JOY TO THE WORLD BY BIBLIO


Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17
Category: First Time.  Romance.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.  Tiniest of canon references to Desperate Measures and Wormhole X-treme.  Not actual spoilers.
Synopsis: So kiss me.
Warnings: Sheer unadulterated warm Christmas fuzzies.
Length: 140 Kb


"Excuse me?" Daniel asked, even though he'd heard Jack perfectly the first time.

Time.

What he was stalling for.

Lots of time.

"I said," Jack enunciated with exaggerated clarity, "do you find me attractive?"

"Um…" Daniel looked directly at his friend, taking in the strong, handsome face, filled with character.  "Yes?" he answered, a slight questioning lilt to his voice.

Jack straightened up from the bookcase he was leaning against, looking insufferably smug.

"I guess," Daniel added, eyeing Jack doubtfully.  "I've never really thought about it."

"Oh."  Jack let it go for the moment in favour of looking around him with a pointed lack of enthusiasm.  He seemed singularly unimpressed by the Colorado Springs Central Library's tastefully festive display of holly wreaths and pine cones.  "You come here often?"

"I like libraries," Daniel observed mildly.  "When I was a student I worked in one."  As he'd expected, that tantalisingly small hint was enough to get Jack away from difficult issues such as how attractive 'his' linguist found him and onto the hopefully more fruitful topic of 'his' linguist's youthful experiences.  "It's peaceful," he added appreciatively.  "I'm not a willing participant in the conspicuous consumption that passes for Christmas."

Jack muttered something scrooge-like under his breath.

Daniel picked up the novel he'd selected - it had been years since he'd last read Thackeray - and strolled back along the literature stacks towards the poetry section, his heart set on Blake's familiar, treasured 'Songs'.  He refused to let knowing the poems by heart deter him from the sheer tactile pleasure of handling an old and beautiful book, its leather binding still smooth, the gilded title crisp against the deep burgundy.  The neat printed label marring the spine offended him aesthetically, though he was wryly aware of the necessity of wresting order from the vast, encompassing chaos of human knowledge.

Browsing the shelves of his well-stocked local public library was a small, private pleasure he had never intended to share with anyone, least of all on Christmas Eve and certainly not with Jack, who'd been stopped in his tracks three times by a soft, melodious voice requesting him to respect the other users of the library in a tone that would have intimidated a room full of System Lords.

Jack looked around edgily as Daniel skirted the end of the final bay of shelves between them and Connie - irrevocably dubbed 'Conan The Librarian' by Jack who was alone in his belief obvious was funny - and hovered indecisively.

"Can we go now?" Jack's whine was an unsubtle subterranean hiss that seemed to fill all the available space.  Connie's head snapped up as emphatically as a rifle shot, her furry antlers bobbing madly.  Silly headgear seemed endemic to the poor benighted souls who had to work late on Christmas Eve.

Daniel stepped in front of Jack, smiling pacifically.  It seemed to work on Connie the librarian who smiled right back, though it pissed Jack off royally.  A few seconds later Daniel had a perfect view of the back of Jack's head.  He had no idea what this behaviour meant, any more than he knew why Jack had stalked him through his neighbourhood to find him late afternoon on Christmas Eve when they'd be spending the whole of Christmas Day together anyway, or for that matter why Jack wanted to know if Daniel found him attractive.

Taking all these factors into consideration, Daniel slipped quietly away.  He paused for a moment to admire the huge tree festooned with strings of popcorn and traditional decorations, which made him even more self-conscious about his plans for after he left the library.  He kept telling himself he'd found a Christmas tree with real character, but he highly doubted it would pass the Jack test.  Daniel sighed mournfully and walked on. He'd been hoping the tree would be a perfectly trimmed fait accompli by the time Jack banged on his door demanding Christmas brunch and beer.  Now Jack would be right there with him when he picked it up from Pete's Pine.

He was bitterly regretting the impulse that had led Janet to whisk Cass off to Acapulco for two weeks.  The impulse - who went by the name of Dominic - was inconsolable according to the broken-hearted lovers' emergency contact Sam.  She swore her love for Cass would never die, but she'd bolted clean across the country to seek refuge in San Diego, booking her flight right after Cass had indignantly accused her of withholding vital communiqués from her Dominic.  Sam had faithfully passed on twenty-seven messages, including kissee noises, before bailing, so even Jack agreed she'd gone way above and beyond.

He and Jack had taken Sam and the spoils of a frenzied mall spree to Peterson and waved her off.  If only Jack hadn't looked so pathetic and little soldier brave as Sam's plane soared away from them, and Teal'c wasn't already a wormhole away, Daniel would not have been left with both the colonel and possibly the most embarrassing tree in Colorado on his hands for Christmas.

Daniel heard a low-voiced discussion behind him that ended with Connie's irritated snort of 'for cryin' out loud', which naturally disconcerted Jack as he was firmly escorted off the premises.  He wasn't used to anyone beating him to the punch.  The librarian made a point of politely closing the door in his astonished face.  Daniel returned the roguish smile flashed his way as Connie swaggered back to the help desk.

He realised it would be a matter of moments before Jack decided to check out alternate entrances, possibly including the skylights as a matter of masculine pride.  Connie was tiny, despite her high heels, a slender green-eyed brunette totally dedicated to her profession.  She tended to dress in a twin set and pearls just for the hell of it.  Daniel smiled at her and waved to Jack, hovering outside the entrance doors, scowling darkly and visibly growing restive.

Time for Daniel to conduct his business with the best used book procurer in Colorado, collect his Christmas gift to himself, savour the victory of a collection one volume closer to completion and puzzle Jack for weeks to come about his taste in literature.  He headed purposefully past 'Puff The Magic Dragon' and the almost irresistible array of jungle themed bean bags to weave his way through the brightly coloured kinder boxes piled high with tempting picture books.

"You have it?" he asked eagerly as he reached the desk.   Blane as always looked utterly miserable in his uniform, a lurid purple T-shirt emblazoned with a luminous Puff, topped for the occasion by a Santa hat that flashed 'Merry Christmas Everyone' twelve times a minute.  He'd once confided gloomily to Daniel that the uniform was designed by the eight-year-old granddaughter of the mayor and he was stuck with it because the mayor had designed and indeed donated the extension to the library that now housed Blane.  He tended to refer to it as the 'Shop Of Little Horrors'.  Daniel didn't blame him.  The man had 'Once Upon A Time' three times a week and 'Art Attack' on a Friday in the mayoral-funded enrichment programme.

Blane sneered a ritual festive greeting and got right down to business.  "I tapped my sources.  I can get you the one with Cleopatra for a hundred," he offered.  "Mint condition."

"Done!"  Daniel beamed, hugging his pleasure gloatingly to himself.  "Give me a call when it's here?"  Blane grinned and gave him a thumbs up.  Daniel handed over his fifty bucks as discreetly as possible, thanked him quietly, slipped his precious find into his backpack, and turned to find Jack looming up at the window, scowling darkly.

Business transacted, Daniel walked back through the library to have his books issued, Jack pacing him window to window, doing his damndest to look intimidating.  Daniel thanked Connie the librarian politely, admired her antlers, packed his books and wandered out, buttoning up his heavy navy woollen winter coat, which unfortunately wasn't nearly as heavy as winter in the Springs.  He still thought he looked more stylish than Jack, who was decked out like the lumberjacks in Monty Python and that ridiculous hat of his pulled down to his eyebrows.

"Who was that kid?  Where were you a librarian?  Why?  What's in the bag?  Is it for me?  Who was that kid?" Jack fired the questions rapidly.

"Blane," Daniel answered the first and last question, refusing to deal with what was in the bag.  He'd been subjected to frenzied interrogation for weeks, ever since Sam innocently let slip to Ferretti in the commissary that Daniel had found the perfect gift for the colonel.  From Sam's lips to Jack's ears, getting in Daniel's face within the hour and roughly on the hour ever since.

Jack stopped in his tracks.  "Blane?" he asked incredulously.  "He looks it," he grumbled under his breath.

Daniel prided himself on his fluency in Jack-speak, but that went right over the top of his head.  "His mother had a terrible addiction to Harlequin romance novels," he cautiously explained.  He would never demean Blane with an open display of sympathy for his plight, especially when Blane bore an apparently deeply unfortunate resemblance to someone called Fabio.

Jack sniffed haughtily.  "Where do you know 'Blane' from?" He darted a quick sideways look at Daniel.

"The library," Daniel explained with exaggerated patience.

Jack brightened up.

"And around," Daniel added, prompted by some demon of mischief he couldn't quite explain.

Jack scowled over his shoulder at the library as they turned the corner.  "Around," he repeated flatly.

"You know," Daniel said evasively, a sly grin tugging at his lips as Jack's inexplicable hostility found a worthier target than a children's librarian with a silly name.  "When he's not in the library, he's a Goth."  Blane was also a geek and an anarchist, but he kept that quiet on his resume.

"A Goth?"  Jack looked as if he was choking on questions but wasn't up to dealing with a conversation with Daniel regarding the habits of the latter-day Springs-dwelling urban Goth.  "What's in the bag?"

"Nothing for you," Daniel retorted crisply, feeling like a complete and utter Scrooge when Jack's face fell.

He strolled along, his deliberate pace a subtle defiance of the surging Christmas crowds shoving roughly past them.  They got closer with every step until they were literally side by side, movements easily synchronised.  Years of practice, Daniel thought wryly.

"Want to go to dinner?" Jack asked as they waited to cross the wide street that led to the Chapel Hill Mall.

The people packed behind them pushed forward as the lights changed, Daniel losing the chance to read Jack's face and puzzle out the odd intensity of the question.  When they found a small refuge from the crush of people in the lee of the entrance to the mall, Daniel hesitated and instead of asking his questions, reluctantly told Jack that he had an errand.

"I thought you'd had all your gifts wrapped since August," Jack grumbled.  "What errand?"

"I have to pick up the tree," Daniel admitted.  "From Pete's Pine."

