Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: PG-13.
Category: Angst.  Drama.  Romance.  First Time.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.  No particular spoilers.
Synopsis: Sometimes, simply reaching out is a victory in itself.
Warnings: A little language.
Length: 360 Kb Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story

It was all there.  The long, meaningful shared looks; the fleeting touches of hand over hand.  Daniel’s sweetest smile, and that way he had of focusing on the other until the world fell away, the way he focused on a text or artefact.  Daniel making the choice, making the effort to pursue the other.  Daniel reaching out.

Jack shouldn’t have been surprised Daniel was finally ready to move on after four years of celibacy.  He had been ready for it to happen in a way.  Maybe braced for it was more honest.  There was no chance Daniel would ever really look at Jack, see beyond the friendship thing they worked at so diligently, beyond Jack’s rank or the mere fact of his gender.

Jack was wryly aware he shouldn’t ever have looked at Daniel.

He was looking now.  He had been braced for Daniel to be ready for someone; to need again.  It had never crossed his mind the someone would be Fraiser.  She was the Doc.  Dammit Janet; pithy pint-sized power-monger, pissy purveyor of needles and painfully invasive tests.  The SGC’s CMO, Carter’s friend and Cassie’s mom.  Jack’s friend.

And now, seemingly, more than Daniel’s friend.

<>Jack idly rolled the mug of lukewarm coffee between his hands, his oatmeal pushed to one side, uneaten.  It was 05:30; the mess was deserted.  Just Jack here, and Daniel with Fraiser, there.  Funny.  Wasn’t there a linguist 'round here ten minutes ago?  Jack certainly had a plate of pancakes next to his oatmeal.  He was drinking Daniel’s coffee.  He’d lingered over Daniel’s coffee, and even if he could hang here much longer without completely telegraphing ‘seething middle-aged Special Ops colonel with humiliating crush on shit-hot male civilian consultant’, there was no point.  Daniel wasn’t coming back over.

Fraiser was pale from pulling an all-nighter, but quietly triumphant; her warm brown eyes glowing and her long sensitive fingers snapping as she eloquently described ‘heroic measures’ to Daniel, who was hanging on every word, wide-eyed and appreciative.

Jack was glad Kearns was going to make it; he was a good man.  He was happy Fraiser had gone to the wire, taken every risk, worked every chance the man had given her and pulled him out of that coma.  He WAS glad.

He just hated he was thinking of her as ‘Fraiser’.  She – JANET deserved better.  How many times had he been where Kearns was?  Or his kids?  He didn’t want to sit here another minute fighting to not hate Janet for putting that answering glow of warmth in Daniel’s eyes or the way Daniel was holding her hand now.

Jack decided if he absolutely had to get intimately acquainted with his own fathomless pettiness, he might as well book and do it in the purely hypothetical comfort of his own office.  It wasn't like he didn't have anything to do.  He had the report Carter had sent to him to read for the mission to P2P-459 for a start.

Jack set down the mug, pushed back his chair with a squeal that made him cringe, noted ruefully that neither Daniel nor Fraiser even twitched, shoved his clenched hands deep in his pockets and strolled out, headed for the elevator and his office.

He could read the report.  He could do that.  Or he could review the footage Daniel had sent him at his request from their mission to P7X-331.  Jack smiled as he usually did whenever he thought about Daniel these days, hoping, REALLY hoping he wasn't coming off as doting for the cameras.  He didn't want anyone thinking he was losing it, especially as it was the truth.  He glanced up and waved cheerily for posterity and whichever security team was on right now.  Hey!  Middle-aged Special Ops colonel here!  Horny.  Desperate.  In love with his shit-hot linguist.  You KNOW the one.  Hopeless loser here.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

Recalling Daniel's reaction to his request, Jack smirked.  Daniel had been shocked.  Delighted.  Deeply suspicious.  Jack didn't know why.  He'd suffered through plenty of mission footage before, this one had been a damn good mission and for obvious reasons, the footage was a keeper.  No shooting, no angry natives.  Allegedly interesting ruins.  Some sort of trippy flower power alien text which had Daniel excitedly explaining something incomprehensible yet grammatically important, hands everywhere, smiling, his hair glinting gold in the sunlight slanting down to pool at his feet.

If Jack fast forwarded through the boring close-ups of the alien text, he’d find the good part, the part where Daniel had handed him the camera.  The part where Daniel kept leaning over to excitedly explain something equally incomprehensible to do with pictographs.

The part with the ass shots.

Jack was a middle-aged Special Ops colonel, and he had inconveniently fallen in love with his civilian consultant.  He didn’t like to use mission time to blatantly check out Daniel’s ass, but when the opportunity presented itself, he took it.

And then he uploaded it to his hard drive and made a VCD of it.

Daniel dropped into his chair, unenthusiastically eyeing the heap of mail he’d brought from home.  He sorted rapidly.  Bills, junk mail and circulars went into the crap file, aka the waste basket.  Professional journals and flyers he put aside to read later, then he turned his attention to work mail.

The first was a pithy memo from Jack demanding to know ‘what the hell is this?’ but the ‘this’ had regrettably become detached in transit so Daniel had no hesitation in adding it to the crap file.  Jack would either forget about ‘this’ or get in Daniel’s face about it.  There was a request from the Harbinger of Doom for a personal briefing at the Pentagon, which Daniel got from time to time and always forwarded to Jack to deal with in his own inimitable style.  Needless to say, Daniel had yet to set foot in the Pentagon.  They’d never met Major Disaster Davis yet when there wasn’t one.

He also had four memos from Sam, which was pretty good going this early in the day.  There were usually more.  Daniel was sorely tempted to put those with Jack’s memo in the waste basket, but Sam didn’t mess with paperclips.  She stapled.  All of her attachments were tragically still attached.  He sighed and slid them into his maybe tray.  It had started out as pending, but Jack had relabelled his trays as sometime, maybe and never.

The rest of it was a none too gentle reminder from the personnel clerk about his unused leave allocation and his ongoing unauthorised absences from his place of employment.  The complaint had been referred to Colonel O’Neill, although Daniel  wasn't too sure how much of a threat even the personnel clerk thought that was.  Daniel glanced at his last letter, which was also from the Pentagon, and decided to go and see Colonel O’Neill in person to complain about the personnel clerk.

He shoved the letter in his pocket.  It would give him something to read while Jack was dripping sarcasm at or around him.  He felt a little guilty for standing Jack up at breakfast, but Janet had been desperately tired and in need of a sympathetic listener.  He honestly didn’t know why Jack had planted himself at their table, refusing to sit with him and Janet.  It had been a little too blatant to order fresh food while Jack was sitting there like a bump on a log with the plate Daniel had started out with, and he’d decided to leave Jack well enough alone given his all too obvious reluctance to be with Daniel.  Jack didn’t have anything against Janet, so it had to be something Daniel had done, something Jack had chosen not to let him in on yet.  This was SOP.  Jack liked him to suffer first, soften him up for the inevitable kill.

Maybe a Snickers would help.  It would help Daniel; he felt light-headed after eating only an apple for dinner.  That new journal on ethnolinguistics had been so provocative…maybe two Snickers, and one for Jack, who was always more receptive to anything after he’d been fed.  Daniel retrieved three Snickers, and after some thought, M&Ms from the secret stash Jack was always raiding in his bottom drawer, then headed out, certain he could rely on Jack for coffee if he provided the family pack of snacks.

Daniel ate one of the Snickers without a pang of guilt during the elevator ride down.  His blood sugar was in his shoes.  If it got much lower, his ass would be on the elevator floor and then in one of Janet’s beds.  He was only half way through the second Snickers when he reached Jack’s office and had the M&Ms ready in anticipation of Jack sulking.

Jack wasn’t sulking.  He looked up from his PC as Daniel sidled in through the door with the 'Don't feed the colonel' sign on it.  A sudden, blinding smile from Jack caught both of them off-guard.  Daniel smiled involuntarily back at Jack, vaguely waving his Snickers bar in greeting, which he kept custody of for exactly as long as it took for a ferocious scowl to replace Jack’s smile and Jack to get out from behind his desk and in Daniel’s face.

“You’ve been eating fruit again, you shit,” Jack accused him indignantly, plucking the Snickers from him.  “I keep telling you that fruit is as well as, not instead of.”  He bit into the Snickers vindictively.

Daniel waved the M&Ms temptingly, smirking as Jack’s eyes dwelt fondly on the gently swaying bag.  He held out his hand.  “Give it up,” he ordered.  Jack being Jack, he took one more bite of the Snickers before he surrendered and traded up for the family pack sized snack.  “Coffee?” he suggested.  At  his nod, Daniel poured two mugs from Jack's elderly, beat up coffee maker - which Jack insisted had historical significance for reasons he would never explain - and carried them over to the desk.  He pulled the ‘unwanted guest’ chair haphazardly out of alignment before he sat down, so he could stretch out and not have the office door hit him on the head if anyone else was stupid enough to come in.  Jack had a target painted on the inside of the door with 'Bang head here' inscribed through the centre of it.  He still wondered why everyone thought he had an attitude problem.

