Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Character Study.  Drama.  Episode Related.  Established Relationship.  First Time.  Friendship.  Romance.
Season/Spoilers: Season 4.  Missing Scenes for "The Other Side,"  "Upgrades," "Divide And Conquer," "The First Ones," "Scorched Earth" and "Beneath The Surface".
Synopsis: Jonah's passion for Carlin forces Jack and Daniel to finally face what their relationship really is.  "Pro tempore," from the Latin, meaning "For the time being."
Warnings: Hot graphic sex and lots of it.
Length: 265 Kb Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story

Carlin jerked awake to find a large, careful hand over his mouth and Jonah crouching by his pallet.  Imperatively, Jonah jerked his head, signalling Carlin to follow.  As his mouth was freed, Carlin sat up, intrigued by the unexpected capitulation of this dour, antagonistic man.  He'd believed Therra would be the first to come to him with her fragments of dreams and fleeting memories.  He slid from his pallet, easing away from his sleeping teammates.  Jonah paused, frowning darkly down at the oblivious Kegan, deeply asleep, face down on her pallet next to Carlin's.  He shifted away from her reluctantly only when Carlin pushed at his shoulder, impatient of petty grudges.  

The two of them walked slowly and with great caution, alert for any disturbance of the familiar night sounds or a break in the routine of the few workers forced to work this shift, the old and the infirm, capable of little more than care-taking.  There were people all around them, though, sleeping alone or in pairs, some talking softly as Jonah and Carlin slipped by them in the shadows.  Sometimes there were noises, grunts and moans, the rhythmic creak of pallets.  There was no privacy, no space which truly belonged to anyone.  Those few who were paired up with women would slip away into the darkness, among the machines.  For the rest, men were more concerned with their gratification than with onlookers and they all grew accustomed to the sounds of sex.

Jonah led the way to the hiding-hole he'd made for himself, the place they'd talked earlier, as far from the other workers as it was ever possible to be.  Carlin went the last few yards alone, Jonah dropping back to check around, make sure no one had followed them.  He stood leaning against the warm pipes, arms tensely folded across his chest, impatient to learn what had so disturbed Jonah's sleep it couldn't wait 'til morning and how it would help them find the people Teal'c had claimed them to be.

A touch to his shoulder from behind made him start violently and spin around, his heart racing, to find Jonah, glittering-eyed, darkly amused by his fright.  Flushing angrily, Carlin grabbed a fistful of Jonah's jacket and jerked him up close.  "This is no time for games!" he hissed.

"No," Jonah agreed as he took hold of Carlin's face and kissed him hard on the mouth.

Pinned against the pipes, Carlin struggled against the implacable body holding him with offensive ease, furious with himself as much as with Jonah for trapping him so neatly.  Braced grimly against the fierce pressure on his lips, he refused to give Jonah what he was trying to take.

"Therra?" he choked incredulously when his mouth was freed at last.  Everyone saw them together, Kegan's disdain for Therra's eagerness to please Brenna great enough to encompass Jonah too, for little more than his association with her.

"I follow her round like a dog," Jonah retorted uncaringly, his eyes roaming, restless, over Carlin's face.

"A dog?" Carlin blinked, curiosity, his great besetting sin, knifing through his anger.  He didn't know this word, had never heard it before.  And yet…it struck a chord.  It unnerved him how so much of what this man said did.

"It's an expression," Jonah said wearily.  It sounded as if this were something he said a lot.

"It could be a memory!" Carlin argued hotly.

"Therra's a friend, nothing more.  I look out for her, that's all.  She's better than me and she knows it."

As if this mattered at all!  "I don't care," Carlin said flatly.  "If you have nothing more that could help us learn about who we are, then you've got nothing for me."

Jonah pushed his hips forward, grinding the heat of his straining erection into Carlin, smirking as he shivered.  "I want you," he growled, grazing his lips persuasively over Carlin's cheek.

"She turns you down so you come sniffing round me?" Carlin eyed him contemptuously, his pride more stung by the studied insult than it should be.  Jonah wasn't the first man to come to him looking for sex and Carlin had never had any difficulty or hesitation in turning them down, without ill-feeling on his part at least.  He was aggravated by his own naïveté.  There were workers he needed no warnings of Kegan's to know he must take care not to be alone with, yet Jonah beckoned and he followed the man as heedless as a child.  Jonah - the arrogant dick got under his skin.  He couldn't explain why this was so. "You're pathetic, Jonah," he sneered.  "Get the hell off me!"  

"You talk tough for a man with no options," Jonah said pleasantly, pleasurably rocking their bodies together.

"If you were going to take me, you'd have done it already," Carlin responded evenly, refusing to excite Jonah more with his struggles.

"I want sex, not rape."  Jonah dipped his head, kissing Carlin's shoulder.  "And I've seen the way you look at me."

"Wh-wh-wh-what?" Carlin stammered, a shock of heat and cold surging through him, burning his skin.

"That bitch Kegan is in heat for you."  Jonah was breathing in Carlin's scent at the hollow of his throat, nosing the hot skin there.  "Can't keep her hands off of you.  Everyone sees."

It was news to Carlin that Jonah had been looking.

"You know how it is here," Jonah went on, crowding Carlin harder against the pipes.  "The women choose, that's their right.  Kegan has chosen you."

Carlin swallowed.  It was true Kegan had hopes of him, she'd made her interest clear.  He wasn't drawn to her that way, but even his curiosity and stubborn questioning of all he saw of their lives, their world,  the way he stood out from the other workers, didn't deter her.  She moved her pallet next to his, looked out for him in a way she did for no one else, her sharp eyes and sharper voice soft only for him.  He let her touch and gave her only his friendship in return.

"A man doesn't refuse a woman unless he wants this," Jonah whispered, clamping Carlin's resistant hand to the steely bulge at his crotch.  "You want this, want me.  You watch me, when you're with her, when I'm with Therra.  Your eyes are on me all the time.  And mine are on you," he added thickly.

"Teal'c said we were friends in this other life, the one we don’t know," Carlin countered fiercely, uneasily aware there was some small truth to Jonah's insolent assertions.  "That's all there is between us!"

"We were lovers."

Jonah's purring complacence stunned Carlin.  He spoke as if this were a self-evident truth Carlin should know.

"I dream about you, Carlin.  Your skin and the taste of you.  You haunt me."  He punctuated every word with a sensuous brush of his lips against Carlin's throat.  "I'm in your dreams too.  You can't deny it."

"It's about the pool!"  Carlin was trembling, his heart thudding wildly as he fought for focus.  "The pool of shimmering water."   Something bigger, more important than himself.  A place he fit.  He knew it.  "It's not about me!" he argued desperately, half-wishing Jonah would hurt him, give him something he could fight.  "Stop!"  It came out almost as a plea.  "Stop touching me."

