Jack was simply
there at Daniel's side, leaning over him as he shook his thin blanket
out over Daniel's, then he was sliding beneath the doubled covering to
stretch out with him on the narrow pallet.
"Was I making
noise?" Daniel whispered drowsily as he obligingly hitched closer to
the wall to make room for Jack.
"You were quiet,"
Jack whispered back, wryly conscious of Daniel's affectionate,
unquestioning acceptance of him just turning up out of the blue and
climbing cosily into bed with him.
"I'm not cold,"
Daniel lied proudly even though his bones ached with it.
"I am. My
knees hurt so much I can't stand it." This was a miserable fact
of his life which Jack hated to admit to himself let alone anyone else
but he needed to be right here and this got him what he needed.
Daniel. Compassion wasn't always a strength and the closer you
got to a person, the more buttons you learned how to push. "I'm
fucking old," he grumbled with some honesty. His health was
weather contingent, for Chrissake.
At this, Daniel put
his arms around Jack and held him tightly. "I'm sorry, Jack," he
murmured regretfully. "This was my screw-up."
"How'd you figure
that?" Jack slid his arms around Daniel and hugged him close.
"You had no way to know hostage-taking was plain good business practice
here on Planet Hell. As in, it's the only way these scum can get
anyone to do business with them, what with all those awkward questions
bound to come up sooner or later from any species which doesn't
collectively have its head up its ass. Anyway, last time I
looked, telepathy wasn't on either of our job descriptions."
executed. His deadline was up two days ago," Daniel whispered
soberly. "I hoped, when he didn't come back, that his government
met the price the Mirin set for him. Before him, it was Shelee
from two cells down."
"It's our deadline
"And our government
doesn't negotiate with mass-murdering hostage-takers," Jack sing-songed
rapidly. "I know." It was why he was here. Everything
had been stripped away from him in the past few weeks of their
incarceration on Mirin. Everything. All the rules, the
regs, the lies and compromises. All his pretence and his deals
with himself. Even the guilt he had for getting the two of them
into this mess. All that was left for him was Daniel and feelings
he wouldn't deny any longer. The desperation of this literal last
chance was going to his head like wine, leaving him giddy and euphoric.
"I'm too cold to be
afraid," Daniel insisted quietly, contradicting his earlier claim, in
case there was any doubt - in case Jack doubted him.
"There's always a
chance," Jack suggested uncomfortably, unable to meet the wide blue
eyes fixed on his. It was never more than twilight in the cells,
never wholly night or day and so goddamned fatally easy to lose track
of time. Deliberate of course, so you never knew when you were or
when the Mirin were coming for you.
"A chance of
what? Escape?" Daniel demanded angrily. "Three guards dead,
Jack, in the last attempt. Three guards and three days off the
time we had to live."
There was really
nothing Jack could say to this and even if there was, he hadn't come to
Daniel to fight.
"A chance our
President - our government - is so morally bankrupt they'll give the
Mirin what they're asking for us, when they can figure out the it'll be
put it to?" Daniel demanded passionately. He looked at Jack,
really looked at him, dark eyes glittering feverishly, a flush on his
cheeks standing out starkly against the pallor.
"That's what you're afraid of, isn't it?" he breathed, appalled.
"Oh, they couldn't, Jack. They couldn't," he insisted, clutching
at a broad shoulder, as if to shake sense into Jack.
Jack offered the only assurance he could. "But ultimately it
isn't his decision. The Mirin will only execute us if the
government won't trade."
naquadah for penicillin," Daniel said dully. "It sounds like a
"That wasn't your
screw-up, Daniel, so let it go. That one is solidly down to
"She had no idea
where it would lead, Jack," Daniel argued, rallying in his friend's
defence. "The doctors seemed so concerned for their
patients." It distressed him to think about the isolation wards
full of quietly despairing individuals, each of them struggling for
breath. He still couldn't wholly comprehend how he could've
been so mistaken in these people, even for a short time. The
civic-minded Mirin were so caring to one another on the surface and so
utterly ruthless in their service of what they deemed to be the greater
good of their society, culling everyone they decided was unable to
contribute to the furtherance of their people. "I was there too,
remember?" he reminded Jack bitterly. "The medical staff seemed
to be doing everything they could."
agreed heartily. "No one could've worked harder to find more
efficient, effective ways to put the poor bastards out of their
misery." He brushed at a tendril of soft hair spilling down over
Daniel's forehead, relieved Daniel was too upset to notice this
lapse. "A couple more years on the clock and they'd be putting me
down." There was nothing funny about that. Jack felt his
age in more than his aching bones.
"We can't do
it. We won’t," Daniel insisted. "The President won't
provide the Mirin with any means which could be used to conduct mass
euthanasia." The Mirin were worse to him than the Goa'uld, making
the fullest use of their beautiful, caring religion, so family oriented
and so perfectly constructed to lead the people un-protesting to their
duly decreed deaths.
