"What's the big emergency?" Jack demanded the
instant he and Rambo Jackson had cleared the event horizon. He
watched Daniel with palpable dislike as he trotted down the ramp
to say hi to the General and Teal'c, and hug Carter, who was
flushed, smiling and avidly curious.
There were in fact a lot of people in the gateroom, all of them
flushed, smiling and too damned nosy, from the glorious smirking
leader of Stargate Command on down.
"I killed Jack!" Daniel announced happily. "Twice!"
Teal'c, who considered himself to be Daniel's personal trainer,
bowed in graceful acknowledgement, looking gratified.
Smug bastard, Jack thought.
Carter's smile hit the kilowatt range and she snuck in another
bear-hug, which she knew wasn't allowed, not right there in
front of Jack. Daniel knew it wasn't allowed either, but he
still made a point of hugging her back.
Dissing. This was what Jack got for going off and leaving Daniel
all alone in a nasty, scary, dark room in the middle of a
nastier, scarier, darker ziggurat. Daniel had bitched about this
so inventively and so persistently, Hammond had decided for the
sake of Jack's flagging sanity, he should take Daniel off-world
for a couple of days on exercise.
This specific exercise was expressly designed to prove to Daniel
he could take care of himself without anyone around to hold his
hand or his gun for him, even when it was dark, nasty and scary
and he felt bitchy about it`. Basically, to shut him the hell
up. Also, as a welcome corollary, to stop Jack venting proof of
his flagging sanity all over the base.
Of course, killing Jack a couple of times – okay, two out of
three times – had given Daniel a whole new interest in taking
life. Jack didn't like to think of his limp corpse as positive
reinforcement, but there it was.
"That's our boy!" Hammond beamed, jovially patting Daniel on the
"What's with the reception committee?" Jack asked loudly as he
muscled his way in among the mutual adoration society at the
foot of the ramp, none of whom seemed particularly enthused by
his presence. He had to stamp on Carter's foot to shift her.
"Throwing a party?"
The thirty or so SFs milling around the gateroom with apparently
fuck-all to do except smirk knowingly, snorted with laughter.
Not nice laughter.
Jack glared at them on general principle, making sure he made
eye contact with a few individuals here and there in the crowd.
Plenty to worry about, he projected at them. Taking names, here.
"Why don't we proceed with the debriefing?" Hammond asked
smoothly, gently urging Daniel along.
De-briefing? Jack thought sourly. Hah! Chance would be a fine
thing. Daniel had been attacked by principles or something
equally stupid at a very inconvenient time. Not that Jack wanted
to encourage Daniel to shoot him dead every time he was
sarcastic or anything, just because it turned him on to be
hunted down and killed like the hound he was. Really, really
turned him on.
Daniel had flatly refused to fuck him, even though he'd never
been fucked in combat. He'd also never been fucked off-world or
in a tent, and Daniel hadn't just refused, he'd pointedly
separated the sleeping bags Jack had resourcefully zipped
together as a subtle indicator of his intentions.
That and leaping on Daniel naked and screaming 'Geronimo!'
Jack was still annoyed, especially as Daniel had deliberately
killed him again just for the hell of it. This was the one and
only time - okay, not the only time - the only serious time he'd
tried to seduce Daniel off-world. Apart from 688 of course,
which was an aberration. Something about being out there in one
of ET's area codes turned his honey into Frosty Pants.
Jack's sanity was still teetering on the brink, here!
And why was everybody smiling? Why was money changing hands? Why
wouldn't Daniel fuck him on demand? All these questions and more
remained unanswered as they gathered round the briefing room
Carter and Teal'c cut him out and took seats either side of
Daniel, leaving Jack on his own on the opposite side of the
Not that he cared or anything, even if they did look sickeningly
smug and he was going to get them for that and anything else he
"Can we start with the part where I killed Jack?" Daniel asked
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed.
"That won't be necessary." Hammond smiled beneficently at them
all. "We've been reviewing the mission footage throughout."
"Footage?" Daniel said weakly, blushing as he shot a deeply
reproachful look at Jack, who apparently should have known
telepathically that they were on Candid Camera.
"Courtesy of Colonel Ferretti and SG-2," the general replied
Jack straightened up abruptly. Ferretti? Ferretti? Shit! He
could not have been that horny! Not horny enough to miss SG-2
crashing through the undergrowth.
He looked over at Daniel, who was wide-eyed and biting his lower
lip, something Jack liked to do for him.
What was he thinking? Of course he frigging could!
"There was some concern expressed about Daniel," Carter murmured
diplomatically, with a warm, reassuring look at Daniel.
"Many of the personnel of Stargate Command wished to know 'what
the hell' you were doing to DanielJackson, O'Neill," Teal'c
Knowing full well what in hell Jack had been trying to do to
him, Daniel's blush hit his hairline.
"Why?" Jack asked blankly.
"Why?" Daniel said at the same time, belatedly realising what
went on inside a darkened, zippered tent in the middle of an
alien nowhere could hardly have been making the cover of the
Cheyenne Chevron base newsletter.
Casting his mind back over the past two days, Jack could
definitely remember some pissiness about his alleged doting, and
a snippy accusation he was a magazine-loaded dickbrain at one
point, but that was about it. For him and Daniel, this was
pretty much same old, same old.
"Your T-shirt!" Carter mouthed to Daniel, with pantomime
Daniel's mouth worked silently for a moment while he tried to
work out what to say to that.
"Which T-shirt?" Jack asked, frankly puzzled by Daniel's
"The one I bought for Daniel. The one with…er…Skippy on it,"
"Skippy? Skippy who?" Jack asked blankly. This wasn't the
T-shirt Daniel had thought it was real funny to write HELP ME on
in big bloody letters and wave at the MALP from behind Jack's
back? This was some other allegedly amusing T-shirt? Jack didn't
know who Skippy was. Why was it even supposed to be funny?
He hadn't been laid in two days. Nothing made sense to him.
"Skippy is the Bush Kangaroo," Teal'c supplied gravely. "This
item of clothing is a gift to celebrate DanielJackson's ritual
slaughter of you, O'Neill."
Oh, that was nice. Nice to know whose side they were all on.
Jack glared at his so-called subordinates. Daniel and Carter
both straightened up and glared defiantly back. Teal'c was
already straight; in his case it was more a question of
increasing the implicit threat in his customary loom. Jack
turned to the general, gesturing sarcastically at the Three SG-1
"A timely reminder, Major," Hammond apologised to Carter. "I'll
have the tapes back to you, ASAP."
"Thank you, Sir," Carter said gratefully. "I'll check you off my
Skippy distribution list. Sgt. Siler is getting a little antsy.
It's his turn next."
Jack was starting to feel like he was in the Twilight Zone.
The door to the briefing room opened and Dammit Janet marched in
and took the seat beside Jack. He was surprised to find himself
adrift in a tide of embarrassment. Both Carter and Fraiser were
blushing, fidgeting and staring fixedly at any and every thing
but each other. Jack scented something interesting he could make
Carter's life at least a living hell over. He couldn't upset his
S.O., because Daniel stayed upset and consoled himself going to
sleep with a good book instead of Jack, while Janet Fraiser had
latex-covered access rights to his butt every time he looked at
Jack was nothing if not prudent.
Carter was in for it though, that went without saying. A man had
to have some pride.
"What's going on?" Jack snapped, adding the 'Sir' after a long
enough pause to let the general know he meant business. This
provoked the usual reaction. The general ignored him.
"I have good news!" Hammond informed Daniel cheerily. "I'm
standing SG-1 down, effective immediately."
"Sir?" Daniel asked, startled.
"I've been engaged in a lively correspondence with a delightful
lady who instructed me to release Dr. Jackson from his duties
effective from 1500 hours today." Hammond shot a long cool look
at Jack. "She also helpfully brought to my attention a potential
breach of security. It seems Tessa and Kayla have been cc'ing
emails to their 'Uncle' Jack. And 'Uncle' Jack cc's…"
"Mom," Jack groaned, sagging dramatically to bury his face in
his hands. "Aw, Jeez! What now?" Wasn't the family's imminent
pilgrimage to the Little House in the Ozarks suffering enough
for any man?
"Apparently your Aunt Ruth missed you, Colonel, and decided one
more day without her special boy was one day too long," Hammond
replied with aggravating good humour. "Naturally, I sent a car
to pick your family up from the airport. If you show some
hustle, you'll might make it home ahead of them."
"They're here?" Daniel asked excitedly, snapping bolt upright,
his face lighting up.
Jack suppressed his instinctive hormonal response with some
difficulty. Damn Daniel for being so goddamned hot anyway!
He took a moment to regroup and think cold thoughts. Ten seconds
of naked Ruth wilted his erection entirely.
A threat-assessment was called for. Like, now.
Ooo-kaaay. Could have been worse. Could have been Wales, which
was on the cards for the family vacation before Ruth decided
they were all going to The Land Of The Big Red Apple. If the
alternative was two weeks of his Mom fixating on male voice
choirs and Daniel practicing Bore Da on the sheep, with a
side-trip to Bath because Kate wanted to look at old dresses,
then Jack could take this. Since the plan was that they'd all
fly into Springfield and take a rental car out to Mansfield, he
would have to pitch a tent in the garden to take them here,
but…he smiled wolfishly at Daniel.
He had to work on the off-world thing, but Mom and Aunt Ruth
definitely counted as a combat situation, so he was going to get
fucked in that tent whatever it took. Two out of three was not
bad, and he got the added satisfaction of getting one over on
Mom for the first time in his entire life.
"Thank you for the invitation, O'Neill," Teal'c bowed his head
graciously. "It will be my honour to meet your family."
"I'm bringing dessert," Carter said brightly.
"Buying," Fraiser muttered, looking girly.
Carter blushed again, making like 'Air Force Major Barbie!'.
Surprised again by their telegraphed embarrassment, and frankly
curious, Jack glanced at Skipper, who avoided his eyes,
twiddling with her stethoscope.
"And I'm bringing wine," Fraiser told Daniel.
"Spirits," Jack insisted loudly as Daniel regrettably got into
the party spirit, gushingly thanking everyone. "Lots of
"My chilli always goes down well," Hammond said complacently.
"Comes up even better," Jack mumbled. His was the voice of some
very bitter experience from the SGC's New Year Extravaganza. He
smiled sickly when the general shot him a cool look, hoping he
hadn't heard that. Hammond would make extra and hog Jack's
"Cassie is dying to meet Aunt Ruth!" Fraiser said brightly.
Being tweetie-bird chipper seemed to be catching this morning.
"As am I," Teal'c agreed. "She appears to be a woman of great
wisdom and compassion."
"Ruth?" Jack gasped incredulously.
They all looked at him with varying degrees of disappointment
and disapproval, Daniel in particular, throwing in a
triple-whammy with a side order of hurt reproach.
Jack was embarrassed to find himself going red. He was also
annoyed with himself for his apologetic mumble to Daniel. He
smiled at Daniel and felt a hell of a lot better when it earned
him that achingly sweet smile of Daniel's he loved and couldn't
ever get enough of in return.
I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it.
Jack went to his Buffy place for a moment, ruefully channelling
his kindred spirit Spike.
"I'm looking forward to talking with Mr. O'Neill – with Joe,"
Carter announced. "He's a man who really understands about
"I can't wait to meet dear Kate!" Hammond said brightly.
"Me too!" Fraiser agreed.
"You got all of this from Tessa and Kayla cc'ing emails to their
Uncle Jack?" Uncle Jack asked incredulously. "All of you got all
of this?" His mom was spreading faster than an email virus.
"The Internet is an amazing thing."
Amazing only in the sense it had General George Hammond,
custodian of the Stargate for cryin' out loud, gushing. Jack was
not a www fan, not since his Mom discovered AIM and webcam.