"You're following me!" Jonah insisted fiercely.  "You told us.  Kegan is right there behind you, panting for you, but you turn to me, you want me."  He took hold of Carlin's chin, forced it up, staring at him, dark eyes hot, intense.  "I'm not with Therra and I don't want any man I can take.  I want to fuck you."   He took Carlin's mouth, thrusting into him, driving deep in a grating clash of teeth, groaning as Carlin fought his pistoning tongue.  Jonah's passion ravaged him, barely this side of violence, an urgent hand tearing at the fastenings of his breeches, sliding over his bared skin to free his cock.

Carlin gasped aloud, desire firing low in his groin as Jonah pulled at him, a squeezing, sliding grip, a subtle twist, just there, just right.  Dizzying blood slid down, filling his throbbing cock with sinful ease.  His legs shaking, he moaned out in pleasure and protest, then Jonah was taking them down heavily into the sacks he'd heaped on the ground.

Jonah kissed him again, biting at his mouth as he wrestled off their clothes, shedding his jacket and filthy tunic, shoving up Carlin's vest to bare his chest.  He dropped his head then, sucking at a nipple, nipping with his teeth as Carlin's belly flamed.  Devastated by Jonah's unerring arousal of him, the aching familiarity of his touch, Carlin pushed him, not away, but down, moaning out as Jonah buried his face ecstatically in his groin, took one of his balls into his mouth, squeezing it with his tongue as he fingered the other.  He clutched at Jonah's silvering hair, pushed at him again, arching up wildly as a hot mouth closed greedily around his thumping cock, sucking powerfully.  His shaking legs folded convulsively against the torrid pleasure.  Jonah yanked clear his breeches, hooking strong arms around his thighs to tilt up his hips and deepen the friction of sliding teeth and squeezing tongue as Carlin rapturously fucked his mouth.  

Without warning, Jonah jerked clear, surging up to kiss him again, his hand moving confidently between Carlin's sprawled legs, stroking his slippery cock, then the sensitised flesh behind his balls.  A probing finger centred and pushed, breaching him.  Gasping into Jonah's mouth, Carlin shuddered, instinctively bearing down.  Jonah slid into him, a strong, intrusive pain.  He was reaching, rubbing, Carlin swamped with liquid pleasure, tightening his balls.  His whole body throbbing with frustration, Carlin pushed down, clenching round Jonah's stroking finger, whimpering as pleasure struck again.

"Carlin," Jonah slurred, voice trembling as his weight shifted between Carlin's legs.  He lifted them, hooked them high around his back, planted his fists and stared down into Carlin's face.  "Carlin," he whispered again.  Slick, hot skin nudged, Jonah's tongue swallowing Carlin's cry of pain as he buried himself with fast, forceful lunges, powering up from his knees.  When his balls rested against Carlin's buttocks, Jonah held himself still, waiting for him to adjust to his penetration, kissing him passionately.

Racked on the cock inside him, Carlin trembled violently as the burning pain gradually dulled, his body aching and unsatisfied.  Only Jonah's tongue stroked, soft and sensuous, over his, begging his response.  Wet fingers spread caressingly over his cheek and Carlin opened his eyes to find Jonah staring down at him, his face strangely tender.  It was the first, the only vulnerability Jonah had ever shown.  When Carlin lifted his own hands to Jonah's face, he stunned him with a warm kiss whispered over his palm.

This - this was more than lust.  Jonah had feelings for him, strong, passionate, more than he was able to control.  Wondering and moved, Carlin kissed Jonah, slipping into his waiting mouth, a rasp of moist heat and coaxing pressure.  

Heat licked and curled inside him as Jonah rocked his hips, stroking strong and deep.  His muscles gripped the throbbing, sliding skin, giving grudgingly to the driving rhythm.  Euphoric sensation sparked at each thrust, prickling his skin, intensifying as Jonah fucked him hard and steady, kissing him wildly.  A ripple of pleasure, pulsing through him, wheeling behind his eyes.  Shuddering, Carlin clawed at Jonah's broad shoulders, sliding trembling legs down to drive his heels into warm, smooth, flexing buttocks, force him deeper, harder, closer.

Grunting, Jonah laboured, desperately angling his hips to jab against a certain spot deep inside.  Carlin's buttocks clenched on ecstatic spasms, his body arched and palsied, orgasm seizing as Jonah convulsed and collapsed, pumping voluptuous heat into him.

Blindly, Jonah found Carlin's mouth again, kissing him deliriously and for a long time, until the tremors stopped and there was warmth between them.


"You're the last person I expected to see tonight," Daniel greeted Jack dryly, leaning against his door.

"Can I come in?" Jack asked with more patience than he actually felt.  "I need to talk to you."

"I think we about covered it on Euronda," Daniel countered, making no move to welcome Jack in.

"I apologised for that," Jack stiffly reminded him.

"Yes.  You did."

Jack stepped forward and took hold of Daniel's arm, staring at his stubborn, pain in the ass friend.  "Let me in, Daniel.  Please.  I need to talk," he said again, compellingly.  The please was calculated, heard from him about as often as sorry.

It didn't soften Daniel but he did pull free, turn and walk away, leaving Jack to grimace wryly, close and lock the door behind them both.  He wasn't going home tonight.  He meant to stay, to spend the night with Daniel.  The first of many nights, he hoped.

They really couldn't go on as they were.  He couldn't.  He was very attracted to Daniel, wanting him more, not less, as they went on, and his control was slipping.

"Coffee?" Daniel enquired casually, heading into the kitchen to pour a cup for himself.  His laptop was on the larger of his two tables, surrounded by books and photographs, his private journal open beside it.

"Does that come with dessert?" Jack called out hopefully, taking off his leather jacket, shaking his head pityingly over Daniel's pathetic notion of fun.  He glanced at the laptop, recognising distinctive golden text.  Carter's computer model of the meaning of life stuff, the library at Heliopolis.  Daniel had never quite let it go.

Daniel came out of the kitchen, put two mugs down on the other table, then walked away again as Jack wandered over, helped himself to coffee and sat thankfully down.  His not particularly genial host emerged with two heroic portions of coffee-walnut cake, drenched in fresh cream, handed him a plate, then sat opposite him.

"So?" He looked at Jack, his eyebrows raised.  "What did you want to say to me?"  He said this neutrally, not angry, but not exactly invitingly either.

"That I'm tired," Jack said simply, shrugging.  Picking up his spoon, he dug into the cake, tasted and grinned.  "S' good," he praised.

"Tired?"  Leaning forward on his elbows, Daniel was frowning over this, markedly more sympathetic.

"Pissed, pressured and tired," Jack elaborated, taking a blissful swig of Daniel's always excellent coffee.

"The pissed part I worked out for myself, so let's start with pressured," Daniel invited, investigating his own slab of cake.

"The Pentagon," Jack noted on another bite of cake.  It was really very good.  "According to whom, we're turning up crap if we turn up anything at all."