"The population has
built up resistance to every drug they have and it all sounds so
plausible on the surface," Jack said bitterly. "Hell, they even
snowed you for a while with all that talk of their vulnerability to
respiratory tract disorders. They led you right to it."
"I know," Daniel
admitted with a sigh. "We were so interested, too. It's not
as if we haven't carried infection to other planets or been infected
ourselves. Every world which uses the Stargate faces the same
risks. We've been lucky and found medicinal compounds which have
been useful for our people, of course we were sympathetic to the
seeming plight of the Mirin. It actually felt good, for a while,
to be able to offer something in return."
"All those patients
they showed you and Carter exhibited the symptoms you expected,
Daniel," Jack instantly made excuse. "Carter just had to
chatter away about Alexander frigging Fleming, antibiotics,
microwhatsit resistance. Naturally the Mirin were going to be
pricking up their ears and asking exactly the right questions, the
smart questions. They've had lots and lots of practice. And
of course, sure as night follows day, Carter whips out her little
laptop and helpfully gives them all the sciencey stuff too.
Physiology. Biochemistry. Toxicity. Anaphylactic
shock. The full meal deal," he slowly enunciated with savage
clarity. "Not that I did any better. Too bored to even show
up for the tour. Jesus."
His fingers moved
into Daniel's hair again, smoothing the wayward, now over-long
strands. He loved to see Daniel with his hair this way, he
looked so young and vulnerable, so very beautiful, the innocent
impression he gave so at odds with the strong individualist Jack had
fallen deeply in love with.
"You did what you're
supposed to do, Daniel. You realised something was wrong and you
kept right on asking questions. I just wish Carter and I had
listened when there was still time to do something about it."
He was struck by a
vivid memory of Daniel's last stormy encounter with the Mirin Conclave
in the Hall of Voices, their Speaker completely losing it, his voice
climbing to a squeal.
Oh, yeah. He
completely loved this guy.
"Sam didn't - we had
no way to know those symptoms were deliberately inflicted," Daniel
miserably reminded Jack, his fingers knotting in Jack's T-shirt.
"Microbial resistance is a huge healthcare issue on our world
too. Some infections are becoming impossible to treat. You
know that. The tabloids are full of stories about necrotizing
disease?" Jack commented knowledgeably.
accusingly smacked Jack in the shoulder.
"Teal'c buys those
rags," Jack sniffed disparagingly.
"You just read them
cover to cover, sometimes before he does."
"Was there a point
to this apart from insulting my alleged literary tastes?" Jack
was kind of enjoying the way Daniel was holding on to bits of him for
emphasis and then forgetting to let go.
"The point is, on
the surface, everything appeared as it should be."
"So why were you
asking questions?" Jack queried. "And why wasn't I listening?"
uncomfortably at this reminder. "All the evidence is there on the
mission footage, Jack, just like it was there for you and me to see
when we were escorted back through the streets from the Stargate to the
off-worlders enclave. You know I snatched a minute with Sam just
before she gated through, talked it over with her. She knows
something was wrong. She'll figure it out. This is
Sam! We're covered. In fact, we're lucky you sent Sam and
Teal'c back to consult with Janet when you did or I - I'd be really
"As it is, you have
me to thank for getting just the two of us executed in the morning!"
Jack responded with insane cheeriness.
"If you're going to
be sarcastic, you can freeze your ass off on your own pallet until they
kill us," Daniel snapped, rallying.
"No, Daniel, I can't
do that," Jack said simply, "I really can't." And then he
lowered his head to kiss Daniel tenderly on his beautiful, haunting
Daniel's whole body
violently jerked with the shock of Jack's mouth on his. He
couldn't breathe, couldn't think, the unsuspected heat of it all
shaking him to the bone. Blindly, stupefied, and trusting his
friend instinctively, he let go, let himself fall into that heat,
reaching urgently for Jack, wanting to be closer.
fingers clutched at Jack's face as his lips moved over Daniel's, so
soft and warm beneath his. "Wanted to do this for the longest
time," he breathed against Daniel, then kissed him again.
Oh, Jack. Oh
god. Daniel didn't know what to do with that, didn't know there
was anything he could do, not with Jack kissing him, his weight
shifting convulsively to pin Daniel effortlessly beneath him.
Despite the urgency of
Jack's desire for him, there was a question in the kiss, a choice.
Daniel loved his
friend, loved him dearly, but still he didn't know what to do.
Jack was tender but Jack was starved, a desperation in his gentleness
which felt to Daniel as if his friend really had wanted this forever.
His hand was against
Jack's face, frozen with his indecision and it was taken now, a hot,
moist kiss pressed against the palm. He was shaking, maybe more
than Jack was, and it seemed at the last there was really only one
thing he could do, only one way to show Jack how much he meant, how
much Daniel felt for him.
He reached up for
his friend, kissing him clumsily on the mouth, falling as Jack's urgent
weight pressed him back into the pillow. Jack stroked deeply into
his mouth to rub and rasp compulsively over his tongue. Jack
asked, he coaxed, a shudder running through his powerful frame when
Daniel shyly responded, his tentativeness accepted, understood, met
with so much gentleness and passion it shook him to the core.
