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Daniel scrubbed his face roughly with his hands and grumbled, "Do you ever dream of just getting in the truck and driving? Just going and not looking back?"

Jack settled back further into his seat, his hands relaxed on the wheel as he drove down the winding road, and replied lightly, "Why do think I have a cabin out in the middle of nowhere? Sometimes you just have to get away from everyone and everything before you explode."

Daniel sighed and looked out the window and added in a tired voice, "Or implode from the weight of everything."

It had been a rough week at the SGC, not that they ever really had any other type, but between the bureaucrats on this side of the Gate and and an overzealous Goa'uld underling on the other, SG-1 was beat up physically and mentally. And it didn't help that Jack and Daniel had been at each other's throats over every little thing. Their sniping had finally reached the point that General Hammond put SG-1 on two weeks of mandatory down time, and he called Jack and Daniel in his office before lunch and in no uncertain terms told them to take some time to sort out whatever the issue was between them, the implied "before I do" coming through loud and clear.

It had been the piece de resistance to the week that when they left the mountain that Daniel's jeep wouldn't start. Jack offered him a ride home and that's where they were heading now. There wasn't angry tension between them in the truck, but there was an undercurrent of... something.

Jack had been trying to figure out for weeks now what was going on with Daniel. Since Sha're's death he had become more withdrawn from them all emotionally and socially. He had just shut himself off from everyone, Jack especially. Jack had thought long and hard about the situation, trying to remember if he had said or had done something stupid to hurt Daniel, but nothing came to mind. Jack had his own reasons for being prickly but something was eating at Daniel on the inside, and somehow it involved Jack, and he wanted to know why.

Jack glanced at Daniel, and could see him pulling into himself. He had the urge to stop the truck and just hug the crap out of Daniel, but he figured that that would probably lead to a pretty spectacular fist fight given their recent moods. Instead, he reached over and gave Daniel's shoulder a familiar squeeze and teased lightly, "You need a vacation, Daniel, a real vacation."

Daniel scoffed, "What? Like this forced time off? Somehow having General Hammond threaten to have our keycards disabled if we so much as step off the elevator isn't my idea of a relaxing vacation."

At the next traffic light they ended up behind an older couple in a small recreational vehicle. They had a vinyl sticker map of the United States on the back that was about half filled in, they had traveled all over the country.

Daniel got lost in a sad little memory as he looked at the back end of that r.v. He had tried on several occasions to explain some of the ideas of tourism and traveling on Earth to Sha're, and she had laughed as he had tried to explain some of the finer details, they had just sounded so far fetched to her. He had actually daydreamed once about showing her Americana in an r.v. like the one in front of Jack's truck after overhearing a couple of Marines talking about how much fun they had with their families traveling that way. It had been one of a thousand of his fantasies that had died with her.

Jack caught the sad look on Daniel's face, and he had known Daniel long enough to know that there was only one thing that brought out that particular look, Sha're.

Eventually the r.v. turned off, and Daniel just closed his eyes with his head leaning against the window, lost in his memories.

Soon enough, Jack was pulling up to the curb outside Daniel's apartment. Daniel opened his eyes and sighed heavily. He didn't want to go up there and face the empty apartment yet another night. His furrowed brow gave away that something was going on in his head. Jack picked up on it and said quietly, "Talk to me, Daniel."

Daniel dropped his eyes to his hands in his lap, "Do you ever want to just drive and not look back?"

"You already asked me that. And it sounds like you're looking to out run something, but if that something is up here," he tapped Daniel's temple lightly with a finger, "you'll never out run it. Trust me on that. I've tried."

Daniel snorted lightly without looking up, "You keep that up and you'll put Mackenzie out of business."

"One could only hope. But seriously, if you need to talk about things..." he paused, "...or Sha're. I'll listen, I don't know if I'll say the right thing or not but I'll listen if you've got stuff you need to get off your chest."

Daniel looked up at his apartment building and said quietly, "You know who's waiting up there for me?"

He turned and looked at Jack, his blue eyes sad and lonely, and when Jack didn't answer, he answered for him with a wry little grin, "Nobody. Same as yesterday, and last week, and last month, and the month before that. Who is there to come home to, Jack?"

Jack broke the penetrating look that was passing between them, it was just too intense, and as he looked out at some random point out on the sidewalk he said, "I know. Believe me, I know. But you can't lock yourself under that mountain and bury yourself with work, because when you finally shovel yourself out, that apartment is still going to be empty, Daniel."

Daniel scrubbed his face with his hands, his fingers finding their way under his glasses easily from years of practice, he did not want to go where this conversation was heading. He really didn't. And he absolutely didn't want to go upstairs to that empty apartment. He needed to get away from here for a few days, and ignoring what Jack had just said, asked, "Can you drop me off at the rental car place a few blocks away?"

Jack knew Daniel was deflecting again, which generally meant that Jack had struck a nerve. "Why? Where do you want to go?"

"Anywhere but here. I just want to drive and see where I end up."

"Okay." Jack answered simply and put the truck in gear and pulled away from the curb. At the end of the block the road ended and they had to choose which way to go, and Jack asked, "Left or right?"

"What?" Daniel replied, knowing that Jack knew full well where the closest rental car company was located.

"Pick a direction."

"Jack."

"Daniel."

"What are you doing?"

"Just driving. We'll see where we end up. So left or right?"

---------------

Jack was trying to figure out exactly how they got here from there. Here being out in the middle of the woods, almost a hundred miles from any semblance of civilization, with his hands braced against a strong tree and Daniel behind him, plastered firmly against him, and in him. Three days ago they didn't have a civil word for each other. Now, Daniel's cock was buried deep inside him and moving with a deliberate and determined pace that made Jack see stars with every thrust.

Jack gave up trying to figure anything out when Daniel adjusted his stance and angle a bit and proceeded to nail Jack's prostate with that same maddening pace on both the up and down strokes. The loud guttural noises coming from Jack's throat were enough to scare away any nosy wildlife out there around the lake. Daniel was oddly quiet, save for the ragged edge to his breathing.

