Jack was horror-struck as he realized what he’d done. The look on Daniel’s face showed he was feeling the same way.
What the hell had made him do it?
They’d had a great afternoon and evening; same as many others they’d spent at Jack’s house over the years. Earlier Jack had grilled steaks while Daniel had made potato salad. They’d exchanged views about the last mission and the one that was to come.
Okay, he’d had some beer, but not enough to make him drunk. Let’s see, one before the meal and two during. Nope, he couldn’t use that as an excuse, unless … Could he convince Daniel he’d been drinking earlier? Hell, he could try, if it meant saving the day and their friendship.
Daniel had bought the beer on the way over because Jack had phoned to say he was out. He’d also bought the bottle of wine for himself. Jack always had whiskey in the house though. He could say he’d been drinking Jack Daniel's and blame his slip on not knowing what he was doing.
Yeah, right. Maybe not.
Daniel had been rinsing the dishes in the sink when Jack had been overcome by the urge to grab his friend’s shoulders, turn him around and kiss him. It was only recently he’d recognized the intense feelings that seared through his body whenever he was near Daniel. He’d always thought it was because of their special friendship that he’d felt drawn to his archeologist and wanted to spend time with him outside the job. He liked spending time with Daniel.
Then one day a few months ago it had hit him! It was more, much more than that. It was love. Jack had been shocked at the realization. How could it be true? It couldn’t have happened at a worse time either. They had been getting closer to finding Sha’re, so he'd had to keep it hidden deep inside and it had been eating away at him. Jack used to pride himself for his skills of suppressing feelings and keeping them hidden. Apparently that didn't apply to his love for Daniel. It had to come out and bite him one day.
He’d realized his thoughtlessness as soon as Daniel had twisted out of his hands. Daniel was still grieving over the loss of his wife. Yes, he’d lost her the day Apophis took her for his queen, but he’d still held on to a small hope she could be found and brought back to the Tok’ra. A hope that the snake could be removed without causing harm to Sha’re. But now, that wasn't going to happen. Sha’re was dead. Killed a few weeks ago by Teal’c to save Daniel’s life.
Jack knew it had taken Daniel a while to forgive Teal’c, but common sense had prevailed and he’d finally understood it was the only thing T could have done.
Jack and Daniel had spent more time together since then, but Daniel still wasn't talking about Sha’re. It seemed he’d shut her out of his memories, perhaps because the grief was too hard to bear. Jack knew what it was like, so he didn't push it.
Trying to stop his mind from wandering away from the current issue, Jack stuffed his hands into his pockets as he stared at Daniel's stunned face. Daniel, who was still holding the dishes he’d been rinsing; water dripping onto the floor.
Time seemed to be frozen between them.
Jack had moved so unexpectedly; hadn’t given Daniel a chance to respond.
I was drunk, Jack formulated the words in his head, had a couple of whiskeys... I'm sorry... I’m...
No, he couldn’t lie to Daniel. Not Daniel. Anyone else would be fine, but Daniel was different. You didn’t lie to Daniel and get away with it.
And besides, Jack wasn't sorry. He'd do it again. Now. Always.
Yet, he had to apologize, somehow. For blindsiding him.
“Daniel,” he started. “I … I … Crap! I don’t know what to say. I didn’t … I mean … I shouldn’t have …” Not knowing what else to say, Jack hung his head and stared at the floor.
“No, you shouldn’t have,” Jack heard him say quietly. “What did you think you were doing?”
“Aw, Daniel, you know me. I didn’t think. Just acted on impulse.” That was the truth. Out in the field it was different. He had to account for his actions so he had to be right. At home he could relax and be himself for a while.
“So, you’re … you’re … um …?”
Jack raised his head and looked at Daniel. “Gay?” he snorted. “No, not really. Thought I was straight until you came along.”
"Jack, I came along four years ago. How does that explain why you kissed me now?"
"It just happened? There's a full moon?" He had no idea how to explain this. Except for the truth...and the truth was scary.
"I see. So, let me get this clear. You kissed me on impulse, because … why? And what makes you think I'd actually like you to kiss me?"
“Well, I’ve heard all the rumors making their way around the SGC. Most of the marines think you’re gay, so, I thought … well …”
“Ah, so you’d heard the rumors and decided they were true. You thought you’d try me out. Easy target now that Sha’re’s gone. Is that it?”
“No! Jeez, Daniel, Whaddya take me for? You know I don’t believe all the rumors I hear. It wasn’t planned. Just impulse, like I toldya’.”
Daniel went quiet then, a frown creasing his forehead. He was also chewing his bottom lip and Jack knew that was a sure sign Daniel was deep in thought and worried.
Not good. SO not good.
What had he done? Did this mean the end of their friendship? In one way Jack wished he could take the kiss back, if it meant losing Daniel as a friend. On the other hand, he had been hoping for the rumors to be true and now that Sha’re was gone... Jack had hoped they could take their friendship a step further.
He just hadn't meant for it to happen like this. So out of the blue. He'd wanted to test the waters first, talk to Daniel and figure out how he felt ... dammit!
“So what did you intend to say earlier?” Daniel asked suddenly. “You started to say something else. That you didn’t …? What? Mean to do it? Want to do it? Which was it, Jack?”
Jack looked at the man asking the question. With those bright blue eyes behind round glasses and full, lush lips slightly apart. The same lips that Jack had just kissed; could still taste. Daniel looked more confused than stunned now.
So, still the truth then?
“I guess I was gonna say I didn’t mean to do it. Well, not now anyway. Want to do it? Hey, that’s another story. I’ve wanted it a long time and that’s the truth.”