Daniel stood up, glancing eagerly at the door he was already
sidling gently towards. "Can we?" he asked Hammond hopefully,
jerking his head meaningfully in the direction of O-U-T-Out.
Smiling fondly, the general graciously assented and Daniel made
"Meep meep." Jack hauled himself painfully to his feet, scowled
darkly at his treacherous teammates and stormed out in his
"Tomorrow at eight!" Hammond's cheerful hail caught him at the
door. "Lt. Colonel Ferretti says you can count on him for
"I'll make VCDs for everyone," Carter cheerfully offered.
Everyone? Why did that sound so much like a threat?
Ferretti and Aunt Ruth?
Jack's doom had come upon him.
Daniel was quite pleased to make it to
Jack's place ahead of Jack, which served him
right for dissing Daniel's 'girly' vintage
jeep. He looked eagerly ahead as he
carefully made the turn to the front of
Ruth was sitting comfortably in her
wheelchair, flirting desperately with two
extremely large, burly, broadly grinning
SFs. There was no sign of Kate and Joe.
Daniel parked the jeep haphazardly and
"Gorgeous!" Ruth hollered, holding out her
Daniel vaulted up onto the path, stooped and
hugged Ruth until she kissed him. And
pinched his butt.
"You need to move faster than that, Dr.
Jackson!" one of the SFs teased. "Ruth honed
those reflexes on Colonel O'Neill."
Both their grins widened.
"We heard about the party, Doctor. Colonel
Ferretti is filming this joyous family
occasion, right?" the other SF asked
"Sure," Daniel said vaguely, dropping to his
knees to take Ruth's hands in his. "Are you
okay?" he asked anxiously. Ruth looked tired
"Just excited, sweetheart," Ruth reassured
him, pulling one thin hand free to stroke
his face. "I missed you, boy," she told him
The boom of a big, bad truck announced
The SFs watched as he expertly parked in a
space any sane human being would have
hesitated to aim a bicycle at.
"Offensive driving," one of the SFs
"You're telling me!" Daniel, a frequent
passenger, agreed vehemently.
Jack bounded up onto the path. "Dismissed!"
he ordered, smouldering dangerously.
The SF's looked at one another.
Jack scowled ferociously. "Now!"
Manfully containing their disappointment at
not getting to witness this touching –
literally - family reunion, the SFs
prudently withdrew, bidding fond farewells
to Ruth, and as a parting shot, an assurance
she and Lt. Colonel Ferretti would get on
like a house on fire.
"I love it when you're masterful," Ruth
cooed at Jack.
"I don't," Daniel said flatly. He didn't
want anyone encouraging Jack to behave like,
well, Jack. He had his hands pleasurably
full with his colonel as it was. Doting was
bad enough, but doting and masterful? If
Jack got any more pushy, Daniel was going to
tell him he was turning into his Mom.
"Darling!" Kate tore around the side of the
house at a dead run.
Daniel jumped up, hurdled the bed of
whatever those odd-looking crumpled yellowy
flowers were, and scooped Kate into a
massive hug, which she returned with
enthusiasm, squealing ecstatically. She
kissed him soundly and he had some
difficulty putting her back down.
"I love you too."
Jack's reluctant mumble revived Kate as if
by magic. She nimbly side-stepped Daniel and
smiled with misty, maternal pride at the
touching tableau before her.
"Not a word!" Jack snarled, awkwardly
balanced on his knees, gently petting Ruth's
frail back as she clung to him. "From either
of you!" His head snapped back suddenly. He
sniffed the air suspiciously.
"Those lovely boys George sent to pick us up
stopped off at Safeway for us," Kate
observed blandly. "We laid in a few
"Onions?" Jack said coldly, attempting to
peel Ruth off, a heartless act of rejection
she strenuously resisted.
"God knows I've tried everything else on
you," Ruth complained bitterly, looking up
at Jack and batting her tear drenched
Jack reared back, looking alarmed.
"It works when he does it," she said
mournfully, twinkling at Daniel.
Daniel was annoyed to find he was no more in
control of the blushing thing than he ever
had been around his beloved, merciless old
"Where's Dad?" Jack asked edgily, peering
"Your summer house has woodworm," Kate
informed him with relish. "He was muttering
about the lawn, too. Something about poison
ivy. He's out back, prodding things with his
stick." She jerked her thumb behind her.
"What?" Jack yelled indignantly, gracefully
leaping down from the path and taking off at
a dead run for the garden, his long legs
Long, long legs. Tight, tight ass. And all
Daniel's. Just watching, Daniel's whole body
went 'Woof!'. He always had the same
response to Jack. The better they got to
know each other, the better the sex got.
That, and all the practice. After two days
of being cut off, Daniel was in the mood to
practice now. Jack was talking about the two
of them sleeping in his tent while the folks
were here. How hard could it be to get
another 'Geronimo' moment out of him?
He very much wanted Jack to make love to him
under canvas. He wanted Jack to make love to
him period. It had been way too long since
they last made love. Two days. Two entire
days. That translated to forty-eight hours.
Two thousand, eight hundred and eighty
minutes. In Daniel's considered opinion,
that was around two thousand, eight hundred
minutes too long to be cut off.
Of course he'd had to refuse Jack during the
mission. Jack would have been disappointed
in him if he'd caved. They each relied on
the other to keep them honest. Well, Jack
more than him for some reason. In fact
he…um…Okay, Jack relied on Daniel to keep
him honest, and hard as it was, and it
usually was, especially when he got a good
look at Jack's ass…
What was his point?
Masculine voices were raised in loud,
Kate enjoyed herself thoroughly slowly
patting Daniel down for the keys, plucked
them from his jacket pocket, kindly advised
him he should never wear tweed in her
presence again, patted his ass fondly and
ordered him to scoot.
Daniel duly scooted, with a little wave to
"Typical!" Ruth complained loudly. "Just
leave us wimmin folk with all the work!"
"Us?" Kate blew a raspberry. "All you do is
yell orders! Jack gets his volume from your
side of the family."
"You're not exactly honey-toned yourself,
sweetheart!" Ruth accused Kate indignantly.
"And he gets his bossiness right out of your
"Bossiness?" Kate gasped as she stalked up
to Ruth's chair.
"If she asks about the insurance, call the
cops!" Ruth pleaded as Kate wheeled her
briskly up to the door. "Jack gets
everything!" she warned Kate. "So you can
just put the handbrake on before you park me
at the top of the stairs!"
Irate O'Neill voices were echoing loudly in
argument, counter-argument and creative
insult all over the property. Daniel
strolled around the side of the house,
smiling fondly. He loved all of them, and he
was so happy to have the family with him at
He couldn’t wait for the party tomorrow
night. Sam, Teal'c, Cassie, George and Janet
would get such a charge out of meeting Kate
and Joe. And Ruth, of course. Once met and
never, ever forgotten.
Daniel was confident Ruth and Lou Ferretti
would get on a like a house on fire. The
party would be a blast. Just what they all
needed to lift them into the vacation
"Son!" Joe called joyfully as soon as he saw
Daniel, taking a few eager steps towards
him. "How are you?"
"I'm good." Grinning, Daniel walked right
into the proffered hug, which gratified Joe.
It also gratified Jack, who smiled at him,
stepped around Joe and leaned in to kiss him
gently on the mouth.
"Don't mind me," Joe said politely.
Jack blew a raspberry, sounding alarmingly
"He's his mother's son alright." Joe winked
at Daniel. "Which one of you boys is
sleeping with Ruth?" he asked cheerfully.
"Tent," Daniel and Jack said at once, then
broke off to grin at one another.
"Does this summer house look like it has
woodworm to you, Daniel?" Jack demanded,
remembering his original grievance.
"Summer house? I thought it was a storage
shed," Daniel commented, blatantly stalling
"Shed?" Jack queried politely.
"Dump?" Daniel suggested placidly.
"A dump with woodworm!" Joe hooted
A peremptory rap at the window had them all
turning to meet Kate's angry gaze as she
stepped out onto the deck. "What the hell is
this!" she yelled, waving a sheet of paper
"I don't know!" Daniel yelled back.
Kate's face softened.
"Neither do I!" Jack realised.
"I faxed you the booking form for that fly
fishing thingy I was checking into, son,"
Joe hissed. "The one from missouritrout.com!"
Jack blanched, then he and Joe moved as one
man to hide behind Daniel.
"The creek is near Mansfield!" Jack said
"Which one?" Joe was momentarily diverted.
"The Ozarks are full of creeks. Trust me,
we'll find one!"
Daniel turned on his heel and marched over
to the deck. Kate stood up on tip-toe to
give him a soft kiss of commiseration, waved
him in, then pointedly closed the window on
Jack and Joe.
"Doesn't do to let them get complacent, no
matter how hot they are," Kate announced,
grinning. She waved insouciantly at her
crestfallen guys, then turned her back on
them. "They're going to Mansfield."
"They will enjoy the Little House
Pilgrimage," Daniel said firmly. "For Ruth's
Kate beamed approvingly. She slipped her
hand into Daniel's. "How are you, darling?
Happy?" Her eyes, so like Jack's, were warm
with understanding. "Are you? Happy with
Jack?" she asked searchingly. "If you're
waiting for me to apologise for interfering,
Daniel, you'll wait in vain," she added
crisply, firing with both barrels before he
could actually get a word in. "I love my
Jack. I love you. I won't stand by and see
either of you unhappy if I can fix it."
"There's nothing to fix!" Daniel protested,
feeling like he'd just been hit by the
maternal Mack truck, doing nought to running
their love-lives in much less than sixty
seconds. "We're doing good!"
"Work then? Or the two of you having to live
this way, with no one knowing you're
lovers?" Kate suggested indefatigably, not
about to quit messing with his mind until
she got her chance to play Mommie Dearest.
It was downright frightening to see her
mentally going down her checklist of
potential relationship disasters.
"That is a strain," Daniel confessed
manfully, feeling he had to throw her a bone
of some sort before she chewed him up and
spat him out. "I don't like not being able
to talk about this with anyone. I don't like
that Sam and, um, Murray," he gave Teal'c's
cover identity carefully, "can't know we're
together. I don't like that there's nothing
we can do to change this. I know the secrecy
is for Jack's sake, that he can't come out
and keep his command."
Daniel shrugged it off because he'd accepted
this was the way it would have to be when
they began their relationship and he was not
about to cut the ground out from under
Jack's feet. It was an injustice he couldn't
fight from the inside and it was a
compromise he and Jack had both chosen to
make. "It's pretty isolating, you know?"
Daniel cut right to the part that bothered
him most day by day.
"I know, honey," Kate soothed him, squeezing
his hand tight and giving him love for 'fessing
up to her like a good boy. "You can talk to
Jack about it though." There was a slight
questioning lilt to her voice.
"I can," Daniel agreed, surprising her a
little. Jack had decided almost on day one
of them getting together that he had certain
inalienable relationship rights and chief
among them was getting into everything that
concerned Daniel. Jack was certainly giving
all those keenly honed interrogation skills
of his a good work-out, and when that didn't
work, he flaunted his ass all over the house
in skin-tight jeans and no shirt, finding
something to do that entailed bending over a
lot and making the sweat flow, just a
little, just beading his shoulders and spine
and…um…Kate was looking at Daniel
interestedly. "He won't apologise for
interfering either," he added hurriedly,
"That's my boy!" Kate crowed. "I told him to
take care of you or he'd answer to me."
"He believed you." Daniel grinned
reminiscently. They'd had to buy a new
coffee table after some energetic
interference from Jack had resulted in them
rolling right off the couch.
Kate beamed up at him and kissed him
roguishly. "You're a good boy."
Daniel shot Kate a cool look. Jack was
rather fond of calling him 'boy' too. Except
when Daniel was fucking him, and then he
tended to howl 'YesYesYeeeesYES!YEEEES!' and
oddly, 'boy' never came into it.