Daniel sat back in his chair, his spoon poised.  "That's ridiculous," he argued, scowling.  "Area 51 is filled with technology and artefacts we, and the other SG teams, brought back."

"All for the good of mankind."

"Therefore crap," Daniel snapped.  "You mean, or rather the Pentagon mean, we're not bringing back weapons."

Jack wouldn't deny this.

"Hence your bull-headed, hawkish obstinacy on Euronda."

"You really are mad at me if you're mixing metaphors," Jack remarked, eating some more cake.  "I said I was sorry for that and I meant it."

Daniel eyed him somewhat sceptically.  "As you reminded me so forcefully, our standing orders are to procure new technologies to aid in the defence against the Goa'uld.  After more than three years willingly working to that specific agenda, suddenly you're 'pressured'?"

"Partly," Jack confirmed.  "Mostly I'm pressured by you."  It was helping he'd planned all this out, exactly what he would say, what he would do.  

"Déjà vu," Daniel snapped, annoyed.  "Didn't we establish this is not about me?"

"I don't mean your nagging dovish persistence," Jack retorted, picking up Daniel's mixed metaphors and making them his own.

"Then what do you mean?" Daniel asked more quietly, puzzling over this.

"My attraction to you," Jack said calmly, kind of pleased with his delivery.  Daniel's reaction, too.  It wasn't often the man was stunned into silence.  Usually the opposite.  "I'm very attracted to you," he said again, smiling as Daniel stared at him, his mouth open.  "You must have sensed some of this?"  Daniel blinked hard.   This was all.  "Because I've been thinking, for a while now, you're attracted to me too."  There it was.  The only reason he was here, laying his career on the line, trusting Daniel with this.  "When we got back from P4-whatsit, you were kind of pleased to see me."  Bouncing with excitement, in fact.  As overreactions went, it was kind of cute.

"You were missing for nine days," Daniel pointed out, abruptly regaining his voice.

Jack smiled warmly.  "You missed me."

"In the sense you were miss-ing," Daniel emphasised unsubtly.

Jack's smile widened.  "You were smitten.  You were crying when you had to blow up that big, ugly space bug in my ass."

"Naturally, I was, um." Daniel shut up then and dropped his head, apparently not feeling up to defending the indefensible.  He was getting red in the face.

"It's nice you feel that way," Jack said gently.  "We're friends, Daniel.  I feel that way too."

Daniel looked up at this.  "Friends?"

Jack reached across the table and put his hand on Daniel's.  "Friends who sleep together?" he invited softly, his voice rising coaxingly.

Daniel's breath whooshed out of his chest in an astonished 'oof'.  Jack squeezed his hand and let him go to wallow in his stupefaction.

"That's not an offer I've made anyone in the whole of my career," Jack promised, with something approaching solemnity.  This was the literal truth.  "I want you, Daniel.  More and more.  It's - it's driving me nuts."



"This would be stress-relief?" Daniel never avoided difficulties, whether dealing or making.

"This would be friends," Jack replied emphatically, "who trust each other enough and are attracted to each other enough to have sex."  

Daniel looked at him intently.  "There are all kinds of rules."

"They apply to fraternisation with civilians too," Jack supplied, in case Daniel was wondering.

"Rules you're choosing to break on the grounds that?" Daniel waved a hand, inviting Jack to fill in the blank.

"On the grounds that we, that is, the team, will be better off."  

"Better off?" Daniel raised his eyebrows.  "I don't believe that's the popular Air Force view."

"Who's to judge?" Jack asked whimsically.  "If the alternative is more days like today."  He'd actually executed a man, a bit of a stretch even for him, though the lying white supremacist scum Alar richly deserved it for almost succeeding in getting Jack and the good old US of A to bend over and take it up the ass.

"So your argument is team morale will improve if you're getting laid on a regular basis?"

"Our morale too, yours and mine."

Daniel shook his head giddily, still not quite believing what he was hearing.  Then he leaned forward, planting his elbows on the table, his expression serious.  "I know you break the rules when it suits you, Jack.  Sometimes that makes it difficult to know where you're coming from and on occasion, what you'll do."

"Do I do anything different than you?" Jack challenged him.  "You question everything, Daniel.  Everything I do.  You don't follow my lead unless it suits you, so I have to ask.  Since when did the USAF rulebook get so important to you?"

"It's - not," Daniel admitted reluctantly.

"This is the part where you tell me you follow me when I'm right," Jack encouraged him.

"And the part where I have to admit to you that effectively we're arguing semantics because I'm criticising you for proposing to do what I tend to do," Daniel sighed.

"If you're worried about Carter and Teal'c, I can respect that," Jack promised.  "What I'm trying to get across to you is that this team is not like any other command I've had.  Forget that one of my men is an alien, one is a girl and the other is you, the point is that I'm too damned close to all of you.  I care about you all far more than the rulebook allows me to.  Every time I drag you and Teal'c to some seedy bar for alcoholic beverages neither of you will consume, I'm violating the letter and the spirit of those regs.  Every time I have you over for dinner or a movie or a game, I violate the regs, and I've done that at least once a week for more than three years.  You and I are not supposed to be friends at all, yet I don't see Hammond objecting to that.  Do you?"

"So, you're saying throwing sex into the mix is merely a matter of degree?" Daniel queried.  "And it, um, it has to be sex with me?"

"Want me to go over that part again?"

"Please.  I'm having difficulty taking it in."

"I want to have sex with you," Jack enunciated clearly.  "I dream, I think, I fantasise about having sex with you."

"Okay."  Daniel eyed him dubiously.  "It's still, um.  You know?"

"The reason I think this will work is because we both put SG-1 first.  I don't believe that will change if we're sleeping together and frankly, it'll put both of us in one helluva better mood!"

"What's this 'we' thing, pale face?" Daniel joked and then got embarrassed.  He didn't tend to make jokes, as a rule.

"How can I convince you I'm serious?" Jack asked earnestly.  "That I wouldn't have come to you if I hadn't thought through every possible angle, every threat to the team, to us, to you."  He meant this  sincerely.  "I swear, I see more pros than cons and those cons are pre-existing threats to the team whether you and I are sleeping together or not.  Days like today, I see only benefits from the two of us being less frustrated and communicating more effectively."

"I'm finding your argument difficult to counter precisely because we are friends and I do know you."  Daniel hesitated, glancing at Jack and then away again, taking some time, thinking something through.  "Being strictly honest, I have to admit I see your point about improving communication.  But only if it worked, Jack!" he added passionately.  "This is an impossible situation."

"I can't go on as we are, that's all I know," Jack told him, not sure if he was being fair.  "Everything else?"  He shrugged.

"So you're damned if I don't and we both may be damned if I do."

"I don't think that at all.  We both care, Daniel.  We've worked through far worse things than having to decide to stop sleeping together if it doesn't work out," Jack reminded him.  "If the foundations weren't solid, I wouldn't be here."

"You're trusting me," Daniel acknowledged.

"I hope you trust me too."

