OWING SILENCE PART ONE BY BIBLIO


Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Action/Adventure.  Drama.  First Time.  Romance.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5.
Synopsis: Daniel has kept his silence for so long, he's not prepared for Jack to finally see him clearly.
Warnings: Minor Character Death.  Violence.  Language.
Length: 615 Kb.  Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story


“I missed it when it was on general release,” Daniel coaxed.  “It’s funny.  A comedy,” he added hopefully.

“A movie about Shakespeare and comedy are mutually exclusive terms,” Jack announced crisply.  “And as I recall, you lured me away from the VCR with talk of Kevin Spacey.”

“Ah, yes,” Daniel said tartly.  “Kevin.  The man you want to be when you grow up.”

“The attitude is SO not helping your case,” Jack snapped, knowing perfectly well he was no more capable of withstanding the impish look on Daniel’s face than he was of withstanding that exact same damn look when Charlie had wheedled the third vacation in a row at Disneyland out of him.  At least this time he wouldn’t have anybody laughing and calling him a wuss.

“Jaa-ack.”

“Aw, for cryin’ out loud,“ Jack groaned as his inconvenient surrogate parent complex mainlined appealing archaeologist-type wiles.  He’d have felt better about being so damn spineless if Daniel was a ruthless little pro like Charlie, who’d had that cat-like ability to know a sucker when he saw one, and it wasn’t Mom.  Daniel was just nice.  Jack relaxed, letting a reminiscent smirk make an appearance, which had Daniel scowling at him suspiciously.  Yeah.  Daniel was sweet and nice.  Jack was sorely tempted to tell Daniel that Charlie would have eaten him alive, but that would have meant Daniel getting his listening face and being the good friend, in case Jack was insouciantly covering for some soul-scarring trauma Daniel hadn’t yet managed to ‘assist’ him with.

Instead, Jack let himself enjoy the smile lighting up Daniel’s face, let Daniel tow him into the line for the movie, wondering when it was the as close to Friday night as they could get it, on-world off-duty ritual had changed from beer-pizza-game-argument, or ‘discussion’ according to Daniel, to this.  A movie.  Dinner and a movie.  A concert.  A play.  Dinner.  Whack them back in time a hundred years, stick one of them in dress, and they’d be courting.  This ritual they had was the millennium edition of the once-a-week après church buggy ride.

Jack felt a light feathering over his face and held out an inquisitive palm.  “Daniel?”

Daniel turned to him, peering curiously over the top of his glasses.  It was a mannerism that tended to make Carter’s whole body go ‘awwww’ and even Dammit Janet got misty-eyed.

“It’s precipitating,” Jack observed with clinical precision.

“Light drizzle,” Daniel answered firmly, planting his feet solidly against any suggestion they should bail.

Jack sighed and hunched his shoulders.  “Kinda penetrating for drizzle, don’t you think?”  He leaned across to swipe his fingers over the steaming lenses of Daniel’s glasses.

“No,” Daniel said defiantly, pulling the glasses off to slip them into his pocket.

Jack glared at Daniel, the rain, the rundown street, which was in the kind of neighbourhood Jack customarily brought a gun to.  The kids in line, students, every last one of ‘em; Goths, geeks and pseudo-grunt jock types hovering dispiritedly at some chick or other’s side, and in a couple of cases, with one of the geeks, every single one of them making Jack feel every single second of every year he’d lived.  Something clicked, and Jack realised he wouldn’t do this for another living soul.  Literally.  If this was SARA he would have bailed and made for the nearest multiplex and something that made sense.  Preferably with Kevin Spacey.

Instead he was going to stand in this line, get soaked, get pissed, get an argument over who paid for the tickets, and a lecture for clogging his arteries with the butter he drizzled over the popcorn.  He’d get Daniel an ice cream and then he’d get attitude from Daniel for treating him like a five year old.  They’d get lousy seats because Daniel would scour the rows for a place they could sit in without ruining the night for some minx who was five-two and would hit on Daniel as soon as look at him, and what the hell did Jack get out of it?  He glanced at the man at his side, surreptitiously hitching up the collar of his jacket.

“We could go,” Daniel said wistfully, peering longingly at the posters and then ruefully at Jack’s pissy face.

“We’re here now,” Jack bitched.  “It’ll take us an hour to get somewhere with the sanity of Ben & Jerry’s and surround sound.”

Oh, yeah.  That.  He got Daniel.  ‘The pleasure of his company’ was trite, but true.  Jack had the SGC and in lieu of a life, he had Daniel.  Everything Jack did, and most of what he felt, focused on Daniel.  Maybe it was as simple as Jack being able to talk to Daniel.  He shifted uncomfortably.  Not being able to stop himself talking to Daniel.  Daniel empathised, Jack spilled, often the moment the immortal ritual token protest ‘no, I don’t want to talk about it’ had just tripped lightly off his lying tongue.  It bothered the crap out of Jack at times, how a sweet, nice and slightly naïve thirty-five year old archaeologist had gotten him in touch with his feelings, succeeded effortlessly where his own wife had failed.

Somewhere along the line, his life had turned into living up to Daniel’s expectations, and only part of that was for Daniel.  Jack had as much need to be the one person in Daniel’s life Daniel could trust unreservedly, could open up to, turn to, just fucking be there, as he did to have that trust, to have Daniel’s respect and friendship.  Daniel’s standards were high, standards he held himself to, absolutely, and so they were true.  Anybody who measured up in Daniel’s eyes had earned something, and it meant a lot to all of them who served.  Daniel saw them clearer than they saw themselves at times when expedience and duty had them acting against conscience, and Jack wasn’t the only one who used Daniel’s friendship to prop him up when he needed it.

“I can’t believe you’re writing this place off just because…“ Daniel began.

They were selfish bastards, each and every one of them.  Giving to Daniel, and getting him to take, now that was a gift only Jack had.  He breezed through Daniel’s defences like they weren’t even there.

“Because it’s a rat-trap-cum-death–trap in a neighbourhood the cops keep the National Guard on speed dial?” Jack asked pleasantly.  “I got rain down my neck.  I hope the indigenous peoples strip your car, sell your own stereo back to you at an extortionate price at gunpoint just before they take your wallet and your keys and clean out your loft.”

Daniel grinned at Jack, who was hunched and glowering.  “Just for that it’s nouvelle cuisine instead of steaks.”

“Oh, joy,” Jack drawled.  “And is this pre or après The Chinook?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Daniel lied without a tremor.  He knew perfectly well Jack would enjoy himself hugely taking pot shots when they did wind up at The Chinook, which was on the way to the restaurant.

“Your car, Daniel.  You only ever bring your car when you plan to drag me places you know I don’t want to go and will in fact emphatically refuse to grace with my presence if you told me about them before we got there,” Jack sniped.

The line moved up exactly two people.  Daniel ignored Jack’s pointed tracking of two obvious Bus-Ed students hustling at speed for the safety of the nearest bar.

“This being a case in point.”

The girl in front turned suddenly and scowled at Jack.  “Jeez, your dad is pissy,” she muttered sympathetically to Daniel.

Daniel stopped breathing.

“Dad?” Jack snarled, outraged.

Daniel tried and failed to choke down the sniggers.  “C-colonel,” he stammered, jerking his thumb at Jack.

The girl, who seemed sweet despite the disconcertingly matte black tresses and black lipstick, brightened.  “Well, you’re lucky.  My boyfriend bailed on me to watch something stupid with balls.”

Daniel returned her smile and wasn’t in the least surprised to have Jack loom up by his shoulder.  He glanced over, saw the Colonel’s trademark calculating comprehensive once-over and then the subtle relaxation that meant more than the grin.

“He went to the multiplex, right?” Jack shot an evil look at Daniel.  ‘Game’ was way too obvious for a cue as blatant as balls.

The girl straightened, matched Jack look for look and finally grinned back.  “So ‘stupid’ is just a cunning disguise?”

“I’ll refrain from the obvious response,” Jack said pleasantly, eyeing the girl’s Big Hair with fascination as the line finally began to move.  “I’m Jack, and this is Daniel.”

“Lucy, and it’s a phase,” Lucy said sweetly.  “The housewife hair is looming right behind graduation, but I’ll enjoy anarchy to the full in the meantime.”

“The folks cutting you off after graduation?” Jack asked sympathetically.  “Dimples ruin the whole children of the night effect, you know,” he added chattily.

“You should know.  The rising sap level had me hearing violins.  Would it insult you if I said you two make a really cute couple?” Lucy smirked.

“I prefer hot,” Jack prompted hopefully, grinning at Daniel’s blush.  “No?” he asked when that failed to yield anything more than a politely incredulous look and a flash of dimples.  “Would it insult you if I said you were wasted doing whatever it is you’re doing when you could aim high?”

“Uh-huh,” Lucy drawled, radiating ‘here it comes’ scepticism.  “I generally find aiming low is more effective in times of need.”

“He’s trying to recruit you to the Air Force, not pick you up,” Daniel pointed out helpfully.  “He thinks cryptic is cute.”

“Cryptic is clumsy but he’s cute,” Lucy grinned.  “The defence of our nation requires an anarchic art historian to be all she can be?  I’m impressed.”

“You’d be surprised,” Daniel said, smiling gently.  “What period?”

“I lose the will to live somewhere around the Dark Ages.”

“Which were not so-called because they were dark,” Jack said automatically.

“That’s deep, Jack,” Lucy admired.  “You’re really in the zone for that stupid thing, huh?”

Daniel started laughing.