"Where's Ruth?" he asked as they trotted up
the stairs. He stooped and picked up two
suitcases. Then he put them down, rapidly
and without shame. "What in god's name have
you got in here?" he demanded in
astonishment. He wasn't a weakling, but
"I've got nothing to wear," Kate complained,
"I'd leave them for Jack, but he'd kill
himself before he admitted he couldn't lift
them," Daniel muttered grimly. He had to
carry the suitcase awkwardly balanced
against his leg, both hands clutching the
handles. "You've never heard of wheels?" he
"The suitcases wobble," Kate said casually,
"And I never have the least difficulty
getting a big strong man to help me." She
batted her eyes.
Daniel ground his teeth. When he staggered
into Jack's bedroom and dropped the case,
unfortunately literally, his hands throbbed,
reddening with the pressure. No wonder the
damned SFs were smirking when they sauntered
off. "Ruth?" he reminded Kate.
"She's lying down. Nothing to worry about,
sweetie, she's just tired and doesn't want
to miss dinner with you boys. She needs more
rest these days than she's prepared to
admit, stubborn old…" As she spoke, Kate
strolled over to browse along the dresser,
fingers gently skimming the picture frames.
There were only three. One of Jack, one of
Daniel, and one of Charlie. Kate looked up
at Daniel, her velvet eyes wide and
shimmering with tears.
"I had the frame made for Jack's birthday,"
Daniel said quietly, sitting for a moment on
the bed, remembering how scared he had been,
offering the present in love and praying it
wasn't a small cruelty. Jack had told him
the first night of his return from Abydos he
couldn't forgive himself for Charlie, so he
fought to forget. He kept his few treasured
photographs and Sara's letters in a shoebox
in his locker at the SGC, not at home.
The photograph had been a risk, a simple
statement from Daniel he understood Jack's
past and accepted it. Nothing more. No
pressure on Jack to talk to him about it or
anything. Just an acknowledgement. Jack had
said nothing when he opened his present.
He'd just carried it away and it was there
on the dresser when Daniel changed for bed.
His tacit acceptance was all the
acknowledgement Daniel got, but even that
from Jack was a gift.
"I still miss him," Kate whispered. "Every
day I open my eyes and think of my boy and
Charlie. You saved his life," she said
directly. "Do you know that? After
Charlie…he was dead inside. Then he met
you." She smiled softly. "Joe and I, we
thank you for that. We got our boy back, not
the same, but better in some ways for
knowing you. Trying to live up to your
expectations changed him, I think."
Daniel didn't know how to answer this, so he
kept quiet, respecting Kate's silent
remembrance. She'd never said a word to him
about being unhappy over Jack choosing to be
with him, had in fact denied it vigorously
to Daniel's face, but he would still wonder
from time to time. When they'd reached a
point of comfort with each other where it
was okay to talk about these things, Jack
had told him Kate and Joe loved Sara too.
Daniel still held to his conviction it must
never have been in their plans for Jack to
wind up with another guy instead of his
wife. It had certainly never been in Jack's.
He was lucky the family were so loving and
accepting because it couldn't have been easy
for them all to see Daniel reach Jack where
his wife, loved by them all, had failed.
Kate carefully carried all of the photos
over to the bed and sat beside Daniel,
taking his picture from the three. She held
the frame in her hand as she tilted his chin
this way and that. "Who took this? They have
a good eye," she admired. "The camera loves
"Jack took them." Daniel decided this was as
good a time as any to earn himself a hernia
and headed briskly for the door, determined
to avoid further embarrassment until he
could get Jack in here to draw Kate's fire.
Kate was insatiably nosy and Daniel
was…well, Jack said modest when he was
feeling charitable and ridiculously shy when
he was mad. Or turned on. Nothing in fact
turned him on faster than Daniel being,
quote 'ridiculously shy'.
"What I said," Kate called smugly after him.
"The camera loves you."
Daniel was just picking up the second
suitcase when the front door was flung open
and smacked him in the head. "OW!" he
yelped, staggering back.
"Shit! Daniel! You okay?" Jack grabbed him
by the lapels and hauled him upright,
ruffled and indignant. "Dad is driving me
nuts! He's so goddamn bossy. I'm forty-six,
for god's sake. If I don't know how to screw
by now, I never will!"
Daniel wasn't sure how to take that comment,
but with an O'Neill on either end of it, was
not about to ask.
"I need a hug," Jack announced rather than
asked, hauling him in close to kiss his
throat. He wrapped his leg around to hook
Daniel just that bit nearer. He did this
every time and always denied it when Daniel
called him on it. Possessive? Jack? No!
"Sneaky little buggers!" Jack complained
bitterly. "They couldn't wait one lousy day?
I go to them, they don't come to me! They
know that! And now, they're not only here
where they're not supposed to be, they've
got the entire SGC, who they're not supposed
to know, camped out in their inbox. And
they're throwing a party? Why don't they
just shoot me?"
"Too easy. And assassins don't cater,"
Daniel suggested. One of Kate's remarks came
to mind. "Do you like this jacket?" he asked
"I love this jacket," Jack answered
promptly. "As much as you love my hockey
Oh. It was that bad, huh? "I can feel the
love," Daniel said dutifully, feeling quite
deflated about his old favourite. Jack was
the only one who didn't rag him about his
wardrobe, but he got the cold shudders every
time he thought about Kate and Sam taking a
tour of his closet.
"I should damn well hope so!" Jack said
briskly, grinding his hips powerfully into
Daniel's. "It's been so long since you felt
the love I'm amazed it hasn't shrivelled up
and dropped off."
"Two thousand, eight hundred and eighty
minutes," Daniel confided, sighing, feeling
quite shrivelled too.
"My god!" Jack bleated. "The
pushing the envelope."
Daniel heard Kate's light steps and quite
deliberately slid his hand between them to
squeeze Jack's crotch. Jack wheezed and
sputtered in shock as he rose to the
occasion with flattering promptitude. His
steely glare dissolved when Daniel licked
his lips and leaned in to rest his head on
Jack's shoulder. "I like tents," he
whispered, nibbling Jack's ear.
"Thank God!" Jack groaned with heartfelt
sincerity, clutching him urgently as he felt
just how much Daniel liked tents. They were
both getting fairly emphatic around hip
level. "I've got to get back to Dad. I've
left him alone with the rods too long as it
is." He kissed Daniel, a quick, hard kiss,
then hustled for the door. "Did I mention
the erection jokes?" he asked plaintively.
"Please don't," Daniel refused promptly.
"Spoilsport," Kate sneered as she trotted
past him into the kitchen.
Daniel darted after her, grabbing her hand
as she reached for the refrigerator. "Ah!"
he warned, holding up a reproving finger.
"Don't mess with my kitchen."
"I beg your pardon?"
"How rude," Kate commented disapprovingly,
planting her feet, crossing her arms
aggressively over her chest and eyeing him
"You're a guest. I'll make you anything you
want. Just get out from underfoot," Daniel
ordered firmly, sure he could handle Kate.
He'd had a lot of experience repelling
Jack's advances. Something about the sight
of him pottering around in the kitchen
barefoot punched Jack's libido into
overdrive and after they'd had sex on a bed
of wilted lettuce dressed with fresh
chillies and croutons, Daniel had put his
foot down as soon as he got the ice cubes
off his ass.
"Quelle surprise," Kate drawled. "The
bookworm turns. Think you can take me, boy?"
Daniel went with a tactic that had never
failed on his colonel. He dropped his head,
looked uncertain, nibbled gently on his
lower lip and glanced up through his lashes.
Which he then 'batted'.
Kate bit her lip too, then she hugged him
hard and kissed his chin. "You're such a
sucker, sweetheart," she informed him
tenderly. "And now I've got you, I may as
well make the most of it." She leaned back
to look up into his face, her own quivering
with amusement. "You're cute when you're
panic-stricken and cornered."
Daniel decided a diversion was called for.
All he needed was to come up with one. Kate
was fondly patting parts of him she
shouldn't be, practically daring him to
raise a protest. He was damned either way.
"Get your own!" Jack snapped, looming up out
of nowhere. He plucked his mother away from
Daniel, kissed her soundly, and set her down
on her feet in the dining room.
"If there was any justice, you'd share,"
Kate told Jack, brooding darkly over her
special boy, all six feet two inches of him
smug and sweaty.
"Coffee!" Jack ordered in a lordly manner.
Daniel stepped neatly aside, graciously
gesturing at the coffee pot. Eyeing it, Jack
didn't seem particularly enthused.
"Or you can shift the suitcases," Kate
Daniel glared at her. Jack had been working
in the garden for several minutes. He was
sweaty. He needed to rest up or he'd be
wasting precious sexual tension on manual
"You're spoiling him rotten," Kate accused
"I am not!" Daniel vigorously denied this
unwarranted allegation. He was just horny.
"What he said," Jack agreed, moseying out of
the kitchen in search of a more manly
challenge than making cafetière coffee.
A pained grunt and a muffled curse told them
he'd just fallen over one.
"Gotta love those combat-honed reflexes,"
Kate observed loudly.
So Daniel was spoiling Jack a little. So
what? It made Daniel very happy, and that
was all that was important so far as Jack
was concerned. Daniel loved having someone
to take care of and he did it so well. It
went without saying Jack's sole motivation
in playing along was giving Daniel what he
needed. As often as possible. As long and
hard and deep as he could.
He felt a very specific load lifting.
Daniel liked tents!
All the quantitative evidence gathered so
far from a motley assortment of off-world
missions suggested the exact opposite, but
Jack was desperate. He was taking Daniel's
word for it, along with anything else he
"What the hell have you got in these
suitcases, Mom?" he growled as he limped
down the hallway, the case banging painfully
off his shin with every step.
"Presents," Kate called back.
"Presents? I like presents." Jack felt
marginally more charitable.
"They're not for you."
"Nice to feel wanted," Jack bitched,
lumbering into the bedroom to heave the case
onto his bed. He stalked back around to the
kitchen, where Kate was hovering in the
doorway like a vulture, keenly watching
Daniel's ass. Jack sighed, side-stepped his
mom, caught his darling neatly around his
waist, kissing the nape of his neck, which
always made him shiver.
He took a personal time-out and extracted
Daniel from the grey tweed Geek at Gap
jacket, barely repressing a shudder. He
tossed the jacket to his mother, who fielded
it neatly and carried it away at arm's
length. This left Jack with the slim,
strong, supple body he loved so much clasped
close. Daniel looked fabulous in these
chinos. They emphasised his slender waist
and hips, and the ripe curve of his ass. The
lighter grey of his shirt made his eyes
Daniel twisted in his arms, straining up to
kiss his cheek. Jack loosened his hold,
hands comfortably clasped together over an
enviably flat belly as he rested his chin on
Daniel's shoulder, nuzzling at the sensitive
spots on his throat. Daniel reached up to
clasp his hand round Jack's neck and they
stood that way for a while, enjoying the
privacy while it lasted.
He thought Daniel looked really happy, and
couldn't find it in him to be annoyed with
his folks for springing this on him. God
alone knew what Mom had been telling Tessa
and Kayla's Grandpa George, but he'd deal
with that at the party, and knowing
Ferretti, with wide screen and stereo
"Mom brought you presents," he complained,
grinning as a tremor of laughter ran through
Daniel's slim frame.
"Have you felt the weight of the other case?
They can't all be for me," Daniel protested.
"They're not," Kate tossed out lightly as
she took full advantage of their mutual
distraction to sidle up to the refrigerator,
got a good grip on the door and yanked it
open. Her broad, approving 'Jack loves
Daniel' smile faltered as she leaned over
and investigated the contents of the freezer
too. This took her some time. "Wow," she
said uncertainly. "That's some labelling
system you boys have got there."
Daniel stiffened slightly.
"It speeds up retrieval," Jack said
defensively. This was true. It had been a
looong time since his fridge had yielded up
only beer and furry guacamole.