"Cool!" Jack's face lit up.  "It's over on Garden of the Gods," he gloated.  "Mama Mia's is just a few yards up from there.  We can pick up the tree, have a nice Italian dinner and get hammered enough to do that chick stuff to it when we get back."

"Get back?" Daniel asked blankly as Jack hooked a hand through his arm and towed him along.

"I figured I'd stay over," Jack said lightly.  "No point going home just to turn around and come back again."

Daniel couldn't explain why he felt so self-conscious when Jack's hand settled on the small of his back, steering him gently through the tide of people they were walking against.  He told himself it was just the crowds, and when they burst out onto a side street so quiet it made their ears ring and Jack still didn't back off, he tried to tell himself it had nothing to do with strange questions about comparative attractiveness.

Ten minutes of brisk walking and the weight of Jack's hand had Daniel fighting not to blurt out a really stupid question.  He was regretfully certain it was only a matter of time and a few glasses of house special whatever before it got away from him regardless.

He was almost glad to see Pete's Pine.

Almost.

Daniel led the way into the small store, artfully crammed and decorated to look and feel like an old frontier store.  Pete handcrafted pine furniture and doll's houses his wife Hilda lovingly decorated and furnished.  They sold like hotcakes and at prices that made even Daniel blink.  There was a waiting list to even get on the waiting list for a house.  At Christmas, Hilda made small, exquisite gifts and advent calendars while Pete crafted wooden tree decorations to order.

He also sold trees.

Hilda looked up brightly as she heard the bell over the door.  Daniel returned her wave half-heartedly, pulling off his gloves as Jack made a beeline to ooh and aah over the showcase doll's house.  Thirty seconds later he was looking up the skirt of a southern belle.

Daniel rolled his eyes heavenwards, seeking what strength he could.

"Pete!" Hilda roared.  "Dr. Jackson is here for his tree!"

A snort of laughter echoed from the workshop at the back.  "Got it right out back, hon."  Pete came forward, grinning like a fiend, to shake Daniel's limp hand.  "Hope you want it as much in the flesh, son."

Hilda dropped her head, stifling a fit of giggles.

"Or should I say the bark?"

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

"If you place the tree in a corner, I'm sure it won't even show," Hilda assured Daniel earnestly.  "Just load up the front with more decorations to compensate."

"They're unique," Pete added.

"Just for you.  The least we could do," Hilda snorted.

Pete clapped Daniel on the shoulder.  "You're a braver man than me, son."

"He is?" Jack asked from right behind Daniel, making him jump.

He turned to glare Jack down, but Jack didn't move, leaving them literally cheek to cheek.  When Jack still didn't move, Daniel had to, deciding it was the heat of ye olde cast iron stove making him flush.

"Aren't you going to introduce us?" Hilda asked archly as Pete delved under the counter for the box of decorations, set it where Hilda could see it, then walked into the workshop.

"Jack," came the prompt response.

Daniel shifted out of the way as Jack reached around him to shake hands with Hilda.

She beamed at them both. "I knew you were too nice to be all alone," she happily confided to Daniel.  "You boys make such a handsome couple."

Wha?

Jack and him?  That was…that…

Whaaaa?

Jack chuckled.  "If anyone asks, I'm the pretty one," he said teasingly, stepping closer to Daniel, whose instinctive, panicked attempt to sidle away was neatly thwarted by an arm slipping emphatically around his waist.

Help!

"It's the eyes," Hilda sighed dreamily.

Daniel was infinitely more concerned with the hands.

Jack preened himself, apparently enjoying the 'joke' to the full while Daniel struggled to work out which way was up and not think about anything, especially anything to do with brown eyes or those big, capable hands or…or anything.

He noted that he was borderline incoherent but there wasn't a damn thing he could do about that.  He was almost glad to have Pete bustle back in with his tree.  On the upside, it did prompt Jack to let go.

Jack solemnly accepted the tree from Pete, lifted all five feet of it up, slowly turning it to inspect it carefully from all angles.  "He picked this tree."

It wasn't a question.

Pete and Hilda nodded as one.

"Oy," Jack sighed gently.  "Daniel…"

"I like this tree."  This was true, and Daniel refused to apologise for it.  He'd spent hours going through the catalogue of Polaroid's and this one…it just leapt out at him.  He had to have it.

"You liked the mutant tree?"

"It has some branches," Daniel said defensively, crowding Jack to gently touch one of said branches.  "They're just all on this side."

"Put it in a corner," Pete advised kindly.

"A dark one," Jack grumbled.  "I'm guessing we're not talking tinsel for this puppy."  His tone suggested there was nothing two minutes with a flamethrower couldn't fix.

Hilda proudly slid the small box on the counter towards Daniel.

He looked in and from an array of tiny, fragile carvings, lifted Anubis from its niche in the box, the gilding catching the lights.  "Perfect!  These are just beautiful!" he admired openly.  "Excellent representations."

Hilda was blushing and gratified.  "We had fun with these. Pete got a book out of the library and we both played to our heart's content."

"You're gonna make me carry this, right?" Jack asked resignedly, hefting the tree.

Daniel just looked at him.

"Right."  Jack stared at the tree as Daniel paid and carefully packed the box of decorations into his backpack.  He glanced up, an odd gleam in his eyes.  "It's you."

Ri-ight.

As well as he knew Jack, Daniel honestly couldn't tell if that was an insult or a compliment.

He thanked Hilda and Pete and they left the store to make the short walk to the restaurant, Daniel feeling unaccountably nervous.  He didn't know quite what it was, but Jack didn't seem like himself tonight.  He was quiet and on edge, and seemed to be watching every move Daniel made.

It was making Daniel very uneasy.

Very.

As aggravatingly inappropriate as Jack's sense of humour could be, pretending to be Daniel's boyfriend was unprecedented.  Daniel thought he had two choices here, neither of which held any particular appeal.  Ignore Jack and hope he went away.  Ask outright.

Either option was attainable if Daniel got thoroughly lubricated.  He sensed it was going to be a long, fraught night, rife with opportunities for complete embarrassment.

What did he expect?  It was Christmas.

He pulled open the first door that was beneath a red, white and green striped awning and was hit by a wall of heat.

"Jeez!" Jack cringed. "Guess we have to strip down."

It was the heat.  Definitely the heat.  Daniel was not blushing.

Jack propped the tree against the wall.

"What are you doing?  Someone might take it," Daniel protested.

Jack patted his arm gently.  "It's sweet you would think that," he said solemnly, then he hooked Daniel around the shoulder and firmly drew him inside.  "Table for two," he called to the waiter bustling up to welcome them.

Daniel handed over his coat, his burgundy silk jacket and after his head swam, reluctantly surrendered his grey sweater too, feeling absurdly exposed in the pale grey T-shirt and chinos.  They not only fit, they…er…clung.  He realised after a moment Jack was really getting into the way they clung and pounced on a wine menu to cover his confusion.

Drink hard.

Drink fast.

Ask questions.

Did he really want to know?

No.

Yes.

God.

"This way, please, gentlemen."  The waiter led them to a nice secluded alcove screened by a low whitewashed wall and cascading plants adding to the Mediterranean garden atmosphere, beamed at Jack and made a show of lighting the candles.

"Just bring me a bottle of the best red you've got," Daniel instructed, wriggling uncomfortably on his wrought iron chair, half expecting violins at any moment.

"And one of those vinaigrette thingies," Jack added.  "And ciabatta rolls."

"Of course."  The waiter handed Jack the menu and walked over to place their order at the bar.

"I like this place," Jack confided.  "Not one of the waiters even pretends he's Italian and they don't make a song and dance of it if you come in on your own."

Daniel relaxed slightly, allowing himself to sympathise, knowing exactly how much nerve it took to walk into a restaurant on your own and ignore the pitying, mildly contemptuous glances of other diners sliding over your skin.  He could walk in, head held high, but always had to have something to read to get him through the interminable wait to have his order taken and served.  He would drink a little wine and bury himself in something, trying to look busy, which he was, and not pathetic, which he hoped…

Daniel sighed.

Jack's face softened understandingly.

The waiter was markedly more friendly when he returned to the table to present their wine with a flourish.  It was a 1993 Prunotto Barolo Bussia.  Daniel took a reverent sip, rolling the elegant, velvety, full-bodied wine over his palate, deciding it was worth the ninety-five bucks.  He nodded and the waiter filled each of their glasses, a minion bustling up with a pot of what Daniel assumed was the promised vinaigrette despite its unusually thick consistency, like a butter, and some rolls.

"Spread it," Jack ordered.

Daniel tore off some bread, scooped up a little of the interesting mixture and nibbled thoughtfully.  Despite the texture, the  vinaigrette was excellent, both sharp and sweet.  "It's good," he praised.  He spread and chewed, sipped his wine, decided Jack wasn't going to bite and he was reading a whole lot of something into what was essentially nothing.

"You didn't ask me if I found you attractive," Jack said abruptly, much too loud, fingers knotting in the napkin.

Daniel swallowed his mouthful of bread with some difficulty, having to wash it down with a disrespectful gulp of wine.  "Do…"

"Yes.  Very."  Jack looked up then, pale and grimly determined.  "It's becoming a problem."

"It…"

"Yes.  I had a date."  Jack waved a dismissive hand.  "Some woman I met in Safeway.  Doesn't really matter.  She was pretty, bright, friendly…" He pulled a face.  "Easy.  All that and still…not enough."

"Not…"

"She went to the bathroom.  She was wearing this skin-tight little black number, a real mantrap," Jack confided, leaning forward earnestly.  "As she walked away from me I was thinking…I actually sat there and thought 'Daniel has a better ass than she does'."  He sat back, arms folded, clearly awaiting a response of some kind.

Daniel picked up his glass, drained his wine, poured another, scooting the glass out of Jack's reach when he tried to take it from him.  Jack kicked him in the shin, Daniel yelped, and Jack twitched the glass out of his slackened grip.  He also moved the wine out of reach.

