Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17
Category: Angst.  Character Study.  Drama.  Episode Related.  First Time.  Hurt/Comfort.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5. Episode tag for "Proving Ground," "Last Stand," and missing scenes for "Fail Safe."
Synopsis: Silence is not consent. Daniel has been silent for too long and about far more than Jack ever knew.
Notes: Pearls are considered in some folklore to have the power to help people see themselves more clearly and to give wisdom through experience.
Warnings: Non-Consensual Sex. This story is in parts dark, disturbing and ambiguous.
Length:  558 Kb Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story


"I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson."

"Kelly Satterfield."

"Lt. Satterfield," Hailey corrected, rolling her eyes as Satterfield took Dr. Jackson's outstretched hand and forgot to shake it. "Lieutenants Jennifer Hailey and James Elliot, and this is Sgt. Grogan."

"You don't have a name?" Dr. Jackson asked Grogan, his eyebrows quirking.

"Mostly rank and serial number," Grogan confided naively.

Dr. Jackson's nose wrinkled as he fought down a grin and invited them to make themselves at home without touching. Anything.

Satterfield was visibly disappointed.

James, standing to the rear of his team, could only be grateful Hailey was running interference. He couldn't believe this was the genius who'd opened the Stargate where Major Carter and all her computer simulations had failed. And to do it so fast. How did brains like that come packaged behind a face like this? The intense turquoise eyes were mesmerising, wide and candid behind the lenses of Dr. Jackson's glasses. His skin was a pale gold, radiant in the soft glow of the lamps trained on his books and artefacts. A slim, straight throat was framed by a perfectly defined jaw arch, generous, kissable lips…

"You're the, um, linguist, Lt. Satterfield?"

"Yes, Sir."

"How did you find the training materials I prepared?"

"Challenging," Satterfield said carefully.

Dr. Jackson nibbled his lip thoughtfully, his eyes very reflective. "Everyone says that."

"In a good way," Satterfield gushed.

"They say that too," Dr. Jackson sighed, not taking this well.

"She hated your guts, Dr. Jackson," Hailey snorted derisively.

Dr. Jackson accepted this philosophically. "If you have any suggestions for improvement?" he invited Satterfield hopefully.

"Love to!" Satterfield interrupted before he could finish, in an insinuating 'Over dinner?' kind of tone.

Get in line, James thought, his body inevitably reacting to this gorgeous, gorgeous guy.

Dr. Jackson.


It didn't take us long to realise Daniel was actually greater than the sum of the hype which preceded him all over the SGC. Carter is brilliant, no one questions that, she could bore for the planet on any number of subjects, but ask about Daniel and you get this, this - I dunno. I don't know how to describe it. Daniel is in a league of his own and everyone knows it, except maybe him. Even Hailey stopped arguing with him after like five minutes and I always figured it would take a direct missile strike to shut her up. He was funny, too, in a deprecating kind of way, wanting to know if his lecture session really figured on our orientation schedule as 'Dem Bones'.

Jack had to smile at this, an old, running joke. He got up and went into his kitchen, deciding he needed a beer before he read any further. He took a sweating bottle of precious Red Rocket Pale Ale out of the fridge, letting the icy liquid nectar slide down his throat, sending up prayerful thanks for talented local brewers. And for chips. Chips with dips.

Carrying the beer and his snacks, Jack returned reluctantly to his place at the dining table, the laptop looming at him. He still didn't know how he felt about this. The mission to Revanna was a shit-storm, all that was left of their dead personnel boxed and bagged, scheduled for orderly disposal. The Tok'ra were all but wiped out, on the run, the snakes were literally eating each other alive and going down like ninepins to the biggest, baddest, nutjob of them all. Carter was off someplace with Cassie and Fraiser, commiserating over lost love and herbal tea while abortive-assassin Daniel was locked away in his lab, being resolutely fine at them and stonewalling Jack out of existence.

The kid, Elliot, he did something on Revanna. He had guts as well as brains, and he saved Jack and his team in the end. He'd earned Jack's time, enough of his respect that he was the one who went with the team to sanitise Elliot's apartment. There was nothing incriminating, nothing Elliot's momma or the security detail shouldn't see. Nothing but this, the laptop. As soon as the technical sergeant who hacked into the thing said there were personal files, Jack had taken it on himself to do the necessary checking, clear the thing.

He valued privacy. He'd hoped that counted for something in the grand scheme of things. Better him, who at least knew the kid. That was what he figured. Better it was him.

He was relieved there was nothing in the apartment to bother Elliot's folks more than the bare fact of his loss. No gay porn, no gay anything of any kind. Elliot was careful. Paranoid, even. He wanted the SGC more than anything he'd wanted his whole life. More than he wanted sex. Career-focused celibacy, that was the conclusion on his security file before he was even selected for training, and no hint at all about his sexual orientation. He'd worked for this assignment, prepared for this every way he could and it showed. Nothing in his life or his service at the SGC existed to contradict that. Nothing but this, the laptop Jack's eyes never strayed from. Only Daniel Jackson and his heedless, damning temptation.

Jack didn't want to know where this was going. He didn't want some pathetic sexual fantasy crowding his head when he was alone, sleepless in the dead hours before dawn. He had memories, failings of his own. There was no room for this.

He didn't want to, but he had to know where this was going.

He took a long, long drink of his beer, shuffled his finger over the touch pad and scrolled down the open document.

Thursday 25th

O'Neill is an asshole. If he wasn't the big, frickin' hero and he didn't go way back with Air Force One, he wouldn't get away with most of what he does. I asked around. The guy walks on water. There had to be more to him than the hero, and there was. Everything gets recorded here, everything. Scares me shitless, some days. Not many people will talk, but I'm not the first to go looking for the inside track, for the edge. O'Neill is divorced, lost his kid. Pretty much end of story. A few people figure he's banging Carter. I figure they're blind. The man is such a closet case, he's fucking dangerous.

I see the way he is with Daniel and it scares me. He's insane in love with the guy and he hates him for it. I never want that to happen to me. I will **never** be that bitter because it's fucking a man's ass that gets me off. O'Neill needs to jump Daniel so bad I bet he can't even get it up anymore, not for anyone or anything else. The way he looks at Daniel, like he could eat him alive, like he's poised on a knife-edge between kiss and kill…

It's no wonder he's the best at what he does. He has all this rage inside of him and no one questions him, ever. No one except for Daniel, gentle, gorgeous Daniel, in a beautiful world of his own, the last to wonder why he's the one and the only one who can stop the asshole in his tracks.

I want to be like O'Neill the soldier, not the man. I want to be better. I don't know if I can make the compromises he does to be the soldier he is. I know who I am and what I am, I accept the sacrifices I'm making. That's the difference between us. I'm a better man than him even though he is the better soldier. I don't hate myself for my sexuality, I never hid from it. I was twelve years old and a better man than O'Neill is at - what? Late forties? Fifty?

He's pathetic. Pathetic and dangerous and I hate the way he vents all his crap at Daniel, who doesn’t have a clue except he can't do a goddamned thing right where O'Neill is concerned. I think about the sweet, funny guy we met in his lab, the one who was so open, who saw us as real human beings, not FNGs, not meat. He's just this incredible human being and because O'Neill wants to fuck his ass and hasn't got the balls to do it, he treats him like shit on his boot.