"I'm sorry," Jack
whispered when they broke apart to snatch a breath, resting his
forehead against Daniel's.
Daniel shook his
head mutely, again opening generously to Jack as he plunged home,
trying to be careful of the tremors running through the strong,
generous body beneath this own. Even if he wasn't deeply in
love with Daniel, Jack would have been respectful of his inexperience
with men. Daniel was not going to die regretting making love with
Jack, only, maybe, that Jack hadn't had the courage to come to him
sooner, that they didn't have more time.
There was so much he
needed for Daniel to know and no words to fit what he felt for
him. There were no more fear or consequences, no
boundaries. They'd been close for years but had never found one
another, never truly expressed the connection between them. More
than friends, more than brothers. More even than
lovers. The two of them together were whole, and difficult and
challenging as they each could be, they fit and flowed and filled all
the empty spaces inside.
Sex was the deepest
connection Jack knew, the only way he knew they could express the depth
of their bond. This was their time, the only time they would ever
have, too short and too precious to waste a moment of it.
Jack kissed Daniel
with all the passion he felt, all the love he'd fought so hard against
and finally given in to. He stroked deeply into the silken mouth,
touching and tasting every part of Daniel open to him. He shook
all over when a quietly questioning tongue began to push against his,
then Daniel's hands came up to hook tightly around his shoulders and
pull him closer.
"Is this good?" Jack
asked, feathering kisses over Daniel's cheek and jaw.
"Yes, Jack," Daniel
whispered. "Yes." He reached for Jack and drew him down
into another kiss, deeper and more passionate than before, moaning
softly as Jack suckled gently on his tongue, unconsciously rocking
their bodies together in the familiar rhythm of sex.
The demanding bulge
at Jack's crotch was enough to tell Daniel where this was going but
when Jack asked if he could touch him, he agreed. Straddling
Daniel's hips, Jack sat back to strip off his T-shirt, watching
intently as Daniel emerged from his own. Broad, callused fingers,
always used with such purpose and capability, splayed over Daniel's
skin, tracing the outlines of his collar bone as Jack leaned in to kiss
his shoulder and push him back down to the mattress.
The teasing nips and
licks at Daniel's throat and shoulders began to warm him and he found
himself relaxing into Jack's nuzzling, running curious hands over his
broad shoulders. Jack's skin was smooth but the muscle
beneath, the shear breadth of bone, was fascinating. Daniel was
surprised to find himself a little breathless at the thought of Jack's
strength and power, that explosive temper, not tamed, but gentled.
"Jack?" he said
Jack surged up to
kiss him, biting distractingly at his lips. "Hmm?"
Daniel frowned over this unexpected if not unwelcome realisation.
"I never knew," he added naïvely. "I never thought."
Jack hushed him with
a kiss, a smile Daniel could feel against his lips, and then he skimmed
down Daniel's body taking warm swipes at chilled skin until his mouth
closed over a nipple and a swift hand stifled Daniel's shout of
astonished pleasure. Jack tortured him then, suckling and
stroking each nub to aching hardness as Daniel panted through each stab
of dazed desire.
Smiling, Jack slid
lower, confidently unbuttoning Daniel's fatigues, wily tongue
flickering into his sensitive navel, then lower still, to bury his face
in Daniel's pubic hair, breathing in the rich, earthy, masculine scent
of him. Jack lay that way for long minutes, Daniel's fingers
first hesitant then gentle in his hair, his breath snuffing warm at
Daniel's groin, simply experiencing each pulse and throb of the slow
swelling cock, each restless shift of Daniel's achingly aroused body.
He moved then,
rolling away to strip first Daniel naked and then himself, moving
quickly to keep the mood. The oily disinfectant the Mirin
favoured was all he had to offer as a lubricant. Their two-pallet
Hilton didn't rate fruit baskets, monogrammed robes or fluffy towels,
hell, it even came up short on running water, but the Mirin reacted
badly to shit on their floors. A whole race of anal-retentive
obsessive-compulsive dust-busters if ever Jack met one. The
disinfectant was absorbed right into the skin so there weren't any
scummy rings to scrub out of the cells after they humanely disposed of
A glob of the thick
jelly was folded into Daniel's handkerchief, tucked on the floor under
the pallet before Daniel had realised Jack was close by. As soon
as Daniel saw him with this, Jack hoped he would understand what he
wanted to share with him. They couldn't be closer than this.
Daniel was watching
him with a slight frown as he unfolded the handkerchief. Jack
scooped a little of the disinfectant onto his palm, rubbed it between
his hands to soften it, releasing the bitter herbal scent, then he
began to massage it into Daniel's groin, his hands deft and firm.
Daniel's frown melted into a shy smile, hips arching to deepen the
contact, his hands settling over Jack's as he was touched.
took another scoop, warmed it, and reached for Daniel's enticing
cock. He chuckled as Daniel quivered from head to foot at the
first touch, leaning down to share a kiss as he rubbed and stroked the
proud cock, swelling just a little more against his
fingers. Gabbling incoherently, Daniel clutched at Jack's
shoulders as he pleasured him.