When Daniel's hand closed around his poor neglected cock and began pulling and stroking in an opposite rhythm to the deep thrusts in his ass, Jack lost the ability to think at all as he tried to both fuck that rough, steely fist encasing his cock and buck back onto the one filling him.

Daniel's free hand looped around to rest over Jack's heart and his hoarsely whispered, "Jack, I'm gonna come," set off Jack's own explosive release just as he felt Daniel's overtake him.

It took more than a couple of minutes for their breathing to stop sounding like they had just run a click back to the Gate with Jaffa on their heels. Jack shivered as Daniel pulled back to pull out of him, not from the sudden lack of body heat against his back replaced by the cool night air, but rather from the very gentle kiss Daniel pressed between his shoulder blades as he did it.

Jack winced, he was definitely going to feel this for a while. Then he turned to meet Daniel's eyes and could practically see his mind whirling behind them, how exactly Daniel was thinking after all that he just didn't know. But he could see the lingering worry in Daniel's eyes, worry about making this thing between them work. He decided that actions needed to speak louder than words and he pulled Daniel in and kissed him softly then pulled him into a tight embrace and promised, "We'll figure it out together, Daniel. You and me. You're not alone. Neither of us has been for a long time, we just didn't know it."

---------------

As he lay with Daniel spooned in front of him in their zipped together sleeping bags being lulled to sleep by the nocturnal woodland surrounding them, Jack's mind went back to his musing about how they had gone from a simple "we'll see where we end up" to sex under the stars. No, scratch that he thought, making love under the stars, because that's what it had been even if they weren't quite ready to admit it out loud.

---------------

It had taken a a half a day on the road for Jack to get any semblance of a good mood out of Daniel.

Around the three hundred mile marker away from home Jack pulled into a behemoth department store so they could buy a toothbrush and a change of underwear. Daniel, who had been muttering things about being kidnapped and taken across state lines, didn't want to go in to the store. It wasn't until Jack teased and threatened Daniel that he was going to buy him boxers with smiley faces on them, that Daniel capitulated and went into the store.

The store was busy with people getting out of work and stopping in with kids in tow for just "a few things". Jack had cheerfully commandeered a cart and they headed for the men's department. In short order they had a couple changes of clothes in the cart and Jack made a beeline for the sporting goods department. Daniel watched dispassionately as Jack picked out two fishing poles, a tent, a cooler, a couple of sleeping bags, and various and sundry other things Jack deemed that they needed on this little adventure.

He wandered away from Jack and found himself a couple of aisles over in the r.v. supplies. The section was large, traveling by r.v. was very popular in the area apparently. Jack found him there a little while later, gently fingering one of those vinyl sticker maps with a sad little look on his face. Jack wondered what the significance of those maps was to Daniel, and made a mental note to ask him later.

They grabbed basic toiletries along with sunblock and bug spray, and Jack only teased Daniel a little about the tube of extra strength hand lotion he silently added to the cart, he had seen how chapped Daniel's hands were in the truck, they had really taken a beating the past few missions. They also stocked up in the grocery section then headed for the checkout. As they waited Daniel asked Jack quietly, "What are we doing, Jack? Really?"

Jack met Daniel's eyes, realizing that Daniel was talking about something more than their impromptu shopping trip or even their road trip, and he said softly, "Look around Daniel." There were families buying groceries, teenage girls giggling over clothes, and little kids giggling as they got balloons from a pleasant looking retiree that worked part time as a customer greeter. "We do what we do so they can all do what they do. They get up in the morning and go to work and to school. They come home and have dinner and bitch about the bills and having to mow the grass and maybe watch some t.v. And then they go to bed and maybe make love if they're lucky, and they get up in the morning and do it all over again. They live their lives, Daniel. Simple."

Daniel took a good look at the people around them in the store, mentally cataloging them all as Jack cracked bad jokes to make the cashier smile. In no time at all they were packing their purchases into the truck and they were back on the road.

---------------

Jack was driving this time with a destination in mind. That destination being a little, off-the-beaten path campsite that a fellow fisherman had recommended while Jack had been picking out line and lures next to him in the store. As it turned out, the spot was perfect, and they had it completely to themselves. A deep, quiet stream that Jack had been told was a fisherman's dream ran next to the site, and there was already a fire pit lined with stones. They worked in silence as they set up camp for the night, years of doing exactly that off world had made it second nature to both of them, although it was odd not to set a perimeter or worry about taking mental notes about things to duck behind in case of a firefight.

Once their camp was situated, Jack grabbed the fishing rods and tossed one to Daniel, "C'mon. Let's catch supper."

Daniel looked at the rod in his hand and met Jack's eyes, "Um, I, ah..."

Jack sighed, "I know. You hate fishing."

Daniel shook his head quickly, "No. It's not that. I, um, I, ah, well... I don't really know how."

Jack's eyes softened, he often forgot that there were a lot of things that Daniel had never had the opportunity to experience as a kid. With a little nod of his head towards the stream, he said, "C'mon. I'll show you."

And he did. Side by side and hand over hand, they fished together. Their conversation stayed completely on the topic as well, something that surprised Jack a little, Daniel and his tangents were legendary. But he knew that Daniel seemed to be having, for lack of a better phrase, a crisis of faith, and maybe Daniel just needed to be grounded in normal, everyday things for a while to reconnect him and recharge his mental battery. And if there was anything Jack was good at, it was normal, everyday things.

A couple of relaxed, companionable hours later, they finally called it quits when the sun set completely and they just couldn't see any longer. They had a fine catch and they made quick out of cleaning them before heading back their campsite. They built up the fire and ate, there wasn't a lot of conversation, but it wasn't an uncomfortable sort of quiet.