"Some days you shake that trust," Daniel admitted with difficulty.

"Some days you do too."

"We haven't talked about limits."

"SG-1 comes first, that's a given," Jack responded, smiling again.  "We don't neglect Teal'c and we hang out and do the stuff we'd normally do.  But when we want to, we get together, have some sex.  No sulking, no recriminations if we both don't want it or if one of us, i.e., you, have stuff to do.  I figure if we're talking, you know?  We'll be fine.  This will be good, a friendship thing for us, more than we've had before."

Daniel was smiling tentatively.  "You really believe that?" he asked softly.
"Who else do we have?" Jack asked persuasively in response.  "Nobody gets you like I do, nobody gets me.  Neither one of us has been in a relationship for years, the security risks alone preclude casual pick-ups even if we were inclined, our schedule is insane."

"I hate hard-sell," Daniel rallied enough to tease.

"Look at me and tell me straight out you aren't attracted to me."  Jack sounded anything but confrontational.  "We'll call it quits."

Daniel blushed hotly, his gaze dropping bashfully.  "I can't do that," he said quietly.

"So sleep with me," Jack cajoled.

"I," Daniel glanced fleetingly at him, "I don’t know if I'm attracted enough for that."

"One way to find out."  Jack stood up, walked around and took Daniel's hand, drew him, slightly resistant, to his feet.  "Let's go to bed."

Daniel began to shake his head and Jack kissed him, delicately brushing lips.  Daniel's hand came up to fist in the collar of Jack's shirt, crushing the pale green fabric between clenched fingers.  He was trembling but the only move he made was a step closer to Jack.  Deepening the gentle pressure, Jack pressed his lips to Daniel's.  Encouraged by a wavering sigh, he rubbed their mouths together, Daniel rubbing back, quietly learning the feel of one another.  They stood that way for a while, kissing softly, then Jack hugged him.

"You can't tell me you're not lonely," Jack whispered, stroking Daniel's hair.

"No," Daniel choked.  "I can't.  Can you?"

Why else would Jack be here?

They walked along to the bedroom, not sure what to say.  They undressed side by side, as they'd done hundreds of times over the years, too accustomed, too attuned to one another's presence to freak at nudity.  Jack piled their neatly folded clothes on the chair, then followed Daniel over to the bed.  They'd slept in smaller places, huddled for warmth, contact, friendship.

"A little different, huh?" Jack noted humorously as he slid into the near side, glad to see he wasn't the only one turned on here and that Daniel slept on the left.

They lay under the covers, getting comfortable.

"I, um, Jack?  You're the first man I've been attracted to."

"Technically, me too."


"Oh, I liked girls but in Minnesota they tend to be raised the marrying kind," Jack said dryly.  "I, er, fished.  With my friends.  A lot."

Daniel frowned over this.  "You asked me fishing.  Is that what you?"

"I was hoping, yes."

Quaintly determined, Daniel rolled over to face Jack.  "Friends," was all he said.  Then he leaned over and kissed Jack with incredible tenderness, touching his hair.  Jack rubbed Daniel's shoulders, smiling up at him.  They deepened the kiss, Daniel licking tiny dabs over his lips, feather light, like a brush-stroke.  He sighed when Jack's tongue slid into his mouth, stroking sweetly with him.

Side by side, they kissed with deepening pleasure, looking at one another.  Moving closer to Daniel, Jack took hold of his hips, pushed his aching cock into him.  Daniel quivered and grabbed at Jack's hips, pushing back.  They were both very aroused and it had been a really long time for both of them.  Pushing into one another this way, cocks trapped between them as they rubbed their bodies together, they found the friction very good.  Jack needed this very badly, Daniel did too, neither lasting long before orgasm shook through them.  Jack found he liked the gentle vulnerability of Daniel's face as he came, Daniel was fascinated by the hot splash of Jack's semen on his skin.  They lay close, kissing with more confidence than before.

They were friends and as they always did, they found their way.

"I should go," Carlin said quietly.

Jonah let him sit, then snared his wrists and slammed him flat, stretching out luxuriantly on top of him.  "Do you believe me now?" he asked intently.  "I know how to love you.  How you need to be touched.  It's far more than passionate sex.  We're together.  I know it.  We're meant to be this way."

"It takes sex to convince you I'm right about us not belonging here, about there being more for us?" Carlin shook his head in frustration at Jonah's rigidity

"Hey!  This is more," Jonah argued, kissing him softly, sweetly.  "And talking," he added uneasily, "isn't me."

"I noticed," Carlin said dryly.  "I'm still waiting for you to ask me for sex."  This was a little unfair of him and he knew it.  Overwhelmed at first by his own responses and the haunting familiarity of Jonah's hands on his skin, he'd pushed as hard as Jonah had and taken as much pleasure from their coupling.

"I'm asking now, Carlin," Jonah replied, surprisingly serious.  "Meet me here after shift tomorrow.  Be with me again."  His eyes were very sincere.

"You don't need to ask," Carlin gruffly contradicted himself.  "You know I will."  He reached up, cupping Jonah's chin, brushing a thumb over his straight, full lower lip.  "You know," he whispered, pulling Jonah down to him.  The man couldn't get enough of him, even now, when neither of them had the energy for more than this, slow, deep kisses and gentle, exploring touches.

Jonah's tenderness was the last thing Carlin had expected to find in this.  It was only when Jonah was loving him that he'd been able to let go of his taciturnity and begin to show what he felt for him.  Lust and physical gratification were part of it, for both of them, but Jonah was looking to Carlin for more.

"You," he said hesitantly as Jonah brushed kisses over his face.  "You're asking that we be lovers?"


Stunned warmth unfolded in Carlin's chest.  Dazed and oddly grateful, he dared a smile.  "You want to move your pallet next to mine?" he invited boldly.

Jonah smiled.  "Kegan will drop you fast enough now you're mine."

Carlin tried to glare down this possessiveness but didn't really make it.  Jonah merely smirked and kissed him again, nibbling distractingly on his lips.  "Therra won't want rid of you," Carlin murmured, when he could get a word in.

"Maybe she can move next to Kegan," Jonah snorted unkindly, his eyes twinkling.

"If you want me, you have to talk to her," Carlin insisted quietly.  "I'm not looking to hurt anyone."

"But you want to be with me?" Jonah demanded.

"Yes.  I want you."

"Therra and me, we're not together," Jonah promised, smiling again.  "I promise you that."

"She can do better," Carlin mused aloud, remembering this remark from earlier.  "But I can't?" he asked teasingly, looking innocently up at his - his lover.

Jonah rolled energetically onto his back and sat up, shifting Carlin's weight with impressive ease.  Sprawled on his lap, Carlin planted his feet either side of him and returned his embrace.  "You can," Jonah told him seriously.  "But I won't let you.  I'm right for you.  I know it and I can't even explain it.  We're right for each other.  I don't trust these stupid dreams but I trust that."