"Oh, that's good,
Jack," Daniel groaned. "So good."
"It can be better,"
Jack promised. Daniel grabbed him and hauled him into an ecstatic
kiss as he fucked Jack's obligingly gripping, gliding hands. It
was such a turn-on to see Daniel losing himself in sex, so accepting of
his arousal and his body's responses to Jack when he'd been so totally
unprepared for all of this. "Anything, Daniel. Anything for
He slid an oiled
finger deeper between Daniel's sprawled legs, sliding over the
sensitive skin behind his balls. With no sign of refusal, Jack
explored further, stroking between Daniel's buttocks.
The clear eyes fixed
on him for the longest time, then Daniel nodded jerkily. Jack
rubbed delicate circles over the puckered skin of Daniel's anus, not
missing the way his body stilled. He lay unresisting, waiting,
not quite prepared to reject what he didn't know but not truly
accepting either. Jack felt he almost knew Daniel too well.
He deepened the pressure on those circles he was rubbing, pushing into
Daniel gradually, taking such care, and still he jerked hard when
Jack's finger breached him.
"I'm okay!" Daniel
gasped as Jack's finger eased inside him, resting there while Jack
kissed Daniel's abdomen and hip.
Jack moved fully
between his legs, burying his face again in Daniel's groin as he began
to rock his finger against flesh which seemed impossibly tight and
tender around him. Sweat was beading Daniel's brow as he bit at
his lip, Jack reaching inside him, reaching.
spasmed with pleasure, sparking behind his eyes and he collapsed,
panting harshly, incapable of speech, of granting or denying permission
when Jack asked a question he barely heard and pushed into him again, a
broader pressure this time. Daniel lay dazed and sweating,
trembling violently, his penis throbbing painfully as Jack reached
again and again for the same spot inside him, convulsing him each time.
Daniel could only
cling when Jack stretched out over him, kissing him frantically.
"Let me make love,
Daniel. Please. Let me," Jack pleaded.
He sounded so
lost. Daniel reached for him, cradling Jack close to kiss him,
stroking deep into his mouth as his legs were lifted to hook around
Jack's waist. Jack was going to fuck him, Daniel understood
that. He was a little afraid of what it would do to him, to them
both, but he loved Jack and he needed him and he didn't want to say
no. His body sang with the pleasure of all Jack was doing for him
and all he wanted was to have Jack closer, to have no walls, no
distance between them.
Jack braced himself
on balled fists planted hard in the thin mattress either side of
Daniel. He felt as if his head were exploding, he wanted this so
much. It took all his discipline to push with such relentless
gentleness into Daniel's body, opening so slowly and grudgingly to him,
then Daniel groaned wrenchingly and Jack was sliding stunningly deep
into silken, gripping heat. Instinct drove him forward, powering
up from his knees to thrust home, satin skin warm against his balls.
Daniel's hand was
clamped over his mouth, a few scalding, pained tears drying on his
lashes. He shook and shook and Jack was still, lowering himself
to rest on his elbows and kiss Daniel's face.
"You mean the world
to me," Jack promised quietly.
Daniel gulped and
nodded, opening drenched eyes. His mouth was clumsy and shaking
when Jack kissed him but he hurt, he hadn't known it would hurt this
much. Jack kissed him again with all the tenderness he could no
longer hide, a sweet, endless kiss, tongues touching, stroking
sensuously. The burn eased to an ache. It seemed to him
they lay still and close for a long time and then Jack began to rock
their bodies together and the time was little enough. Pain flared
and slowly, slowly dulled again, though Daniel was aware of little else.
He expected it to be
quick; Jack filled him to bursting, every throb of blood in his steely
penis spiking sensation inside Daniel, tingling throughout his
body. It couldn't last, not this intensity.
Moving softly inside
Daniel, Jack was giving everything of himself. If there was a
surrender here, it wasn't simple. It wasn't physical.
Daniel's body was open to him, but Daniel had all of Jack. He
hoped Daniel knew he was holding nothing back from him.
There were times
Jack's eyes would meet Daniel's and the world went away. He
thought it happened for them both. He was sure it did. It
was easy to lose control around Daniel but painful for Jack to give it
up. A clean pain, though, one which brought him a kind of peace,
an ease in himself he hadn't known for a long time.
He couldn't point
out a specific time when this began, when he'd first begun to look
through other people, seeing only Daniel. There was no obvious or
deliberate way Daniel had breached every defence he had, it hadn't
happened quickly or consciously or with his co-operation. He
didn't know when it became as important to him for Daniel to know him
as it was to him to know himself, only that it was.
Daniel's hold on him
was different than he'd ever known, more complete than he'd thought was
Wasn't this his
problem? Always? That he kept his distance? Easy to
hug and be the big man, but hard to make himself vulnerable, hard to
talk. His instinct was to withdraw. To run. Only
Daniel seemed able to make himself heard, to reach Jack when he didn't
want to be reached.