When the fire had been banked for the night, they crawled into their sleeping bags and settled in to go to sleep. Jack was listening to a particularly loud bullfrog out by the stream, letting it lull him to sleep, when Daniel's voice broke the quiet in the tent with a question that threw Jack for a loop, "You care about all of us at the SGC more than you should in your position don't you?"

Jack let out a deep breath, not really wanting to have this particular conversation, it bordered on things he barely wanted to acknowledge to himself let alone anyone else, especially Daniel, but he answered, and answered honestly, "Yeah, I do. And some of you a lot more than others."

Jack didn't elaborate further, and Daniel simply fell silent again, but Jack could practically hear the gears whizzing in Daniel's brain. And with a sigh that he masked with a yawn Jack rolled over and went to sleep.

---------------

When Jack woke the next morning, he could swear he smelled coffee, and as he looked over to Daniel's empty sleeping bag he realized that Daniel had beaten him out of bed.

Sure enough, the fire had been built back up and the percolator was nestled off to the side, close enough to stay hot, but not turn to sludge. Jack had to smile, because out of all the camping and soldiering things that they had had to teach Daniel through the years, he had surprised them all with his working knowledge of an old fashioned percolator and how to make decent camp coffee. Jack stretched and looked around for Daniel, spying him near the stream sitting with his back against a tree and his journal on his lap. Jack took care of his own nature call, poured himself some coffee and went over to where Daniel was sitting.

He plunked down next to Daniel and joined him in leaning up against the tree, "Hey."

"Morning, Jack."

Jack took a big sip of his coffee, and chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Daniel asked.

"I've been meaning to ask you for a couple years now, where exactly you learned to make camp coffee. You've got it down to an art form."

Daniel cocked his head sideways and looked at Jack a little oddly, as if trying to figure him out. He shook his head and answered lightly, "When I was a kid, there was this old man named Stuart. He was a butler or steward or something to one of the English archaeologists that my parents were working with in Egypt..."

The story rolled off of Daniel's tongue easily. It was a happy memory. Daniel never talked about his childhood, or even about his past in general. And Jack found that once Daniel realized that he really was interested, that the coffee making lesson story expanded into several other stories about Stuart and life for a young Daniel on a dig site.

It was great start to the morning, and the easy conversation continued over bacon and eggs. After breakfast Jack headed over to the stream to wash the dishes and himself. He stripped off his t-shirt and crouched near the bank, rinsing the pan and plates. Putting them aside he scooped up some of the crystal clear water and splashed his face. He shook himself off, and deciding that the water was too nice to resist, stripped down to his boxer shorts and waded in.

Daniel tried not to watch Jack from where he was sitting near the tent, but he couldn't help himself. Jack was wet and near naked and those things combined were sending Daniel's libido into overdrive. He scrubbed face with his hands and sighed, he had come so close to telling Jack his secret twice yesterday, first, in the truck outside his apartment, and again last night before they went to sleep. The secret that somewhere along the line, that Daniel had fallen in love with Jack. He had tried to pinpoint exactly when it had started but he couldn't. It was only recently, once the haze of grief from Sha're's death had cleared from his eyes, that he had acknowledged to himself that love was in fact what he felt for Jack. It was real and it was strong. And it was hopeless. Hopeless, because Jack was the straightest man Daniel knew, and the knowledge of all that was killing Daniel inside. And he took out his frustration on Jack with sarcastic comments and meaningless arguments. He just didn't know what else to do. He didn't want to be alone any longer, but he also couldn't be with the one person that he thought just might bring him happiness.

Daniel's over active libido was torturing him with all sorts of mental snapshots of what he could do with Jack at their campsite. And as Jack stood there with his hair and skin glistening in the morning sun, the unwelcome image of stepping up behind Jack and kissing away the beads of water from Jack's neck as his hands roamed the rest of Jack, making Jack hard and needy, made Daniel's breath catch and his cock start to fill. Deciding to distract himself, he stood and started packing away the camp, carefully avoiding looking towards the stream.

When Jack made his way back over to the tent, Daniel mumbled something about doing his own bath and headed for the stream. He actually went a dozen yards down from where Jack had waded in, where there was more privacy, and stripped down to his shorts and waded on into the water. The water was surprisingly warm, which in a way was almost disappointing to him, cold water would have killed the lingering bit of arousal that he just couldn't will away. He reached down and lightly stroked himself through his shorts. The movement of the water was making his boxers billow in and out and the feathery sensation just fueled that seed of arousal that he was fighting. Finally he decided that jerking off was going to be the only way to quell it and he slipped his hand past his waistband and fisted his cock. With his stance wide and his head thrown back, he closed his eyes and let his earlier fantasy replay as he stroked and squeezed. It didn't take long for him to reach his peak, and as he came, he clenched his jaw tightly, refusing to make a sound, but in the privacy of his own mind he had called out one word. Jack.

Little did Daniel know, but Jack was with him when he came. He had wanted to know if Daniel wanted the rest of the coffee before he cleaned the pot, and had approached the stream. Before he could say anything, he recognized the familiar movement of Daniel's arm and caught himself, not wanting to intrude. The sight of Daniel standing there in profile to the shore with his legs spread and his head thrown back, with a look of wanton pleasure bordering on pain on his face, sent a huge bolt of lust through Jack. And for a moment Jack just watched, transfixed.

Jack had acknowledged to himself a long time ago that he was attracted to Daniel, both physically and emotionally, but he had carefully locked that attraction away, it had no place in either their working relationship or their friendship. It had only been up until recently that Daniel was married and still had the hope of finding Sha're. And even if Daniel were ready emotionally to start a new relationship with someone at this point, Jack doubted he would have been the ideal candidate, because as far as Jack knew, Daniel had no interest in men. So he shoved his feelings, feelings that had grown considerably since Sha're's death, under a bushel basket of sarcasm, pushing Daniel away constantly.

