Daniel backed towards the centre of the tomb,
camera at the ready. He wanted a record of the placement of each panel
of the cartouche before he began to take his close-ups. The symbols
were unlike anything he'd ever seen before, a shock after the angular
severity of the massive granite architecture in the other chambers
they'd passed through.
Jack was Bored. And sharing.
Daniel was sure Jack could tell from all the way over there this was an
answering grimace, not a smile.
Jack's eyes narrowed. "Watch it on that walkway!"
It was hard for Daniel to believe there was ever a time he and Jack
could communicate without, well, punctuation. Questions seemed loaded,
answers ambiguous, ordinary conversation mired in inexplicable
obscurity. Worst of all, he couldn't see any way past it.
"I've never seen a chamber like this one," Daniel offered, surprising
both of them. He was almost annoyed at his pacific tone, but let it go.
He expected the effort to be wasted, as it so often was these days, but
somehow, he couldn't quite stop himself from reaching out. Jack was
worth it to him. Worth finding the words they'd never needed. Now they
did, they only got in the way. If this was what it took, though…
It was Jack's turn to grimace but after a brief hesitation, he walked
forward, looking almost receptive.
"The star configuration is unusual," Daniel went on, showing willing.
"Fascinating?" Jack asked whimsically.
Daniel looked up sharply to meet surprisingly kind brown eyes. He
smiled, tentatively, acknowledging Jack's effort and relaxing when Jack
shook his head at him a little, a token protest, and they both knew it.
"It is fascinating," Daniel answered boldly, risking another small
Jack fingered his P-90 absently, watching Daniel with the dubious air
of a desperate man willing to be entertained.
"The four walkways are…" Daniel went on.
"Compass points," Jack interrupted, grinning now. The grin widened when
Daniel wasn't fazed by his perception. "You're nowhere near as much fun
as Carter," he complained. "I can't fake you out no-how these days."
"You never could," Daniel riposted, smiling again. "But not only is the
chamber in the form of an eight-pointed star, the central dais mirrors
that. Astronomy may have played a huge part in the culture - possibly
even the religion of the race who lived here."
"Why not astrology?" Jack countered, grinning again. "Just because you
haven't found a crystal ball doesn't mean you won't."
Daniel ignored that, turning back to head towards the central dais. He
was curious about the slender crystalline pillars encircling what could
be an altar or other ceremonial…Jack insisted on calling them doodads.
Like most of Jack's suggestions, once heard, it tended to stick like
Crazy Glue. "Eight of them, like the points of the other stars," he
"The Ancients did their math in base eight," Jack suggested proudly,
surprising Daniel enough to turn around again. "I have my moments," he
"There's nothing to suggest this is a settlement of the Ancients. The
language is very different. Maybe the people here had contact with
them," Daniel speculated enthusiastically, rolling with it. "The star
symbolism could be directly related to the Stargate. Perhaps they
delved into the technology and…"
"I've got a gun," Jack warned him teasingly, "Don't make me use it."
His tone was as easy as his sudden smile, which meant Daniel felt fully
justified in ignoring the pointed way Jack peeled back the Velcro and
tapped his watch. He turned on his heel and marched out onto the dais,
making a beeline for the nearest pillar, his determination to film the
panels of the cartouche momentarily forgotten in sheer excitement at
"They're nothing like Goa'uld power crystals," Daniel murmured,
frowning over the sleek, slippery grey surface of the crystals. "Sam
was sure these were powering the complex?" A rhetorical question. Sam
was always sure. Even when she was wrong, something she'd learned to
laugh about, later, over coffee and blue Jell-O.
"Just…" Jack gestured towards the crystals with his P-90. "Go easy," he
"The pillars appear to have been carved from a single crystal," Daniel
observed, reaching out to smooth careful fingers over the side of the
pillar in front of him. "Or many crystals fused…either way, the
technology is far beyond ours."
"Isn't it always?" Jack said dryly. He looked around, not particularly
interested, wandering aimlessly over to the edge of the walkway. "How
far down is this?"
Daniel rolled his eyes and walked between the columns. If he stood by
the altar and did a slow sweep with the camera, he could feed the
information into the imaging program Sam had dug up for him from the
boys at NASA and get a 3D representation of the chamber. There was
another star symbol set into the granite floor, formed of the same
crystal as the pillars.
Curious, Daniel walked forward. The air in front of him rippled,
something like a heat haze, and he saw a glowing crystal set on top of
the simple hexagonal stone column that formed the altar. "I've never
seen anything like this!" he called excitedly to Jack. He activated his
radio. "Sam! You have to get down here. It's the most amazing thing…"
"I've ever seen!" Sam's rich chuckle sounded. "I was just going to
radio in, Daniel. You have to get up here. It's the most amazing thing
I've ever seen…not so much engineering as…as…"
"A dance of light, DanielJackson," Teal'c's voice interrupted.
Jack rolled his eyes. "You've been watching 'The Abyss' again," he
complained into his radio.
"Indeed. DanielJackson provided Ben and Jerry's and Major Carter her
wide screen TV and much popcorn," Teal'c informed him smugly.
Jack straightened up, scowling at Daniel. "Why wasn't I invited?"
"You know you and sci-fi," his team chorused as one, in person and via
"Yeah! Well, I might hate sci-fi but…" He glared at the one right in
front of him. "You also know me and popcorn. And Ben and Jerry's."
"'The Full Vermonty'," Daniel observed innocently.
