My wrist is blessed
numbness, but the rest of me…
I guess I've picked myself up
from worse. As Jack kept insisting, she - it - was just a machine.
The Asgard will take her apart with a little less finesse than I imagine
they would've when she was - functional, but I can't romanticise it.
The end result would've been the same.
The machine will still yield
valuable data but that life, with all its childlike power and potential,
is gone. Something unique has been erased and all that's left is
circuitry, and for me, the accustomed flavour of failure.
I think I should get out from
under the shower; it's been a while. Sam and Teal'c are waiting in
her lab in case I - they won't wait too long. The Asgard will
be here soon and I don't, I really don't need to see Sam finishing what
Jack started. The water pounds down, as hot as I can stand it, and
I don't want to move. I don't want to think. I'm bathed by
heat and the air is sharp with the tang of mint from my shampoo.
I think I'll just hang here
for a while.
Eyes closed, I feel the water.
Hot needles batter the tension from my shoulders as I roll and tilt my
head, heat slides over my chest and pools, slipping down my belly.
Lethargy is a rare feeling for me, but it’s good.
My eyes snap open and I brush
at the curtain of water over my eyes, instinctively pushing my hands over
my temples and into my hair, then stand nursing my arm and blinking back
stinging tears as sickening pain stabs from my abused wrist.
Jesus, Jack is right in front
of me! How long has he been there? I didn't hear a thing.
He's staring at me and suddenly, I feel terribly exposed, my few minutes
of precious privacy stripped away. He looks so, god, he's more than
haggard, he's old.
Am I supposed to be mad at him?
I don't remember. I feel so heavy and I wish I was numb.
I barely take in the fact that
he's naked when he steps into the small cubicle and plants a hand either
side of my face, crowding me, startled, against the steamy tile.
"Jack?" What - what does
he think he's doing?
"When you were in the gateroom
with it," Jack explains tersely, "Carter told me you were in trouble."
"I - I know," I stammer, my
heart beating rather quickly. I didn't really see Jack naked, I didn't
see anything but his face, but I'm excruciatingly aware of it now.
His nearness is overwhelming to me. "Sam made a full report in the
"I needed you to know," Jack
says seriously, "When I came in after you, I came knowing you were in trouble."
I have no place to go and all
I can see are his eyes, huge and dark, so hot they’re scaring me.
Nothing he says is making much sense. He's too near to me.
"Don't stand so close," I whisper.
The rigidity goes from Jack's
outstretched arms and he moves closer, into the water, into my space, reaching
up to rest his hand against the side of my face.
I feel suffocated; there's too
"I knew," Jack says, staring
and staring, his gaze restless over my flushed, rosy face. "I knew
before I got in there how it would go down. No," he corrects himself.
"I knew from the start. You care too much and I knew it would break
"Reese," I respond in a hard
voice, knowing exactly what is meant by 'it'. "Her name was Reese."
"It could only go bad, Daniel.
It always does."
For me, it does. I'm in
love with this man, and it's not that he knows and doesn't care, I could
take that. Being ignored is nothing. Even pity…I never thought
he could hate me for it.
"I wanted to save you."
It's easier to talk about Reese
than this, how this stupid sonovabitch I love is making me feel so small.
"You made a split-second decision," I say wearily. Sam did say.
They thought Reese had lost control of the - Jack is shaking his head.
What, I think wearily. What now? Can't he just make his point
"I wanted to save you,"
Jack insists with unsubtle finality. "Believe it or not, I wasn't
thinking a whole lot about saving the base or the world at that point.
Mostly, I was thinking about you. Losing you."
"Me?" My immediate reaction
"This is the part where you
tell me you're nothing special, although in way you already did."
I'm not processing this.
Too busy trying to work out when I got so important to Jack and why he's
been such a jerk I blinked and missed it.
"Stupid sonovabitch," Jack prompts.
"I stand by it."
Jack moves closer, a breath
away from me now. A breath I don't really have. I swallow hard
and lay my head against the tile. I'm shaking so hard he can see
it and I hate this feeling. I hate what he can do to me when he feels
worse than nothing. I'm no coward, though. He's pushing me
but I can push back. Whatever advantage he thinks he has, cornering
me like this, at my most vulnerable, he's about to lose. I take hold
of his hip with my good hand, astonished by his solidity and the sharp
bone firm against my palm.
"You're an idiot," Jack says
"What are we - what are you
doing here, Jack?"
You plan for something, weigh all the consequences, you have it fixed in
"You did it," I snap, struggling
with everything as Jack strokes my hair with single-minded intensity.
"You killed her."
"I meant to."
"To save me, I know, you said,"
I respond impatiently, trying hard not to shiver from his touch.
"Jack, stop. I don't want you touching me."
"A split-second," Jack murmurs
as if he doesn't hear me, "And I let you slip away."
"What is this?" I'm confused
and my sudden anger is ugly.
"I'm making love with my best
friend in the locker-room showers."