But as he watched the muscles of Daniel's back tense, and Daniel bite back the vocalizations of his release, that attraction shot through him ten-fold and his own cock made its presence known. With a wince, Jack quickly adjusted himself in his jeans, and with a final look towards Daniel, cementing the image in his mind, slipped away as quietly as he had approached.

---------------

They got back on the road, the mood in the truck light. The radio reception was lousy, so Jack hit play on one of his favorite opera cd's. And when Daniel took in the look of simple joy on Jack's face that the music brought, it was his turn to ask a question that had been niggling at him for years, "So how did you start listening to opera anyway?"

Jack chuckled and shared. And that innocent question veered off into other topics, both men finding themselves learning things about the other that they just never knew, or even suspected.

They were enjoying the countryside, the scenery was beautiful. Mid afternoon they found themselves driving through a small town that looked like something from another era. Both men wanted to get out and stretch and get some lunch, so they parked near the town green and strolled slowly down the sidewalk, just taking in their nostalgic surroundings. They had stopped in a little corner diner and had lunch, and then popped into the ice cream parlor a few doors down for a double scoop of freshly made ice cream. As they walked around the little town they nudged each other to point things out, and there were little jokes and comments made on both sides to get the other to laugh. Jack and Daniel had both forgotten how much fun it was just to laugh, Daniel especially.

There was a little antiques store that caught Jack's eye, not for the antiques, but the fact that the owner was sitting outside at a little round table studying a chess board. Jack couldn't help himself and suggested a move to the old man as they walked by. The old man countered with a different a move and a wink, and without even thinking, Jack plunked down in the chair across from him to study the board. Daniel chuckled, for as much he liked chess, Jack was even more of an addict.

As Jack and Bill, the name of the little old man, cheerfully bickered over moves, Daniel's attention was drawn to a used bookstore across the street. Leaving Jack in Bill's capable hands, Daniel headed over to the store to browse.

The middle aged woman that owned the store greeted him as he entered, a pleasant smile on her face. He meandered the shelves, and tried to remember the last time he had looked at books just for pleasure and not because the fate of the world rested on it. The owner had the store well organized and he surprised himself by wandering into the young adult section. He ran his finger over the spines of some of the offerings and his eye was drawn to a familiar book. It was one he had literally worn the cover off of as a kid, an anthology of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. He pulled the book off the shelf with grin and flipped through the pages, as far as books went it really wasn't very good by anyone's standards. The illustrations were hideous, some of the facts were questionable, and there was no logical order to the stories it contained, but it had captivated the ten-year old version of himself. Feeling a little like he had found something he lost a long time ago, Daniel tucked the book under his arm and kept browsing. He perused the other sections of the store and came up with several more that he wanted, none of them even remotely work related. Daniel brought the stack up to the counter and the owner cheerfully rang up his purchase.

Jack and Bill were busy exchanging addresses when Daniel crossed back over to them, the two men deciding to keep up the chess game long distance. As they headed back to the truck, both men's moods were exceptionally lighthearted, stopping in this particular town had been good for both of them. Bill had shared a favorite camping spot with them that was about two hours outside of town that they headed towards.

---------------

The spot was great. Near a little lake that was jumping with fish, they could see the mountains in the distance, it was just idyllic, like something you would see on a scenic calendar. Jack chuckled when it was Daniel rushing through the camp setup so they could grab their fishing poles and see what was living in the lake. Later on, as the night settled around them, they were lounging on their sleeping bags near the fire. Daniel's attention was on the mythology book he was reading by the firelight.

Jack stood and added a little more wood to the fire and asked, "Whatcha reading?"

Daniel looked up from the book with a smile, and the realness of it made Jack's stomach do a little flip. It was a real and genuine smile, not the fake political one that Daniel had perfected. No, this one was true, and it whether it was from the book itself or the fact that Jack cared enough to ask about the book didn't matter. Jack had only had his stomach do that one other time in his life in response to someone smiling at him, and that was when Sara had said yes the first time he asked her out all those years ago. Jack quickly tamped down those thoughts and settled himself back down on his sleeping bag.

"It's an anthology of different mythology stories. It was one of my favorite books as a kid, I couldn't believe it when I saw it sitting on the shelf earlier."

There was joy in Daniel's tone and it made Jack smile, "Sweet. So read me one of your favorites."

With more than a hint of playfulness, Daniel replied, "Okay, here's one about this guy named Thor. Now in case you didn't know, Thor was the..."

Jack listened to Daniel's even voice reciting the tale, and he had to bite back a chuckle when Daniel's cadence quickened with the denouement of the story, the excitement evident in his voice. When he had finished the first story, Jack said, "Wow. You ever need a career change you could go record books on tape. You'd make a fortune."

Jack demanded another story and Daniel happily complied. Eventually both sets of eyelids were drooping and they called it a night. Jack was on the edge of falling asleep when Daniel's voice said quietly, "Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"I care about you too, Jack, and probably a lot more than I should. You don't have to say anything, I just... I just thought you should know."

---------------

The next morning Daniel again beat Jack out of bed and out of the tent. Which, given that Jack had been having a very erotic dream involving Daniel and the scene from the stream yesterday, was probably a good thing. Jack was guy, and was used to waking up with morning wood, but this morning he was so hard it hurt and his balls were drawn up tightly against his body. Knowing both that simply ignoring it would result in a case of blue balls the likes of which was to be avoided at all costs and that given how worked up he was it really wouldn't take much to bring himself off and be done with it, he slipped his arm back in the sleeping bag and his hand in his boxers to wrap around his aching cock.

He closed his eyes and let his mind wander back to the memory of Daniel pleasuring himself in the stream. His fantasies of what he could do with a wet and horny Daniel were fueled by the mental images of the way Daniel's back muscles had flexed in the morning sun and how the cords had stood out in his neck as he had stood with his head thrown back. But what pushed him over the edge was thinking about Daniel's hands. Strong, sure hands that Jack had seen handle many things over the years, but nothing like how Daniel's hands had pulled and stroked himself by the stream. And as Jack flashed on an image of those hands on his own cock, he came. He remembered almost too late to be quiet, and the "Daniel," slipped out before he caught himself. As Jack tried to reconnect two braincells together to regain motor control he silently prayed that Daniel had been far, far away from the tent. He grabbed his dirty t-shirt and mopped himself up and dropped it near his sleeping bag then proceeded to throw on his jeans and start some semblance of a normal morning routine.