I'm crazy about Daniel and I barely know him. There aren't enough nice people in the world that you don't get it when you meet one. I never knew anyone with nothing to prove or anyone with so little notion of his place in the world. All of us all around him the whole time and he's so alone. He doesn't seem to have anyone. He just smiles that tight little smile of his and says he's fine and his so-called friends believe him.

He blew me and my team away today. I couldn't believe it. How cool was he? Four of us with MP5s and he's so sexy, so Daniel, he nails us all with a lousy nine mil. Everyone was so busy pulling Satterfield to pieces over her 'concern for the host' - and jeez, Carter needs to wake up and smell the coffee, it was like she wasn't even there. She can pull rank all she likes, O'Neill can show her all the favouritism he likes, but all ** we** saw, all ** we** really cared about was Daniel. He was the one. I keep telling Satterfield to get it together around him but as long as she can't, they don't see me. They don't see it at all, how I want Daniel. I want him so bad and I think, hell, it's not like he has anyone else. I could be so good for him, I know it.

It would kill O'Neill.

Like I care.

He may be the swiftest thing the SGC has ever seen, but he's an asshole to the core. O'Neill knows there's something between us, something off, but he can't quite bring himself to believe he doesn't have my utter, undying respect forevermore. It has to be me, it's my fault, that's all he knows.

I promise myself, I'll never be his kind of stupid. I'll never be that afraid of who I am.

I want to beat O'Neill at his own game, I want the SGC.

I want Daniel.

Tomorrow. We do this thing. We do it all.

"Step away from the prisoner, please, Colonel," Elliot ordered tersely.

The whole situation felt off to him in a way he couldn't quite put his finger on. Finding O'Neill freeing their prisoners almost came as a relief to him. He was beginning to believe his judgement was as screwed as Satterfield's. They were in a foothold situation and all she had on her mind was saving Daniel. After O'Neill had gone for his throat over leaving Grogan behind in the last exercise in the warehouse, James was ashamed he hadn't contradicted her on that in front of the colonel. It would count against him and he guessed it should. Daniel was on his mind too. He knew as well as anyone here that the safety of the base was paramount, not the welfare of any one man. He just couldn't make himself believe it.

He was surprised when Carter drew Satterfield's back-up weapon on O'Neill, but he was trusting nothing here and refused to lower his guard.

"Colonel O'Neill's obviously been compromised. I'll take it from here," Carter ordered.

Yeah, right. James Elliot was going to pack up and move on like a good little boy.

"Lieutenant." O'Neill wasn't phased at all by the weapons aimed his way, not even Satterfield's back-up. "You've only been gone for two minutes," he argued. "There's no way in that time."

"You saw what he was doing," Carter interrupted.

Yes. Yes, he had. Something was wrong with this picture and he was beginning to get a feel for what. O'Neill was right, there was no way there was time for him to be compromised in the short time they were out of Carter's lab and he was alone with the prisoners. Carter had to know that and yet she expected them to buy the story on her say-so.

"Why'd you pull us out of the gateroom, Sir?" he demanded, going with his gut.

"It was an ambush, a trap," O'Neill responded confidently.

Carter was the ambush, James was sure of it. Someone had to be feeding her updated Intel on their location or she wouldn't have 'run' into them like that. Her behaviour here was suspect. She was way too quick to turn on her C.O.

"I don't buy it, Sir."

What James needed was a way to neutralise them both until he was sure about what was going on.

"Look, I am your commanding officer," O'Neill retorted.

James shot him, more than happy to prove this was one lesson he'd taken to heart from O'Neill's training. "Return Satterfield's weapon, please, Major," he instructed. "We've got a job to do." She handed it over obediently enough, obviously realising if she didn't comply, he'd shoot her too. Just like they'd been told too. James always was a quick study.

"How did you know you could trust me?" Carter queried, curious.

James didn't trust her at all. O'Neill was down, but despite her supposed concern, Carter was making no move to secure him. If O'Neill wasn't compromised, and he couldn't be, of this James was sure, and he was no threat to Carter, then she wasn't compromised either. No one was.

This, he was pretty sure this was all an exercise.

"Hailey figured the Goa'uld markers in your blood wouldn't allow you to be influenced by Goa'uld designed nanotechnology," he said coolly.

"Lucky me."

"Yes, ma'am," Hailey acknowledged wryly.

Hailey. That reminded him. O'Neill hadn't allowed them to retrieve any weapons, only to use the back-ups he provided. Firing blanks, no doubt. Hailey would be relieved and in a way he was too. About all he'd proved so far on this exercise was a willingness to shoot his own people when his back was against the wall.

"I need to stay here to work on a cure. Can you take out the device on your own?" Carter asked.

"Yes, Ma'am." It was past time he started performing beyond expectations and the best way he could figure to do that was to go right on acting as if this were all very real to him. He wasn't about to open himself up to another accusation of over-thinking and keeping his doubts to himself allowed him to open up a few options, engage in a more aggressive plan of attack than he would otherwise have considered with the lives of their own people on the line.

"You'll also need to shut," Carter began.

"Shut down the Stargate," James interrupted. "Yes, Ma'am. We're on it."

"Good luck, Lieutenant," Carter offered.

Luck had nothing to do with it. Daniel was safe whatever action he took and if it came down to it, if he was questioned, James could always fall back on admitting he'd worked out it was an exercise. That should carry its own weight, that he was smart, that he could read a situation. At this point, he was figuring it was win, win.

What a stupid, stupid mistake! Jesus, I know better. I don't have a clue where Carter's lab is but I direct Satterfield right to his! And then to use his **name** to Grogan. Hailey is quick, too quick. She has to be wondering how I knew all that crap about Pelops to start with. It was more detail than we had in the mythology briefing Daniel had prepared for us. If she talks to those two about what went down during our attack, she'll put it all together, she'll figure out how much time I've spent with Daniel. A lot.

He's too easy to like and I like him too much.

He talks as long as I'll let him, not caring about the sound of his voice the way most people do, only that he has someone to listen. He's a good teacher and a generous one. I spend at least as much time listening as I do staring at him, imagining how he'll look when I fuck him, how that soft voice of his will sound.

Daniel applauded me today, he was the first. The others were there, O'Neill, of course that matters. It's just - I won, I earned it all, even the respect O'Neill withheld. It's not exactly to the victor the spoils, but all I could think of was fucking Daniel hard across his own bed. I've earned the right to try for him. I've got my place. He's starved for touch. I know. I know that look. I was careful in the Academy, careful all the time. There were guys I wanted, though, and I would catch myself in the mirror, see that look, the same need I see in him. What will it take to get him to feel that need for me?

I wonder how Daniel will react if I come on to him. If he'll even know. He's sensitive, perceptive, but so focused outside of himself, he comes across as sexually unaware. If you didn't know he'd been married, you could be forgiven for thinking he was a virgin, that's how unaware he is. All his energy, all his passion, it's channelled into his research. He lives for it and I can't fault him for that. I feel the same way for the Air Force.