“Is that or is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?” Lucy asked the street after a moment.  “Only a guy as hot as you could get away with laughing behind your hand like that, Daniel.  You infected with some kind of adorability virus or something?  My monogamy is frankly wavering and Jack looks like a goner to me.” She eyed them both speculatively.  “Ah, if only I had morals.  Yes to a threesome, Jack, no to the Air Force.”

“Who said the two were mutually exclusive?” Jack asked innocently.  “Sexy uniform,” he coaxed.

“Not on you,” Daniel said crisply, ruthlessly suppressing his wayward libido as a treacherous memory of Jack in his class ‘A’ uniform and aviator shades hammered home.

Lucy’s coat pocket disconcertingly played the X Files theme.  She pounced, pulled out a mobile phone and grinned up at them unrepentantly.  “I hate labels.  Who says you can’t be an anarchist and a conspicuous consumer?”

“Jack manages it every day, particularly the conspicuous consumption part.  No pie is safe in the Commissary, and he throws ‘authority figure’ into the mix too.  Which kind of explains how he always gets his pie,” Daniel said reassuringly.  “His attitude to the establishment is fascinating for a man who is the establishment.”

“Do as I say but don’t tell me what to do?” Lucy asked, twinkling up at Jack.

“It’s not anarchy in the Air Force, it’s one of those irregular verbs.  Initiative, insubordination, mutiny,” Jack said lightly.  “And speaking of the Air Force…you wouldn’t even have to move.  The Academy is just up the damn road.”

“Guys, I gotta move now.  Pip just text-messaged me.  He’s got a cheap bottle of Chianti and a large thin and crispy Hawaiian with my name on it.”

“Extra pineapple?” Jack asked.  “Pip?” he hissed at Daniel, who shrugged.

“You know it.”  Lucy smiled at them and turned away.  “Later, guys.”

“And where do you think you’re going?” Jack snapped.

Lucy froze involuntarily and looked pissed for doing it.  “I could hear ‘young lady’ even if you didn’t say it,” she accused indignantly.

“Authentic Air Force colonel,” Daniel said sympathetically.  “Cute to ‘obey me!’ in sixty seconds.  We can’t let you walk off looking for a bus, Lucy, not in a neighbourhood like this.  You have two choices.  Either you let us put you in a taxi, or you let us drive you back to campus.  You don’t know us from Adam, so for your own peace of mind, the taxi is the best compromise.”

“Compromise?” Lucy prompted dangerously.

“Jack is quite capable of hovering at your side at the bus stop, scaring the shit out of any driver dumb enough to stop, just to make a point.”

“Or for the hell of it.  He’s gloating offensively,” Lucy observed, face softening slightly.

“He does that,” Daniel agreed solemnly.  “He’s also a pathologically over-protective Mother Hen with a gun, so don’t encourage him.  I have to work with that.”

“And I have to work with that,” Jack riposted, jerking his thumb at Daniel.

“Lucky you,” Lucy sighed enviously. “Gee, Pa, can we take him home?  Can we?”

“No,” Jack snapped, faux-glaring.  “Dial!  Unless you want to hear ‘young lady’ in twenty three languages.”

Lucy winked, caved and phoned a taxi, muttering something about guys not being allowed to go around being nice at her; it confused the hell out of her.

Daniel eased back to observe, let the ebb and flow of conversation wash over him as Jack made it clear Lucy was good people in his book and worked his usual magic.  It gave him a dull, sullen ache inside he still wasn’t used to.  Jack was charming, and flirty, and had a way of focusing on you that made the world go away.  And for Daniel, it had.  In one Apophis-fuelled nightmare in hell, Daniel’s defences had been stripped from him, his deception of himself laid bare.  He was still struggling to comprehend how and when he’d begun to love his friend more than he’d ever loved his wife.  Balance was a daily struggle, one he sometimes lost, and then he needed space, needed to deny himself, channelling his intensity, his bitter regret at his own dependency into the work.  After he lost Sha’uri he’d sworn never again.  Never.  He just hadn’t counted on not being able to withstand Jack.

He’d needed to be away from Jack so often his absence had punctured clean through that shell of self-absorption Jack had worn as he and Sam had danced denial around one other.  It was ironic that Jack’s overt interest in Sam had punched through Daniel’s last defence, forced him to accept he’d tumbled headlong and heedless in love with Jack.  He wanted Jack.  The first time he came with Jack in his mind and Jack’s name on his lips, he’d wept a few hot, bitter tears.

Loving Jack burned him up inside, hurt him in ways he’d grown used to, but perhaps more deeply than even he could take now.  Jack was as far from him as Sha’uri had ever been, but Jack was at his side almost every day of his life.  Daniel had only himself to blame for his predicament.  Jack had seduced him from his independence, his ability to be alone and not be lonely atrophied with his own active collusion.  He’d wanted, had chosen to be Jack’s friend, hadn’t even realised that Jack’s place in his life had become necessary until that place was threatened.

Jack hadn’t noticed Daniel’s quiet, gradual withdrawal at work, which had hurt, but he came calling quick enough when Daniel cancelled the on-or-around Friday night ritual by making some excuse about pressure of work.  Eight o’clock had brought him Jack regardless, clutching Thai takeout, a good wine, and a compromise movie, Jack-speak for ‘I don’t know what I did but I’m sorry, yadda yadda, fixing it now’.  Daniel had been dubious about the gesture and the movie.  Jack had brought a martial arts movie that had Oscar nominations.  It hadn’t seemed a likely combination to either of them, and yet they’d both loved it.  It fit both of them, in their own ways, cerebral and visceral.

It seemed the ritual was sacrosanct if they were at home.  Jack would accept no excuse.  Daniel depressed himself with his own gratitude that Jack still needed his friendship, needed him in a way that he had never and would never need Sam.  Jack ‘loved’ Sam, but had never even thought about spending time alone with her off base.  She’d never even been to his house except in company, and yet Jack was beating down Daniel’s door if he stood him up on their ‘date’ night.  Daniel wondered why the hell Jack couldn’t see the contradiction in that, why Jack didn’t notice the small, important things.  Like Sam not being able to read Jack.  Daniel loved Sam dearly, but her strength was logical deduction, not empathy.  She’d never learned to communicate the essentials, always bombarded them with too much information they couldn’t process and didn’t need, and Jack never rolled his eyes at her and muttered ‘yadda’.  They had no signals, no shortcuts, and no empathy.  If Sam wanted to know what Jack was thinking, feeling, she had to ask Daniel.

It wasn’t in him to gloat over that, he felt desperately sorry for her.  She had what Daniel judged to be a crush on Jack, and yet, who was he to judge?  He’d never so much as thought of being with a man, but when it came to Jack he’d been just as susceptible as Sam, and he at least had Jack’s friendship.  Daniel sighed.  Though that cut both ways, skirmishing around the edges of what he truly wanted, what he thought they could be.  He was so sure he would be good for Jack, so sure.  God knows Daniel had seen with his own eyes how incompatible the alternate Jack and Sam were.  He’d met the man Jack was when he was with Sam, and she brought out the worst in him, all the destructive traits the Jack he knew battled in himself.  Daniel could see why they were drawn to each other, what needs each fulfilled in the other, but they weren’t the best part of either of his friends.

He’d seen his own Jack and Sam get lost in those feelings they were denying, let it drive them.  If Jack pushed, you had to push back for Jack’s sake as well as yours.  He wielded his authority like a big club when the mood was on him and hated himself afterwards.  Jack pushed Sam and she rolled over.  It was her duty, but it was also Sam, her own insecurity and need to be accepted.  They weren’t equals, could never be when Sam was Jack’s subordinate.  Daniel was proud of Sam for backing off, for making a decision and sticking to it, and with distance came perspective for all of them.  Neither Jack nor Sam was willing to put personal feelings before their careers and their commitment to the Air Force and that was the end of it, at least as far as Sam was concerned.  Jack was still denying it had ever happened, which meant he was far from over it.

As for Daniel, there was no price too high to pay for Jack, and what he paid was silence.  Daniel would never allow Jack to now that he’d fallen in love with him.  Jack would never return his feelings, and it would eat him up inside to cause that kind of pain.  It wasn’t fair to Jack, so Daniel held his tongue and did his best to live with what he had, which was still more of Jack than Jack allowed anyone else to even glimpse, let alone share.

Daniel smiled to himself, watching the little game Jack and Lucy were playing.  There was a lot of Air Force dissing from Lucy, a lot of Pip dissing from Jack, a lot of height jokes, since Pip was so named because he was six four and you could take about a foot off that for Lucy and still have a couple of inches in change, and a lot of dancing around Lucy refusing to admit Jack was hot instead of sweet.  Lucy got in a good one about archetypal patriarchs, and Jack retaliated as she climbed into the taxi, telling her she looked like a racoon.  Jack ordered the taxi driver to wait until Pip came out for Lucy and ordered Lucy to give Pip hell, Daniel called his goodbyes and then they parted ways.

“Nice girl,” Jack observed as they limped into the box office a good five minutes after everyone else had already gone in.  “She could probably run the Air Force,” he announced with absolute certainty, staring unenthusiastically round the foyer of the theatre.  There was only one cinematic experience that looked as if it met his exacting standards.  “Ah, snacks,” he gloated, making a beeline for the heaped counter as Daniel paid for the tickets.

Daniel kept glancing back, keeping an eye on Jack’s shenanigans with the popcorn.  “That’s a heart attack in a box, Jack,” he called impatiently.

“May I see your ice cream menu?” Jack asked loudly.  He was a little taken-aback when Rita – according to her nametag – produced one.

