PASSION PLAY BY BIBLIO: A CURSE AND A BLESSING PART TWO


Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17
Category: First Time.  Friendship. Humour.  Romance.
Season/Spoilers: Season 4. An episode tag for "The Light" and "Prodigy."
Synopsis: Jack and Daniel let go of the difficulties of the past and choose to move on with their deepening relationship together. [Completely revised]
Warnings: None.
Length: 237 Kb.  Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story.

 

DANIEL

"DANIEL!"

I jump violently as Jack's voice lashes out from behind me. A moment later powerful arms are hugging me forcefully back to him, literally lifting me off my feet, urgently dragging me back inside the apartment. Jack releases me so abruptly I stumble, then lunges over to slam the balcony door closed.

His hands are trembling.

"Jesus!" he snarls, turning on me. "What the hell were you doing!"

"I was just trying to understand, Jack," I reply softly. "Trying to process the feelings that took me out there in the first place." I barely remember my Light-induced suicide attempt. I don't feel I owe Jack an apology for attempting to understand all of this, to make such a defining and yet frustratingly vague experience real. If I don't learn something from it, if it doesn't take me forward as a person, then what was the point of it? I don't want to bury it, as much as Jack would like me to. I want to grow.

Jack's eyes are forbidding in a wintry face. "The withdrawal took you out there."

End of discussion? I don't think so, Jack.

"The withdrawal amplified feelings that already existed within us. It didn't create them," I chide him gently. I'm beginning to frame those feelings, to understand maybe I haven't dealt with my failures – my many failures, large and small, important or personal – and losses so well as I'd like to think.

Burying memories and feelings isn't the same as dealing with them. Isn't this what the monk on Kheb, Oma Desala, Shifu and even my own subconscious have been trying to tell me? Dreams teach, Shifu told me. My attempt at suicide is like a dream. It's no more real to me than that, but I am going to learn from it.

I am going to effect change in myself.

Jack doesn't want to hear it. Doesn't want to be reminded of an experience he'll scarcely speak to me about, even though he can hardly deny I have the right to know. In fact, he shudders away from the implications of my suicide attempt and from me as I push him to help me understand it. His eyes shift past me to the door, he takes a single step forward. "There's no - "

I stand in his path. "Stay." I make a request but the man before me seemingly hears a command. Jack freezes for a moment, then steps back. Away from me. I follow, coming close to him. Too close for Jack. Way too close for him when I lay a gentle hand on his shoulder, my skin feeling distractingly warm against his neck. "Please. I'm trying to make sense of what happened here and I need your help for that, Jack. I'm failing, because I'm thinking my way through an experience I should be feeling. I don't remember, I only know what you told me." Only the bare facts, the minimum he could get away with telling, not anything of what Jack thought I was doing or feeling or what I made him feel.

It all goes away.

Jack is forcing me to work for the meaning of all of this alone. He won't face what happened to me and he won't help me to face it myself.

It scares me that only the light touch of skin on skin is enough to hold him here with me when he wants to go. Jack is lost right now, as lost as I am, and he's denying it with every fibre of his being. He's desperate for the feelings which led me onto the balcony to have been solely due to the withdrawal so he can avoid dealing with his own. He's so filled with anger and concern for me it hurts me to see it. I want to help him too. We're friends. What we're feeling, what we're trying to understand, we should be sharing. We should be in this together.

"You're wearing exactly what you were wearing the last time," Jack capitulates wearily.

I didn't know. No wonder he overreacted. "I'm sorry, Jack. That wasn't an intentional choice. I really don't remember," I apologise remorsefully. I wear these clothes a lot at home. They're comfortable; there's nothing more to it than that.

"I need a drink," he growls.

"Coffee or tea, juice or milk?"

"Single malt or beer," Jack contradicts.

I sigh. None of those will help him at all. They're just more forms of avoidance. "Wine?" I've got a little Chardonnay left, not enough to get either of us drunk.

Jack prowls along behind me towards the kitchen. I feel the weight of his concentrated regard playing across my back, just as I've felt it the whole three weeks we were stranded in the haunted Goa'uld palace on P4X-347. Just as I've watched him. I've seen the anger roiling in him, stronger than any Light-induced 'high', the depths of his concern for me, an intensity of thought and feeling he couldn't disguise.

And I've seen other things. Finally opened my eyes to reality. It took neither of us being able to get away from the other, no matter how much we may have wanted to, for me to finally begin to question that strange edge to our friendship these past months. We've both had to work at what was always at its core easy and natural for us. No matter how much we might argue and disagree, the foundation of our friendship has always been solid. And then from what felt like nowhere to me, we were both having to work at it. We didn't have the luxury any longer of simply accepting we were friends despite all the odds against it; we had to work to maintain our friendship despite those odds. We didn't always succeed too well.

Now I can see it. Jack wants. Jack desires. His need is eating him alive because he won't, or perhaps he can't, face feeling this way for me.

I've had to face it for us both. I was no more ready to accept Jack desired me than apparently Jack is to feel that desire. Our addiction to the Light has forced to the surface emotions I at least wasn't consciously aware of, and now we're both bitterly aware, Jack is refusing to even acknowledge he has feelings for me, let alone act on them.

Three interminable weeks, trapped in what amounted to a prison. Luxuriously appointed, filled with treasures from the past, but still, to all intents and purposes, a prison. Weeks filled with work and purpose, and the careful mending of fences with Sam. Careful because we neither of us acknowledged they had ever been broken. Our team began to reconnect. Yet they were also weeks filled with Jack, trying to avoid me, failing, returning to my side again and again. Watching over me. Watching me. Wanting me. Not trusting himself or me enough to open up about it.

I had too much time to think there, too much quietude; too much of Jack, his unique, compelling presence flowing over me, filling me in ways I wasn't prepared for. There have been so few occasions this past year when our friendship has been as strong, as uncomplicated as it can be between us. That time in Chicago lingers, warm and clear in my memory. A time when Jack had made a consistent, conscious effort to make things right between us, culminating in that insight, that inclusion in his private life, making me a part of his family, in however small a way. Everything was right between us, then. We've stayed close but there's always this hint of effort from Jack, this – consciousness – of his I could never quite fathom.

I'm sorry for it now. I want to help Jack as much as I want to help myself. I wish I'd seen the trouble he was in sooner than I did. I'd give anything to have made it easier for him to accept what he was starting to want from me. If I hadn't been so oblivious then, maybe it wouldn't be so hard for us to be honest with each other now.

Jack can't read my mind. How is he supposed to know whether I'm dumb and blind or seeing him just fine and wishing he'd get over himself already? I haven't given him anything.

The events provoked by my withdrawal from addiction proved how hard I've made things for both of us, how difficult I've made our friendship. The withdrawal from the unnatural high of Light broke down my defences and overturned all my comfortable assumptions. I didn't just begin to see Jack's feelings had changed and deepened, I began to question my own.

I'm not good at this. Love – it's one of those things that 'go away' for me. I struggle to hold on to the people who care for me. My friendship with Jack is the strongest, the most enduring relationship of my life. I couldn't bear to lose Jack but when I think of having more than friendship, of being allowed to express my affection for him openly – I want to be able to love him. I want Jack to want me. To need me. I want Jack to love me. I think he does. I hope he does, but I don't feel it. I don't know it. I'm not sure of anything. Intellect has brought me to this point, but feeling must take me to Jack.

I understand what holds him locked in this stasis, unable to deny his feelings yet equally unable to own to or act on them. He was a husband and a father. Though Jack isn't an overtly prejudiced man, is in fact a man I believe could see beyond gender to become my lover, I can understand how hard it would be for him to relinquish hopes of ever again becoming a husband and father. I've lost my wife too, and I know how hard it was for me to accept her loss, to know I would never marry again.

Jack is also a principled man, with a strong sense of duty, who embraces responsibility, whose instinct first and foremost is to protect. I know he belongs in the uniform he wears and I do understand the commitment he's made to the Air Force. I know he feels himself to be responsible for me. I don't think he would ever act on his feelings, for fear he was breaking faith with me not just as his friend, but as a member of the team he leads.

So I think I must act on my feelings. I must trust Jack to be honest, once he sees that he can be, that it's safe for him to love me and more than that, it's welcomed.

It's not an easy decision. I've never seduced another person, never kissed a man, never been held intimately by any man except Jack. Only Jack has ever had the temerity to barge through my defences as if they don't exist, to hold me close to him, touch me with all his insouciant, confident charm. Over time, I've grown accustomed. I've grown to welcome his touch, even to look for it. His warmth, the strength and reality of his friendship have always felt safe to me. I've always turned willingly to him.

The very thought of Jack's hands upon me now fills me with fierce longing and intense desire tinged by dread. Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear for Jack, that he won't be able to live with a choice I'm making for him. One of us has to do something. We can't go on as we are, not able to go back to the simpler friendship we had, but not willing to take the risk of opening up to each other and deepening it either.

Jack can't do this so I think I have to. I know the risks and hard as all of this is, I know Jack is worth it to me. He'll either love me with all his heart and soul, or never forgive me. We'll have it all, or I guess we'll have nothing. I only know I can't bear to lose what may be my only chance to be with him because I was too scared to try to change us or reach for something more than we have.

He's leaning against the bench beside me, this man I've fallen in love with, filling every inch of this space with his presence; filling me.

"Daniel?" Jack's soft voice, softer touch, feather light on my cold fingers as he patiently takes the bottle and glass from me; pours us a little wine. "Hell, I curl up and die when I have to get in touch with my feelings." His tone is light, self-deprecating. "I'm not exactly nature's choice for sympathetic listener, here."

"Were you afraid when you found out me there?" I ask him quietly. I'm afraid. I'm more afraid than I've been since Sha'uri was taken from me, afraid to take this leap of faith. Afraid I'll lose him forever. Afraid he'll love me back and I won't be able to hide from him what I've hidden so well from others. I do worry that I'm a small person, disconnected from the people around me and having to work insanely hard to maintain the few real relationships I have. I'm a loner and as cliché as that may sound, it's real to me. I do best alone. As friend and lover, Jack, being Jack, will not rest until he's reached the very heart of me. Until he knows all of me. I hope he won't be the less for knowing. I hope that my reaching out to him now, making this stand for us, will count for something.