"Do you have anything to add?" Jack asked wearily, scrubbing the heels of his hands across his eyes.  "I didn't even get to the good part."

"The good…" Daniel eyed the wine regretfully.  "Why don't you…" he waved his hand in what he hoped was a 'lay it on me' way.

"I didn't mean to, but next time I saw you, I remembered," Jack said awkwardly, grimacing.  "It was stupid, I know, but I started…er…comparing.  I think I've looked at the ass of every woman on base, including ole' Doc Fraiser and I still think you've got the curviest ass I've ever seen."

"Thank you," Daniel bleated.

"You're welcome," Jack said absently.  "And your mouth…"  He looked at Daniel's mouth.  Stared.

Daniel found himself trying to look at his own mouth too.

"And I don't need to tell you about your eyes."

Um…

"Two Pollo A La Cacciatore," Jack ordered fluently while Daniel jumped out of his skin.  "Heavy on the roast potatoes."  The waiter Daniel hadn't seen took the menu they hadn't looked at and booked.  "I don't know why, but I just keep looking."

"Stop."  It seemed logical to Daniel, if Jack didn't want to look, he should just…

"I don't want to."  Jack's enthusiasm was roughly on par with a man facing root canal sans anaesthesia.  "I like looking."

"Why are you telling me this?" Daniel heroically gathered a few scattered wits.  "What are you hoping for?"

Jack stared straight into his eyes.

"Oh."

God.

"Um…"

"I bet if I was pouring my heart to Murray, he wouldn't sit there looking like he's one wheeze away from CPR," Jack accused Daniel unreasonably.

He was slightly breathless at most!  "Way to win me over," Daniel snapped.

Jack sat up straight.  "Really?  'Cos I was figuring we could take it easy, at least to start with."

Daniel's jaw dropped.

"Get a grip, Daniel," Jack said snidely.

"You want to date me?" Daniel asked.

"I want to have sex with you, but I'll settle for a good night kiss," Jack said promptly.

"How do you know you want to have sex with me?" Daniel demanded just as the waiter arrived with their meals.  He and Jack sat in rigid silence, other than politely declining black pepper and parmesan, until the waiter walked discreetly away.  "I take it you've never been involved with another man?"

"What makes you assume that?" Jack snapped.

"If you had, you'd be better at it," Daniel said simply.

"I…" Jack bridled indignantly.

"You suck."

"You wish."  Jack sighed.  "I knew this would blow up in my face.  What else could happen.  It's you!"

"What makes you think I haven't been involved with another man?" Daniel asked quietly, realising from the rage boiling over Jack's face the answer to that had better be a resounding 'no!'.  Jack couldn't STAND the thought.

They sat looking at each other in shocked silence.

"I'm sorry…I…" Jack seemed utterly at a loss.  "I don't know where that…I…it shouldn't matter, it shouldn't be different…it does, and it is."  He seemed exhausted and discomfited by the stark honesty of his admission.

"There's more to this than attraction," Daniel said slowly, still too stunned to open himself to anything.  Jack didn't seem to realise he'd rocked Daniel's world here.  Or…or maybe he did.  Maybe it was just like this for him, when he was watching that pretty woman, the sure thing, walking away from him only to realise for the first time he wanted Daniel.

Jack must have felt like he had a mothership dropped on him too.

"Don't you feel it too?  You have to," Jack announced unequivocally.  "I can't be the only one who needs you with me so I know who the hell I am."  He froze, clearly wishing the words unsaid the moment they were out his mouth, his eyes hard and dangerous, mouth set in a stubborn line.  "I'm not," he spat aggressively.  "I know you feel the same."

That shook through Daniel, who'd never known his feelings were so obvious and wasn't in the least gratified to have them laid bare by the man he'd struggled not to burden them with.  He'd realised on the journey back from Netu that Jack was his one constant, instinctively doing everything in his power to stand apart, to not allow Jack to take him in, heart and soul.  There had been times in their friendship when he'd thought Jack wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than everything he was, and he'd run, gave them both necessary breathing space.  He didn't want them impossibly dependent on one another and was fighting not to be angry with Jack for taking the intensity of their feelings to mean they would be lovers, as if it was just a matter of time.

"That doesn't mean I'm obligated to go to bed with you," he responded at last.

"Obligated?" Jack looked astonished.  "How could you even think I…Jeez."  He sagged.  "I was thinking if you knew, if you got that shock I did, you might just start looking too…maybe want…"

Daniel realised he'd hurt Jack, reaching out impulsively to him.  He blushed when Jack's hand closed strongly over his, but didn't pull away.  "I'm sorry, Jack.  Really…I just don't know what to think about this, let alone say or do."

"I thought we could see each other or something."

"We see each other all the time," Daniel said blankly.

"How often do we hold hands over a romantic candle-lit Italian dinner?" Jack asked with pardonable annoyance.  "I mean we should date," he explained with exaggerated patience.  "Kind of play it by ear.  I was hoping…I know I'm attracted to you…it's not subtle," he added with grim amusement.  "I was really hoping we could kiss.  Try it anyway.  You might not like…I'm not trying to push," he promised.  "Do you think you could kiss me?"

"That's pushing," Daniel pointed out in the interests of accuracy, wondering if he could in fact kiss Jack.  "I think I should," he decided.  "At least once.  That way if we both hate it…"

"I won't."

"You might."

"I won't."

"How do you know you…this is ridiculous."

"Only because you're losing."

"I'm not."

"You are."

"Let go of my hand."

"No."

"Arrogant prick."

"Yeah," Jack snorted.  "It is."

"W-w-w-w-"

"I get hard just looking at you."

"-ait, don't tell me.  I don't want to know!"

"Tough," Jack said callously.  "You haven't got to sit here looking at your mouth," he added resentfully, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

Daniel didn't know what to say to that or to the all-too obvious evidence of Jack's arousal.  He licked his lip, a nervous habit he'd…um…better get out of ASAP.  Seriously.  "Sorry.  Really…I…"  He sighed, slumping.  Jack soothingly patted the hand he was still holding.

"I know.  I've never had a more awkward conversation or felt so goddamned stupid in my entire life," Jack said miserably.

"Don't," Daniel pleaded anxiously.  "Please.  Don't feel stupid.  I'm not doing any better."

"I should go home tonight, huh?" Jack offered wryly.

"Now that was stupid.  Awkward or not, we're both adults."  Daniel looked doubtfully at Jack.

"Thanks," he said witheringly.

"There isn't going to be any…pouncing," Daniel said hesitantly.

"Damn," Jack muttered.

The question was…the question really was where would Jack sleep?

It was possible the same thought occurred to Jack.  He looked slightly wild around the eyes; his turn to gulp down his wine.  "Just because I won't be able to walk for a week after a night on your couch…I don't expect…"

"That's pushing," Daniel pointed out, scowling and embarrassed.  "Piss-poor reverse psychology."  He was annoyed that it was working regardless, and more annoyed that Jack knew it.


This is going well, Jack thought grimly, feeling like a complete shit because his ambush of Daniel was working exactly as he'd planned.  He knew Daniel was more open and less judgemental than he was, more…everything…than anyone Jack had ever met.  Relying on his friend's innate honesty and kindness was crappy.

Necessary, but…Jack sucked.  He knew this and he was not alone.

The worst thing was Daniel knew he was being taken advantage of.  He knew it, and he was still playing by the script.  He'd just realised he'd effectively invited Jack into his bed for the night.  Jack sternly suppressed the urge to tell Daniel he was hot when he was panic-stricken and let go of his hand so they could both put a little food into themselves to soak up all this alcohol they were tossing back.

"Are you really attracted to me?" Daniel asked helplessly after choking down a few bites of chicken.

"In the 'can't sleep at night for going crazy craving you' sense of attracted," Jack confessed gloomily, deciding Daniel deserved to hear the absolute truth from him.

He was wryly aware of how much else he hoped to be sharing with Daniel.  He wanted him naked with a big red gift bow tied round his dick.

"Fuck."

Jack waited but a second of rational reflection was enough to convince him it wasn't an invitation Daniel was throwing out.  All things considered, he decided not to mention the gift bow.

Or the mistletoe.

He was pretty sure Daniel's ongoing panic attack had everything to do with wondering what would happen if two healthy, horny guys climbed into a big, warm bed together after kissing themselves senseless all night.

Jack wanted to kiss Daniel desperately.  He was wound up so tight he thought he'd explode from needing so damn much for Daniel to enjoy kissing him, to be attracted to him, to want him with anything approaching the intensity that Jack wanted Daniel.

He didn't know what he would do if Daniel couldn't…if he was wrong about this.  "Fuck," Jack agreed, raising an ironic toast.

Daniel just stared back at him, wide-eyed and speechless.  Daniel knew him so damn well.  Jack could tell by looking that he knew Jack wanted something to happen between them, was hoping like hell kissing would just be the start of it all.  "I'm sorry," he apologised, feeling like he should.

"You want to make love with me," Daniel said quietly, taking another stiff gulp of his wine, rolling ruby-red around the rim of the glass as his hand shook a little.

Jack nodded wordless acknowledgement, slicing deep into his tender chicken, the richness of wine, tomatoes and garlic exploding against his tongue.

"The food is good," Daniel observed after a several minutes of silent, determined chewing.

"Are we having turkey tomorrow?" Jack threw Daniel a conversational bone, wanting them to have some breathing space before they got into it again.

"A crown," Daniel said absently.  "Pure breast."  He looked up at Jack sharply, as if braced for some kind of ritual bad taste joke.

"I'm looking forward to it," Jack replied honestly, risking a little warmth, even if it threw Daniel right back off his precarious balance.  It was perfectly true.  He'd known he was a goner for a while now.  He actually looked forward to seeing Daniel.  He enjoyed being with Daniel, wanted to be with him as often and as long as possible.  It didn't matter what he was doing, or trying to do, his mind went right to Daniel anyway.

He didn't need to be told it was totally embarrassing for a middle-aged man to be wandering the aisles of his local Safeway wondering what cereal his friend ate.  What he would taste like.  If he cried out when he came.  If he would find Jack attractive.