"So you'll help?" Carlin asked eagerly, trying hard to not to show how very deeply these generous words affected him.  It was a very fine thing to be so much wanted.  "You'll question?  Remember?"

"For you," Jonah sighed, exaggerating his reluctance humorously.   "And in the hope what I'll remember is a big, soft bed with you in it, waiting for me."

Carlin huffed disgustedly but a smile got away from him.

Arms around one another, they kissed once more, taking their time, not a gentle kiss, one of wanting and pleasure.  A promise in the kiss.

They had to part then, making their own way back.  There were questions to ask and they had work.

Exhausted but feeling lighter, looser than at any time he remembered, Carlin checked on Kegan, then slid back into bed.  His eyes were the heaviest part of him, and he slept.

Blue light played over his face, his skin, dazzling and pure.  He stood staring from the foot of a ramp, the ring of bright water filling this huge, empty space around him.  A blur of motion passed him and he started.  Jonah stood poised before the blue water, looking back at him.  He didn't speak, only held out his hand, demanding Carlin go to him, take it.

He sensed a presence behind him.  Kegan was braced in refusal, her lips moving soundlessly, trying to hold him, to keep him anchored there.  He had no time for her, turning away as another shadowy figure moved past him, striding onto the ramp.  Stopping short of Jonah, Therra stood staring down at him, a warmer look from her than she had ever given him.

A heavy hand touched his shoulder, making him jump.  The man Teal'c stood at his side.  He gravely bowed his head to Carlin then stepped up onto the ramp.

"We're meant to be," Jonah said, offering his hand to Carlin once more.

Jonah's was the face he saw; the others were in his shadow.  Comfortably so, as if his place first among them was Jonah's right.  Jonah - he - he led but still he wanted Carlin.  Needed him.  Carlin could only stare and wonder at the imperative hand demanding him, but his feet took him where he needed to be.  He moved past the other two as if they weren't there, reaching out to take Jonah's hand.

They gripped one another tightly, Jonah smiling now, pulling Carlin confidently toward him as he backed toward the bright water…


His whole body lurched and he felt as if he were falling, opening his eyes, blinking and shaken, to find Kegan hovering over him.

"You slept like the dead," she complained, "And we're already falling behind."  She gripped his upper arm, gave him a reproving shake as he blinked at her.  "I have to go.  Catch me up, or you won't eat."  She dashed away and he groggily rubbed sleep from his eyes.

As he pushed back the covers and sat, a twinge of pain, low in his back, reminded him how forcefully Jonah had taken him, how passionate his own responses had been.  The strength of his reaction lent credence to Jonah's certainty they loved in this other life they didn't know.  The thought of belonging, of being such a vital part of Jonah's life they were drawn so powerfully, so completely to one another now, with no true memory of who or what they were, made him shiver with a pleasure he couldn't wholly explain.

He got carefully to his feet and pulled on his quilted jacket, determined Jonah wouldn't see how carefully he held himself.  He wanted to love again, tonight, when they were safely alone.  If Jonah thought he was hurting…the stiffness would pass, he was sure.

Kegan was doling out food as if she were doing the world a favour when Carlin got in line.  Jonah was already here, eating with Therra at his side.  Carlin found this difficult, unsure what his reaction to her should be.  She didn't impress him with her aloof, superior manner, arrogantly ordering the other workers to follow her lead though she was not their section leader.  The foreman had served his time and wanted an easy life; behind Therra was Jonah and so he let her have her way.  It chafed at Kegan but there was nothing any of them could do. Therra was the one who drew Brenna's eye and the rest of them were bodies, nothing more.  They didn't have Therra's feel for the machines.

Yet Therra was a part of this, he was sure.  Jonah was close to her though he didn't want her the way he did Carlin, and he went out of his way to please her.  Though Therra was not one to question the life they lived, she had the dreams, and now, she took a place in Carlin's dreams too.

Kegan filled Carlin's bowl, sneaking in a little extra for him as she always did, giving him two pieces of bread when he asked.  He knew he would disappoint her when he went over to sit with Jonah but she had to know he had changed, moved on.  He doubted they would stay friends.  She wouldn’t forgive him for taking Jonah into his bed and not her.

He sat on the bench, refusing to show any discomfort, handing Therra a piece of the bread.  She took it gratefully and after the first taste of his gruel, Carlin found he had an appetite.  He smiled to himself, some specific memories on his mind.  Jonah had, um, worked him hard last night.

"Any more dreams?" Jonah asked him.
Carlin had to swallow his food before he could speak.  "I saw the pool of light again. Except this time, we were all there.  Including," he caught himself up on the name, remembering Kegan's advice, "Tor."  Night sickness was on everyone's mind and talk of dreams was commonplace.  The name 'Teal'c' might draw attention, though.  People were curious about how such a strong, fit man could get so sick again, so quickly,  worried the cure they relied on was maybe failing them.

"I dreamed about mining," Jonah announced.  "Naked."

Therra looked at him in surprise, as well she might.

Oh, that was subtle.  That was good.  Refusing to be embarrassed, Carlin rolled his eyes at his single-minded lover.   He needed no reminders of his promise.  He would be there tonight with Jonah, when it was safe.  His belly tightened, desire panging at the thought of how they would love.  He wanted Jonah very much and was almost ashamed by his distraction.  The questions they had to ask were much more important than any pleasure he would take.

"Therra?" he asked, having to make a conscious effort to keep his mind where it should be.

Therra looked at him seriously, her eyes wide.  "A lot of numbers and letters keep popping into my mind…S-G-1, D-H-D, G-D-O."

This meant nothing to Carlin, it gave him no trigger for his own memories and the only thing Jonah seemed to care about were memories of him.   "It sounds like gibberish to me," he told Therra off-handedly, disappointed.
"Well, it must mean something," she stated.
Carlin noticed then that Jonah was staring at Ander, one of the stokers, a massive, heavy-set man who was surprisingly friendly.  Like all the stokers, he had extra rations, his bowl twice the size of theirs.
"Excuse me?" Jonah asked, politely for him.

It said much for Jonah's notorious reputation among the workers that Anders meekly handed over his bowl, trading it for the rations Jonah had barely touched.  No doubt he'd take another bowl later and the one who suffered wouldn't be him.
Curious, Carlin watched Jonah, staring down at the bowl in his hands.
"Jonah?" Therra asked him.
Jonah put the bowl down beside him, bottom up.  "That means something," he said absently, his mind clearly elsewhere.

"What is it?"  Therra was as intrigued as Carlin.

"I don’t know yet," Jonah said, strangely determined, staring down intensely at the bowl as if the other two weren't there.

Carlin felt his optimism rise.  His doubts made more sense to him, knowing he wasn't alone.  Therra seemed to be working as hard as he was to make sense of what was disturbing her mind and now Jonah…Carlin ate his gruel, his eyes fixed on Jonah's rapt, handsome face, astonished and grateful this had at last become real to him.  This could not be a memory of Carlin, the bowl meant as little to him as Therra's stream of oddly paired letters did, but it meant something to Jonah.  It was consuming him.  It mattered to Carlin a lot Jonah would set aside his disbelief and work at this for him.