"It's amazing how you boys have all the
boxes stacked to fill the space so neatly
and managed to get them into alphabetical
order," she commented brightly. "That takes
real talent. Dedication. A complete absence
of any kind of social life."
"It's not his fault," Jack snapped. "He's
trained to alphabetise dirt. Archaeologists
do that. Organise stuff. You should see my
sock drawer." He sensed he had been tactless
when Daniel trod heavily on his foot and
A rich chuckle announced Dad's presence. He
seemed to be enjoying the show.
All three O'Neills gathered together as
Daniel made the coffee, his long, sensitive
fingers fairly snapping with unspoken
"Isn't he adorable?" Jack mouthed at his
"A darling!" Kate mouthed back.
"I heard that," Daniel muttered resentfully.
"You were supposed to," Joe said solemnly.
"Kate doesn't blame you, Daniel. She blames
Jack for not giving you someone better to
Daniel did a double-take as he processed
what Joe had said, turning to look at them,
lips parted in confusion. Jack found this
extremely erotic, as always. Daniel's
unfailing innocence tended to plunge
straight to his balls. It felt gooood. Way
too good for the family audience.
"Jack is too damn cheap to take you
dancing," Kate grumbled.
"Dancing?" Jack asked incredulously. "With
Daniel? Apart from the fact he makes the
average orang-utan look co-ordinated, I
might just as well take a pass through the
base wearing my 'Can't Even Think Straight!'
T-shirt. Cut down on the SFs' commute time
to bust my ass for Leavenworth."
"Well, bowling then," Kate snapped.
"Whatever. You're still too cheap to take
our boy out."
"He gets paid more than I do!" Jack
Kate's face lit up. "I can't believe you
landed yourself a sugar daddy this close to
retirement!" she gloated.
"Will Ruth want coffee?" Daniel interrupted
hastily, smiling reassuringly at Jack.
Not that Jack was self-conscious about his
age or anything. Why would he be? Just
because his lover was young, looked younger
and was completely gorgeous to boot. Daniel
being mistaken for his son that one time was
no reason to get his pantyhose in a twist or
hide out at home. None whatsodamnever. He
liked staying in. It was more discreet than
being out in the street for those moments
when he just had to goose Daniel.
Daniel bought none of these excuses or any
of the others Jack tabled, but he liked
staying in too and was very amenable
towards, e.g., reassuring Jack he found him
attractive, sexy and desirable no matter how
old and infirm he was.
"She was sleeping like a baby," Kate said
"Ruth's getting old," Jack said quietly.
"That she is," Joe agreed, turning to take a
seat at the dining table. "She loves to tell
everyone she's in vulgar health."
"There was never a truer word spoken," Jack
said vehemently, taking two of the mugs from
Daniel. His mom seemed to be waiting
expectantly for something more, gazing up at
the cupboards. "No cake, Mom. Your hips are
Kate gasped, instinctively glancing down.
"They can't be! What the hell am I doing Tai
Jack avoided Daniel's ironic look. He hotly
disputed every unwarranted accusation that
he was getting fat and lazy. He mowed. He
clipped. He cleaned his stuff here and
Daniel's scary stuff at the loft. He had
skills. He put up shelves that didn't fall
down. He made decorative pots and remembered
to phone the kid who did the windows and
stuff. He washed his truck. His work was
never done, he had dishpan hands and he
still had to eat second-rate cake in the
commissary when Daniel's back was turned and
at least four floors up.
Daniel still gave him hell on general
Health grounds. Hah.
He slumped into his seat feeling justifiably
aggrieved. Daniel took the chair next to
him, giving his thigh a friendly squeeze.
This reminded Jack of the reason he put up
with Daniel's domestic bliss-out. He got
"How are you boys doing living together?"
Joe asked thoughtfully. He toasted Daniel
with his mug. "Good coffee," he praised.
Good mugs. Historically themed. Daniel's
general jones for pyramids had reached all
kinds of unsuspected domestic avenues. "He
has taste," Jack announced gloomily.
"So do you," Daniel retorted unkindly.
"You're only bitching because my definition
of taste doesn't include miniature attack
"Daniel?" Joe prompted, calling time on the
"Jack is…" Daniel trailed off, chewing his
"Jack is what?" Jack nudged him.
"I am not."
"Really? How would you categorise your
behaviour when I'm trying to take my
shower?" Daniel asked interestedly.
"Sharing saves water," Jack responded
smoothly. And he got to have some slippery
soapy sex to start off his day right. It
kind of took the edge off the fact that
under Daniel's malign influence, he was
starting to do stuff; sensible, mature,
grown up stuff like check the fibre content
of his cereal even when Daniel wasn't with
him in the store. Jack had always been of
the opinion you picked the cereal with the
best toy and the TV dinner that cooked
quickest. Now he read food labels and had to
do nutritional calculus to figure out the
fat content, knowing anything over the magic
five grams would earn him a lecture when he
All in all, he was inclined to believe that
Sara had gone a lot easier on him than
Daniel was prepared to. Daniel took the
nurturing thing so far and no further and
was as likely to tell Jack to do something
himself as do it for him. Doing the
something in question very slowly and badly
usually meant Jack wound up having to do it
again, only better and quicker.
If he'd known going in that Daniel's
slightly flaky adorability was strictly skin
deep, he'd have hired a damned maid.
"And the interactive shaving experience?"
Daniel prompted, nudging him with a very
Unbeatable eroticism. And strictly
consensual. Fondling Daniel's foamy jaw got
his honey horny too. "You're not a morning
person," Jack explained reasonably.
"He seems to have managed just fine for the
last sixteen or so years, son," Joe reproved
"I don't know how you have the nerve,
Daniel," Jack bitched, ignoring his Dad.
"Weren't you the one who got me to try out
that Minoan warrior grooming ritual?" The
one with the knife, the bowl and the
scraping. Screaming too. He remembered the
Daniel's ears went pink. He obviously
remembered the screaming too.
"He's always making me try these weird-ass
sexual techniques out of the history books,"
Jack complained. The folks made soothing
"Fun?" Kate prompted.
Well, duh? Jack jerked his head
significantly at Exhibit D.
"I beg your pardon. Ask a stupid question,"
Kate apologised hastily.
"All I can say is, if it ain't broke, don't
fix it," Jack observed complacently. He
said, okay, he whimpered, growled and
hollered a lot of other things while he and
Exhibit D. were doing it, none of which he
was prepared to share with his dear
grey-haired old mother in case she emailed
them to the Franklin Mint newsgroup at
"So you boys are happy?" Joe asked, smiling
warmly at them both.
Jack glanced at Daniel, whose face lit up,
his warmth punching Jack right in the heart.
Daniel's hand slid back onto his thigh,
fingers gently kneading. Promising.
"It's embarrassing how happy we are," Daniel
The folks relaxed in a way that drew
attention to the minute tension even Jack
hadn't seen. Kate and Joe looked smilingly
at one another, sharing a wordless exchange
of complete, intimate understanding.
"We were worried for you," Kate said simply.
"You've only been together a few months, but
it's long enough for the strain to show."
"Way to fill us with confidence, Mom," Jack
said sarcastically, finally grasping the
real reason he was currently clasped so
tightly to the loving bosom of his family
was so they wouldn't strain themselves
spying on him.
"Neither of you boys are exactly used to the
guy-on-guy thing," Joe added, reaching for
"Neither are you!" Jack objected vehemently,
glaring at the obvious gender gap, who stuck
out her tongue at him.
"And we're not talking about our sex life,"
Daniel interjected rapidly.
Kate pouted. "Damn!"
"Your mother thinks it's hot," Joe snorted.
"Two guys together."
"Not when one of them is my son!" Kate
protested, making an 'ewww' face. "Teasing
apart, I'm just interested in the mechanics
of it in general. Purely for research
purposes, of course. Jack and Daniel are my
first live subjects, as it were. I can ask
questions and I'm sure they'll be happy to
answer them in detail for me."
"What?" Jack asked carefully. A whole
lifetime wasn't long enough to get used to
the way he'd think he was prepared for
everything his folks could throw at him and
they still blindsided him each and every
time. He wasn't taking any risks when the
context was his and Daniel's sex life, even
if his part in it made him mom blench.
"I don't want to know." Daniel agitatedly
refused to be drawn into the thickening
plot, showing good instincts for once.
Joe nodded approvingly. "Keeping him on his
toes, son?" he asked Jack lightly.
"On his back, I hope," Kate said dulcetly,
eyes sparking sly humour. "Or do you
"Knock it off, Mom," Jack fired off the
ritual protest, for what little it was
worth. Kate could take them both without
breaking a sweat.
"Kate is something of an expert on
guy-on-guy sex," Joe announced proudly,
beaming into Kate's eyes.
"I am," Kate agreed. "My mouse gets a good
"She reads stuff. On the Internet. And talks
about it. Got her own handle, even though
she knows Myra Pendergast - you remember
Myra?" Joe prompted Jack.
"No," Jack said flatly, "and I agree with
Daniel. We don't want to know."
"Myra is this Jimjunkie who's always arguing
Jim would never, ever bottom," Joe went on,
oblivious to the protests.
"I tend to think Jim does whatever Blair
tells him," Kate observed pointedly, smiling
sweetly at Daniel.
"I don't know who these people are or why
you'd be reading about them on the
Internet," Daniel interjected quietly, "but
I can tell you they're wrong. It isn't like
that. We..." He turned earnestly to Jack,
his eyes very soft. "aren't like that."
"It's easy," Jack agreed, more to reassure
Daniel than his mom. "You wouldn't believe
how easy it is. Once we stopped freaking
over that simple fact, we were fine."
"Freaking?" Joe asked, frowning.
"You didn't mention freaking, and god knows
I call you often enough!" Kate accused them,
"Email," Daniel added.
"Fax," Jack said coldly.
"Write," Daniel suggested. "And you send me
text messages on my cell phone."
"Daniel isn't used to the maternal stalker
thing," Jack smirked at his offended mother.
"You do fulfil most of the legal criteria
for a stalker," Daniel agreed, alight with
"We could get a restraining order with one
phone call," Jack promised solemnly. "With
Dad as a material witness."
"Hostile witness!" Kate snapped.
"Not particularly," Joe casually disagreed.
"Nobody loves me any more," Kate sniffed.
"Nope," Jack said cheerfully.
"Don't change the subject! Back to the
freaking," Kate ordered, a grin tugging at
"Daniel falls asleep thirty seconds after
sex." Jack selected an obvious guy thing at
"Why?" Kate demanded, shocked.
"Because he can," Joe said involuntarily.
The three men exchanged a quick, knowing
"It sounds…" Kate began.
"Normal," Daniel interrupted. "Um…" He bit
his lip, which assisted him to think and
Jack believed generally froze everyone
else's synapses in their skulls, his most of
all. "Jack likes the way I smell," he
Jack certainly did. He had no difficulty
tumbling into boneless sleep in tangled,
sweat-soaked sheets, covered in a sticky,
greasy, mutually achieved mess, to awake to
a room reeking with sex and satiation. He
loved Daniel's sleep-tasting mouth. He loved
to swallow when Daniel came. He'd never
expected to like plunging his tongue deep
into Daniel's ass.
There was no mystique to sex, apart from how
good it was and how often they wanted it.
They loved each other and it was all easy.
"I don't have to bolt for the deodorant the
minute I wake up," Daniel went on.
Too busy having sex again.
Jack knew Daniel wouldn't mention how good
they made each other feel. Jack was more
used to long-term relationships than Daniel,
but he could honestly say Sara had stopped
looking at him the way Daniel did long
before Charlie was born. When Daniel looked
at Jack, right before bed, or over dinner,
or while they were watching a movie,
whatever, he wasn't thinking about anything
but sex, it was right there in his eyes, so
alive in his tight, needy face. He wanted
Jack, wanted to do him right there when the
mood was on him, and he wasn't always too
bothered about what Jack wanted.
