|Slash:||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.|
|Category:||Angst. Drama. Hurt/Comfort.|
|Season/Spoilers:||Season 4. No particular spoilers.|
|Synopsis:||Jack and Daniel reach a turning point.|
|Warnings:||There is some bad language and some violence, and allusion to very violent events which occurred previous to the time of this tale.|
Snatching a glance at his watch as he ran up the shallow stairs, Captain Andrew Donner smiled in satisfaction. Just enough time to make the coincidence convincing.
Donner deliberately slowed his pace to a crisp walk as he neared his goal-the office occupied by the instructor of his 9 am class. If he timed it perfectly, he could persuade the distant Dr. Jackson to allow Donner to accompany him to the seminar hall.
Donner grinned in self-deprecation. Who expected to find this bonus in the midst of special training? He hadn't felt this frisson of sexual anticipation since his days as a snotty kid trying to figure out how to engineer a peephole into the girls' locker room. Here he was, excited over walking Jackson to class. Fantasizing about breaking down that wall of reserve and taking ownership of the professor's slender body. He was well and truly caught-one word from the apparently oblivious archaeologist, and Captain Donner was a goner.
Snickering at the silliness of his mental rhyme, Donner twitched at his jacket to settle it more smoothly over his broad shoulders, and reached for the handle of Dr. Jackson's office door. And hesitated as he belatedly registered the sound of tense voices. The good Doctor had a visitor-one he wasn't apparently very happy to see.
After a moment's hesitation, Andrew pushed the door open and, with feigned ingenuity, interrupted the conversation.
"Morning, Dr. J. I thought...."
Pierced by a pair of fiercely resentful brown eyes, he stuttered to a halt. The visitor straightened from his position leaning on Dr. Jackson's desk, turning slowly toward the intruder, his fierce regard never wavering. Their eyes were dead level.
"We're busy; get out," he ordered.
"No, we're not. We're finished, Jack. There's nothing more to discuss." Dr. Jackson's eyes were still focused upward on his tall visitor. His distress was obvious in every line of his body-his shoulders rigid, narrow fingered hands clenched on the chair's arms.
The man-Jack-rounded on Jackson. "What do you mean, no more to discuss? We haven't discussed anything yet. You haven't even explained to me just what you're doing teaching archaeology to hopeless junior Air Force officers! You have got to be bored out of your mind!"
"I don't have anything more to say to you, Jack, and I really don't think I want to hear whatever you think you need to tell me. Just go back to the Mountain and get on with your job."
Mountain? What was this guy-some sort of troll? He wasn't in uniform, but there was something about the way he carried his body-the unconsciously arrogant attitude... Was he military? No way was he one of Dr. J's academic colleagues. And what was that crap about hopeless junior officers? More importantly, was this the competition? The lines in his neck and the gray in his unruly hair suggested that he was older than his rangy, athletic body and handsome face indicated.
Clearly dismissing Donner as insignificant, the man turned back to Jackson.
"Daniel... Look, can't we at least sit down over a beer and talk?" he coaxed. "We used to be good friends. You left without any explanation-didn't even leave us a note to tell us where you'd gone. The General..."
"Yeah, well, he wasn't supposed to tell you, either."
"We were concerned...."
"Right." The sudden tightening of Dr. Jackson's mouth suggested that this had been the wrong thing to say. He turned his gaze to the outdoor vista, away from those piercing brown eyes. His visitor's mouth visibly softened as Jackson's long, fair hair ruffled in the breeze from the open window.
"Come on, Danny..."
"Don't call me that!"
"OK-Daniel... I've got Carter and Teal'c stashed at the hotel. They'd really like to see you." His long body relaxed slightly to match his gentler expression. "And we really need to understand some things. Just an evening over a beer or two..."
Conflict reflected in Dr. Jackson's expressive face. He shifted his gaze back up, considering Jack's now beseeching expression, blue eyes locking with brown. Finally, he dropped his eyes, hair sliding forward to veil his face. And nodded, obviously reluctant.
"I finish my last class at 6. I'll meet you at Tina's."
"Great! But let me pick you up here. You be here! No chickening out, now!" Jack straightened, his body abruptly regaining its aggressive attitude. He turned on his heel, then pinned Donner with a gimlet stare. "Don't they teach you puppies to salute these days?"
"S...s...sir?" Donner cast a desperate look at Dr. Jackson.
The professor's mouth gave an ironic twitch. "Captain, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill."
Colonel. OK. Donner belatedly snapped a salute. "Sir!"
