyone had any news. He’d been out day and night looking for leads. Anything that might help him and the other teams to find Charlie and Daniel.
After discovering the nurse involved with the rogue NID didn’t know of the men’s whereabouts, she was taken into custody. Jack would deal with her later. Meanwhile, she could have a taste of their hospitality in the brig.
Teal’c had been waiting outside Jack’s office door, having returned minutes before after yet another unsuccessful night’s search.
“Can’t, T. They’re out there somewhere. We’re the only hope they’ve got. I’ve got to find them.”
“You will be no use to them if you collapse from lack of sleep.”
“Hey, I’m eating and drinking. What more d’ya want?”
“ColonelCarter has returned to the SGC. She has not been apprised of the situation. Do you wish me to tell her? She is on her way here.”
“Fuck! I forgot she didn’t know. I’ll tell her, Teal’c.”
Sam knocked and bounded into Jack’s office, bursting with news about her vacation, but was brought to a halt by the look on Jack and Teal’c’s faces. “Sir, what’s happened?” she exclaimed when she saw Jack’s drawn and gaunt face.
Jack sat her down and explained the situation.
“Oh God, is there no news at all? How long have they been missing?”
“Nothing and it’s now been 4 days. We don’t even know if they’ve got food and water.”
“I’m sorry, sir … Oh! Wait! Follow me!” Sam turned and ran out of the door, Jack and Teal’c hot on her heels.
“WHAT? Wha-at?” Jack yelled as they entered the elevator.
Sam hit the button for Level 19. “I was experimenting with something, Sir, but we haven’t tested it. It might work though,” she said thoughtfully.
By this time they’d reached Level 19, so Jack didn’t have a chance to ask any more questions. He and Teal’c followed Sam into her lab.
She went to her desk, opening drawers and searching for something. “I’m sure it was here somewhere,” she muttered. “Ah, yes, here it is!” She pulled out a small black box.
“A-and, ‘it’ is what, exactly?” asked a very puzzled and frustrated Jack.
“Sir, I placed a tiny locator button in the frame of Daniel’s glasses, but we haven’t turned it on to try it yet. Of course, if he’s lost his glasses …”
“Let’s believe he hasn’t, Carter. How does it work?”
“Well, I’ve got to switch it on, like this, and then his location should come up on the screen.” Carter fiddled with a couple of knobs on the device. “Yes! Yes, he’s … oh! He’s in Grand Junction.”
“What? That’s in the other direction. Are you sure?”
“Yes sir. I’m positive.”
“Gear up; get a medical team and backup. Looks like we’re going to Grand Junction.”
Charlie and Daniel didn’t talk much anymore. They were weak, dehydrated and their bodies were stiff through lack of movement. They both kept drifting in and out of restless sleep.
Charlie had admitted he felt dizzy and light headed and Daniel’s head ached badly.
“Charlie?” Daniel croaked through dry, chapped lips. “You still with me?”
“Yeah,” Charlie replied hoarsely. His throat was sore and raspy and his eyes wouldn’t focus anymore.
“He’ll come.” Daniel trusted Jack. Trusted him with his life. He would come in time; he knew he would.
“Yeah.” Charlie didn’t raise his head. It took too much effort. He didn’t know how much longer he could hold out, but he wouldn’t admit it to Daniel. He still held on to the hope that his dad would rescue them. He trusted him. Probably not as much as Daniel who had been through life and death situations with him, but trusted him as much as a child relies on his father to do the right thing for them.
Suddenly Daniel felt something. It was a short, sharp sensation from one of the arms of his glasses. It made him flinch and gasp, “Ow!”
“Of course! I’d forgotten. Way to go, Sam!”
“You gonna let me in on it?”
“Yes, yes. Sam was experimenting with a mini locator button. She put one in my glasses but we hadn’t had time to test it. I just felt it buzz. They’re going to find us, Charlie.”
Both Charlie and Daniel were excited at the prospect of someone actually coming to release them, but they were too exhausted to let it show.
They both lapsed back into silence, but were soon startled by the deafening sound of crashing and banging. Looking up through weary, half open eyes, they could see the far wall of the warehouse shaking in time to the rhythmic sounds of someone pounding on the door.
The door flew open and they could make out the figures of Jack, Sam and Teal’c followed by other members of the SGC.
Jack ran over to where they were chained, wrapping his arms around Charlie’s neck and hugging him tightly. He was overwhelmed with joy at finding the two men alive. “Charlie,” he murmured as he swallowed the lump in his throat. “You’re okay. I’ve got you.”
He turned his head and looked across at Daniel longingly. He wanted to wrap his arms around him, too, but knew he couldn’t. He reached out with one hand, clamping it on Daniel’s shoulder. As Daniel caught his eye, he whispered, “You okay?” He hoped Daniel would sense the intense relief he was feeling.
Daniel nodded; managing a small smile as he felt Jack’s fingers squeeze his shoulder. Yes, he was okay – now.
“Someone get some bolt cutters in here,” Jack yelled to nobody in particular. “Then the medical team and some water.”
As he straightened, Jack looked from one man to the other. They were both alive but he could see they weren’t in good shape. Hungry, thirsty, tired and … smelly.
Jack had rescued men from situations where the smell had been worse than this, so he knew better than to say anything. Charlie, however, knew exactly what his dad was thinking.
“Sorry, Dad,” he croaked as he flashed a quick look at Daniel. “No bathroom.” A ghost of a smile spread across his lips and Jack hugged him again, while one of the guys cut the chains.
Doctor Brightman had accompanied the medical team and was allowing both men small sips of water. “Not too much. Just little and often. Don’t try and move. I need to check you out first.”
After their release, Charlie and Daniel were carried on stretchers to the waiting ambulance to be taken to the infirmary at the SGC.