Maybe this was all
the time they were allowed, but to Jack it still felt like the right
time. Daniel was so gentle, so trusting, his acceptance and shy
responses were magical. Jack felt as if together they could do
Daniel was beginning
to wonder what was keeping Jack so quiet when he suddenly smiled down
at him, smoothing damp hair from his brow, his fingers moving
constantly over Daniel's face, touching him wonderingly, as if he
couldn't get enough of him. All the time Jack was moving, rocking
into him so tenderly, so compulsively, Daniel began to warm again,
began to want to feel and share.
"Can I?" he asked
Daniel wrapped his
arms around Jack's shoulders, curious to feel him move. Jack's
skin was slick with sweat but his iron discipline never wavered.
Daniel moved his legs cautiously, braced for a stab of pain which never
came, just more of this rippling warmth. His thighs ached with
the effort of holding himself this way. He slowly wrapped his
legs tight around Jack's back, hooking his ankles, the sudden blaze of
pleasure in Jack's dark eyes making him blush.
He wondered how he
felt to Jack in all his heat and tightness, then lost himself in how
Jack felt to him. He'd never known anything could go so deep, his
body giving easily to each thrust, moving now with Jack's flesh instead
of resisting. The fullness was unlike anything he'd ever felt
before and he found he liked it. The slow slide of sleek, oiled
skin inside him was incredible though it made him throb and ache all
over. He and Jack fit so exactly, he felt everything of Jack's
rhythmic heat and hardness stroking strongly into him.
There was beginning
to be more than warmth now. His flaccid penis had been trapped
between his abdomen and Jack's, but he was rubbed inside and out, skin
moving over him, pounding into him with such grace and power, the
gradually intensifying sensations sparking throughout his body growing
more and more exciting as Jack fucked him perfectly slowly, the steady
drive of his hips never faltering. Daniel began to be aroused
again and was touched by Jack's poorly concealed relief that he was
Jack buried his face
in the hollow of Daniel's shoulder, rubbing his brow into the pillow to
wipe stinging sweat from his eyes. At last Daniel was melting
into the sex, cradling Jack to him, generous, still trusting and
beginning to be pleasured. Jack dug his knees into the mattress,
lifting Daniel a little as he thrust, powering hips rolling him
forward. Daniel gasped and shuddered as Jack's cock stroked
over the hard nub of flesh deep inside.
thrust again into the same spot, Daniel's thighs clenching urgently
around his back, nails digging into his shoulders. He drove again
for that spot, and again, feeling as if his heart might burst.
Discipline and stamina had brought them this far but Jack could do no
more, he was hurting. He drove deep, exulting over the helplessly
arching back and moist, greedy noises Daniel was making as Jack fucked
slower!" Daniel gasped. "Please!"
Jack loved him and
he'd promised Daniel anything, so he fought himself to a stop,
trembling violently. His body pounding, he buried his face in
Daniel's throat, labouring for breath as the tension was slowly
massaged from his shoulders. When he felt he could hold
himself, he lifted his head and kissed Daniel as long as he could, then
began to thrust again, Daniel sliding like silk over his bursting cock.
It was so satisfying
that Jack stroked this way again, long and deep, trusting Daniel not to
allow himself to be hurt by it, trusting in the incredulous pleasure on
Daniel's perfect face as Jack fucked him hard and slow and deep, each
time with the exhausting roll of his hips which left Daniel clawing at
his shoulders, arching beneath him, the breath sobbing in his throat.
It was the unguarded
look in Daniel's eyes which had Jack killing himself to make it last,
to make it everything. Daniel felt the rightness of this too.
beyond his endurance, Jack drove a final time into that sweet spot
inside with everything he had, Daniel's shoulders arched from the bed
as he convulsed, crying out as he came in ribbons, slick heat shooting
over Jack's belly, his beautiful body electric, and shaken by spasms
which rippled and squeezed around Jack's cock. Ecstatic, buried
to extremity inside Daniel, Jack came so hard it hurt, his neck and
back clenching as he exploded, pinwheels behind his eyes as he fell
heavily forward, the room spinning. He rocked blindly, unbearably
sensitised, his pumping cock milked by Daniel's orgasmic tremors.
They lay that way a
long time, holding one another, Jack's heart thumping so hard he felt
sick, too drained and sated to even lift his head until the soft,
uncertain call of his name had to be answered. Arms trembling, he
withdrew from Daniel with the same care he'd entered him, reaching for
the disinfectant to rub over his quaking belly and thighs, working it
carefully until quivering muscles at last relaxed beneath his hands.
He pulled the
blankets up around them and gathered Daniel to him.
"I'm okay," Daniel
Jack wished he knew
how much time they had.