“It’s home made,” she said proudly.  “As in, I make it.”

“What’s good?”

“It’s all to die for,” Rita said simply.  “But I could recommend the caramel pecan, the vanilla fudge, and the coffee to give it some oomph.”

“Two scoops of everything.  He’s a growing boy.  And two spoons,” Jack ordered.

“You’re a growing boy too?” Rita grinned.

“Nope, just a greedy one,” Daniel teased.  “Are you sure you’ve got everything?” he drawled, as Jack staggered towards the doors juggling his load of popcorn, ice cream, drinks and… “M&Ms?  You won’t eat dinner!”

“Wanna bet?  We’re talking kid’s portions if it’s that see food but can’t eat it Ikea-looking place on Nevada Avenue.”

“Sencha,” Daniel said absently as he held the door for Jack.

“And you’re going to need something edible inside you if you’re going to eat that goddamn curried goat again.”

“It’s a traditional Jamaican dish, Jack,” Daniel explained patiently.  “It’s nicely spiced and it tastes a lot like beef for the squeamish.”  Jack eyed him sceptically.  “Okay, it tastes a little like beef.  It was your own fault for raiding my plate and helping yourself.  And you enjoyed your salad.”

“All you said was the goat thing was Sencha’s ‘signature dish’.  How was I to know?  And as for my salad, it had green tea dressing,” Jack hissed as they snuck down the aisle.  “What the hell is that?  And flowers.  Who eats flowers?”

“You did.  You’ll eat anything, including goat.”

“Be quiet.  People paid an exorbitant price to hear this movie and they can’t if you keep yapping,” Jack said coldly as Daniel stared around helplessly for two empty seats.  Most of the audience seemed to be at the front, which suggested the sound system sucked.  There were a few individual spaces near the back but not two seats together.  Ah, well, the back row it was.  They wouldn’t be able to see or hear, but at least it ruled out one of Daniel’s height-related guilt trips.  Jack nudged Daniel carefully and they made their way back up the aisle, then along the row, which necessitated fourteen people having to get up and make way for them amidst much cursing and spillage.  Students weren’t nearly so polite to their elders these days.  He refused to accept that it might sound worse because he was elder than used to be.

“What are you doing, Jack?” Daniel whispered behind him.

“Checking the seat is clean.”

“Sit,” Daniel hissed.

Jack scowled and sat in the nearest seat, making Daniel stumble past him as the lights went down without warning, not so much dimmed as plunged.  An anxious voice called an apology and asked about casualties.

Jack was reluctant to admit he was…they were both totally overdressed for this place.  Dinner and a movie had him dressed in pants and shirt, not jeans and tee, because dinner was never of the burger and fries variety.  Daniel always picked nice places with good food and good service, the kind you cleaned up good for, so Jack did the same.  Daniel was wearing black chinos and a deep grey shirt, open at the neck, sleeves rolled up, but he had his good jacket.  Jack had graced the evening with actual shoes, the usual cream chinos which he filled out a lot more than Daniel did his, and more than he used to, topped with a pale bluey-greeny short sleeve shirt Les Girls had gotten him for Christmas, which meant it was from Carter, Janet and Cassie.

Jack found his mind skittering away from the fact he was in the back row of the movies with his best friend, wearing shoes and a shirt with a Label, on a Friday night with a nice as in price - if not actual cuisine - dinner in a nice restaurant to follow.  When he added all those factors together he kept coming up ‘date’.  He glanced at Daniel, oblivious, focused entirely on the movie, and figured he might as well put this thing down now, try to assess Daniel as date material.  Putting the whole being a guy thing to one side for the moment, obviously.

Jack ate his popcorn slowly as he watched Daniel savouring the ice cream and kind of living the movie, fascinated by the compelling constant play of emotion over Daniel’s expressive face.  Jack was in fact still watching Daniel when he’d finished the popcorn and the remainder of the ice cream, which he snagged neatly out of Daniel’s concentration-slackened grasp.

O-kaay.  Assessment.  A fairly - er - thorough assessment, in fact.

Daniel was a good-looking guy; enough even the glasses came off as cute.  He was tall, slim and built.  He was a genius who didn’t rub your nose in it.  He was shy, which was obvious to Jack because while Daniel would talk the ass off anything that would listen to him, if you touched him he couldn’t get away from you quick enough, Jack himself being the main exception.  Carter had her foot in the door on the hugging thing, but Jack was ahead on points because Daniel would actually reach out to him.  Jack was in fact the only one Daniel reached out to.  Daniel was also charming, had the whole sweet and nice thing going for him, which was as rare as a virgin in a whorehouse, had an alarming tendency to tell the truth and to mean what he said, and all in all, Daniel was quite the human.

Jack relaxed and shook his head ruefully.  Lucky he wasn’t in the market for an archaeologist, because he wouldn’t stand a fucking chance.  If Daniel ever did hang out the ‘available’ sign, he’d probably need round-the-clock SF guard.

Jack shrugged off his wayward imagination, grabbed the M&Ms and settled back.  After five minutes of walking, talking Big Dresses and guys in tights, he decided he would enjoy himself more having root canal and let his eyes drift back to Daniel’s face.  Daniel was enjoying the hell out of this, and bizarrely he found it funny.  Jack decided Lucy was right.  That laughing behind the hand thing was cute.  He kept right on watching the movie in Daniel’s face and was vaguely surprised when the lights came back on just as abruptly as they’d originally gone down.  He made no move to get up, Daniel was the despair of multiplex staff everywhere, the kind who liked to listen to the music and read the credits.  Jack tended to roll the colonel out to play if they got pissy.  He settled back, stretched out his legs, wondering if whining about his back and his little ACL problem would lure Daniel over to the home-comforts of the Black Bear for ribs and ambrosial batter-dipped fries in place of those beech and chrome bird perches that passed for chairs at Sencha.

“Judi Dench,” Daniel exclaimed triumphantly, turning to beam at Jack as he fumbled for his jacket.  “She was wonderful, acted Gwyneth whatsername off the screen.  And I think I just found Sam’s birthday present.”

“I thought you liked Carter,” Jack joked as he unfolded, taking this as permission to leave.

Daniel’s face fell.  “You didn’t like the movie?”

Jack shrugged into his jacket and grinned unrepentantly.  “Enjoyed the hell out of it.  Had fun, time flew, let’s EAT.”

Daniel glanced down at his watch.  “You must be starved,” he murmured sympathetically, “It must be all of half an hour since you finished that family pack of M&Ms, of which I was offered none.”

“Didn’t want to spoil your appetite for the ribs,” Jack said easily, gently steering Daniel’s erratic course through the movie-going detritus littering the row, since Daniel’s eyes never left the screen.  He had to pull Daniel up the aisle in response to an unmistakeable signal from Rita.  She hollered ‘get the hell out, go home’ at them.  “We’ll call again, thanks,” Jack hollered back.   Quality of service more than made up for inadequate ambience in his book.  “Make more ice cream.  Cherry chocolate is good.”

Daniel followed Jack out of the theatre and waited for Jack to move smoothly out to his left as they turned right to head around to the car lot.  He didn’t know what Jack thought would happen, but Jack always had to take the place closest to the curb, couldn’t physically walk more than a few steps without switching.  Daniel wasn’t even sure it was consciously done, it was probably a drill learned so well it was internalised and instinctual.  Ditto with Jack and his back to an open door or window.  Didn’t happen.  Daniel always had to let Jack pick the table, and hoped he never worried about the line of sight instead of the view.

He felt calm and oddly mellow tonight, not edgy the way he often was when they went out.  Jack’s place, or his place, they had a well-oiled routine that got Daniel through the intimacy, at once too close and never, ever close enough.  Beer, pizza, hockey.  Wine, take-out, movie.  A little conversation and a lot of control.  Going out introduced too many variables, gave him too much unstructured time alone with Jack, too great a margin for error.  Jack would lower his guard without warning and skate them both out on thin ice, onto ‘well, what would you do?’ territory.  There wasn’t a more loaded question than that, whatever the context.

“You want ribs?” Daniel asked, grinning as Jack winked and smacked his lips.  “The Black Bear it is, then.”  Jeez, you think he loved the man or something.  Daniel watched the ‘colonel unleashed in candystore’ routine with wry appreciation.  Definitely something.

“Good drink, good meat, good God, let’s eat!” Jack beamed at him as they strolled round the corner and into the lot.  “Log cabin, warm fire, comfort food, big portions.  What more could anyone…hey!  Cool!  You car is still here.” He glanced at Daniel.  “Don’t feel bad.  It’s a Volvo thing,” he added mock-sympathetically.  “They design them to look like that so no self-respecting car thief would be caught dead in one.”  The Volvo in question was a hot little charcoal grey sports number and a convertible to boot.  Daniel’s passion for old things did not extend to the vehicular, unlike Carter, whose own Volvo was almost as old as Jack.  He liked his kids were so safety conscious and he was learning to live with the fact they found shit like translating and decay rates fun, both traits perfectly expressed in a Volvo, sporty or classic or not.

“People who drive graphically phallic trucks shouldn’t diss Volvos,” Daniel said crisply, as he unlocked the car.

“I could be persuaded to amend my opinion if I were to be allowed to drive the damn thing.”

“No,” Daniel refused emphatically.

“I happen to be a Special Ops trained, fully certified offensive driver,” Jack protested, doing his best to look hurt.

“Certifiable, maybe,” Daniel muttered.  “And I’m not touching offensive!”

“I’m hurt.”