Jack steadily pours the second glass of wine. He precisely places the bottle on the counter and takes a measured sip from his glass. He pulls a face. "Dry."

Philistine.

"Jack?" I prompt, when he refuses to break the drawn-out, tautening silence.

"Afraid?" Jack echoes. "You want to know? You really want to know?"

I nod, swallow convulsively, pilloried by suddenly harsh eyes and his harsher tone. It's hard on Jack, so very hard, but I can't, I cannot throw myself at him without the faintest sign he won't just let me fall.

"I choked," he snarls. "Big, macho, tough-guy hero choked. All that training, experience - nothing. You needed me and I had nothing for you. I was making it worse, making it harder on you. You saved yourself, Daniel. I couldn't pull you back from the edge. You came back to me. I could only move when it was all over."

I flinch back from his savage self-condemnation, horrified he could put himself down like this. If I know anything, it's that Jack has the power to reach me. He's had me since we met. How can he not know this?

"There was nothing I could do. I had to talk and I had nothing I could say to you, no way I could think to reach you. You tell me if I was afraid." Jack tosses back his wine, slams the glass down; he's flushed, furious.

With himself? With me?

"You're still afraid," I recognise, boldly closing the gap between us even though my heart is in my throat. Jack leans back with studied casualness against the counter, as if my movement and his aren't in any way connected.

"Don't," Jack warns me, low-voiced and cool. "Don't start with me."

"I didn't come back on my own," I say gently, inexorably, urging him to see the truth with me. "You know what brought me back."

"Don't!"

"You."

His hands shoot out, clench painfully into my shoulders as he holds me away from him. Holds and then can't let go. Jack's livid face pales when I curl my hands around his forearms, slowly slide up to cover his hands, exulting in the feel of taut muscle trembling beneath my palms, the breadth of bone, the warmth of his skin.

Such a simple act, but already I'm flushing. He's so beautiful, so heedless. A pang of desire slams through me, fierce, exultant. I want him. God, how I want him. No abstract thought or imagining, this. Real and true and devastating. I'm feeling this. Knowing this.

I can't be the only one burning for connection. I can't.

I wrench forward, break Jack's grip long enough to reach him. Ignore the sickening thud of my heart, my terror. I see him, only him. Feel him. The arch of his jaw beneath my clutching fingers, thin lips firm and unyielding beneath mine for the few seconds it takes him to adjust, defend, push me away. Shut me out.

"What the hell!" Jack howls in astonished anger.

I'm as pale as he, shocked as he. Thwarted as he. If I were any other man - Jack has never knowingly raised his hand to me and he can't do it now as much as he might want to.

Am I wrong? I can't be wrong. I was blind before, but not now. Not now.

Jack's anger melts to kindness. Pity.

A rough hand cups my head. Shakes me.

"You're confused, is all. Don't sweat it, Daniel."

Kind voice. Kind face. He's fast. Damnably quick to find his balance, attack. Quickest of all when he's attacking from a position of weakness. I'm not wrong. I'm not. Jack's eyes aren't kind. Jack's eyes are dying.

Going to be so much harder this time. Kissing him again. He'll break me or take me. No choice, the way I'm planning to kiss him. God, I hope I can do it. I hope I'm strong enough.

I permit him to lead me to my couch, permit him to treat me like a hurt, confused child. I stand, passive, until Jack realises I'm not going to sit without intervention.

Is this an ambush I'm planning? A feint? I don't know the terminology. I'm only hiding in plain sight.

"You're in shock. I'm calling Doc Fraiser," he decides.

He's not 'choking' on me now. He's dealing. Stuffing me back into my allotted place in his life while he takes refuge in being the colonel, the guy-in-charge. Hiding behind the security of giving and taking orders and knowing his place and yours in precise relation to everyone else. That comfortable discipline and regimented certainty are Jack's comfort zone.

Coming closer. Hands gentle on my shoulders this time. Urging me down.

No.

My fingers tangle in his hair this time, pulling him to me, pulling him down as I tumble, off-balance, sprawling beneath his weight. Not fast enough, O'Neill. Not this time. I hold him with arms and legs and vehement lips. No room for the colonel here. Give me Jack. I want Jack. I love him. Fight to the death for him. Fighting now. Kissing him.

I writhe beneath Jack, groaning, shuddering from the betraying fury of his arousal, hard against me, driving against me, beyond the 'colonel's' control. Beyond mine. I raise my head and steal his lips as his heat and weight and strength overwhelm me. He's fighting the kiss even as his hips grind down, rock, thrust. A harsh, staccato coupling, this. Wild, resistant, clumsy. Jack is all wanton, focused demand. It's all about his body, mine. His arms hook around my shoulders, hold me still as the power of his thrusts jolts through me. He shudders, grunting with effort as we strain furiously into each other. Both of us sweat-soaked, passion-flushed, exhausted, trembling.

Out of our minds.

I feel utter frustration when I come, far too soon. I can't find the connection. I can't reach him.

Jack goes absolutely still above me, poised on the brink. "I love you." He tears the kiss from me, tongue plunging ferociously into my mouth. Wrenches free. "God. Love you." He grimaces, teeth clenching. "Daniel," he grinds out desperately, hips spasming violently against me as he comes, finally, in deadly silence, and collapses over me, burying his face in my neck.

"Sorry. I'm so sorry." I hold him close to me, soothing him as much as shaking hands and ghosting after-shocks of pleasure permit. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Jack." I wrap myself around him even more tightly, nuzzling my face into his hair. "I love you, Jack. I love you."

"Shit. Shit. Shit! Daniel."

"Sorry."

"No." Jack lifts his head suddenly and finally looks at me. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I was the one doing all the pushing." I knew the risks and accepted them and I was right to do it if it means he can be this honest. He loves me, he can't take that back. I won't let him shut down on me again.

"What made you do it?" Jack asks softly as he rolls us onto our sides and cradles me close, one long denim-clad leg draping heavily over mine. The air lies heavy with the musk of arousal and drying semen. "Talk about coming out of left field," he puns clumsily.

"I wanted to make it easy for you." My voice is trembling just a little. Reaction I guess. "I thought if you knew, that it was okay, I felt the same?" What just happened between us was a lot of things, but easy is not among them.

"The shit-hot animalistic sex kind of swallowed the words whole, Daniel." Jack is wry, but he's holding me a little tighter, a little closer. "You had no idea what you do to me. Now you do. Possibly," his beautiful mouth twists, "no, definitely the best sex I've ever had. Home run. Touchdown. He shoots, he scores. Not what you were shooting for, huh? I'm guessing something warm and civilised, where I wasn't coming in my pants before I admitted what a selfish, confused bastard I am for falling in love with you. Am I in the right neighbourhood, here?"

"You need to fire your realtor," I snap, letting my irritation show. A lot of this semen is mine. "I'm pissed because I didn't get more."

Jack snorts stunned laughter, a lot of his defensiveness deserting him. There's a limit to how stupid he'll knowingly and willingly be.

"I never had another man touch me. Only you. I didn't come into this with expectations, but if I'm frustrated now, it's only because I want more from you. I want you to open up to me." I've never gotten intimate without an honest attempt at permanence. Never really been carried away by shit-hot animalistic anything.

"So tell me, Daniel," Jack invites me. "Have you ever even been attracted to a man, and if the answer is still only me, how long exactly has this been going on?"

I know where he's going with this. Oh, I know. My skin is so hot, flavoured and scented with Jack. I'm cold inside. Determined. "Since P4X-347," I snap, not about to let him get away with this.

"Since you got high and then went cold turkey. Died. Went back to the planet and got high again. So-oo?" Jack drawls, his meaning very clear to me. "Maybe you haven't gone through the full twelve step programme."

"You bastard." I pull away, fall off the couch and on my ass, shaking too much to get up, stay put, glaring up at him. "Get out of here. Go home. If that's all the value you place on yourself - it - it doesn't matter what you think of me." I take a deep, steadying breath. "God, I should be used to it by now. The constant battle to get you to extend to me any of the faith you automatically put in them." Sam and Teal'c, I mean. "You don't love me. You can't. You don't have any respect for me."

"Of course I do. Don't be -"

"Tell me one time you ever took me on faith, Jack. Just one."

Jack shoots me an irritated 'indulge the kid until he's making sense' look. "Kheb."

"You dropped your weapon like a hot brick," I agree softly. Jack starts to relax. "Right after Master Bra'tac said you should. I'll see you Kheb and raise you the quantum mirror."

Jack does not like what he sees in his immediate future. Me.

"Riddle me this, Jack. Just how, exactly, did I get a wound in my shoulder, stuck in the middle of an abandoned complex where the Stargate was the only way in or out? Miss Scarlet with the staff weapon in the locked room?"

He's absolutely fucking furious now but I'm just getting warmed up here. He is not pulling this on me. I won't allow it! 'It's not that we don't believe you, Daniel. It's just that we don't believe you.' 'On a good day, you can be a little flaky.' 'Shut up, Daniel. Too subtle for you?' He's said all of this to me and more. How many times have I been right? How many times has he? "I can't believe you have the gall to hide behind this crap!"

I do make it to my feet this time. "Just go, Jack. Leave." I point at my front door. "There's no point in you staying right now. Not if it's easier for you try to believe the withdrawal triggered this, that it's something inconsequential I'm going to get over real soon, than for you to accept we could fall in love." I'm really, really going to need some time to figure out how to fight back on this one. Stalking him sexually on a daily basis for months and months is not my first choice for convincing him my feelings are not conveniently going to go away.

"Daniel, I..."

"Did you stop to think how your denial would make me feel?" I rally a bit. "Because it only works if we both believe you!"

"Dan..."

"This is how it reads to me, Jack. I'm not enough for you. Not worth a leap of faith, not worth the commitment. Not even because I'm a man, right? Just because I'm me."

I march over to my bathroom door. I'm exceedingly angry at having to have this deeply humiliating argument when I'm standing here with a damp spot at my crotch because neither of us could wait long enough to undress before we had sex. His come and mine. Why can't that be all the answer he needs to his feelings and mine?