Because he was an awkward bastard, Daniel thought fondly.

“Did I ever thank you for Feng Shui-ing the shit out of my office?” Jack mumbled thickly round his handful of yellow candy coated peanuts, which he always rooted out and ate first for no reason Daniel could fathom.  “That book said it wasn’t possible for a room to exist without a little bit of yang creeping in to take the edge off the yin, but you managed to get everything in here pointing to evil.”

“Except the coffee pot,” Daniel reminded him smugly.

Jack toasted Daniel with his mug.  “You’re very good.”  The yin in Jack’s life was Fraiser; dark, feminine and nothing but negative right now.

“Jack, I have a complaint.”

“Me too.”



“You remember shooting the shit out of those Replicators?” Daniel asked solemnly.  “Unless you and Sam are prepared to spot me a dime apiece for them, I’m not getting paid.”

“I thought the complaint about Velona was justified,” Jack said chattily.  “You promised me that translation by lunch at least and didn’t annoy me with it for weeks.”

Daniel let the obvious cue go by.  He wasn’t in the mood for one of those dances they did.  Jack was ticked off with him over something and Daniel didn’t have the energy for the usual pissing contest it took to find out what the something was, let alone make it right between them.  It was strange, but they seemed to have reached a point in their friendship where words were unnecessary; they just KNEW.  They could tell a mood or a thought just by looking.  It was all very pleasant and mellow, and undeniably productive for the team, but Daniel found he was missing the fire of the early days when he and Jack butted heads constantly over Jack’s outrageous attempts to mother him round the galaxy.

All of Jack’s spark, his fire, was directed at Sam these days.  Sam didn’t seem content any longer to be the sum of her impeccable service record, and this crush she’d had on Jack, this perpetual eagerness to please and have his respect had been eroded over time to the point where she skirted the edge of contempt.  It didn’t happen often, thank God, but it made Daniel uncomfortable to see battle lines drawn and sides being taken, when so often it was the three of them against Jack.

It was difficult for Daniel, more difficult than the times when he was the outsider.  It didn’t feel natural for the whole team to be at odds with Jack, not after everything they'd been through together.  Jack had led, but only because they had willingly followed.  The fact he listened to them, particularly Daniel, had a lot to do with that.  Jack did his best for them as he always had, but sometimes, lately, it seemed even Jack's best wasn't good enough for the rest of them.  There was a subtle wrongness in that.

Daniel sighed.  He cared about Jack, deeply, far more than he'd ever cared for any friend in his life.  He was closer to Jack than to anyone and he thought…he felt that for Jack it was the same.  He didn't let anyone in, not people he worked with.  Only Daniel.  He remembered a conversation with Sam, long ago, when he was still trying to fit in at the SGC.  He grinned.  He was still trying.  Very trying, according to Jack.  In those awkward first months as the SGC found its feet and its focus, Jack had had his hands full with all of them, trying to build the team, keep Teal'c safe from the NID and build common ground with him…He hadn't forgotten Daniel, though.  He'd helped Daniel apartment hunt with more patience than he'd imagined Jack possessed.  He'd trained Daniel, taught him to fire an MP5, a little hand to hand, HELD his hand as he struggled to adjust his academic presentations to 'sell' the putative tactical advantages to the general.  Off duty, they hung out, Jack doing his damndest to fill the aching void where Sha'uri and his family on Abydos had been with guy stuff and talking.

More than anything, they had talked, about any and everything.  Jack had confided in Daniel, not easily and not quickly, but they trusted and slowly Jack had opened up about Sara and Charlie, his feelings.  He'd invited Daniel's confidences in turn.   Daniel had called him Jack unthinkingly until he'd learned enough about military protocol to know that wasn't the norm.  His few fumbling attempts at 'colonel' had been rebuffed in Jack's inimitable style.  He was just Jack.  They were friends, first and foremost.  It worked for the team.  Jack listened to Daniel where he wouldn't listen to anyone else, took his advice, allowed Daniel to lead him to other paths, other solutions.  It wasn't how they were supposed to be, how the military expected them to be, but Jack had needed to be close as much as Daniel.  He just hadn't realised at first he was the only one Jack allowed to get close to him, the only one who had all of Jack, the colonel and the man.  They WORKED at being friends, at understanding their differences.

It had hurt Daniel to hear Jack admitting that his best wasn't good enough after losing Teal'c on Vorash, to see him struggle with the consequences of being too close to his team.  His friends.  Jack couldn't shrug off their criticism; he respected them, and he'd let it get personal.

Maybe…maybe it was natural.  Maybe with a leader who invested in his people the way Jack did, they were supposed to…Daniel wasn’t sure how to phrase it, maybe to outgrow him.  Sam, anyway.  She’d never get command if she was content to live in Jack’s shadow forever.  Jack’s own impatience with Sam, with the science that was so much a part of who she was…he didn’t even attempt to disguise it anymore.

Daniel noticed Jack was watching him, frowning, and covered for his abstraction with a lightning raid on the M&Ms.

"Hey!" Jack protested, smacking Daniel's hands away.

"I LIKE the blue ones."

"So do I!"

Daniel produced the third and last Snickers bar and unwrapped it slowly.  He took a slow, provocative bite.  Jack scowled, weighing up the advantages of blue M&Ms over Snickers, which he LOVED.  Daniel took another nibble, Jack staring at his mouth.

A ritual exchange of hostages took place.

Daniel was oddly regretful about the shifting team dynamic.  Though he valued their deepening friendship, and he was glad Jack turned to him more and more, he was sorry that Jack had cause.  Privately, and probably selfishly, he also had to admit there were no surprises with a Jack who listened to him and was at odds with the others in his place.  He found he missed the way they fought over everything, missed the temper tantrums and the rush of feeling.  He hadn’t even realised he and Jack were…um…he…er…

With Jack sitting so close, sipping his coffee and savouring his Snickers, Daniel faltered on the unexpressed thought, surprised how well it fit what he and Jack did, what they were.  Their relationship had always been personal, from the very beginning of it all.  Each had seen something in the other, had been drawn to it.  Jack had seen a geek who wasn't the stereotypical pacifist, and Daniel had seen an individualist in a uniform. Neither of them took the straight path, the easy path.  Neither was afraid to stand alone or to do what they believed to be right.  For two men seemingly so different on the surface, they were scarily alike in so many ways.

He guessed what he missed was that edge of uncertainty, not knowing which way Jack would jump if he was pushed.  Four years together had taught Daniel enough that Jack trusted him implicitly as a soldier.  Daniel felt as if he had changed and grown out of all recognition while Jack had become entrenched, more recognisably himself as time went on.  More obviously cynical, if anything.

Jack had realised they weren't going to get into it.  He looked long and hard at Daniel, once again sitting silent and pensive.  He had no idea what was going through Daniel's mind but anything that had him staring at his shoes for five minutes was BEGGING for Jack to finesse it right out of him.  What were friends and frustrated wannabe lovers for?  Daniel knew him.  He KNEW it was asking for trouble to have a problem anywhere near Jack.  The only question was how much digging Jack had to do until he got to the root of it all.  In the meantime, he shrugged philosophically, cut Daniel a little slack for the Snickers, picked up the phone and enjoyed himself giving the clerk in personnel hell instead.

Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his seat and framed the thoughts tumbling through his head with a Jackian name.  Sparkage. That was what he and Jack had had, what Daniel…missed.  If he was being honest, and he tried to be so, even with himself, he found what he missed was that subtle, pleasurable hint of intensely private recognition and attraction between two straight men, who COULD, but didn’t.  It was hint enough to give a sweet edge of expectation and tension to every shared look, word and touch.  He and Jack shared a private game of brinkmanship played out right under the oblivious eyes of their friends, a game safe enough for them to play because it wouldn’t go anywhere.  Couldn’t.  The playing of the game had become habitual, maybe even instinctual, so much a part of them Daniel hadn’t put a name to it until they’d lost it.  Or moved on from it; he wasn’t sure.

Daniel missed…well, if he was being honest here, why not go the whole hog?  He missed FLIRTING with Jack.  The colonel and the doctor of archaeology didn’t have nearly as much fun, while the colonel and the major weren’t flirting at all.  They were just fighting, and their skirmishes had an edge that cut if they weren’t careful.

Daniel didn't have a goddamn clue how he got Jack to start flirting with him again, not without stirring up a lot of emotions in both of them that he at least wasn't prepared to deal with.  Wanting to and NOT was enough for him, but if he pushed it…he really didn’t know what would happen if he pushed it.

He gave up the conundrum for now, wryly aware this was the last place he should be thinking about it because Jack would just know.  Somehow, he would.  It was just THEM, knowing.  Daniel slouched in the chair as Jack's thankfully distracting tirade reached its climax and took advantage of Jack being on the phone to blatantly steal another handful of M&Ms.   He fished in his pocket for the Pentagon epistle since Jack wasn’t likely to indulge him with any kind of flirting any time soon.