"No." God, I sound so
strained. I've wanted to hear these things from him for a long time
but not now, not when I'm trying, not when I'm ready to move on.
"No, Jack. You can't even - you can't." He can't, he knows,
and because of that, he's hurt me. He's gone out of his way to do
it. "I'm not yours for the taking," I say bitterly. "I don't
care what brought you here like this or what you think you're doing, I'm
not going to have sex with you so you feel better about - what? What
do you want, Jack?"
"The same thing I've always
His gentle tone is grating on
nerves already raw.
"I want you."
"You're just working this out
now?" I retort derisively.
"Split-seconds, Daniel," he
repeats patiently. "I think I know what I'll do and then I can't."
"Nothing has changed."
No. "No." I'm wrong about that. "Something has
changed. It's actually worse that you feel some of what I've been
feeling and you still - you pushed me away!"
"Daniel," Jack cuts me off.
"No! I'm talking now!
It was easier to take when you hated me, Jack!"
"I don't. I can't.
Some days, I hate myself, but you? I love you."
Numbly, I shake my head.
I don't believe him.
"I'm tired and bitter and god
knows I'm no prize, but for what it’s worth, I've loved you for a very
long time, Doctor Jackson," Jack promises tiredly. "Maybe since we
met. I don't know. And you're right. I can't."
I look up and he puts a hushing
finger over my lips.
"You know all the reasons I
can't, why I need to wait, why I always let you get away from me.
It doesn't change how much I love you, how much I want you." He smiles
then, a difficult smile. "How long I was prepared to wait for you.
I just never expected -"
"I'd feel the same," I blurt
out, suddenly understanding what changed between us. He's almost
blaming me for making it more difficult for him, but not quite, and I don't
know how to react.
"I know you're straight as a
ruler but I always knew if I came to you, you'd give me a chance."
"You had it all planned out,"
I say at last, with somewhat shaky sarcasm.
"Pretty much," Jack nods, staring
fascinated into my eyes. "Then I had to deal with that whole totally
inexperienced and wanting it bad not being the same as straight
"I do not want it bad."
"I do," Jack promises, his eyes
molten. "Most of the time I could eat you alive."
My hand is on Jack's hip and
he hasn’t batted an eyelid, too much of a guy for that, but when I reach
up to rest it over his collarbone, he shudders.
"Daniel," he whispers hoarsely.
I'm rocked off balance as his arms clamp around me and his weight pins
me without finesse to the wall.
"I feel sick." I'm terrified.
He's all over me and part of me wishes - god, it isn't enough.
"N-n-nauseated," I stammer painfully.
"Oh, god." Jack is just - he's incredible. All his muscle and
bone, and soft, soft skin - gorgeous. I don't know what to do and
he's here, holding onto me like I'm holding him up. I bury my face
in his skin and breathe him in as he wraps himself even more tightly around
"I heard you in here.
I almost walked away," Jack whispers. He's trying to comfort us both,
I think, but his body is restless, hungry. "A split-second, Daniel."
I was never quite able to imagine
how it would be for me, to feel Jack's cock harden against my own.
There was always time in my dreams, but this is real and Jack is urgent.
Demanding. He's between my legs now, pushing into me, rubbing his
cock over mine. He makes a noise, a purr deep in his throat, very
satisfied by the friction, or maybe by me, my stunned acquiescence.
I don't know.
He nuzzles his chin against
my shoulder, his hands smoothing the streaming water over my back.
He likes me leaning like this, I realise. He likes me with him this
way. He knows that I want him, he feels how my body is pounding.
He wants to make love, he needs that, I think, but I haven’t said yes.
"What do you want?" I ask uncertainly.
"I want to turn you around and
fuck you boneless," Jack warns me thickly, hissing triumphantly as my cock
I pull away from him and search
his face, brick red with the heat and the water and raw with such emotion.
I stretch up then and touch my mouth to his, pulling away almost as quickly.
After a beat of heavy, questioning silence, Jack lowers his face, I raise
mine, and we kiss at last, not easily and not well. I'm so angry
with him, with myself. I'm not ready to let go of being defeated,
not ready to trust. I don't know anything, and like Jack, I feel
Jack is rough and yet he's oddly
tender as my stiff mouth relaxes beneath his. I'm clumsy and nervous,
but he isn't rushing me. He's tasting me, sucking on my lips, savouring.
He coaxes and I want more, hooking my good arm tight around his neck and
opening to him. He groans as he slides deep into my mouth, shuddering
convulsively. How long has he wanted me? My tongue is stiff
against his sleek, limber pressure and I wish I were more responsive to
He pulls away and takes my face
in both his hands, softly says my name. He kisses me gently on the
lips and says my name again, like he means it. He means everything.
I pull him back down to me.
No stiffness now, only heat as we kiss and hold each other, the water pouring
down, the tang of mint sharp in the air, the first stirring of hope in
too long a time, and my Jack all around me.
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