"I see you clearly, Jack. I wish you could see me."

"Daniel."

I was prepared to accept he didn't love me and I thought he was worth taking the risk regardless. To find out he does love me and he's too afraid to admit it, even now, after what we just did together on the couch, it's too much for me. I could smack him one! I desperately need some time to regroup before I go after his cowardly ass again.

"Daniel!"

I stalk into my bathroom and start the shower, running the water as hot as I'll be able to stand it.

"Daniel! For God's sake!"

I hear Jack storming around the apartment, venting his temper on anything stupid enough to get in his way. It occurs to me he can't leave in his current condition. He might be the most infuriatingly obtuse and stubborn man who ever lived, but that's no excuse for poor hospitality. I'm not mean enough to send him home soaked with semen. He'll need some fresh clothes and the shower before he can go, which frankly can't be soon enough for me.

Gratefully, I peel off my sticky clothes and toss them in the hamper. The bathroom is blessedly warm and I sit shivering with reaction on the toilet for a while, listening to Jack apparently destroying my wilfully uncooperative kitchen, possibly in lieu of myself.

I can smell him on my skin. A spicy tang that torments, whispers of what's going to be denied me for months, unless he starts acting like a mature, responsible adult.

Ha!

Defeat is not in my vocabulary. Death hasn't slowed me down and I'm not about to let Jack get away with it either. I am not going to get upset here. I am going to stay good and angry instead. If I end up in a sodden heap of humiliated misery, it won't be anywhere near him.

Determinedly, I wrap myself in my towel and stalk back out into my dining room, ready to be mad again the moment I've discharged my duties as host, offering him whatever clothes he likes to get him home. If Jack showers first, I can get him out of here quicker.

I freeze in my tracks. Jack is slugging back his birthday present, right out of the extremely expensive bottle. $180 worth of expensive, to be exact. He has the Middleton's Very Rare in one hand and my phone in the other, tersely ordering a cab. It's Irish malt. It was specially imported for me. For him. Supposed to be special. A gift to him and one he's just helped himself to, without asking, without even seeing what he's taking. It's there, so he's having it. Unlike me. Is he trying to piss me off?

"Jack!" I snap.

"I need something to wear," he snaps back, "then I'm outta here."

He hasn't deigned to make eye contact. Why? Too mortified to look his best friend in the eye because he just did me, resoundingly, right there on the couch, didn't even get naked for it?

"Take this!" I holler, making him jump. I yank off my towel and hold it out on one hooked finger. Jack freezes, gaping at me standing defiantly naked in front of him.

Look all you want, buster. You don't get to touch.

Jack looks absolutely terrified. His mouth is opening and closing but no sound is coming out. I've never seen him so utterly at a loss. Curling my lip, and justifiably proud of the fact I haven't bolted or – or anything – I drop the towel to the floor.

Jack's jaw drops with it and then he drops the phone. He stares at me. Blatantly.

Oh, my.

I'm conscious of a growing heat in my face. Throat. Chest. Blushing. Defiantly naked and blushing. I attempt to ameliorate the effect by tilting my chin and since I don't know what to do with my hands, I clamp them on my hips to stop him seeing the tremors. Being scared is getting old. I hope my paralysed immobility is coming off as confident haughtiness, rather than the fact my legs no longer appear to be functional.

Jack is still staring. Darkening, glazed eyes tracking over every single part of me, up and down and – God – he's – he's...Oh. Oh, boy. We have a resurgence of interest there. Quite definite. Emphatic, even.

"I'm a selfish, insecure asshole, and it isn't you, it's me. I'm sorry. Come here," Jack singsongs in a rapid monotone that shades towards outright command. He's as flushed as I am; eyes glittering, fervent.

"No," I say firmly, quelling a few treacherous twitches of interest from a part of me that's already seen more action in the last twenty minutes than in the past year. No way, no how am I going down with a whimper just because he's gone all apex predator on me.

"Coming there, then," Jack growls throatily. "Now."

My highly trained Special Forces colonel treads heavily on the fallen phone, stumbles and almost falls on his face at my feet. It might help if his gaze wasn't riveted to my – um – he's taking off his shirt. Tearing it off. Fumbling at his belt.

Oh, God. All I did was kiss him and look what happened the last time. Oh! Now he's naked. No. Not naked. I see socks. He's hopping madly in socks. Tugging. Now, he's naked now. God, he's fast. Gotta go! "Shower," I yelp and bolt with more speed than dignity. I get possibly three steps before his arms wrap around me, lift me up and he gets off on half-carrying me into my bathroom. I feel like a bug spattered on a windshield.

My bathroom is deliciously hot and steamy now but not as hot or steamy as Jack as he manhandles me, breathless, indignant and sadly quite excited, into the shower and pins me up against the wall. A lot of the pinning seems to be happening at hip height, and we both get a lot more excited.

"Now, where were we?" Jack growls, eyeing me up and down in frank astonishment. Wonder even. Coveting. Starving. "You were forgiving me."

"For being a selfish, insecure asshole? No. I was yelling at you because you're still being a selfish, insecure asshole." My voice is much steadier than my knees, unfortunately. In fact, I may be going down any second, only not the way Jack's hoping for.

"I love you and I want to kiss you," Jack blithely ignores my negativity. Taking my hands, he lifts first one palm and then the other to his lips, planting a hungry kiss on each that makes me quake inside.

"No."

"Christ, look at you. Look," Jack's voice is strangled. "Water – God." He presses closer; warm, slick, glistening as the water cascades down on us. "C'mon, Daniel. Let me off the hook here."

He's so aroused I don't think he could actually come up with a more comprehensive apology if I waved a gun at him. Certainly not one that involved the word or indeed the concept of 'sorry'. Most of the blood firming up his interest against my abdomen seems to have come from the language centre of his brain.

I don't need the gun. He's gone. He's mine. His eyes are eating me all up and his lips want their fair share. Along with the entire length of firm, unmistakably masculine body moulded forcefully, compulsively against mine.

"Not going to let you off with anything." This is not a good time for me to get nervous. Really. "Mmm." Nice shoulder. Niiice arms. Nuzzling too. Spoiling me. Seems mean not to – "Not giving in either," I sigh into his nice, welcoming shoulder as I slip my arms around his nicer broad back. No suggestion of clinging on my part.

"Absolutely not," Jack whispers into my hair. His hands are clutching. Firm. Insistent. Possessive. 'Mine' Jack's hands whisper on my skin.

"Going to make you pay."

"Stick it to me," Jack encourages.

"Suffer."

"Lying naked next to you all night would be intense suffering. Torture even," Jack murmurs suggestively.

"You're going home. Just because my hand is on your – "

"Butt," Jack supplies graciously.

"- doesn't mean you can get cocky."

Jack snorts at this but heroically refrains from comment. "I'm not going home." His voice is a little choked and unsteady. "No way am I leaving you like this."

"I'm fine. My butt is fine too, so just leave it alone."

"What's this?" Jack is exploring, since his hands need constant occupation. "Shampoo? Smells nice. Smells of you. Herbs. Mmm. Nice. Heads up," he whispers, honeyed huskiness sending an uncontrollable shiver down my spine as gentle fingers massage into my scalp.

Jack is washing my hair. Enjoying himself. Me too. Oh, me too.

"Quit your worryin'," he mutters distractedly. "It's just a cunning ploy to get my hands on your loofah."

I surprise us both by laughing. Jack drops a light, approving kiss on my brow then busies himself rinsing me off. I emerge sputtering indignantly, all acid comments about apparent versus actual ages of each of us respectively dying on my lips as Jack slowly, sensuously begins washing me. With his hands. It's tender, caring and unbearably erotic. I – I lose myself in it, acquiescent, boneless beneath his hands; just letting him take care of me.

Caring. Warmth. Enveloping, intimate. Stealing through my defences. Stroking. Heating. Rocking. Wanting.

"Kiss me." Now it's Jack who's asking.

"Isn't this how we got in trouble in the first place?"

"What does it take to make you monosyllabic?"

"Tell me you love me."

"I do."

"You won't pull any more stupid stunts like this or tell any more ridiculous lies to either of us."

"I won't."

"You think we're worth the effort."

"We are."

"You're not just telling me what I want to hear so you get sex."

"Would I?"

"You know you damned well would." Smiling, I kiss him anyway.

This time, I find what I've been looking for. The sense that Jack is here, he's with me when I'm reaching for him. Hands on each other, we take our time, touching to communicate feeling as much as sensation. The water slips down, forcing us to slow and deepen our movements, to exaggerate every lingering touch. We found our bodies moving not against but with one another, rocking, rubbing. We slow again, wanting to take the time, to make the moment last. We want to be close as much as we want to come.

Such small things in and of themselves, but they mean the difference between sex and making love.



JACK

How long has Daniel been gone now? A week? All eternity?

These frigging light-bee burns itch and of course I can't touch them and I've got nothing to do but sit here feeling sorry for myself and think about him. I miss him so damn much I'm ashamed of myself. I've been in such a blue funk of Daniel-deprived depression, I've done everything but bawl like a little kid.

I mean, I can't believe Daniel upped and left me, not after everything that's happened!

We've happened. Him and me. Together. All over. I mean, even couches are significant in my life at the moment. A lot happens on couches, including this one. Daniel and me. We happen on couches. At his place and mine. In showers. In bed. On tables, indoors and out, in kitchens and under a piano. We happen everywhere. All the time. All of this rolling around necking like crazed kids and energetically mutual groping with him, I've never had so much fun in my life.

How could the selfish little shit leave me to go off on some dig? Doesn't fondling my ass whenever he feels like it have some meaning to him? His value system is so screwed. His definition of fun, too. He should be able to tell my ass from a hole in the ground, right?

Stuck here at home, my Daniel-less options are severely limited. Brooding. Thinking. Missing him. Worrying about him gating off through the big bad blue without me. Just me and my big empty house and my big empty bed, even this stupid, empty couch.

Pity, party of one!