"Right." With a brisk nod, O'Neill left the office.
Staring after the departing officer, Donner shook his head in wonder. What the hell was this all about? He turned back to the professor, to find the man holding his head in his hands, rubbing his temples wearily. What the hell, indeed.
"Dr. J., is there something I can help you with?"
Dr. Jackson looked up at him, a deep sadness in his eyes. "No, Captain. Nothing anyone can help me with. Just some old business I'd hoped I'd left behind me." He visibly made an effort to pull himself back toward his normal calm detachment. "Umm... D... did you want something?"
"I just dropped by to see if I could give you a hand walking to class. Actually, we'd better get moving... thanks to your buddy, we're already late.
With a wry attempt at a smile, Jackson swiveled his chair around, manually guiding his braced knee clear of the edge of the desk. He reached for the forearm crutches leaning against the wall behind his chair, and levered himself to his feet.
"No problem. Not much they can do without me. Grab that pile of books, will you? Let's get to class."
There they were-Dr. Jackson's awkward movement was unmistakable. He and O'Neill were accompanied by a surprising pair-a tall, beautiful blond woman and a large black man-large enough to be seriously intimidating-with an unusual forehead tattoo.
There were gods in the universe after all-the only empty booth in the place was the one on the other side of Donner's barrier, so he was spared the covert task of repositioning himself in order to hear any conversation the others would share. And there was no way they'd spot him unless they deliberately looked over the booth back.
As the four settled into their seats, the conversation was desultory and stiff. It took a bit for Donner to sort out the various players in his private auditory drama. The woman was "Carter," and "Sam." Ah, the Big Guy called her "Major Carter." She was military. He was an odd one-strange, stilted speech patterns advertised his foreign origin, but he had no discernible accent. They called him "Teel," or "Teelk." No rank or title.
"Well, Daniel, tell us about your exciting new position." Irony stained O'Neill's voice.
"I teach. Archaeology."
"You are happy here, Daniel Jackson?" The deep voice made the name an honorific.
Jackson's voice was soft and stiff. "That's really not something I'm expecting these days, Teal'c."
"Well, now, isn't that an effective conversation killer," O'Neill snapped.
Tense silence. Carter hastened to restore communication.
"You've let your hair grow again. Thought we'd persuaded you to see things our way..."
"That was never me. I never wanted to change what I was."
"So now you're regressing back to the old geeky grave robber?"
The snide tone of O'Neill's question efficiently killed the budding discussion.
"Ah, so, Daniel," Carter's voice once more ventured into the gap. "Want to tell us about the new hardware?"
Jackson was silent for a moment; when he spoke, there was an unmistakable chill to his voice. "A little delayed present from our good friends on P2R 423. Knee strain from the assault that turned out to be more unstable than it seemed at first. Ended up, I tore up and dislocated my knee during retraining. I've graduated from the cast and the chair, and I'm taking therapy."
"Therapy!" The colonel's voice cut through the bar. "Dislocated? When...?"
"It's nothing to do with any of you. I won't be coming back, so it doesn't affect you."
Carter's voice reflected hurt. "Why would you say that? Of course it affects us, Daniel!"
"No! It doesn't!" There was a desperate fierceness in Jackson's quiet voice.
The big man's words were gentle. "Daniel Jackson, you must know that we are concerned for your welfare."
Jackson's sotto voce reply barely made it past the barrier of the booth back. "You could have fooled me..."
"Hey, Doctor Jackson! Usual?" The waitress's cheerful greeting disrupted the awkward silence. "And you folks?"
The mundanity of placing their orders provided a few deceptive minutes of relaxation. But as the woman left with their drink orders, Carter spoke up again, her voice reproachful. "You know, Daniel, it was a bit of a shock to arrive back at the base and discover that you'd run out on us."
"Run... run out...!" The rough edge of Jackson's soft voice cut sharply. "It s... seems to me I was left!"
"Left! You vanished without a word-I call that running out!" The colonel, raw and angry.
"Damn it, what did you think I was going to do?" The anger and hurt in Jackson's words were unmistakable. "Jack, you once told Teal'c that he was a part of this family. Just when did I lose my membership?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"OK... Look..." Jackson's pain was palpable. "Wh... when I woke up after you brought me back from 423, I... I..." He gasped a breath, continuing in a strained whisper "Wh...what they did to me... I never even imagined... God, I hurt so badly. And I felt so... r...ruined..."
"Daniel..." Carter's tone was uncomfortable.