"Maple pecan," Sam sighed dreamily, her voice echoing round the chamber
from Daniel's radio. "Sir."
"Keep right on, Carter," Jack said grimly. "I'm not the one with the
performance evaluation looming."
"O'Neill," Teal'c warned, his voice rich with amusement.
"How come everyone takes you everywhere and I'm never invited?" Jack
complained right back at the big guy.
"We like him," Daniel said gravely. "And he's housetrained." Sam's
sudden snort of laughter survived even an icy 'Major' growled into
"Accept my high-five, DanielJackson," Teal'c responded, heavy on the
"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me," Jack sing-songed.
"We'd like you more if you wouldn't sing," Daniel winced, turning his
attention once more to the altar. "The crystal is glowing, Sam," he
radioed, absolutely fascinated. "Like a diamond on fire," he added,
failing to do justice to the brilliance of the display flaring and
playing over his skin and the walls of the chamber.
"Back up, Daniel," Sam ordered, her voice abruptly sobering. "What kind
of crystal? If it's glowing, this far underground with no natural light
to refract, that assumes some kind of energy source. Maybe you should
hold on until I can get down there and help you check it out."
"No way!" Daniel snorted derisively, stepping up closer to inspect the
altar. Each side of the hexagon was covered in the same writings as the
panels of the cartouche. Perhaps a key to the language, he thought
optimistically, praying for a shortcut. He had to find one. One time.
It had to happen. "You'll just drag me up there to help you check out
your discovery first."
"Would I?" Sam's response was all little-girl dishonesty.
"Yes," Jack grumbled in unison with Daniel's emphatic retort. He
watched warily as Daniel peered at the glowing crystal, walking
carefully around it to film each of the panels on the fancy pedestal in
turn. He knew he should make Daniel back off a little, wait for Carter,
but damn, how long had it been since his team had a mission like this,
easy and clean? Fun. Carter wasn't worried, more teasing, and Jack felt
he should go with it, try to keep the mood.
Still, he hadn't kept everyone alive this long by taking stupid risks,
so he walked swiftly forward to cross between the pillars, standing
leaning against one as Daniel shucked his pack and slipped the camera
into it, ready now to get up close and personal with the crystal. He
felt better for being right by Daniel. Just in case.
Jack watched Daniel with the same intensity his besotted archaeologist
was watching the crystal, admiring the unconscious grace with which he
moved when his mind was focused on anything but himself. He could
barely remember a time when he could look at Daniel without wanting,
when distance hadn't been an absolute, a necessity just so he could go
He moved easily round the dais to watch Daniel work. Daniel was
wide-eyed and wondering, biting his lower lip in concentration. Daniel
never changed, every time he found something, anything, he got the same
rush, the same charge. Just like Jack did, watching him. Every time.
Jack functioned. He was used to it boxing off his life, walling and
compartmentalising, and he had no choice, none at all. There were a
thousand reasons. In some ways, it was easier to cope because it was
Jack's problem alone. It wasn't two of them fighting an attraction.
Much more than attraction, if he were honest. There was some safety for
him in the fact Daniel's mind never went there. Daniel's vibes were
never specifically sexual, he was too much inside his own head and at
the same time focused outside his own existence. Daniel found himself
pretty irrelevant. Jack, as a man who watched, was bitterly aware of
the frustration this evoked in more predators than him. Daniel moved
through a world of watchers and never knew it.
Barely aware that Jack was watching him now, Daniel reached out
carefully, fingers skimming the surface of the crystal. It was hard to
make out the exact shape with the shifting hues in the light. Jack
shook his head a little, recognising Daniel wasn't the only one falling
into dangerous distraction. He was far too focused on the way the
colours were playing over Daniel's face.
"These particular points," Daniel gestured, looking up at him suddenly.
"Here and here. They're elongated."
"Handles," Jack suggested stupidly, mesmerised by the glow in the
gentle blue eyes, his gut clenching. Beautiful, beautiful boy.
Untouched. Untouchable. Wasn't that Jack's luck all over?
Daniel touched the tip of a finger to one of the points, looked up
uncertainly at Jack, as if expecting a rebuke. He licked his lips
nervously and a sharp pang of desire coiled deep and low in Jack's
belly, rooting him to the spot, making him feel like the voyeur he'd
become, wanting that sweet mouth wrapped around his dick so badly…
Shaken, Jack stood still and silent, only watching as Daniel touched a
finger to the other elongated point and the chamber abruptly filled
with sullen bruise-purple light, angry and snapping, slamming
electrically from one pillar to the next, fast, too fucking fast…
"Daniel!" Jack roared, already moving as the circuit completed and the
light hit high in Daniel's back, slamming him up to the tips of his
toes, almost lifting him into the air with the force of it, his arms
flung out, pinioned, mouth open and working soundlessly. Screaming.
Daniel was screaming.
Jack crashed into Daniel, taking him down hard, crushing him to the
ground beneath his weight, the light moving like a live thing, tendrils
trailing over Daniel's body and his cradling one. Each touch stabbed
deep, puncturing like a needle. He thought of the force of that first
blast striking Daniel, the agony of it, fury and instinct driving him
forward to come up firing at the crystal, vindictively emptying the
clip even as the fucker shattered and rained down around him.
Activating his radio with scrabbling, clumsy fingers, he fired out
orders, silenced all questions, rapidly went through the set drill for
medical emergency and scattered Carter and Teal'c running, wholly
focused on Daniel, conscious, his mouth still working soundlessly, eyes
drenched with pain. Jack reached a shaking, cradling hand to Daniel's
cheek, obscurely shamed when Daniel nuzzled blindly into the comfort.