Middle-aged.

Jack sighed, drained his glass and waved it imperiously at the waiter.

Daniel looked up at him, eyes sparkling.

Jack's breath caught.

Daniel's did too, when he realised why…Jeez.  This had to be a fucking uphill, long-haul, toe-to-toe, to the death battle, didn't it?  Of course it did.  He'd been stupid enough to fall for Daniel Jackson.

Wide-eyed, hot and…

Mischievous?

"Daniel?" Jack asked, every instinct he had screaming a warning.

"This is a date," Daniel announced solemnly.

"Er…"  Yeah.  No point denying it.  Jack shrugged deprecatingly.

"You're taking me out to dinner."

And?  So?  But?

"You're paying."

"Er…sure."  He'd intended to.  He was the guy.

Daniel was also the guy.

Daniel was the hot, young, sexy, clever guy.

Jack was the sad, old, saggy, old, middle-aged, horny, old guy.

It was really hard not to just cut to the chase and think 'loser guy'.

"I'm glad you're coming over tonight," Daniel confided shyly, desperately staring at his dinner.

"Yeah?" Jack straightened up.  Was he making progress here?

"You can peel the potatoes."

Oh.

Crap.

"Whatever you need."

There was an unseemly skirmish for the second bottle of wine.  Jack was slightly surprised to lose, what with his Special Ops training and all.  He nursed his stinging hand and watched Daniel pour a generous glassful.  Daniel waved the bottle interrogatively and Jack shoved his glass forward, careful to keep his hand out of striking distance.

"I am completely and utterly freaked out," Daniel informed him.  "I cannot believe you are sitting there right now thinking about my ass."

"I wasn't!" Jack protested indignantly.  "I was thinking my hand hurts like crap and you're a sneaky little shit with surprisingly good reflexes when you're hammered."

"Oh.  Um…" Daniel flushed self-consciously.

"Now I'm thinking about your ass," Jack complained.  "Like I needed that image," he added accusingly.

"Sorry."

"No, you're not," Jack snapped, smiling despite himself.

Daniel found a small smile too.  "No, I'm not," he agreed.  "I should be," he admitted, looking surprised.  "But I'm not."  He ate some more chicken thoughtfully.  "I think the trouble is we know each other too well.  It's impossible to lie with any conviction and that is so necessary on a first date."

"There it is," Jack said pleasantly.  "You lay too much of the truth on your date, there's every chance she - er - he, will climb out the bathroom window first chance she -er - he gets."

"Might still happen," Daniel snorted.

"Do you feel that buzz?" Jack asked, curious now.  "That whole fight or flight, laid or dumped adrenaline rush?"

"Yes!" Daniel agreed eagerly, sitting up straight.  "All you want is a quiet dinner and some interesting conversation and you have to deal with some…chippie…wanting to get in your pants.  Going out the bathroom window sounds good to me," he observed wistfully.  "You always end up totally humiliated because of course you never have one night stands and…I'm drunk."  Daniel observed his nearly full glass, slightly bewildered.  "Um…"

"You don't date much?" Jack suggested kindly, trying not to hate Daniel for not wanting the girl.  Most guys would kill to be the one who always got the girl, not toss her back in favour of a nice talk about comparative something-or-other.

Where did all that leave him?  Especially when he'd told the 'guy' straight out he planned to get him, glossing over such technicalities as never having got a guy before.  He was very aware of the fact he was not quoting that bathroom window thing at random.  He pissed people off about as easy as breathing, dates in general and Daniel specifically.

"I hate dating," Daniel confessed miserably.  "Except you.  You've never wanted to get in my pants."

"Until now."

"I'm not drunk enough," Daniel announced, making a determined effort to remedy this tragedy.  "I'm starting not to mind.  I'm starting to…"  He blushed furiously.

"What?" Jack demanded, trying hard not to get too excited.  "What?  What!"

"Look at your mouth," Daniel said coldly.  "Not that you can keep it shut long enough I can admire it or anything," he grumbled, biting the head off his broccoli floret.

This was progress.

"I'm still not too enthusiastic about kissing you, but I promised so.." Daniel shrugged.

Jack thought they had the confused, humiliating miscommunication part of a first date down pat.  If they made it through dessert and Daniel didn't club him to death with the mutant tree on the way home, all he had to worry about was sticky, awkward, desperate sex.

And potatoes.

"What attracted you to me?" Daniel asked as he pushed a carrot round his plate.  "We've been friends for years.  What changed?"

Jack had wondered about this one himself.  He didn't have any real answers.  "It's kind of like the abstract went and got concrete on me," he offered doubtfully.

"Literally?" Daniel seemed slightly offended by that.

"Er…yes."  Jack was getting a callus, and it wasn't on his hand.  "I mean…guys don't notice that other guys are attractive."

"Unless they're looking," Daniel supplied.

"I do not look!"

"You looked at me," Daniel argued, annoyingly reasonable about it.

"I always looked, I just didn't see.  And don't tell me you're not drunk enough for that to make sense.  I know."  Well, he almost knew what he was talking about.  "Women look at other women and think, 'oh, she's pretty', 'she has a great smile', or whatever…" he said uneasily.  "Guys…don't.  I don't even know what cute is.  At least I didn't," he added tactlessly.

Daniel stiffened, shooting him an outraged look.

"I don't mean you," Jack said testily.  This didn't seem to help.  He sensed that saying just how attractive he found Daniel would be counter-productive.  He might blurt something stupid in the post-orgasmic glow but he would never be drunk enough to just come out with it cold.

"Have you been comparing and contrasting my ass with other men?" Daniel scowled at him.

Well he had to be sure!  It might have been some weird-ass alien love drug or something.  "Relax.  You've still got the best ass by a landslide."  Jack didn't know whether it was good or bad only Daniel's ass did anything for him.  He had a weird feeling mild interest in the asses of other guys was healthier than a total fixation on Daniel's, especially as it was a fixation Daniel didn’t want to encourage and didn't at this point reciprocate at all.

"Let's go home," Daniel asked suddenly.  "Call a taxi and just go.  We can't talk properly here and I've got the vegetables to prepare and my tree…"  He looked up, biting his lip, eyes very bright.  "I appreciate your honesty, Jack.  I just don't think this is something we can cold-bloodedly plan.  If it's going to happen, it will.  We can't make it, and I don't want to sit here worrying about it."  He got up, hesitated, then reached for the wine.

Jack was glad he didn't take a drink right from the bottle.

Long experience told him the quickest way to get your cheque in a restaurant was simply to get up and make for the door.  It worked wonderfully well.  The waiter headed them off at the coat rack, exchanging the wine cork for Jack's MasterCard, surrendering their coats when payment cleared.  Jack heroically didn't choke when he saw he owed Mama Mia's two hundred and fifty bucks (gratuity not included).  He just quietly bundled back up in what Daniel referred to as his coats of many colours.

The taxi was pulling in as Daniel slung his backpack over his shoulder and gave the wine cork another smack to hold it in place securely, then headed out the door, politely calling out his thanks to the staff.   Daniel had depressingly good manners.

Daniel grabbed the tree and Jack grabbed him as his head swum in the cold night air.

"Thanks," Daniel muttered into his shoulder.  "I hate beer," he said inconsequentially.

Jack had a bad moment a la Shifu, he'd had too much to drink himself to play riddle me this, but when Daniel refrained from kneeing him in the balls or anything figured they were probably okay.  He guessed Daniel meant that he liked to think outside the box, and this was no different.  They climbed into the taxi, Daniel remembered where he lived and they headed off into the night, the tree at a rakish angle across their knees.

Daniel was pressed right up close to him, but there were too many layers of woollen things between them to excuse the hard-on Jack was suffering from.

"I've had worse dates, you know," Daniel confided sleepily, totally disarming Jack by drowsing on his shoulder.

Jack retrieved the slowly drooping wine bottle, braced up the tree and Daniel.  "Me too, Danny," he said softly, "Me too."

The taxi raced through the near-empty streets as the conspicuous consumption Daniel disliked moved indoors for last-minute wrapping duties and eggnog.  Jack was thinking about how he should play the whole just let whatever happens happen thing.  After brief consideration he decided that idea sucked ramp big time and went back to his original plan.  He was going to make something happen.  He was certain Daniel was attracted to him.  He just had to convince Daniel of this.

How hard could it be?

"Saaa-aaam," Daniel moaned into his shoulder as they pulled in outside his building.

"That is so not funny, Jackson."

A  soft chuckle indicated he was alone in this belief.  The taxi driver thought it was pretty damn funny too.  Jack paid him, then extracted Daniel, the backpack, the wine and the tree and dragged them all inside and over to the elevator.  He punched eight and when the doors opened, propped the tree and the wine in one corner of the elevator car and Daniel in the other, cosily snuggled into his side.  Daniel didn't raise any strenuous objections.  He just yawned cavernously.

"Sorry," he said unconvincingly.  "Wine makes me…"  He yawned again.  "Sleepy."

"No!"  Jack hooted derisively, deciding the second item on the agenda was a quart of killer coffee.   Obviously, the first was helping Daniel out of as many clothes as possible.  He was in need of assistance, what with being so sleepy and all.

Daniel revived enough to make it to his loft under his own steam and managed to get the key in the lock and the door opened, an impressive performance under the circumstances.  He led the way in, waited until Jack was loping up the steps leading into the apartment, then dutifully shot the bolts and re-locked the door.

Daniel wasn't just well-mannered; he was also sensible.  Mature.  Jack skirted around boring…he wasn't exactly Captain Charisma on the Springs social scene himself.

There was a large decorated earthenware pot right in front of him on the kitchen table.  Jack spotted the soil, neatly scooped, awaiting planting of the tree.

Daniel was trailing along behind him, yawning again, glasses steaming up.

I love you.

"Coffee," Daniel moaned, patting Jack vaguely as he wandered past him into the kitchen.

"Sure," Jack said easily.