When he opened it, he found another envelope inside, surprisingly forwarded from the University of Chicago.  Strange.  The only person he still knew at the U was Steven Rayner and no way would Steven be contacting him, not after George had him emphatically barred from excavation at the Temple of Osiris.  Curious now, Daniel opened the second envelope and found a third inside, this one handwritten.  The handwriting was in marked contrast to the delicate floral envelope, addressed to Dr Daniel Jackson, care of the Oriental Institute.  The script was bold and strident, striking black over the pattern, overwhelming it.  It struck a faint chord with Daniel, as if he’d seen it some place before.  He knew where when he flipped the envelope and saw the return address.

Jack slammed the phone down abruptly when Daniel managed a fairly convincing impression of a stranded guppy, as in a lot of wheezing without much actual breathing.  “Daniel?” he asked warningly, thinking he'd better DIG, as in right now.  Daniel stared right through him, wide-eyed and bewildered, didn’t even raise a token protest when Jack twitched the letter from his grasp, which was unnerving enough in itself.  It wasn’t even opened yet, so…what?

Jack cursorily inspected the address and flipped the envelope to see what had freaked Daniel out.  Annie Laidlaw?  He looked at the handwriting again.  Annie?  Somehow he didn’t think so.  He flipped again.  "Halcyon?"  The postmark was West NY, but Jack had never heard of Halcyon.  Must be some one horse town up by Buffalo.  “Daniel?” he prompted again, more gently this time, instinctively protective, waving the envelope meaningfully.  It wasn't that he didn’t care; he did, passionately, and not just because he was in love with the infuriatingly obtuse sonovabitch.  They were friends, after all.  He was also aware that Daniel found him hard to resist when he was nice to him and unfortunately, he wasn't above using that.

“A blast from the past,” Daniel muttered reluctantly, reaching out to take the letter back from Jack.  “Annie – the Laidlaws were my last foster family before I was allowed to go to college,” he said flatly.  Jack seemed to be waiting for more, but he would wait in vain.  No way was Daniel tripping down this memory lane with Jack in tow.  Most of his childhood was like the All-Humiliation Network.  He really didn’t need to share the Laidlaws with the quintessentially confident heterosexual male.

“Well, isn’t that special?” Jack drawled, realising Daniel was not about to spill.  Daniel’s scorching look bounced right off his own anger.  Jack said being in love with Daniel was inconvenient.  Didn’t he say that?  He was pretty sure he had, because it was.  Goddamn inconvenient.  “Soo? Where’s Annie at?” he asked as Daniel opened the envelope, his neat, precise movements not quite enough to control the tremor in his fingers.  Jack fought down a surge of useless, and with Daniel, unwelcome sympathy.

“The Hospice,” Daniel said coldly.

Jack winced.  “She’s sick?”

Daniel found the words wavering on the page and had to fight for focus, for meaning.  All he could see was Will’s handwriting.  Will fucking Laidlaw, the reason Daniel had bolted clear across the country to UCLA and had to wait for his dream of the Oriental Institute because there was no way in hell he was going to the University of Chicago and letting Will ‘take care’ of him, no fucking way he was sharing a room in the dorms with Will as Annie and his case worker had wanted.  Like they even knew Will.  He'd been sick to his soul of being a problem to solve, not a PERSON.

“Annie had a stroke,” Daniel slowly read out loud, the effort it took obvious.  “And then a second.  The prognosis isn’t good.  She’s…she’s asking for me.”

“Are you going?”

Daniel just looked up at Jack for long, silent moment.

“When do we leave?” Jack asked promptly, briskly reaching for the phone, already mapping out just what he would say to Hammond.  That Velona deal, the rest of the team got downtime and Daniel didn’t; he had all this unused leave, and well out of Daniel’s hearing, sensitive, distressed, closure, yadda yadda.

“WE don’t,” Daniel snapped, jumping up and booking without a backward glance.

“Oh, I think we do, Danny,” Jack muttered as the general finally picked up.


“Sir, I need to speak to you about Daniel.  Something’s come up, a personal matter.  One of his foster mothers has had a stroke and she’s asking for Daniel.  He’s going to need some time,” Jack explained fluently.  He waited confidently through the slight pause, sure of what both men would do.

"I can spare you five minutes, Jack, before my next meeting.  Come down."

“Yes, Sir,” Jack gloated respectfully.

“I hope you aren’t even going to suggest Dr Jackson is any kind of security risk,” Hammond warned Jack without preamble as he strolled into the office.

Jack executed his start of surprise with élan.  “No, Sir.  Never crossed my mind.  Let’s just say in the current political climate, I’m wary about any of my kids wandering far from home.”

“How far?” Hammond asked, eyes gleaming.

Jack was prepared for anything the general might throw at him.  He was trained for this crap after all, and he was good at it.  “Buffalo,” he told his boots, milking the reluctance.

“If it was Moscow, I might buy that line,” Hammond answered dryly.  “Do we need to have that talk again, Jack?  The one about maintaining a proper distance from your subordinates?”

“No, Sir,” Jack denied, managing to look wounded.  Given he wanted naked Jackson to go, and so far wasn’t gettin' ANY, he considered he was ‘maintaining’ the whole damn time.  And they both knew Daniel technically wasn’t his subordinate at all.  As a civilian consultant, his notional rank was at least the equivalent of Jack’s.  Jack was just waiting for the perfect time to share this gem, and like making ecstatic monkey love with Daniel, it hadn’t happened yet.  Jack was kinda thinking one revelation would flow naturally from the other, a reward for bad behaviour.  He raised innocent eyes to his C.O.  Pick up the cue, George.  Hello?  Buffalo? And in the neighbourhood we haaaave…

“Or is this in the nature of a fortuitous coincidence?”

Jack was sure he saw a hint of a twinkle there, a slight softening.  “Perfect honeymoon spot!” he joked.

“I hear Lake Ontario is lovely this time of year,” Hammond observed apropos of fishing.  “And the Niagara River is wall to wall fins.”

Jack shrugged.  Who?  Me?  Noooo!

“And Dr Jackson’s continued belief you think he’s about fifteen years old is…what?” Hammond enquired gently.

“A bonus, Sir,” Jack said happily.

“Jack,” Hammond sighed.

Jack beamed at him.  “There’s a flight to Buffalo at 12:25, Sir.  I’ll hustle Daniel right out of here to pack and take him to Petersen Field myself.”

“No cuffs, Jack,” Hammond teased.

Jack didn’t even try the wide eyed innocent act.  He settled for a slow, knowing smirk.  “It would help if the order came from you, Sir,” he coaxed.

“It would help you, certainly,” Hammond riposted pleasantly.

“That’s why we pay you the big bucks, Sir,” Jack admired.  “Something along the lines of ‘use it or lose it’ re the leave allocation, closure on the personal matter advisable in light of the overtly covert interest in our personnel files, my presence purely coincidental…” he reeled off rapidly.

“I’ll allow a week to put this thing to bed,” Hammond interrupted the flow.  “It hasn’t escaped my attention that Dr Jackson’s workload is as heavy as ever.  I think a little R&R is allowable in the circumstances.”

Jack tried to drag his mind away from his own version of R&R, a vividly XXX-y ‘putting Daniel to bed’ scenario, and decided to git while the gittin’ was good.  “Thank you, Sir.”

“I’ll be sure to fully apprise Dr Jackson of the situation,” Hammond assured him.

“You prick!”

“Hel-lo,” Jack drawled as Daniel stalked into the departure lounge.  He looked.  Then he looked again.  And again.  Could not in fact look away.  Shiiiit.  Daniel looked good.  Daniel looked GREAT.  Totally fuckably hot, from the tips of his work boots all the way up to the stormy eyes and the glints of gold in ruffled hair.  Daniel looked good in a way that made the world fit around him.  Jack’s libido took the scenic route, dwelling on long, long denim clad legs and the way the pale grey sweater clung and moved distractingly with Daniel’s body, the sleeves just falling over slender wrists.  He lingered on the sullen pout, his own mouth drying.

He lingered too long.  WAY too long.  Daniel shifted awkwardly and looked down, blushing.

“You’re late.  Everyone else has boarded the flight.  We’d better book,” Jack said brusquely to cover his unwarranted scrutiny, turning on his heel to march over to the check-in desk.  “O’Neill and Jackson,” he tersely told the attendant.  He was aware of Daniel slipping into his accustomed place behind his shoulder, standing as close as ever.  Closer.  He could feel the heat from Daniel’s body.  Daniel couldn’t have…he mustn’t have picked up on…Jack had to STOP fucking looking!  He couldn’t touch so he should not look.

Like he hadn’t been trying, he thought bitterly.  It was way too late in the game for Daniel to suddenly clue into the fact most of the tension between them was sexual; conscious or not, it lay heavy and unacknowledged between them.  It always had.