He'd had little enough of it from Jack these past months. Years.
Daniel couldn't form the words, couldn't breathe for this broken glass
piercing and the pain crushing his chest, but Jack knew what he was
trying to say and the ready guilt choked him.
"Hey," Janet crooned softly, smiling gently down at him. "Welcome back,
Daniel. You had us worried there for a while." She reached towards him
and let her hand rest easily on the pillow when he flinched back from
He felt raw. "S-sorry." It was a thread of a voice. Apologising for
what, he wasn't sure.
"You have no wounds, no burns, no sign of physical injury," Janet said
briskly. "The PET scan shows signs of unusual levels of activity,
particularly in your parietal lobes - the sensory centres of the brain
- but nothing to cause undue concern. It's nothing like what happened
to Colonel O'Neill when the knowledge of the Ancients was downloaded
into his brain."
"Damn!" Daniel mourned in a weak voice, reaching out carefully to touch
one finger to Janet's arm. She smiled down at him.
"Daniel!" Jack called, harsh with relief as he barged into the room.
"Did I say you could…" Janet snapped.
"I hurt like hell," Daniel muttered, distracting them both. Janet's
eyes went straight to his IV, frowning. "No more," he said at once.
Painkillers weren't the answer. "Not as bad," he wavered, uncertain and
Janet hovered a moment longer, assessing him, then she nodded
"Airman Jenkins was whining about his dressing oozing," Jack said
heartlessly, knowing it would shift Fraiser rapido.
"I gave him enough sedative to take down a bull, Colonel, so I'd be
astonished if he was up and complaining about anything," Janet answered
pleasantly. "But I will call the general for you. And Sam, Teal'c and
Cassie." She smiled at Daniel. "Get some rest. Call me when the colonel
annoys you," she suggested, as if it was just a matter of when, not if.
Jack walked up to the bed, stood looking down at Daniel for a long
moment. "You look like crap," he observed in a mild, masking,
Scared the shit out of me, you stubborn
"Thanks," Daniel answered huskily.
Jack shook his head at him, then reached into the bowl that stood on
top of the bedside cabinet. He picked out an ice cube and held it to
Daniel's lips. The blessed coolness slid down over his tongue to ease
his parched throat. Daniel suckled greedily at slick cold and warm skin
of Jack's fingers.
Jesus, Daniel! Don't do that!
Jack warned, snatching his fingers away. He crossed his arms
emphatically over his chest, hands stuffed under his armpits, then
stood glowering down at Daniel, as if it were his fault.
A welter of confused images struck at Daniel, skin and tangled
limbs…heat…crumpled sheets…a warm, firm mouth hard against his…
"How's our boy?"
Both he and Jack jumped at Hammond's jovial hail from the doorway.
"Daniel!" Sam's voice was sharp with relief as she darted around the
general and made a beeline for Daniel, muscling into Jack's spot at his
bedside like she owned it.
Back of the line, Carter.
Jack's annoyance was cutting.
Daniel glanced up at Jack, frowning at his sharp, unmerited rebuke. He
let it go only because Sam seemed to make nothing of it.
"DanielJackson." Teal'c too stepped in front of Jack, his eyes looking
over Daniel searchingly.
Daniel smiled hesitantly up at him and Sam, his eyes still on Jack,
brooding in the background. Not Jack's natural place under any
Sam stroked her hand over his hair. "How are you feeling?" she asked
"Better than I probably look," Daniel answered staunchly.
Teal'c raised a dubious eyebrow, but bowed acceptance of his stoicism.
Hey, Daniel, don't mind me. Quite
comfortable, there? Can I fetch you a drink? Fluff your pillow?
Startled by the biting sarcasm, Daniel looked up at Jack, who standing
behind Sam, blandly watching him. Daniel glanced cautiously at the
others, who either hadn't heard Jack or…There was no 'or'. No one
standing by his bed would have let Jack get away with a crack like
that, especially Janet Fraiser, who had slipped back into the room and
was watching him searchingly from the foot of the bed. They hadn't
heard Jack but he had?
"Can I go home?" Daniel demanded fretfully, his head spinning. This was
surreal. He was hallucinating. Or something. He'd always been able to
read Jack's body language, but hearing it in his head was a first. He
and Jack were getting too intense. Not that they'd ever been anything
else, but still. He was channelling the man. Or - or something.
He needed some space, to sort this out. He'd been down this particular
road before, the path paved to insanity, and was not about to go there
again. Jack had come through for him, in the end. He'd been proved
right - again - but it hadn't stopped them tossing him in a padded cell
in Mental Health doped up to the eyeballs because it was easier to
believe he was nuts than to believe him.
"Please, Doctor," he pleaded.
"No, you may not!" Janet retorted sharply. "You need rest. And
You're staying put if I have to nail
your ass to that bed! Jack agreed emphatically.
"Don't you trust me?" Daniel asked, shocked. He flushed violently when
everyone looked at him, realising after a moment they thought he was
answering Janet. "Thanks a lot," he said, managing to sound indignant.
A little wavery but definitely pissed.
Sam smiled. "I have a spare room," she offered kindly. "And chocolate
Since when has Daniel ever done anything
you told him to, Carter? "I'll take him." Jack interrupted
loudly, the flat finality in his voice momentarily deflating everyone
else. "You have work to do," he told Sam tersely. "SG-5 brought back an
artefact from 797 they need you to take a look at."