(Couple of sentences removed here.)
When Jack arrived shortly after in the infirmary, it was to find Charlie and Daniel in neighboring beds. They’d been stripped and washed and were now dressed in very fetching hospital gowns. Both were holding large glasses of water which, apparently, they’d been instructed to drink slowly.
Jack pulled a chair up to the side of Charlie’s bed. From this position he could also see Daniel.
“So, how you doing?” He looked from Charlie to Daniel and back again.
“I’m fine,” said Daniel, which is no more than Jack expected. If Daniel had been dying, he’d have said that.
“I’m okay, Dad. A bit weak, but Doctor Brightman brought someone in to massage the knots out of our bodies. It feels a lot better now.”
Jack looked across at Daniel who nodded in agreement. Daniel was feeling much better. Still thirsty and hungry, but he could move his limbs now and, most importantly, he was clean and smelled a lot fresher.
A nurse entered carrying sandwiches.
“Is that it?” Charlie asked. “Four days and all we get is a sandwich?”
“Hey! Be thankful it’s not chicken soup. You really wouldn’t like that. Anyway, I think you’ve got to build up to a meal slowly.”
Charlie bit into his sandwich with delight, but found, to his dismay, that although he’d thought he was really hungry, he couldn’t eat it all.
“Dad, Sam told us what happened. You look dreadful. You haven’t slept, have you?”
“How the hell could I sleep when my son could’ve been dying out there?” Jack snapped irritably. He regretted it instantly, but he was tired; very tired. “Sorry, son.”
“And Daniel. Daniel could’ve been dying too,” Charlie added quietly as he shrugged off his Dad’s prickliness.
Jack looked at Daniel. “Yes, and Daniel,” he said softer now as he stared deep into Daniel’s eyes searching for answers to unasked questions. Moments passed by, then minutes.
“Dad? Daniel?” Charlie’s voice brought both men out of their trancelike state.
“What?” Jack said.
“Yes?” Daniel replied.
“You want me to leave?” Charlie chuckled. He knew he couldn’t leave, even if he wanted to.
He’d been looking from one man to the other, trying to work out what was going on between them. Unspoken thoughts were passing from one to the other and Charlie wondered if they were always like this or if it was their newfound knowledge of each other’s desires.
Jack grinned; that wonderful lopsided grin that Daniel had come to know and love. Charlie returned the grin and Daniel’s breath hitched as he realized it was identical to his father’s.
Footsteps in the corridor heralded the arrival of Doctor Brightman.
“General? I thought I told you to go home and get some sleep?”
“C’mon, Doc. I had to check they were okay first.”
“You’ve checked. They’re okay. Go home. Come back later when you feel more refreshed. You all need sleep.”
Several hours later, Jack returned to the SGC, feeling a little more his old self. He’d managed a few hours’ sleep, fixed himself a meal and freshened up.
Although Daniel and Charlie looked a lot better, having had sleep, a meal and plenty of liquid, Brightman wanted to keep them in the infirmary overnight for observation.
Jack spent the next couple of hours talking to the two men, then explained he’d been summoned to Washington to meet with the President the following day and wouldn’t be back until around 1600 hours.
Apparently that had fitted in with Brightman’s plans exactly as she hadn’t been prepared to let them home before that time anyway.
As it was a very early flight, Jack wished Charlie and Daniel goodnight and headed home for a few more hours sleep.
When he entered the infirmary the following afternoon, Jack found Charlie and Daniel sitting on the edge of one of the beds waiting for him.
Daniel had been to the locker room for his clothes and had found Charlie some BDUs to wear.
“How you doing?” Jack asked as he looked from one to the other.
“Fine,” they both replied in unison, making Jack groan.
Daniel stood up and walked towards the door. “See you later.”
“Daniel? I thought you’d come home with us.”
“No, Jack, not tonight. I need my own space. Will you be at home tomorrow? If so, I’ll come over.” Daniel looked deeply into Jack’s eyes as he continued. “We need to talk.”
Jack tore his eyes away from Daniel’s gaze. “Yeahsure! I’ll clear it with Walter. You okay to drive?”
“Of course. Oh … by the way, what did the President want? Can you tell me?”
“Er … yeah.” Jack cut a quick look towards Charlie. “Tomorrow. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll see you then. Bye, Charlie!”
“Bye, Daniel. See you around. Thanks for … well … everything.”
“You’re welcome. Bye, Jack.” Daniel waved and disappeared out of the door.
“Just you and me, kiddo. Let’s go see Walter, then we can go home.”
Later that evening Jack and Charlie were relaxing in the living room; Jack in his favorite chair and Charlie lying on the couch.
They hadn’t talked much about what had happened over the last four days. Jack had ordered pizza for them both, as he hadn’t had time to prepare anything, and was ensuring Charlie was drinking plenty of mineral water.
“Sure you want to go to college tomorrow?” Jack asked.
“Yeah. I’m fine, Dad. I’ve missed too much already. I really need to go back.”
“And you’re sure you feel okay?”
“Thanks to Daniel. I don’t think I could have got through it if it hadn’t been for him. For a geek,” he grinned mischievously remembering what Jack used to call his best friend years ago, “he’s one helluva guy. He encouraged me to keep going. I don’t know what’s happened in the past, but obviously you’ve made quite an impression. He trusts you with his life. He knew you’d come.”
“Yeah, well …”
“I know you’ve fed me a load of crap all these years, but I understand why. I know more than you think I do.”
Jack looked Charlie squarely in the face. “Sorry, son. Like me, you know more than you let on. I should’ve known you’d be a chip off the old block.” He gave Charlie a lop-sided grin.
“One of the guys called me that.”
“Fuck, Charlie. What did you do?”