I should be at work. That would be something. Medical leave, my sorry ass. Doc Fraiser couldn't wait to get me off the Mountain. She had a lot to say about my attitude.

What attitude?

I hate this couch. All I get to do is sit on it and miss Daniel. Miss him, think about him. Think about us. Why in hell there is an 'us'.

Daniel is stronger than me. I think I've known that forever, and resented the hell out of him for it, from time to time, about as long. Strange this gentle bookworm has had a harder life than a Special Forces colonel. Stranger still all the things about him that madden and delight me, the fearless explorer side of him, those all outweigh the fact he's a 'he'.

How exactly did a Special Forces colonel fall in love with a bookworm? Passionately, incoherently, desperately, totally gone on him, in love?

Why the fuck did Dammit Janet send me home? I've got minor scarring on my face. I can work. I want to work. I don't want to sit here pining for Daniel and thinking, asking myself all these dumb-ass questions I don't want to know the answers to.

What the hell did Fraiser mean, anyway? Venting? Venting what? On who?

So, okay, maybe a little venting. Daniel did go off and leave me all alone. I didn't vent enough to deserve being stuck at home all alone, thinking. Not enough to be told that while my face might not be bothering me, it was bothering everyone else on base.

Okay, okay. I admit it. Maybe there was a lot of venting. Even Teal'c, the big guy, turned on his heel and hauled ass the hell away from me, a first for us both. So I miss Daniel? It's not as if I'd sacrifice the entire human race to get him back home with me a second sooner or anything. Not even close. Not even when home is the size, shape, colour and texture of Daniel Jackson.

Screw thinking! Thinking's for dummies. Gimme my Daniel. He'll cure what ails me. Stop with the thinking, start with the fantasising. That'll work. Forget being in love is more than making love. Forget it takes work. Forget I told Daniel not to go easy on me. Just focus on how he tastes, how he sweats, the way he bites his lip and stiffens up to stop coming too soon when my hand is...

Christ, all that sex, my brain puddling out of my ears and Daniel is still talking.

Daniel said he would always give me the respect of honesty, so I guess I've got to suck it up and give it right back. There's only room in this relationship for two adults. I can be lover, friend, even leader. Daniel is fine with all of that. What he doesn't need is a big brother or a substitute dad. Those are unequivocally not needed, not wanted. Daniel requires from me the right to fuck up too, without me taking the blame from him. That, he says, is not respect.

Soft voice. Hard words. Point very well taken.

Control. That's the heart of the matter. The crux. I'm stuck in parent mode, seem to want to keep Daniel stuck in child mode. Keep him safe. Protected. I protested. USAF colonel, here. Got away with that cop-out for about two seconds. Stuff he let me get away with before we got in bed together and started sharing all this feeling, he won't let me get away with now.

What made Daniel so fearless, so open? How can he make himself so vulnerable emotionally? Maybe – maybe that's why he's stronger than me. I'm not strong enough to cry. I rage against the machine. Storm and vent, and if that fails, I cut and run.

I can't run when Daniel pins me down and tells me it is not only my instinct, but my choice, my need to keep him the child to my parent. The 'colonel' is a get–outta-jail-free card Daniel tells me I wave whenever it gets too hot for 'Jack'. He doesn't believe I've entirely let go of the old us, or the old him, the one who always turned to me first.

I'm the original completely unreconstructed, unapologetic, Alpha Male. Of course Daniel kicked my ass for that. He's an Alpha too, when he feels like it. He also licked my ear, which took some of the sting out of having to admit that maybe – just maybe – I'm a little freaked out about being in love with a man, let's not even start on that man being Daniel, and truly fucked over just how much I love him.

Daniel is an adult. He can multi-task. He can handle being simultaneously teammate, friend, confidante and significant other, all without breaking a sweat or losing track of the point he's making.

I'm the one who's having the trouble adjusting. Hanging on to the old roles, the old us. The old, I guess I have to face up to this one, the old me. I'm making love with the guy I love and I'm still sublimating my feelings. I've got it. Daniel doesn't have to beat me over the head with a Freudian impulse. Or a textbook on Ancient Phoenician Symbology. Reverse phrenology, I was told. Daniel-speak for beating some sense into me.

My lips curve into a smile, just as they did then. A week ago that feels like forever. I kind of like the idea my hands have always known the warm, welcoming shape and texture of Daniel Jackson are what I want and need and get to have again. Maybe 'thinking' leave isn't so bad if what I get to think about is Daniel. Daniel and his wish-list. He's expecting to find the new, improved, reconstructed adult me when he gets back from his little jaunt with SG-5, and if he doesn't find what he's hoping – expecting – to see, I will have hell to pay. Short of sticking his tongue out at me, Daniel couldn't have been more emphatic on that.

Daniel attempting to be stern and commanding is a delicious turn on, mostly because he's so goddamn adorable I could eat him with a spoon. Daniel could never be me. He could never be Air Force. Impossible. Not with those eyes, that hair, the skin. The generous mouth. Pouting. Begging to be kissed. You can't have a guy who's Air Force going around with lushly curved lips that beg to be kissed. The squadron would be dazed and drooling, dropping their weapons and tripping over their own feet. Myself, I'm thinking of a combo of dropping to my knees and abject yet sincere pleading to regain lip-lock privileges.

I don't think Daniel would be happy to learn my thinking about his wish-list, my growing the hell up and learning to let go, has been mostly post-coital. Me, my hand and the Daniel of my dreams. I'm a bad, bad man who's been all alone. I've been trying to take the edge off, I don't want to be crawling all over him like a horny teen the second he bounces in through my door. As much fun as all of the rolling around is for us, he wants to make love; slow, serene and sure. He hasn't seen himself naked, not the way I've seen him. He doesn't know how beautiful he is or what it does to me to see him standing there in all his glory. Like a Greek god from one of his books. Stunning. Not soft, not soft at all. Tall, slender strength and sleek, smooth skin.

I'm doing my damndest not to think of endless legs and a beautiful, character-filled face and ivory skin, not to think of what I could do to him, with him, over him, deep inside him. Trying desperately to think of what I can do for him.

It's hard and getting harder. No pun. Daniel leaves and look where it gets me. Jacking-off leave and more colour co-ordinated new sheets than I should decently know what to do with.

There's a key! I hear a key turning in my lock. I've got company, Daniel-shaped company. I have to be cool. I have to be adult. I don't get to maul him. I wait. I wait right here and be cool. Prove I've learned something. I sit and I wait. I sit. Sit!

"Jack! Let go!"

"Not a chance," I growl, hugging him so hard he squeaks, scoop him up energetically, his feet dangling a good foot off the floor. For a moment he's laughing down into my face, eyes sparking blue fire; warm, alive, here.

Being an adult is about choices, decisions. Consequences. The 'colonel' manages it just fine in the field, but 'Jack' sometimes needs a kick in the butt. Or simply legs wrapping around me, feet caressing my calves. Daniel's face raising to mine, his lips tenderly pressing to each spot marred by a burn. Trailing fire up my left cheekbone, to my temple. My blood boils and slams down.

"I missed you." This is honest. I can say this. I feel a little embarrassed but that's not so bad when I can make him light up with pure happiness.

"I missed you too, Jack."

Daniel has so much, he's all that, and he's the one who can't quit staring. How'd I get this lucky and this fucked? When will he take a good hard look and see who he's really saddled himself with? A guy playacting at being mature and giving. I want, I want, I want. Self-centred even if not always actively selfish.

"You want some coffee?" I offer. "Food? Did you eat?"

"I grabbed a burger at the drive-thru." Daniel feels silly he couldn't wait to see me.

"You want dessert?" That would be nice. We could sit all tangled up on the couch, get used to being with each other again. He can talk, I'll listen. "I've got ice cream if you want it. Espresso Almond Fudge from the Chocolate Shoppe, not exactly easy to get hold of down here. You've got to eat that kind of ice cream with company. If it costs more than your house, it's one tub, two spoons minimum. Anything else is anti-social."

Daniel smiles and lets me take him by the hand and lead him to the kitchen. If I've worked out one thing this week, it's that I shouldn't let us being two guys stop me from trying this stuff. If Daniel doesn't like it, he'll let me know. If he doesn't, or I don't, we try something else. Liking this particular thing just fine, Daniel entwines his fingers with mine.

I'm envious. He's not working at this stuff. He is this stuff. It's his instinct, his choice and his need, to do for others all the wonderful things they so rarely do for him. He has so much beauty, inside and out, which has its price, takes its toll. It makes him vulnerable. It makes me try to stand between him and the people who hurt him. However much I may bitch about it, I love him playing with pots and books and holy places. They keep him safe, keep him from having to play with people.

One arm on the open door for balance, Daniel roots through my freezer, every finely honed cultural instinct alert to pick up clues on just what he's dealing with in my abandoned, wounded psyche. I felt sorry for myself, jacked-off, pigged out. Nothing to hide behind. Nothing in the world but Daniel's behind.

"Can you not do that!" I yelp.

"What?" Daniel asks vaguely, delving into the next shelf down and doing it even more.

"Writhing. Waving that around," I say wildly.

I hear a hastily suppressed snort of laughter freezer-wards. "This?" Daniel wriggles his ass just a little more.

"Uugh."

"Why don't you sit down, Jack. I'll bring out the ice cream. You can tell me all about your mission to M4C-862."

Colour me bat outta hell. I tumble onto my couch and cover my indignity with a cushion.

"Geeks from hell. Made me realise all over again what a sweet deal you are for SG-1. If I never thanked you before for having a clue, I'm thanking you now," I call cheerfully. Some of the flush is subsiding, the sweat isn't standing proud on my brow. My breathing is levelling out. Okay. I'm okay now. We're not dealing with an imminent eruption. A throaty chuckle echoes from the kitchen. Or maybe we are. I never heard Daniel laugh before we started making love. I love I can do that for him.