<>Daniel could do
anything with Jack. Anything. Jack had made more than a
casual offer; he'd made a promise. >
This was - Jack was
"This feels so
good," Daniel confessed shyly, his fingers returning once again to
Jack's face. The freedom to touch as he pleased was wholly
intoxicating. He didn't seem able to stop and Jack didn't want
him to. Daniel was fascinated. And grateful. Very,
very grateful. Every part of him was warm for the first time in
too long, warm against every accessible part of Jack. "I can't
stop touching," Daniel smiled. "I don't want to stop." He
couldn't be anything but honest either.
"Then we both want
the same thing," Jack said lazily, stretching pleasurably, Daniel going
with the flow of his arching back and flexing limbs.
It drew him to the
breadth of Jack's shoulders, the depth of muscle firm beneath his
"You good?" Jack
asked, smiling as Daniel tilted up his face and kissed him.
"Mmm," Jack sighed, a long leg hooking possessively over Daniel's
butt. "You're damn good. Great, in fact."
Taking the hint,
Daniel kissed him again. He was drunk with sensation, his
attention a fleeting thing, drawn first by the feel of Jack's chest
against his as they breathed, the chafe of hair and the granite feel of
Jack's abdomen, the ridges of muscle rolling sleekly as the kiss got
serious. They'd never been closer, never been more alive.
He had all of Jack,
he knew it.
Electric with all
this feeling, Daniel took Jack's face between his hands, nuzzling
kisses over Jack's cheeks and chin, stubble prickling over his lips,
rubbing his face against Jack's with all the affection he was wary of
"Spend the rest of
your life with me."
"All five minutes?"
Daniel murmured distractedly, kissing his way along Jack's jawline.
"Ten minutes, then,"
Daniel amended generously.
"Don't make me get
down on one knee," Jack threatened darkly.
Daniel blinked at
this pronouncement, which should have been extravagant, but wasn't,
Jack was too serious for that, lifting his head a little to look down
into dark eyes melting with tenderness. "Are you?" he asked,
incredulous. It was so wild, Jack couldn't be-
was. Oh my god! He was!
Dying with no walls between them, together in trust and perfect
empathy, his senses filled with Jack, nothing could hurt him. He
could keep Jack safe, keep Jack with him. The Mirin would have
nothing, couldn't touch them. "Please, Jack." Together at
the end, closer than they'd ever been and sure of each other.
"You've made me the
happiest man alive for not much longer," Jack promised solemnly,
rolling them onto their sides, smiling contentedly as Daniel drew him
in to rest brow to brow.
Arms tight around
each other, they lay together, finding their private peace staring into
one another's eyes.
The prison began to
stir around them, the cheerful voices of the guards obscenely
invasive. Meals were being delivered, cells and prisoners
carefully inspected. Nothing was left to chance by the careful
Mirin. No risks were taken. Every one of the hostages were
valuable until their deadline. The value the Mirin placed on life
was strangely absolute, not a gift of chance and opportunity, not a
right, but a burden of privilege and responsibility. The
individual held no intrinsic value, their worth was nothing balanced
against the needs of the many.
A price had been set
for Jack and Daniel, a price their President couldn't afford to
meet. Daniel wasn't afraid to die if his death was a repudiation
of the Mirin. He wasn't afraid, not now. He had Jack.
"We're out of time,"
Jack whispered as the sounds grew closer.
Dressing was a sober
affair, completed quickly and in silence. After, they sat
together on Daniel's pallet, facing the door, as ready as they could
be. Daniel's bare hands and feet were numb, not that he wasn't
used to this now, the only warmth where Jack's shoulder touched his and
he couldn't help but remember the first shock of heat from Jack's mouth
"I meant," Jack said
suddenly, fiercely, "everything."
Daniel took Jack's
hand in both of his and held on tightly. Jack smoothed Daniel's
hair from his brow and they kissed urgently, losing themselves, letting
go, falling into heat.
Then they really
were out of time, guards crowding into the cell, too many to resist
even if there was any point to it now. They'd been shackled at
the wrist and ankle each time they were taken from the cell to face
more questions from the Conclave. There was a refinement this
time, a thin chain which bound Daniel's right wrist and ankle to Jack's
left. Presumably a response to the last escape attempt.
Distant and a little numb, Daniel cared only that he and Jack wouldn't
The blindfolds were
bad, they had been each time, deliberately inflicted disorientation of
course, distorting distance and direction, enforcing dependence on the
guards. It was bad, Daniel shying for the first time. It
wasn't the straight-forward threats of the guard which silenced him but
Jack's little finger curling around his.
They'd kept perfect
time for years and kept it now, moving as one, Jack shortening and
slowing his pace a little, just as Daniel lengthened and speeded
his. They matched, always did, each able to give just enough for
them to meet.
The cold, pitted
metal of the floor marked the boundary of their prison, ending in noise
and confusion and the opening of a huge, heavy door or gate they'd
never seen as they were marched out into the bite of fresh, cold air,
pallid heat in the watery sun on Daniel's face and frost burning his
Jack was at his
shoulder, the hooking of their fingers masked by their bodies, unseen
by the guards, a private thing. They marched boldly, counting
their steps as they had each time they'd been taken to face the
Conclave, forcing the pace, refusing to be led.