I.  Love.  You.

He heard sounds of complicated percolation, then Daniel trotted out of the kitchen and down the stairs, making for his bedroom before Jack could stop him.  He propped the tree up carefully, bald side balanced in one of the odd corners the loft was littered with, and had to laugh when a moment later the bedroom door shut quietly.   Daniel must have had another panic attack.  Jack wasn't about to leap on him.  Not from here.

"Wuss!" he accused loudly.  "Got any snacks?"

"Kitchen!  Help yourself!" Daniel called, always the gracious, generous host.

Jack took that to mean he could have anything he wanted and went foraging.  He rummaged in Daniel's crap cupboard and found a large bag of tortilla chips.  A quick trip to the refrigerator revealed a selection of savoury dips.  Jack inspected each of the dips and decided on salsa, sour cream and chives, along with garlic and herb.  He remembered that they hadn't had dessert and hunkered down to check out the ice creams.  He found a box neatly labelled 'bombes' and just had to take a little looksee.  He was an expert in…

"Hands off!" Daniel snapped.  "Those are for tomorrow."

Jack lost any urge to protest as he turned to find Daniel planted right in front of him, legs akimbo, hands on hips.  Jack looked.  He started at Daniel's toes and just kept right on looking.  Daniel was wearing these incredibly thin sweats, so pale a grey they were near white, teamed with a shirt he wore loose and opened at the throat, the sleeves rolled casually back to his elbows.  It looked old.  Sinfully comfortable.

Sinfully hot.

Hel-lo.

Jack stood up.

"Coffee!" Daniel blurted and bolted.

"And everywhere that Daniel went…" Jack muttered, following right along behind Daniel.  He cornered him by the sink.  The first problem he had was where to put his hands.  It wasn't so much a question of a romantic embrace as preventing Daniel from making like the Road Runner.  He was also completely lost about where it was safe to put your hands on a man you were about to kiss.  You didn't just walk up to a woman and stick your hand on her breast before you even locked lips.  Jack cautiously placed his hands on Daniel's waist.

Daniel peered down at them and didn't seem in any hurry to look back up.

Jack wasn't surprised.  Even Daniel's ears were pink.

They stood that way for a while, Jack's hands beginning to feel comfortable spread out over the butter-soft fabric of the shirt.  He was enjoying the heat of Daniel's body against his skin.

Daniel looked up, leaned in, froze, jerked away and pulled his glasses off.  Then he huffed in irritation as he placed them on the workbench, obviously losing the moment.

Jack lent an assist.

It was a quick closed mouth kiss.

Daniel gave a soft snuff of astonishment and leaned back to gape at Jack.

Jack kissed him again, running his tongue gently over the parted lips.

Incredible.

Daniel's mouth was firmer than it looked.  Still soft to touch, encouragingly pliant, and unsurprisingly mobile, even if Daniel didn't seem to be able to work out quite what to do with it.

Jack stood back and they looked at each other some more.  Daniel was flushed scarlet with embarrassment but Jack wasn't far behind him.

Daniel swallowed painfully.  "Are you…" he nodded, gesturing noncommittally with one careful finger at nothing in particular.

Jack had no difficulty interpreting this.  "Hard as a rock," he admitted, not sure if this was a good thing from either of their perspectives.  He was beginning to suspect he'd been wildly over-ambitious in his plans for the evening.  He really didn't think Daniel enjoyed kissing him all that much and they hadn't got to the good stuff yet.

"Oh."  Daniel appeared to take that fairly well, discomfited and oddly philosophical at the same time.  He sort of stretched up blindly, eyes downcast, fixed on Jack's chin.

Jack met him halfway and they kissed again, another mildly curious peck over in moments.  "Are you…?" he asked gently.

"Completely freaked out?" Daniel nodded vigorously, but he stretched up and kissed Jack again, the jury still apparently out.

They kissed a little longer this time, turning their faces this way and that until they fit each other.  They each broke apart at the same time, hesitated, and slowly came together again.  Jack wanted to howl at the moon in triumph when Daniel's hands curled around his elbows.  He didn't think it was wishful thinking on his part.  Daniel definitely seemed more comfortable with all this than he had been.

They stood close enough to kiss, looking and breathing softly on one another, uncertain.  Jack had never seen Daniel so defenceless as he was now, and Daniel did what he always did.  He took his fears head-on, making the move.

This kiss was sweet vulnerability, so utterly Daniel that Jack's arms were around him before he knew it, the warm, firm mouth moving gently against his, curious and coaxing.  Jack pushed back and Daniel moved into him, the two of them curling around each other.  Daniel's hand lifted, hovered, then settled over the curve of Jack's jaw as they kissed slowly, carefully.

There was no heat and passion, it wasn't even particularly comfortable to kiss another man.  They were awkward and self-conscious, and they knew each other too well to even pretend this wasn't embarrassing the shit out of them both.

They were gentle, and depressingly chaste, but Daniel was Daniel, and careful or not, they couldn't seem to stop.

One kiss flowed into another, a constant butting of mouths and occasionally noses, a snort of tension-relieving laughter, a breather, and they'd look at each other and fall into kissing again.

A clatter made them jerk apart, shocked back to reality.

"The tree," Daniel fretted, instinctively moving towards the dining room.  He was at a loss when Jack didn't free him at once, coming to an abrupt halt against the arm crowding tight around his waist.  "Jack?" he asked uncertainly.

Jack took his hand and lifted it to kiss his palm.

Daniel's eyes widened as the colour surged again.  He pulled away and hurried off to rescue his tree, Jack following.  He caught Daniel by his shirt tail then quite deliberately trailed his finger over the curve of Daniel's ass.

Oy.

He felt the quiver that ran through Daniel's body at his touch, but Daniel didn't break away from him or say anything.  Jack hoped that meant something.  He hoped they got to kiss again soon.  He wanted to tumble Daniel down, get him hot and bothered.  He wanted to touch.  He wanted skin, the smooth ivory planes he'd glimpsed and never forgotten.

They found the tree at a drunken angle, a branch it could ill afford to miss dangling pathetically.  Jack knew exactly what had drawn Daniel to this tree.  It was the exact same damn thing that drew him to every loser and lame duck with a sob story in the known universe.

Daniel was a gold-plated, hallmarked sucker.

Naturally, when it came to Jack, he was trading up.

"Got any glue?" Jack asked tactfully.

The sucker straightened up and shot Jack the sort of look he usually reserved for System Lords, lips tight, eyes decidedly stormy.  Jack kissed him hard, Daniel wrestling free to emerge flushed, indignant and sexily rumpled.  Jack kissed him again and Daniel kicked him in the shin, brightening up visibly when Jack swore and hopped away.

Daniel scooped up the tree and carried it tenderly over to the table.  "Stop whining and make yourself useful," he ordered briskly.  "Hold this."

Jack limped over and held the tree while Daniel positioned it just so and began to heap the soil around it, pressing it flat, then smoothing more soil over the top.  He finished it off with some gravel to weight the soil, then they carried the pot carefully down the stairs into the living room to set the tree on the floor in the curve of the piano.  Daniel stood back to admire it.

Jack just admired Daniel.  He loped up into the dining room again to retrieve the backpack and admired the rear view too while Daniel pondered the artistic placement of his small collection of System Lords.  Jack was praying he wouldn't get an instructive lecture with each of these little buggers.  As a defensive move, he stood unnervingly close to Daniel, breathing like some stalker phone-sex fiend.  It speeded Daniel's efforts considerably, as did Jack's suggestion he should go change into something more comfortable while Daniel was occupied.

This was rapidly accomplished.  While Daniel was hanging and re-hanging and pondering over the precious decorations, Jack peed and shed a few layers in the bathroom.  His T-shirt was as clingy as Daniel's had been in the restaurant, half a lifetime in Special Ops enough for there to be something for the tee to cling to, if that sort of thing turned you on.  He still wasn't sure he did anything for Daniel.  Almost anyone would respond to a nice warm kiss if they weren't absolutely disgusted by the whole guy-on-guy thing.

Daniel wasn't repulsed.  He had responded.  It was a nice warm kiss.  Lots of kisses.  Daniel was just noncommittal about what it meant.

Jack tossed the backpack on the chair in the bedroom at Daniel's request as he unfurled his tree lights, then headed into the  kitchen.  Ignoring the coffee and the impeccably chilled beer, he poured two glasses of wine, which he estimated were worth forty bucks, easy, and headed out to get Daniel in touch with his libido and himself in touch with every part of Daniel he could get away with.

He set the glasses down by the larger of the two couches after a brief assessment.  Admittedly, the smaller offered more immediate opportunities for snuggling up close and personal, but if things got hot and out of hand - which he hoped they would - the larger was the one they could sprawl on.

He walked over and hovered by the light switch as Daniel carefully twitched the last loop of the tree lights into place and had the main lights off as fast as Daniel got the tree lights on.

Daniel looked up in surprise, then innocently stepped back to admire his tree.  Jack plucked him away, protesting, and shoved him down on the couch.  He put his arm around Daniel's shoulder, feeling like a teenager in the back row of the movies.  Daniel didn't seem particularly enthused.  Jack handed him his wine, picked up his own and took a sip.  Daniel joined him, enjoying the wine very much, gradually relaxing as Jack made no offensive moves or gestures.  Daniel relaxed some more, moving closer to Jack.  He seemed to like the physical contact.

Jack decided it was a good time to move on to some more direct and interactive methods of contact, reaching out to take  Daniel's wine from him.

"Um…"  Daniel leaned out to retrieve his glass, but Jack smoothly pulled him back, turning towards him.  "Oh," Daniel murmured as Jack brushed a thumb over his lips.

Daniel had an incredible mouth.  It was just…perfect.

They fitted easily together, Daniel moving confidently into the kiss, not so chaste this time, Jack nibbling and sucking on the natural pout of Daniel's lower lip.  Daniel made an odd noise in the back of his throat and pulled away from Jack.