Watching over Jonah, he and Therra ate in silence until she looked up, alarmed.  "We're late for shift."  She shook Jonah's shoulder, jerking him from his reverie.  "We're late!" she snapped.

Jonah grimaced at Carlin, but when she dashed away he stood and followed, leaving Carlin alone.  He found he understood what Jonah had meant about following her round as if he were a dog.  In his dream, Jonah led and Therra followed, but it was not that way between them here.  Brenna's favour for her expertise put Therra above them all.  And Therra - well, unconsciously she expected that respect, looked for it.  No question it put Jonah on edge.

Carlin also found he didn't like to see Jonah walk away from him to follow her.  It felt wrong to him, even before Jonah seduced him.

Therra was a strange one.  Better than them or not, she had this need to follow the rules.  It wasn't a trait Carlin or Jonah shared or particularly understood.  Her seeming eagerness to please, to have Brenna's good opinion, was hard to reconcile with her willingness to question all she appeared to value.

Carlin took it as another important sign they were on the right path.  This thing they were all part of was bigger than they knew, they only felt its pull, yet it was strong enough they were each overturning all that made them who they were in this place.  The sheer unlikelihood of Jonah or Therra being ones to voice such doubts made Carlin all the more certain what they were searching for was the truth.

He had no real time to linger.  Like the others, he had to get to shift.  Reluctant to waste yet more time when he was finally feeling they were getting somewhere, he went to put back his bowl.

Kegan stalked towards him.  "Well, I see you made some new friends!" she said accusingly.

"Yeah!" Carlin retorted, taking responsibility for the disappointment in her eyes.

"Carlin?" she asked him, her voice breaking, a big sacrifice of pride for her.  She'd warned him to his face, if he was a friend of Jonah, he was no friend of hers.  He'd willingly crossed the line she'd set, felt he'd sought it out, and still she was here, giving him a chance to make it right, a chance which hurt her, a weakness she'd hate in herself later when she saw him and Jonah openly together.

He could give her nothing.  Jonah was his lover and their path was taking them away from Kegan and all she represented.  "I’m sorry, Kegan," he apologised softly.  For what little it was worth to her now, he meant it.  All he could do for her was walk away.



"Want to grab some food?" Jack asked hopefully.

"I'm actually kind of busy," Daniel said, his voice small and buzzing on the phone.

"With what?"

"Well, now I can't leap small buildings in a single bound," Daniel snarked automatically, "this translation for SG-9 is going to take some time.  Being - stupid - cost me a lot of that and they head out in exactly two days."

Jack winced.  Flanked by a smirking Fraiser and Teal'c, General Hammond had been very forthright during the debriefing about their testosterone-fuelled, adrenaline-charged, alien-enhanced, stupidity.  Even Carter had blenched.

"So, thanks for the invite, Jack, but not tonight," Daniel refused firmly but politely.

"Daaaniel," Jack whined.  "I need some sex."

"Don't take this personally, but I'd rather work on the translation," Daniel informed him sweetly, a ripple of amusement in his voice.

"We don't have to sleep together.  We could just go eat and hang out for a while," Jack instantly reversed his position.  Whatever it took to get Daniel out the door and into his clutches.

"That's, um, that's even less incentive," Daniel retorted ruthlessly.

"Something weird happened," Jack sighed, cutting to the chase.  He'd said it before.  He said it every day.  Daniel Jackson was a perpetual pain in the ass.  "Er.  Carter."

"Sam?" Daniel sounded startled.

"I, er," Jack mumbled.  "I."

"You want to talk?"  Daniel's tone now suggested that was different and why the hell didn't Jack say?

"I want sex too," Jack insisted, in case Daniel was feeling like being supportive or anything.

"Get over it!"

Jack whimpered pathetically into the phone.

"Want to eat at Rosey's?" Daniel suggested, pointedly ignoring him.  "It's right around the corner.  I can go grab us a table?"

"Sure," Jack agreed easily, his libido smart enough to take what the rest of him could get.

"Okay, see you there," Daniel said rapidly, then hung up.

Smiling to himself, Jack switched off his cell phone and slid it in his pocket.

"Or sooner," Daniel said, when he opened his front door.  Half in his jacket, half out, juggling keys, he froze, glaring.

Jack gave him a little wave.  "Rosey's sounds good," he said happily.

"I should never have let you in my bed that first time," Daniel sighed, raising his eyes heaven-wards in pain.  He shoved his keys at Jack and shrugged on his jacket.  "Stalker!" he accused.

Jack beamed at him.  Things were perking up, in every sense.  Weird things might be going on with Carter, but Daniel?  In faded blue jeans which made his legs look endless and a white and light blue shirt, Daniel made sense.  "We could skip dinner and go right to the part where we have sex," he suggested, ambling forward.  Just in case.

Daniel fended him off coldly, retrieved his keys and made a production of locking his door.

"We're supposed to be sleeping together," Jack went on, prowling along as Daniel marched off down the hallway to the elevator.  "We've been together, what?"

"Two weeks."  Daniel punched the call button.  "One of which we were trapped on base, hormonal and stupid, but not stupid enough to try having sex."

"After I happened to Siler?  Are you kidding me?" Jack agreed heartily, shuddering.  "That man might never wield a wrench again."

"Which brings you back to your point?" Daniel suggested, stepping smartly onto the elevator, Jack hard on his heels, wishing Daniel wouldn't kill him if he grabbed his ass.

"My point?  It does?"  Jack didn't see the connection himself, but was willing to play along.

"In some tortuous way only you can fathom, the wrench is some kind of metaphor for the fact that for friends who sleep together, we have not, in actual fact, done much sleeping," Daniel reeled off with enviable fluency, planting himself in a corner and folding his arms emphatically over his chest when Jack sidled up next to him.

"You know me so well," Jack gushed.

"We've had sex twice," Daniel remarked, looking under his lashes at Jack.

"I'm hoping tonight, third time's a charm," Jack announced, grinning.

"You're okay with this?" Daniel asked diffidently, staring down at his feet.  "Us?  Um, me?"

"Wanting you?" Jack politely sought clarification.  "I'm fine."  He smiled, nudging Daniel with his elbow.  "It's good."

Daniel's face relaxed and he smiled back.  "For me too," he said decidedly.

"It's working out."

"Don't die of shock or anything," Daniel advised Jack kindly, "but you were - um, I think you were right."

"I'm in shock!" Jack declared, brightening.

"There's no chance whatsoever of CPR."

"What was I right about?"

"The attraction thing.  I feel," Daniel hesitated, thinking this through, "better, knowing it's okay to be looking and seeing and," he blushed, "wanting you."