"Carter brought along the cadet from hell. A scrubby know-it-all brat, a four-foot-nine fighting machine. The two of 'em argued day was night." I used to think only Carter got that 'tone' in her voice, but the kid had it too. Hailey thinks it's tough trailing in the footsteps of the Major Doctor? She should try commanding her. Scratch the major's polite protocol-bound surface and the doctor bites you on the ass. Thank God, Daniel never makes me feel dumb. "I got zapped by a swarm of alien glow-in-the-dark bees on light-speed. Same old, same old. Are you getting that hideously expensive Chocolate Shoppe ice cream or..."

Oh. My. God.

"Just getting comfortable," Daniel says gently. Glasses. Jacket. Shoes. Socks. Sweater. T-shirt. Gone. Jeans unbuttoned. Riding low at his hips. My sanity. Gone too.

The only comprehensible sound I make is 'help'. I'm thinking it, certainly. My actual delivery is more strangulated. And abbreviated. More of a grunt-wheeze. Daniel strolls towards me, turns and puts the ice cream on the floor. He just bends gracefully from the waist, leaving me gaping at the ripe curves of his perfect ass and the hollow at the base of his spine. I almost come in my pants, right there and then. It gets worse. While I'm still doing the beached guppy thing, Daniel peels off my sweatshirt, retrieves the ice cream just as gracefully and then straddles me comfortably, his thighs settling warm against mine.

Breathe, O'Neill, breathe.

Daniel is sultry, spectacular, sheer sensual overload. He's emanating so much sexual tension he's quivering. He's got me and I'm scared spit-less. Petrified.

I swallow painfully.

Oh God, those eyes. Glowing. Pure and clean and strong. Deadly. Daniel is absolutely deadly. Gentle, curious hands skimming my chest and shoulders. Tracing the lines of muscle down each arm. I flex slowly, deliberately. No surprises here. Just two men and all that means. We're both strong, both built. We know the bodies of men. Daniel is fascinated, his fingers clinging as the muscles swell and ripple beneath my skin. He lifts my hand and slowly kisses his way down from fingertip to palm and wrist.

I feel dazed, suffocated with the intensity of my arousal, the scent of Daniel mingling with mine, imprinting indelibly on my senses. "I love you."

"I love you too, Jack. My Jack." Nursing my hand to his cheek, his lips and then his tongue gentle on the wound there. Tears standing in those glorious eyes. "Look at you."

Pretty crappy, huh? Mom was right. I'm spreading, slowly but surely. Slowing down. Softening up. Greying.

"So beautiful, Jack. You're so beautiful," Daniel's soft voice is awed, aching, as he reaches out to explore the sharp collar bones, the hollow at the base of my throat.

Me? My God, he's got it as bad for me as I have for him. Daniel means it, breathes it, soaks it in through his pores as his hands cup and cradle the back of my head, and he leans against me, gasping as flushed, smooth, sweat-slicked skin glides. I want to joke, lighten the unbearable tension – look, Daniel, finally got hair on your chest! I can't say a word. He's coming closer. Closer still. His lips against mine. The lightest of brushes and we both moan.

And then he brings on the ice cream.

A spoonful suckled in gently. I'm incoherent. Can't – can't – soft lips – shocking icy richness – smooth and bitter-biting, the taste of Daniel behind. In me, on me, oh, God. In my arms, eyes wide open, we have to see, have to know, love – tongues stroking urgently, passionately. Falling, I'm falling for him, collapsing in shock against the couch. His kisses are dancing over my lips, running on and on in shocks of pleasure, his chilled tongue darting, teasing; hips sinuous, rocking, gliding. My hands pushing down his jeans and onto naked skin.

Feel the muscles flex beneath my clutching, coveting fingers as his tongue flexes and plays joyously in my mouth. Moaning. Groaning. Rosy. Needing. Beautiful. Never seen anyone so beautiful in my life but my son. I love this man as much as – I love this man.

I know what this is now. I know where this intensity came from. Ah, Daniel, I'm still here. Still in one slightly singed piece. You didn't lose me. It's not your fault you weren't there helping me baby sit those dumb geeks. You weren't to know I'd go jump on a swarm of light-bees the moment your back was turned. I'm supposed to be the smart one.

"Jack," he whispers with such yearning.

"Let it go, Daniel. Okay? I'm good," I promise him.

He kisses me again, not quite there yet. "Let me make love, Jack, please let me make love."

I guess he needs to really feel me before he can know I'm good.

"Please, Jack. I love you. Please."

It takes me a second to get what he's asking me. He wants to make love to me. My gut gets all tight and I think, I can't do this. I've never done this.

"I won't hurt you, I'd never hurt you."

Can I do this? Can I trust him the way he's supposed to trust me? Is that adult enough for both of us?

"Let go, for me, Jack. Please let go. Trust me."

Trust. It's all about trust. Daniel isn't some game player so this means something to him. He's not messing with my mind. If he's even asking me for this, then it means a lot to him if I can give it. Maybe it means everything. It means I trust him enough to give.

I've got to try this. For him. I guess for me too. Daniel won't hate me if I can't do it but he'll be hurt if I won't do it.

And if I can? If we get there, do this? What's the worst that can possibly happen? No one but me and Daniel will know. It won't be branded on my skin that Colonel O'Neill got fucked by Dr. Jackson.

"I trust you," I tell him. "I even love you, for reasons that escape me at this moment in time."

He grins and bites me on the lip. Kisses me better.

I already think it's worth it when I look in his eyes and see what I put there. He's what I focus on. The pure, incandescent joy blazing out of him as I lead him around to my bedroom. I'm almost proud he can't see how scared I am. How he's overturned every single thought and plan I've made for us. I always imagined it was going to be me in him when we reached this place.

But he's sweet, this guy of mine. So gentle and loving and wise. So very, very dangerous. He thinks the world of me and I can't refuse him anything he wants, not if it only hurts me. He asks for so little and he gives me so much. He's giving me everything. Himself. Daniel is all I need to get me through this.

We're both adults. Equals. I can get through it, I think, even if I can't enjoy it. This is not the end of the world as I know it. I'm only letting the guy I love fuck me. I take far worse and crack jokes about it every day.

I help Daniel out of his jeans, goose him. I make him laugh. As I strip, I look at him. Hard for me to believe the sight of my naked body has him straining, twitching. He loves me, he wants me that much. I got lucky. So fucking lucky. He can't hurt me, not Daniel.

"Jack? Are you sure?" Daniel is tender. Terrified too.

"I'm not sure at all," I admit frankly. "But I want to try."

"It's good to try," Daniel agrees, smiling. "If it doesn't work out for us, then we can try something else."

What did I say? I'm the luckiest bastard alive.

"No expectations?" I ask him.

"Only that you're honest. I won't hurt you, Jack."

I can do this. I make some lame-ass joke about Daniel getting into the lion's den as I pull him down on top of me. Can I do this? I'm going to have to get us started. I know what to do up to the point – the point I've got to get beyond. I did this with Sara a time or two. I get as comfortable as possible as Daniel squirms all over me to reach the bedside table and the tube of lube, which he actually reads. If I could laugh, I would. Bless him, he's so far out of his depth he's drowning. And so determined to make me happy. Show me it's okay. If we trust, if we love, we can do anything. I can trust myself with him if I can do this. Open up. Commit. Move on from the past.

I cant up my legs invitingly. Daniel puts the lube close to hand, looking slightly bewildered about it all, but so sexy, so heart-stoppingly aroused by me. "C'm here!" I growl. He laughs and scoots up to kiss me passionately. Tells me how much he loves me. How lucky he is to have me. How he thought he'd be alone forever, how he's so happy right now. I see it. He's radiant as he slips down the length of me and eyes me thoughtfully.

"I don't know where to start. I want everything you've got, right now!" Daniel is excited, drunk on only the sight of me. "So what do you want, Jack?"

Honestly? I want this over and not to have choked. Me or you.

"If you want to do this, no pressure here, but my favourite torrid fantasy is of having your mouth on me," I tell him, trying not to pant and beg or make with the pleading puppy eyes. If we're outside of our comfort zone, we might as well be right outside it. Sex is supposed to be give and take.

This is no sooner asked than offered gladly. I balance on my elbows to see him as I feel him kiss the very tip of my cock. The thoughtful, processing expression as my bitterness fills his mouth. The smile and the slow licking of those lips. The purely naughty look I get peeping up through his lashes. The sultry, "Mmm." Liar, I think fondly. Then his tongue extends carefully and licks. Swirls around the head. Another swift look up from Daniel, who wants to know if he's doing good. He's doing better than good, better than perfect. I'm purring here. Not gonna give you any less even if I've got to do a Meg Ryan and fake my way through it.

Daniel nibbles oh, so very gently, anxious not to hurt me. I'm feeling a little better about what's to come. No pun. Daniel is considerate and careful. He doesn't have a clumsy bone in his body. He's an archaeologist for God's sake. He knows how to touch, touches me with exquisite care and attention, and patience to burn. Cataloguing every reaction, every hint of pleasure as he licks the length of my cock and ventures farther. Ver-ry sensitive here, not so fond of having my balls touched but his delicacy makes it my pleasure too. Oh Lord, does it. My moaning is heart-rending now. I pull myself together a little. I'm seeing stars.

"Don't try to take me in all at once. Be comfortable." Time to go for it, I guess. "Lube up your finger and me before you – uugh," I finish on a strangled gasp, sultry flashes going off behind my eyes as he follows instructions to the letter and swallows as much of me as he can and lets his long slender fingers caress the rest. I'm completely undone by the sight of Dr. Daniel Jackson, all bright eyes and moist silken heat around me as he suckles.

"JesusMaryandJoseph," I whimper inadequately. "Daniel, oh God, oh Daniel." I've got to lie down. I'm dizzy. Got to close my eyes. I find the room spinning more with my eyes closed. I'm dizzy with pleasure. Profound, sullen pleasure pangs roiling through my gut as Daniel loves me. Studies to please me. Learns me. I'm making more noise than Meg Ryan ever did on the silver screen and I mean every gasp and whimper. Sullen is edging to sweet, pangs to waves. I throw an arm over my eyes. There's coolness, probing inside me. Seeking. Infinitely careful. Respectful. Seeking and finding. I arch off the bed with a yelp. "Daniel!"

I feel his smile on my cock as a second finger pushes inside. Long strong, subtle, sure fingers, thrusting harder than Sara ever did. Deep inside, oh, so deep, so good.