"Shut up, Sam! You wanted to hear, so you just shut up and listen!" A touch of hysteria added a new edge to Jackson's voice. "I wanted to die. To die. I lay in that infirmary and wished myself dead. I needed you. You and Teal'c-y... you would hardly look at me. And when my b...best f...friend finally came to see me, he... he... You, Jack-you said awful things to me-filthy things." His breath rasped harshly for a moment. "You hurt me more than they ever did. And then you left. And you left, and then you left." Another gasp caught his breath. "And when the r...roof f...fell on me, I was alone. You were all gone-no f... family." A pause. "...And I'll be damned if I let you make me feel guilty for doing whatever the hell I could to salvage what was left of my life!"
After a stunned moment of silence, Donner identified the sound of Jackson awkwardly gaining his feet.
"And now," voice tightly controlled, "if you'll excuse me, I have early classes."
"Daniel, I..." The colonel's voice was strained. "...you came with me, Daniel."
"Tina will call me a cab."
Donner tossed a handful of bills onto the table, exultation tightening his throat. Grabbing his jacket, he scrambled out from behind the table.
"Hey, Dr. J! On your way out?" He smoothly insinuated himself between Jackson and the colonel. "Can I give you a lift?" Donner let his eyes meet O'Neill's for a moment, noting the mixture of guilt, anger and resentment. And something else that strongly resembled hunger. Oh, yes. Had him and threw him away. Too late now, Colonel, sir.
Then he dismissed the other officer, centering his attention on a very distressed professor.
"C...captain Donner. I don't... I can... " Jackson, weakened right leg trembling in the brace as his arm adjusted to carrying his weight, inhaled deeply and dropped his head forward, eyes closed, fighting to get himself back under control. After a moment, he lifted his head and refocused on Donner's face. "Yes, thank you. I'd appreciate it."
Casting one more look of triumph at the abandoned trio now standing beside their booth, Donner escorted his prize out the door.
"Thank you for the ride, Captain." The soft words were the first Dr. Jackson had uttered during the short drive. He had spent the ten minutes staring fixedly out the passenger window, carefully keeping his gaze away from Donner's.
"My pleasure. If you want to reward my services, how about a cup of coffee? Word is yours is the best on base."
For a moment, Jackson didn't reply. He sat gazing at the door of his small house, body completely still. Finally, reluctantly, "O... okay. C'mon in for a few minutes."
Yes! Donner fought to keep his surging sense of victory from showing on his face. He jumped out of the jeep and ran quickly around to help the professor negotiate his logistically complicated escape from the seat, then reached into the back for the doctor's shoulder bag briefcase.
As they entered the outwardly nondescript little house, Donner let his eyes roam, absorbing the esoteric décor. Jeez, the guy should just start a museum! Where the hell did he sit?
He listened as Dr. Jackson moved around the kitchen; heard the clank of the crutches knocking against wood as the professor leaned against the counter to free his hands, fussing with grinding coffee and setting up his coffee maker. Donner took advantage of the opportunity to look around.
If he hadn't already known what the man did for a living, the strew of objects cluttering his living space would have clued him in rapidly. Bits and fragments of the detritus of extinct cultures filled every nook of surface-tables, counters, mantelpiece-all paved with the leftovers of vanished lives. The tall shelf units were in imminent danger of rupturing from the excess of books crammed between their bulging side panels, and the artifacts had found homes even along the upper edges of the books' pages.
Donner moved to the mantel, slowly examining the boxes, bowls and unidentifiable objects crowded onto its surface. He paused at the three pictures tucked in amongst the bits and pieces. To the left, a poor quality image of a young woman-buxom, faintly exotic, and clothed in some sort of homespun robe or gown. The frame of the photo showed evidence of a great deal of loving handling.
The second photo showed Dr. Jackson-securely on his feet-side by side with the three people from the bar. O'Neill front and center, Jackson right behind his right shoulder. The woman stood to O'Neill's left, and the big African behind. All of them-including Jackson-wore some sort of uniform. And they were all armed. Interesting. Now that was something he never would have expected of the gentle professor.
The final image put a crease between Donner's brows. Competition, indeed. It showed Colonel Jack O'Neill, face split by a roguish grin, arm slung affectionately across the shoulders of a smiling Daniel Jackson. He couldn't recall if he'd ever seen Jackson smile in quite that way-clear, happy, unshadowed. In fact, he wasn't sure he'd ever seen him really smile at all. This frame showed almost as much evidence of handling as the woman's.
"Coffee's ready." Dr. Jackson's voice had a sharp edge.