Things are different now. I'm in. I won. I beat them at their game.

O'Neill is jealous of anyone even breathing the same air as Daniel but he was there, he was clapping too. He'd kill me if he knew what I was planning but he'll never work it out. Even when he looks at Daniel, all he sees is himself.

It was like the edge of a scalpel, slicing so deep and so clean Jack almost didn't feel it at first, and then a blade, serrations edgy and dull, sawing at him. It hurt, that this kid could like him so little and see him so clear.

He should stop reading. He should stop. He was cold and the touch pad was fogging from his sweat. He was everything Elliot thought he was, more, and he wouldn't quit until he reached the end.

Jack's single strongest memory of Elliot was the most recent, the kid telling them it didn’t make sense for them to risk their lives to save him, wanting them to go while he stayed behind to take out the Jaffa. Jack had seen there was something pretty intense there between the kid and Carter. Stupid of him not to realise that was only the snake talking. Lantash.

He picked up his beer bottle, prowled restlessly out onto the deck, paced some while he thought it through. He could see it now, the way Elliot was looking up at Daniel, was talking to him. Jack hadn't read anything into that except maybe Daniel was in the kid's line of sight and he was too weak to look away. It didn't occur to him Elliot and the snake, they both had someone they wanted to save.

It was stupid and small, but Jack felt better. He never trusted it was Elliot, that it was a real choice the kid made, and it had twisted his gut to have to walk away and leave him behind because he couldn't find another way.

He felt better knowing Elliot wanted it too.

"Sonovabitch," Jack said quietly, in sudden recognition of something hateful. "Sonovabitch!" he howled, pitching his beer bottle hard at the trees, storming away as glass shattered and fell.

Wasn't this just what the kid had said? That it was all about him?

There was more, much more. He wanted it all. He wanted the worst and he guessed he could trust the kid and his frigging X-Ray Vision to deliver. Elliot didn't care enough about Jack he wouldn't tell it straight.

There was Daniel.

Jack was sick to his heart and he had to know. He was angry all the time and there was nothing Daniel could say to him. Jack couldn't be satisfied, not any more. He wanted Daniel as badly as Elliot saw he did. Him and the kid, they were the same. Starving for it and never asking.

Wednesday 31st

Daniel's old junk-heap of a jeep broke down. I told him artefacts shouldn't come with tires. He was so pissed at me, I had to feed him chocolate to get him into my car. Pissed enough he told me I could lose the 'Dr. Jackson, Sir!' thing. Pissed and stressed. It didn't occur to him he'd need a mechanic until we were off the base, and then he had to call Sgt. Siler on his cell. Instead of grovelling like he was supposed to, he got all insulted and defensive, arguing anyone's batteries could go flat if their car was left for days. Siler gave him shit about his ride crapping out **every** time he left it. Daniel hung up on him and sat there muttering under his breath in some language I don't know. He's damned cute when he sulks, that's what I know. He doesn't cut you any slack when you get electrocuted. His batteries are flat and you can fix 'em, that's all he cares.

In anyone else, that would be selfish, but in Daniel? He's so damned hot and his mind is so clearly elsewhere, he can act like a sulky kid and he gets away with it.

His stomach started growling and he seemed surprised. I asked him about Russian cuisine and all he could remember were small cups of bitter coffee. I let him have the rest of my chocolate bar and nearly came in my pants. I never saw a cocoa-induced orgasm before and all I could think was how it would feel to have that luscious mouth riding my cock, seeing him close his eyes, give in to what we both want.

I wanted that so much. I wanted him.

I took a chance.

"Hungry? What gave me away?" Daniel asked sarcastically.

"Well, you can look all you like, but you won't find any more chocolate in there," James said cheerfully, nodding towards his eviscerated glove compartment. "You cleaned me out."

"It was nice."

"It was Swiss."

"I'd offer to buy you some more, but I'd probably eat it."

"So buy me dinner," James invited him boldly. "It'd probably cost about the same."

"Handmade and Swiss?" Daniel commented knowledgeably. He hesitated then, looking across at James. "I guess I have to eat," he said slowly and not at all certainly.

"Or you could just pass out."

"You know, I always wondered where colonels like Jack came from. Now I know. They start out as you."

James didn't care for the comparison but he took the compliment for what it was. A good thing, coming from Daniel. "I know a place that does a great sirloin steak."

"Steak sounds good." Daniel's stomach agreed loud enough it made him blush and he grumbled some more under his breath.

He wanted to see Daniel's reaction to the club more than to the food. Colorado Springs' gay scene wasn't extensive but it boasted some pretty good bars and clubs. "Hot food and cool music," he promised.

"What kind of music?" Daniel asked suspiciously, shooting him a wary, sidelong look.

"Nothing you'd hear on MTV, I swear."

"MTV?" Daniel enquired innocently, his blue eyes wide and guileless.

He was teasing and James was laughing, delighted by the sudden spark of mischief and the sense they were communicating. He was surprised himself how much of a turn-on the age gap was for him. There was something visceral and exciting about Daniel's aura of innocence, the sweet nature versus the good soldier he'd seen Daniel could be. There were ten years or more between them in age and yet James was the one with all the experience here. When he got Daniel into bed - when! - the guy wouldn't know what hit him. Daniel got him so hot, they would go all night. He wouldn't be able to get enough.

Maybe not tonight. Probably not. Play it by ear.

He didn't want to lie about himself, not to Daniel, and he knew, somehow he knew he was safe with him. He wanted to see if Daniel picked up on the ambience, if he could see the clientele and more than that, accept them for what they were. The anthropologist in him probably would make the connection, but he hoped Daniel would see beyond the general to the specific, see James's sexuality for what it was too.

It was the best way he knew to force the issue without forcing Daniel. Talking about himself was too specific, too intimate. Daniel would have to respond because he was a very gentle man and he cared more than it was safe for him for people. He was also a pretty private man and it took a long time to get beyond his natural reserve about himself. Daniel would see what James needed him to see but it was up to him if he wanted to talk. He didn't have to. James just hoped.

They were into heavy traffic and he was getting nervous, so he asked Daniel about the Russians, if there would be repercussions because they'd fried the DHD getting Teal'c back.

"No, I don't think so," Daniel decided after a moment's quiet reflection. "The Colonel, and his government, knew the risks before he agreed to the loan of the DHD. There were no guarantees."

"Why did he agree?" James wasn't the only one on base officially out of the loop and speculating like crazy. Daniel and that creepy pen-pusher Davis must have promised Moscow the Earth along with a few other choice planets.

"Because he knows what it is to lose a friend," Daniel said simply.

"Are you serious!" James hooted incredulously.

Daniel frowned at him mildly, mostly curious. "Why?"

"That's it? That's the reason?" And Daniel didn't see anything extraordinary in that at all?

"Ultimately, yes. The Colonel wasn't swayed by any technological inducement we could offer, or, to be more accurate, would no longer withhold."

"But he bought an emotional appeal?"

"He 'bought' that Teal'c was my friend."

"That's some kind of magic you work, Daniel," James told him sincerely. "That couldn't come from anyone but you. It wouldn't stand a chance."