Jack waited impatiently while the woman futzed with her PC and finally cleared them to board.  He turned into the warmth of Daniel's strong body.  He was standing so close Jack rocked him on his feet, automatically reaching out to steady him.  Daniel’s blush deepened as Jack’s hands rested over his hips, but he didn’t back down, didn’t back away.  Didn’t even look away.

Jack did.  He swallowed hard, wondering how the hell he was supposed to take the oddly expectant glow in Daniel’s eyes, the nervous, speculative wince of a smile.  If Daniel knew what was going through Jack’s mind, just what it was making the breath hitch in Jack’s throat and tightening his balls right now, Daniel didn’t know what the hell to make of it, but being Daniel, he had to push it anyway.

“I had dinner plans,” Daniel said more moderately as they boarded and the flight attendant led them to their seats.  “With Janet.”  He noted Jack’s missed step and realised he wasn’t wrong, that comprehensive once over in the terminal meant exactly what he thought it did.  Jack wanted him.  Daniel was shocked, he truly was.  It wasn’t that men had never shown an interest in him, quite the opposite, but that it was JACK.  They’d danced around each other for so long, Daniel was convinced nothing would ever change between them.  They’d settled into the same easy relationship rut as a married couple without ever having had the passion.  As big a shock as it was, at least he knew now why Jack was so pissed at him.  He thought something was going on between Janet and Daniel.  Jack was…he was jealous.

Daniel smiled and murmured his thanks to the flight attendant as they took their seats, Jack settling for an ill-tempered grunt and a scowl that melted right off his face when Daniel smiled at him.  He’d never seen Jack so at a loss.  Not that he was in any better case; his heart was pounding and he had to swallow hard.  Scared spitless, he thought with no amusement at all.

“Janet?  You two seem close,” Jack observed with seeming casualness as he buckled up, hating he HAD to ask but not able to stop himself.

“We had plans to attend a speculative lecture on the application of scientific method in field exobiology at the U, Jack,” Daniel went on quietly.  He'd like to think he and Jack were beyond the kind of pettiness that milked jealousy.  “Janet was coming along to translate the medical stuff in lieu of a wild evening alone grouting her kitchen.”

He and Janet were friends, and she and Sam together accounted for most of Daniel’s equally wild non-Jack social life.  Daniel felt no particular urge to share with Jack his role as freely exploited ‘El Cheapo’ translation service-cum-designated driver.  He worked for burgers.  Daniel spent time with Teal’c too of course, but most of his life was lavished on the infuriatingly smug man relaxing visibly at his side, complacently flowing into every available space.  Jack’s apparent need to have his leg pressed against Daniel’s was allowable taking into consideration Jack’s height and long legs versus the leg room they actually had.  Of course, if that was really the issue, Jack could just move one seat over and stretch out into the aisle.

They were several rows back from everyone else; the plane was at most a third full.  Daniel knew he was playing with fire, didn’t know why he was pushing it except that he didn’t have a clue which way Jack would jump and he was loving it.  God, he’d missed this.  Mature and pragmatic smooth sailing sucked.  He wanted Jack furious and venting and passionate, getting in his face like he used to. Daniel took a deep breath, looked around cautiously and let his fingers trail onto Jack’s thigh as the plane accelerated and took off.  Jack tensed, but as Daniel’s hand splayed over the denim, curiously settling onto the warmth and hardness of the powerful muscles, Jack’s hand closed over his strongly for a moment, then slid possessively onto his own thigh.

Daniel sat frozen, staring desperately at the seatbelt sign as Jack rhythmically rubbed the heel of his hand into his instinctively clenched thigh muscles.  Stupidstupidstupid!  Like the original go-to guy WOULDN'T pick up a gauntlet he'd thrown down?  He'd known Jack for HOW long?

This was…it was explicable - barely, almost deniable, but they both knew.

Daniel was scared shitless and exhilarated at the same time.  Wasn't this exactly what he'd been missing?  Feeling ALIVE in the way he only felt when he was WITH Jack?

Jack figured he’d had some kind of blow to the head.  He wasn’t in the main concourse of Buffalo Airport waiting for a room – any room, any place – to be found by an increasingly desperate booking clerk.  He was in fact in a concussed heap in the infirmary, no other explanation for it.  There was no way this was real, no frickin’ way.  Daniel ‘Do Not Touch Me’ Jackson had spent the entire five hour flight plastered so close to Jack he might as well have climbed into the seat with him.  Daniel was breathing down Jack’s neck right now.  What was going to happen when they finally got into the rental car was anyone’s guess.  Maybe spontaneous sexual combustion.

The plane had picked up enough passengers at the stopover at O’Hare to make Daniel uneasy.  The touching hadn’t been quite so overt; the merest brush of knuckles, or the stroke of a finger, but it was there, as real and erotic as the exploratory skimming of Daniel’s hand over Jack’s denim-clad leg.  It was pretty goddamn obvious Jack’s was the only male thigh Daniel had ever taken to stroking on impulse, so Jack in turn had taken it nice and easy when returning the compliment, ruthlessly suppressing the urge to roam.

Daniel was being daring and downright naughty, and Jack was in no mood to discourage his endearingly inquisitive advances.  Jack was goddamn certain Daniel knew how to touch, he just needed some guidance on where.  They had both had a lot of fun, totally ignoring the tactile by-play as they talked as they usually did, arguing with every other breath.  While Daniel was refusing to divulge anything about the Laidlaws, his foot had slipped across and between Jack’s, nothing but a tiny, knowing smile to indicate he was doing anything but stretching tired legs.  Jack’s attempts to persuade Daniel to surrender precious free time to fishing instead of antiquing his way round the Big Apple yielded accusations of museum bigotry and Daniel’s fingertips curled around his.  Oh, so casual fleeting touches they refused to acknowledge.

Jack was undeniably turned on, while Daniel was nervous but flirty in a way Jack had only ever seen him once.  He'd been ready to put a bullet in the bitch before he even knew she was Linea.  Thinking a little more rationally than he had this morning, he recognised the difference in Daniel's behaviour now from the way he had been with Janet.  Jack had to wonder what the hell had prompted Daniel to reach out and touch now of all times, and to reach out to him.

His mind was firmly in the gutter, or at least in the king sized bed of whatever B&B the tourist information types were about to magically pull out of the hat for them, but he didn’t mistake Daniel’s sudden and slightly confused receptivity for anything like permission to reach out and get him naked.

Jack was sure if Daniel did tell him he was willing to get naked and sprawly, this would be the exact point he woke up in the infirmary with a tube up his nose, a needle in his ass and Frais- Janet 'ignoring' his hard-on.

The booking clerk slammed down the phone and sagged with unmistakeable relief.  “Thanks to my colleagues at Low Tonawanda, we've booked two rooms at Abe’s B&B, just five miles from Halcyon,” she announced proudly.  “Last two rooms in the county,” she admitted ruefully.

Two?  Crap.  It would be hard to leap on Daniel’s quivering, helpless body if he wasn’t even there and so goddamn blatant to lure Daniel back to his room after dinner, given they weren’t admitting anything was going on.  Not that he could have crazed weasel sex with a virgin, even an insatiably curious and pushy virgin like Daniel, but without the correct ambience – i.e., Daniel helplessly trapped in a big bed with him – he was going to have to ask him if he wanted to come in and make out.  Even the hokey old coffee invite wouldn’t work.  Daniel would definitely allow himself to be lured, but he’d expect the coffee.  Good coffee.

The dearth of coital opportunities also made it just that more difficult for Jack to extract post-coital Laidlaw Intel out of his annoyingly resistant linguist.  Something had gone down in Halcyon, something that had driven Daniel clear across the country to UCLA at the age of sixteen.  Jack needed to know what.  He shouldn’t need to know what, he knew enough about being a good guy to get that, but he wasn't a good guy and when it came to Daniel, he ALWAYS needed to know.

“It won’t work,” Daniel said pleasantly as they walked out of the concourse only an hour and a half after they’d walked into it.  Not bad timing to retrieve luggage, rent cars and book unavailable rooms.  “I have nothing to say about the Laidlaws.”

“Laidlaws plural?” Jack coolly prompted as they headed over to the Hertz lot. The car should be easy to spot.  He’d plumped for the Lexus.  “I’ve only heard the name Laidlaw, singular, so let’s start right there,” he  persisted.  “We have a short drive ahead of us, then we get to have a nice dinner and a long conversation.”

“Interrogation,” Daniel corrected resentfully, trailing Jack over to their car.  He was wondering what happened after dinner and the long conversation.  Surreal Fun With Jack And Daniel On The Plane had segued into tension.  Not the pleasant, anticipatory tension of the plane, but the gut-clenching about to get painfully real kind of tension.  The kind where Jack might reasonably expect to get laid tonight after the way Daniel had been all over him, and Daniel not knowing what the hell he would do if Jack did make a pass.  He hadn’t fielded a serious pass from a guy - in the all over him sense of pass - since he'd gotten the hell out of Halcyon.

“Daniel?” Jack asked gently as they were stowing the luggage, catching Daniel off-guard.