Daniel was far, far away, all the way over near the edge of the lake with his brow furrowed in confusion. He hadn't started out far, far away though, in fact he had been sitting next to the fire outside the tent when he hand heard the familiar sounds through the tent and realized what Jack was doing. He had tried to get himself to move, to give Jack some privacy, but he just couldn't. The gentle slap of skin on skin and the little breathy sounds and groans Jack had made were better than any he could conjure in his mind and he greedily wanted to hear as much as he could. And when his whispered name had escaped Jack's lips as he came, it completely turned Daniel's preconceived ideas of life as he knew it upside down and inside out.

He had quietly gotten up and headed towards the lake. He needed to think things through and try and figure out what to do about any of it. He started wandering around the lake, not really paying attention. About a quarter of the way around the lake he paused by the water's edge and looked towards their little camp. He was instantly torn between wishing he had and wishing he hadn't, because standing by the lake wearing just a pair of low riding jeans in his bare feet with a cup of coffee in one hand was Jack. When Jack saw that Daniel was looking his way he smiled and gave a little wave. And it made Daniel want to jump him right there by the edge of the lake. But he still hadn't sorted out what to do, so instead of racing back to jump Jack, he just gave a little wave in return and continued his walk.

---------------

It took him a couple of hours, but eventually he had walked the whole way around the lake. He had made the decision that he needed to tell Jack about his feelings, because if they didn't resolve things, they would eventually explode. And if that happened in the field, they stood a good chance of getting themselves or the rest of the team killed.

He just didn't know how to start the conversation.

When he got back to camp he couldn't help but smile. Jack was propped up against a tree near the truck with the mythology book in his lap, just enjoying the sun, the gentle strains of opera coming from the truck cab filling the campsite. It was nice to see Jack so relaxed, Daniel knew that their struggles with the Goa'uld weighed heavily on Jack, even if he didn't say so. And in that moment Daniel completely understood why Jack had, no needed, a cabin in the woods to escape to, and he had an overpowering need to see Jack in that place.

Jack asked lightly, "Good walk?"

"Yeah. It's a nice spot, and," he held up purple fingers, "I found a huge blackberry patch on the other side of the lake."

"And us without a pie crust."

"But we do have that all purpose biscuit-pancake mix stuff. And sugar, and I seem to remember cinnamon in that little spice gadget thing you just had to have."

"You've thought this through."

"Sort of, among other things. Anyway, it'd mean staying here another night though. That alright with you?"

There was something in his tone that told Jack it was more than just berries that was pulling Daniel to stay another night, and he wondered what else exactly Daniel had thought through on his trek around the lake. Going with the flow was something Jack did well though, and he put his hands up over his head and stretched for effect, "I think I could force myself."

After some coffee, they headed around the lake to pick berries. Jack pointed out little interesting things as they walked, stuff that Daniel wouldn't have thought twice about, animal tracks and particular plants. For all the time they had spent in the woods off world, Daniel had never appreciated how in tune with his surroundings Jack truly was, and he wondered sadly if Jack had had the opportunity to share these things with Charlie before his death.

They picked berries, filling up the empty gallon water jug that Jack had cut the top off, and they talked about this and that while they picked, the mood light. They just about had enough when Daniel spied a particularly fat grouping of perfectly ripe berries. He reached his hand through the brambles and just about had them when he saw the enormous snake coiled around the branch, hidden among the leaves. He froze, not knowing if it were poisonous or not and his voice was a little high and squeaky, "Jack. Snake."

Jack had his back to Daniel and teased, "Ha, ha, very funny, I doubt the Goa'uld know about this fishing hole."

"No, Jack. Snake, in the bush in front of me. Is it poisonous?"

Jack turned slowly as not to startle the snake, and peered over Daniel's shoulder, "Nope. Just a racer. Pull your hand back slow and don't scare him. He's hunting little birds. You're too big for him to eat, he'll leave you alone."

Daniel did just that and let out a breath, letting the tension of the moment drain from him. He turned and looked sideways at Jack, taking in the silly grin that was on the other man's face. Then he realized that Jack was still just about plastered to his back and he could feel Jack's breath near his ear, and the tension in his body returned, albeit a completely different kind of tension. And what made it worse was that Jack wasn't moving away, at least not until Daniel prompted, "Jack?"

Jack suddenly realized where he was and quickly backed off. Daniel turned and glanced at Jack, taking in the deer in the headlights look on Jack's face and the repeated nervous clearing of his throat. Jack looked away quickly, and grabbing the jug of berries, started back to the campsite.

---------------

The hike back was quiet, both men lost in their own thoughts about what had just happened. Jack worried that he had almost slipped up when he was so close to Daniel, it had taken a lot of self control not to wrap his arms around Daniel and torment the ear that his lips had almost been touching. Daniel's mind was replaying the scene differently too, instead of just looking sideways at Jack, he imagined turning sideways and kissing Jack.

When they got back, Jack picked up a fishing pole and said he was going to go fish. Daniel wandered around the campsite for a few minutes, and stuck his head in the tent to grab a book. The tent had been zipped up to keep the bugs out, and Daniel's nose caught the faint scent of sex and his mind went back to Jack's morning activity. He tried to figure out why Jack had never said anything, why he hid his feelings, his attraction. Daniel's mind went through a slide show of his history with Jack, and it wasn't until the images were more recent, Jack helping him through Sha're's death and Jack's warnings about Ke'ra, that it all made sense. Jack thought Daniel was straight.