Daniel shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Jack couldn't do anything but wait for Daniel to digest the news and make his decision.
But as the silence stretched between them, Jack couldn't stand it any longer.
“Daniel, I’m sorry.” he groaned. “What more d’ya want me to say?” He wanted to reach out to Daniel. Hug him. Anything. He knew that would be a bad idea though. His guts were churning and what he really wanted to do was walk away and hide. He didn’t want to stand here, watching his friend who seemed to be going through hell in front of him.
“I don’t know, Jack. I don’t know what to think. I’ve just lost my wife and suddenly my best friend; my best male friend,” Daniel emphasized the word male, “makes a pass at me. Tell me, Jack, what am I supposed to think?”
“I … I care for you?” Jack stammered. Then, changing the subject, “You haven’t talked about Sha’re since it happened. What’s going on in that head of yours?”
“What’s that got to do with what you’ve just done?”
“Nothing. Just wondering, that’s all.”
Daniel finally remembered he had the dishes in his hands, so he placed them on the counter. He turned back and stared at Jack. He chose his words carefully as he replied. “As you know, I married Sha’re because she was given to me. She was a wonderful woman and I did love her, but …” Daniel sighed. “… Oh god, do you even understand what I’m trying to say?”
“Clueless here, Daniel. You’ll have to spell it out for me.”
“Okay. I did love Sha’re. Perhaps not the deep, passionate love she was expecting, but love the only way I knew how. I expected to spend the rest of my life on Abydos and I was lonely. Sha’re understood me. She knew how I felt. But, I digress. You want to know how I feel now she’s really gone. Sad that she’ll never know how much her family loved her and how much we all tried to get her back. Most of all I feel guilty, Jack. Guilty because I couldn’t give her what she wanted. She wanted me to father her child, but I …” Daniel choked back a sob, “… I couldn’t. I couldn’t give her what her heart desired so desperately.”
Jack could see that Daniel was trying to hold it together. Normally he would have put a hand on his friend's shoulder or hugged him but he still didn’t dare. All Jack could do was watch and wait. He tried a cheery, “Hey, don’t beat yourself up about that, Daniel. Lots of guys can’t give their wives kids in the first year. Sometimes it takes many years. Did with me and Sara.”
Crap! That was the wrong thing to say. Daniel’s face dropped even more as he wiped away the tears with the back of his hand.
“No, you really don’t understand,” Daniel said sadly. “I couldn’t give her a child because I didn’t want to. I don’t want to be a father. I can’t be a father. It’s not the way I am.”
“Not the way …? Daniel, what the hell are you trying to say?”
Daniel looked down at the floor as he shuffled his feet. “The rumors were correct, Jack,” he mumbled.
“You mean …? Jeez!” Jack took one giant stride forward and wrapped his arms around Daniel. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me before? We're friends, for crying out loud, you could have told me."
“Yeah, of course,” came the muffled reply as Daniel buried his face in Jack’s shirt. “So why didn’t you tell me how you felt?”
“Ah, yeah, there’s that!
"Yeah, there's that." Daniel lifted his head to look at Jack. “I just needed time to accept what had happened to Sha’re and to deal with my feelings.”
“Yeahsure! I’ll back off until you’re ready to talk. Hey, wait a minute. You bastard! You’ve just put me through hell, thinking I was going to lose you as a friend because you were straight!”
A wry smile spread across Daniel’s face as he looked up at Jack, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief. “Yeah, I did, didn’t I?”
“Okay, I asked for that, I guess. You’ll let me know when you’re ready?”
Daniel looked thoughtful for a few moments. “And will you kiss me again?”
“No, Daniel. I said I’m sorry and I meant it.” Now he knew how Daniel felt, Jack could wait until his friend was ready to take that next step.
“No, Jack, you don’t understand.” A smile spread across Daniel’s face. “I asked if you would kiss me again.”
It took a while for that statement to get through to Jack’s brain, but when it did, his eyes widened. “You mean …?”
”Yes, Jack, that is what I mean.”
Jack cupped Daniel’s face and leaned in to kiss him. This time Daniel responded and the kiss deepened until neither man could breathe.
When they parted to get some air into their lungs, Jack just gazed into Daniel’s face.
“What?” asked Daniel, frowning and cocking his head to one side. He could tell something was going on in Jack’s head.
“Um … this might be too soon, but I’ve got to say it.” Jack hesitated for a moment before continuing. “I love you, Daniel. D’ya think there’s a chance you might … you know …?”
“Oh Jack. I love you, too. I’ve loved you since we met, but I didn’t think I stood a chance with you. You were straight, or so I thought, and you had your career to consider. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that.”
Jack groaned. “I guess that was when I fell in love with you, but I didn’t know it at the time. It’s taken a long time for me to recognize what I feel for you is more than just friendship. Er … look …d’ya wanna take this to the living room?”
“No, not really,” Daniel replied straight-faced, but then smiled as Jack’s face fell. “But we could take it to the bedroom. If you want to, of course.”
If Jack wanted to? He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more. But what about Daniel? Was he just saying that to please Jack? “You sure that's what you want?"
“Why not? It seems we’ve both waited long enough for this, don’t you?”
Jack knew that was true, but they still had to work together and they would still be breaking the rules. “Yeah, but …”
“Your career?” Daniel asked.
Jack nodded, wondering how the hell Daniel always seemed to read his mind.
“I know, but I’m sure we’re both mature enough to keep it under wraps, aren’t we? Or, at least, one of us is!” Daniel grinned.
“Hey! I’m not as dumb as I make out, yanno!”
“I know you’re not, Jack. No-one knows you as well as I do and, if you move now, we can get to know each other even better.”
“It will be, Jack. I promise!”