“He called Daniel Doctor Jackson, so I told him to call me Mr. O’Neill.”
“You smart mouthed him?” Jack asked incredulously. “He’d chained you up, had a knife; possibly a gun, and you smart mouthed him?”
“Yep!” Charlie confirmed with a grin. “You’ve taught me well, Dad.”
“Too well, it seems.” Jack said with a self-satisfied grin.
“Dad? About Daniel.”
“Daniel? What happened? What’s he not told me?”
“Nothing. Well, nothing about the kidnapping anyway. It’s just … just …” Charlie blew out a large breath. “I don’t know if I should tell you, but … but—“
“C’mon. Spill,” Jack said impatiently.
“He … he loves you.”
“He … WHAT? Aw, c’mon Charlie. Don’t f … mess me around. He doesn’t … he can’t …”
“He does. He admitted it to me. We talked a lot while we were in that warehouse. Not much else to do. He thought because you were straight, you were unavailable, so he never said anything.”
“Well, of all the stupid—!”
“Dad! You did the same. You knew how you felt about him, but you didn’t do anything about it. So don’t have a go at Daniel because he did the same!”
“Oy! Are you his advocate now?”
“Yeah, I guess. I got to know him pretty well over the last few days.”
“Sounds like it. Look, not wanting to be the heavy handed father here, but I think it’s time we got some sleep.”
“Sure! You’re right, but …”
“Do you think Daniel’s really okay? Should we call him?”
“We? You mean me? Yeah, I’ll call. You get to bed.”
Charlie gave his dad a hug, wished him goodnight and went to his room, leaving Jack alone with his thoughts.
He picked up his cell phone and called Daniel. It rang a couple of times before Daniel picked it up.
“Daniel? You okay? Did I wake you?”
“Er … no. No, I was … um … reading,” Daniel lied. If Jack had called earlier, it wouldn’t have been a lie, but Daniel was so tired he’d fallen asleep on the couch with a book still in his hands. He wasn’t going to admit it though. Not even to Jack.
“So! You’re okay then?”
“Yes, Jack. I’m fine.”
“Sweet! Charlie was worried.”
“Oh! He was?” Daniel asked, then more tentatively, “And you, Jack? Were you worried?”
“What sort of a question is that?” Jack snapped. “Of course I was worried. I’ve spent the last 8 years fucking worrying about you. You think I’m gonna stop now?”
“Oh … er … oh, sorry, I didn’t mean … oh, shit … Jack, I—“
“Daniel! Stop! Stop apologizing. It’s not your fault. I’m so tired. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to snap!”
“Oh, Jack! Get some sleep. We’ll sort it out tomorrow. I’ll have to go to the store first for some groceries. I’ll come over later.”
“Yeahsureyabetcha! No more reading. Get some sleep yourself.”
“Yes, Dad,” Daniel chuckled.
“Hey, not so much of the dad! Goodnight, Daniel.”
Jack ended the call and sat staring at the phone. He knew he’d have to do some talking the next day, so he’d need to have all his wits about him. Talking to Daniel was difficult at the best of times, but this time it was going to be about sex and relationships. He knew he’d have to do it, but that didn’t make it any easier.
Jack walked around the house checking the windows and doors, then wearily climbed the stairs to his bedroom.
He hesitated by his bedroom door, then turned to walk down the hallway, past the master bathroom to Charlie’s room. As it was Charlie who’d suggested calling Daniel, Jack had better tell him Daniel was okay. He stood by the door and raised his hand to knock. Then he stopped. He could hear the gentle rhythmic snoring coming from inside the room. He smiled and returned to his own room.
He’d had a shower earlier when he’d brought Charlie home, so he undressed and fell into bed, falling asleep almost immediately.
Daniel had also sat staring at the phone. Jack’s outburst had shocked him. He understood that tiredness had caused it, but it was what he’d said. He’d always worried about him? Yet, he hadn’t always shown it. In fact, sometimes Daniel had thought Jack didn’t care at all. Jack’s sudden outpourings proved him wrong.
He’d been wrong about a lot of things concerning Jack over the years. Especially, it seems, about his sexuality. They had a lot to discuss. That was, of course, if Daniel could make Jack talk. That fact alone had proved difficult in the past. Jack was a man of few words – why use many, when one would do!
Daniel sighed, put his book on the table and wandered through to the bedroom. He undressed and climbed into bed. Despite being exhausted and falling asleep over his book earlier, Daniel wasn’t expecting to sleep. So much had happened over the last few days. So many thoughts going through his head.
So, it was with great surprise that the next time he looked at the clock on the nightstand, it was 7am.
Daniel stretched, feeling much more refreshed after such a good night’s sleep. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a solid eight hours sleep.
He padded through to his small kitchen to load and start the coffee machine. He might not have much food in the house, but at least he had his favorite coffee. While he was waiting, he had a shower and shaved.
He went back into the bedroom, choosing what to wear carefully. He was going to talk to Jack about a relationship, so he wanted to look especially good.
It was going to be warm today, so he chose a pair of cream colored cotton chinos and his favorite pale blue short sleeved button down shirt. After checking in the mirror and being satisfied with how he looked, he wandered into the kitchen to pour a mug of steaming coffee.
He was nervous; a feeling that hadn’t made itself known for some time now. As the years had gone by, he’d grown much more confident in everything he did. The nervousness he’d felt back at the beginning had faded into the background.
He knew he should eat something but he wasn’t sure it would stay down. He gave in and toasted a piece of bread and spread it liberally with butter, and then took it and the coffee to sit at the small table by the window.
Two more mugs of coffee later, Daniel rinsed the mug and set off to the store for some groceries.