That was just fine with Jack. It was
just…guys. He got it. He was it. He got to
that same place way more often and Daniel
never, ever refused him. Never complained it
was embarrassing or difficult or he didn't
feel like it. They'd look, and want, and
fall into it, into each other, unable to
No pretence. No mistakes, misunderstandings
or miscommunication. Daniel got into it, got
into him, with a hum of happy appreciation
that made his toes curl. He loved Jack's
body, loved to be with him, never hid how
much Jack was wanted and needed, how sexy he
Daniel's enthusiasm made Jack feel like a
complete stud without a word said, even when
it went wrong and they got hurt a little, or
didn't like something, or laughed when they
Sex wasn't polite. It wasn't clean. It was
noisy, pushy, messy and fun. They were both
aggressive when they felt like it, and that
was fine too. Sometimes they got so wrapped
up in what they wanted they forgot the other
guy. Sometimes it felt like they forgot the
What surprised Jack, married for twelve
years, was how open they were. They didn't
hide anything in sex, least of all each
other. When they were good, when they were
going for it, it showed. Everything showed.
"Yeah," he said softly, smiling at Daniel.
Even when things were bad their instinct was
to be together. Daniel had been hurting over
that whole stinking mess with Chaka and the
Unas and the war he'd maybe started and
there was nothing Jack could do to fix it.
All he could do was be there, and be glad
Daniel hadn't made him beg. He was sick with
relief that first night back, when Daniel
came over anyway without being asked, walked
straight into Jack's arms and clung to him,
telling him how sorry he was Jack got hurt.
He wasn't shut out. Daniel had turned to
him, needed him close. They lay side by
side, Daniel rigid, his body corded with
tension, exhausted, his mind racing between
snatches of uneasy sleep, but needing Jack
right there with him.
Jack hadn't pushed sex because Daniel hadn't
wanted it, he'd just wanted Jack. A
constant, Jack had realised. A place of
safety, one thing Daniel could trust when he
couldn't trust himself. They got through the
worst of the nightmarish doubts, what ifs
and confusion, Daniel's gradual acceptance
there weren't always answers, got a little
interested again… then a lot
Daniel liking tents was the best news Jack
had heard in weeks. If his darling liked
tents, the odds were he'd knock Jack on his
ass and take him if he didn't move quick
enough. All they had to do was survive a
pleasant dinner en famille.
Speaking of which. "What's for dinner?"
"I know a cue when I hear one." Kate shoved
back her chair. "I was told to get out from
underfoot," she sniffed, eyeing them
haughtily. "We're going to unpack."
"That means 'heel', Dad," Jack pointed out
helpfully. He stood up to gather the mugs,
correctly interpreting Daniel's cool look to
mean he was about to be helping out however
Daniel chose to make him help. "Nag," he
accused the minute his folks were out of
"I didn't say a word," Daniel protested,
skipping a few steps when Jack took a swipe
at his ass.
"You don't have to," Jack complained as he
turned on the faucet to heat the water for
the dishes. "That's how you get me." He
tapped his head with a mug. "Psychology."
"I don't have any idea what you're talking
about," Daniel denied. He nibbled his lip,
standing in the middle of the kitchen
looking at nothing in particular. "I don't
have any idea what we're eating tonight." He
walked over to the refrigerator, looking
guilty and conflicted. "I may have to
defrost," he apologised to Jack.
"Mom can tell, you know. Ask her about
frozen lasagne some time."
Jack decided tactile assurance would be
welcome and was not mistaken in this. Daniel
returned his gentle kiss with enthusiasm,
locking his arms tight round Jack's neck as
he basically ate Jack alive. Jack loved the
way Daniel did that, those long, elegant
fingers clenching painfully tight in his
hair keeping him right where Daniel wanted
him, the other hand sliding down to clamp
over his ass.
They clung together, biting at one another's
mouths, laughing a little.
"What?" Daniel asked when Jack leaned back
to look at him.
"I love to see you smile." He loved Daniel
relaxed, playful, teasing, laughing, fierce
in concentration, raging at the injustice of
the world, indignant with the fools who had
to have their way instead of the truth. He
loved the way Daniel's face changed,
mischief heating to sexy, achy, needing. Do
me. Do me now. "Bathroom," Jack snapped,
shoving hard at Daniel's shoulders.
Daniel turned and bolted out of the kitchen,
moving noiselessly along the hallway, Jack
hard on his heels. He froze at the corner,
letting Jack take point.
Jack eased across to the far wall to watch
and listen. The folks were chatting, moving
about the room, his mother's light, quick
steps everywhere. He nodded and slipped in
through the bathroom door. Daniel crept past
him, turning as Jack eased the door closed
and slid the bolt home.
A beat later Daniel's body slammed into his,
crowding him hard against the door, Daniel's
arm across his shoulder, pinning him. The
wood was cool and smooth beneath his cheek.
Jack bit his lip as moist, limber pressure
heated the nape of his neck, delicately
stroking his skin like the sweep of an
artist's brush, making him shiver. His cock
filled fast enough to make him light-headed,
bursting just from this, the touch of
He heaved back, spinning to grab Daniel,
wrenching at his belt buckle, tearing into
the impeccably creased pants to free his
flushed, swollen cock, jerking hard as his
hand closed over it.
Daniel shoved into him again, rocking him
back on his heels, his breath gusting hot
and agitated against Jack's throat as he
shoved the jeans down over Jack's hips to
eagerly grab his cock. A deep sigh of
satisfaction welled up from him as Jack
thrust roughly into his tight grip, hips
Jack pumped Daniel fiercely, without
finesse, each of them leaning their weight
into the other, crowding close, their
breathing harsh and laboured as they
joyously fucked each other's hands.
The thing that always amazed Jack was the
heat. He still remembered the first time
he'd fumbled in Daniel's pants and found not
warmth and the gentleness he associated with
his friend, but heat; aggressive, wilful
Daniel burned against the palm of his hand,
his balls heavy and sensitive, making him
hiss and writhe with every soft stroke.
Jack pressed his thumb into the sensitive
head of Daniel's throbbing cock, smearing
the pearly drops of fluid, his grip sliding
more easily over the avidly straining flesh,
twitching against him when he got it just
right, got Daniel so turned on he lost it
like this. Daniel snarled wordless
displeasure as Jack slowed his pumping to
look at Daniel, see the pleasure he was
giving. Jack obligingly tightened his grip,
his hand quickening as he pulled Daniel's
pleasure from him. Hips humping urgently
against him, Daniel groaned wrenchingly.
Jack clapped his hand over Daniel's mouth,
terrified his mother would hear them jerking
off. Daniel's tongue was hot, probing
pressure against his palm. He snatched up
Daniel's hand in turn to suck his fingers,
something Daniel really liked him to do,
squeezing them against the roof of his mouth
with his tongue, rubbing them the way Daniel
liked to have his cock rubbed.
There it was, that soft hum telling him he
was doing Daniel good.
His body was tensing as he thrust
desperately into Daniel's smooth, sliding
grip, feeling that tight twist just right,
just there where he needed it most, the
constant, massaging pressure from strong,
knowing fingers. God, it was good, it was so
fucking good and getting better every
goddamn time. They loved to touch, to hold,
wrists aching, fingers cramping on slippery,
scalding skin as they worked each other
Small shivering shocks were surging through
Jack, prickling his skin, tightening his
heaving body, shaking him, slamming him into
Daniel again and again, his force, his focus
narrowing, deepening…He knew nothing but
Daniel, heavy and loving and taking, so dear
to him, so close, filling his senses,
wracking his body with pleasure, taking him
to screaming point.
He couldn't brace himself against the
pressure crushing his body, spiking down…
Jack threw back his head as he convulsed and
came, slumping against the door as his cock
jerked and spurted into Daniel's sweaty,
slippery palm, greedily cupped around him.
His knees cast the majority vote and he
dropped, grabbing Daniel's hips to take him
into his mouth, take him all the way in one
long practiced glide, tongue crowding his
pounding cock, sucking fiercely as Daniel
clutched his head and thrust into him,
fucking his throat. After a few seconds of
straining desperation, Daniel's hips arched
as he pulsed salt slickness over Jack's
waiting tongue. Jack swallowed, drinking him
deep, taking everything Daniel had to give
Nothing new there.
Urgent hands pulled him up and into a
hungry, plunging kiss, bruising pressure met
and deepened as they drove into each other
Daniel tore himself free abruptly, trembling
body fighting for stillness as he dropped
his head to rest on Jack's shoulder, holding
him tight, pushing into him restlessly.
"God, I missed you," he whispered. "Jack, my
"Me too, Daniel," Jack murmured against
Daniel's hair. Hearing his name from Daniel
like that, it was all the endearment he
needed. There was something very wonderful
between them when a famine of only two days
could produce a feast of fun like this. It
was damned good to be so wanted by a man who
was wholly with him.
The way it had to be.
Daniel felt supple and sated, his movements
loose and light as he smoothed the cream
silk sweater down. Jack liked this one,
especially the way the soft collar opened to
bare his throat and the long, loose fabric
skimmed and clung to move with his body. For
Jack, he teamed it with the equally thin
pale grey sweats and bare feet.
It was a subtle invitation.
Daniel liked to dress casually at home,
happily pottering around in bare feet and
loose clothing Jack enjoyed too. It was odd
how they hadn't learned to be apart yet, not
really. Daniel wasn't conscious of a need
for reassurance. It wasn't an urge to check
up on Jack or anything. He was pretty sure.
He was comfortable where Jack was. Relaxed
and…easy. He could curl up on the couch with
his feet braced against Jack's thighs and
not even notice the TV. He'd tune in if Jack
spoke to him, but mostly they just sat,
Daniel reading or working, Jack watching TV,
often pulling Daniel's feet into his lap,
stroking him idly through the fabric of
whatever he was wearing.
Daniel had quietly added to his wardrobe
when Jack had bought him this sweater,
handing it to him crumpled in the plastic
bag from the store, embarrassed and hiding
it in brusqueness. He'd teamed the sweater
with these exact sweats and they'd made love
in front of the fire, Jack sliding into him,
taking him deep and slow, the soft silk
rubbing and rubbing between them when Jack's
weight lowered, the chafing driving him out
of his mind…
Maybe it was a little kinky, but Daniel
liked Jack to toss his books and glasses,
push him down hard on the couch, without
warning, hold him down, hands held above his
head, their fingers entwined, his body
pinned beneath Jack's. They would lie that
way, Jack eating his mouth, letting him feel
the weight and strength. The need. Jack
would whisper what he was going to do to
him, every damned thing…He would wrap his
legs round Jack's hips, shove at his jeans,
urging Jack on with his heels dug hard into
the tight, flexing muscles of his ass as he
drove into him, the butter-soft denim
rubbing between his thighs. It drove him
Taking a final self-conscious look in the
mirror, Daniel decided Jack would read his
intentions for the night just fine. The only
slight drawback was Kate wouldn't object to
his outfit either. Or to his plans.
As he closed drawers and tidied his closet a
little, Daniel thought about how the sex had
somehow energised him, the charge of it
leaving him feeling alert and alive, his
body tingling and…and clean. A lot of that
was from the heat and sheer life in Jack's
eyes, the pleasure on his face where Daniel
was growing used to finding sometimes tense
watchfulness. It was a fine thing to know
Jack felt so very much for him, but it was
hard to burden him with problems he would
have hidden and dealt with alone before now.