Donner turned and locked on to Jackson's mildly resentful gaze. Showtime.
He strolled slowly over to the other man, maintaining eye contact. The archaeologist was leaning against the kitchen table, one hand holding a steaming mug, the other bracing against the back of a chair. His crutches hung over the edge of the counter on the far side of the table.
As Donner reached for the proffered mug, he allowed two of his fingers to stroke gently along the back of Jackson's hand.
The doctor's blue eyes widened. As hastily as his unwieldy body allowed, he straightened and backed away from Donner.
"Um... Wh... I..."
Donner smiled his best smile. "Surely you aren't surprised by this, Dr. J? Daniel?"
"Ah... Just what 'this' are we talking about, Captain?"
"Andrew. And you can't possibly be as oblivious as this. You have to know how attractive I find you."
Jackson's mouth tightened. "Have I ever given you reason to believe that I was interested in you, Captain?"
"Let's just say that I'm good at reading body language. As a linguist, you should appreciate the talent. And it's Andrew."
"Look, Captain, I'm really flattered, but I'm also really not interested."
"Define 'not interested.'"
Lowering himself carefully onto one of the kitchen chairs, Jackson contemplated the contents of his own mug. "Over and above the fact that you're my student-something which matters a lot to me-what about the Air Force's attitude toward this sort of thing?"
Donner grinned with smug knowledge. "Well, considering your apparent history, I really didn't think you'd be too inclined to be bothered by that."
Jackson's head snapped up, wide eyes alarmed. "Wh...what do you think you're talking about?"
Donner's grin widened. "I saw the way he looked at you."
Jackson's quickened breathing betrayed the dart's accuracy. His gaze dropped back down to the murky fluid in his mug.
"Look, Daniel, if that's the only thing worrying you, all we have to do is keep our mouths shut. Believe me, you are way too tempting to pass up for the sake of a few ethical scruples!" Donner leaned against the doorframe, sipping deliberately from the mug in his hand, and watching the distressed fluttering of the professor's long eyelashes.
Tightening his hands around his own mug, Jackson took a couple of deep breaths before responding.
"'Ethical scruples' matter a hell of a lot to me. And there are other reasons."
"So... what other reasons? Convince me, here, Doc."
The clear eyes lifted again, gazing for a long moment at Donner's face. Then they returned to contemplation of the inoffensive mug.
"Let's just say that, corny as it may sound, I don't make a habit of going to bed with someone if I'm not... emotionally connected."
Donner's eyebrows arched. "Y... you mean-unless you're 'in love'?"
Jackson turned his head away, color staining his pale cheeks. "You could put it that way."
Donner settled gently into the chair next to the other man, setting his mug on the edge of the table, but keeping his gaze fixed on Jackson's averted face. "So, pretty Daniel, how many have passed your test? How many have shared your bed?"
Dr. Jackson's stare was fixed on the blank wall behind the table. "That's not something you have any right to ask."
"Come on, Daniel. I really think we could have something good, here. Let me know what I'm competing against, OK? How many."
Those blue eyes shifted back to lock on Donner's face, a bleak intensity in their depths. "With or without my consent?"
Without...! Jeez, just what kind of baggage was this guy carrying, anyway?
There was obviously something truly fascinating about that mug of coffee. Jackson's gaze was once again glued on it. "Two."
"Two?! You've only had sex twice?"
"Two people, not two times!" The blue eyes lifted again to his face, burning with outrage. "And one of them was my wife!"
"Wh... You're m... Uh... Wife?" Donner looked around, as if expecting the mysterious wife to materialize in the midst of the clutter. "Just what have you done with her?"
Jackson caught his breath, once again turning away. "She... she d... died." The mug was in danger of imploding under the strength of his grip.
Donner gazed at him, allowing the silence to stretch. He let Dr. Jackson be the one to interrupt it.
"Look, Captain, I truly am serious about not being interested. And this conversation is getting a lot too personal for me. I really think you should go."
"And he was the other one."
"That is none of your damned business!" The words were shocked out of the other man. "Listen carefully. I. Am. Not. Interested!"
"If you'd go to bed with him, then you shouldn't have any problem with me."
Jackson lurched clumsily to his feet. "For god's sake, aren't you listening? Even if I were attracted to you, if you're right about me wanting Jack, why on Earth would I be interested in anyone else!"
Donner stood as well, moving deliberately into the professor's personal space. He wrapped one arm around Jackson's slender waist, pulling him closer. "I figure I shouldn't have a lot of trouble convincing you to forget him," he murmured into a softly fringed ear.