“They needed the money,” Daniel said involuntarily.  He cringed at the killing look in Jack’s eyes and covered it by twitching the keys from Jack’s slackened grip.  Jack’s fingers closed over his wrist and held him when he tried to pull away.

“They said that?” Jack demanded grimly.  “To you?”

Will had said it.  Gloated over it in fact.  The money was for him and for college, not for Daniel.

“It was true,” Daniel defended Annie quietly.  “Mr. Laidlaw died about eighteen months before I was fostered and Annie lost the garage when the insurance ran out.  She worked hard but couldn’t afford to hire any help so…” He shrugged.

“Doesn’t that make her kind of suspect as a foster parent?” Jack snapped, allowing Daniel to take to the keys.  He felt like punching someone’s lights out so being behind the wheel wasn’t a good idea.

“It was Annie or the Family Assistance Centre in Brooklyn,” Daniel muttered.  “My case worker thought Annie beat out getting beat up four times a day just for…”  For being a stuck-up four-eyed faggot.  “Being me,” he finished uncommunicatively.

The someone Jack wanted to punch out was regrettably clear across the galaxy making nice with the giant aliens.  Maybe Jack could gate in.  Teal’c would go for that.  Carter too.  In fact, Carter would probably club good old Nick with his precious crystal skull if she got a look at Daniel's shuttered face and RAW eyes.

Daniel concentrated on getting them out of the airport and onto the I90 before he picked up the thread again.  “Annie was lovely," he admitted honestly enough.  "She was disappointed in life but not bitter," he added, trying to be fair.  "I liked her.  She was always honest with me.”

“Honest about stealing from you?” Jack asked pleasantly, not about to give an inch.

“I had everything I needed,” Daniel disagreed stiffly.

“Really?  She used your money for your books?”  Jack waited for a moment.  “Asked and answered,” he snapped when Daniel sat silent.

“It’s nice to know I can always rely on you not to be judgemental,” Daniel said sarcastically, getting nothing but an angry shrug in return.  This was exactly why he hadn’t wanted Jack here.  Little Dannyboy lost pushed every button Jack had and he tended to vent like Vesuvius over everyone in the vicinity.  “Annie taught me to play the piano,” he offered by way of damage control.  “That’s how she made her living.  She gave lessons.  I don’t play well, but I learned to love it.”  It took him out of himself, the way that reading did, made the world go away.

“You’ve got the hands for it,” Jack said admiringly, without thinking.  He smiled suddenly as the colour surged up Daniel’s face.  Soooo…still not admitting it but still playing, huh?  The next few days looked like they were going to be interesting to say the least.  “And the other Laidlaws plural?”

“Will,” Daniel said uncommunicatively.

Jack turned to face him more fully, frowning.  The Kenilworth exit loomed ahead of them, giving Daniel a chance to busy himself while Jack tried to place the name.  Daniel was confident he would.  Jack loved sport, all sport.

“The only Will Laidlaw I know is a climber,” Jack said at last.  “He's taken Everest twice, and K2.  Fastest ascent of the Eiger.  That Will Laidlaw?”

“That Will Laidlaw,” Daniel agreed.  The great Will Laidlaw, ‘guy most likely to’.

They were about ten minutes from Halcyon.  He was running on nerves, twitchy libido and Snickers fumes.  He needed to eat and sleep for a week and a half, not necessarily in that order.

Getting sweaty with Jack did not figure in his plans, so his libido could just stop with the twitching.  It was too damn late in the day – literally and figuratively – to notice just how attractive Jack really was and to want to find out how much more attractive he could be without all those clothes getting in the way.

That was way beyond the acceptable flirting entente they had going.  That was a prelude to serious sweat.  Admitting he was attracted to his friend in no way prepared him for sweat.  Daniel had been with a guy exactly once, an occasion that deserved a Hallmark card, if Hallmark did a disastrous ‘shoulda seen it coming’ first time cliché commiseration card, and he could live with wanting to and not, not ever again.   He just didn’t know if Jack would get with the programme.

“You’ll like Will,” Daniel said positively.

“No,” Jack said slowly.  “No, I won’t.”  Something made Daniel run and if it wasn’t Annie, it had to be Will, man of the moment or not.

“Everyone liked Will,” Daniel corrected him serenely.

“Did you?”

“Oh, yes,” Daniel said disingenuously.  At first.  More than liked.  Much more.  Then it took everything he had not to be afraid of him.  “Make up your own mind.”

“I have,” Jack assured Daniel gently, watching the white knuckles on the steering wheel.


“Abe?” Jack asked cautiously.

“Who’s asking?” Abe asked just as suspiciously, glaring up at him, one bare foot poised on the porch step.

Jack wasn’t sure if that was fight or flight.  “MasterCard,” he said solemnly.

“Da-amn,” Abe breathed, her face lighting up.  “Customers?” she asked, disbelieving.  “Paying customers?” she added darkly.

Jack fished into his wallet and produced his MasterCard.  He didn’t blame Abe for plucking it from his fingers and making a run for the register.  “Abe is strangely shorter than l expected,” Jack called to Daniel as he loped up the path after parking the car.  “And a girl.  You can’t miss her.  Pigtails, freckles, snub nose, attitude…”

“And soon to be owner of groceries!” Abe hooted triumphantly as she shoved the door open for them.

“Abigail?” Daniel asked.

“Numb-nuts name,” Abe complained bitterly, “even though I wound up living it.”

“An Abigail was a lady's-maid,” Daniel explained to Jack, who wasn’t interested.

“I wanted to be six feet tall and a boy,” Abe sighed.  “And I sincerely hope neither of you is the kind to say I came up short or you’ll both be sleeping in the car."  She glared at them.  "And cancellations on the day are non-refundable,” she added emphatically.

“I’m exactly that kind,” Jack confessed, “But I pay good, so suck it up.” He plucked the credit card from Abe’s fingers.  She seemed reluctant to let it go.

“You’re the only B&B in the county that had rooms available,” Daniel explained.  He couldn’t understand it.  The B&B was picture-postcard perfect, a true American Gothic in a cottage garden.  It was charming, perfectly maintained, dripping flowers and antique ambience.

“I can’t imagine why,” Jack marvelled, staring at the reason as she grudgingly held the door for them.

“I’ve got eight rooms, help yourself.”  Abe eyed their luggage unenthusiastically.  “Why don’t you pick your room before I shift that lot?”

“Make like your name,” Jack ordered, nudging the bags forward with his foot.

“Room-S,” Daniel muttered, blushing as he fumbled for his wallet.  “Two…rooms,” he added awkwardly, acutely aware of Jack watching him interestedly, smirking over his gaucheness in a way that made him want to smack him one.

Abe stretched up and snatched Daniel’s credit card from him.  “Organic Colombian Roast, here I come!” she gloated, dancing back into the house.

“That girl has no rhythm at all,” Jack said critically.  “She dances like I sing.  And what was she singing?”

“’I want money’.”

“Shocker.”  Jack was dying to say something to Daniel about the room-S, but decided it was a little too early for the flirting to segue into foreplay.  A nice dinner somewhere romantic would relax them, and then he would bring Daniel back here and relax him a whole lot more.  There were lots of things they could do; gentle, non-threatening things that involved being close and staying close, and if Jack did them right, Daniel wouldn’t know what was coming until he did.  “Ah!" He held up a warning finger as Daniel made like the perfect gentleman.  "Don’t touch the bags, Daniel!  She’s trying to psyche you out.  We just paid her a small fortune to do that for us.  Say it after me.  Paying guest.”  Jack tapped his chest, then Daniel’s.  “The help,” Jack pointed at Abe as they walked into the lobby.  He obediently signed on the dotted line under Abe's anxious eye and pointedly retrieved Daniel’s credit card.  “The reason she is helping,” he announced, waving the card meaningfully.

Daniel signed too, then looked around.  The lobby was filled with comfortable sofas and tables, with polished wood and fresh paint everywhere he looked.  The colour scheme was shades of blue and lilac which went well with the oak, and if he had a criticism, it was…well…kind of…chintzy.  In Daniel’s experience, that suggested all the couches were extremely comfortable.  Chintz made men nervous, so if it was draped over a really comfortable chair, the chair tended not to be used for e.g. ProAm channel hopping or games of Beerhunter.  Chintz ensured the comfy chair could be used for reading or long conversations with the like-minded about the evils of ProAm channel hopping, without having the daily grind of beating the sullen, uncommunicative lump aka your S.O., off of it first.  Daniel shook his head. Abe had kind of tipped her hand here.  There were bound to be some sullen, uncommunicative lumps who made the chintz-comfort connection and tried it out at home.  Domestic violence was likely to escalate among her client base.

Um…if she had a client-base.

“Welcome,” Abe beamed at them.

“Can you recommend somewhere for dinner?” Jack asked promptly.

“I’ve got a vat of lasagne if you want some,” Abe grinned.

“I want some,” Jack said softly, looking right at Daniel.  It would be worth whatever Abe charged them just to cut down on his commute time for the nookie.