“And I don’t want to be, so I’m driving,” Daniel said firmly, sliding in behind the wheel.

“I’m certified to read maps too,” Jack said innocently.

“If you try to navigate you can walk home from here,” Daniel snapped.  “It’s the ‘24’ all the way, Jack, right from downtown Colorado Springs to Manitoba Springs, then on to Green Mountain Falls.  Twenty minutes tops.”

“Not the way you drive.”


“See?  Isn’t this better than stinky old Sencha?” Jack asked expansively.  He had logs, a warm fire at his back, an icy cold Grolsch, his starter of red-hot wings was settling nicely and all was right with his world.  Like hockey, beer and TV, comfort food made sense.

Daniel leaned back in his chair, which was, he admitted, way more comfortable than the ones at Sencha, and eyed Jack with interest.  “How is it you can’t stomach the thought of curried goat and you’re still sulking because they’re out of alligator tails?”

“It’s Cajun.  And a man who can eat truffle and cognac pâte in cold blood shouldn’t aspire to critique my culinary choices,” Jack shuddered.

“Are you gentlemen ready to order your entrée?” a quiet voice enquired.

Jack looked up at Phillip – ‘your waiter this evening’ – and beamed.  “Prime rib.  I’ve told you three times.”

“And Sir?” Phillip nodded subtly towards Daniel.

“Not having pasta.  I’ve told you that three times as well,” Jack said emphatically.

“I like pasta,” Daniel complained indignantly.

“He comes to the best barbecue joint in town and wants tomato topped tagliatelle,” Jack appealed to Phillip.

“You forgot the shaved garlic and the seasonal vegetables, Sir,” Phillip informed him gravely.

“I was alliterating for emphasis,” Jack informed their waiter with his closest approximation of dignity.

“If I may recommend the Filet San Luis to Sir?  Colorado Grade A Choice Filet Mignon stuffed with spinach, asiago and pine nuts, encrusted in red potato scales and served with a Pernod beurre blanc.”

“He’ll take two,” Jack said promptly.  “He likes that French crap.”

“We prefer cuisine,” Phillip said smoothly.

“To French?” Jack asked sweetly.  He had to hear the word drip from Phillip’s pursed lips.

“To ‘crap’,” the waiter enunciated.   “Sir?” he prompted Daniel.

“You’re not eatin’ that pasta, not right in front of me,” Jack warned.  “We can’t eat out and have stuff I could cook.  It strikes at the heart of everything I know about food.”

“I doubt it would taste the same,” Daniel said absently, caving and waving off Phillip ‘their’ waiter.

“Excuse me?  I think I can manage to heat a tin of tomatoes,” Jack snapped, insulted.  All the burnt sludge stayed at the bottom of the pan.  No harm no foul.

“They use fresh tomatoes for a start,” Daniel said demurely.  “And if you can shave garlic it’s a skill you’ve kept hidden from anyone…um…‘privileged’ to eat at Chez O’Neill.”

“I barbecue,” Jack responded with dignity.  “And the way you scarf down anything I shove in front of you, I don’t know how you have the nerve to…“

“Jack?”

Both Daniel and Jack looked up automatically as a woman’s voice called from the bar.  Daniel was surprised to see Jack cringe.

“Aw, crap,” Jack groaned sotto voce to Daniel.  “Needy neighbour, divorcee, Jack can you this, Jack can you…hi Madeline!” he finished cheerfully, smiling up at the woman.

Daniel looked curiously at Madeline as they got to their feet to greet her.  She seemed nice, her smile warm and definitely nervous.  She was a little taller than Janet, gave an impression of softness, though Daniel wasn’t much of a judge of these things if Sarah…never mind.  Madeline was blessed with thick ash blonde hair, a sweet face, and her heart in her big hazel eyes.  Daniel watched those hungry eyes following Jack.  Oh, boy.  Crush Central!  And she was so nice, no wonder Jack was floundering over out and out rejection.  Scratch Jack’s salty surface crust and he was pure marshmallow.

“This is my friend Daniel,” Jack said warmly.  “Doctor Daniel Jackson, meet Madeline Kiszkiel, my neighbour.  I didn’t see you?” he prompted Madeline, hoping like hell she hadn’t been sitting two seats over the whole time.

“I just came in to confirm the catering arrangements for the party were all in place, Jack,” she said softly.  She turned then to Daniel, smiling a little.  “Doctor of medicine?”

“Of archaeology,” Daniel said gently.

“And linguistics,” Jack supplied.  “Speaks twenty-three languages,” he added with his usual perverse pride in Daniel’s motley assortment of annoying arcane accomplishments.

“Wow,” Madeline rocked back on her heels.  “You don’t look old enough to…“

“Vote?” Jack teased, smiling slyly at Daniel’s indignation.

“Would you care to join us?” Daniel asked politely, ignoring Jack’s scorching glare.

“Oh!  Oh no, no,” Madeline stammered, flushing.  “It’s obvious you two want to be alone. I…I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“O-obvious?” Daniel said feebly, blushing as much as Madeline.  It wasn’t, it couldn’t be.  He’d never given anyone the least sign to suspect.  Maybe she just meant they were deep in conversation or…

“Jack mentioned that he was seeing somebody, and now I’ve met you I…I can see why he’s so…so smitten,“ Madeline smiled gamely.  “I hope you’ll bring Daniel to the party tomorrow night, Jack.  He’ll make quite a hit!  Even if he is spoken for,” she smiled at Daniel, not even seeing his stupefaction.  “I’ll look forward to seeing you both.  Eight o’clock.  Good night, Jack.”

“Night, Madeline,” Jack said weakly.

“Nice to have met you, Daniel.”

“A-and you,” Daniel managed to get out.  He sank back down the moment she turned away, glaring at Jack as he slid into his chair, the picture of guilt.

“I swear I never mentioned you!” Jack insisted.  “I just…I…“

“You didn’t want to hurt her feelings, I understand,” Daniel said wearily.  Obvious?  Oh, God.  He was ‘obvious to a total stranger at first sight’ obvious.  He could only hope familiarity went right on breeding contempt or he was in deep shit,

“Daniel, I just dropped some vague hints about being involved, no names, certainly no genders,” Jack said forcefully.  “It’s a misunderstanding.”

“Of course, don’t worry about it.”

“Sirs?”

The waiter’s voice made them both start, and they waited in silence as he set down plates, fresh orange juice for Daniel, fresh beer for Jack, a fresh jug of ice water, bowed and backed away.

Daniel made the effort, shrugged it off, smiled at Jack and sliced into his steak.  They ate in silence for a few minutes.

“Although,” Jack mused, eyeing Daniel thoughtfully.

“No,” Daniel said flatly.

“What?” Jack smiled easily, all innocent eyes and evil intentions.

“No.  I am not colluding with you to deceive that woman.  I am not going to the party and I am not pretending to be your…your lover just because you haven’t got the backbone to say no to Madeline yourself.  What goes around comes around, Jack.  N-o.  No.”  Daniel was proud he got that out without a tremor.

“Whatever you say, Daniel,” Jack agreed meekly.

Daniel eyed Jack suspiciously.  “I mean it, Jack.  I’m not going.”


Jack sat bolt upright as he heard the car pull in.  He turned to his guest.  “Well?” he prompted.

Iris grinned at him.  “I observe and report back.  You could tell me why I’m spying on this boy for you, when you know him so well yourself,” she said calmly.

“I could, but I’m not going to,” Jack said briskly.  “I need a completely unprejudiced assessment, and it’s not him you’re spying on, it’s me.”  Jack jumped up as Daniel tapped on the door.  “And don’t call him boy, he hates that.”

“I call you boy,” Iris pointed out.

“You’re seventy-three, you’re entitled,” Jack grinned.  “And he’s the shy, sensitive, sweet and nice type.  You and I aren’t.”

“Ah, blow it out your ear,” Iris drawled.

“You’ll like him as much as you like me,” Jack insisted.

“That’s prejudicial and who says I like you, boy?” Iris retorted.

Jack winked at her and yanked open the door.  “Did you get it?” he demanded.  Daniel straightened and held up a small box for inspection.  “Shit,” Jack complained.  “Looks expensive.”  He stepped back and waved Daniel past him.  He still didn’t know if this was a good idea or not, but after arguing unsuccessfully with Daniel for most of the evening about attending the party, he’d gotten all of two hours sleep because shit like ‘cute couple’, ‘obviously want to be alone’,  ‘smitten’ and ‘spoken for’ had slithered into his consciousness, murdering sleep and his peace of mind in general.

Iris was a shrewd observer and the only person he knew in Colorado who wasn’t obligated to call Hammond the moment he asked them to check and see if he had the hots for his best friend and just hadn’t known about it.  His plan to get Daniel here for observation had been downright sneaky.  He left it until four o’clock, called and admitted he’d forgotten to buy Madeline a birthday present, could Daniel get something and fetch it over?  Of course Daniel could.  He was nice.  This was not a survival trait anywhere near an O’Neill.

Now he was here, Daniel wasn’t going anywhere but that party.  He was wearing black jeans and black tee that clung everywhere.  If there were any more like Madeline in the crowd, Jack would be beating them off with a stick.

Daniel pulled up short as he took in a little old lady with clear blue eyes and a cloud of soft white hair comfortably ensconced at Jack’s dining table with a steaming mug of coffee and a heaped plate of chocolate muffins.

“Relax, honey.  He’s not a danger to baked goods, I brought them with me.”  She rose carefully to her feet and held out a hand.