Jack nodded.  This actually made perfect sense to him.  "Hey, a load is lifting for me too," he encouraged Daniel.  "Like I said, it's working out."

"I bought a book," Daniel observed, distantly.  "An instructional book."

"I, er, I kind of know what to do," Jack said gently.  

"We were playing chess."

"You were beating me."

"You unzipped my pants."

"Always a pleasure."

"Took out my, um," Daniel coughed slightly and kind of mimed milking a cow.

"Sorry," Jack said politely.  "Not with you."

"Penis," Daniel enunciated coldly.

"Neeever bluff a linguist," Jack made a firm mental note to himself.

"And told it 'Kree!'"  Despite his best efforts, Daniel's lips were twitching.  "So you'll excuse me if I prefer to consult a less blatantly biased reference source."

"At least you see me coming," Jack joked, nudging him again.

Closing his eyes, gritting his teeth, Daniel slumped.

"This is working out great!"

The walk to Rosey's Colorado Bar 'N' Grill was maybe five minutes, time well spent, in Jack's humble opinion, in harassing Daniel with a variety of appalling one liners of sexual connotation, culminating in a broken confession on his part that sex was just a ruse.  What he really wanted was for Daniel to slip into some big rubber boots and play with his rod.  

He had the very distinct pleasure of Daniel not laughing at him several times, always a sign of a particularly successful joke.

Rosey's wasn't exactly deserted, but all of the action was down by the dance floor, some faux-Celtic band doing the earnest Enya thing.  The crowd spilled out into the bar, but they pretty much had the grill to themselves.  The place was much like any other but they had plants, it was clean and the waitress smiled like she meant it when she showed them to a booth at the back.  She recommended the chicken, not the steak, French fries with coleslaw, and Daniel nearly dropped the jacket he was wriggling out of when Jack ordered the white wine Meg the waitress would actually drink.

"We're, er, this is just hanging out, right?" he asked while the waitress was off in search of a suitably youthful sauvignon blanc.

"Grabbing food," Jack confirmed, ignoring the candlelight on the grounds that all the booths had one of the little buggers dripping out of an recycled wine bottle.  There was a posy of flowers too, but he considered those part of the traditional Colorado grill décor, no more.

Daniel nodded, glad to hear they weren't on any kind of date or anything, folded his hands on the table and indulged in a little people watching while they waited for Meg the waitress and her service with a smile.  He was not about to start a conversation he would have to make Jack finish, not when they could be interrupted any time by the arrival of scary bar 'n' grill wine.

Smart guy.

For Jack's part, he was happy to sit here watching Daniel for a while.  It was good he could look at Daniel and not feel cheap about wanting him.  That pressure was off Daniel too.  So Jack could sit, take his time, look his fill.  It was easy.  Daniel was a very good looking guy and Jack was definitely the one lucking out in that regard.  He had a great body too, which Jack was enjoying getting up close, naked and sweaty with him.  The sex was working out too and he was aware of a very pleasant ache of anticipation, localised in his groin.

Meg the waitress came back with two tall wine glasses and a bottle of Matanzas Creek, the wine she'd had her eye on.  Daniel tasted vanilla and citrus, Jack tasted wine, and Meg went away happy to hassle the chef on their behalf.  They drank a little wine, listened with half an ear to the music and generally kicked back.  Meg brought their dinner, platters heaped high, the tender chicken oozing rich garlic butter and coated in crisp batter.  The French fries were also crisp and coated in something savoury.  Dinner was officially pronounced good.

"So?  What happened with Sam?" Daniel asked him after far too few bites of chicken.

Jack was going off the whole confiding thing.  He was now far more interested in sticking with Daniel and the sex they were going to have when they got back to his place.

"Weird?" Daniel prompted.  

Gobbling down some French fries bought him some time.


"She was looking at me," Jack replied in an injured tone.

"Wow.  I bet that doesn't happen to you every day."  Daniel had his own uniquely annoying brand of big-eyed innocent sarcasm.  

"Looking in a weird way."

"Weird."  Daniel thoughtfully ate some coleslaw.  "Could you be more specific?"

There was no one near them, the Enyaesque crap would baffle a parabolic mic, he would happily kill anyone who saw him on a semi-date with Daniel. Acceptable risk.  "It was when we went back into the ship."

"I meant to ask you about that," Daniel fired up at once.  "Why the hell did you do that?"

Jack was embarrassed.  "I figured you and Teal'c wouldn't make it out from under before the ship blew and…what?  What!"

"I know I was unconscious at the time but when I came to and my head stopped spinning, it occurred to me right away you and Sam could have carried us back to the Gate a couple times over in the time the two of you were romping through the heavily guarded, about to blow, ship."

"I was stupid at the time," Jack announced with cold precision.

"You were stupid and Sam was?"  Daniel was relentless.

"Weird," Jack noted gloomily.  "Picture this.  Hallway, you know the kind.  Dinky little forcefield like blue saran wrap.  I'm on one side, beating the crap out of a control panel with a shovel, Carter is on the other.  Enter Jaffa, stage right."

Daniel made encouraging noises.

"I refuse to leave her."

"Of course!  Teal'c refused to leave you," Daniel pointed out on a note of information, his eyes impish.  "And I couldn't walk so I stayed put too."

Jack bared his teeth at him.

"Go on."

"We're nose to nose," Jack went on skilfully painting his graphic word picture, "either side of this forcefield, which is weird in itself, the Jaffa are closing in, I'm being my usual heroic self and Carter?"

Daniel put down his knife and fork because he could tell they were getting to the good bit.  He slid his plate towards the middle of the table and leaned in.  Jack leaned in too.


"Carter gets all - tearful."

"Sam?" Daniel straightened up, his mouth falling open.

"I know!" Jack gestured emphatically.  Didn't he say this was weird!  "She begs me to go."

"With tears in her eyes?" Daniel asked, amazed.

"Exactly!  She's staring at me, I'm staring at her, thinking maybe?"  Jack did not know how to put this.  She about knocked him on his ass with this one.  "Thinking, Christ, I know that look.  I know what that means."  He held up both his hands in supplication.  "And it's Carter."

Daniel did some blinking.  "It must have been a shock." He seemed to feel he was responding inadequately.

"I'll say.  I was so pole-axed I was just standing there, staring back at her, the whole time the Jaffa were closing in on our position.  I mean, where the hell did that come from?"  Jack shook his head, still dumbfounded.  "We were kind of lucky the ship blew up then."  He leaned in again and Daniel leaned in too.  "I have no idea what to do," he admitted, helplessly.  Carter was a fine woman and a beautiful one, but it was just wrong, on every level.  "What would you do?"


"Huh?"  This was not the advice Jack expected from Dr. We-Can-Work-It-Out.

"If Sam wanted you to know she had feelings for you, she would've told you," Daniel said confidently.  "I'm not saying you're overstating the case or anything like that, but maybe the stress of the situation played into it.  Sam was thinking she was about to die, you wouldn't leave her anymore than she would've left you or me."