"Love you, love you, Daniel, love you!" Love what he's doing to me. Gibbering, I'm arching again. Three fingers rocking in as he sucks emphatically, drawing the pleasure wave out, crashing through me, sparks flaring and finally pin-wheeling behind my eyes; pressure in my gut, pressure behind, thrusting, seeking; finding, finding, finding. I holler incoherently as pleasure slams through me, lifting me high, balanced on my neck, to come down Daniel's throat. He gamely swallows and then kisses my belly, wanting to know if it's okay, if I'm okay, can he love me?

He can do anything he wants to me. I wriggle my ass invitingly.

Methodical to the end, Daniel does this by the book, as in the sex book we bought. Hips lifted. Check. Supporting pillows under ass. Check. Jelly legs hooked over shoulders. Check. Lubrication. Check. And check again to be sure.

"Go for it!" I whisper, using the last of my strength. He's blown my mind, literally, it seems. Never felt anything like – oh, god. In me. He's in me. Slow. Serene. Sure. He has patience to burn. I've got tremors like a tea clipper in a gale; his soothing hands and voice, loving me. Daniel loving me, rocking gently in, stretching me. Burning. Oh God. Oh, Daniel.

"Let go, Jack. I love you, please let go, please trust me, let me in. Let me love you. Look at me."

Responding instinctively to the order, I snap my eyes open and see him, every muscle straining, corded with the effort of holding still. He won't take what I don't give. His eyes are glowing. I'm everything in those eyes. Everything to him. Maybe – maybe I can do this.

"Oh, Jack. My Jack." He's sliding sweetly in.

What gave?

Me. Crap. I gave.

Deep inside. So deep, I'm not sure now where I end and he begins. I didn't expect this to be so...intimate.

"Bite me," I plead.

Daniel lowers his weight carefully, slowly, balancing on trembling arms until I stop clenching and groaning. Leans in and takes my lips in a sinfully sensual kiss, thrusting deep in my mouth, thrusting deep in me, thrusting, finding.

Ah, god, it's good, he feels so good. I didn't expect this. "Again. Again!"

He's laughing at me now, so relieved we can do this together. "Well, only if you're certain, Jack."

"AGAIN!"

Rocking, thrusting, finding, hitting that spot, there, the sweet, sweet spot. He's done this forever. He does this. What he does. He makes love. He can just stay here and do this. Forever. "More. Again." Make love to me. I thought maybe I could do this for him and now I don't want to stop doing this for me. I like this, I love him, I love being loved.

The colonel loves being fucked by the bookworm; smooth, slow, serene, sure. The colonel wraps his legs harder, higher, round the strong, slender waist. The colonel will be frigging limping and smug as hell for days. "Deeper." More. Again. "Harder." More. Again. "Kiss me. Mmm. Mmm. M-"

"More, I know, I've got it."

"Well, give it to me then!" More. Again. "Now."

He sounds worlds away. Stunned. Me too. Who knew who I was such a slut? Don't rush this, don't. Want to let go forever, want to trust, and be open, and let it all go. "Slower, Daniel, slower," I whisper into his mouth. Daniel looks wild, desperate, his clenched teeth and effortful care taking their toll. He stops. Rests in me. Not a selfish bone in his body. Totally fucking awesome altruistic boner in mine.

I decide I really can't get him any closer and stretch luxuriously, feel him shift deep inside me and hear him groan. Oh yeah, gonna gloat for days. "NOW."

He's not slow now, he's driving into me, steady, sure; he knows when he'll be there, knows when I can meet him. He knows what I can take. God, the feel of him; the sight and taste of him, filling me up, making me whole, making me his, making my body sing, too good, impossibly good, straining, unbearable, shattering need. "My Dearest, Darling Love!" I sing out triumphantly.

"PRIIIIICK!" Daniel curses as he convulses and heat pours into me, his back arching so hard he drives us both up the bed and I have the second coming.

After, when everything stops spinning and we both start breathing again, we sprawl in a limp, boneless heap of contentment in my – our - bed. More clean sheets. A vivid blue of which Daniel is highly suspicious. I've assured him three times already I'm not sappy enough to go looking for stuff that matches his eyes. I flip him on his back and kiss him senseless. It matches his eyes exactly.

That would be a newsflash, huh?

The colonel lives for Dr Daniel Jackson, colour co-ordination and getting fucked. Oh my, yes. My ass throbs painfully every time I move and I get a reminiscent spasm of joy from my cock every damn time I look at Daniel's sated, rosy face.

He's quietly pleased I've found a whole new interest in life and agreed to participate fully in my plans to thoroughly embrace my newfound slutdom.

My sultry, confident lover is now quite, quite certain I'm alive and well – hell, I hollered the place down and threw in a few war whoops for good measure when I could see straight – and now he's gone all shy.

My spine seems to have permanently turned to mush because I find his shyness utterly enchanting. I feed us both a lot of melted coffee ice cream, which was really good with all the cherries I - er - happened to have about the place. A glowing, sated, shy Daniel naked in one's lap whilst nibbling cherries from one's fingers is a sight one will be having smug wet dreams over for years. Possibly forever.

Now I've got Daniel snugly tucked up in a full body embrace and I'm wondering what's coiling through that mind of his. Can't be the earth-shattering sex we've both just enjoyed to the full, Jeez, I couldn't have embarrassed myself more if I'd tried, so – what? I'd call him darling again just to get a reaction, but I've still got a cosy glow from watching him chow down on the cherries, so I'm waiting him out.

"Jack?"

One long finger is tracing a maddening path around my navel. Um hmm. Daniel is a quick study. He's gone tactical on me already. I've no strenuous objections to him distracting me with sex, so I just lie back and enjoy it. It doesn't in any way distract my mind from getting to the bottom of this problem, but then that's one of the most annoying qualities of the 'colonel' part of me. Daniel's isn’t the only mind that never switches off.

"Do you want to do that with me?"

"Ye-es. But only if you want it and only when you're ready to make love that way," I assure Daniel emphatically. What the heck is this? If I'd been having any better a time I'd be dead from sheer bliss. Nothing to be scared of. Voice of one-time soon to be repeated experience, here.

I tilt Daniel's mutinous chin. "What is it, Daniel? You can tell me," I encourage him. No BS for once. I stroke his hair gently.

"I'm not good at – at sex," is Daniel's staggering response.

I have to bite down hard on an incredulous 'Excuse me?' Then what the hell was that? Even my hair is still smug.

"That's the first time ever I really, truly got it right," Daniel cringes. He never remembers to do the obligatory guy stuff and swear from the rafters he's an unstoppable sex machine.

"Do you honestly think you could disappoint me? Not possible, Daniel, not possible, except when you think like this." I can't allow myself to think how weird it is to talk with Daniel about our intimately personal lives. I've got to get used to it. He is my intimately personal life. My ecstatic little three-ring circus just intimidated the hell out of him, which was about the last thing I intended with all of that positive reinforcement. He's sure he can please me this way, sure he won't please me the other. I have never asked exactly what Hathor, Shyla and Linea did to him. You don't question a friend about rape, coercive sex and manipulation. You have to convince your lover he's not frigid, that he is in fact beautiful, sensual and responsive, and it's your very distinct pleasure to make love to him however he pleases.

"Do you trust me enough to let go, Daniel? Yeah? So, that's all you have to do."

The troubled look clears a little. I nudge his head back down to my shoulder.

"Jack? When did you fall in love with me? You know when I – I mean – when I realised? I was for a long time, I think, I just didn't know. I was on the wrong path," Daniel's voice stumbles and falters, "So – so when did you know?"

"Seriously?"

Daniel nods vigorously, which brushes a lot of soft hair under my chin. Nice.

"I know the exact moment, but it took a while for me to realise it too, though there was an immediate – er – impact on my behaviour." I'm hedging.

"You're hedging."

"I'm not!" I protest. "Get your tongue out of my ear; you've got a hundred percent success rate with that so far. No fair." Daniel obeys like a good little – "Jeez! Hand!"

"Sorry, Jack. My hand slipped."

"Taking a long time to un-slip."

"Just resting. I could move it."

"You certainly could," I leer involuntarily. "I don't mind trading sexual favours for information." I slip my hand onto the corresponding part of Daniel's anatomy, making him gasp, writhe and shake all over me. "Easy, da –"

"That better be 'Da-' as in Daniel," Daniel threatens.

"Naturally," I say coldly. "You have to know?" I stroke him smoothly, confidently, as I explore just what does it for him. He's not much help. Everything I do makes him quiver and whimper with ecstatic shock. I relax and decide to just go with the flow.

"Please, Jack," Daniel pleads.

Obligingly, I stroke him more vigorously, and his hips thrust him deeply into my waiting hand. I'm plumb tuckered. Got no snap in my snake after two separate mind-blowing main events so close to – Hand! "Oh, Christ, what you do to me! Don't stop, Daniel, don't stop." I should just shut the fuck up about this stuff, I know nothing! "Ah, do it to me, do it." Whoa boy. "Just there, just there. And there. And – oh – o-oh – go-od-d!"

"No!" a fake little Dannyboy voice responds. "Just me. J-J-J-Jack!"

"Serves you right, you smug little – "

"Smug? This from the man who – Mmmph," Daniel gasps as I plunge my tongue into his mouth. I can think of far too many occasions where I was 'the man who' and too many things I've done.

"If you really must have it, I fell in love with you that last morning we were with the folks in Chicago. I woke up with you in my arms, and your t-shirt was all over the place and my hand was on a lot of warm, bare skin. Your leg was draped over me." I love the warm fuzzies, my hand was clamped to the thigh of the very same leg, though in a strictly comforting kind of way, and the sun was slanting down on his face from the Oriole window. "I should have freaked out to be in such a compromising position with you, but I didn't."

"That's why you gave me hell over my seat on the plane! You sandwiched me between you and a nun! You were jealous!"

"I was not."

"You were."

"Not."

"Were."

"Was."

"Weren't. What?" He glares at me for faking him out. It's not my fault he's easy. "Prick," he grumbles. "Um. How are Kate and Joe?"