He was learning a lot of these relationship
lessons kind of after the fact. Jack had
struggled more with them at the beginning
but as they settled, as they began to get
used to each other in all these small,
intimate, interconnected ways, Jack's
greater experience, the mistakes he'd
already learned from in life, were beginning
The only thing Jack would not tolerate was
being pushed away. He pushed back, and hard,
until he had his way. Daniel wasn't sure if
it was a weakness or a strength he allowed
himself to turn to Jack and not away, but he
didn't probe too closely because it was
something Jack needed from him. They weren't
always wise and they weren't always right,
but being close to Jack, well, that was
Daniel cut himself some slack and allowed
himself to enjoy his happiness. He preferred
to be doing, moving, opening himself to
possibility and the certainty of chance. It
was too easy to keep himself safe, to keep
control. He needed to be out there, taking
risks, learning everything he could,
growing, making a difference. He needed Jack
with him every step of the way and it seemed
he had him. Things had never been easier
between them at work, their understanding
After checking around one last time, Daniel
headed out of the bedroom. Jack had made
several supply runs for the bare essentials
of a night under canvas, while Daniel had
hidden the contents of the bottom dresser
drawer in the basement. Neither of them
wanted Kate reading out instructive passages
from their books to them over dinner.
Daniel had felt it was only prudent to
research the 'guy-on-guy' thing thoroughly,
particularly when he was dealing with Jack's
determination to try everything in the 'Gay
Kama Sutra' right along with Jack's little
ACL problem and his stubbornness about
ignoring it. Jack had also done a lot of
instructive reading before they got
together, but Daniel prided himself on being
fully up to speed and endlessly creative
about keeping the pressure off Jack's knees.
Sex had started out good and continued to
defy the law of diminishing returns by
getting better and better.
"Hi, honey!" Ruth hailed him when he crossed
the hallway towards the kitchen. She was
sitting surrounded by the presents Kate was
wrapping, which he and Jack weren't allowed
to see. Joe was snoozing gently on the
Daniel smiled, sincerely glad Ruth looked so
much better. Kate had assured him and Jack
individually and together that Ruth was
fine, just excited, and looking at her pink
cheeks and broad smile now, he decided to
accept that. What with Jack close by to be
tortured and her pilgrimage to Laura's house
in Mansfield to look forward to, Ruth was
like a terrier with two tails. He'd never
seen her happier.
"How's it going?" he asked Jack as he
strolled into the kitchen to find him in
some kind of sauce-stirring fugue. The
lights were on but the colonel wasn't home.
He waved his hand in front of Jack's glazed
eyes. "Jack? The sauce?"
When Daniel blew in his ear, Jack landed
from whatever planet he was currently
orbiting. "Not lumpy," he replied
Daniel leaned into Jack's broad back and
took his time about checking the pan,
sniffing appreciatively at the darkly
"Madeira sauce?" Jack asked. "Isn't that a
"Not after you reduce the alcohol," Daniel
explained patiently. "It's sultry and
intense." He uncovered the steaks he was
marinating in balsamic vinegar, garlic and
spring onions, wincing reflexively at how
little time he had to infuse some sharpness
to cut across the sweet richness of the
"We should have gone with pizza," Jack
Daniel looked at him coolly.
"I am holding a spoon," Jack complained,
waving the little wooden spoon in evidence.
"I am stirring."
Daniel looked at the spoon Jack was
brandishing. It seemed oddly familiar…"Isn't
that the one we use for…Jack! That's not
exactly hygienic," Daniel hissed. This
particular spoon got covered in…stuff. Lots
"What?" Jack sneered. "We wash it after it's
been in action. I say 'we'…" He scowled at
Daniel, refusing to give ground on one of
his favourite bones of contention.
"I'm not having the dishwasher argument
again," Daniel said briskly as he strolled
over to select vegetables from the stacked
wicker baskets, another of his innovations
Jack wasn't too keen on. "I have a
dishwasher." He kissed Jack's cheek as he
passed him. "You." He glanced at the spoon
and deliberately looked away, refusing to
give Jack more ammunition about his alleged
fussiness. Good kitchen hygiene wasn't
"What are we having?" Jack asked eagerly as
Daniel began to inspect the vegetables.
Daniel shooed him back to the sauce.
"And are you doing anything weird to it?"
"Define weird?" Daniel slid the vegetables
into the sink and started to wash them.
"Caramelised? Charred? Confetti?
Honey-glazed? Julienne? Jus? Pancaked?
Pureed? Roasted? Stuffed? Truffle-scented?
Wilted?" Jack reeled off rapidly.
"Examples of which you've scarfed down and
whined over when I wouldn't give you a third
helping," Daniel retorted unsympathetically.
"I'm mashing the potato," he offered by way
of a palliative. He was mashing the potato
with butter and horseradish in a vain
attempt to add piquancy to a bland defrost
dinner menu. He was also planning to thinly
slice the vegetables and sear them in the
griddle pan. Jack liked the criss-cross
effect, even on zucchini, which he claimed
As Daniel peeled and prepared the potatoes,
Jack eyed him suspiciously, still stirring
and whining about his spoon, his wrist, his
knees, his back…
"You can sleep on the couch if you're
feeling so elderly and decrepit," Daniel
"Decrepit?" Jack echoed in aggravated
"I can supply you with a dictionary
definition if you'd like, but there's no
point fighting now if we can't…um…vent," he
reminded Jack regretfully, jerking his head
meaningfully at the folks cosily ensconced
in the living room. There was no chance of
Daniel being thrown down and pinned to
anything under Kate's watchful eye. Unless
she was the one doing the pinning.
Daniel shot the living room a nervous look.
"Point very much taken," Jack agreed
crisply. "We'll pick this up at 'decrepit'
once we hit the sleeping bag," he promised
As tempting as it was to idle here
fantasising sliding into Jack and fucking
him forever, Daniel reluctantly decided to
change the subject, very conscious of the
family audience, probably eavesdropping
their collective asses off, ready to shout
out advice on positions. "Wine?" he
"If you want me to." Jack was puzzled but
Daniel looked at him in confusion. "Want you
to…what?" he probed carefully.
"Is this one of those discipline scenarios?"
Jack asked in an undertone, obviously drawn
to the idea. "I whine, you tell me to shut
up, I get laid?" He thought about this. "I
could tell you to shut up, then I get laid,"
he suggested. There was another brief pause
while Jack thought some more. "I could tie
you up, tell you to shut up, then I get
"Wine to drink," Daniel explained after a
brief pause to recover from way TMI. Their
sex lives were resolutely vanilla, mostly
because they weren't very good at some of
this stuff. It was all great, they always
had a blast, and while they were endlessly
enthusiastic, they weren't going to win any
awards for technique.
They tried new positions for intercourse
that didn't work, one in particular where
his attempts to help Jack hit the right spot
had resulted in a fit of laughter and
accusations from his beloved he sounded like
an air traffic controller.
Keeping the books handy for quick reference
during tricky bits in sex was a habit they
needed to break, but while so much of the
'Gay Kama Sutra' lay unexplored, it wasn't
going to happen any time soon.
Daniel couldn't rim to save his life. The
whole concept struck him as irresistibly
funny and he cracked up every time, Jack
laughing with him.
"Oh. Wine." Jack looked and sounded
disappointed. "Grolsch," he ordered.
"Grolsch is not wine unless they've
radically altered the requirement for
grapes. I was thinking Cabernet Sauvignon,"
Daniel contradicted. "The Arrowood Sonoma,"
he decided. "The ninety-six. It's a special
occasion," he reminded Jack
"Eighty bucks worth of special?" Jack
Daniel turned his back on him.
"I can't stir the sauce and crawl through
the 'wine cellar' at the same time," Jack
sighed. "At eighty bucks a pop, even I know
the wine needs to breathe. At eighty goddamn
bucks. I know the feeling," he grumbled
sotto voce into the saucepan. "Guess I'd
better haul ass." He made no discernible
move out of the kitchen, glancing instead at
Daniel, his face lazily speculative. "Can I
tie you up?"
"At least think about it," Jack insisted
"I did," Daniel answered pleasantly. "And
the answer is still no. You can't tell me to
shut up either. I don't tell you to shut
up." Which was true. "I merely point out
your childish displays are
"I've been accused of being elderly,
decrepit, whining and childish in…" Jack
made a production job of checking his watch.
"In under two minutes. You notice I refrain
from calling you a repressed vanilla
know-it-all in retaliation?"
"You forgot to add cheap to your list of my
supposed allegations towards you," Daniel
"I forgot to add extravagant to my list for
you," Jack snarled.
Screw the audience at home. They met up in a
clash of hormones and hips.
"I need the bathroom," Daniel whispered
urgently, reaching up to bite Jack's ear.
"I need the goddamn tent," Jack groaned,
clutching Daniel to him. "Lick my spoon!"
Daniel opened his mouth.
Jack sagged. "Can't you for once just lick
the goddamn spoon and not worry about food
Daniel smoothed his fingers over Jack's
shirt, futzing with the buttons. "Sorry," he
"For not being quite the flake I thought you
were? Don't be silly, Daniel."
"I would have just said 'for being so
organised'," Daniel chattily informed his
tactless colonel as he peeled himself away,
having to tread heavily on Jack's foot to
convince him they really had lost the moment
and it was his fault.
"For being scary-organised," Jack amended,
showing willing and hovering blatantly.
"It's just the way you were trained," he
made excuse. "And because you have so much
stuff. Having to keep it in two places, it's
easy to lose track. I get that."
"You were trained too," Daniel tossed out as
he picked up his zucchini and began to slice
it into long strips. "And you have stuff of
your very own." Daniel had never, in his
life, been drunk enough to race up and down
the yard zooming model jet planes and little
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jack asked
after a moment.
"It means it's too long since you boys got
laid," Ruth said pleasantly, walking stiffly
into the kitchen. She pinched Jack's butt as
she passed him to close in and kiss Daniel.
"You're both full of grits and vinegar,
bathroom breaks notwithstanding."
"Don't ask!" Jack told him urgently.
"I don't want to know," Daniel shuddered.
"Neither did we," Ruth smirked. "I'm too
damn old for that kind of excitement."
We were quiet, Daniel thought weakly,
looking fixedly at a countertop littered
with distressingly phallic vegetables.
"Someone's ass was knock-knock-knocking on
heaven's door," Ruth observed gleefully.
Jack hurled his spoon into the sink and
spinelessly ran for it, calling something
about grabbing the wine as he made for the
basement at top speed. This was a classic
example of something Jack insisted was a
strategic withdrawal, which was apparently
Air Force-speak for running away.
Jack was trained, all right.
Ruth rinsed the spoon and leaned over the
saucepan, inhaling ecstatically. She lowered
the spoon and began to stir at a stately
Daniel's knife slowed but he said nothing,
trusting Ruth not to have taken on more than
she could handle. He kept an unobtrusive eye
"Good boy," Ruth said fondly after a few
minutes of friendly silence. "Nothing pisses
me off quicker than fuss."
"I guessed," Daniel admitted.
"You'd know something about that," Ruth
Daniel put his knife down and turned to lean
against the counter top. "I guess so," he
said, surprised both by Ruth's
perceptiveness and his own realisation. "I
never thought of it that way."
"Attention is good, honey. We'd die without
it. Just has to be the right kind of
attention," Ruth sighed. "Kate and Joe are
great. They're family, you know? They let me
do more than I should because they know it
psyches me out and I stop myself for their
sake. Slick as snot, the pair of them," she
grinned approvingly, eyes wicked.
"Jack can't," Daniel sighed. "He won't even
try. If I do something stupid he plants
himself right in front of me and turns into
the original immovable object."
Unfortunately without volume controls.
"He doesn't want you hurt," Ruth said
serenely. "My boy figures you've been hurt
enough. We all do."
"I…" Daniel protested.
Ruth turned as he spoke, hugging her arms
round her chest, her head dropping, glancing
to Daniel and as quickly away. She stood in
the too-familiar stance, a silent, gentle
He swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. "I
don't know family," he said quietly. "Not
since my parents died." Not the way Ruth
meant. The only 'family' he'd hung onto was
"How old were you?" Ruth asked, walking
forward to take his hand.