Daniel darted forward, reaching her just in time for politeness.  “Daniel, Daniel Jackson.”

“Iris.  I’m the neighbour Jack ruthlessly exploits to keep a vague eye on the place when he’s off on his jaunts.  My main attractions are caramel apple pie and Alfred.”

“Your husband?” Daniel asked, allowing himself to be drawn into a seat and plied with coffee – never knowingly refused even if Jack had a hand in it – and muffins.

“Alfred the dog,” Iris bared her teeth at Jack who was dropping into the chair on her other side.  “Jack is trying his damndest to seduce the ungrateful mutt right out from under me.”

“Golden retriever,” Jack said dreamily.

“Dumb as my behind, but he’s a looker, and he has Francis here wrapped around his pampered paw.”

“I’ve been privileged to see Francis here in full Assisi mode,” Daniel agreed. “On several embarrassing occasions.  He’s not safe anywhere near a park.”

“Shake your tail and he’s toast,” Iris winked.

Daniel relaxed and smiled back.  He was glad of a buffer between Jack and him.  They had another argument looming up because Daniel still wasn’t going…

“Daniel is coming to Madeline’s party with me,” Jack said sweetly.

“I…“ Daniel bridled indignantly.

“Peachy,” Iris beamed at Daniel.  “That’ll be a thrill for all the old tabbies who live round these parts.  Myself included,” she grinned roguishly.  “Thanks, honey.  I thought I was going to have to bite the bullet and pull the Mrs. Robinson act for a while there.  He’s completely spineless, an absolute pushover, can’t say no.  I’d hate anyone to think I couldn’t do any better.”

“Hey!” Jack protested.

“Gives you a cosy glow to know he’s actually got friends, doesn’t it?” Iris twinkled.  “I love him to death.  What he can’t do with a woman’s guttering…Oy!” She rolled her eyes theatrically.

Daniel gave up the struggle and chuckled, glancing over his glasses from Jack to Iris and back.

“Present,” Jack demanded, grinning, holding out an imperative hand to Daniel.

“Age before beauty,” Iris insisted, holding out her hand.

Daniel handed it over.  She opened the box carefully, peered in and sighed.

“Lovely, Daniel, just lovely.  I’ve seen the Mackintosh House in Glasgow.  What an eye that man had.  The silver – the blue topaz – it’s perfect.”

Daniel beamed at her and waited for Jack’s reaction.  Jack stared at the box for a while.  Then he looked up.

“Funny little earrings?”

“Cheap,” Iris said tartly.

“Not really, I mean…“ Daniel began.

“I meant him.”

“Oh.”  Daniel dropped his head to hide a grin.

“Don’t defend me or anything,” Jack grumbled.  Then he froze.  “Giftwrap?” he asked, horrified.

“I brought it with me, and the card.  I’ll wrap the gift, but you’ll need to write the card,” Daniel said reassuringly.  Jack always got Janet to wrap his gifts; she could do things with ribbons mortal man never dreamed of.  Jack shamelessly passed her work off as his own, of course.

Jack relaxed.  “Is there no end to this man’s talents?” he asked expansively.

“I don’t know.  I just met him,” Iris said crisply.  “And now I’m going to leave him.  And you.  If you’re a good boy at the party I’ll let Alfred come over and play.”  She waited until Jack’s grin was ear to ear.  “I will of course accept Daniel’s as the final judgement on that.  Walk me out, there’s a good boy.  Nice to meet you, Daniel.”  She smiled at Daniel as Jack took her arm and led her out.

Daniel trotted out to the kitchen in search of Scotch tape and scissors while Jack was escorting her out.

“Be still my beating heart,” Iris hissed, making a great show of fanning herself.  “Woo, that boy is smokin’!”

“Er…“ Jack couldn’t think of anything else to say.  Smokin’ wasn’t really a word he associated with Daniel.

“And I’m sorry, honey, I don’t know what answer you’re looking for here, but you’re completely gone on the boy.  My advice is park that knee-jerk machismo, get yourself a how-to guide and make him happy.”

“How can you…“ Jack began.

“Tell?  Honey, you could tell yourself, or you wouldn’t have asked me.  You lose yourself in that boy, and you know it.” Iris looked up at him gravely.  “Be careful, Jack.  Be very careful, and be sure.  Don’t be something Daniel has to survive.  He’s so open to you…you could hurt him so much.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Jack said dryly.  “Lucky he’s the forgiving type.”

“I hope he doesn’t have to be, now let me out of here before I start blubbing.”

Jack stooped and kissed her soundly on the cheek.  “Alfred?”

“Be good and he’s all yours for the afternoon.  Turn the hose on him tomorrow, will you?  The mutt stinks.”  She waved insouciantly and walked away.

Jack watched until she turned the corner of the house, then went back in.  He didn’t have a goddamn clue what to do now.  He kept looking at Daniel and even though intellectually he could appreciate how attractive Daniel was, even though emotionally he cared a great deal for Daniel, loved him if he absolutely had to put words to it, none of that meant diddly to his dick, which was still exclusively into chick.

Jack prowled over and sat down at the table again, watching Daniel patiently wrapping the box.  He took a moment and wrote out the card, slipping it under Daniel’s nose with the pen.  “Sign the card, okay,” he suggested softly.  “Daniel.”  Daniel dashed off his name and slid the card back over, not really paying attention.  One of the corners of the parcel was refusing to fold crisply and Daniel was eyeing the emergency back-up supply of wrap.

It was a bit of a bastard.  Jack suspected he was right there on the feelings, was pretty sure he was, now someone had opened his eyes to the context, but the physical?  Oh, momma.  The only idea he could come up with - and knowing Daniel the way he did he thought he might get away with it - the logical thing to do was suggest to Daniel they got naked together and see what happened.  Jack suspected ass-clenching embarrassment, but hell, he’d been wrong before.  He’d never considered himself as smitten, for a start.

He watched Daniel wresting with the recalcitrant wrap, frowning and nibbling his lip in concentration.  Or maybe it was irritation.  His lips.  Hmm.  Maybe they could start with something simpler, less confrontational and fraught with potential humiliation.  Maybe a kiss?

“Daniel?”

“Hmm?” Daniel looked up, clutching the box, peering vaguely over the top of his glasses.

“Would you mind if I kissed you?” Jack asked carefully.  He noted that Daniel dropped the box without making the slightest attempt to grab for it, blushing comprehensively.

“Yes, I’d mind,” Daniel refused in a painfully wooden voice, heart pounding so fast he felt sick.  “I’m not happy about lying to the poor woman like this in the first place, and that…it’s going too far, Jack.  I’d rather march in there and tell her she made an honest mistake than…“

“I meant for me,” Jack explained patiently.  “I want to kiss you.”  Daniel sagged in his seat, gaping at Jack incredulously.  “I want to see what happens.” Oh, this wasn’t going well.  Not well at all.  Was he repulsive or something, when Daniel couldn’t make it more obvious he didn’t want to kiss him?

“What happens is I’m leaving, Jack,” Daniel said shakily, shoving back the chair and striding away. He had his hand on the door when he felt Jack’s hands close over his shoulders and Jack spun him around.  Daniel found himself with nowhere to go but to Jack or back to the door.  He went for the door and Jack followed, planting his palms either side of Daniel’s face.

“Hey, what’s this?” Jack asked gently, wincing inwardly over the bleakness of Daniel’s eyes.  “Daniel Jackson, knee-jerk homophobe?  I don’t think so, Daniel.  Not you, not the guy who’s telling me all the time not to be so judgemental.  I didn’t explain myself too well, but this isn’t idle curiosity and it isn’t for Madeline’s benefit.  I’m having a problem and I wanted your help with it, is all.  But hey, if it bothers you this much, just forget I asked.”

“I can’t…I can’t help you, Jack,” Daniel whispered.

“I don’t want to kiss any guy, Daniel, just you.  I’m not even sure I want to do that, but it doesn’t matter, you don’t,” Jack said reassuringly.  “Latest in a long line of lame O’Neill plans.  Just forget I…“ Jack trailed off as Daniel pushed away from the door, looking like he was flying apart but coming anyway, then Daniel’s hand reached out tentatively to skim over his jaw and settle, warm and shaking against his throat, fingers spread over Jack’s cheek.  Instinct told him to freeze and just let Daniel do this, because it was killing Daniel to have to do this, he could tell.  He waited as Daniel inched closer, eyes low, not meeting his, inched close enough they were almost touching, Daniel’s eyes closing now as he stretched up, hesitated and brushed stiff lips over Jack’s.  He broke contact almost immediately, then stretched up again, infinitely slow, and kissed Jack again.

Daniel’s lips were warm, full, surprisingly strong and incredibly sweet.  Jack kissed back, letting Daniel lead, gave back just enough to let Daniel know Jack was completely okay with this.  It was kinda nice, in fact.  Jack smiled involuntarily.  It was totally Daniel.  It was a minute or so of warmth and tenderness, and Jack was a little disappointed when Daniel backed away again, still not meeting his eyes.

“Can I go now?” Daniel asked nervously.

Jack jerked his hands away as if stung.  He hadn’t realised…“Jeez, I didn’t mean…I just didn’t want you bolting out upset like that.”

“I’m fine,” Daniel insisted in a stifled voice that told Jack he was anything but, and Jack went with his gut, flowed into Daniel as he came away from the door, engulfing him in a hug.  Daniel hissed and tried to back away, so Jack pulled him in closer, close enough to feel how hard Daniel was.  He was taken aback.  Jeez, it had been a long time for both of them, but that little Sunday school kiss wasn’t enough to…No, no, not the kissing, but maybe kissing Jack was.