Jackson shoved him away, staggering back against the edge of the table and gripping the back of a chair to keep himself upright. "What kind of arrogant idiot are you? Get out of my house. And don't come back to my class!"
Donner allowed sarcasm to flood his voice. "Why Doctor Jackson, your ethics would allow you to let something like a little pass affect your professional behavior?"
"This has gone way beyond a pass. And allow me to remind you that it would destroy your career if I had you charged with sexual harassment."
"You aren't going to do that. There's always Colonel O'Neill and his career to consider, now isn't there? Now let's stop this nastiness and get friendly, Daniel. I promise you won't regret it."
Jackson sputtered in outraged frustration. "Wh... what the hell is wrong with you? The answer is 'no.' Not interested! As in 'There's the door!'"
Donner moved close again, laughing softly. "You don't really mean that."
His arm snaked once again around that delicious body. His other hand took custody of the hand that clutched the chair back, assuming control of Jackson's ability to remain upright. Moving forward, he pressed the other man against the table behind him, forcing his body to arch backward. He could feel the hard edge of the brace against the inside of his own left knee.
The smaller man twisted and wrenched furiously in the implacable hold, yelling unintelligibly in anger. His free hand flailed, seeking some means of support other than the man who was holding him, and his voice began to assume a shrill edge of fear. Donner, surprised by the fierce resistance, inadvertently tightened his hold, increasing the bend in the professor's captive body and the pressure against the braced knee.
Jackson abruptly convulsed, crying out in pain and terror. Startled, Donner reflexively loosened his grasp... then howled in agony as his groin exploded in pain. Doubling over, he collapsed against the wall. Jackson slumped to the floor, gasping and shaking with pain.
Donner wheezed, "You fucking bastard! Shit shit shit shit!" The blasted geek had kneed him in the groin! Who would have thought...?
Donner lay for a moment, curled around his abused equipment, whooping and gasping. Then he lurched to his knees, twisted toward Jackson's shaking form, and launched himself at the prostrate man. Jackson desperately attempted to scoot away from him, but he wasn't nearly fast enough. Donner grabbed his ankle and dragged him roughly closer.
"No way do I let anyone get away with that, you little shit!"
Donner crawled up over Jackson's body and leaned all his weight on the smaller man, trapping his writhing body against the table. Jackson whimpered slightly as the table's wooden leg pushed against his lower back. His struggles against the captain's hold intensified; he was no longer vocalizing, but was clearly moving beyond the reach of rationality.
The small dropleaf table jumped and rattled as they wrestled against its legs. Shit! Donner jerked as the damned mug fell off the edge and baptized him with a nearly full cup of still-hot coffee. The burn fired the furious heat in his mind. Damn! He flinched as one of Jackson's fists connected solidly by his right eye. Where the hell did a man like Jackson learn to fight like this?
Finally managing to grab both of the doctor's hands, Donner shoved the left one underneath Jackson's body, using their double weight to keep it under control. He then began to worm his freed right hand between their bodies and down toward the buckle of Jackson's belt.
Now seriously hyperventilating, the archaeologist began lurching from side to side, attempting to shift the weight that crushed him. Donner used the opportunity to advance his fingers to their goal, grabbing the man's belt and jerking, trying to still the doctor's struggles. Attempting to stabilize his position, he grasped with his left hand at the table leg behind Jackson's trapped body, relinquishing his hold on the other man's right fist. Jackson's freed hand swept over the floor and clutched convulsively at the object it encountered-the abandoned mug.
"No you don't, sweetheart!" Donner gasped, releasing the table leg to smack the archaeologist across the face, then grabbing for the flailing mug.
"Stop! No!" Jackson's breathless cry was high and desperate. He fought for the mug, trying to smash it against Donner's head. "No!" Hoarse; despairing.
Brilliant exultation swept through Donner as he finally began to make headway against that belt buckle. Then abruptly... shockingly, he was choking as his own collar cinched tightly around his neck. And he found himself flying, lofted through the kitchen doorway into the house's foyer, to come to an abrupt, painful halt against the wall next to a surprisingly askew front door.
Stunned and gasping, he looked up into brown eyes colder than he'd thought possible. O'Neill. Donner felt the other man's hand grip the front of his uniform, flexing roughly, jerking him partially to his feet, then shaking him like a rattle. From nowhere, a fist drove into his belly, stealing what little breath he hoarded.