Daniel was intensely
proud of Jack's defiant bravery, as warming to him as the touch of his
hand. He was glad Teal'c and Sam were safe but the knowledge
didn't help him. He didn't want to die. His life was little
enough, paling to insignificance in the great span of histories and
cultures which enraptured him. The truths his studies had
revealed would endure, the only legacy he would leave.
Death would mean an
end to grief and failure, a resolution of his loss, but still, Daniel
didn't want to die. He lived in hope and expectation, curiosity
and wonder at all things greater than himself. He was passionate,
he knew it, a fault in him as much as it was a strength.
He'd found Jack,
found greater clarity and oneness than he'd ever experienced in his
life and he wasn't ready to let go. He wouldn't ever be.
Jack hated his
helplessness, hated having no choices. Dying or living and seeing
Daniel's heart broken because of it, and maybe his own, was no choice
at all. He'd faced death before and managed to be
glib about it, managed, when he had to, to look as if he didn't care in
a loud, snide 'fuck you' to whoever or whatever was looking to gloat
over his messy demise. He was not glib now.
They had to move
slowly if they were to avoid falling. They'd walked this
unvarying route over and over in the past three weeks but they'd never
seen it. Hearing could only do so much, the measured march of the
guards helped. Daniel's pace was easy, matching his own, never
faltering. There was nothing they could say to one another, not
without losing what little privacy and dignity this mundane execution
was leaving them, but Daniel was talking just the same, talking loud
and clear, his sensitive fingers rubbing and twining sinuously,
sensuously with Jack's.
He was smart enough
to know Daniel didn't mean his gentle touches to be sexy, any more than
he intended his soft, musical voice to be sexy. Like the big,
beautiful baby blues and the soft tendrils of hair whispering over his
brow, they just were. They were Daniel and they evoked a specific
response in Jack.
Marching to his
death with a big honkin' boner seemed to Jack as good a 'fuck you' as
any to the prissy, prudish Mirin and their solemn ceremoniousness if he
absolutely had to go, and it seemed this time he did. Not even
Maybourne could sell euthanasia to the good ole' US of A.
It hurt him, he
wanted so much for Daniel to be safe and away from him. A soldier
who stopped being afraid was a dead soldier, but this feeling clawing
at his insides wasn't the fear he knew. There was nothing left
for him to fight, he couldn't surrender and he wanted Daniel gone and
wanted him here and while Daniel was holding onto him, Jack wouldn't
ever let go.
They stumbled for
the first time as they reached the steps which led up to the Hall of
Voices where the Mirin bureaucrats gathered to see the Conclave
dispense its arbitrary version of justice, where right or wrong seemed
less important than 'how much?'
Jack picked up the
pace again, confident Daniel would keep up with him. They might
not have any choices here, but they didn't have to act like it.
He strode out, aware first of smooth boards beneath his feet, the
heavy, woodsy scent of incense and then the buzz of hushed, expectant
campers!" Jack roared out in response to the snatches of avid
conversation he could hear. "Looks like we drew a crowd."
The central avenue, the one which led to the Conclave on its dais,
would be clear. The people would be gathered along the secondary
walkways winding between the many fire pits. Jack marched just a
little faster, he and Daniel moving like a well-oiled machine, forcing
the startled guards to jog to keep up.
So it was small and
petty. So what! Fuck 'em if they couldn't take a joke.
Two heavily carved
stairways led up to the big round table where the thirteen Mirin
lawmakers of the Conclave sat. Jack was counting his steps, he'd
been marched this route enough to have his timing down perfectly.
His foot found the first step and they were climbing.
"We have a right to
be heard," Daniel demanded the instant Jack brought them to a measured,
"That you do," the
now familiar voice of the once urbane Speaker responded reluctantly.
"I didn't think this
was possible, but the Mirin disgust me," Daniel said steadily, his
voice carrying effortlessly with the perfect acoustics.
Jack noted that the
pompous bureaucratic buzz began to quieten at once.
"I feel for you
nothing but abhorrence and the deepest contempt. You exercise a
societal control so complete it would be impossible to impose," Daniel
went on, passionate but controlled. "Family, education, religion
and law are all perverted to one end: forcing yourselves to accept that
the state sanctioned mass murder of your elderly and infirm is not only
necessary but wise."
"The family that
slays together, stays together," Jack chimed in on cue, enjoying a
shocked gasp from behind him here and there in the listening crowd.
healthy people systematically," Daniel calmly picked up his thread
again. "Because of an arbitrary judgement on age relative to
productivity. The worth of a life and an individual is not to be
judged materially! All people are created equal, all have an
equal right to live."
"By your light, they
do," the Speaker snapped. "It is the way of the Mirin to ease the
passing of our elders in honour so those who remain are stronger and
draw all the closer."
"This concern of
yours to kill humanely is simply one more Mirin lie," Daniel
interjected, his musical voice rising to drown out the Speaker's nasal,
squealing tones. "You want the elders to go quietly and without
fuss so you can go on lying to yourselves and to them that it's for
good rather than a calculated murder."