Daniel's frown deepened. "I don't see why," he argued.

"Then you'll just have to accept the rest of us do."

"Being a soldier doesn't make you inhuman," Daniel insisted. "It merely closes you off to options which can always be opened again."

"No. No, they can't. You can't ask a soldier to make those value judgements, to lose a piece of himself by opening up to what he's trained from day one to close off." James didn't think he was getting his point across too well and it made him impatient. "Not then, not in combat. You lose it when you're safe, when you're home, not when lives are dependent on you exercising good, objective judgement."

"But that's what this training programme is about," Daniel countered patiently. "Apart from the fact no one is truly objective, you aren't dealing with a society or any culture of warfare you know. You have to be open to the humanity in a situation, you have to be able to communicate the humanity in yourself, because ultimately, that's what makes the difference, that's what those people out there understand and respond to. You have to give something of yourself in negotiation, something of value, if you want to receive something that equals it in return."

"I think you're supposed to cheat, Daniel. You're supposed to get it all and give nothing."

Daniel smiled wryly at that and shook his head. "Most of the people we encounter are more concerned with survival and freedom. In their simple agrarian economies, community is often the highest value, service, not self, maintaining the whole a stronger imperative than that of any individual. Other races have advanced technologically and socially beyond the need for a partisan electoral system. Politics as we understand them are the exception, not the norm."

James wondered indulgently if there was anything in the world that didn't excite Daniel's interest. Or, less likely, that he couldn't expound at length on.

"You're a purely political animal, a consumer, you've been socialised to think and respond within our socio-economic value system, but you'll rarely find the American dream shared, because contrary to popular expectation, the good old US of A is not the centre of the universe and the SG teams don't always ride in on that big white horse."

"I can't speak to that," James said stiffly, a little resentful of this judgement.

"I hope you will." Daniel smiled a little. "Jack is always telling me how the SGC isn't like any other command he's ever been in. If you didn't have the requisite flexibility and moral integrity, you wouldn't be part of this."

James flushed in a thrill of pleasure at the unexpected compliment.

"Don't be in a rush to judge everyone and everything by the standards you know," Daniel advised kindly, looking around vaguely as they finally turned into the parking lot of the club. "Popular place," he remarked idly as James cruised around, looking for a space he could insert his little Hyundai into. "The Rumour? Interesting name."

"One look and you're writing this place off?" James asked him softly as he spotted an empty space and pounced before an obnoxious beamer made it in. "What about taking your own advice? Keep your mind open and don't judge."

Daniel cleared his throat, looking down deprecatingly at his cream linen pants, with the pleat front and the tight, tight ass. The sweater he wore was of fine silk the colour of bronze, whispering over his skin, skimming the toned pecs and sculpted stomach. He was a walking wet-dream, shy, sincere, beautiful and obliviously unattainable. Maybe when he turned every head in the place, he would figure out where he was even if he couldn't see who he was.

"I'm, I'm open," Daniel said firmly as he got out of the car.

"You look like you're going to the guillotine," James contradicted, amused at another in Daniel's limitless repertoire of cute expressions.

"I look like a professor. Or someone's dad!" Daniel hissed gloomily in his general direction, over the roof of the car, as two college twinks in sprayed-on jeans sauntered by, eyeing him with interest. He was baffled when James started laughing.

"One of your Ph.D.'s is in anthropology, right?" he snorted. "So? Open your eyes." He led the way into the club, smiling again as Daniel noted the complete absence of tweeters, woofers, amps, glitter balls and raving teens, and brightened visibly. "The Rumour recruits its musicians from the university music department. All original compositions, no covers. Real instruments," he promised solemnly, crossing his heart. "Very eclectic, very cool."

"Why 'The Rumour'?"

"You tell me."

The bar was on two floors, the upper one a mezzanine gallery tucked beneath the peak of the deeply sloping roof. The two outer walls were of thick clear glass, the inner wall glass bricks shot through with light, the furnishings and fixtures deep tan leather, frosted glass and chrome. Chairs clustered around small, round tables, couches were grouped into conversation areas lit by standing lamps. It was smart and sophisticated, the kind of place Daniel, in all his grace and class, fit.

Apparently in complete agreement with this assessment, the waiter took them straight up to a table on the mezzanine gallery, the restaurant pleasantly full. From experience, James warned Daniel that later, the club would be packed. Daniel either didn't mind or wasn't listening. He didn't pay attention to the waiter or the menu when they were seated, too busy looking around at the other diners, seeing mostly men with men in couples or in groups, a few lesbian couples, and one large, ebullient, mixed group gathered around several tables pushed together.

"Open my eyes," Daniel murmured, a puzzle solved to his apparent satisfaction, then he bent his attention to the menu.

And that was that.

James was startled. He'd hoped for some measure of acceptance, but not this. Just how far did Daniel's comfort zone go, he could take a gay bar without blinking?

"Do you go out a lot?" he asked, prodding a little, like he would at an aching tooth.

"No," Daniel said blandly, reading the dessert selection with great interest. "Triple chocolate New York style baked cheesecake," he drawled, his face dreamy. "Cinnamon oat crunch ice cream?" This seemed to cause some internal conflict. "You think they do dessert to go?"

"I think they would for you." He couldn't leave this alone. He really had to know what Daniel was thinking.

"It's a curious thing about labels," Daniel remarked, his eyes still on the menu. "You can't look at a man and know his sexuality, but apparently, even a blind man can see a geek."

"Not blind, just dumb," a sharp voice retorted and Daniel looked up, his eyes twinkling amused appreciation at their waiter. He blinked when a bottle of wine was ceremoniously presented to him. "Did we order?"

"I had an instinct, Sir."

"Siduri Pinot Noir? Your instincts are good!" Daniel praised happily. "Archery Summit?"

"One of the finest Oregon vintages."

"That hint of cinnamon," Daniel sighed, looking fondly into his glass as his wine was poured.

"And cream soda." The waiter hovered attentively as Daniel breathed the wine in, then took a delicate sip.

"Cream soda? You're kidding," James said eventually.

Daniel and the waiter looked at him.

"I presume you'd prefer beer, Sir," the waiter sniffed.

"I'm not enthused about sharing," Daniel pointed out, jealously hugging the wine bottle over to his side of the table. "Especially not with a complete Philistine."

"May I recommend the peppered steak, Sir?" the waiter offered helpfully, discreetly tweaking the menus away. "The sauce is very fine, with fresh cream, Dijon mustard and whole peppercorns."

"You may."

The waiter turned to James. "Would you like fries with that?"

It's an amazing thing to spend time with a man so free as Daniel. He doesn't know there are eyes on him the whole time, coveting and curious, and if he knew, he might care what they thought but it wouldn't change what he did. I can't believe what we got to talk about. I never had a conversation like that.

Daniel knows about labels, he knows what it is to feel separated from the world by who and what you are, how hard it is to have to be alone when your only other choice is to lie about who you are so you fit in. He's not so different than me in that respect. Prodigy isn't so different from homosexual, it singles you out, it comes with names and with attitude, and Daniel is right. No one looks at me and just knows. No one would even suspect. I never imagined I was luckier than him or that people can be even smaller than I knew. No one judges **me** without **knowing**.