The next few moments were a violent, reddened blur. And at the end, Donner found his astoundingly battered body mysteriously confined, hands and feet somehow painfully connected behind his back, and summarily tossed into the corner of the kitchen. Vision in one eye slowly cleared enough to reveal O'Neill on his knees, beltless, tense with stress as he hovered over Jackson's shaking body.
"No!" Jackson recoiled from O'Neill's touch.
"Danny... Danny! Easy, easy-it's me."
"J... Jack?" A hoarse whisper.
"Shh-lie still. What did that son of a bitch do to you? Where are you hurt?"
"My... Uh... I used the wr... wrong knee. Pills?" Jackson's voice was thready and strained.
"OK, let's get you straightened out here first." Carefully, gently, he helped Jackson to stretch out on his back, re-align his leg and adjust the knee brace, then jerked off his worn leather jacket and balled it up, tucking it under the injured man's head.
"Who the hell do you think you are, you bastard? What have you done to me; let me go!" Donner flopped and fought against his restraints as he yelled.
O'Neill lurched from Jackson's side to wrap his hand again in Donner's shirt front. "You ratfuckin' piece of shit! I'd recommend that you keep your filthy mouth shut before I find something interesting to stuff into it! In fact, much more from that mouth, and I'm going to see to it that your next address is the base morgue!"
A bolt of true fear shot down Donner's spine. In that moment, looking into the burning fury in those eyes, he had no doubt that the livid colonel would do all that he threatened. Like an icy shower, the moment of terror brought abrupt sobriety. What the hell had be been doing!
As O'Neill stood and reached for Jackson's book bag, Donner let his eyes focus on the man he'd assaulted. Oh, god. Jackson's clothing was disheveled, his shirt torn. The wrist that rested on his stomach was showing early signs of bad bruising, and his cheek was reddening from the blow Donner had delivered. But worst-where it wasn't showing the direct signs of the blow, his face was grey-white, pulled tight with pain and fear, a single tear track streaking back into his hair.
Oh, god, oh god. "Daniel... I didn't mean... Oh, god, I'm so sorry!"
"Shut that trap, scum! And goddamit, that's Dr. Jackson to you." O'Neill didn't even look at him. Just stepped over him to the refrigerator. He reached in and grabbed a bottle of water, then stepped back over Donner to return to Jackson's side.
Donner wisely shut the trap.
Jackson looked up into O'Neill's face. "Jack. I... Wh..." His voice cracked over a choked off sob.
"Keep it, Daniel," O'Neill said gently. "We'll straighten things out later. Right now, let's get you a bit more comfortable."
He held up the pill bottle he'd snatched from the book bag, waiting for the other man to indicate the appropriate dosage. He shook two of the tablets out into his palm, then very gently helped Jackson into a more upright position and handed him the opened water bottle and the pills.
Once the pills had gone down, he eased the other man around and back so he could remain sitting, leaning against the wall. "Better?"
Jackson gave a tiny nod, closing his eyes and leaning his head backward against the wall. O'Neill remained crouching beside him until he was sure the anguish was easing its grip. The younger man's irregular breathing gradually evened out, his body relaxing as the medication began to take the edge off the pain of his aggravated injury. His blue eyes fluttered open.
"This stuff hits hard, Jack. I need to get to somewhere I can sleep before I pass out on the floor."
"OK, in a minute. We've got a bit of garbage to take care of first."
O'Neill stood and reached for the telephone.
"Jack... Wait, Jack. What are you doing?"
"Calling the MPs." The colonel's voice was hard and implacable.
"Uh... Can we talk about this a bit first?"
"Daniel, just what is there to talk about? Unless I've completely misinterpreted this situation, this piece of pond scum just tried to rape you!"
Donner's quaking body jerked. "No!"
"Yes." Jackson's voice was just above a whisper. "Yes, you did."
"So what's the problem, Daniel? He needs locking up. Crap, he needs killing, but I don't have a zat in my pocket, and I'm out of my territory. I'm not sure I know how to get rid of the body. Maybe I should call Teal'c."
"OK, you know I was kidding. I think."
"Jack, I don't want to have to explain this to MPs. And I don't want to have to testify for a court martial."
O'Neill knelt back down beside the other man, looking anxiously into his face. He reached out to gently brush the ruffled hair back from Jackson's forehead, then tenderly ran the side of his thumb over the archaeologist's reddened cheek.
"I know. But you can't just let him get away with this."
Jackson's soft mouth pursed stubbornly. "Yes. I can."
"Daniel..." O'Neill's face showed his confusion. "Just why would you want to let this go?"