"Good."

"Did Kate ever finish my portrait?"

Moment of truth here. "Yes."

"Will I ever get to see it?"

This could be bad.

"Jack?"

Very, very bad.

"Jack?"

Possibly even perverted.

I sigh and scoot over to the end of the bed, lean down and feel a kiss on my behind.

"Mmm."

Sweetest guy in the world. He so does not deserve having me happen to him like this. I turn the other cheek as I slide something incriminating out from under my bed.

"Mmm." Then he sees what I'm holding. "Oh, my God! You've been sleeping with me under your bed!"

Daniel is inexpressibly shocked. He doesn't spend much time in front of a mirror so he can't fathom why I'd want him here – in my bedroom - where I could look at him whenever I wanted to, not when I see him everyday on base. Like I'm gonna tell him if he can't figure it out for himself.

"Yeah, well," I fudge. "Now I get to sleep with you in my bed."

"There isn't room for all three of us."

"Don't get smart with me."

"Have you been, you know?" Daniel gestures to a warm intimate spot on me he's just had his hand on, doing what he thinks I've been doing. "While you were looking at my painting?"

"Certainly not!" Yeah, every chance I got. I'm a stranger to shame. Lost it decades ago. No forwarding address. "Daniel, darling? Be brave." I know people who have less shame. Three of 'em.

"What? Why?" Daniel seems to have decided to table a full investigation into my portrait-perversions until later, because he slides the painting back under the bed, shooting me reproachful little glances the whole time until he achieves a boneless sprawl all over me.

He weighs a ton, but I weigh more than he does and I'm tough. He's cuddly. He's also really shocked I've been jacking-off over him. I'm not going to tell him just how often I've come, whimpering his name.

"We're going to have to tell the folks. I can't lie to them, not about this."

Daniel's face lights up with utterly inappropriate pleasure for a moment, then falls. "Will they be hurt?" He's hurt just thinking about it.

I don't know what to say to him. I've got no idea how Mom and Dad will take it. It honestly never crossed my mind I'd be slinking back home to tell them I'm in love with their darling Daniel. They love me, which helps. They're crazy about Daniel, which helps more. Still, they won't be doing back-flips because their forty-five year-old, previously straight, career military son has a boyfriend. Jokes about me waking up gay because I had a wet dream about Johnny Weismuller apart, this is not anything they wanted for me. What they wanted were Sara and Charlie. The ordinary stuff.

They won't yell at Daniel. Or blame him.

I shudder. The minute Mom finds out I'm boning her dearest boy every chance we get, it will hit the fan and then it will hit me.

"Jack?"

"Hurt? I hope not, Daniel, I hope not. They have ways of sharing the load."

I feel a snort snuffling against my shoulder. "You have something to say?" I enquire coldly.

"Love you," Daniel says promptly. "You know, you're quite bony for someone who worries about his –"

"Don't you start!"

"But I have to agree with Ruth. You're very manly." Daniel waits for an explosion and eventually raises his head. "You're blushing." He's astonished.

Me too. My vocal chords have just petrified at the thought of what Ruth is going to make of all this.

"That's so sweet," Daniel sighs, snuggling back in, poking a few spots here and there on me in the vain hope I'll be more comfortable.

"Sweet?"

"Darling?"

"Prick."

"One track mind." Daniel chuckles. "Don't worry, Jack. I'll protect you from Ruth."

I know Ruth. She'll probably be up for a threesome.

 


JACK

Daniel has all the natural joie de vivre of a man taking that last slow walk to the electric chair as we take what he hopes is not the last slow walk to my parents' front door. I press as close to his side as I can without climbing into his clothes with him, which wins me a grateful smile. A very brief one.

I'm expected. Me, myself, and I. I decided surprise was the essence of attack and my weapon of choice is Daniel. He's gone through agonies of apprehension since we saw Carter off on her flight to San Diego, and had to face the reality we were coming here to – er – come out. He's terrified it's all going to go hideously wrong and my folks will throw us out, ordering me to never darken their door again or some such, and it will be all his fault. I told him I had the honeymoon suite at the Four Seasons in reserve specifically for that eventuality, but the joke fell a little flat. Daniel might be strong, but he is also way too sensitive. I figured the more fuss the folks made over him, the less time he'd have to worry about 'ruining their lives'.

I smile reassuringly and open the door. Daniel looks a little shocked by my cavalier attitude. One of the things I've learned about my lover of almost two months is that he has exquisite manners and instinctive courtesy. Someone, somewhere along the line, convinced him this shit was important and the lesson has stuck. With our hellish schedule, it's the little stuff we don't know about each other that keeps surprising us. We spend a lot more nights apart than we can together and I'm already making adjustments to being in love with a perfect gentleman. I give him a hard shove and send him staggering through the door he doesn't think I should've opened.

Mom is actually trotting down the stairs. She freezes as Daniel stumbles into the hallway, and I close the door behind us, smirking. Then she screams and hurdles down the rest of the stairs like a gazelle. I got her to stop sliding down the banisters a couple of visits ago. Visions of broken hips were keeping me awake at night.

Daniel drops his bag and shows a vague instinct for self-preservation, burrowing back into the nearest place of safety, i.e., me.

"DANIEL!"

I love you too, Mom.

"Daniel!"

I missed you too.

"C'm here!"

Daniel takes a tentative step forward and literally staggers as Mom hurtles into his chest and ecstatically hugs every inch of him, laughing and – aww – crying.

"Kate," he says softly, trembling with nerves and excitement and impending doom.

"Darling!" Mom finally steps back an inch or so and clasps his face tenderly between her hands. She gazes up at him, searchingly. Then she turns to me. Hands on hips. I burrow into the safety of the door. "What the hell have you been doing to him!"

"Son!" an eager voice calls from the kitchen.

"Hello, Gorgeous," Ruth beams from the top of the stairs.

I decide she's a safer option than Mom right now, and lope past the three-way lovefest playing out by the front door to fetch her. The folks will remember I'm here too, once they've reassured themselves Daniel is real, and here, and they can talk about those adoption papers while he's still dazed from the force of his welcome.

Halfway up the stairs, I glance down. They each have one of Daniel's hands and they're towing him off to the kitchen for emergency resuscitation measures. Daniel has coffee, cake and cuddles in his immediate future. I've got Ruth in mine.

Sweet Home Chicago.

I smile. "Horny old harpy," I say fondly.

Ruth smiles. "Jerk. If you wanted to make an old lady happy, I wouldn't stop you."

I lift her into my arms, gently as a child, and wait until she settles one arm around my neck and the other – "Ruth, for God's sake. I just got here!"

"Mmm."

"Flippant enough for ya?" I snarl.

"I'll say," Ruth drools. "Cheeky."

"On the stairs, here!"

"What a way to go."

God help me. She won't let me put her down when we reach the hallway. I have to carry her into the kitchen, her hand clamped to my butt in full view of everyone.

Daniel's honoured status is reflected in the fact he is being permitted to cut his own piece of cake, even though Mom is hovering anxiously as his side, supervising. It's a privilege I haven't been granted in forty-five years. Her hand is on his – "Mom!"

Dad sniggers. "We're converting, son. Gonna be Mormons. Your mother has a yen for polygamy. She's got some fairly exacting requirements for the lucky boy who gets to join our little ménage-a-trois."

I put Ruth carefully into the nearest chair and step smartly out of range. She still manages to goose me before I get away. "Lemme guess. Six-feet tall, blue eyes, answers to Daniel, Dr. Jackson or darling?"

Both Mom and Ruth sigh as one. "Ay, caramba," Mom says huskily. Daniel drops his cake and blushes furiously. The only coherent word I hear stammered out is 'um'.

"Leave him alone, Mom," I order. She shoots me a defiant look, catches my eye and suddenly I see myself in her. Weighing. Assessing. Really, Mom. Not right now. He's not up to this. Her eyes soften suddenly and then it's my turn to stagger from a forceful embrace.

"Missed you, love. Missed you terribly," Mom sighs into my chest.

"Yeah, right." I'm drawling, but I'm smiling. I feel her smiling too. Then she stands on tip-toe and kisses me on the cheek. "Gettin' misty eyed, here. Take a minute, Mom," I suggest as I stroll over and hug Dad. "The name might come back to you."

Daniel turns and solemnly holds up a sheet from Mom's kitchen notepad. "We've got name tags," he says kindly. Mom chokes and then I get a good look. It says 'Jack' and has a sketch of something that looks suspiciously like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

"For the last time, I am not fat!" I howl as everyone cracks up. Daniel manages his sweet little smile, but it takes some effort. I was kind of hoping to edge up to the moment of truth, but every second I delay is putting Daniel through the wringer. He thinks too much of the folks and I can't convince him this is going to go well. I get where he's coming from too. Mom and Dad and Ruth opened up and chose to let him in; they can choose just as easily to shut him back out. It doesn't matter how badly I fuck up, or what lousy choices I make, I always get to come home. Daniel hardly knows what home is. He's never had that luxury.

He sidles round the table clutching coffee and cake for both of us, and gratefully sinks down next to me as Mom takes her accustomed place next to Dad.

I smile reassuringly and investigate my cake. Looks interesting. Spicy. Fruity. Rich. "Nice. What is it?"

Mom's gaze is dwelling lovingly on Daniel's increasingly pale face. She's starting to look worried. Knowing Mom, she'll be demanding answers with menaces any minute. "Cut and Come Again."

I manage to inhale a fair bit of my Come Again cake before I get the choking under control. And the sniggering. Another look at Mom's face and I see she's not gonna last much longer. Daniel is picking at his cake, unable to meet anybody's eye, and worst of all, not talking. We're all watching him anxiously. He hasn't touched his coffee. This is unprecedented. The end of the world is well and truly nigh if Daniel can't drink his coffee.

"Well, I've got news," I say calmly.

My news emits a low moan of distress. "Jack," he whispers.

"Hey, now, come on. No need for this, Daniel," I say gently, cradling his reluctant face between my hands. "You're among family, here." I manage to punch up his anxiety levels to sheer panic. He's afraid there won't be any family, après the Revelation.