"Eight. It was an accident," he added
hurriedly. "I…I don't…"
"No," Ruth agreed, squeezing his hand. "You
don't have to talk about it. I'm old enough
to believe with all my heart in a person's
right to privacy."
"I was young enough to learn."
"I figured." Ruth patted his hand
consolingly. "There is nothing more
frustrating than not being able to make a
decision someone else doesn't okay first.
Being powerless - it eats you alive if you
let it, and all the while people tell you
how lucky you are, how much worse it could
be." She looked up, eyes fierce and
over-bright. "Every time I walk into the
Senior Citizen's Centre I see how much worse
it could be for me," she said starkly,
"Brooklyn Family Intervention Centre,"
Daniel supplied in return.
"Forgive me, Daniel. I can't - we none of us
can believe you weren't just snatched right
up," Ruth said distressfully. "Such a sweet
"I was fostered," Daniel said stiffly. He'd
had no choice. Nick had refused to take him,
and he'd refused to let anyone else.
Placements lasted so long and then you were
moved on and someone took your place. You
hoped you found a place. Sometimes, he'd had
to wait. It was hard to live in apology for
his very existence, not allowed to be more
than the sum of his case file.
"Your family?" Ruth asked, fighting not to
get angry. She looked at Daniel's tight face
and then she was angry, shaking with it,
tears spilling as she hugged him fiercely.
"I love you, boy," she whispered, patting
"I love you too, Ruth." Daniel gently
returned the hug, conscious of Ruth's
"We want to see Charlie," Ruth murmured
against his shirt. "We don't want to upset
Jack but we've never been to see him since
he was buried. We miss him so. It wouldn't
be right to be so close and not see him."
"And Sara." Ruth looked up at that, eyes
very bright. "I might never get another
chance, honey. I had to come. Will you…we
don't want to hurt Jack."
"I think he'll understand. He…he still loves
Sara," Daniel admitted quietly. "We can talk
to him about it tonight."
"Thank you," Kate's voice echoed softly from
the doorway. "He listens to you."
"I won't make him…" Daniel began.
"We wouldn't ask that of you," Kate frowned.
"Just make sure he feels okay about us
going. We need to talk to Sara, it's so long
since we saw her and Mike."
"Sure," Daniel agreed easily. "It'll give me
time to pack."
Kate and Ruth looked at one another, Ruth
stepping back to stare at Daniel. "You don't
want to be with us, Daniel?"
"It's for the family," Kate added.
"I don't think I should," Daniel said
awkwardly. The last thing Jack would want to
do was introduce his lover to his wife. He'd
never taken Daniel to visit Charlie's grave
either. Daniel understood that Jack's family
was private to him and left it strictly
alone. They'd talked in the early days of
their friendship…he liked to think he'd
helped Jack to cope, especially after Sara
had burst back into his life in the worst of
circumstances, stirring up all those
feelings. "I'm not family." Not for this.
"Excuse me?" Kate snapped.
"How do you think it will make Sara feel to
have a stranger intruding on such a private
family occasion?" Daniel said directly.
"She'd have to wonder why I was included - a
work colleague of Jack's - and if she had
any idea of the truth, that Jack and I are
lovers, it could only hurt her. I think it's
best for everyone if I stay away."
"I doubt Jack will agree, son," Joe called,
walking into the crowded kitchen. He folded
his arms across his chest, looking stern for
once. "And neither do we."
"Come to see Charlie at least," Kate urged.
Daniel shook his head. Only if Jack wanted
him there. Jack would ask if he did. "I love
that you would think of me as family, all of
you. I'm truly grateful. I just don't think
it's right, so please don't ask me."
Ruth squeezed his hand, pulling a little
face. "Promise, honey. Out, you two!" she
ordered briskly. "Cooking, here!" Kate
stiffened, ready to argue on, but Joe took
her shoulders and steered her out of the
kitchen, still grumbling under her breath.
Ruth waited until a heated, low-voiced
discussion started in the living room, then
smiled ruefully up at Daniel. "Sorry, hon,
truly. I'm way up there on the preaching
part of life, but the practice is sometimes
a stretch. We won't hassle you about it. I
guess you're just so much a part of us now
we can't separate out the part of you that
"It's okay, Ruth, really," Daniel assured
her. He was not about to make this a problem
for himself and Jack. They'd never fought
over Charlie, and Daniel didn't want to hurt
Sara any more than he wanted to be hurt
It was a simple fact that he would always be
Jack's second choice. He loved his wife, end
of story. He would never have chosen to be
with Daniel if Sara hadn't left him. As
happy and settled as Jack was now, he'd
fought being with Daniel to the last ditch.
Daniel shied away from his own tangled
feelings over Jack and Sha'uri because he
couldn't deal with this sense of rightness
when he was with Jack, as if Jack completed
him. It hadn't been there with Sha'uri. He
had loved her dearly and always would, but
their short time together had been about
adjustment, to the strange new culture he
had to learn to be a part of, to Abydos
itself, and to one another. Daniel missed
Sha'uri, but he ached for Jack.
He just…he felt more for Jack, as if every
part of him was open to Jack, touched by
As hard as it was for him to face, Jack
wasn't his second choice. He didn't need to
be reminded of his true place in Jack's
life. They were happy as they were, just
being together. He wouldn't let inchoate,
pointless regrets threaten that.
Ruth sighed, slumping against him. "Dammit.
Never crossed this selfish old bitch's mind
it would hurt you. Forgive me, Daniel?" she
asked appealingly, taking the opportunity to
pat him again.
"Nothing to forgive," Daniel promised,
politely removing her hand from his ass.
Back to part two of Passion Play | On to part two of
A Dinner Of Herbs
Jack strolled into the kitchen with the
Sonoma-whatsit to find Daniel being molested
by Ruth. "Keep your hands where I can see
'em" he ordered her briskly. "Dad?" he
called. "You want to do the honours with the
"Wine?" Joe complained loudly from the
Jack shot a triumphant look at Daniel. "See?
I told you. Beer and pizza would have been
just fine." He put the wine down, noticing
that Daniel was pretty quiet. He'd only been
gone ten minutes. He would have been
quicker, but he wanted to check some colour
illustrations in chapter seventeen
of…Dammit! What was he thinking? Ten minutes
was long enough for the old reprobates to
start World War Three.
He headed out the kitchen and onto the
stairs down into the living room just as his
parents reached the bottom of them, looking
up in surprise. "What did you say to him?"
he asked briskly, going on instinct. His
meddling mother flushed guiltily and shot a
look up at Dad. "Leave him alone," Jack
"Watch your tone with your mother, son," Joe
warned him, frowning heavily.
"Watch yours with Daniel!" Jack flared. "He
loves you guys and he doesn't have a single
defence against you. If you hurt him, he
stays hurt, okay?" he added in a milder
"Fair enough," Joe agreed, still frowning at
Jack. "Even if you are totally
Kate smiled mistily. "He's protecting
Daniel. I wouldn't have him any other way."
She sniffed and stepped forward, slipping
her arm around Jack's waist. "We want to see
Charlie, darling. Daniel doesn't think he
should be there. That's all." She buried her
face in his chest, pressing a gentle kiss
against him when he automatically hugged
"We need to see him, son. And Sara. We miss
her, Ruth especially. We want you to be with
us, and Daniel too. He's family now," Joe
Jack kissed his mother's hair, set her away
from him and loped back up the stairs. Ruth
took a good look at him, grinning like a
fiend as she handed him the spoon and headed
for the hills. It took her a while, the
spirit was willing but the flesh…
Daniel was doing something complicated to
the vegetables involving the griddle pan
smoking. "Can you get the window, Jack?" he
asked distractedly above the muted roar of
the extractor and the sizzle of cooking
Jack did so. He wasn't in the mood to shout
declarations of love and commitment over the
shrill of the smoke alarm. He checked the
saucepan and lowered the heat, flipped the
steaks Daniel was pan-frying, then gave the
garlic and spring onions a quick stir.
Daniel murmured vague thanks. "I'm in love
with you," Jack announced. He kissed the
back of Daniel's neck.
Daniel jumped and a slice of zucchini
catapulted from his spatula to land on
Jack's shoulder. "Oh. Sorry!" Daniel
snatched up the zucchini and tossed it on
the drainer, turning back to his griddle at
once. He began to lay each strip of the
thinly sliced vegetables precisely at the
opposite angle to the way it had started.
Jack watched the back of Daniel's neck for a
while. So much for the tender romantic
"I'M IN LOVE WITH YOU!"
Daniel turned at that to kiss his cheek. "Me
too," he said softly, his sweet smile
faltering as he brushed self-consciously at
the zucchini-damp spot on Jack's shirt.
"Could you set the table?"
"MOM! GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR! YOU WANT TO EAT?
SET THE DAMN TABLE!"
"BITE ME!" Kate yelled back.
"The folks haven't been back to Colorado
since the divorce. I understand they can't
be this close to Winter Park and not want to
take Charlie flowers. For the record, I want
you with me when we go." Jack guessed he'd
called this part right at least when Daniel
flushed, avoided his eyes, took a deep
breath that was probably visible from Winter
Park and got his supportive game face on.
Now for the hard part.
He didn't want his wife and his lover
anywhere near each other. It would be like a
kick in the gut to Daniel, who wasn't Mr.
Secure on a good day, and Sara was anything
but dumb. She might be involved with
whatshisface but she would be devastated to
realise Jack was involved with another man
too. He doubted he could hide the way he
felt from Sara any more than he could ever
hide from Daniel. In any other man, she'd
understand, see past the stereotypes. In her
husband…he wasn't about to put her through
that unless he had absolutely no choice.
Doubly so for Daniel. They'd known going in
none of this would be easy. Neither of them
had expected to wind up with another man and
he wasn't about to have Daniel believing he
was making do with him only because he
couldn't do better. That was bullshit. He
hadn't chased a woman since Sara had left
him. Since Daniel came back into his life.
He didn't know which of those was true.
Maybe both. Daniel had filled up all the
emptiness inside, he knew that. He'd been
stoned when he got horizontal with Kynthia.
Carter was enough for two other Jack
O'Neills, but not for him. Neither was
Laira. He got wasted on moonshine before he
had sex with Laira. He'd given her a choice
she couldn't take and then he'd walked away.
He couldn't walk away from Daniel and he had
It made Jack very uneasy to think about what
would have happened if he'd still been with
Sara when Daniel came back into his life.
Sara was always quick, always perceptive,
like Daniel. He wondered if she would have
seen how attracted he was to Daniel, how
much he wanted to be with him, and if she
would have realised quicker than he had what
He didn't want to think about that, so he
didn't. It was too damned confusing and he
and Daniel had the odds stacked against them
as it was. It was real simple. This was his
life now. He wasn't who he'd always thought
he was, but he was pretty much okay with
that, because he got to be with Daniel.
Daniel was worth the trade off. Jack didn't
doubt that and he was damned if he'd let
Jack understood why his folks had
assumed…they loved Daniel as much as they
loved Sara, and they clung to him all the
more because they'd lost Sara. They didn't
want to choose but Jack had to. He loved his
wife, but he was in love with Daniel, he was
with Daniel, and his loyalty had to be here.
"You feel up to letting Mom take the jeep?"
he asked casually. "That way we can bail
when they go visit Sara and Mike." He hoped
Daniel would get it, that it would be
enough. He didn't want to make a big thing
of something that had never been an issue
for them. "They can make their way back here
from Sara's place easy enough while we head
over to your place to pack, then we can all
meet up back here to get the stuff ready for
It wasn't perfect, it maybe wasn't easy for
Daniel to hear and wonder about the why, but
it turned out to be enough. The slight
tension around Daniel's eyes left him
completely and he leaned in to nuzzle his
cheek affectionately against Jack's. Peachy.