Jackson's gaze fell, sliding to the side. "Please, Jack. Just... just let him leave."
O'Neill stared at him for a long moment, puzzled disapproval stamped on his face. Then he stood and looked down at Donner's trussed body.
"Damned if I can figure out why, but if Daniel doesn't want to push this, then I'm not going to either. But..." He crouched down in front of Donner, once again grasping his shirt and shoving his own face within inches of the other man's battered features. "But if I ever hear of you causing Dr. Jackson one more second of grief, if I ever hear of you even saying Dr. Jackson's name in public, I am going to do you so bad that there won't be enough left for your next of kin to collect. And when I'm finished with you, I've got a very large, very dangerous friend who's almost as fond of Daniel Jackson as I am. I'm sure he'd be delighted to take care of any scraps I'm careless enough to leave lying around."
Donner was shaking again. This guy was nuts! Somehow, a transfer to Alaska was looking pretty attractive.
O'Neill tossed Donner over onto his face and abruptly released his trapped limbs. After waiting a moment for the pain of returning circulation to ease, Donner rolled over to see the colonel standing over him, buckling his belt.
"Now get the hell out of here, shit head."
As Donner staggered to his feet, Dr. Jackson called quietly. "Captain."
Donner turned to look back at the man he'd come so close to violating.
"I may not look as dangerous as Colonel O'Neill, but you might be surprised," Jackson said evenly. "One of the things I've discovered in the last few years is that, though there are a lot of things I don't want to do, there are very few I can't if I decide it's necessary. You make any attempt to make trouble for any of the people I care about, and I'm going to find it necessary to find the courage to have a very detailed chat with those MPs. So I think a bit of circumspection is in order, don't you?"
Suddenly, those beautiful blue eyes didn't look so soft and gentle. A chill shivered down Donner's back as he realized that he'd been playing a lot more dangerous game than he'd thought. Damn.
Turning abruptly away, he staggered toward and through the gaping front door, grasping his inexplicably beltless pants. Alaska. Yeah... maybe Antarctica. He did pretty well in the cold.
Epilogue to Disconnected
O'Neill's courage had almost run out by the time he stood, fist poised to strike the door of the plain little house. The nasty scene from the bar ran an endless loop through his brain. It had been so wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. How had they-how had he-allowed things to reach this terrible place?
Wavering over taking the irrevocable step of beating on that door, he stiffened at the sound of Daniel's voice.
Shit! Rearing back, he drove the heel of his boot against the door. Again. And again. At the third assault, the door flew inward, splinters of shattered doorframe flying onto the carpet behind. O'Neill's frantic eyes zeroed in on Donner's back-and Daniel's twisting body beneath.
As Daniel cried out again, O'Neill drove himself forward, wrapping one fist into the back of Donner's collar, the other around his waistband, and heaving with every muscle at his command. As the captain's unprepared body flew away from its victim, O'Neill twisted, flinging the other man away. Donner's body came to a sudden and satisfyingly meaty halt against the wall-away from Daniel.
Before the younger officer could gather enough wits to defend himself, O'Neill grabbed the front of his shirt and finally loosed some of the frustration and anger that had been his companions for the last three months. When the red haze cleared from his vision, the captain was definitely beyond resisting.
Breathing hard, shaking a bit himself, O'Neill ripped Donner's belt out of the loops, then flipped the man over and used the leather strip to fasten his ankles together. He pulled off his own belt, cinched one of his prisoner's wrists, then looped the belt around the trussed ankles and secured it to the other wrist. Good. Hogtied. Like the scumbag animal he was.
Finally, he turned his attention to more important matters. Daniel still lay where Donner had left him, shaking and gasping. He was whimpering softly, eyes screwed shut, face etched with lines of pain. His injured knee was trembling, the brace twisted awkwardly.
Carefully, he moved into the kitchen and knelt beside the injured man. As O'Neill gently touched Daniel's cheek, his eyes flew open and he cried out in panic.
O'Neill jerked his hand back, then spoke softly, gently, coaxing consciousness back into those dazed blue eyes.
At the sound of his name, whispered with such unmistakable relief, O'Neill allowed his face to relax into a tiny smile. Oh, yeah. They could fix this.
They watched Donner's stumbling exit in motionless silence. The man didn't look back; just staggered to his vehicle and tore recklessly away from the curb, tires squealing.
"He gonna be a problem, Daniel?"
"I don't think so." Daniel's voice was infinitely tired. "Believe it or not, there's actually a good side to this; now I've got more on him than he has on me."