By the time he’d returned and put the groceries away in the fridge and cupboards, it was 9:30am. Too early to go to Jack’s house. He’d been intending to go later that morning or even, early afternoon. He didn’t want to appear too keen. Although that’s what he was.
He’d wanted Jack for so many years and now, it seemed, it was actually going to happen. All his dreams were going to come true.
He paced up and down his living room for a few minutes before coming to the decision that he couldn’t wait any longer.
He locked the apartment, jumped in his car and set off for Jack’s house.
Jack had slept well. He’d woken early and taken a shower in his own bathroom. Well, there was actually no bath, but there was a shower, sink and toilet.
It had been a small spare room where Sara had kept all sorts of things she couldn’t find room for anywhere else. It was too small to be used as a bedroom. A couple of years after Sara had died, Jack had cleared it out, knocked through to the master bedroom and converted it into a small bathroom for him to use.
As Charlie had grown it had been a godsend. Two men in the same house, trying to get ready at the same time would have been chaotic if it hadn’t been for the two bathrooms. Jack had never known anyone spend so much time in there as Charlie had since he’d been in his teens.
Jack had dressed in brown cotton chinos, teaming them with his favorite peridot colored shirt. He knew the color suited him and hoped Daniel would notice that he’d taken that much care for him.
He made coffee and called Charlie, checking first if he still intended going to college. Charlie confirmed he was and Jack heard him go into the master bathroom.
Jack had finished his second bowl of Froot Loops when he heard the shower switch off. Soon after he heard Charlie return to his room.
Jack knew the routine by heart. Charlie would now dress before checking he had everything he needed in his bag. Books, course work, cell phone, keys. Then he would come downstairs where Jack would have a mug of coffee and a couple of pieces of toast ready for him. If he was on time, he’d sit and have his breakfast with Jack. If not, he’d drink most of the coffee and run out of the house with the toast in his hand.
Jack waited … And waited …
Then, as Jack had expected …
“Dad! Dad!” Charlie’s feet thundered down the stairs. “My car! I forgot my car!”
Jack had been expecting this. As soon as Charlie couldn’t find his keys, he’d remember he’d taken his car in to be fixed.
Jack grinned. “It’s in the garage. Tom collected it.” He dangled the keys on his finger.
“Is it okay?”
“What? Oh, yeah, I guess. I let him use it to visit his friends in Albuquerque. It’ll be fine when we knock the dents out. The deep scratch down the side might be difficult though.” Jack shrugged, looking sadly at Charlie.
“Dad! My car! You let Tom borrow it? You know I love that car. I would never let anyone drive it. What the hell happened? Da-ad! I can’t believe you … you’d …” Charlie’s voice trailed off as he noticed a slight twitch at the corner of Jack’s mouth and a wicked glint in his eyes. “Dad! You bastard! Is the car okay?”
By this time, Jack was laughing heartily. “Oh son, you should have seen your face. Yes, the car’s fine. Tom brought it back and it’s been in the garage since then.”
Charlie approached Jack with his arms outstretched and his hands cupped as if to put them around Jack’s throat and strangle him. Jack was about to fend off the attack when Charlie widened his arms, wrapping them around his father to give him a hug. “You’re still a bastard,” he whispered in Jack’s ear.
“Hey! Your grandpa would turn in his grave if he heard that!”
Charlie released Jack, turning his attention to his toast and coffee, then, picking up his keys, said goodbye to Jack and went out of the house.
As Jack cleared the dishes, he heard Charlie start his car’s engine and drive out of the garage. Then he heard the garage door close as Charlie was driving away.
Jack loaded the dishwasher, locked the house and jumped in his truck for a trip to the local store to stock up on provisions.
After returning to the house and putting the groceries away, he tidied the house and sat in his favorite chair to read the paper.
He didn’t know when Daniel would turn up, as they hadn’t arranged a time. He knew Daniel had to go out for fresh provisions, so he assumed it would be late morning or early afternoon.
Jack started to turn the pages of his paper, but his mind was elsewhere. He couldn’t concentrate on reading.
Daniel was coming here – to his house to talk about sex. Not any old sex, but sex between two guys. This guy, and … Daniel.
Crap! Could he do this? He had no experience; no real knowledge he could fall back on. Just feelings. They were strong feelings though. What if he tried it and he didn’t like it? Well, he could tell Daniel and they wouldn’t do it again. It was that simple.
Or was it? No. Daniel would be hurt. He’d be building up Daniel’s hopes only to smash them down again. He couldn’t do that to him. He cared – a lot.
So, what now? He’d talk it over with Daniel. Tell him how he felt before anything happened Jack might regret. They had all afternoon to talk and it wasn’t as if they were going to fall into bed straight away, was it?
It was at that moment that Jack heard the knock at the front door. He checked his watch. 1000 hours. Too early for Daniel. He sauntered over to the door and opened it.
“Hi Jack.” Daniel lowered his head but looked up at Jack through his eyelashes with a shy smile on his face. “I’m early.”
“Yes. Yes, you are.” Jack loved that look from Daniel, although the shy act didn’t do it for him anymore. Daniel was far from shy now.
Daniel’s blue eyes were shining as he caught Jack’s gaze and the two men stood there looking at each other for several minutes. It was as though time had stood still for both of them.
“Um …” Daniel finally broke the silence. “Can I come in?”
“Oh … er … yeahsure.” Jack opened the door wider and stood back to let Daniel pass him.
Jack assumed Daniel would continue into the living room, so he staggered in surprise when, after he’d closed the door, he turned and came face to face with his friend.
He was even more surprised when Daniel pushed him against the door and kissed him. He pulled away briefly. “What the f—?” he started to say before Daniel leaned his whole body against Jack’s and kissed him again.