"Thanks," Daniel sighed.
"You're smouldering," Jack observed
Daniel brightened, shooting him a distinctly
Jack solemnly pointed his finger at the
vegetables, which appeared to be
spontaneously combusting. "Are we
caramelising on purpose here?" he asked
innocently. Daniel followed the finger, took
in the unfolding disaster, snarled evilly
and coldly ordered Jack out of the kitchen.
He found everyone gathered around the dining
table, making with the cutlery, place
settings and glasses. Not eavesdropping, not
them, no way, busy, busy. He glared at each
of them, milking the upper hand for all it
was briefly worth. He'd never managed to
make the folks feel this guilty in his life.
One little pout from Daniel and they felt
Jack decided he liked them anxious and
malleable and was in no rush to put them out
of their collective misery. Loving them was
irrelevant. He didn't want and didn't need
them interfering in his intimately personal
life. They didn't know Daniel like he did,
didn't realise how he took things to heart.
Naturally, he was obligated to exploit the
situation for all it was worth, the moment a
suitable opportunity arose in which he was
required to compel their co-operation. Their
appallingly imminent pilgrimage to Laura
Ingalls Wilder's Little House in Mansfield
would no doubt present an embarrassment of
A stream of low-voiced curses in a variety
of languages rolled out of the kitchen.
"He's very fluent," Joe said admiringly as
he poured the wine.
"Do you need the fire extinguisher?" Jack
called, sticking his head through the
doorway. A soggy strip of zucchini hit him
in the face with a wet splat and slid down
his nose. Jack peeled it off, looked at it,
then neatly deposited it in the trash,
giving his infuriated linguist as wide a
berth as his very small kitchen allowed.
"How about a pizza?" he called loudly as he
got behind Ruth.
Daniel's impassioned reply lasted several
The O'Neills, appreciating a good show, took
their seats and watched Extreme Cooking with
"Turn the heat down!" Kate advised.
Daniel forcefully expressed his opinion of
"Twenty-three languages!" Ruth boasted
"I think I should get the sprinklers
serviced," Jack mused at the top of his
Daniel loudly touched base with a few more
"What's a mikta?" Joe enquired, absolutely
A lot of clashing indicated dinner was about
to be served whether they liked it or not.
Everyone swung round and stared into their
wine glass as if it contained the mysteries
of the universe.
"Hungry?" Daniel asked pleasantly as he
emerged with two impeccably arranged plates,
each with a tastefully arranged tower of
vegetables drizzled with the rich
berry-coloured sauce, artful mounds of
mashed potato oozing butter and the perfect
steaks still sizzling. He served Kate and
Ruth first, smiling, then stalked back into
the kitchen. He came back with another two
plates, slid one in front of Joe, then stood
looking down at Jack. Everyone looked right
back. Daniel hesitated, then placed the
plate in front of Jack with a definite
Jack chuckled and caught Daniel round the
waist as he moved towards the kitchen again.
"You've got no idea how close I came to
getting a nuked pizza there," he snorted. He
let Daniel go to fetch his own dinner out to
the table, hiding a grin when he noticed
Daniel was checking how much each of them
had eaten. He was paranoid about his cooking
for no reason known to man.
"Oh, I think we do, son," Joe sniggered,
winking at Daniel as he took his seat.
"Daniel is obviously very good for you,
darling," Kate said approvingly.
The depressingly good influence nibbled a
strip of healthy, vitamin packed carrot,
looking modest and unassuming. He only got
away with it because he was sweet, gorgeous
and incredible in bed.
"You're not looking nearly so porky," Ruth
Daniel snorted, trying and failing to turn
it into a cough. "Jack isn't fat," he
protested in a slightly choked voice.
"Thank you," Jack said ironically, recalling
a dozen different 'importance of good
nutrition' tirades right off the top of his
head. This from the man who thought an apple
was an adequate breakfast.
"Not any more," Ruth muttered.
"Have you talked about tomorrow?" Kate asked
brightly. "I'm dying to see Daniel's loft."
"Not that you were listening at the door or
anything," Jack said sarcastically.
"You haven't got a door," Kate observed with
a blank look over Jack's shoulder.
"That's irrelevant," Jack snapped.
"We can all go after we've been to see
Charlie," Joe said pacifically.
"And Sara," Kate added smoothly.
Both Jack and Joe were ready to tell her to
leave it alone, Ruth was scowling…
"We've made our decision," Daniel said with
unwonted sternness, frowning at Kate. "Which
you know perfectly well."
Everyone looked at Kate. She looked very
hard at Daniel, fought herself over whatever
it was she was dying to riposte with, then
smiled sweetly, slicing serenely into her
steak. "Of course, sweetheart," she said
"I'm really starting to dislike you," Jack
darkly informed his darling. Daniel's bare
toes caressed his shin apologetically. Jack
sniffed disparagingly, but stretched his leg
out to encourage greater interactivity.
Daniel's foot obligingly curled around his
ankle. Jack just wanted to wrap himself
around Daniel and get fucked six ways from
He looked up and caught his dad's ironic
eye, then grinned. Yeah, yeah. So Daniel got
his own way. So what? If Mom couldn't stand
up to him, Jack wasn't about to apologise
for not being able to either. Daniel wasn't
a pacifist. He just picked his battles.
Ninety nine percent of the time he blithely
followed where Jack led, just happy to be
along for the ride. When he said no, he
meant it. His mom had just accelerated up
the Jackson learning curve.
"Why did you get in touch with General
Hammond?" Daniel asked after several minutes
of silent, contemplative eating. He seemed
very aware of the fact everyone was watching
"We missed you," Ruth said promptly, smiling
warmly at Jack.
"Er…" He did actually miss Ruth too. She got
his heart pumping faster than the damn
snakes did. Not that he worried. Or
anything. Just because…Ruth was fine. Fit
and well for her age. Compos very much
"Your mom was worried about you," Joe added.
"We were only gone for two days, right?"
Jack asked Daniel, who nodded, wide-eyed.
Kate scowled at Joe. "Oh, and you weren't
worried?" she asked witheringly. "Who was up
at night walking the floor wondering what
was upsetting Daniel so much he didn't call?
And why our darling boy couldn't fix it?"
"Nothing was upsetting me," Daniel informed
Jack in a chatty, private aside.
"And if it was, I could fix it," Jack agreed
with definite confidence.
"I think your mom is mad because we're
frustrating those aggressive maternal
instincts of hers. We're just not
dysfunctional enough to give her anything to
do," Daniel confided.
"We need to remember to fuck up every once
in a while, so they think we're still
learning something," Jack advised with the
ease of long experience. "Take Mom's edge
"That's a good suggestion," Daniel dimpled
at him in a way that promised if Jack went
on being a good boy, he'd get all the
tent-related favours he deserved later.
"Who wanted to shove her nose into Jack's
business and embarrass him in front of his
friends?" Joe retorted.
"I just wanted to see you boys." Ruth
prudently put some distance between herself
and the developing marital row. "Sara and
"George is delightful!" Kate snapped.
"Sam knows her tools, and that Janet, she's
a dry one," Joe said admiringly. "And young
Cassie is a sweetheart."
"She is?" Jack and Daniel said as one.
Everyone looked at them. They looked at each
other. "She was." Jack felt the need to
explain further. "We hope she will be
"Hormones," Daniel said vaguely.
"Lots of hormones," Jack agreed.
"You've been corresponding with all our
friends?" Daniel asked brightly, heroically
exposing his position to enemy fire. More or
"I'm looking forward to meeting dear
Murray," Ruth confided, sighing gently. "He
has a lot of time for the elderly and
allegedly infirm. His culture reveres the
wisdom of people who've got a few years and
a little experience under their belt."
"Jaffa." Ruth shrugged. "Who knew? I always
thought it was just a place you got fruit."
"I for one can't wait to hear about it. I've
never been to Africa." Kate shot Jack a
"Should be interesting," Jack observed.
Neither had Murray. He ignored his mother's
blatant attempt to pin the blame for her
safari-less state firmly on his shoulders.
Despite what she might think and insist to
everyone who'd listen, her life hadn't come
to an end in lieu of motherhood.
"Everyone has been emailing you?" Daniel
persisted gently. He looked slightly
Jack thought he was hugely underestimating
"We wanted to meet all the people and see
all the places you describe so eloquently to
us, sweetheart," Kate said gently.
"I told you that you would only encourage
them if you answered," Jack complained to
Daniel. "I said ignore them, and hope they
"You were five minutes late calling on
Ruth's birthday and Jack had your
neighbourhood cops and two hospitals on
speed dial," Daniel informed the family.
"Jack!" Kate beamed at her beloved son with
fond maternal pride.
"I can't believe you emailed the general,"
Jack said bitterly, refusing to be
embarrassed about showing mild concern for
his erratic family, who'd collectively been
scaring the shit out of him for about four
"I didn't," Kate answered placidly. "The
steak is delicious, Daniel. The spring
onions add a certain piquant sharpness to
the sauce. Very well done."
"Thank you." Daniel smiled at her
"It's very good," Ruth praised.
"Better than that stuff you smother the
steaks in," Joe told Kate tactlessly.
"I emailed Tessa and Kayla and told them I
was their Uncle Jack's mom," Kate went on,
firing a look at Joe that suggested she'd
deal with him later.
"Those are two smart little girls," Joe
admired. "They accused your mom of being a
hacker, demanded photographic evidence of
your relationship and threatened to sic the
CIA on her."
"They meant the FBI but their hearts were in
the right place, bless them," Ruth approved.
"Photographic evidence?" Jack asked warily.
"Your mom was able to furnish them with a
lot of evidence, son," Joe said happily.
"The girls forwarded some of the photos to
their Grandpa George 'cause they knew he'd
find them funny too."
"He did," Kate added, grinning fiendishly.
"And he kindly got in touch with me. He
remembers us well from granting you leave on
your previous visits. George was kind enough
to offer our best wishes and our email
addresses to all your closest friends and
I'm happy to say they all got in touch very
"And we've stayed in touch," Joe added.
Daniel seemed happy to hear everyone was
getting along so well. He was alone in that.
Jack was mildly horrified.
"George suggested the party," Kate went
blithely on. "So we could put faces to the
"We're so looking forward to it," Joe added
"That nice Colonel Ferretti is going to film
the party for us and send copies to everyone
so we can all enjoy it over and over and
over," Kate gloated offensively.
Strike mildly horrified. Try terrified.
"It'll be a real family occasion. Samantha
asked her dad but doesn't know if he can
make it. He's away on a business trip.
George is bringing his girls, Janet is
bringing Cassie and Dominic, Lou is bringing
his wife Emily and the twins."
"Lou?" Jack bleated. They were on first name
terms? Already? His mom was spreading like
"That nice Colonel Ferretti," Daniel
supplied without irony.
Jack looked incredulously at Daniel. The
only person Jack knew who had a worse crush
on Daniel than he did was Louis Jr. His twin
Katie was probably only a dead heat. A chunk
of her heart was devoted to some blond kid
called Hanson. Of course Katie and Cassie
had only had to hear once the fondly
expressed hopes of their mothers they'd make
friends to succumb to a violently, mutually
expressed loathing that erupted more often
than Mt. St. Helens. And after watching his
son and heir athletically tackle Daniel to
the ground fourteen times during an
impromptu football game on the last SGC
picnic, irrespective of whether Daniel had
the ball or not, and taking his own sweet
time about getting back up, that nice
Colonel Ferretti had observed
philosophically to Jack it could have been
worse. Daniel could have had clue.
Jack buried his face in his hands.
If you enjoyed this revised version of
A Dinner Of Herbs,
please do write and let me know.
It was a nerve-wracking experience to say the least to re-write such a
well-known and for some, fondly remembered story. Even a simple
'thank you' or 'I enjoyed this' is an important message to send.
Thanks so much. Biblio.