"I will assist you, Major Carter," Teal'c offered graciously in the
awkward pause as Sam had to suck it up in resentful silence. She was
too professional to look to Hammond for help he probably wouldn't give.
He never interfered directly in Jack's command of his team.
"Sir?" Jack returned Hammond's knowing look. So what if he was overly
protective? Daniel had scared the shit out of him again. He thought
he'd lost him. Again. He wanted the boy right where he could keep an
eye on him. He noticed Daniel stiffening up and shooting him a
resentful look, which he ignored. "Tell me what you need me to do for
Daniel," he asked Fraiser tersely.
"Daniel needs bed rest, baseline observations and pain meds," Fraiser
snapped. "He isn't going anywhere tonight."
"So we'd better leave him to get some rest," Hammond ordered,
recognising a very pointed cue from his CMO.
Sam moved away a tad reluctantly, smoothing the hair from Daniel's brow
with a quick, warm smile only he saw. Daniel took her hand and held it
for a moment, trying to look as reassuringly healthy - and normal - as
he could. Sam squeezed his fingers gently, winked at him and turned
smiling to Teal'c, her lab assistant de jour.
"DanielJackson, I am pleased to see you safe." Teal'c rested his hand
heavily on Daniel's thigh for a moment.
Hands off, big guy!
Daniel saw the tension tighten Jack's body at the same time as the
words echoed harshly in his own mind. He gaped, wondering where the
hell that came from. Jack sounded - it was ridiculous of course, but
Jack sounded almost - jealous.
It was his own damn fault if he was, Daniel thought resentfully. Daniel
wasn't the one who'd shoved Jack away, who wasn't comfortable unless
they had the width of the briefing room table between them. At all
times. It was a little late in the game - a year or so late - for Jack
to get pissy just because not all of Daniel's friendships had atrophied
along with Jack's feeling for him.
"You will rest now," Teal'c advised him kindly. "You are not yet
"I'll give it a try," Daniel answered distractedly, eyeing Jack warily,
wondering why even when he was hearing voices, he had to hear Jack's,
and even in his imagination Jack sounded pissed off at the universe.
"You gave us all a scare, son," Hammond said quietly, looking quickly
Pardon me for being concerned. He only
stopped breathing there.
"I stopped breathing!" Daniel gasped,
"The colonel had to do CPR, Daniel," Janet said soothingly. "That's why
your chest is a little sore."
"A little?" Daniel said involuntarily, blinking hard at the sudden rush
of guilt, fear and anger that boiled through him. "I don't remember,"
he fretted. "I don't remember anything."
Bastard lightshow! Never again, Daniel,
never a-goddamned-gain. "You were passed out." Jack's calm
tone was at odds with the jagged, panicking images spiralling past
Daniel's eyes, to quick to see. "That light, whatever it was, wouldn't
leave you alone, even after I destroyed the power source. There was
some kind of residual charge in the air. It was like the two of you
were connected. I had to get you out of the chamber to stop it. The
pain just seemed to keep on building, getting stronger and stronger…"
His voice trailed off and he shivered in a rare show of reaction.
"Can't make an omelette without breaking eggs," he covered, making an
attempt to shrug off any hint of vulnerability as he picked up a chair
and moved it next to Daniel's bed, planting himself on it with the calm
certainty of someone who'd saved a life and wasn't scared to use it. He
looked up at Janet steadily.
Make me, he invited softly.
"It's okay." Daniel's soft, bewildered murmur stopped the brewing fight
in its tracks. He barely heard the goodbyes and well-wishes, the
promise he would go home with Jack in the morning if he rested now and
his blood gases were good.
His mind was filled with Jack, watching him steadily, watching over him.
It had to be the light, the strange
purple-black light that had hit him so hard. Jack had been bathed in it
too, when he'd thrown himself at Daniel, trying to break the circuit.
Connection. Whatever it was. If Daniel's brain had been affected, maybe
Jack's had too. Not enough to receive, because he gave no sign of
hearing anything going on in Daniel's head. Maybe enough to broadcast?
He heard some of Jack's thoughts as clearly as if he were speaking them
aloud, felt the rush of Jack's emotions with near physical force. He
didn't get everything, not even close. Most thinking wasn't in words,
it wasn't even conscious. People literally spoke without thinking, at
least consciously, and most of what they did seemed just as impulsive.
But when Jack was thinking what he wasn't saying, Daniel heard it. What
he felt, Daniel felt too. It was little enough.
He couldn't help but think telepathy was overrated. How often would
your enemy conveniently sit there thinking at you just what you needed
to know? If it was telepathy.
Daniel thought it could be. He'd been wrong before. The kind of wrong
that got him a padded cell in Mental Health. Respect for Jack's privacy
was warring with fear of himself and where it was his mind was taking
him now. He had so many questions and he needed privacy, time and
Jack's help. He needed Jack. When, he thought with a sigh, had he not?
"I still say we should have stayed at my place," Jack insisted
stubbornly as the elevator doors opened. He looked along the hallway to
Daniel's loft unenthusiastically. "It's sunny. I have the garden."
"I need bed rest," Daniel said patiently for the twentieth time. He was
exhausted, shaken and stumbling, glad of Jack's solid support, reaching
quickly for him, holding him close when he needed it.
I need space.
Daniel stumbled again, shocked by Jack's embittered vehemence,
miserably conscious of his dependence. "You got me here, safe and
sound. I haven't got the energy to do anything but rest. Go home. I
won't tell," he offered proudly, forgetting his woes.