He actually laughed out loud at the realization, and suddenly everything was clear, what he had to do, and what he had to say, and with a final glance at Jack's sleeping bag, he left the tent and headed for the lake.

---------------

Jack was brooding, the fishing pole beside him on the ground, it's line uncast. He simply sat there, his arms resting on his bent knees, looking out at the water. He heard Daniel approach from behind him.

Daniel's voice was surprisingly calm and strong, a sharp contrast to the knot in his gut as he said, "I really loved Sha're, Jack. Part of me will always love her. And I've lived these past few years for her, but now she's gone. And I'm tired of being alone. I want someone there when I get up in the morning before I go to work. I want someone to come home to and to have dinner with and to bitch about the bills and having to mow the grass with and maybe even watch some t.v. with. And most of all I want someone to go to bed with and make love with, and get up in the morning with and do it all over again. I want to live my life with someone, Jack."

Jack's voice was quiet and hoarse as he replied, "We all want that, Daniel. It's just not that easy"

"You said at the store it was simple."

"Yeah, well, what do I know?"

Jack saw Daniel out of the corner of his eye sit down next to him, facing the other direction with their shoulders touching, but Jack didn't look over. When Daniel's hand gently touched Jack's chin he didn't resist as Daniel made him turn and meet his eyes, and said softly, "You know me."

Jack was trying to decipher what was swirling around behind Daniel's eyes and he wasn't prepared when he felt Daniel's thumb stroke his bottom lip, and he visibly shivered. He also wasn't prepared when Daniel leaned in and kissed him gently. It started out soft and chaste, but quickly turned needy and passionate, on both sides. And when they broke, it was Jack's turn to stroke Daniel's lip as he whispered, "I didn't know this."

That same real smile lit up Daniel's face and just like it had done before, Jack's stomach gave a little flip, and Daniel teased, "Learn something new everyday."

---------------

There was no question that the sexual attraction was mutual. Both had become more than a little aroused as a result of that first kiss. But they didn't act on it, both of them afraid of going past the point of no return before they had laid all their cards on the table. They knew it was going to be all or nothing with them; they wouldn't be able to have sex today and forget it ever happened tomorrow, it just wasn't who either of them were. So they talked, with no tension, and finally no secrets between them. There was plenty of gentle, innocent touching though, something both of them were starved for, and a few shyly initiated kisses.

Daniel had laid out pretty clearly what he wanted, and in reality it was what Jack wanted too. They just couldn't figure out how to make it work logistically. With Jack being military, and the commanding officer of team they were both on to boot, there was just no way to work around it. They could probably get away with spending time at one home or the other, and probably the occasional overnight, but living together was definitely out of the question. And the more they tried to hash it out, the more frustrated they became when they couldn't find an easy solution. The sun was low in the late afternoon sky and they were close to an all out argument, when Daniel said, "Why don't you catch us a couple fish for dinner and I'll get dessert made. It'll give us some time to think and cool off a little."

Jack nodded without saying anything and they stood up, but before Daniel could walk away, Jack pulled him into a hug, squeezing him so tightly he almost couldn't breathe, but he didn't care. He just hugged Jack back and let himself be in the moment.

---------------

As he sat there mixing the biscuit mix together Daniel's mind drifted back to another place and time, Abydos. He remembered Sha're mixing things in a clay bowl by the fire, it could have been any one of a multitude of meals, but he remembered this one in particular because he had told her he wanted just a little while longer in the cartouche room. It was one of the only times she had gotten irritated with him and she had uncharacteristically griped back at him that she was about to cook the evening meal and that the room was not going anywhere. In the end he had gone anyway and ended up distracted and it was very late when he returned to their tent. She had already gone to bed, her back to him and she did not speak to him for two days. It was finally Kasuf that took Daniel aside and imparted some marital advice to him, telling him that it was not always about the amount of time one spent with the one you love that was important, it was what you did with that time. And to Daniel's horror he had realized that often when he was with Sha're, his mind was a million other places. And he had thought about the night he had gone back to the cartouche room and had also realized that if he had just stayed and kept her company as she prepared the meal, and eaten with her, that she most likely would have just kissed him and handed him a water skin to take with him back to the cartouche room after the meal and not cared how late he returned. He had spent a week making it up to her before the SGC and Apophis came calling.

In the years since, he had reflected often on all his lost time with her, regretting in many ways all those hours he spent staring at the golden walls of the cartouche room. He had planned on somehow repaying it all back to her once they found and saved her, but it wasn't to be. But he had promised himself that time with someone he cared about wasn't something he was going to ever take for granted again. And as he shaped the dough into tarts, he worked through all the permutations of an actual relationship with Jack and tried to decide if the time they could steal away from prying eyes would be enough for him.

---------------

Jack flicked cast after cast into the lake, the motions familiar and almost automatic. He thought about Daniel, and he thought about Sara, trying to reconcile what he felt for each of them. He loved Sara, and though she wasn't dead like poor Sha're, the phrase that Daniel had used about part of him always loving her applied to how Jack felt about Sara. They had a history, they had a son, and they had the shared grief of losing that son and the pain of the end of a marriage that died with him. He knew that the end of their marriage was his fault, it had taken him a while to realize it, but now he could look at it objectively and take the burden of responsibility that was his to bear. And even though he did, and vowed not to repeat his mistakes, he honestly never expected to find someone after her that he might want to build a life with, a home with, and he really never expected to find someone that wanted to build those things with him. Until now.

Jack also came to an important realization about himself, he had not been willing to give up his career for Sara. But he would for Daniel. The only thing keeping his retirement from being their best viable option was that Jack didn't think he could stand having Daniel go through the Gate without Jack there to watch his six.

He thought about what time together they might be able to squirrel away, and wondered if it could be enough. He didn't know. But he did know that if they didn't at least try, they would both regret it for the rest of their lives.