"Did you moan?" Jack asked, fascinated.  He wondered what else would get Daniel making that sexy, breathy sound.  He started with another kiss in the curve of Daniel's throat.  Daniel shivered and squirmed away from him.  Jack leaned with him, kissing the point of his shoulder through the thin shirt, reaching round confidently to skim his hand over Daniel's chest, thumb brushing over a nipple.  Daniel jerked back into Jack's waiting arm and they kissed again.  Jack teased the small nub, erect beneath the shirt, stroking it with his thumb and the soft fabric as he sucked Daniel's lip into his mouth.  Daniel was dazed and quiet, turning into him, his hand coming up to curve around Jack's back.

Jack pushed and Daniel opened to him.  He slid triumphantly into moist, silky heat.  Daniel moaned, and again as Jack's tongue stroked slowly over his.  He wondered how long it had been since Daniel had been kissed.  He was gentle, coaxing, caressing against the rasping pressure curling up into him as they both leaned into the embrace, shoulders awkwardly balanced against the back of the couch.  He was unable to keep his hand still, sliding down to cup Daniel's ass, kneading it beneath his fingers.  It was strange to feel the hardness of muscle instead of softness.  He lifted the shirt, sliding his hand down into the sweats.  He was surprised and exultant to realise Daniel was naked beneath them.  The shirt was so long and loose…

Daniel shifted but didn't protest, his own hands mapping the contours of Jack's back and shoulders.  Emboldened, Jack slid his hand down over the hot, satin skin, groaning embarrassingly as he got painfully hard.  Daniel lifted his leg, his knee settling against Jack's thigh, giving him access, sighing into the deepening kiss as Jack stroked and squeezed his ass.

It was good.  All of it.  Everything a small noisy part of him had hoped it wouldn't be.  There was nothing they could chalk up to drunken experience.  No way they could move on.

They were just kissing?

Try couldn't stop.

Daniel was so sweet and so shy, touching Jack so respectfully…his gentleness bringing an answering surge of protectiveness from Jack.  He fully understood the need to learn new boundaries.

They broke apart to breathe.

"Okay?" Jack gasped.

Daniel nodded jerkily then sort of threw himself at Jack to steal a swift, hard kiss.

Jack was moving before he knew it, out from under Daniel to stand and lower himself down.  He vaguely thought about boundaries but the hard, strong body supple beneath his was all he knew.  Daniel moaned out again as Jack's weight settled over him, as he felt how turned on Jack was.  Jack was laughing, gloating over the hardness pushing back at him.  Daniel's long legs were sprawled, he shifted them to wrap around Jack's, hissing as they bumped hips.  Jack couldn't help it, he rocked into that irresistible heat and hardness, groaning again as his erection ground against Daniel's.

"Let's have sex," he blurted.


Daniel grabbed Jack by the shoulders.  "Wha-wha…"

"You heard me." Jack rolled off Daniel, anything but gracefully.

Daniel was acutely aware of what was throwing Jack off-balance.  He had exactly the same problem, especially when Jack yanked him unceremoniously to his feet and towed him by the hand into the bedroom.

"I'm too old to make love on the couch," Jack said flatly, reluctantly letting go of Daniel's hand to pull his T-shirt over his head with hands that trembled.

Daniel didn't even deny that they were going to make love.  He walked up to Jack and put his arms around him, thankful he could address some extremely personal comments to the muffling T-shirt.

"Are you kidding me?" Jack hollered, outraged.

Daniel laid his head on Jack's shoulder, kissing it gently after a moment.  Jack emerged from his T-shirt, tossed it, and hugged Daniel back.

"I am attracted to you," Daniel admitted gruffly, looking determinedly over Jack's shoulder.  "I wouldn't…I don't…" he trailed off in confusion.  "We've never even talked about sex.  How are we supposed to…"

Jack grabbed his face almost roughly, pulling him into another kiss, tongue plunging deep into Daniel's mouth without finesse, urgent and needy, pushing aggressively against him until he responded.  Daniel wanted to tell him to slow down, too much, too fast, but Jack was tugging at his buttons, pushing his shirt over his shoulders to fall to the floor.

It got real when Jack fumbled at his belt and his chinos joined the shirt on the floor.  Daniel had an instinctual, panicked 'Jack is naked' reaction, wanting a moment to process, to back up and…look.  Decide.  Jack couldn't break off the kiss, his hands eagerly shoving at Daniel's sweats, pooling at his feet as his heel hit the bottom step leading up to the bed.

Daniel's mind froze on him as Jack held him close, skin to skin, his face fierce, exultant.  He felt every breath Jack took impact against his own chest, the ridges of muscle hard against his own belly, hips clashing, thighs crowding against his.  It took everything Daniel had to stand against Jack, like Jack was trying to climb inside him.  He was lost when Jack's hands clenched over his ass, hauled him against a slippery, straining erection.

They stood like that, Daniel feeling pressure all around him, all over him, shaking through him.  He guessed what Jack wanted and couldn't articulate except with his body, rubbing hypnotically against him.  Daniel took the final steps up to his bed, reaching behind him to twitch the comforter aside.  They tumbled in and Jack was on him, the weight and solidity of him pinning Daniel flat.  He wasn't accustomed to the feeling, stiffening up despite the fact he trusted Jack completely.

Jack was kissing him desperately, mouthing at his neck, moaning low in his throat as they held one another, shaking and pushing.  Everything Daniel thought he knew about sex was irrelevant here.  Two guys pushing their hips into one another meant friction, sure, he was fine with that.   What he hadn't suspected was intensity.  Jack's body moving against his.  Jack's mouth on his, on his skin, roving, restless and wanting.

Pushing.

Pressure.

It shouldn't be shocking through his body, not just pushing.  His heart was racing, his skin prickling as he shivered.  He braced his feet on the mattress to push up into Jack, his hands locked in the small of Jack's back, slipping now as the sweat poured.

Pushing.

Jack pushed too hard, too far.  Daniel's mind flamed and his body seized with blinding pleasure.  He lay shivering as Jack groaned wrenchingly and slick heat splashed over his groin, holding Jack close as he trembled and apologised disjointedly, penitently, sorry, so sorry for pushing.

He hadn't seen Jack naked.  It was a stupid thought to have stuck in his mind like a broken record, but he hadn't.  One minute they were kissing and the next they were coming, and he seemed to have made no conscious choice between one event and the other.

He was too embarrassed to talk about sex with another man but they'd just…he had sex with Jack.  Not particularly good sex, it had been too long since he'd been touched and all they'd done was push at each other until they got off.

No touching.  No time.

"Daniel?" Jack asked anxiously.

"It wasn't a mistake," Daniel said clearly, jerking his shoulder irritably.

Jack rolled onto his side, propping his face on his elbow, and now he touched, his hand spread wide, stroking gently over Daniel's side, following the curve of his body.  Jack was capable of seeing him now, drinking him in instead of trying to take him whole.

Daniel rested his hand over Jack's arm, melting at the tenderness in Jack's eyes and his fleeting smile.  Jack's leg hooked over his, drew him close.

"I needed it too," Daniel said distantly, really not prepared to talk about it.  He'd been capable of saying no right until Jack's erection had stroked over his, then he was the one who led Jack to bed.  He was used to ignoring his body's needs but the compulsion had overwhelmed him.  Wrong or right, he'd had to go with his instinct.

"How do you feel?" Jack asked, leaning in to nibble at Daniel's ear.

"I'll feel better once I've seen you naked," Daniel answered absently.

Jack lay back, looking at him oddly, eyes gleaming.

"You have all the finesse of a demolition derby," Daniel said briskly.

Jack took this as a compliment.  "Next time will be better," he promised, not looking Daniel in the eye.

They lay quietly, in perfect understanding of that part of it at least.  The guy part.  The mechanics they needed to work on - lots of work - but being guys, that they could do.

"No snacks in bed," Daniel warned as Jack's gaze focused obliquely on the doorway behind him for the third time.  "Especially not tortilla chips.  I draw the line at crumbs."  He wasn't thinking too much about the sticky mess cooling on his groin for that matter.  He didn't care about the mess, but the thought of it being Jack's semen cooling on him was just too…icky was the only word that came to mind.

"Dessert?" Jack pleaded.

"Cheesecake?" Daniel suggested promptly.  "Lemon."

Jack rolled over Daniel and out of bed, striding down the steps and out of the bedroom with a spring in his step.

Daniel tried to think of the number of times he'd strolled around his loft naked and couldn't think of any.  He didn't sleep naked.  Even when he went to the bathroom he…

So a robe was wussy.  He wasn't some juvenile Air Force colonel.  He didn't have to pick up a gauntlet just because Jack threw it down.  He scrambled out of bed, threw on his robe, belting it as he walked out into the living room.  Jack was sitting on his kitchen table, supremely confident in his nudity, inquisitively dipping tortilla chips into the cheesecake.

"It works," he said, grinning.  "Hi."  He snagged Daniel by the belt and pulled him into a long, passionate kiss, their tongues pulsing sensuously.  "You can only see me naked if you look," he snorted, while Daniel leaned against him, quivering and getting interested again.

Jack pushed at Daniel's robe, letting it fall open, stroking his fingers down Daniel's body to rest low over his belly.  He looked for Daniel's permission, then pushed the robe off completely.

Daniel found it near impossible not to cover himself, his stance anything but proud.  He was shocked to see Jack's dick getting hard just from Jack staring at him, studying him intently.  Mapping his body with greedy, coveting eyes.

Daniel took a deep breath and looked at Jack instead of at nothing.  He held up his hand and Jack fit his palm to Daniel's.  Their hands were both big, Daniel's more slender, his fingers longer.  His bones were finer than Jack's, his skin paler.  He wasn't hairy the way Jack was, though the hair on his arms and legs was darker.  He was slender compared to Jack, his hips and waist narrower.  Jack was heavier built in every way, though still lean and rangy, his chest and shoulder broader than Daniel's, his body thicker, his thighs meaty and powerful.