Jack stood there, arms hanging down by his side, not knowing what to do. Daniel was kissing him. Should he freak out and push him away? Probably. But wasn’t this what he’d wanted? So what should he do? Well, he could stop analyzing the situation and do something about it.
Yep! Let’s think about what’s happening here. There’s something weird about kissing a guy. It’s not like kissing a woman. Well, that much is obvious, O’Neill. It’s Daniel and he’s a man. He’s got great lips. Soft, yet firm. Warm and moist.
“Mmm,” Jack murmured as he started responding to Daniel’s kiss.
Daniel was gripping Jack’s biceps to hold him against the door, but relaxed his grip when he heard Jack’s murmur and felt his response. He’d been holding his breath, wondering if Jack would push him away, but now he was able to start breathing again.
Daniel released Jack’s arms and eased back a little; just enough to be able to reach around and cup the back of Jack’s head with one hand and stroke his shoulders and back with the other.
Apart from his lips now moving against Daniel’s, Jack still hadn’t moved.
Daniel waited patiently. He didn’t want Jack to feel uncomfortable in any way.
Suddenly Jack’s arms wrapped around him and Daniel was being pulled in closer. Yes! This was what he’d been waiting for. If kissing had freaked Jack out, there would be no point going any further, but this was a good sign.
Daniel gently probed Jack’s lips and was immediately allowed entry. He was trying not to go too fast, too soon, but it was Jack who suddenly took the lead, when he thrust his tongue almost down Daniel’s throat, returning his kisses passionately.
Jack had been holding back, waiting to see what Daniel was going to do, but when he felt Daniel’s tongue in his mouth, the barriers inside him melted away. He couldn’t remember why he’d doubted it, but he knew for sure in that precise moment that he wanted this man. Needed him in his life.
Jack pulled Daniel even closer and thrust his tongue into Daniel’s mouth. It was soft and warm and wet and he wanted the kiss to go on forever.
Jack was totally lost now. He couldn’t think anymore. The sensation of pleasure was tingling all through him; his cock was filling and a euphoric feeling flooded his mind. He felt he was floating in midair, yet he knew he wasn’t because he could feel his legs slowly starting to buckle underneath him. If it hadn’t been for Daniel’s grip around his upper body he was sure he’d collapse on the floor.
Daniel opened his eyes as he swirled his tongue around Jack’s. Jack’s eyes were closed, he was breathing harder now and there was a look of ecstasy on his face.
Daniel’s intention had been to kiss Jack when he arrived; simply to judge his reaction. Then they’d have that talk to decide if and where they were going to take the relationship.
He’d hoped Jack would be okay with the kiss, but he certainly hadn’t expected this. His head was telling him he should stop immediately so they could have that talk, but his heart had other ideas. He’d waited so long for this, he couldn’t stop now. He was fully aroused and he could feel Jack’s hardness pressing against him.
Daniel dropped his arms, pulling back just enough to be able to insert his hands between their bodies. Still reaming out Jack’s mouth with his tongue, he quickly unfastened Jack’s belt and pants, plunging his hands inside both pants and boxers and pushing them down as far as he could reach.
Daniel felt Jack trying to back off; heard him trying to protest, but he kissed him harder as he grasped Jack’s rigid dick. Now Jack’s whole demeanor changed. He started moaning into Daniel’s mouth, his breathing getting harder and faster as he stroked Daniel’s shoulders, back and ass. This was the moment Daniel had been waiting for. Jack was so ready for this.
Daniel pulled away from Jack, dropping to his knees as he put one hand on Jack’s ass to ease him in close.
“Daniel?” Jack panted. “Wha … Whatcha … doing?” It was a rhetorical question because he knew damned well what Daniel was doing. Jack was powerless to resist.
Jack watched as Daniel grasped the base of his dick in one hand and ran his tongue up the underside from base to tip. Jack shuddered with pleasure.
He saw Daniel lick his lips with relish to moisten them, then he took the head of Jack’s dick gently into his mouth. Holding the head gently between his lips he swirled his tongue around the swollen glans. Jack held his breath as he watched and waited.
Daniels next action nearly finished Jack altogether. He took his lips away from Jack’s cock and blew gently across it, then he flicked the frenulum with his tongue.
Jack swiftly exhaled the breath he’d been holding, closed his eyes tightly and fisted Daniel’s hair as he tried to keep his balance on shaking legs.
Everything was starting to feel like a dream now. Jack’s head was spinning as he tried to make sense of what he was feeling.
Just as he thought everything was becoming clear, Daniel did something that wiped every coherent thought out of his head.
Jack felt Daniel’s warm, moist mouth close around his cock. Not just the head now; his whole cock. He’d had women suck him in the past, but it had felt nothing like this. They had taken the head in their mouths and sucked and sucked until Jack had come.
What Daniel was doing was so different from what he’d experienced before. He took Jack’s whole cock into his mouth, then pulled back and took just a little inside, changing the speed and pressure each time. His tongue was everywhere; swirling, licking, flicking, consuming.
Jack was overwhelmed with sensations throughout his whole body. His cock was so hard and throbbing, he was nearly going out of his mind with the want of release. Yet every time he was getting closer, Daniel seemed to know and he eased off, leaving Jack wanting more.
Jack’s hands were still fisted in Daniel’s hair, but he released them when Daniel probed his slit with the tip of his tongue. He cried out, slamming the palms of his hands flat against the door and throwing his head back so hard, it hit the door with a loud thud.
Jack was struggling to breathe. Feelings and sensations of pleasure were overwhelming him. Some of them were familiar. After all, he hadn’t been celibate since Sara had gone, even when he hadn’t been dating. His right hand had stood him in good stead during all those years. However, although they were familiar feelings, they had never been this strong and he’d never felt them throughout his whole body.