“This place is FLUFFY,” Jack hissed accusingly.  “The chintz is sapping the testosterone right out of me.”

“It’s very…floral,” Daniel agreed cautiously.  “And frilled.”  Even the breakfast parlour was floral; literally in this case, it had a flagstone floor, pale green walls and honeysuckle trained up the walls in trellises and over the ceiling.  With all the doors open into the garden, the air was warm and deliciously scented.

“The food is good,” Jack admitted grudgingly.  “And the bed is big.”  He maintained the innocent front as Daniel stiffened slightly.  The ‘cosy’ tables all had Victorian style skirts so Jack decided to take advantage, take a leaf out of Daniel’s air travel amusements book and play a little footsie.  He slid his leg forward until his knee was between Daniel's. “And extremely comfortable,” he added blandly, blithely ignoring Daniel’s gasp and reproachful look in favour of ploughing through his second helping of lasagne.  He lazily stirred Daniel’s knee with his, thoroughly enjoying the heat they were generating as Daniel surrendered, stretching out his long legs either side of Jack’s.

Jack’s urge to tease faded as he was caught by the sweet, intense look on Daniel’s face, Daniel clinging now as Jack rubbed rhythmically between his thighs.  He realised they’d skirmished over the line on the plane, but the overt eroticism of this went way beyond it, and as far as he could tell, he was turning Daniel on.  Taking in the delicate flush and the hitches catching Daniel’s breath, Jack would have to say he was in point of fact slowly driving Daniel out of his mind.

Jack decided he’d had more than enough lasagne and Daniel wasn’t even pretending to eat his.  “Early night,” he muttered vaguely, eyes riveted to Daniel’s parted lips.  “Bed.”

“Whose?” Daniel whispered before he could stop himself, blushing comprehensively.  He hoped to God Jack hadn’t heard that.  He was pathetically glad of his long sweater, because with all the blood in his body committed to a slow, relentless glide down, he might as well be wearing a sandwich board that said ‘will put out for food’.  He managed to make it to his feet but had no real objections to letting Jack steer.  The only problem, and it wasn’t a problem per se, more an observation, was that Jack’s hand started out companionably across his shoulders, and by the time they’d reached the top of the stairs, it was curved possessively round his waist.

Dazed, confused and déjà vu’d.  That was how Daniel felt.  He was fatalistic at this point; could not in fact imagine a scenario where he and Jack didn’t end up in bed together.  It wasn’t a matter of time, or making a conscious decision or a rational choice, it was going to happen the instant they hit his bedroom door, ‘cause his was nearer the stairs.  He could only hope this worked out better than his first time.  Which had BEEN his first time and had put him off sex for quite some time.

Daniel did hit his door, literally.  Jack turned him and pushed him up against it, leaning in to rest his forearms against the panelling either side of Daniel’s face.  Daniel looked into Jack’s glittering eyes and gulped.  Yep.  Getting that first time feeling all over again.

Jack sighed.  “Are you going to invite me in for ‘coffee’?” he asked patiently.

“There isn’t any.  I checked.”

Jack shook his head tragically.  “Smooth, Daniel, really smooth,” he chuckled, turning the handle so they fell in through the door, then kicking it shut behind him.  Jack took Daniel’s face between his hands, Daniel’s coming up to rest over his.  They were both shaking.

“Jack, please…” Daniel whispered, the rest of his plea for sanity swallowed as Jack kissed him anything but gently.  Jack was kissing him like a man who had been waiting to do this for so damned long NOTHING was going to stop him doing it now.  Daniel realised he certainly wasn’t.  Jack’s lips were straight and strong, surprisingly soft and warm for all the insistent pressure massaging against his own mouth.  Daniel leaned gratefully into the kiss, his hands at Jack’s waist because he didn’t know what to do with them.  Jack wasn’t the kind of man you stroked, so he was keeping his fingers out of Jack’s hair until he was sure that was…

Oh.  Jack was quite definitely backing him towards the bed.

He knew it.  He knew they were going to end up in bed together.  Tumbling into a tangled heap of limbs on top of the bed, still fully clothed was a small, temporary reprieve.  Not much of a reprieve.  Daniel was mashed flat.  Jack weighed a ton, and he was stronger, harder and more aggressive than Daniel was prepared for.  The last time he’d been under the man like this, 'Touched' Jack had been doing his Cro-Magnon impression, beating the shit out of him.  Now he was pinned flat by Jack, rocking insistently until he’d insinuated himself between his thighs, gloating smugly as he ground his steely erection into Daniel.  His hands were clamped to Daniel’s ass, lifting him into the rhythmic rocking…”Jesus, Jack, could you make it any more obvious you want to have sex with me?” Daniel complained, his heart hammering.  He just needed a breathing space. This was too…kissing was good, could they not just…

Jack moved so quickly Daniel didn’t even have time to yelp as his jeans were unzipped and pulled off with ruthless efficiency.  He managed to get out a couple of indignant ‘Jack’s’ as his boots hit the floor and his jeans followed them, then Jack stretched out beside him, his huge, callused hand firmly clasping Daniel’s now flaccid penis.  All Daniel managed then was a whimper of shock, which earned him another kiss as emphatic as the first.

Daniel lay flat on his back, his sweater pooled around his hips, legs sprawled, Jack’s hand on him.  He gazed speechlessly up at him, utterly transfixed by the inexpressible tenderness in his warm brown eyes.

“What have we learned?” Jack asked thoughtfully, risking a slow, careful exploration of Daniel’s dick, slowly swelling again and throbbing hot and heavy against the palm of his hand.  He felt guilty for letting the crazed weasel get the upper hand there, but Daniel’s face was getting that sweet, intense stillness Jack was already looking for, his panicked breathing still quick, but evening out.  Fine tremors were still running through Daniel’s body but his own steadily stroking hand was the cause of it.  He just kept staring into Daniel’s dazed eyes and smiling, both of which seemed to help.  Daniel was in fact smiling tentatively back.

“You’re a man,” Daniel said intelligently.

“That’s…harsh,” Jack winced.  “Deserved, but harsh.  It won’t happen again.”

Daniel’s next comment was a soft moan he seemed embarrassed about, so Jack took that as permission to get a tad more creative, brushing his thumb over and over the head of Daniel’s dick as he rubbed gentle circles along the underside.  Daniel shuddered from head to foot and tried to curl up into a defensive ball.  It wasn’t much of stretch to think Daniel really liked to be touched just there, so Jack kept it up, relaxing as Daniel stretched himself out again and settled for just letting his toes curl.  Daniel was moaning continuously and he was embarrassed about it, but he was also restlessly pushing up into Jack’s hand.

Daniel was going out of his mind, his head swimming as intense pangs of rich, almost forgotten pleasure stabbed clean through him.  He wanted to tell Jack he was an insensitive SHIT for just lying there fully dressed; totally, blatantly getting off on expertly masturbating Daniel beyond the power of speech, while Daniel was sprawled, writhing shamelessly, moaning helplessly and arching into that maddening, perfect rhythm and he was STILL wearing his fucking sweater.

Despite himself, his mind kept dragging him back to the last time he'd been with someone out of control like this…all over him.  This - it FELT like last time, the aggression, his panic - but this…this was JACK.  He was SAFE with Jack.  He knew that.  Jack would NEVER…Daniel could say no, he could say no and stop Jack COLD.  Jack would never, could never hurt him.

Daniel took some deep, calming breaths.  Jack was excited.  Literally.  He was aroused and passionate and a GUY.  He wouldn't be all over a woman like this, but with Daniel…maybe Jack felt safe with HIM.  Jack trusted Daniel to stop him, to say no if he went too far.

He was…He WAS in control here.  There was no risk.  Maybe…he could go with the flow.  See where it took them, knowing…sure it wouldn't be further than he WANTED it to take him.  He looked up at Jack's flushed face…if he got Jack to ease off a little…a natural break…soften the mood.  They could undress and get IN the bed.   Take it easy.

“Clothes,” Daniel croaked.  Two seconds later he was thumping into the mattress completely naked and outraged while the greedy bastard was going mental over his nipples.  Falling for Jack O’Neill like a ton of bricks at the exact same time he discovered Jack was an irredeemable pig was abso-friggin-lutely typical of his luck.

Daniel made a supreme effort and peeled Jack’s hand off him, which wasn’t easy; he was totally disoriented by the inconceivable sight of Colonel O’Neill pouting, and the colonel was putting up a fight.  Daniel gave in and tugged sharply at Jack’s shirt.  “Clothes!”

Jack glared at him and sullenly backed off to undress, which he did with no finesse at all, balling his clothes and tossing them vengefully at the wall, grumbling bitterly about ‘0 for 2’.