Daniel was conscious for the first time of that slight difference in their heights, of the fact Jack was physically stronger than he was.  For the first time he dropped his gaze to consciously stare at another man's dick.  They weren't dissimilar in size, though even here Jack had a little girth on him.  Jack's balls were heavy.  Almost before he was aware of it, Daniel reached out, gently cupping one, heavy and velvety in his fingers.

Jack's breath caught.

"I've never…" Daniel apologised.  Never touched…except his own, obviously.  Jack's hand closed over his wrist, hard, as he stroked his finger slowly down the filling shaft, flashing a quick, nervous smile as it twitched against him.  The rush of blood heated the throbbing hardness a deep, angry red.  Daniel was a little dazed at seeing the undeniable physical effect he had on Jack.

"Daniel," Jack said tightly.

Daniel flushed, curling his fingers around Jack, letting go reflexively as Jack thrust roughly into his hand.  He winced apologetically, taking hold of Jack again.  He slid his arm around Jack's neck, held onto him as Jack grabbed his ass and it was all pushing and pressure again, lifting Daniel with it this time.  Reminding him of the pleasure to be shared in touch.

Jack was too far gone to be embarrassed, his face flushed and slack, eyes glittering in the dim light from the tree.

It seemed right to kiss Jack, to make this even more intimate than it was.  Daniel stretched up, flickering his tongue over Jack's lips.  Jack smiled at him, the tender smile that left him oddly breathless and grateful, opening to Daniel.  He slipped into Jack's mouth tentatively, his touches featherlight.  Jack was fucking his hand, but Daniel pulled away to stroke gently, fingers gliding over the slick, heated flesh.  Jack sighed, his hips slowing to move rhythmically into Daniel.

As Daniel's tongue slid over Jack's, his fingers slid over Jack's dick, and Jack's hands slid over his skin.

It was slow, sensuous and shared.

They reached beyond the awkwardness of the physical to find the familiar, the feelings that had brought them to this.  It was easy for Daniel to find the right word now because he didn't do this kind of thing.  He'd never had a one night-stand or sex on a first date.  None of that seemed true for this.  He'd known Jack almost six years, knew him better than he knew himself some days.  He wasn't sure of the physical, but he was sure of the man.  He was beginning to be sure of himself.  One of them would say the words, when it mattered, when it felt right.  They weren't necessary just now.  This was enough.

Jack was sweating again, a rich salt smell mingling with the drying semen trailing his belly, the musk of arousal…the spice of his aftershave.  They kissed deeply, lazily thrusting into one another, finding their rhythm in this too, smiling now, relaxing into each other's bodies.  Jack surrendered to him, not pushing anything, following willingly where Daniel led, breathing hard and fast, leaning into him, straining into the pleasure Daniel was giving him.

It was easy to be gentle, to keep his touch delicate and fleeting, finding sweet spots, stroking.  Sliding his palm easily, gripping, a little pressure, Jack rocking because it was good.  Daniel could see how good when he pulled his hand slowly down like this, keeping it tight, Jack quivering, his legs trembling.  He gasped into Daniel's mouth, his dick pulsing steadily in Daniel's hand, heat spurting onto his thighs and groin.

Jack held onto him, incoherent in his gratitude.

They stumbled towards the bathroom, Jack soft and sated, clinging affectionately to Daniel, hands everywhere.  It was no weirder to jump into a hot shower with Jack than it had been to masturbate him against his kitchen table.  It was also a new experience to have Jack take the towel from him and hold him close, licking the droplets of water from the nape of his neck, rubbing his dick luxuriously against Daniel's ass as he held Daniel's hips.

They walked out of the bathroom that way, Jack laughingly refusing to let him go, his mood the softest Daniel had ever seen.  Relief, he guessed.  Jack had got exactly what he wanted and he was holding on no matter what.  They hesitated by the chair in his room, Jack spotting the parcel spilling out from his backpack, which he snatched up and carried over to the bed with them.  They climbed back into bed and settled close enough to touch, which they both did, but not crowding.

"What's in the bag?" Jack asked, idly stroking Daniel's bicep.

"My Christmas present."

"Your Christmas presents are in my truck," Jack contradicted.  "I've got shit from half the base for you.  Not as bad as Valentines Day, I grant you, but still, we're talking an actual sack here."

Daniel never knew how to respond to comments like that so he ignored it, peering round, wondering where he'd left his glasses.

"Beats me," Jack said casually, smoothing a fingertip over Daniel's eyebrow.  "Damn things get in the way.  We tossed 'em a coupla orgasms ago."  He chuckled darkly as Daniel shot him a reproving look.  "Just say the word," he added suggestively.  "The night is young and you're falling behind.  Let me catch my breath here and it's your turn for some nice sex."

Daniel looked up at that.

Jack was alarmed.  "No!" he warned vigorously.  "Don't spoil it.  No talking, for God's sake."

"I was only going to ask about boundaries," Daniel said mildly.  "I'm very uncomfortable talking about my sex life with you, Jack.  I've known you for six years and we've never talked about my sex life."

"You haven't got one and what there is of mine, you've mostly listened to," Jack snorted.

"I hope you weren't jerking off as some kind of primitive mating ritual," Daniel snapped.

"Probably," Jack said carelessly.

"I can't avoid the fact you are my sex life," Daniel finished determinedly.

"Sounds promising."

"I'm not comfortable with the thought of oral sex," Daniel said precisely.

"I'm not going to ask you to go down on me until you're ready," Jack promised.  "I'm grateful for what we've had already, Danny.  It was what I hoped, I won't lie to you, but more, far more than I expected.  I won't…" he bit off the sentence abruptly.

"Say it," Daniel urged him.

"Okay," Jack said uneasily.  "I won't pressure you for anal sex either."

Daniel hadn't even thought about intercourse.  He realised that was what Jack's display in the bathroom was about.   Kind of a hi there and hello to the part of Daniel that Jack and his dick took the greatest interest in.

Jack chuckled, a rough, caressing hand cupping Daniel's cheek for a moment.  "Which illustrates my point perfectly."  Jack looked at him, gently curious.  "Do you want me to go down on you, Danny?"

Danny?  Daniel decided he liked hearing the pet name when they were being close like this, warm and tangled, and talking.  It was an endearment he could appreciate.   His parents had used the same pet name because they…Jack's meaning abruptly hit home and Daniel blushed furiously.

He couldn't imagine Jack going down on him any more than he could imagine…well, Jack fucking him or fucking Jack.  Their relationship just hadn't been this - this intimate before.

Daniel didn't want to have to get into the fact he wasn't all that experienced.

He'd had a total of two significant relationships, and for the majority of his adult life he'd been celibate.  It wasn't that he didn't care about people, he'd just cared about his work more.  He'd rarely allowed anyone to get close to him, only Sarah making it through his barriers.  He preferred to take care of his own needs.  He was more focused that way.

Daniel had never been drawn to anyone the way he was to Jack or to Sha'uri, both of them exploding into his life.  He'd stayed with Sha'uri, but the Stargate that led Jack to him led him in turn back to Jack.  Only Jack had ever had the temerity to drag him from his work, getting in his face, loudly demanding Daniel's attention as his due.

Telling Jack he couldn't even imagine what it would be like to have him go down on him…he could not do that.  Maybe Jack was always Jack to him, but even Daniel recognised 'Colonel O'Neill' in his friend.  He couldn't make the leap.

Sex had never been the most important part of either of his relationships.  Sarah was just as goal-oriented as he, though their goals were very different, and Sha'uri had been a virgin.  He could hardly say that sex with Sarah was perfunctory, just that they hadn't had much time for it.  It was…scheduled.  Almost.  Sha'uri was passionate though, for all her inexperience…He…he should not be thinking about his wife when he was in bed with Jack.

He was also not going to be telling Jack any time soon his experience of oral sex was severely limited, and his experience of sex full stop was…there was a word for it.  Vanilla.  As in nice.  And easy.

Um…

Jack was watching him, frowning a little.  "I've been wondering what you taste like."

Daniel blinked hard, his mouth dropping open.  That had to be high on the list of Things He Never Expected To Hear Out Of Jack's Mouth In His Lifetime.

Jack kept right on staring into his eyes as he scooted down the bed to roll between Daniel's legs, lifting them over his shoulders.  "The principle is the same, right?" he said encouragingly.  "Right.  Just guy trappings instead of…"  He burrowed his face into Daniel's groin, sniffing and rubbing against Daniel's pubic hair.  He looked up, eyes sparkling.  "Oh, yeah.  Want to give it a shot?"   They both looked as Daniel's dick delivered an emphatic decision.  "There go those last two inches," Jack snorted.  "Looks like you're good to go to me."

"Jack?"  Daniel asked anxiously, struggling to sit up and realising exactly why his knees were on Jack's shoulders.  It made it extremely difficult to do anything but just lie there and…um…enjoy it.  He also grasped that Jack was completely serious about wanting to do this if he was planning for it, and had to accept on the basis of all the evidence in so far, Jack was totally non-freaky about blowing him.  "Um…"  It was as much of a protest as he could articulate while Jack was licking his belly with every evidence of enthusiasm.  "Oh.  Oh."

"Who said that?" Jack chuckled against his belly, the warm gusts of air very distracting.

Daniel was very aroused.

"Oh.  Oh.  Um…"

Very.

Daniel's head thumped flat on the pillow as Jack ventured down to nose into his pubic hair, lower still to lick one of Daniel's balls.  A delicate, inquisitive flicker of his tongue.

"Oh."

God.

Then a warm rasp that lifted his ball, hot shocks of sensation tingling through his trembling body.  He didn't know what to do with his hands or his hips or these noises he wanted to make.  In the end he grabbed wildly for a pillow and hung onto it grimly, fingers white-knuckled as Jack happily lapped at each of his balls as the mood took him, each time with that firm, rasping lift driving Daniel crazy.

His body clenched against the pleasure shaking through him, shivering over his hot skin.

"Oh."