Jack shot him an impatient look as he unlocked the door. "Don't be
stupid, Daniel. Hammond, Fraiser and the others would get in line to
skin me alive if I left you."
Pride stiffened Daniel's spine and had him pushing away from Jack to
walk on his own. He had no idea how he was going to make it up the
three steps he had to take up into the loft proper, but at the speed he
was moving, he had lots of time to think it through.
For cryin' out loud, Daniel! Get your
ass back here! "Daniel!"
The mind voice sighed with rough, reluctant affection, something like
amusement at his stubbornness. It was startling after Jack's bitterness
of a moment ago. Daniel jumped when Jack's arm slid around his waist
Jesus. Lead me not into temptation.
Jack practically frogmarched Daniel across to his bedroom, not at all
sure what to make of being the absolute focus of Daniel's dazed
concentration. On the upside, at least Daniel was dazed enough he
"Thank you!" Daniel muttered resentfully as Jack gave him an
encouraging push towards his bed and left him to it.
Self-preservation drove Jack towards the door. It was bad enough being
unable to stop thinking about Daniel naked and sprawling in bed without
having to see it.
"Why?" Daniel asked feebly.
"What?" Jack frowned back at Daniel, still standing where he'd put him,
looking little-boy lost.
"Nothing," Daniel said hurriedly.
"I'll be watching TV if you need me," Jack announced in what he hoped
was a 'don't need me' voice. He left before Daniel could say or do
anything else. He stood staring in the middle of the living room for
some time before he could bring himself to even entertain the
unbelievable truth. Then he stormed back into the bedroom to find
Daniel entangled in an uncooperative T-shirt and cursing creatively.
"You don't have a TV!" he accused indignantly, closing the gap to
briskly unhook, untwist and yank. Daniel's face emerged from the thin
grey jersey fabric flushed and sulky.
"It's right there," Daniel snapped.
Jack looked at the tiny portable perched on the whatever it was. Not
bedroom furniture, that was for sure. More like a home office or
something. Who had two dining tables and no TV? The man was not normal.
He scowled at Daniel, who was too close. The man was biting his lip,
and he was too close.
He was also going seven shades of red and looking even more lost than
he had before, which was something of an achievement even for…for…
God. Moments like this, Daniel looking to him like this, vulnerable and
needing, Jack wanted to pull him in tight, have him close and never let
him go. He wanted to tilt that stubborn chin and kiss some sense into
him. He wanted…Christ, he hurt with wanting. He ached with Daniel never
seeing, never knowing what he felt or what he wanted, what they could
There wasn't room for anyone else and Daniel didn't even get that.
They were too close. Jack was breathing Daniel in, warm and
soap-scented, smooth supple strength close enough to take, to hold. He
dreamed it, was haunted by it. Taunted. Daniel beneath him, crying out
in his shock the first time Jack took him, moaning with pleasure as
skin moved inside him for the first time. Daniel loving him, loving him
Daniel's eyes filling.
"Daniel?" Jack asked sharply, grabbing him by the shoulders.
"I can hear you," Daniel said desperately, taut and shivering with
"Of course you can," Jack responded with iron patience. "I'm standing
right in front of you, talking."
"I can hear you."
Despite himself, Jack's finger stroked up Daniel's cheek to catch the
single tear rolling down. He was caught and held by the astonished pain
in Daniel's eyes.
Daniel felt dazed and disconnected, looking both outside himself and
in, his own face filling his mind, the knife edge of control that Jack
walked every day, responsibility, discipline and denial, all because
Daniel didn't see. He'd never even suspected. They were too close, he
knew that, but he'd never made the leap from this strength of feeling
between them to sex, never imagined their connection could take Jack
He could feel how Jack saw him, aching and hard-edged with desire and
something close to resentment because a man shouldn't, couldn't be this
beautiful, this wanted…
"You're in love with me," Daniel said wonderingly, lost in the moment,
lost in Jack's intensity. Jack's pain. "I'm sorry!" he gasped, heart
slamming against his ribs, instinctively reaching out for Jack, who
flinched back from his touch as if he were scalded. "I'm so sorry."
Wasn't this the same failure of imagination, of empathy, he always had?
Why did he never see?
"You don't know what the hell you're talking about!" Jack snarled. He
was pale though, his eyes desperate.
"It would be the first time," Daniel said urgently, stumbling forward
as Jack instinctively backed away from him. "I - I've never been with a
man, Jack. You're right about that."
"Fuck?" Daniel interjected before Jack could complete the thought. "I'm
sorry," he said sorrowfully. "You pushed me so far away, Jack."
Not far enough.
Daniel turned and made his way towards his bed, stumbling again on the
steps. He felt faint, muffled, tinny sounds seeming to come from a
great distance, but Jack was too important to him to let this be. He
took another clumsy step, then Jack's hands were at his waist,
steadying him. Daniel leaned gratefully until Jack had him settled on
the bed, then he reached out to take Jack's hand, refusing to let go
when he pulled away.
"Why couldn't you tell me?" Daniel asked softly. "We've always been
able to talk. Always." He was afraid to push, afraid to drive Jack any
further away than he already was.
Jesus, Daniel, don't look at me like that,
Jack thought bitterly, his fingers clenching. I
can't stand it.
"Look at you like what, Jack?"
Jack didn't answer.
"I thought it was me," Daniel said dully. "I just can't give what's
needed. Even when I see, when I know, I'm never enough. I thought with
a friend it would be different. I thought you were different."