Daniel was so intent on getting the hell away from Jack before Jack knew what he felt, he hadn’t been prepared for Jack to just grab him and hang on and no way, no goddamn way could Jack not notice how aroused he was.  He never got to utter an excuse or explanation because Jack’s fingers tilted his chin almost roughly and Jack leaned in and kissed him hard, hard enough to drive Daniel back into the door and Jack was still coming, tongue probing demandingly at Daniel’s lips.  Daniel wanted him so much, loved him so much, would it be so wrong?  If Jack wanted…it was just a kiss.  Just a…Daniel opened and Jack plunged in deep, thrusting provocatively as Daniel moaned low in his throat and pushed back fiercely.  He was answered with aggression, wrapped his arms around Jack’s neck and held on to him desperately, kissing Jack with all he was, all he could give, breath strangling in his throat, Jack was so deep and strong and sure.

Oh, God, oh…oh…he’d never imagined, not this, not desperation, not the roughness of rasping, restless tongues, not the soft swipes over his palate or the urgent probing deep into his throat.  Daniel clung and kissed, not caring what happened, not knowing anything but Jack, real, here, wanting him, finally seeing what had been here before him the whole time.

Jack was reaping the whirlwind and hating himself for not knowing, never suspecting for a fucking second what he’d done to Daniel when he was chasing Carter’s tail.  He knew it now though, knew Daniel was desolate; he had given up hope of Jack ever waking up to smell the coffee.  Jack was wide awake now, and it was over, no more being alone, not for either of them, whatever it took.  He couldn’t, wouldn’t hurt Daniel like this.

Jack wrenched his mouth away from Daniel’s as the breath sobbed in both their throats, reaching between them to cup his hand strongly over Daniel’s straining dick.  This single touch of his hand was enough to make Daniel throw back his head and cry out, his hips bucking and heaving, moist heat saturating the fabric beneath Jack’s firmly massaging fingers.  He felt every twitch and tremor as Daniel came long and hard, shaking pitiably, letting Jack hold him up.

Jack watched Daniel’s face, flushed and wracked with the pleasure of his shattering orgasm, thinking he’d never seen Daniel more alive, more open.  He leaned in and kissed Daniel again, easing him back to himself gently, holding him close, offering all the reassurance he could, hoping like crap Daniel didn’t panic the moment he could see straight.

Daniel opened his eyes, humiliation, still-ghosting pleasure and anguished uncertainty warring for supremacy.   He bit his lip, staring at Jack’s grave face, realisation crashing in on him that Jack wasn’t even remotely turned on, and humiliation won by a mile.  Not so much the tender lovemaking he’d dreamed of as a pity-grope against the front door.  He twisted in Jack’s grip, trying to break free, failing miserably.  “Get off me,” he snarled, shoving hard.  “What the…why couldn’t you just leave me alone?”

“Because I have this problem,” Jack snapped back, tightening his grip.  “I think I love you.”

“Big of you,” Daniel flung at him.  “I love you too, now the get the fuck off me.”

“I think I’m in love with you,” Jack hollered.  The effect on Daniel was extraordinary.  He went deathly pale, then flushed violently, his eyes wide and completely defenceless, mouth opening and closing without anything but wordless snuffs of air coming out.  “I’m sorry I didn’t get with the programme, Daniel, but that’s the first time I’ve had my hand on another man’s dick and all I can say in my own defence is that it’s always taken a hell of a lot more work with a woman.”

“Oh,” Daniel managed eventually.  “I don’t…” He flushed miserably.  “I mean, I like to take my time but…too much information?” he asked anxiously as Jack winced.

“No, I just feel crappy about doing you against my front door,” Jack said wryly.  He glanced down, gave Daniel one last little stroke that made him shiver and tried out a leer.  “Bed,” he ordered crisply.  “I don’t know about you, but I’m in a mild state of shock here, so I need something to cuddle up to.  I’m coming up short on golden retrievers so you’ll have to do.  Please,” he added quietly when he saw the fear and doubt shadowing Daniel’s eyes.

Daniel nodded and pushed away from the door.  His gaze kept skittering away from Jack’s and the sudden clasp of Jack’s hand over his made his eyes sting.  This was…it would be okay.  Jack loved him, he was sure…he hoped everything would flow from that.  Being invited – well towed along – to share Jack’s bed was more than he’d ever expected, yet it was so like Jack, instinctively generous and controlling at the same time.  Daniel had no doubt if he tried to leave, Jack would follow him, if he was actually allowed to make it out the door.

Jack towed him past the bathroom door and shoved the bedroom door open, nudged Daniel toward it.  “Back in a minute,” he said briskly, darting away towards the bathroom.

Daniel pulled off his T-shirt, folding it neatly and setting it on the bed.  He was trying not to look too closely at the room.  Despite the invitation it seemed voyeuristic to be trying to analyse Jack from the way he lived in this private space.  Daniel was in a haze of dark wood, cream walls, and plants, like the rest of the house.  The only splashes of colour Daniel could take in were on the quilt, which was different shades of blue in a geometric pattern that reminded him a little of the classic Greek keys, and photographs dotted here and there.  Heavy voile panels shaded the windows but let the light filter in warmly to pool over the bed, and there were louvered shutters instead of curtains, to match the closet.

“My deep dark secret is out, huh?” Jack said lightly from the doorway, making Daniel jump.  He didn’t fight the smile that grew as Daniel turned nervously to face him, six solid feet of shy.  Jack looked again.  Built shy.  Whoa.  Daniel was hiding his light under a bushel, there.

“Secret?” Daniel murmured as Jack sauntered over and put a glass of ice water on the bedside table, a washcloth in hand.  Daniel flushed, mortified at mute evidence of his own lack of control.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t look!  Jesus, Danny!“ Jack noted with satisfaction Daniel’s bleak eyes gentled at the pet name.  He’d used the name freely until their run-in with the Gamekeeper, which was when he realised the formal ‘Daniel’ was deliberate; conscious choice or not, it kept that pet name special to the people who loved Daniel most.  Jack figured that was Daniel’s folks and him.  “The inhuman curiosity of the man,” he complained.  “First time you let me loose on your bedroom I’m peacefully exploring my way through your underwear drawer.  Talk about alien territory.  P3S-OCK.”  He was pleased to see Daniel unclench a little more and a tentative smile appearing.  “Strip search.  You strip, you search, I watch,” he drawled lasciviously.  “I only went into Special Ops to satisfy my voyeuristic compulsions.  Binoculars get me hot.”

“I won’t diss your little scope, then,” Daniel said at once, trying out another smile.

“Damn, I’m gonna have to really work at the TMI, thing, huh?” Jack said jovially, casually handing Daniel the washcloth, closing in to clasp his fingers over Daniel’s belt buckle and haul him close.  He ignored the soft gasp, kept up the smile, thinking be careful, be fucking careful, O’Neill.  Daniel was way ahead of him on this sex thing.  He didn’t think he was in love with Jack, he knew, and he wanted.  Jack was here for him, but it was anybody’s guess if he’d be there for himself, and there was no point skirmishing around the issue.  He needed to engage.  “Can I touch you?”

“Yes.” Daniel’s pulse racing sickeningly as Jack’s fingers fumbled at his belt buckle, freed it and eased down the zipper.  He felt hot and cold at once, shivering as Jack hooked his thumbs beneath the waistband of his shorts, smoothed the jeans down over his hips, pulling them down with firm, serviceable tugs until they pooled at his feet.  Daniel kicked his shoes off and stepped free of the jeans.  It was incredibly erotic; to stand here naked before Jack as Jack stared at him, eyes everywhere, assessing, and admiring.  He…he thought admiring, anyway.

Then Jack’s fingers were ghosting down over his chest and stomach as Jack took the washcloth from Daniel and swiped it over his skin, fingers firm against him now through the barrier of fabric.  Daniel reached out to hold Jack’s hips, biting his lip as the soft cloth was smoothed slowly over the skin below his navel.  His breathing quickening, Daniel leaned in and rested his head against Jack’s shoulder, unable to suppress a moan as Jack’s fingers massaged down onto his penis.  He felt Jack’s fingers jerk as he began to harden again, but the hesitation was only momentary.

“Eager beaver,” Jack snorted, but his voice was gentle.  “Is that good, Danny?  Tell me what’s good.”

That…that was good, the arm snaking around his waist to hold him close and comfort him through this glorious madness.  And this…the soft nuzzling of lips in his hair, against his ear and the side of his throat.  Most of all, there was that warm, soft-rough cloth, Jack behind it, swiping gently first over his balls, then fingers rubbing tiny, firm circles over his penis.  Daniel wanted more…he wanted to make love, wanted…“Skin,” he sighed and Jack dropped the cloth and Jesus, Jack’s hand was on him.  Holding him cupped, heavy and throbbing in the palm of Jack’s hand.

“My ego will never be the same,” Jack snorted again, voice still curiously gentle.  “Ridiculously flattered, here, kid.  I think you should see what you’re lettin’ yourself in for though.  You good for a minute?”

“Bad,” Daniel corrected, unpeeling himself reluctantly and staggering over to the bed, hesitating for a moment as details came clear and he saw at last the little nest of photographs on the bureau.  There were collages of snaps from Jack’s notorious barbecues, all of them in casual clothes, laughing, Cassie and her dog in the middle of it all.  More from Jack’s parties, a few candid stills from missions, nothing ‘alien’.  Sam smiling at Daniel in one as she fussed with the brim of his boonie…he remembered her teasing about saucy tilts and overexcited locals, Teal’c’s eyebrow quirking in another, his version of hysterical laughter.  There was Hammond with his beloved granddaughters, and several of Sam and Janet with Cassie.  Plus a few of Daniel with Jack which he must have gotten from Sam, who got snap happy when the mood was on her.  The one solo photograph was of him, looking pensive in his good meet ’n’ greet the galaxy suit.