All Jack’s senses were being stimulated; arousing and exciting him. He couldn’t have stopped Daniel now, even if he’d wanted to.
Daniel didn’t stop. Now, as well as using his mouth and tongue he was twisting Jack’s cock with his hand.
Jack was desperate with need. His eyes were screwed tightly closed. He couldn’t think of anything else. He was in the moment; this moment. Wanting, needing, loving what Daniel was doing to him; how he was making him feel.
Daniel must have sensed Jack’s need, because his pace quickened and this time he didn’t hold back. In fact, this time when he took Jack’s cock into his mouth, he opened his throat and swallowed it.
Jack felt Daniel’s hot throat close over his cock and that was enough. He’d already sensed the orgasm building slowly, but now he felt as if he was going to explode.
If his thought processes hadn’t been so nonexistent, Jack might have stopped Daniel here, or at least made an effort to push him off, but he couldn’t. He wasn’t sure yet about swallowing semen, but it seemed Daniel didn’t have such reservations.
As lights flashed behind his eyelids, Jack’s body convulsed with the orgasm and he heard himself yell Daniel’s name. Seconds later he felt his throbbing cock pumping into Daniel’s mouth.
Jack wasn’t sure what happened next. He didn’t pass out because he was aware of his surroundings, but everything became a blur. He must have tried to pull away from Daniel, because he could vaguely remember feeling Daniel’s hands grabbing his ass and holding him.
He could still feel stimulation on his cock, even though he could tell Daniel wasn’t sucking it. Then he realized Daniel was just holding it in his mouth, gently lavishing it with his tongue.
Just as Jack felt he couldn’t take anymore, Daniel slid his mouth off, leaving Jack feeling empty and bereft.
Jack’s body shuddered, his legs started to feel like Jell-O and he started sliding down the door. He felt strong arms holding him up, heard a faraway voice urging him to walk to the couch, then felt the softness of the cushions beneath him. He forced his eyes open to see Daniel walking away, but he couldn’t move; couldn’t stop him. Was Daniel walking out on him? Had it been that bad? No, surely not. Not Daniel. He wouldn’t do that.
Moments later Daniel returned carrying a glass of cold water. He sat down on the couch next to Jack, holding the glass to his lips, telling him to drink.
Jack drank some of the water and slowly his body started to respond. He tried to smile at Daniel; to let him know he was okay, but he wasn’t sure it actually materialized.
“Jack?” Daniel asked, concern wrinkling his brow, “Are you okay?”
“Fuck! You scared the life out of me. I thought you were going to collapse.”
“No, it was … I was … oh, crap!”
“Well, no one ever nearly passed out from being blown by me before. I take it that's a good thing?”
“Yes! It’s just … I’ve … holy shit, Daniel, where'd you learn this stuff? I’ve never been sucked like that.
Daniel smiled shyly. “Well, you’ve never had me do it before, have you?”
“Oh my, aren’t we the cocky one?” Jack stated with a grin.
Daniel looked serious for a moment. “No, not cocky, Jack, but I do know I give a fucking good blowjob!”
“Yeah, about that …”
“Jack, we really need to talk. Are you okay to do that?”
“Okay. Look, I know you’ve got your promotion and I know you don’t want to retire yet, so if we want a relationship, we’ll have to keep it under wraps. The decision has to be yours, Jack, because it won’t affect my job. If you agree to a relationship we’ll have to have some rules. If you don’t want it, we’ll call it a day and go back to how we were. I don’t want this to ruin our friendship. Do you understand?”
“Of course I understand, Daniel. I’m not that dumb, yanno? I realize we’ll have to keep it quiet so conditions will have to be set. Charlie would have to know, but he can be trusted not to say anything.” Jack paused as he saw the look of expectation on Daniel’s face. “You want it laid out for you, then yes, I want a relationship – with you, but only with you. Do you understand?” Jack looked sternly at Daniel.
Daniel knew immediately what Jack was saying. “Yes, I do. If you agree to this, then Joe will be no more. He’s always known there was someone else I wanted to be with and that he might not be needed sometime in the future—“
“He knew? About me?”
“Yes … no … not exactly. He knew about you but not who you were. He won’t be a problem. So-o, is that a yes?”
“After that blowjob, how could it be a no?”
“So, what now, Jack?”
“I’ll need some guidance.”
“I was hoping you were taking notes.”
“Some. Until you blew my mind.”
“Oh, I thought I was—“
“Yeah, there’s that as well.”
“Thought you’d never ask.”
Jack pushed to his feet holding out a hand for Daniel. Daniel stared for a moment but then took it and let Jack lead the way to the bedroom.
“Oh! New bed?” Daniel had stayed at the house many times in the guest room, but he’d seen Jack’s old iron bed. This one was a king sized bed with an intricately carved headboard.
“Yeah! The other one was old and the mattress was getting a bit lumpy, so with my aching bones an’ all, I thought—”
“Shut up, Jack.” Daniel grabbed Jack and kissed him. While he’d been giving head to Jack, he’d been very aroused, almost to the point of bursting, but when Jack had almost collapsed, he’d gone soft. As they’d been talking in the living room, he’d felt the first stirrings again and since seeing the beautiful new bed with the thought of actually being in it with Jack, he was hard.
“Daniel?” Jack pulled away briefly as he felt hands pulling at his clothes, but gave into another kiss from Daniel’s hot, moist lips.
Soon, he was tugging at Daniel’s clothes until they were both naked and lying on the bed.
After more kissing, Jack took the time to explore the naked body lying under him. Using his hands, his tongue and his lips he forged a path down Daniel’s throat, across his chest and on to his nipples. He soon realized he’d found one of Daniel’s special places as he licked and sucked the swollen nubs one by one. Daniel was arching off the bed, his head thrown back, his eyes closed and low, husky moans escaping from his lips.