O'Neill calls Daniel a geek. I can't imagine how the man could know Daniel all this time and think of him that way. How can he not understand that the label **hurts**? That it hurts more because it comes from him and despite the fact he's an asshole, Daniel thinks the world of him? Daniel says the people who know you best hurt you most of all. It's the risk you take in any friendship, any relationship.

I so wanted to ask him about O'Neill, how he could have this reverence and faith for the man and get nothing, absolutely nothing back. O'Neill cuts him down to size and he doesn't deserve it, he's the last person I want hurt that way. I didn't want to upset him so I left O'Neill alone. If Daniel is holding out, hoping O'Neill will come around, that whatever went bad in him will right itself, well, I don't want to be around when Daniel finally gets that this is it, this is all O'Neill has to give.

He's learned so much and yet he doesn't know men aren't supposed to talk like this. Men aren't supposed to care. He thinks we have to talk, that we should, and everyone must care.

I think he was a little drunk. I think he was even happy.

We ate good food, talked our asses off in a way I never thought I could, listened to music that mellowed Daniel out and made him smile. I took him home and he asked me in. He was starved for talk like this and he promised good coffee.

Aww, hell, he was funny and sweet and totally gorgeous, of course I went in!

His loft is fantastic. Like a film set or a museum, only it's real and it's him. He made me coffee, poured himself a last glass of wine and we sat on the couch, talked of this and that, and right out of the blue, he asked me how I first kissed a man. How, not when. I guess I knew what he meant. How do you know you're not going to get your head bashed in? The answer is simple. You don't know and you can't take the risk. That's why there are bars and clubs, places you go. Not necessarily safe.

I told him how I got picked up my first night out, some businessman in a sharp suit who was tickled by my bravado. He shoved me down on the hotel bed and blew me to mark the occasion, then he turned me on my face and fucked me raw. I guess I was grateful it wasn't in the backseat of his car.

"No kissing?" Daniel seemed confused by this.

"I slept with guys two years before I felt enough to kiss one," James responded dryly. "You won't meet a life partner in the bars, not when you're the age most of us start out. Any guy who looks at you, he's not interested in anything some kid has to say, just the sex because it's easy. That's all it is."

"Have you ever had a relationship?"

"Not in the way you'd understand it."

"You'd be surprised what I understand."

"My last year in high school, I lucked out. Met an okay kid from the neighbourhood in one of the bars and we got together as often as we could for sex."

"Just sex?"

"We hung out."

"Does it get any easier?" Daniel sounded like he didn't think so.

"Not for me. I can't ever come out," James said matter-of-factly. "I guess I'll always be hitting the bars looking for sex when I need it. I'm not the only gay man in the military but I'm smart enough I won't take risks. I won't get caught."

"There's more to life than your vocation," Daniel warned softly.

"Is there?" James challenged him. "You're alone."

"My wife died."

"Two years ago." James winced at this inadvertent slip. He didn't want Daniel to know he'd been asking about him. He understood now how important his privacy was to him and he would try to respect it.

"Sha'uri was gone a long time," Daniel sighed, looking at nothing or maybe looking at himself.

"You've been with the SGC almost five years. Has it been that long?" James felt his horrified pity fell far short of the mark.

"I didn't feel it then. Not when I, I had hope."

"You mourned her all that time?"

"I missed her."

The gentle, dreary voice sparked a question from James and when Daniel didn't hear him, he asked again.

"How long since you made love?"

"You don't know me well enough to ask."

Well enough to know.

James blinked hard, his chest crowded, burning with so much feeling. Sorrow for Daniel's pain, jealousy he'd had someone who kept such a hold on him, jealousy it was a bond James would never know. Anger that Daniel was so alone when he didn't have to be, when he shouldn't be, that he couldn't even see there were options open to him. He was a man who needed to be touched, in every way. He thought of himself as a loner but James could see it was hurting him to be this way.

There was one thing he could do for Daniel, one thing that might make a difference.

Friday 2nd

I need to write all of this down, everything that happened between us. I need to be fair about what we did, and most of all, I **need** to work out what to do.

Jack sent the laptop skidding across his table, shoved his chair back and took off towards his basement. He was so incensed he didn't trust himself. Jealousy clawed at his throat, driving him to his punch bag, hands trembling with so much loathing he couldn't even tie on gloves.

Blind with rage, he threw punch after punch, pounded his bare fists into the cool leather until sweat blinded him, until he ached. His legs shook and he pounded on, his skin splitting, knuckles slipping on hot leather and slick blood, sending him staggering. He threw his arms around the punch bag, held himself up, panting harshly, his eyes closed.

It killed him.

He couldn't stand Elliot defining Daniel in these overtly sexual terms. He barely knew him and he wasn't interested in friendship much beyond what it took to get Daniel into bed.

Elliot was so arrogant, so sure he had all the answers. He was projecting, not hearing a word Daniel said to him that didn't fit what he wanted. Daniel saw some potential in the kid and he empathised with that whole outsider thing. He just wanted to understand Elliot, that was all. He wanted to learn more about a lifestyle he didn't know and couldn't comprehend. Daniel had learned some things in his life and he wanted to help Elliot out if he could. That was all. A small thing, but important to Daniel. People were.

Jack had a sick certainty where this was going and he couldn't, he really couldn't bear it. He did not want to read about Daniel having to put down some horrendous pass he wouldn't have seen coming. He thought he and the kid were reading from the same page. That much was clear to Jack.

He couldn't even hate Elliot, not for being young and cocksure, for wanting it all. The kid wasn't bad, he wasn't even wrong. He just saw the world in a way Daniel didn't know. It was all about the sex for him. It was easy. He'd never even been in a relationship, for chrissake. Who was he to judge Jack? Elliot hadn't lived.

Self-control and discipline were about all Jack had and even those were slipping away. Jack didn't know what he would do. All he knew was he was falling deeper in love with a man who fit him in every way. Jack O'Neill was career military, it was his life. The Air Force was all he had and he knew better than anyone what it had cost him, putting his duty first. Sex with Daniel meant giving up on everything he'd valued, everything he'd worked for. His whole life, Jack had put his duty before himself, before his son and his wife, and he was scared Daniel Jackson touched him so profoundly he could give up on it all.

He could not let Daniel take him away from the Air Force when the Air Force was what had taken him away from his wife and his son.

He could not want Daniel more.

He was very afraid that he did.

It drove him back to his punch bag to pound, and pound again.

Friday 2nd

I need to write all of this down, everything that happened between us. I need to be fair about what we did, and most of all, I **need** to work out what to do.

Daniel made roast lamb for dinner and even got me to drink a bottle of red wine with him. I don't remember the name, but it was Californian, and very good. Daniel loves wine but he gets so engrossed in his work he forgets to eat, let alone drink. He seems to be mostly caffeine-fuelled from what I can tell and he worries for the day he can't get his coffee high.