Jack’s breath was warm on the back of his neck as his arms circled comfortably around Daniel’s waist.  Daniel felt a shock of soft, furred skin against his back, ached when he realised Jack still wasn’t aroused.  He wanted to make love so badly, had waited so long, it was more than he could take to refuse, though he knew he should.  Jack was more confused than anything else right now, and if they did this, it would be for Daniel, it wouldn’t be lovemaking.  It would be Jack, the good friend, the man who loved him enough to do anything for him, getting him off.

“It’s a kicker, isn’t it?” Jack asked wryly, rubbing Daniel’s belly, trying to soothe away the growing tension stiffening his slim frame.  “Just look at us.  Hell, look at me.  Scary, huh?  Who knew a grown man could get that sappy that fast and stay that way.  No wonder I can’t say no to you.  I didn’t know, y’know?  It was just us, the way we were together.  I enjoyed it and never questioned it.”

Daniel looked and finally saw that in every photograph Jack was looking at him, a softness in Jack’s face that wasn’t there when he looked at anyone else, not even Sam.  Not even close.  His heart thumped painfully.

“Smitten,” Jack said wryly, “Who knew?” He turned Daniel to face him and leaned in, took Daniel down to the bed beneath him, Daniel’s face clenching, moaning low in his throat as Jack’s weight settled over him.

“We shouldn’t,” Daniel insisted shakily.

“Why not?” Jack asked reasonably, figuring he’d go with what worked on a woman, scooting down to rasp his tongue over a nipple.  Daniel gasped, shuddered and arched beneath him.  “Cool!  Those still work, then,” he gloated, setting to with a will, licking and nibbling mercilessly until the tiny nubs were flushed and erect, Daniel cursing and pleading and writhing wantonly.  Daniel’s throat looked interesting, so Jack roamed up there and started licking.  Lavishing attentions on the hollow at the base got that nice shuddery thing going again, but Daniel actually whimpered when Jack’s curious mouth hit on a tiny spot where his jaw curved up towards his ear.  He should have expected that Daniel would be just as subtle in this as he was in everything else.

“Jack, Jack.”

The insistent call finally got through to Jack.  He gave one final swipe to that sweet spot and looked up questioningly into Daniel’s flushed, pleasure-sweet face.  He was doing okay, Daniel looked dazed.

“You’re holding me down,” Daniel said breathlessly. He winced when Jack snatched his hands away from his wrists and then darted back to check on him as his skin flushed livid.  Daniel stared up at Jack’s remorseful face and fought himself to do the right thing.  Jack thought this was the right thing, but he was wrong.  He was so wrong.  “I think we should stop.  You…it’s obvious you don’t want me to touch you, that you’re not…not attracted to me,” he said determinedly.  “You’re trying to keep this about me, and much as that matters me, I can’t do this.  I can’t.  It has to be about us, because right now this isn’t lovemaking; this is a friend doing the buddy-fuck thing.  A good friend,” Daniel smiled humourlessly.

“Crap!” Jack snapped, “No.  No!  Don’t write me off before you’ve even given me a chance, Daniel.  I’m right there on the feelings, I swear, my dick just needs to play a little catch-up.”

“Jack…“

“No.  You listen,” Jack ordered.  “I’m forty-five years old, the original suburban male, who just happened to wind up spending the whole of his adult life in the military.  I never thought of myself as a knee-jerk homophobe let alone you, but then sexuality hasn’t been an issue I’ve had to face until last night.  I’m doing okay, I’m willing, but I’m asking you to give me a little lead-in time, here.  Be fair, Danny.”  He scowled at Daniel’s stiff, resistant face and decided to nip the nobility thing in the bud.  “Cut me a little slack on the physical stuff.  For my sake, please.  Please,” he pleaded softly.

“Not bad,” Daniel admired, “But I have this irresistible urge to scratch your ears and give you a bone.”

“How ‘bout a boner?” Jack asked eagerly, relaxing a tad.  “I’m not freaking out, in fact I happen to be enjoying this.  It’s the longest you’ve been quiet since I’ve known you, for a start.  Let’s just take it one step at a time.  I need to find out what works, here.  Will you let me do this for you?” he asked softly.

“Can I touch you?” Daniel asked hopefully, his necessary resistance melting away from Jack’s determination.

“Whatever turns you on,” Jack shrugged, intensely aware of the throbbing velvety heat twitching hard against his belly.  He was trained to gather intelligence about potential threats, and couldn’t stop now.  He thought about the worst that could happen and just asked outright.  “Do you want to fuck me?”

“Right now?  Yes,” Daniel said at once.  “Feel how much.”  He guided Jack’s hand between them, Jack hitching over obediently, allowing Daniel to curl his hand around Daniel’s achingly hard erection.  He jerked hard as Jack’s hand closed strongly over him, hips surging into the touch.  Daniel nudged Jack’s fingers to massage the underside in gentle circles, Jack’s thumb inquisitively swirling over the head, pushing in a little, and again when Daniel whimpered, shaking violently.

Jack laughed suddenly.  “For your information, no one has ever wanted to buddy-fuck me, and for your sake, I hope it’s not because they just knew I’d suck.”

“Would you?” Daniel opened his eyes wide and batted them at Jack.

Jack straightened up, his hand not faltering in its maddening stroking of Daniel’s dick.  He was enjoying making Daniel’s hips rock achingly into his tormenting hand, was fascinated by the sleek, wanton writhing, as if Daniel couldn’t bear what Jack was doing for him, and still couldn’t get enough, the pleasure daze in Daniel’s eyes, Daniel’s slow, knowing smile.  In fact, he found all the pleasures he was giving Daniel and Daniel’s surrender to him incredibly erotic.  He’d never imagined Daniel could be so sensual.  He’d never had any problems going down on a woman, and he’d had enough blowjobs in his time to think he could work out how to suck dick.

“Fortunately for you, I’m easy,” Jack leered, letting Daniel pull away from him.  He watched and waited as Daniel heaped the pillows behind him, leaned back and spread his legs, still with that slow, knowing smile.  “You’re not shy,” he observed, surprised.

“Not with a lover, no,” Daniel agreed.  “I’ve wanted you for a long time, Jack.  I need you, and I’m greedy, I want my lover and my friend.”  He smiled at Jack, finally allowing himself to show everything he felt, let his hand slip down his body to close over his penis and stroke luxuriously.  “You have no idea how many times I’ve come with your name on my lips, and now I want to come in your mouth, Jack.  If you want me.”

Jack stared at Daniel, absolutely blown away by the trust Daniel was placing him, like it was the easiest thing in the world for the man who couldn’t be touched to just lie there completely open and touch himself for Jack, for what Jack did to him.  It could have been laughable, to see another man pleasuring himself, but it wasn’t, it was the biggest fucking turn-on Jack had ever known and scalding desire slammed fiercely through him, leaving him shaken and breathless and pounding.  He’d never gotten a boner so fast in his life.  All that innocence at the core of Daniel, all the tiny, hurting losses he’d mourned as Daniel’s gun became an extension of him, as Daniel learned to kill as well as he communicated, all the things they’d done and seen, for all that, the innocence, the gentleness was still there, still at the heart of this man he loved.  And wasn’t letting go, not ever.

“Sweet and nice is fucking beautiful,” Jack growled, driving forward to snatch Daniel up into a kiss, opening to him, sucking him into his mouth and eating him alive.   Daniel’s fingers were painfully tight in his hair and who the fuck cared when they had this; moaning, grunting, harsh jabs of tongue on tongue and clashing lips, and Daniel could gentle him so easily, with a soft touch at his neck and softer sigh into his mouth.  Jack dragged in a harsh breath and lowered his head to kiss Daniel as thoroughly as he’d ever been kissed in his life, loving the way Daniel’s thighs parted and those long, long legs eagerly hooked around his back.

Daniel was drowning in sensation, in Jack letting him in, letting him learn silky, aggressive heat and slow-burn passion, Jack kissing him like the end of the fucking world was nigh, greedy and harshly demanding, wanting it all, taking everything Daniel had to give him and more.  So much more…He spluttered with laughter as Jack growled into his mouth.

“Houston, we have lift-off!”

Daniel opened his eyes and gazed down, disbelieving, as Jack went down on him.  Cried out in ecstasy as Jack’s mouth opened and took him in without hesitation, sucking greedily.  Jack lifted abruptly, an odd look on his face, then his tongue swirled out, flickering over the now weeping head of Daniel’s penis, curiously tasting the pearly fluid.  Daniel groaned, trying to writhe away from the intense stimulation, Jack’s hands darting out to pin his hips against the pillows as he licked the head over and over, waiting for the bitter liquid to pool and drinking it down.

Jack clearly liked the licking because he settled into it as Daniel lifted his legs and wrapped them around Jack’s shoulders, reaching out blindly to grasp the headboard and clench down on it, hard.  Jack’s hands slipped beneath his legs and curved up and over his hips to hold him just so as Jack lapped at him, swiping his tongue gently over every throbbing inch until he reached the base, then he turned his attention to Daniel’s balls.  His tongue gentled even further as Daniel sobbed and writhed, legs first tightening then consciously relaxed.  Jack settled into licking over the sensitised flesh, letting his tongue rasp and lift, finding a rhythm that had Daniel howling as hot, heavy pleasure rippled through him in waves.