Daniel glared at him.  Tell me about it!  He crawled shakily into the bed and pulled the quilt pettishly up to his chin.  “TMI,” he said flatly.  He also wasn’t the one who was out of control here.  Mild recognition from Jack that he was going too far, too fast and way too aggressively for someone who was shaky on the whole guy/guy thing to start with would be…

“I’m in love with you,” Jack said gruffly.  “I…er…I NEED you,” he mumbled grudgingly at his feet.  He wanted to apologise for going mental on Daniel and couldn’t get the words out in case he fucked up more than he already had.  Daniel hadn’t even said it was okay for them to kiss and he’d all but mauled him.   Peeled him and mauled him.  Shucked him like an ear of corn.  “Can I stay?  Sleep with you?” he pushed his luck anyway.

Daniel lifted the quilt up in answer and Jack slid into the bed beside him.  Jack was surprised and touched when Daniel scooted into his arms and kissed him emphatically.

“Too much, Jack,” Daniel told him solemnly.  “I think…I’m falling for you too, but you’re moving way too fast for me.  You have to give me a…a chance here.  And try not to look so smug about it.”  Daniel observed the impact of this reproof on Jack, which was apparently squat.  “I mean it, Jack.  Try.”

“I AM trying!” Jack complained, wounded.

“You’re a pig.”

Jack lay comfortably on his side, Daniel contentedly curled up beside him, still drowsing between sleep and waking.  It was past dawn but the skies were leaden, the murmur of the rain deadening every sound, the steady susurration keeping time with the beat of Daniel’s heart, vibrating against his chest.  Jack smiled slowly.  And with the throb of a slowly swelling erection, jutting aggressively now against Jack’s belly.

After the way Jack had killed the mood last night, he’d had plenty of time to remember his original plan of gentle and non-threatening.  He tilted Daniel’s face up and kissed him lingeringly, his gentle mouth opening naturally.  Jack deepened the kiss, suckling at Daniel's lips until he stirred and sleepily returned the pressure.  He felt rather than saw Daniel’s smile, touched the tips of their tongue together, sliding easily into Daniel's mouth.  Jack kept the pressure slow and tender, rubbing their tongues over and over one another gently, smiling in turn when Daniel relaxed into him, his hand coming up to cup Jack's neck.

Daniel let Jack balance him on his side, gasping as Jack stroked shaking hands down his back and onto his ass, holding him steady as Jack’s hips touched his and he felt that steely erection again, slick and hot against his own.  Jack held him close enough to push into him, rocking Daniel slowly with him.  Pleasure skittered through him with every subtle slide of his penis over Jack's.  Wrapping both his arms around Jack's neck, he sighed happily and leaned into the deepening kiss, focusing on the warm, playfully aggressive tongue making free with his mouth, roaming restlessly until he stroked back.  The kiss was sweeter and more tender than he’d been led to expect by anything Jack had done last night.  The kiss was Jack delivering on that look he’d given Daniel, the look that told him he was loved, this was real.

He slid his own hand onto Jack’s ass, curiously exploring the muscles as they clenched and flexed beneath the hot, satiny skin.  Jack’s body was exotically male, at once familiar and alien to him, filled with negative spaces, all planes and angles.  Nothing about him was soft, nothing yielded to Daniel’s touch; he was met by a strength as great as his own, or greater.

“Oh, Christ.  Yes.  That feels good, Danny.  Yeah, just there,” Jack groaned as teasing fingers skimmed down his chest to flicker over his nipples.  He tightened his grip on Daniel, pulling him closer, going crazy as Daniel moved with him rather than against him when it could be so good, so fucking good.  Right now Daniel relaxing into his body and enjoying being this close had to be better than good.  After last night, it was great.  When Daniel needed more, Jack knew now just how to bring him off.

They clung together, pushing into one another, passionately kissing and drowning in the sensual pleasure of touch for a long time as Daniel gained confidence.  Despite his good intentions, Jack found himself leaning into Daniel, slowly forcing him onto his back, but the catch in Daniel’s breath as his weight increased the friction encouraged Jack to roll him carefully beneath him.  Daniel’s legs parted at once, his feet planted against the bed as Jack rocked easily against him.  Daniel was smiling up at Jack as he pulled him back into the kiss, his braced feet giving him leverage to rock up to meet Jack.  Jack wanted those long, long legs wrapped around his back and he couldn’t even stroke them; he was holding Daniel, coveting fingers touching his face reassuringly, not just pinning him flat with his weight.  The sweat was beading Daniel’s pleasure-flushed skin, glistening and gliding down to pool where Jack could lick it clear whenever they broke the kiss to breathe.

“Good?” Jack whispered as Daniel moaned softly.

“Oh, yes, Jack, yes.”  Daniel couldn’t seem to open his eyes.  He found making love this way very satisfying now he was getting over the fact he was making love with Jack.  They were slipping and sliding over one another, already losing friction and rhythm to strain desperately.  It had been so long for both of them.  So long.  They seemed to have no self-control.  Daniel’s skin prickled as orgasm began to shiver through him, gradually intensifying into shudders that wracked his whole body with sleek, sullen pleasure, pumping out of him as he came.  Jack convulsed calling his name, his penis jerking as he shot all over Daniel, the slick, hot semen from them both pooling on Daniel’s skin.

“I knew it,” Daniel mumbled into Jack’s hot, sweaty shoulder.


“I knew we’d end up going to bed together.  I just knew it.”

“Did you also know we’d end up going at it like crazed weasels in the shower together?” Jack asked hopefully.

The sunlight was streaming now into the breakfast parlour, which made the room significantly lighter than Daniel’s mood.  Jack was in fact going very easy on Daniel, who was freaking through the kind of full blown panic attack only getting naked and jiggy with his closest friend and confidante the COLONEL could induce.

Jack was also remembering Daniel’s restless tossing and turning of last night, which at the time his ego had chalked up to first time nerves.  Now Jack was certain Daniel was having reunion nerves.  He was trying to respect the occasion, trying not to smoulder too blatantly but not succeeding very well if the way Daniel was blushing was anything to go by.

The problem was, Jack was totally distracted by Daniel in a sweater.  There was something intensely arousing about all that huggable soft wool with Daniel inside it that just dried the roof of his mouth and made his palms clammy.  He had a feeling this was now obvious to Daniel, and would lead to some tricky questions later about various birthday and Christmas presents, including the one Daniel was wearing.  Another shade of grey, a colour Daniel bought for himself in the mistaken belief it was practical and everyone else bought for him because it did astonishing things for his eyes.  This sweater was a chunky ribbed silver-grey turtleneck that made Daniel’s creamy skin glow and made the blue…

“Jack!” Daniel hissed.  “Can you not drool?”

“Excuse me?” Jack said indignantly, dabbing his mouth with the napkin.  Strictly a precautionary measure, not an admission of guilt.  Not at all.

“You’ve been staring for five minutes,” Daniel accused.  “I’m starting to feel like that stuff you hurl off the back of the boat to tempt the sharks in.”

“It’s not just the sex,” Jack complained.  He was rather pleased by Daniel's analogy, which he guessed was the main reason Daniel thought he was a pig.

“Good,” Daniel said briskly.  “So if I tell you this morning was a one shot deal and you will never get me into bed again?”

“It’s not entirely about the sex,” Jack amended grudgingly.  “How come my telling you I’m in love with you doesn’t panic you but my looking at your ass and thinking I’d like to…”


“I’ve been doing that for a while, you know,” Jack offered.  “If that helps.”  Daniel just looked at him, mouth falling open.  “Looking at you and really wanting to have sex with you.  For a while.”  He ate a sausage thoughtfully.  “Quite a while.  I’m not bitter or anything,” he added.  “I’ve just been wanting to do that with you for quite a while.”

“Oh,” Daniel said inadequately.

“And just so you know, I’m going to be spending all day thinking up ways to get you into bed again tonight.”  Jack ate another sausage as Daniel mulled that over.  “What’s your position on that?”

“Oh, I…I really don’t know, Jack,” Daniel admitted in a rush.  “We’ve only done that one thing.”

“I do want to do other things to you,” Jack assured Daniel earnestly.  “With, I meant with,” he corrected himself hurriedly.

Daniel suppressed a sigh.  They were on the outskirts of Halcyon, Jack was on a collision course with Daniel’s life and the only thing that might get them through it was Jack’s unholy passion for his ass.  He had grasped the exact nature of Jack’s consuming interest in his rear, but he didn’t care how quote ‘Sweeeet!’ he looked in these jeans, he was not about to let Jack fuck him, not any time soon.  Even if…or maybe because Jack was good at sex.  Terribly talented.  Daniel was fairly certain being fucked by Jack O’Neill would be a life changing experience.

He was absolutely certain his commitment to the wildest ride of his life had been inevitable from the moment he and Jack had rubbed each other up the right way under the dinner table and that was enough of a life change right there.  The rubbing thing.  Jack got him into bed on the strength of it, and had every intention of keeping him in bed on the strength of all the other things he was so damn good at, none of which Daniel was likely to see coming before he did.