He chattered to me about Dr. Seuss and the Egyptian Book Of The Dead while he was frying potatoes and stuff in the kitchen. I sat at the table, drinking my wine and watching him as he moved. He was dressed in black, thin, tight and clinging everything. Dressed for comfort, I guess, but showing every curve of his body. I doubt it occurred to him anyone would be looking. He carries more muscle than I thought and he's tall, exactly six feet, yet he seems almost fragile. I can't explain it. He's the kind of man who wouldn't look twice at me if I ran into him in one of the bars, yet I was there and he was liking me just fine. I was giddy and I don't think it was the wine going to my head.

The food was great, far better than at The Rumour, and Daniel seemed anxious for me to talk. He said I could talk to him, I could talk about anything. He got embarrassed when I told him how rare it was to be with someone who didn't judge.

I talked about the academy and the Air Force, about the SGC. How I almost washed out because I wanted it too badly. I want to be the best. I admitted to that and Daniel didn't take it wrong. He is the best, he's the original thinker, the one they all copy. He gives everything he has to his research. That kind of drive and commitment, he understands. That's his definition of being the best. Like, Zen and the archaeologist, they say only you can be your judge. You can't measure up to anyone else's standard. I told him we couldn't all be like him. He's not the same as me, but he does understand where I'm coming from. When he talks, it's like he's plugged right into your brain. It's real hard to take, someone seeing you so clearly, not buying into any of your bullshit, not even the part you want to believe yourself.

No wonder O'Neill is scared of his feelings for him, no wonder he pushes him away. Daniel is slow to see that people like him. I can't explain this blind spot he has. He has a good opinion of most people he meets, tolerance for the rest, yet he can't see anything much good about himself at all. He's focused on his research, like he's not quite real to himself. It's about the truth in his work, I think, not about his accomplishments. He's strange and sweet and kind of wonderful.

I'm more certain than ever that he **needs** someone and I mean that someone to be me. O'Neill is never gonna have the gonads to take Daniel to bed. I don't have that problem and I think getting laid will help Daniel out a lot, help him see he doesn't have to live inside his own head like this. He shouldn't. He deserves better.

He's too nice a guy to be wasted all alone.

I wanted to get Daniel talking, keep the good times rolling, so I asked him what it was like out there, what it was really like, the stuff the orientation and the training didn't cover and he opened up about some of the weirder missions SG-1 have had. He can't say enough good things about O'Neill and the others but even when I pushed, there was nothing about himself. Ask about him, you wind up either talking about yourself or most likely hearing about his precious 'Jack'.

I was intrigued and I guess that was the start of it. Wanting to hear something special, something private to Daniel. Something that **didn't** involve 'Jack'. I was pretty determined to have one without the other.

We finished dinner and I gave Daniel my gift. He liked the bourbon sauce they served with his cheesecake at The Rumour and he was touched I remembered. He'd never had bourbon before that evening and he was really pleased to get this. After complaining it didn't come with cheesecake, he poured us both a shot. Baker's 107 Bourbon, a good brand and expensive, but it slips down like silk Daniel tasted vanilla and caramel and toasted nuts. He loved it. When we went over to the couch, I brought the bourbon along.

I really wanted him to open up and talk to me about himself. I figured the Baker's would help.

"Jack's my friend." Daniel held his glass cupped in his palms, rolling the bourbon, watching the amber light dance through the crystal. He would lift it to his face and breathe in the scent, then take a slow drink.

James had already re-filled the glass three times and was having no trouble keeping pace. Daniel's sensuous pleasure in the bourbon was such a turn-on to him, he needed a little something himself to take the edge off. He was hard enough to hurt, a sweet ache in his balls, heat in his belly, a good, familiar pain. There was tingling pleasure for him in the way his body was slowly tensing in anticipation of the sex.

It more than made up for the fact Daniel was maddeningly elusive and the only way James was learning anything about him was by bringing up O'Neill himself. He had to admit it was paying off.

Daniel was melting, his eyes closing as he savoured mellow caramel silk sliding down his throat. He only smiled when he saw James sitting there watching him, watching now more than he was talking, waiting for the moment he knew would come. The first hurdle was cleared. Daniel wasn't freaking because James was attracted to him. He was packing a serious boner in his jeans and Daniel was as close to him as before, closer, even. Comfortable.

"Your friend?" James prompted, keeping his tone light, smiling as Daniel tilted his head to rest against the cushions heaped behind him.



Daniel opened his eyes, blinking in confusion at this.

"The two of you are?" James explained incoherently, waving a vague hand, feeling a little of the bourbon buzz and thinking Daniel's eyes were like sky. Summer sky. They had just that heat and light.

"Same. Jack 'n' me. The same."

"Not that I could see."

"Together," Daniel promised, holding out his glass invitingly.

James poured another generous shot for them both, his hand and the bottle trembling.

"Always together," Daniel murmured, his face serene.

"You love him." Of course Daniel loved him. That was why he put up with O'Neill's shit the way he did. He just didn't have a clue O'Neill wanted to bend him over and fuck him blind.

Daniel only smiled.

"Want him?"

"Questions, questions," Daniel complained, rolling the bourbon in his crystal glass and then beatifically over his tongue.

"Do you?" James persisted.

"All o' the time. Always Jack. My friend." Daniel said this with such serene pleasure it hurt.

"Is he good to you?"

"He's Jack. Jus' Jack. My Jack." Daniel breathed in the rich scents in his glass.

"Yours," James sighed heavily. "Can he kiss you?"

Daniel frowned over this, pouting.

Swallowing hard, James reached out to brush his thumb tenderly over the bourbon-sleek lips. Daniel's fingers stroked over his, slipped a little, then closed around his hand, took it down to rest on his knee.

"Can Jack kiss you?" Firm muscle was hot beneath his hand. He was close, so close to having what he wanted. He felt it. Daniel was close.

"Kiss?" Daniel's tongue slid savouringly over his lush lower lip. "Mmm." He closed his eyes, sinking deeper into the embrace of the cushions.

His heart pounding, James slid off the couch, kneeling before Daniel, resting both hands on his knees.

"Ever wanted a man?" he asked, breathlessly intense.


"If this was Jack?" James murmured, transfixed by the radiant face, slowly stroking his hands back and forth over Daniel's thighs, feeling the thin fabric bunch beneath his palms and slip easily over sleek muscles. Desire panged sharp and sullen in his groin. "Jack here with you. Imagine him."


James spread his fingers, drawing his thumbs along Daniel's inner thighs. He nudged Daniel's knees apart, and leaned in between them. "Jack touching you. Wanting you." He cupped the soft curve between Daniel's legs, rubbing gently.

Daniel rolled his head against the cushions, sighing as his cock swelled beneath James's coaxing hand. "Jaaack," he breathed.

"Want you, Daniel," James whispered. "Here for you."

He slid his fingers up to the waistband of Daniel's pants, loosened the drawstring and eased the warm fabric down over the gentle swell of his belly and slim hips, lowering his head kiss the tip of Daniel's erect rosy cock. Daniel's hips jerked reflexively and he gasped as his cock slid into James's watering mouth. James moaned as pounding heat stroked over his tongue, greedily gulping cock down until he took all of Daniel in. Sucking ecstatically, he took Daniel's balls velvet between massaging fingers, peering awkwardly up to see the effect he was having. Daniel's neck was arched like a swan, the tendons standing proud, his hands thrown up to grip white-knuckled on the back of the couch, his mouth gaping wide as he shivered and groaned, guttural in his desperation.