Jack glanced up, realised Daniel was close, the way his head was thrashing, took pity, kissed his way back down to the head and swallowed Daniel, ready for some serious suckage.  Daniel was hard and heavy in his mouth, Jack certain he could feel the blood pulsing within, hotter than he expected, hell more everything than he’d expected.  He was trying to enjoy how good Daniel looked, how good he felt, trying not to compare and contrast himself with a lover who was not only sweet with a capital scha-wing but was perfectly built and fuckably hot by anyone’s standards.  A lover who was moreover crazy about Jack, and who was completely turned on by Jack even if he didn’t measure up to the gold standard set by said lover, if the outright jerks of the dick gracing his mouth as deep as he could get it were anything to go by.  Not to mention the faint, stifled screams of somebody who fucking loved somebody and could somebody fucking finish him before he died?

Ah, well, Danny didn’t say the magic word, so dying it was.  Jack withdrew, ignoring the howl of dismay from Daniel and blew gently over the head of Daniel’s penis.  A thought occurred and he unclasped one of the arms currently holding Daniel’s bucking hips down, reaching out carefully to the table and the ice water.  He fumbled in the glass and found an ice cube.  Daniel would either kill him or come like a freight train, but Jack had to do something.  The logistics of male/male sex had completely escaped him.  It was staggeringly sexy, going down on Doctor Daniel Jackson like this, but his jaw hurt like crap.  Jack grabbed the ice, hitched up and kind of coasted the cube down Daniel’s dick to press it against the head.  Daniel screamed, literally screamed, arching up off the bed, coming in long, luxurious pulses all over Jack’s face, throat and chest, which he figured he deserved after pulling a stunt like that.

Daniel came and came in an endless, blinding orgasm, near-fainting with ecstatic shock.  “Bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard.”

“Ah, that’s my sweet boy,” he heard Jack gush as he yanked Daniel down the bed, eager hands rough as they spread his legs and Jack’s weight pinned him flat.  Daniel gasped as Jack’s engorged, urgent penis ground against his.  He gaped up at Jack’s glittering eyes and taut, needing face.  “Bastard.  Cube.”  Jack glared at him.  “You want some?  Cube!” he demanded.  The cube was in his hand a heartbeat later.  Daniel dropped it back into the glass, scowling.  He’d never felt a sensation like that in his life, wasn’t sure he ever wanted to again.  The ice against all that heat had ripped the orgasm right out of him.

“May I?” Jack asked sincerely.

Daniel just had no defence against that, Jack refusing to assume anything despite having Daniel’s semen liberally coating his chin and…and…Oh God, Jack just had just licked his lips, licked again, then swiped his chin and licked his fingers clean.  “Bastard,” Daniel murmured again, blushing when Jack’s whole face went soft on him and then Jack’s mouth was on him, his own semen slick against his tongue, and he wrapped himself around Jack, urging Jack to move, to love him.

Jack was burning up inside, past crazy, all over Daniel like a madman, only Daniel’s gentle reminder he’d promised Daniel could touch him enough to make him let go, roll over, take it.  He stared and stared at Daniel, eyes laying into him as he just sat on his haunches, mouth as gentle as the gaze slowly taking Jack in, a little a time.  Jack could see Daniel was trembling as clearly as he could see how big a deal this was to Daniel, but he was past anything but brutal, possessive need.  He was getting off on the explicit admiration and he wanted action, right now.  Then Daniel’s hands and Daniel’s mouth were on him and his mind flamed away into harsh panting, shaking and bursting dick as Daniel showed him how archaeologists touch, and it was true, patience really did burn.

Jack came back to himself with Daniel beneath him, sprawled open to him, Jack’s body driving hard against his, his wrists pinned above his head but their fingers were entwined and Daniel seemed okay with it.  Jack rocked experimentally and found he liked the sensations shivering over his dick, into him and through him, liked them just fine.  He rocked again, and there was moaning, low and wanting, from both of them, he thought.  He dropped his head and kissed Daniel tenderly, coaxing Daniel to open to him and kept it sweet, subtly caressing.  He felt Daniel’s lips curve against his and deepened, angling for a spot where he could eat Daniel’s mouth and breathe.

Jack rocked easily, enjoying the shivers of pleasure as Daniel paced him, thrusting up as Jack pushed into him.  Jack’s loving was easy, rhythmic, but not gentle, not gentle at all.  Daniel’s body jolted up the bed every time Jack thrust.  Jack got off on that, wanted to be closer, his hands snaking beneath Daniel to cup his buttocks greedily, hold him hard as Jack stroked into him, exulting in the warm, pliant welcome.  Daniel was hardening from the rough, perfect friction, but lazy about his own pleasure in a way that told Jack he was tired, this was love and closeness, wanting to give Jack pleasure.

Jack knew the pleasure he wanted, knew exactly, and wouldn’t ask more of Daniel when he was being so generous already.  He was afraid Daniel would give what he asked, afraid he wouldn’t.  He didn’t know enough about this stuff to judge, and his judgement was way off regardless.  He’d reached the age of forty-five never knowing he loved sucking dick, and was probably going to be spending a lot of his time from now on trying to get better at it in case Daniel made him stop.  The ice cube trick was never going to work twice.

Jack wanted to fuck Daniel, right now, but Daniel had wanted to fuck him just as much, and hadn’t, because he wouldn’t rush Jack.  Jack wouldn’t push Daniel into intercourse for his sake, any more than he would have pushed Sara.  Fair was fair and this…this was fine, and when he moved just here, drove Daniel into the pillows with the strength and weight of his own body, it was better than fine, it was great.  Jack pounded into Daniel again, shuddered as the pleasure sheered through him, measuring himself in that deep glide of Daniel’s body with his, then he heard a gasp, freezing him in place.  “Too much?” he asked roughly, cupping Daniel’s face for a moment.  “Hurting you?”

“No,” Daniel assured, staring up into Jack’s anxious face.  “I…I’ve just never been with a man before,” he confessed.  “I wasn’t expecting …it’s so different.  I had no idea what it was like to be with someone as strong, if not stronger than me.  I’m never rough in sex, never used my strength against a woman.” He saw Jack’s face twist.  “I know, I know you haven’t, Jack.  You wouldn’t.  It’s just obvious to me you’re getting off on using your strength against me.  You, um, you want to win.”

“You’ve never been with a man?” Jack demanded furiously.  “You’re a sneaky sonovabitch, Daniel Jackson.  You knew perfectly well I’d have put your ass in your car untouched - more or less - if you hadn’t been coming off like Homecoming King at Gay Pride.  I’m screwing a virgin for Chrissake!”

“So am I!” Daniel pointed out forcefully, batting his eyes.  He wrapped his legs around Jack’s back and dug his fingers into Jack’s shoulders.  “A thirty-five year old virgin may be sad, but a forty-five year old virgin is tragic.  Cuddling sounded nice, still does, I’m taking a definite rain check on that one, but I wanted to make love, if you wanted to make love, and there were so many reasons for you not to, I just didn’t want to cloud the issue.”

“That’s sounds selfless and almost plausible if I didn’t know you were horny enough to melt ice with your dick,” Jack marvelled.  He howled and flinched as ice water cascaded down his spine, Daniel laughing up at him, the picture of innocence.  “Oh, you are soo going to get it,” Jack snarled, pounding into Daniel, the pleasure sheering again despite Daniel’s happy sigh and a hint of ‘that all you got?’ in the too-innocent eyes sparkling up at him.  Jack dropped his head and reamed out Daniel’s mouth until Daniel was wheezing and whimpering as Jack slammed into him over and over, measuring himself now in how Daniel flung his head back on the pillow in extremis, arching his throat into Jack’s greedy, suckling mouth, not tired, not tired at all it seemed, not just hard, but bursting, like Jack.  Maybe Jack was going on instinct with most of it, but he knew how a dick worked and he reached between them as Daniel’s face flamed into the intense stillness of orgasm, Jack’s hand squeezing hard at the base of Daniel’s dick, so he climaxed without coming, sobbing as the pleasure ripped through him and went on and on without release.

“Bastard, bastard, bastard, bastard,” Daniel moaned when Jack freed him at last and he shot all over them both.  When he could see straight, he retaliated as Jack crowed his triumph, heaving up, throwing Jack off-balance as he scooted out from under and dropped down on Jack’s back.  He wriggled rapidly down, got a good handful of Jack’s butt and leaned in to lick a path down between the cheeks.  Jack went still, seemed to stop breathing as Daniel reached and probed his entrance.  He took a deep breath and thrust his tongue inside Jack, shocked at his own boldness as he pushed and Jack just flexed and he slid in as deep as he comfortably could, tonguing Jack mercilessly as Jack quivered once from head to toe, cursed him for a sneaky fuck and came, purely ballistic and howling.

Daniel kept up the torture until he was absolutely certain he’d made his point about nobody being in charge in this or indeed any other bed, and let Jack down easy.  He scooted back up, nudged Jack over onto his side, not at all surprised when Jack’s arms closed around him like a vice.  He was a little surprised to see Jack brimming over with laughter.

“Got a memo.  ‘Bout the new Air Force motto,” Jack said rapidly.

“Yes?” Daniel prompted.

“’Nothing comes close’,” Jack quoted solemnly.

“And?”

Jack leaned in and kissed him fiercely.

“Lying bastards.”

On to Page Two

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