"That's reasonable, I guess."  Jack was willing to be convinced, here.  Really.

"I don't really know what to say to you except we know Sam," Daniel told him earnestly.  "She would've transferred off the team if she were compromised in any way.  You know what she's like.  She loves the Air Force, literally can't imagine doing or being anything else.  She believes in the system."

"It is against regulations," Jack acknowledged gratefully, glad Daniel was making sense even if no one else was.

"Technically, so are we," Daniel felt compelled to point out unhelpfully.

"That's different," Jack sneered.  They'd been through all this, already!  "We're friends.  It's different.  Carter is my 2iC.  Look, even if I was interested, which I'm not, I can't.  Not Carter.  It's a chain of command thing."

Daniel looked doubtful.

"The reason I can be with you ultimately is simple," Jack argued forcefully.  "I give you an order and unless a screaming horde of Jaffa or some bug-eyed alien thing is about to take us out, you'll argue.  Am I sure I want to do that, why not do this instead?  Aggravating stuff like that."  

Daniel did not appear to care for this description of his infuriating independence in the field, a tendency for which Jack was forced to blame both of them.  

"In marked contrast, if I give Carter an order, she has to obey.  She has to respect my rank even if I didn't respect hers by sleeping with her.  Which I wouldn't.  I mean, come on!  We can't talk, we can't hang out.  She can't even call me by my first name."  Jack shuddered.  "What kind of foundation is that for any kind of feelings?  I may see her nearly every day but I don't know her.  Not as - as Sam.  She's Carter to me, Daniel.  Major Carter.  That's all she can ever be.  That's the way it is for us and she knows it as well as I do.  Doesn't mean I don't care about her and she knows that too."

"A chain of command thing."  Daniel took a reflective sip of his wine.

"Carter can date anyone at the mountain with the rank of major or above, literally anyone but me."  Daniel looked up, bright-eyed.  "Or General Hammond!" Jack added hastily, heading the looming question off at the pass.  "I'm the only one with direct authority over her, the only one in a position to wield undue influence."

"That makes sense," Daniel admitted, pouting over having to just concede the point.  Acquiescence was not a natural state for the archaeologist of the species.

"Whereas you're resistant to everything up to and including death," Jack informed him sullenly. "You're particularly resistant to me."  Yes, he was jaundiced about that.  It was Daniel's fault.  "We're having sex," he added, going with the bitter flow, "and I personally haven't noticed you going out of your way to agree with me about anything."

"Jack, I hate to break it to you, but sleeping with you doesn't mean I have to be nice."  Daniel smiled sweetly, quite pleased with this prospect.  "I wasn't nice to you before, so being nice now would only draw unnecessary and frankly, in many cases, incredulous attention."  For some reason, this Daniel found funny.

"You could laugh at my jokes."  That would be something.

"No, Jack.  I couldn't," Daniel retorted unkindly.

"Who would believe we were sleeping together?"

"Not me."  Daniel beamed at him.  

"You are sooo paying for dinner," Jack growled.  

"Still feeling weird?"

"Irritable and argumentative."

"Then you're back to normal and my work here is done."

"Does it ever occur to you that in the armed truce which is our friendship, our natural state is Mexican standoff?" Jack wondered whimsically.

"Irresistible force meeting immovable object?"

"Don't start with me."

They bickered amicably through the rest of their food, skipped dessert, tipped Meg lavishly for not getting in their faces, then wandered back to Daniel's building.

"Goodnight, Jack," Daniel murmured dulcetly, holding out a polite hand.  

Jack raised an eyebrow and tucked his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

"Don't let me keep you up," Daniel persisted.

"You won't," Jack promised softly, anticipation cranking up a notch.  

Smiling to himself, Daniel went in, holding the door open for Jack.

"See?  This is why I like you."  Jack followed him in.  "Sometimes, you shut up."

They rode up to Daniel's floor in silence, glancing now and then.  Jack looked at Daniel's legs and when they walked down the hallway, at his impossible ass, mere looking enough to twist Jack's gut in knots and fill his cock.  When they got inside, he shed his jacket and walked straight through to the bedroom, leaving Daniel to deal with the door.  They both knew why he was here and he was comfortable enough to be in Daniel's space, undressing, when Daniel came in.  

Jack smiled when Daniel passed him, taking off his glasses and stowing them safely in their case, then moving over to the bed and the closet behind it.  He came back with hangers for Jack's clothes and muttered something about buying him a toothbrush and stuff.  For convenience.  Jack watched from the corner of his eye as Daniel undressed, catching him barefoot, his jeans unzipped.

Daniel came willingly into his arms, curious and more comfortable with Jack's nudity than he had been.  He looked down, watching as Jack pushed the denim down to cling to the sharp outline of his hips, baring as much of his skin as possible, slowly tracing the v with his fingertips.  Daniel's breath caught, the bulge beneath the denim more noticeable now.

Satisfied, Jack pushed the jeans down and Daniel stepped clear of them, hangers and neatness forgotten as Jack drew him over to the bed.  He had a very specific idea of how he wanted this to go, pulling back the covers and urging Daniel to lie on his back and open his legs.  Daniel was intrigued, staring up at Jack as he knelt between his thighs and stretched out on top of him.  

Always a quick study, Daniel gasped as Jack's cock rubbed over his, then pulled him into a kiss.  He liked having Jack suck on his tongue while Jack liked having his lips licked, the one leading naturally to the other.  They liked all the things they were finding out about each other, both comfortable taking it slow, keeping it easy between them.  

Daniel's sensitive fingers roamed endlessly over every part of Jack he could reach, touching, tracing, learning each specific contour of his body while Jack held him tight, pushing into him, taking his time, cocks chafing from the gorgeous, rasping friction.

Breaking off the kiss, Daniel lifted his legs, gripping tightly either side of Jack's waist, his hands skimming down to hold Jack's ass, urge him closer.  He liked this, the strong, sweet slide of sweaty, sensitised skin, Jack's weight and the steady, pounding rhythm of their hips.

"I could make it quicker if I masturbate us both," Jack offered, smiling over Daniel's rapt, flushed face and intense eyes.  The man had an innocence in taking his pleasure which touched Jack.  He wanted sex between them to always be easy, always a pleasure.

"I like it slow," Daniel decided.  "I like this."  His shy smile said he liked Jack.

Eyes wide, they kissed deeply, rubbing lips and tongues, moving together, grinding aching cocks until their breathing laboured and they simply held one another.  Jack buried his burning face in Daniel's shoulder; his ass, his spine clenching tight.  It was good.  He held on until Daniel's hips stuttered and  he clutched at Jack, his whole body spasming in orgasm.  Jack lifted his head then to see Daniel close his eyes, biting his lip over a soft, keening moan, writhing his head into the pillow as his cock pulsed heat.

Jack really did like to see Daniel's face when he came.

On to part two

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