---------------

As if by some unspoken agreement, the dinner conversation was light. The tarts were a big hit with both of them, and Daniel was glad they enough for breakfast too. After they ate more than they should have, Jack volunteered to wash the dishes and went down to the lake. The evening air was pleasant and the lake water warm and Jack decided a swim was in order. He brought the dishes back to the campsite and grabbed his towel from the tent and said lightly, "Going for a swim."

Dusk was turning into night and Daniel could still make out Jack pulling his t-shirt over his head by the shore. Scrubbing his face with his hands and sighing, he stood, and after quickly grabbing a couple of things from the tent, headed for Jack.

---------------

Jack had heard Daniel approach as he finished stepping out of his jeans. He didn't turn around, and his hands made busy work out of folding his jeans. The woods were starting to reverberate with nocturnal sounds and Jack's ears picked out the hoot of an owl in the distance. When Daniel finally spoke, it was low and quiet, as if he were trying to respect the tranquility of the lake, "There isn't any way we can live together."

Jack sighed and answered without turning around, "I know."

"We'd have to sneak around, and lie to our friends. We wouldn't be able to tell anyone."

"I know that, too."

"Would it be enough for both of us?"

"It would have to be, there's no other choice except not to try and... " he trailed off.

"And what?"

"I think not trying just might be the single biggest mistake you and I could ever make." He felt Daniel step up behind him and a heartbeat later Daniel's arms slipped under his to wrap around him.

Jack could feel Daniel's cheek resting on his shoulder and his breath soft against the skin of Jack's as he whispered. "Me too."

Daniel's fingers were playing absently with the little patch of hair on Jack's stomach, and as Jack's cock reacted to the touch, it brought to the surface something else they had only very briefly mentioned in their earlier conversation, sex. And the extent of their discussion about it had simply been a confirmation that, yes, they were both very aroused from the kissing, but they hadn't dissected their sexual histories.

Jack brought his hand up and placed it on top of Daniel's to still his fingers and asked, "Have you ever... you know, with another guy?"

Daniel swallowed hard, his own cock giving a little twitch at the memory Jack's question evoked, "Once, back when I was in college."

"So, ah, were you an upperclassman or underclassman?"

It took Daniel a second to get Jack's double meaning, and his cock gave another happy little twitch against Jack's ass. He chuckled and replied, "That was bad, Jack, even for you." Daniel turned his head, and with his mouth close to Jack's ear, teased, "Does it matter?"

It was Jack's turn to swallow hard, "No. I just... well, other than swapping a quick hand job with a buddy when we were drunk back when I was still in high school, I don't have a clue. But as long as one of us does, it works for me."

Daniel had given in to the temptation of Jack's exposed neck and his mouth was too busy working on it to really reply, instead him murmured, "Mmmm." against Jack's skin.

All Jack could think to do was to just close his eyes and go with the flow. His grip on Daniel's hands loosened and soon those hands were roaming over his torso. Jack couldn't remember the last time he had someone touching him like that. It was passionate, and certainly erotic, but it wasn't overtly sexual. It was as if Daniel's hands were mapping him like some precious artifact he was discovering for the first time. Jack's skin was so hypersensitive he could feel every callous and rough edge on Daniel's fingers, and when they found their way to tweak, then brush across his nipples, Jack couldn't contain the loud guttural groan that escaped his mouth.

Daniel's breathing had taken on a ragged edge and Jack could feel the swell of his erection against his ass. And when Daniel's lips whispered, "I want you," near his ear, Jack could only croak out a low, "Yeah..."

Daniel pulled back from him, and Jack instantly missed the contact. Daniel quickly stripped and grabbed something off the the towel he had dropped earlier, the tube of hand lotion. Jack had stepped out of his boxers and turned around, and gulped a little at the sight of the tube in Daniel's hand, it made what they were about to do very real. But then his eyes traveled past it and they took in the sight of a very naked and aroused Daniel, and any lingering nervousness about what they were about to do instantly dissipated. He looked his fill, admiring the view in the dwindling light, and filled with a little awe that he had been the one to turn Daniel on like that.

Jack's hand lifted almost of its own accord and came to rest on Daniel's chest. He moved it slowly, tracing the muscles there. His hand made its way up to wrap around the back of Daniel's neck and he pulled him in and kissed him deeply. Their cocks were nestled between them, and as they kissed there was a teasing friction that was a sweet torment. Jack's brain was so caught up in the sensations of Daniel's tongue in his mouth and finally having Daniel's dick next to his, that he wasn't immediately aware of what Daniel's hands were doing.

When he felt the first lotion laden finger gently slip between his cheeks and swirl and tease, his brain didn't really register it. But when that teasing turned into a steady pressure as it slipped inside him, his full attention was instantly diverted. Carefully, and sensually, Daniel opened him, preparing Jack's body to accept him.

They shared a final deep kiss and Daniel nudged Jack to turn around and brace himself against a sturdy, nearby tree. As Jack complied, Daniel quickly prepared himself, and dropping the tube back on the towel he stepped up behind Jack.

With one hand guiding his cock and the other gently holding Jack's hip, Daniel pressed forward. When Jack's body finally relented under the gentle pressure and Daniel slid all the way in to rest with his balls against Jack's ass, both men let out a hiss from between clenched teeth. Tentatively, Daniel started moving, wanting a pace that would draw this out as long as possible. He knew that the path they had set themselves on meant that each time they did this could be their last if someone found out, and he intended to make each and every time they came together a singular event, something memorable, just in case.

Daniel had found a pace that was working well for him, and the loud guttural noises that Jack was making were a good indication that it was working for him as well. He did adjust his stance and angle a bit and with long, sure strokes, proceeded to hit Jack's prostate on both the up and down strokes. Although Jack was making enough noise to scare away anything in the night, Daniel was quiet, mentally cataloging every sensation.

When he felt the first tingling in his balls letting him know that, like it or not, his orgasm was impending, Daniel reached around and fisted Jack's throbbing erection and began pulling and stroking in an opposite rhythm to his thrusting. And just as he didn't think it was possible to get any more turned on, Jack started pushing back on his cock, forcing him even deeper inside.