James gave himself up to the pleasures of Daniel's proud cock, throbbing against his crowding, squeezing tongue. Daniel was bursting in his mouth, slim hips stuttering as James grated his teeth over hot skin then gulped him deep again. Fingering Daniel's balls made his cock twitch and spurt delicious bitterness in the back of his throat.

His own cock pulsed, iron in his jeans. He thought he might come just from this, his nose filled with the scent and his mouth with the taste of Daniel, helpless with what James was doing for him, splayed in his surrender. James needed to come, he needed to fuck Daniel now, his body thrumming with the heady power of this.

He could do anything. Anything. He knew it. It had been so long for Daniel, he was open to any pleasure.

He squeezed the jerking cock in his mouth as he squeezed Daniel's balls, mind flaming in triumph as Daniel's body spasmed in orgasm, cock erupting, shooting down his throat. Rapturously, he swallowed ribbons of slick cream, sucking Daniel dry.

I never knew anyone who gave himself over so completely to sex. He let me do everything for him I wanted. His eyes were closed and he breathed a name, too soft for me to hear. My name, I think. Had to be. He was with me. I was staggering and dizzy from the booze, practically coming in my jeans, I needed to fuck him so bad and Daniel was wasted from bourbon and orgasm. I wasn't about to do him on his knees at the couch and it was good when he put his arms around me, held onto me as I walked him around into his bedroom.

I got him on the bed and took care of his clothes so I could touch him some. He lay down and cuddled into his pillows while I stripped. I was clumsy and shaking, told him I was sorry I couldn't do more for him than this. I meant it. His skin is satin, his body perfect. I wanted to take my time with him but was scared to touch him more than I had.

I was worried he would tense up, that it would be too much of a shock for him, but he just snuggled where he was on the bed and made these soft sounds in the back of his throat while I stretched him. I asked him if we were good before I fucked him. He just made this murmuring sound, waiting, inviting.

He was so relaxed when I pushed into him, his body didn't fight me at all. He made that sound again as I slid deep into him, all the way in. I held his hands in mine, rubbed my face in his hair as he took all my weight on his back. I knew he'd never been with a man before and it blew my mind to be his first. He filled me up inside, he was warm and still and he took everything I could give him.

I fucked him. I fucked him hard and fast and slow and deep. I fucked Daniel. I fucked my fill.

I went with my gut and I was right. Daniel was starving for sex. He took everything I could do to him. I was right about him too, I win again.



"Uh, what?" Daniel was muffled, sounding groggy and close to panic.

James lifted his face from the pillow, groaning piteously as nausea roiled, burning the back of his parched throat. His head was pulsing. "Baker's 107 bourbon," he moaned, licking the warm, sweaty skin on Daniel's shoulder. "That's what."

"Don't," Daniel ordered, shuddering.

"Sure," James apologised easily. "God, I hope you feel better than I do."

"I was drunk."

"Me too."

"I was drunk!" Daniel rolled over suddenly, pushing James's lazy, encircling arm off of him. He scrambled up, his back hard against the headboard, knees folded to his chest, his face white.

"It made for great sex," James swore reverently, staring at Daniel and starting to think maybe, just maybe, he would live. His head might be pounding, but his cock apparently had the casting vote here.

"You had sex," Daniel whispered, his pale face greying.

"We," James corrected absently, looking over Daniel's slim, muscular body appreciatively. "You came down my throat, remember?"

"I. I." Daniel stuttered to a halt, wide-eyed and kind of desperate, staring searchingly at nothing. He pushed the heels of his hands into his eye-sockets, held them there while he tried to think. "I - I remember." He jerked his hands away, looking around at the tumbled bed, his gaze skittering away from James, hung-over and sweatily sprawled, his cock beginning to jut.

"Want to fuck again?" James invited him, slowly sitting up.

"I - did I - did I say?" Daniel turned his face away.

"You didn't say much more than my name."

This didn't seem enough for Daniel, his shoulders jerking.

"You moaned while we were fucking," James murmured huskily, his balls tightening at the memory of Daniel's fabulous ass. "A lot. Made the most incredible sounds."

"There was no we," Daniel said in a soft, dead voice. "I take anti-histamine."


"Doesn't go well with alcohol. Induces drowsiness and impairs judgement. Says so right there on the box. The warning label. Side-effects. I didn't think, I mean, I don't drink a lot. It's never been an issue," Daniel was babbling, all of this tumbling out of him in a weird monotone, like he wasn't completely there. "I didn't think it was an issue. The bourbon was good and I didn't think." He shuddered violently. "I didn't think."

"Look, what are you trying to say here?" Frowning, James got up onto his knees, staring at Daniel, who wouldn't even turn to him. He felt like shit and he really needed to throw up. He was finding all of this morning-after-the-night-before freaking difficult to follow but he knew something was badly wrong here and he wanted to help straighten it out. He didn't want to see Daniel feeling this way, not when they were so good together last night. "I went down on you and then we came in here and fucked. It was great sex. I asked you, Daniel. I asked if we were good. You never said no, you never made a move to stop me and you sure as hell never passed out while we were fucking."

"I didn't say no," Daniel echoed with an odd note of recognition. "I'd like you to leave now, Lt. Elliot." He looked around at last.

I fucked him in his own bed and I can't take it back. He remembers enough to know that. He remembers enough, I made him cry.

I never meant to hurt him but I did. I made him cry. I don't know what to do for him.

Jack's knees hit tile and his dinner hit the back of the john in one vast convulsive heave. He hung there, retching up beer and bile, his eyes stinging and leaking tears.

His mind was white and roaring for the longest time and then he hoisted himself painfully to his feet, stumbling out of the bathroom. His teeth chattered and his fingers shook. Clenching down, he needed heat. He made it into the dining room, into a bottle and a glass. Stood blankly before his reflection, choking down scalding spirit. His dead eyes drove him outside to pace out the worst of his fury. He caught glimpses of himself in the window, of his face and the questions there, the bottle neck gripped tight in bleeding fingers, the glass stuttering at his lips. He jumped down from the deck, stormed out into the dark.

Where was he? Where?

He didn't know. How could he?

Daniel said nothing, gave nothing away. He was quiet, he was always quiet lately and then he slipped away, ready to kill. He was quiet about the mission like it didn't matter, like he wasn't the one among them to find another way. He was always ready to give, even to die, but to kill? That was only when he'd used up all his options, with his back against the wall and no other choice to take. Daniel was no assassin, he would never accept the necessity of that, he would always find another way for Jack, for the others. Not for himself, though, not this time. He took the mission without a word and slipped away like it didn't matter.

It didn't matter.

Daniel was raped.

He didn't matter. Is that what he was thinking?

So much Jack didn't know, so much he'd seen and hadn't questioned, only been relieved Daniel was quiet and it was easier for him to keep his focus.

Daniel was raped.

Where had he been?