Jack's tongue lapped a warm, curious trail down his dick, more cautious now.  He looked up suddenly to meet Daniel's wild eyes.  "Hot," he observed casually.  He brushed a fingertip over the head of Daniel's dick, watching as Daniel tried to curl up.  He pushed his thumb into the sensitive slit, kept the pressure up as he leaned in and sucked one of Daniel's balls into his mouth, swirling his tongue around it, sucking gently.

"Jack!" Daniel cried out, clenching in earnest, arching up into the tormenting pressure.

Jack dropped his head to lick and kiss his way down Daniel's dick again, his tongue replacing his thumb to swirl against the sensistised flesh as Daniel writhed helplessly from the impact of those endless shocks electrifying his body.  Jack licked carefully, looking up to pull a face.  "Tastes bitter.  Never knew that."  He leaned in again, sucking questioningly.

"Oh-Ooooh," Daniel moaned, those noises crowding his throat breaking free to embarrass him loudly.  "Don't stop!  Don't…oh.  God.  Jack.  Don’t.  Jack..."

Jack obligingly opened his mouth and slid carefully up to take Daniel into his mouth, engulfing the head of his dick in the moist, silken heat he'd just learned the taste of.  Kissing alone was a shock to the system but this...he moaned again, desperately, loudly.  Jack took him in deeper, opening his mouth wide, still seeming comfortable, rested a little, took him deeper still.

Daniel was snugly fitted in the warmest, tightest spot he'd been in for years, sliding down a man's wide throat.  He was wracked with tension, fighting himself to let Jack lead the pace, terrified to give into those hot shocks of sensation, to hurt Jack.  He couldn't remember anything being this good.  Couldn't imagine anything better.

Then Jack began to suck, making another of those happy noises, really getting into it.

No.

Getting into Daniel.  Jack wasn't into sucking Daniel's dick any more than he was into Daniel's ass or the way the T-shirt had clung to him in the restaurant.  Jack was completely, utterly out-of-his-mind crazy into Daniel.

Jack being utterly into him was the best thing in the history of ever.

Especially…

Gawd.

'Specially when Jack's tongue… "Jaa-aack."  Did…  "Goo-ood."  Did his talking for…  "Oh-Ooooh."   Limber pressure rubbing him just right, just there, sucking steady and deep now, so deep, eating him alive, really getting into it, into him, making Jack so happy…so…

Love you, Jack.  Love you…love…

"Jaa-aack."

Strong fingers massaging his balls, too much, too intense, his mind was flaring white with the pressure of sensation, rubbing, sucking, stroking, taking, needing…

"JACK!"

Daniel arched, throat working soundlessly, mouth agape as Jack squeezed his balls, sucking so damn hard his whole body spasmed ecstatically and spilled out, spurting over Jack's tongue, still sucking…still…swallowing now, taking it, taking everything he had to give…

"Jack," he sighed.


He pulled Daniel closer, fussing over his dazed, sated state.  Daniel was wearing a sloppy, sweet smile that would probably embarrass the shit out of him forever.  Jack liked it.  He liked Daniel, especially when he was so…co-operative.  Cuddly, even.  Six feet of pleasurably sprawling affection and snuggling to-the-bone tenderness.  Shy, that went without saying.  Staring at Jack's mouth from time in total shock and inexpressible admiration.

Jack was king of the world.

They'd found some kind of comfort zone for all this weirdness, not pushing the guy-on-guy thing too much, not doing anything freaky.  They'd had some sex, nice sex, made nice more by desperation than technique, 'cause even Jack would admit it was all awkward and Daniel was right, knowing one another like they did only made it worse.

Despite that they'd found this comfort zone of things they could do and share.  Strictly non-threatening.  Sticky, fun things that kept them close and touching and kissing.

Daniel kept looking at him, like he was this completely astonishing thing.  Shangri-La.  The Rosetta Stone.  Meaning of life.  Whatever.  Something pretty damn special, anyway.  Something good in a way Daniel wasn't used to any more and Jack had plain given up on.

It felt gooood.  He wasn't used to being wanted and needed, and to see it now, on Daniel's face, in those endearing smiles, and the modest fathomless blue eyes…king of the world time all over again.

They had weighty matters to discuss but for now, Jack was enjoying all this shy sweetness of Daniel's and just having that last in with him, the one he'd always been denied 'til now.  The one that got Daniel opening right up to him and talking, confiding, and not just about the whole 'I'm fine' thing, but even about the silly stuff.  He didn't even know 'til now Daniel did silly.

"Asterix the Gaul?"

"It's Dogmatix," Daniel confessed, shamefaced.

Jack lifted the comic book, which wasn't easy with Daniel sprawling on his chest, wanting to look too.  "Cute little dog," he agreed judiciously.  "It's not socio- anything?" he asked, making absolutely sure it was okay for him to get into this too.

"No.  Pretty sure it's just the dog," Daniel decided after some consideration.  "I've been reading these since I was a kid.  My parents…" he reached up to plant a kiss on Jack's chin.  "Bought me the first book in the series for my birthday, the last one before…"

Jack stroked the silky hair tickling his chin as Daniel sighed with infinite, gentle sorrow, clinging rather closer to Jack.  He tightened his grip supportively.

"I kept reading them.  Somehow, I never stopped.  I hung onto that one book out of so many things I lost…Had taken from me," Daniel amended, his soft voice tightening.  "For my own good," he murmured with a trace of unaccustomed bitterness.  "I had to get the rest from the public library of wherever."

Jack figured there was a whole history in that one word.  Wherever.  He hoped Daniel would tell him some day.  He wanted to know.

"I guess I'm having my second childhood, because I found this book among my stuff and…I went to the library to start reading again…an impulse."

Jack made understanding noises as Daniel apologised, a little flustered by his display of childish sentiment.

"And there he was."

Blane.

Muscle-bound…

"Came right up to me…"

Blue-eyed…

"Kind of callow…"

Callow?

"But interesting.  Quite the entrepreneur.  He's tapped into a network of antiquarian booksellers and cult types you would not believe."

And don't care about.

"They can get you anything.  I love the innocence of children's literature," Daniel confided dreamily.  "When you want to lose yourself…"

"Asterix does not look particularly innocent.  We've got Roman cohorts bleeding all over the strip."  Jack thought Asterix was a hoot and he was in exactly the right age group to fully appreciate the likes of Obelix and Getafix.  And if Daniel liked little Dogmatix so damn much and Blane was all he was cracked up to be, the sky was the limit.  Skimpy T-shirts.  Skimpier pyjamas.

"Sly, ironic humour," Daniel said firmly.

"Something for children of all ages," Jack observed blandly, grinning as Daniel rose to the bait, surging up scowling.  "Sucker."  He placed the book carefully under the bed where he wouldn't tread on it, Daniel watching anxiously.  "Merry Christmas, Daniel."

Daniel smiled, a real smile that came from the heart and punched right through Jack's leaving him breathless and shaky because he loved Daniel so damned much.

"Merry Christmas, Jack."

They kissed, getting interested, getting close, but too tired and bonelessly content to do anything about it.

"What did you get me?" Jack asked when Daniel cuddled in again.  "After midnight, here," he complained.

"Don't you want a surprise?" Daniel asked innocently.

"Don't you think we've had enough surprises tonight?" Jack snorted.

Daniel considered this.  "I got you a box-set of DVDs."

Oh.

"That show you love…the one with the cute little dog," Daniel chuckled.  "And I don't mean Lassie."

"Poochinsky!" Jack yelled.  "That was a GREAT show!"  He couldn't believe Carter got it right.  It was the perfect present.  Not that he hadn't years of fun from the first Christmas present Daniel ever got him, the lifelong subscription to National Geographic, the gift that went right on giving, but Poochinsky?  Hot damn!

"It's the whole series," Daniel murmured into the shoulder he was kissing.

"Can I…"

"No."

Damn!

"Daniel!"

"No.  No crumbs, no stupid dog cop shows, and above all, no DVD player."

"People always buy batteries to go with toys.  Are you telling me you bought me DVDs and were too cheap to obtain the appropriate playback equipment?" Jack asked somewhat indignantly.  The two hundred bucks he'd sprung for wine was very fresh in his mind.  There was about twenty bucks worth still in the bottle.

"Yes," Daniel chuckled again, twinkling impishly up at Jack.

"I'm not telling you what I got you.  You can wait," Jack grumbled.

"I know I can.  I'm an adult."

Jack was miffed.  The season tickets were just a part of his present.  One was his gift to Daniel, the other technically his gift to himself, with Daniel along for the ride.  He figured for every night they spent in a suit for the symphony, they could spend another shouting themselves stupid in the stands, cheering the Blue Dawgs.

"You'll love it," he tempted.

"Mm-hmm," Daniel murmured sleepily.  "Love you too, Jack."

Woo momma!  Touchdown!  Home run!  Cat and canary.  Whatever.  His Danny got sappy when he got sleepy.  Jack hugged him, gloating so hard even his hair was smug.  Talk about having all his Christmases at once.  Daniel loved him.    He got sex.  More sex.  Poochinsky.  Asterix the whatsit.  The symphony.  Hockey.  Daniel loved him.  Even more sex.  Daniel loved him.

Daniel.  Loved.  Him.

"Love you too, Danny."

Even on the cusp of sleep, Daniel still frowned over his grammar.  Jack felt a little puzzled snuff of 'too?' against his chest.

So Danny wasn't perfect.

He loved Jack and that put him in a class of exactly one.  People Daniel let get close.  Just him.

Completely loved this guy!  Jack hugged the guy close and settled himself to sleep.  He needed to rest up for some more sex, preferably sex that lasted a little longer.

He'd give Daniel the best part of his present - apart from good sex of course - in the morning.

And it was the best part.

Quality team merchandise.

Strictly a limited edition.

He'd never seen another hockey cap quite like his.

Except for Daniel's.

FINIS


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Biblio, PhoenixE, babs, Brionhet, Darcy, Devra, Fabrisse, JoaG, Kalimyre, Marcia, Rowan and Sideburns, 2001-2008.
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