I'm not your friend.
"I know that now."
I didn't mean it like that! I mean -
Christ, I don't know what I mean! Jack roughly scrubbed the
heel of his hand across his eyes, burningly aware of the heat from
Daniel's shivering body and the longing in his quiet voice. I fell in love. It's not your fault, not your
"It's always my problem. Sarah loved me, Sha'uri loved me. I left them
both," Daniel said bitterly. "For my work. Always my work. I can't
leave it alone." He turned blindly to Jack. "I trust the work, trust
the truth far more than I trust myself with people. Especially people
who love me." He smiled, a brief twist of his lips. "I turn away, Jack,
because it hurts too much to open up. It's ironic, don't you think?" he
asked bleakly. "The one time - the one person I don't - can't - shut
out and you…" Daniel slumped, exhausted and shaking. "I thought it was
Not this time. Maybe not ever, Daniel. Jack
got up, pushing gently at Daniel's shoulders until he obediently lay
down. He swallowed hard when Daniel refused to let go of his hand,
perching awkwardly at his side, scared of how close they were, too
close for any comfort for either of them. Whatever the device had done
to Daniel, scrambling his brain, he'd better get over goddamn quick
because he was too perceptive on a good day and if he wasn't so - so
Daniel, if he didn't find it so fucking hard to believe he wasn't some
loser, he'd have known what was between them.
You're too goddamn hard on yourself,
Daniel, he thought sadly. Does it
ever occur to you to blame the people who let you down, who made it
hard for you to trust? Made it hard for you to be with people at all? I
hate to see you close in on yourself, always did. Always felt like you
were robbed, that it was an easy thing, so damned easy to give you
I didn't know - I didn't want…I just
can't stop, Jack seethed.
"It's wrong to want me?" Daniel rolled away from him, curling into a
ball with his back to Jack. "It's wrong and that's it? That's why you
can't tell me you love me, why you can't give me a chance to - to even
think about what I?" He broke off in distress and noisily gulped in a
calming breath. "What I might want?" he managed to finish, his voice
Jack reached automatically for Daniel's shoulder, was shaken off.
"You're an arrogant sonovabitch," Daniel whispered, curling tight round
the helpless misery knotting his gut. "You never stopped to think about
how I feel, how it hurts to be cut off like so much dead weight by the
one person - the only person who got close, who got in. I love you.
Don't you know that?"
Jack closed his eyes, hurting for Daniel, for both of them. Always.
Daniel turned around to look at him then, as pale as he'd been flushed,
bewildered pain shadowing his eyes. "Always?"
Jack went very still, knowing he hadn't said the word aloud, that
Daniel hadn't read his body language, hadn't known, couldn't know - not
with his back turned.
Daniel? he thought, stunned,
his mind instinctively reaching out, taking him where he needed to go. You can hear me?
"Isn't that what I've been trying to tell you?"
You're reading my mind? Fuck me! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
Daniel nodded helplessly. "Everything since I regained consciousness,"
he admitted at once, his voice wavering again. He looked tired. Tired
and beat. "And no, I don't know why it's only me," he added in a
stressed rush. "I'm guessing it's something to do with the relative
length of our exposure to the energy beam."
Jack just sat there, speechless. Why the hell did this stuff keep
happening to him? It happened so damned often he was losing the ability
to get freaked by it, for God's sake. If it was true - Daniel's sudden
scowl certainly suggested it was true - then he had a far more
immediate problem. What the hell else Daniel had heard - read -
whatever? When had this crap started? How much had he given away, for
"What did you think would happen if you admitted you were attracted to
me, Jack?" Daniel challenged him, pretty much answering the question
about how much he'd heard. Read. Everything. Every goddamned thing.
If I turned up on your doorstep and out
of the blue asked you if we could fuck? Jack thought
furiously, intentionally crude in his mortification.
Daniel went seven shades of red. "You could have tried telling me you
were in love with you and you want to make love with me!" he retorted
"Which?" Daniel asked involuntarily
And when you said no, because there was
no way in hell you'd risk our friendship or the team for sex,
Jack thought bitingly, how in Christ's name
were we supposed to get back from that?
"I lost you anyway!" Daniel retorted. "The team…" He had to take a
moment, to calm himself. "You just stopped caring, Jack."
"That's not fair!" Jack bit out furiously, snapping bolt upright.
"You pushed us all away and did your job," Daniel said dully. "You're
the one who can't take the risk, Jack. Don't blame me for not making a
choice you never gave me."
The thought was out before Jack could stop it, but he didn't take it
back. He was screwed anyway and he needed - he wasn't sure he could go
on if he didn't know.
What did Daniel want? Distance from Jack had hurt him unbearably, so
he'd shut off those feelings. Lied, as best he could, to distance
himself in turn. He had tried hard to believe he could cope, that Jack
was no different from other friends, like Robert. That he didn't feel
more for Jack, that he didn't want the closeness of what he'd had with
Sha'uri, not with Jack. He'd given up so much in the hope that he could
go on alone, just as he always had.
He'd denied their connection because it hurt too much to lose it. He
hadn't wanted to know why he'd been so vehement in his denial, why in
the end he'd allowed Jack to push him away, why he closed in on himself
more and more, seeking solace in his books, his work. Why he hadn't
been able to face it. It was more than self-protection, it was fear.
Daniel hadn't lost himself in his work; he'd used it to hide.