Jack trailed his hand down over Daniel’s belly, suddenly becoming aware that Daniel must shave, because there was no sign of any hair leading to, or surrounding his cock and balls.
He cupped and caressed Daniel’s sac, comparing the feel of it to his own, then did the same with his cock; conscious of the moans of pleasure coming from Daniel. All this time, he’d still been sucking Daniel’s nipples, but now he ran the flat of his tongue down Daniel’s body, finally coming to rest at the base of his cock.
“Jack?” Daniel panted breathlessly. “You don’t have to …”
Jack gave him a grin, saying “Oh yes, I do,” before taking the head of Daniel’s cock into his mouth.
“Oh!” exclaimed Daniel. “Yes!”
Jack tried to emulate the actions that Daniel had done to him. He was quite proud of himself as Daniel only had to guide him a couple of times; once when he was going too fast and then again when he accidentally caught Daniel with his teeth. Other than that, Daniel’s cries of “Yes”, “That’s it” and “More” encouraged Jack to gain confidence in what he was doing.
Jack had never done this with a guy before, so it came as a complete surprise to him that he was really enjoying it. Enjoying was actually an understatement. Jack was loving it. The pleasure he felt as Daniel’s dick slipped in and out of his mouth; the taste as the pre-cum leaked freely from the thick, full cock and the sound of Daniel’s moans and panting were all driving him on towards another orgasm. He could feel it starting to spread throughout his body and he knew he was getting very close.
By this time both men were breathing hard and moaning; the beads of sweat forming on their bodies and dripping from Jack’s face.
All at once, Daniel’s moans changed and his body arched and tightened. Jack knew the signs. Daniel was about to come.
Jack wasn’t ready to swallow it. Not yet. But he did want to watch as Daniel came. He slid his mouth off Daniel’s cock and then held it with two fingers and a thumb. Then he walked up the bed on his knees between Daniel’s legs, pushing them further apart as he neared Daniel’s groin. Taking his own cock in his other hand he slowly stroked both their cocks.
Jack watched as Daniel’s body convulsed and tightened with the beginning of the orgasm; a look of complete ecstasy crossing his face.
Daniel’s body shook three, maybe four times before he came. Jack watched in awe as the thick, viscous liquid started to spurt further and further up Daniel’s body. Thick globules of come settled on Daniel’s belly and chest; some even landing on his face. Still he kept coming and Jack was shocked to see the last spurt shoot over his head and spatter on Jack’s new headboard.
Jack looked back down at Daniel. He looked beautiful lying there; his body was still shuddering, his skin was flushed and the beads of sweat were glistening on his hot, glowing body. The sight of Daniel made Jack’s own body convulse with a second orgasm he didn’t know he had in him, and he ejaculated; most of it also landing on Daniel.
Jack fell exhausted onto the bed next to Daniel.
After a few minutes, Jack slid off the bed and walked into his bathroom to wash his hands and wipe the sweat off his own body. That done, he took a washcloth and towel back into the bedroom.
He climbed on the bed with the intention to gently wipe Daniel clean, but put that job on hold for a while. Daniel’s eyes were closed and he looked so calm and peaceful as he lay there, so, despite the fact that he was spattered with come, Jack leaned over to kiss him first.
Daniel responded immediately when Jack took the kiss deeper and more passionate, but his eyes flew open when Jack stopped the kiss abruptly.
A wicked glint in Jack’s eyes had Daniel frowning. Jack leaned in again but this time he tentatively licked the come off Daniel’s face.
Daniel raised his eyebrows in surprise as Jack licked his lips savoring the taste, before continuing to clean the remainder with his tongue.
“Mmm,” Jack murmured. “Next time, I’ll … um … you know …”
Daniel smiled. “You don’t have to. One step at a time.” He hadn’t been surprised when Jack had finished him off by hand. Many guys, even gay ones, were wary about swallowing the first time. He needed to ensure Jack didn’t think he had to do it for Daniel.
“I know.” Jack grinned. “I want to.” He nodded at Daniel to let him know that it was okay; that he really wanted to do it, then he proceeded to wash and dry Daniel’s body.
As he wiped the come from the headboard, he muttered, jokily, “You were a crap shot when we first met. I see you’ve improved over the years.”
“Yeah, well, I had to, didn’t I?” Daniel replied sadly. He was referring to the fact that because of the Goa’uld and the Ori he’d had to learn to use a weapon. Something he hadn’t been comfortable with at the start.
“Aww, crap.” Jack said as he slid down next to Daniel. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean …” He wondered if Daniel was thinking about Sha’re and how he’d had to learn to fight to try and bring her back.
“No. No, Jack. It’s okay. I’m fine. Still a bit tired, I guess.”
“Hey, great idea. Sleep’s good. C’mere!”
Jack wrapped his arms around Daniel and pulled him close. Daniel laid his head on Jack’s chest and soon both men had fallen asleep.
A buzzing noise echoed around the bedroom, pulling Jack out of sleep. He tried to figure out what it was and then realized it was coming from the opposite side of the bed.
“Daniel?” He shook Daniel’s shoulders. “Is that your cell?”
“What? Oh! Oh, yeah, sorry. I forgot to turn it off.” Daniel didn’t move.
“So? D’you think you’d better answer it?” Jack blew out an impatient breath. He’d remembered to turn his cell and the house phone off so they wouldn’t be disturbed. He was a little irritated that Daniel hadn’t thought to do the same.
“Oh! Yeah.” Daniel leaned over the side of the bed and retrieved his cell phone from his pants pocket.
He pushed a button as he held it to his ear. “Daniel Jackson.”
“Oh, hey, Charlie. Er … yeah, I’m fine. How are you?”