A shocked, angry
mutter ran through the crowd. Jack was proud of Daniel. He
had this way of cutting through the bull-shit with laser-like precision.
"If you want a
painless end, why bother with lethal injection? Toss 'em in the
wormhole!" Jack advised heartily, feeling obliged to do the Tammy
Wynette thing and stand by his man, who wasn't allowing being chained,
surrounded and blindfolded to slow him down at all. "It makes it
harder to lie to yourself you did the right thing," Jack admitted
fair-mindedly, "but it achieves the same result and there are no
funeral costs at the end of it." Always look for that silver
began to erupt from the unseen crowd, an ugly edge simmering now in the
buzz behind them.
discussed what you do with those elders who refuse Quietus," Daniel
suggested sleekly, everyone around them aware that he and the Conclave
had pretty exhaustively discussed everything else.
someone gasped, not the Speaker. Jack didn't know this
voice. "To do so would dishonour their family!"
"What penalty would
you impose on the dishonoured family?" Daniel pounced.
"Aw, come on!" Jack
urged when they stayed sullenly silent. "We know they wouldn't
get away scot-free. Nothing is free on Mirin."
life," Daniel agreed.
"Such a thing could
not happen," the Speaker pronounced with flat, uncomfortable finality.
Jack didn't miss
that the murdering bastard hadn't answered the question.
"Because you made it
impossible," Daniel retorted. "Do you sanction Quietus for all
the dishonoured family?"
"It does not matter,
"Because you made it
impossible!" Daniel interrupted with quiet, controlled anger.
"One dies or the whole family dies, right? Circular logic won't
help you here, Speaker. You hold the lives of these people in your
hands. The low crime rates you boasted of when we first
arrived? Because you kill all the dishonoured family. The
high survival rate and low death rate? Because any infant born
with disabilities or medical conditions deemed untreatable is
who lives to the age of fifty years is terminated," Jack added.
"There is no need
and no want in Mirin society because you terminate all those who are in
need," Daniel said scathingly. "You've abrogated your
responsibility in government for the welfare of your people - all your
people - and are merely the latest in a long line of Conclaves to abuse
the power you've been granted. My government won't help you. They
won't give you the penicillin to help you develop the new toxin you're
looking for. We're neither so cynical nor so desperate."
"Looks like you'll
have to fall back on alternative methods of terminating your nearest
and dearest," Jack added, smiling unpleasantly. "Nothing so
pretty or so pacifying as the soft-focus Forest Lawns infomercial stuff
you have now, nothing so easy to fool all of the people apparently all
of the time."
"There can't be a
person here who doesn't live in fear for a parent, for a child, a
sibling or friend, and ultimately for themselves, whether they can
admit or not," Daniel insisted with quiet intensity. "Everyone is
driven by that fear, the advancement of your people is fuelled by that
fear, not by pride or honour or ethics, because you have none.
All you have are lies and compromises."
"You have had your
say, Tau'ri!" the Speaker snarled. "Guards!"
"You're worse than
the Goa'uld," Jack informed them contemptuously as his shoulders were
taken and he was forced along, digging his bare heels into the smooth,
scented boards, hanging heavy from the guards' hands.
"I understand why
you do this," Daniel went on inexorably, his soft voice whispering
around the room, stronger than the deathly hush in the Hall of the
Voices. "I'm not insensate, Speaker of the Conclave."
Speaker squealed, his voice rising half an octave.
Jack was very proud
of the effect Daniel had on some people, like fingernails screeched
down a blackboard.
"You have to
maintain this lie, all of you, because you've killed your own loved
ones," Daniel icily accused the assembled Mirin. "All of
you. You have to believe Quietus is right and just, because you
all have blood on your hands. Every last one of you. You
can't even allow yourself to mourn the parents you murdered, the
husbands, wives and children. You have to celebrate it. You
can't allow yourself to see a choice and so your slavery endures, a
slavery more profound than any I thought was possible, because you did
this to yourselves."
"It is you who
lies!" some unknown called out from the crowd.
"I can see why you
desperately need to believe that," Daniel riposted. "But while
you do, more Mirin will be murdered. It's a self-fulfilling
prophecy. You won't break the cycle until one generation stands
up to take responsibility and accepts its guilt instead of
institutionalising denial of it. But I guess that won't be you."
Speaker roared. "Silence them!"
Pinned by violent
hands and a mass of bodies pressing in, too many for him now, and too
angry, Jack was lifted off his feet and viciously slammed down, the
guards piling in on top of him, looking for some payback for their dead
voice rose in a pained gasp as his fingers found Jack's.
sharp and then dull in Jack's chest, spreading far and fast as Daniel's
fingers stilled in his. Panic clawed as his body numbed, his
vision greying out as he choked, raging beneath the deadening
weight. Too soon! It wasn't enough, he couldn't let go, not
of Daniel, never.
He fought to speak,
suffocating as Daniel was taken from him.
On to Part Two
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