He'd never run from anyone but Jack. Why was it so very hard for him to
accept? His friendship with Jack was the deepest, the most complicated
and the most sincere relationship he'd had in his life. The feeling he
had for Jack – no one else came close.
Was that his problem? That he felt not just differently for Jack, but
felt more? What did he think that cost him? Did he honestly believe
loving Jack took anything away from Sha'uri?
Anything he hadn't already taken, he amended bitterly.
Was Daniel so fixated on his losses and his failures, he couldn't allow
himself anything but doubt? Why did he feel he had no choice but to
shut himself off?
"You're right," he admitted to Jack, quiet and ashamed. He was scared
to risk the little he'd felt he was holding onto of their friendship.
He was scared to risk himself even more than he was scared of risking
Now, they were here, the two of them, tired of running, of distance,
unable to reach out and feeling so alone because of it. They'd learned
to function apart. Daniel didn't want to function. He wanted to feel.
He wanted their connection, their intimacy, the trust he shared only
with Jack. He wanted it, needed it so much he was terrified. Losing
Jack had stripped away all his defences. Every hard lesson he'd learned
in life, all his self-sufficiency, his solace in himself, in his
researches, was lost to him. He had to face the truth just as Jack had
faced the truth.
He couldn't be alone anymore, not without being lonely. He wondered
dismally if Jack had any idea what he'd cost him in stripping away his
one, small defence.
Without conscious decision, Daniel sat up, turning once again to face
Jack, who was waiting, watching him, taut with fear and anger and a
"I want to be with you," he said quietly, sure of this at least. It was
easier to say, to feel, than can't be without you. Both were true,
though, and he was very afraid of where this need would take him. It
was easy to trust Jack but so hard to trust himself.
I need you.
"I understand," Daniel promised blindly. Jack had been afraid to ask
for the sexual relationship he believed Daniel couldn't give. At the
core, they trusted one another, and Daniel felt there was very little
he wouldn't give for Jack. Sex wasn't his choice, it maybe would never
have been his choice, but he was faced with it now. He came up onto his
knees, facing Jack, tentatively reaching out to cup his face, sorry and
hurting for how much Jack was holding back from him. He felt something
inside him melt at the weight Jack had willingly shouldered to protect
him and tried to smile.
They both jumped, shocked and a little embarrassed when Jack blindly
turned into Daniel's hand, kissed his palm.
I need you, Daniel. Please…
Jack was moving now, his face still stony, not giving in yet, still
hanging on to his necessary distance. Daniel didn't flinch when Jack's
arms locked around him. As Jack took him down to the bed, Daniel slid
his arms around him. He had difficulty meeting Jack's eyes when Jack
chose to lie there with him, leaning his weight into him, one hip hard
against his in an easy tangle of legs.
Daniel wanted to be close. He wanted…he didn't…It – it was hard to
think with Jack looking at him like this, looking his fill, incredulous
and needing. Shit-scared. Looking and wanting, arousal biting, his eyes
growing heavy, dilated to near black.
He couldn't help the odd noise he made in the back of his throat when
Jack's mouth met his, not quite panic. Jack's lips were straight and
strong, moulding themselves to his with warm, insistent pressure. Jack
was learning him in taste and touch. Daniel couldn't read anything from
him but need, pleasure - fear. He hesitantly opened to Jack's probing
tongue, catching his breath as moist, limber heat plunged into him over
and over, Jack's passion overwhelming any response Daniel might have
Daniel rode out this first urgent explosion of desire, though his jaw
ached as Jack ravished and strove for more, deepening the kiss to eat
Daniel alive. Jack broke off when they were both sobbing for breath,
lay with his forehead against Daniel's, nuzzling restlessly into him as
his breathing evened out and then he drove deeply into Daniel's mouth
again, kissing him slowly this time, his stroking slow and sensuous,
silky persuasion. Jack's hands moved caressingly over Daniel's back as
he rhythmically rubbed their tongues together, smiling when Daniel
responded to him, relaxing tentatively into the pleasure Jack wanted to
They lay together for a long time, kissing and kissing, Daniel's mind
and body electric with pleasure, his own and Jack's. There would be
more questions, more talking, but for now, this was as much as he could
cope with. The reality of Jack's mouth and sure touch. Jack's love, and
It was the third time Daniel had awoken in as
many days with his senses full of Jack. It was twilight, the room
filled with many-hued light and pooling shadows. Stirring in the warmth
and intimacy, Daniel looked up drowsily to find Jack waiting, watching
him intently. "Do you know how long it's been since you touched me?" he
asked quietly, making no move to get away.
On to Part Two
Since I fell in love with you.
"Jack?" he asked hesitantly as Jack stretched out at his side, smiling
a little as he slid his hand down to rest on Daniel's hip, held him as
he fitted their bodies together.
Easy, Daniel, Jack crooned. I want to touch, only that. I won't push for more than
you'll give, I promise. Trust me?
"Oh, God," Daniel gasped as Jack got hard against him.
Is this what you want? Tell me. Do you
want to make love? We could be so good together, Daniel. So good…
Lulled by the soft voice in his mind, Daniel's breath caught as Jack's
hips unsubtly pushed into his, all that weight and fierce, demanding
heat he felt even through the sweats Jack had acquired. There was
strength he'd never fully appreciated in Jack's lean frame. He didn't
say no, the words wouldn't come, they didn't fit when Jack was so sure
and Daniel wanted…"Oh, God," he gasped into Jack's shoulder, afraid for
the first time as he felt Jack's erection throbbing against his hip.