He picked the kid, he applauded the kid who raped his friend. Welcomed him in. Felt pity for him when he died. A medal, for chrissake. For the heroism, for an arrogant little bastard who got off on the sex at the time and wrote it all later and never knew it was rape. Elliot asked for what he wanted, that was what he knew, not that he needed an answer. He asked and Daniel never said no and never passed out and that was enough for Elliot to fuck him.

Daniel never said no.

I made him cry.

Daniel never heard him.

I made him cry.

Daniel would never touch him.

Jack dashed an angry hand across his burning eyes, the hand with the glass, he thought about rape and silence and slipping away. He climbed back into the bottle.

Daniel tried to make a friend of Elliot, tried to give something of himself, something good, he trusted and Jack wasn't there and all that was good in Daniel got taken.

I win again.

I made him cry.

I don't know what to do for him.

Too little, too late.

Elliot gave his life for Daniel, tried to give something of himself back in place of what he'd taken. He'd learned something from Daniel. Not enough. Daniel didn't kill and didn't die at the snake summit, maybe like he'd hoped, he didn't save Sarah, only himself, he came back and he had to go on, live, with the rape and Elliot's sacrifice he had to know was about him, had to carry all that weight as well. Had to do it alone.

Jack had seen the weight Daniel carried on his shoulders, enough weight to make him choose to kill, enough to make him leave a boy alone to die, without a question. Jack was there, he was a part of it, but hadn't understood what he was seeing. Daniel had looked to him, accepted his decision, made no fuss and Jack didn't think to question him.

Daniel had to be quiet. Who did he have to tell? He wouldn't have been listening to Elliot at all if Jack had been talking.

He hadn't even asked Daniel about Sarah. Had anyone?

He drained his glass and drank again, sat heavy in the wet grass and hugged his bottle. Drank more.

Bourbon and ego cost Daniel. Jack didn't know yet how much more than he'd read. His mind was turning circles. Elliot drank enough to believe he was god, he drank his control away. Daniel drank enough to have slipped away from him and Elliot didn't know it, he didn't see how Daniel was with Jack in his mind, Jack's kiss, the kiss Elliot never gave, Jack's hand and mouth on him. Elliot only used it to get Daniel hot, he moved on but Daniel stayed with Jack.

The sound Daniel made, in the bed.

Was it Jack's name?

There wasn't enough heat in this bottle for that and it hammered him to his feet in search of another. He drank deeply, the glass shaking or maybe his hand, but there was no heat anywhere for him.

He wasn't there. He was afraid of what he wanted and Daniel was alone, lonely because he needed Jack with him while Jack needed distance. He kept himself safe and Daniel quiet. He had to get his head straight, to get his friend back on terms he decided. That was what he told himself, that was his excuse. A careful distance worked for him, he didn't have to deal with Daniel wanting him around and missing him, he tuned out Daniel's struggle to adjust. He got some focus back, he got the job done while Daniel got quiet and took what Jack would give him. He didn't want to go deeper than they were, he didn't want to give in to his feelings. He didn't want Daniel to be everything to him, he couldn't be the person that would make him.

It was all about what Jack wanted. He and Elliot, they were the same. Jack didn't give Daniel a chance when he couldn't get past how his feelings for him had changed, he didn't ask or offer anything. He'd hurt Daniel with that and worse. Elliot did the same. All of this - Elliot was Jack's fault.

Sweating over another emptied bottle, he couldn't save Daniel, only himself, he convulsed with cold and hating, and his mind roared again.

Jack came to with his face against glass and a spiking pain in his neck. Pinwheels flared behind his eyes when he moved and his pounding head swam. He reached out to steady himself, found his steering wheel under his hands and leaned on it gratefully, breathing harshly as the world steadied. He was in his truck.

His truck? Christ, had he been driving? In this state? Shock forced his eyes open, got him moving. He was on some street, dark buildings all around and it was only when he looked where light spilled out on the sidewalk he realised he was parked across the street from Daniel's building.

He had no clue how he got here or when or what the fuck he was thinking. He slid shakily out of the truck, leaned his weight against the hood and looked up blearily, painfully counting floors until he hit eight and Daniel's balcony. No lights he could see and he hoped, he prayed he hadn't been up there.

There was bottled water sitting in the cup holder and he went back for it, guzzled it down, poured some over his head and let the truck take his weight while he stared up at Daniel's apartment and tried to think.

What could he say to Daniel? There was nothing, was there? It would maybe make him feel better for a few minutes to spill his guts, to get it all out, but he would crush Daniel. Elliot wrote it down, he wrote it all and Jack sat there reading with a beer. He didn't know how Daniel felt, he wasn't there and Elliot didn't have that kind of empathy. If he rushed in blind, Daniel would just get hurt again.

"Christ," Jack breathed, some pieces dropping into place for him. Why had he been assuming Daniel's interest in Elliot's sexual exploits was altruistic? He didn't know, he wasn't sure of anything but his gut told him that he was there, he was part of what had happened. He was right there in Daniel's head. Daniel had been imagining Jack, fantasising being with him, that was what turned Daniel on.

How do you kiss a man the first time?

My Jack

My friend.


He'd been blind. He looked at Daniel and saw only his own feelings, his attraction. His problem. It was all about him. He never let himself be close enough anymore so Daniel could talk, he didn't want to be guilty so he didn't see, he never imagined Daniel was attracted to him.

"God, Daniel. Daniel, what in hell were you thinking? That it was you?" Jack whispered, appalled and cringing. "You're to blame for me? You made me back away? You think I knew you wanted me, I pushed you away 'cause I couldn't feel the same?"

Daniel was what he was, he shouldered blame. He would look at Jack, at the anger he couldn't hide, the constant put-downs, how it was all about work for them, nothing allowed to get personal, he would see it exactly that way. Jack shutting him down, shoving him away, because there was nothing he had to say, nothing he had to offer Jack wanted.

What Jack wanted was everything. He always did. He tried to have it all but he was the one who found it hard to give. Sarah walked away from him for that. Correction. He drove her away. He gave her no choice at all, holding back his feelings, refusing to even talk. He cut her dead, like he was cutting Daniel dead, refusing to acknowledge him outside the job they had to do.

All this time he was fooling himself his family meant the world to him, he couldn't let Daniel be more to him than them. Why couldn't he just admit what scared him here was Daniel wouldn't let him hide or quit? He would have to face Daniel, he would have to face himself. He would have to give everything he would've held back, he would have to talk.

The truth was, Sarah and Charlie meant nothing to him if he couldn't learn anything from losing them the way he had and the military wasn't his life, it was camouflage. If he did nothing now, if he did the wrong thing, he would lose Daniel, he maybe already had.

He had to have Daniel in his life, it was his one constant. To lose him would be unbearable. They were too bound up for Jack to be apart.

All his careful choices were meaningless. This wasn't up to him.

All he could think to do was talk, let out some of the truth, the parts that were about him. If he could tell Daniel he was in love with him, that he necessary to him, it could make a difference. It could help. It might. He didn't know where it would take them, if Daniel could even hear this from him now, but he honestly didn't know what else to do.

On to part two

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