"I should go." He nods very definitely at this but doesn't budge an inch. I'm not sure he can move. "I really think I should go."

"Daniel..."

"Jack, I think this is a stunningly bad idea."

"Why didn't you think it before you got on the plane?"

"I did. But you were wearing those damned jeans."

"So now it's my fault?"

"Trust me. That's what you said to me before you stuck your hand in my..."

"Okay!" Can't he let that one go?

"Trust me. That's what got me on the plane. You and those damned jeans."

"Okay, okay!" Jeez, talk about obsessing! "How about we forget the blame thing and stick with the trust thing, huh?" I ask him, reaching around to hug his neck comfortingly.

"I do trust you." He caresses his forehead against mine. "But you love your family and I don't want anything to change that. It's too important."

"None of that talk," I dismiss this briskly. "I love you. I wish you'd get that through your thick skull. I'm not going to 'come' to my senses, Daniel. I already did that, okay?"

"Okay. There's no need to get offensive about it all, but okay."

I can get away with anything in these jeans, I know I can. Daniel lays his head on my shoulder and hugs me back, which is pretty damn okay by me. "For a smart guy, you're not too bright, Daniel. Just leave it to me. I'll break the good news gently and –" Daniel slowly lifts his head and stares into my eyes, beyond terror now. Then we both slowly turn and look at the folks.

Daniel instinctively clings a little closer as we take in Hear No Evil, See No Evil and Speak No Evil. "Surprise!" I say weakly. They look like they've been stuffed. Mom is shaking. Dad is grimacing. They can't look at each other, let alone at us.

"Damnation!" Ruth snarls. "Spot me, Joe?"

Ruth. My eyes and my mind just won't go there.

"Sure thing, Ruth," Dad says equably. Then he solemnly hands Mom two twenty-dollar bills, which Mom fusses over, smoothing them out flat on the table and making a show of counting them. Both of them.

"Mo-om," I growl. I know gloating when I see it.

Dad slides over an extra twenty-dollar bill, which Mom then formally returns to him.

Ruth raises a questioning eyebrow.

"Side-bet," Dad apologises.

"Bet?" I holler.

They all crack up, roaring with helpless laughter, sputtering every time they catch sight of my outraged face.

"Bet?" Daniel's soft, hurt voice chides.

I gloat as the old reprobates hit the kill switch on their Laugh-In, falling over themselves, shamefaced, to reassure, soothe and generally pet their precious darling. Daniel's big reproachful eyes and tragic mouth secure better results than sodium pentathol. I extract and graciously accept a full apology from each of them. Then I go for my pound of flesh.

"What the hell is going on? Bets?"

"After your last visit, Kate insisted she saw a – what was the word, honey?" Dad asks calmly.

"Frisson," Mom rolls the word off her tongue with palpable relish.

"Thanks, hon. A frisson between you and Daniel."

"Frisson?" Daniel asks weakly.

"Frisson?" Ruth is incredulous.

"Thanks, Ruth," I agree with her for once. It's utterly ridiculous. I was no different with Daniel than I've ever been.

"If Jack had been smouldering any harder he would have spontaneously combusted," Ruth states flatly.

"Excuse me?" I sputter, outraged.

"You touched Daniel, son. A whole lot," Dad says kindly.

"I did not."

"He didn't!" Daniel objects.

"You didn't seem to mind, darling," Mom says indulgently.

Both of us are blushing. I remove my arm from around Daniel's shoulders. Mom scowls ferociously. I put it back.

"The two of you were off in your own private little world," Dad reflects.

"You were connected," Mom finishes triumphantly.

"Horny," Ruth corrects. "Jack, was anyway. I watch National Geographic. I know a full-on mating ritual when I see one."

"A what?" I never laid an impure thought, let alone an impure finger on him. Never even occurred to me. Well, it barely even occurred to me.

"Hugging. Caressing. Eating food off Daniel's plate. Sleeping together," Mom supplies.

"That was your fault! Don't try to shift the blame on me. You stuck us in there together because there was no spare room," I snap.

"I checked on you both several times, each night, after I checked on Ruth," Mom says calmly. "You were, most definitely, sleeping together."

"How old am I?" Ruth and I complain as one, and then scowl at each other.

"How 'together'?" Daniel asks, clearly knowing he won't like the answer.

"I nearly insisted Jack slept with his father."

"Oh."

"I insisted Jack slept with me, but who listens to me?" Ruth complains bitterly.

I shudder convulsively and the old harpy laughs.

"Were we really?" Daniel waggles a mortified hand from him to me.

"Truly," Mom says solemnly.

"Madly," Ruth agrees.

"Deeply," Dad smiles at us both.

"Just clueless," Mom says brightly.

"Hence the bet," Dad is twinkling.

I think Daniel is beyond speech at this point. He just keeps emitting these soft snuffs of air instead of words.

"I had every confidence in you, love," Mom tells me proudly. "I asked you if you loved Daniel, and you were honest enough to admit it. I knew you'd get there eventually."

"We didn't," Ruth says meanly.

"You did?" Daniel's eyes are luminous. "You said you loved me?"

I nod weakly. Damn, those eyes. He knows he's not supposed to look at me like that, not if he doesn't want me to –

"When?"

It seems terribly important to him. "While you were sleeping. Mom was showing me those photographs of you and – I knew you were thinking about the most important person in your life. She asked and I had a moment of weakness." He was dreaming of Sha'uri.

"You," Daniel says softly. "I was thinking about you."

"Oh," I say even more softly. "You got stuck with the King of Clueless, here." All that time wasted. "Sorry, Daniel."

He smiles that smile only I get to see.

"Don't mind us," Mom says breezily.

We snap our heads apart, reality intruding.

"Connected," Mom crows.

"Horny. Sheesh!" Ruth chuckles malevolently, making a great show of fanning herself.

"You're okay about this? About us?" Daniel asks, looking hopefully at each of them in turn.

"Nah. You could do better," Mom sniggers.

"Much better," Dad chuckles.

"I love you too." The Brady Bunch, we ain't. "Are you okay?" I ask seriously. I think they've grasped Daniel and I aren't just drooling over the Ikea brochure in bed.

"Let me see. You're obsessive," Mom says.

"Possessive," Dad picks it up.

"Jealous," Ruth supplies.

"Over-protective," Dad says a little sternly. "Daniel isn't a little boy."

He certainly isn't. "I – er – I had noticed," I say meekly.

Daniel chokes down a chuckle and avoids my eye. He's infuriatingly strict about making love. I want him to just throw me down and fuck me through the mattress, but he'll only play if it's beautiful and tender and loving. I've not outmanoeuvred him yet, and by God I've tried. He's no fun at all.

"Masterful," Ruth sighs.

Daniel and I catch Dad's eye and we all shudder.

"Smug."

"Gloating."

"Sweet," Mom sighs.

"Sappy," Dad corrects grimly.

Daniel laughs out loud this time.

"Well, who can blame you?" Mom beams. "Daniel is such a darling."

My darling is snarling.

"Basically, you're about as happy as we've ever seen you, so yes, son, we're okay with it," Dad says judiciously. "Got a little sympathetic sugar shock going on, from all that cosy romantic glow you boys are putting out, but I guess you won't set my teeth on edge forever."

"I'm – overwhelmed," I drawl sarcastically. "What was the side-bet?"

"That you'd totally screw up 'coming out' to us," Dad gloats.

"Thanks!"

"No, thank you, son. Your Mom would have been unbearable if you'd managed to get both things right."

"Both things?" Daniel is snorting with ill-suppressed laughter.

"Not sure how to put this?" Dad looks for help.

"Seducing Daniel?" Mom suggests.

"Putting the moves on him? Making a bootie call? Getting jiggy wid' it?" Ruth looks as if she could go all day on this one.

"Hey! Little pitchers. It never occurred to you I might just ask him out to dinner or to a movie or something?"

"No."

"Nope."

"No way, hon. You were smokin'," Ruth says firmly.

"He didn't."

We all look at Daniel.

Daniel, contrary S.O.B. that he is, rallies under the scrutiny. "I kissed him." His eyes on me are sheer wickedness. "And he tried to run away."

I only ran as far as the whiskey bottle. Daniel dropped his towel, crooked his finger, and I fell over the phone to come running. That about says it all for romance.

"What!" Mom howls. "Dammit!"

"Pay up, Kate," Dad gloats as Mom hands over a twenty, snarling. Ruth crooks one of her claws and gloats over her twenty every bit as much as Dad.

I'm glaring at Dad. "Are you seriously telling me you put money on me screwing up with Daniel and with telling you about us?"

"Yep," Dad is unrepentant. "You're hopeless at this stuff, son, you know you are."

Daniel dissolves into helpless laughter, which has Mom and Ruth cooing.

"It's lucky I don't take this stuff personally," I growl. "Mom. Mom! Mom!"

"What!"

"Your tongue is hanging out. Knock it off. He's spoken for."

"Ha!" Mom looks me up and down, her lip curling. "I'll fight you for him. I can take you, sweet child of mine."

My sense of humour gets the better of me. "You think you can take me? Bring it on, Mom. Bring. It. On." Mom jumps up and we take it over to the window. "You don't make a fist like that. Like this," I gently fold her thumb over her clenched fingers. "Want me to sit down so you can reach?"

"Who said I was going to hit you in the face? I can reach what I was aiming for just fine."

We both look down. I blush furiously. "Mom!"

"You fight like a girl," Mom sneers.

"Mom."

"Blush like one too."

"Dad! Make her stop!"

"A-any more re-rev-elations bef-before we break up the p-party?" Daniel stutters, still laughing helplessly.

"Son? Is this a good time to tell you that you were adopted?" Dad asks gravely.

I spin around. "A guy can dream!" I holler.


Back to part two of Prodigal SonOn to part two of Passion Play

If you enjoyed this revised version of Passion Play, please do write and let me know.  It was a nerve-wracking experience to say the least to re-write such a well-known and for some, fondly remembered story.  Even a simple 'thank you' or 'I enjoyed this' is an important message to send.  Thanks so much.  Biblio.

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