Jack stared into Daniel's eyes, the look in his own eyes leaving Daniel
shaken and wondering who was vulnerable here.
Gorgeous. I can't believe you don't know
Jack in his mind was slow and deliberate. Jack's fingers on his cheek
Let's make love, Daniel. Please. I've
wanted you for so long.
Jack kissed Daniel's brow, feeling the fine tremors wracking his body.
He was sorry for that, but not for this, not for a chance. It was all
he'd ever needed and he'd denied himself for so long. Daniel knew how
it was for Jack, was badly shaken knowing, but he wasn't saying no.
"Kiss me?" Daniel asked with gentle dignity, reaching out to clasp his
hands around Jack's shoulders.
Ah, Daniel, Jack kissed the
frown wrinkling Daniel's forehead, nosing into his soft, fine hair. You're doing great, he encouraged. Kissing you now.
Daniel stirred, pedantry lifting his face to the perfect position. Jack
tilted the stubborn chin and kissed him, smiling as his mouth moved
over Daniel's, soft and warm, generous lips stiff against his, not
mobile as they usually were. That would only come with confidence and a
shit-load of thoroughly enjoyable practice.
So sweet, Daniel.
Daniel made a noise deep in his throat that sounded like a growl.
Sweet and pissy, Jack
amended generously. And, God, he loved the shy thing. Loved it.
Shy? Feeling justifiably aggrieved, Daniel bit Jack on the lip. "Shy?"
he snapped out in his embarrassment when Jack backed off a couple of
inches, choking with amusement and something suspiciously like
Smiling a little, forgiving, Daniel opened to him, Jack sliding
sinuously into his mouth. Daniel moaned from the blistering intimacy of
it all, Jack's tongue resting over his own while Jack breathed gently
I'll rest your ass on my thighs and lift
your legs over my shoulders, hold your hips steady while I rock into
you for the first time. You'll feel me moving inside you, feel my skin
slide against yours. It's good, you won't believe how good. I'll take
you slow, and gentle, make it last. You'll feel me come inside you,
I'll feel you. That's what we'll do, the first time we make love.
Two men can't be closer, Daniel.
There hadn't been a lot of sex in Daniel's life. There had only been
Sha'uri, who knew less of sex than he did. They'd had so little time,
with the fears he had for getting her pregnant, the excavation and his
researches. Always his research. His obsession always intruded, always
ruled him, until Jack…
Daniel looked up at him involuntarily and for a moment, he was sure all
of his uncertainty, every bit of it showed. He had no confidence in his
ability to attract, to please. Then Jack's hand was there, cradling his
cheek, every reassurance Daniel could ask right there in his eyes. Jack
was in love with him. He loved Jack and his body was slowly gaining in
acceptance of this, so he pulled Jack's face down to his and kissed him
for the first time. A long, stunning glide brought him plunging deep
into Jack's eager mouth, not resting, restless, thrusting and rasping
clumsily over Jack's aggressive tongue.
It had been two and a half years since the last time Daniel had been
kissed. Add a couple of years to that for the last time he'd made love.
He moaned as the kiss deepened, because Jack felt so much and couldn't
or wouldn't hide it, it was in his kiss and the mind-voice and the
feelings driving Daniel with every thrust of Jack's tongue against his,
passionate, powerful feelings humbling him.
When Jack lifted his head a little, Daniel blindly followed, his hands
clasping tight over Jack's neck to draw him back down, desperate for
warmth, intimacy, pleasure.
Jack was surprised when Daniel pulled him back into the kiss. There was
no way he'd take advantage of Daniel's vulnerability. Daniel knew that.
Daniel knew him. He happened to be in love with the guy and he'd taken
care for too long to wholly give in now. Daniel tugged at him again and
he went with it, responding to the urgency boiling up from Daniel with
his own pent-up frustrations. It was dangerous when his control was so
tenuous and Daniel was just so – Daniel.
Fingers were digging bruisingly into his shoulders, clenching in his
hair as they constantly shifted position, angling to deepen the slow,
passionate kiss. Daniel's leg hooked around his butt and Jack went
crazy, fingers fumbling at the waistband of Daniel's pants. The tiny
gasp echoing as his hands pushed down to cup Daniel's ass made his dick
throb. He groaned as Daniel's shirt rode free of the pants and his skin
slid over the soft ridges of muscle on his flat, taut belly.
Daniel wasn't sure what he was feeling, just that it was too much…he
was hot and achy, shivering convulsively as Jack shoved down his pants
to free his sudden, aching erection. He cried out when Jack's hand
closed over him, harsh and heavy, calluses rasping over his prickling
skin, gripping him tight, too tight as he stroked and squeezed.
"Jack," Daniel whispered a protest, smothered by another desperate
kiss, the passion between them escalating as Daniel's erection surged.
He was giddy, panting for breath, shocked when Jack's weight shifted
without warning, crying out when his dick was engulfed in hot, moist
suction, Jack's limber tongue squeezing pressure against the head,
rubbing. Jack was going down on him. Jack…
Jack sucked hard, once, twice and Daniel came, a strained cry stifled
in his throat as his dick pumped luxuriously into Jack's mouth, the
steady suction drawing his orgasm out, making him writhe with pleasure
he almost confused with pain.
Daniel sprawled back, shuddering, limbs leaden, lassitude stealing over
him as Jack's weight shifted again, sloppily returning the swift,
fierce kiss as Jack's feelings sang in the air…
Love you, Daniel, love you.
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