Jack was frowning at Daniel, mouthing “Charlie?” Daniel put the phone on speaker so Jack could hear.
“Great! Um … you said you were going to talk to my dad today. Can you do something for me, please?”
“Yeah, sure. What’s up?” Daniel noticed Jack about to open his mouth, but signaled at him to stay quiet.
“Well, I’ve tried to call him but his cell and the home phone are off. Could you tell him I’m going to be late home tonight? Real late.”
Jack was looking indignant and mouthing again. “Why?”
“Um … yes, of course. He’ll … um … want to know why.”
“Oh yeah. Of course he will, even though I’m old enough to look after myself.” Jack pulled a face and glared at the phone, but he remained silent. “There’s a girl I’ve wanted to date for months. I’ve asked her before but she turned me down. This time she accepted. We’re going to the movies and then for something to eat.
“Oh, okay. I’ll let your dad know, Charlie.” Daniel glanced at Jack who nodded that he was okay with the date.
“You’ll tell him how you feel, won’t you? He’ll not say anything to you.”
“Yeah, don’t worry. He’ll know how I feel.” A wicked grin spread across Jack’s face as he moved in closer, leaning in to nuzzle Daniel’s neck.
“You know how stubborn he can be and I’d like to see you two together.”
“Me too. Um …” Jack was now nibbling the sensitive area behind Daniel’s ear. “Um … oh god … sorry. It’ll be okay, Charlie.
“Daniel? Are you okay? You sound … oh crap! Are you with my dad now?”
“Can he hear me?”
“Crap! Er …” Charlie went quiet.
There was still silence on the other end of the phone. Jack stopped nibbling, wondering what was happening. Then they heard Charlie’s voice again.
“So, you like my dad’s new bed then, Daniel?”
“Yeah, it’s gr—“ Daniel stopped abruptly as he realized what he’d nearly admitted, but it was too late. Both he and Jack could hear Charlie’s chuckling turning to laughter through the speaker.
“S-s-sorry,” he laughed. “I couldn’t resist it. I th-think I’d better g-go now before I get g-grounded. S-s-sorry, Dad. S-s-sorry, Daniel.” Charlie couldn’t stop chuckling. “I g-guess I’ll see you b-both at breakfast.”
Charlie’s laughter was infectious. Jack and Daniel were finding it difficult not to join in with him.
Jack took a deep breath and in a serious voice said, “Charlie O’Neill. You just make sure you’re here for breakfast or you will be grounded.”
“Yes, Dad. Of course.” Charlie now sounded serious too. “I love you, Dad.”
“I love you too, Charlie.” Jack replied. Jack wasn’t sure who was more shocked; him for saying the words or Charlie for hearing them.
Moments of stunned silence passed, then Charlie spoke again, “Um … oh, er …don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, will ya’? Have fun. Bye.” The phone went dead.
“Why, the cheeky little ba—“
“Be careful what you call him, Jack. He’s his father’s son. That became all too clear when we were held captive. He’s like you in so many ways, but he has his own personality. I appreciated the time we spent together so I could get to know him better. Really know him. You’ve brought him up well, but I think it’s time to let go of the reins. He won’t go astray. He’s too level headed for that.”
“I guess I do smother him a bit, don’t I? It took the kidnapping to make me see it. I was so pleased to see you both alive. Yes, both of you, Daniel. It made me face up to a few things about my own life and what, and who, I was missing.” Jack looked directly at Daniel’s; his eyes soft and tender as he added. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Jack ran his finger across the small scar on Daniel’s throat.
“Yes, Jack, I’m fine. In fact,” Daniel wrapped his arms around Jack, “I’ve never felt better.”
“You feel pretty good to me, too. So, Daniel, one step at a time, you say? What’s the next one?”
“Why don’t you tell me? Or better still, show me. Just let your feelings guide you.”
“Really?” Jack raised an eyebrow.
“You mean like this?” Jack cupped Daniel’s face in both hands, leaning in to kiss him passionately.
“Mmm,” Daniel murmured as he opened his mouth to allow Jack access.
“And this?” Jack breathed keeping their lips joined and trailing his fingers over Daniel’s nipples.
“And … what about this?” Jack’s hand wandered lower and caressed Daniel’s thickening cock and balls.
“So-o, if I were to do this, you wouldn’t object?” Jack let his hands slide further back so he could push the tip of his index finger into Daniel’s hole.
“Shi-it, no!” Daniel gasped as he took a deep breath. “But, are you sure?”
“Yeahsureyoubetcha! The way I figure it is we’ve wasted enough time already. I don’t plan on wasting any more.”
“My sentiments exactly, Jack. But …”
“You promised to tell me what the President wanted.”
“You want to know now?”
“You want me to talk about the President of the United States while I’ve got my finger up your—“
“Yes, Jack. Now.” Daniel demanded.
“Oka-ay. He offered me a job at the Pentagon, which—“
“Jack! That’s great! I’m so pleased for you.” Daniel hugged Jack tighter.
“… Which I’ve turned down.”
“You’ve what? Why?” Daniel was shocked. Although he was inwardly pleased to hear Jack wouldn’t be going away, he couldn’t believe Jack would turn down a job on the President’s staff. “Oh no! It’s nothing to do with us, is it?”
“No, Daniel. I’m just not ready to be a pen pusher in Washington. I’ve got a few more years at the SGC yet, then perhaps, if he still wants me, I might consider it. If …”
“If you’d come with me?”
“What about Charlie?”
“He’ll probably want his own place by then. If not, the offer is open for him to come with us. So, what’s your answer?”
“Hmm. I’ll have to think long and hard on that one, Jack.” Daniel paused and took a deep breath. “Yes.”
“Peachy! Now, about that next step.”