His first time had been baaaad sex and he definitely hadn’t seen that coming.  The first time he got drunk, the first time he'd gone to bed with anyone.  Fifteen years old and he'd believed he was in love until he'd realised Will was in lust.  Fifteen wasn't old enough to realise how stupid it was to gladly tumble into bed with his foster brother, but it was plenty old enough to realise Will had used him, used his body to get off.  He'd said no at some point in that hot, aching, helpless confusion.  He'd said no, and Will had stopped.  He stopped, but he never forgave Daniel the rejection, and he never stopped craving what he couldn't have.

With only that experience to compare, Daniel hadn't been prepared for Jack.  Will came.  Daniel hadn't.  It certainly hadn’t been high on Will's list of priorities.  This morning had been enough to show Daniel a focused individual could find an orgasm in the most surprising places, and Jack was nothing if not focused.  The difference was simple enough to cut, even after all this time.  The difference between Jack and Will was as simple as give…and take.

“Fishing!” Jack grasped at any activity that didn’t customarily include going to bed and having weasel sex.

Jerked out of his reverie, Daniel shot him a scandalised look.  “I’m not having sex in the river!”

O-kaay, not that one.  “I just want to spend a week in bed in you,” Jack said plaintively.  “Is that too much to ask?”

“In me?” Daniel asked, dangerously calm.

“With, I meant with.”

Daniel glared at his unrepentant whatever-it-was Jack was now.  Oh, yes.  Jack was nothing if not focused.  He just wasn't sure he'd survive the focus being on him.

Jack hung back to case the house as Daniel went ahead of him to ring the doorbell.  He had to figure Laidlaw was making money in endorsements, so the place was fixed up some.  It was painfully neat and tidy; the yard, the porch, the cream and blue paintwork, everything.  Jack’s garden grew where it wanted, he just nipped and tucked and kept the grass in check.  This yard was clipped within an inch of its life, like the flowers were polished or something.  They didn’t even grow in the ground, there were pots and fancy raised beds everywhere.  The house itself was a typical boxy two-bedroom suburban utility home.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

There was nothing wrong with the place, he just couldn’t see Daniel in it.

Hell.  He didn’t want to see Daniel in it.  He didn’t like reminders that Daniel’s life was not his own until he turned eighteen and actually got to make a choice for himself that some prick with a clipboard didn’t have to sign off on first.  He got angry when he had to think about what it was like for Daniel, independent minded prick that he was.

Jack strolled up the path and joined Daniel just as the door was pulled open and they found themselves face to face with THE Will Laidlaw.  Jack’s immediate reaction was the guy was much better looking in the flesh; tall and tanned, obviously built, brown haired and hazel-eyed and very happy to see Daniel.  Jack could tell without a word said Will was all alone in the happy zone.

“Danny!” Will eagerly hailed Daniel, taking a hasty step forward, arms outstretched.

Oh, I don’t think so, pal.  Stepping forward, Jack smoothly blocked Will's path, sticking out his hand.  “Jack,” he cranked up the ebullient O’Neill charm.  “Colonel Jack O’Neill.  A friend of Daniel’s,” he emphasised the name subtly.

“Will Laidlaw,” Will shook firmly, his own smile warm and charming.

No.  Jack didn’t like him.  He sensed he was supposed to, and that alone was enough to ensure he didn’t.  Daniel sure as hell didn’t.

Daniel took the initiative, beating Will to the punch with his handshake.  “Will,” he acknowledged.

“It’s been a long time, Danny.”

“Twenty years,” Daniel said easily, surprised at how calm he felt now Will was right in front of him, no longer larger than life.  Experience had finally given Daniel perspective.  It was naïve to assume Will would exert the power over him he once had.  Maybe it was a little pop psychology 101 of him to think this way, but Will had only the power Daniel allowed him, and from this point on, he realised with a slight shock that would be none.  Will was human and fallible, like the rest of them, and he had to live with being Will Laidlaw.  That should be enough for anyone.

“How’s Annie doing?” he asked as Will stood back to let them into the house.  It looked nothing like he remembered it, different décor, new furniture.  It was warm and comfortable though, which was as much as Annie had ever wanted of a home.  He waited for Will to speak, knowing the answer wouldn't be good, if Annie was sick enough to call for him.  Neither the letter nor his phone call to Will had yielded specifics about Annie's condition and he'd had a long night flooded with painful memories.  Daniel didn't know what Annie needed from him, what he could do for her, but he was going to try.  "Will?"

“She died, Danny,” Will said softly.  “Two days ago.”

“Excuse me?” Jack snapped coldly as Daniel floundered.  “Am I mistaken in thinking Daniel called here before we travelled?  Odd you didn’t mention that fact to him.”  That was a fucking understatement.  What the hell was Laidlaw playing at, making them come all this way thinking Annie was sick and needing Daniel?

“Mother wanted Danny at her memorial service, and I wasn’t sure he’d come all this way just for that,” Will told them calmly, as if that was some kind of explanation.

“You don’t know me too well,” Daniel responded as he took his seat on the couch, Jack joining him as Will took Annie’s accustomed spot by the fire.  “But then you never did,” he added softly.

Will’s eyes lit with dark amusement.  “Touché, Danny,” he acknowledged jovially.

“I prefer Daniel,” Daniel corrected him.

“Sure thing, Danny.  Excuse me, Dan-yel,” Will corrected himself pointedly, making it obvious he was 'indulging' Daniel's pathetic correction of something so unimportant.

Same old same old, Daniel thought, instantly recognising a tactic used against him so effectively so often.  That was then.

“So when’s the memorial, Billy?” Jack asked just as pointedly, smiling as Laidlaw’s face twisted.

“Tomorrow afternoon, two pm.  The service will be held at the Wesleyan Chapel as Mother requested.”

“I bet if I said you don’t seem awfully cut up about losing your mother you’d say something trite like everyone grieves in their own way, huh?” Jack observed mildly.  He really did not like this guy.  Seriously.

“Mother was a great believer in stoicism,” Will smile reminiscently.  “That’s why she liked Daniel so much.”

“I guess she liked pettiness, too,” Jack smiled right back.

“You’re actually Daniel’s friend.” Will marvelled, shaking his head in amazement.

“One of many,” Jack agreed placidly.

“You do surprise me, Daniel,” Will smiled at him.  “Quite a contrast from school.  Not just stoic but exclusive.  How many people actually made it to the inner circle?  Let me see…hmm…”

Daniel looked steadily back.  It was amazing how the skill had never left him.  Never escalate.  Get past if you can, focused on where you need to be, not what’s waiting for you.  If you get in it, maintain eye contact, keep your voice low and steady.  Pleasant.  Don’t smile.  That’s pathetic.  That’s nervy.  Don’t get scared.  There’s never just one.  If you lose it, they take you.  Don’t get mad.  Mad escalates, mad lets the other get in your face; it gets stupid and hormonal and you get hurt.  Bored is bad.  Comes off as superior.  Stoic is all too easily seen as arrogant by someone who thinks he has cause.  Someone you dared to say no to when he deigned to want you.  You can’t get above yourself, because then they want to take you down, to the place you’re supposed to fit.  Don’t give the bastards any kind of reaction at all.

It’s hard to walk a gauntlet with your head up, but not too up, not drawing attention, just walking, just want to get by.  Hard to do it knowing they’re waiting for you to give them that hook; hard when your heart is hammering, the blood pounding in your ears, so scared you can feel it chill your skin and you taste it, salt and metallic in the back of your throat.  Hard to walk a gauntlet like that.

Hard to do it every single day, almost every class you had to walk into, everyone watching.  Waiting.

Harder still to come back to what Annie tried to make home and have to eat with that fear, sit with it, sleep in the same fucking room with it.  To never know a moment’s peace or privacy, a single moment where he wasn’t on edge, wasn’t waiting for something to blow up in his face, never the same trigger twice, no, too easy.  Bullies weren’t always dumb and maintaining your balance was dangerous.  Getting good at defusing, deflecting, getting good at getting away with it – that was bad.  This bully wasn’t dumb; he was creative.

With Will and his friends, the pride of the school on his back each and every day of his life, Daniel might as well have swung through the halls with ‘outcast’ tattooed across his forehead.  He had only one friend who had the balls to take his baggage.  Rainey Witt, the Barbie hating anti-cheerleader who played chess like a goddamn bastard – in her own words.  Rainey was his friend, she stuck with him, gave Will and his friends crap because she was a girl and they were big guys, crap that embarrassed them in front of their acolytes.

Will got creative.  He knew the difference between barely fifteen and seventeen.  He started dating Rainey.

Daniel learned everything he knew about people from Will Laidlaw and the first time he didn’t hear her voice urging Will to just PLEASE, quit it,  Rainey Witt.

Daniel walked the gauntlet and came out the other end bound and fucking determined.  You did not do that to other people.

“No,” he agreed quietly, trying not to mind Jack’s focused, intent presence, Jack threat-assessing his way into Daniel’s privacy.  “No friends.”

“Mother died asking for you,” Will said gently.

What was it Sam had said to Jack?  Oh, yes.  He glanced fleetingly to Jack, icily still and seething at his side.  Welcome to MY life.

On to Part Two

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