That did it for Daniel, he put his hand on Jack's heart and whispered, "Jack, I'm gonna come." That set off a chain reaction, with Jack's orgasm hitting him with a roar, and Daniel's own overtaking him as he pumped his release deep inside Jack.

As Daniel tried to calm his breathing, his mind was trying to process the enormity of the fact that there really was no turning back now.

It took more than a couple of minutes for their breathing to stop sounding like they had just run a click back to the Gate with Jaffa on their heels. Jack shivered as Daniel pulled back to pull out of him, not from the sudden lack of body heat against his back replaced by the cool night air, but rather from the very gentle kiss Daniel pressed between his shoulder blades as he did it.

Jack winced, he was definitely going to feel this for a while. Then he turned to meet Daniel's eyes and could practically see his mind whirling behind them, how exactly Daniel was thinking after all that he just didn't know. But he could see the lingering worry in Daniel's eyes, worry about making this thing between them work. He decided that actions needed to speak louder than words and he pulled Daniel in and kissed him softly then pulled him into a tight embrace and promised, "We'll figure it out together, Daniel. You and me. You're not alone. Neither of us has been for a long time, we just didn't know it."

---------------

They went for a swim, which was both practical and fun. And they both reveled in being allowed, and able, to touch and be touched. There was still worry and concern about how they were going to make things work out back in the real world, but it was outweighed by the optimistic thought that no matter what happened in the future, that they were not alone any more.

As he lay with Daniel spooned in front of him in their zipped together sleeping bags being lulled to sleep by the nocturnal woodland surrounding them, Jack's mind went back to his musing about how they had gone from a simple "we'll see where we end up" to sex under the stars. No, scratch that he thought, making love under the stars, because that's what it had been even if they weren't quite ready to admit it out loud.

Daniel's quiet voice broke the quiet the same as it had the previous two nights, "Jack?"

"Yeah?"

"I love you. I need you to know that."

Jack wondered what it was about the dark and quiet of the night that made Daniel able to say things that he would never just say in the light of day. Whatever it was, it didn't matter, Jack knew the weight of those words and knew what it cost Daniel to say them, so many people that Daniel loved had been taken from him. He wouldn't cheapen them by replying with a promise to always be there, or that nothing would keep them apart, they both knew the reality of their jobs, things could change in a heartbeat. But Jack could be honest, and give Daniel the one truth he knew for certain. And as he tightened his arms around Daniel he said, "I love you, too, Daniel, always."

---------------

Jack woke slowly, he had been having a fairly erotic dream involving Daniel and the lake, when he realized he was being watched. Well, not so much watched, as studied. Daniel was lying next to him, propped up on his elbow, amusement in his eyes. And as he became more awake, Jack remembered that it hadn't been a dream.

Before Jack could say a word, he found himself flat on his back with Daniel's length pressing down onto him, as he teased, "Good morning."

Jack couldn't remember the last time that he had had morning sex that wasn't a solo event, but as a wide awake Daniel latched on to one of Jack's nipples and slowly undulated his hips, grinding their morning arousals together with a pleasant friction, Jack knew he wouldn't have a problem remembering this time.

---------------

They did one more quick visual sweep to be sure they hadn't forgotten anything before heading for the truck. Over breakfast they had decided that since they had the down time that they might as well make the best of it and keep going on their road trip. It was relaxing, and it would give them time to themselves before heading back home to the reality of having to sneak around, and the reality of never knowing what the future would hold.

They spent another week exploring wherever their lefts and rights took them. They took in some silly tourist traps, met interesting people in the towns they stopped in, and enjoyed unexpected patches of scenic areas. They also explored each other. Taking the time to really learn about each other, both with words through conversations, and through more tactile means as they touched and made love.

One of their pit stops for gas had them at a modern truck stop, where they grabbed some lunch at the restaurant and then found themselves meandering through the attached store that carried a little bit of everything. Jack again found Daniel staring sadly at one of those vinyl sticker maps. But this time he asked, "Whatcha thinking about?"

Daniel brushed it off, "It's nothing. Just something stupid."

Jack rested his hand supportively on Daniel's shoulder, "Tell me anyway."

Daniel swallowed hard, "I used to have this mental list of things I wanted to do with Sha're when I finally got her back, and, ah, one of them was to get one of those little r.v.'s with one of these stuck on the back and show her this country a state at a time until we filled in the whole map. I told you it was stupid. Huh?"

Jack's hand squeezed, and when Daniel met Jack's eyes, they were soft and full of compassion as Jack said, "Not stupid. She would have thought that was a great adventure."

Daniel didn't reply but did give Jack a wane little smile.

They finished their browsing, and Daniel went back to the restaurant to get them each a coffee for the road. Jack had a package of cookies and a couple candy bars in his hands and without hesitating he snagged one of those sticker maps and headed for the checkout.

Daniel found him a few minutes later in the parking lot, doing something on the tailgate with the cooler, he stuck their coffees in the cup holders in the cab of the truck and went around the back to see what Jack was doing.

Jack was waiting for him, and and with a little grin, he extended his hand with the page of state stickers in it to Daniel, "We're so not putting it on my truck, but I think the cooler works. You're in charge of filling it in."

Daniel looked at the colorful page Jack was holding out and the now decorated cooler and shook his head with his own grin. Not caring who was watching, he enveloped Jack in a bear hug, nothing they hadn't done before in the middle of the Gate room surrounded by half the SGC.

Jack hugged him back and teased, "So when exactly are you taking me to Hawaii?"

Daniel pulled away and studied the page of stickers, "I'm thinking after Alaska so we appreciate it more."

---------------

They got ready to go and Jack tossed Daniel the keys, "Your turn."

Daniel got them back on the road and when they reached a crossroads he turned to Jack and asked, "So, left or right?"

---------------
the end.