O'Neill crouched back down next to the other man.
"How badly hurt are you, Daniel? Do you need me to call your doctor?"
"N... no, I think I'll be OK. I... it was... I just still have a lot of pain. He didn't really h... hurt me any more than my PT does on a regular basis." His mouth tightened briefly. "He just s... scared me pretty thoroughly."
"C'mon, then. Time for beddies for drugged up archaeologists."
Daniel's head dropped back against the wall, eyes closing tiredly. "Can't I just stay here?"
"Nope. Against the rules." O'Neill looked around for Jackson's crutches, then stood and reached over the table to grab them from the counter. Stooping again, he gently slipped his free arm around Daniel's waist. "Upsy daisy, buddy."
Having achieved a swaying vertical, Daniel reached for the crutches, then hissed as the armbands pressed against the blooming bruises on his forearms. "Ow!"
O'Neill stared at those purpling marks and felt the red haze rising again. "Damn! That fuckin' bastard!"
"Jack. Let it go." Daniel let his body lean against the taller man, offering his own kind of comfort. The odd reversal of appointed roles jerked O'Neill back to matters at hand. Briefly, he caressed the back of Daniel's tousled head.
"Guess we're going to have to do the buddy thing here. Easy does it; just let me support some of your weight; you should be able to get as far as bed without the sticks."
Clasped together, they moved slowly to exit the kitchen-and stopped abruptly as Daniel got his first look at his front door.
"Wh... what the...?"
Jack sheepishly shrugged his unencumbered shoulder.
"Well, when I heard you yell, I pretty much decided to forego civilized pleasantries like knocking on the door."
Daniel's body started to shake, strangled little sounds escaping from his throat.
"Daniel? Daniel! Hey, it's OK! He's gone."
Daniel tore his eyes from the drunkenly skewed door, shot one desperate look at Jack's face, then turned his gaze away. The convulsing of his body increased in intensity, the sounds becoming more distressed.
"Hey, hey!" Jack shifted his hold on the other man so he could force eye contact. "Wh... what the hell? You... you're giggling."
Incoherent, Daniel shook his head frantically.
"Oh, yes you are. You are giggling. Doctors of archaeology do not giggle!"
Daniel bit his lips together, face screwing up as he vainly attempted to confine the slightly hysterical laughter. Surrendering, he whooped once, then turned his body to bury his face against Jack's chest.
Though thoroughly confused, O'Neill really had no objections to this arrangement, so he just wrapped both arms around Jackson's heaving body, rubbing his cheek against the conveniently placed side of the other man's head, and rode it out.
Oh? Just which of those 23 languages was that supposed to be?
"Uh... care to repeat that, Dr. Jackson?"
Daniel lifted his head slightly, voice still strangled by his apparently uncontrollable mirth. "Was... wasn't l... locked."
"Wasn't locked. The door-it wasn't locked?" O'Neill stood frozen for a moment, then, "How the hell many times have we had this conversation? Anybody could walk in on you!"
The giggling increased. "Someone apparently did."
O'Neill felt a grin blossoming on his own face. Chuckling, he tightened his hold on the body in his arms, and rocked it gently from side to side.
"Well, just let that be a lesson to you. All sorts of shady characters running around a military base."
Gradually, Daniel's laughter stilled. Sighing, he rubbed his cheek against O'Neill's chest.
"That felt... that felt great. I can't remember the last time I found something worth laughing about."
"Much as I hate to break this up, I really think we should continue our little expedition, here. You can giggle into your pillow all you want."
With another sigh, Daniel pulled himself out of O'Neill's hold and reached out to push the door shut. It swayed drunkenly, but declined to close. The hinges were obviously bent, not to mention the crazily dangling splinters which were all that remained of most of the door frame. Another little eruption of mirth shook Jackson's body.
"Umm. I don't think it's going to close. Let alone lock."
"Maybe we should call Teal'c after all. I'm sure he'd be delighted to stand guard."
Happily, they grinned at each other, then continued on their way to the bedroom.
Jack fussed over the futile task of straightening the bedroom, feeling the heat of Daniel's drowsy gaze on his back.
"You know, if you'd just put stuff away, you'd have room for all the new stuff you seem to collect all the time."
O'Neill paused, then reluctantly turned to face the other man-to metaphorically face what lay between them.
"Yeah. I know. Talk. God, Daniel... there's so much I know we have to talk about... But I'm really not so hot at deep, meaningful conversation."
Daniel's mouth tightened. "Can't you even figure out a way to start?"
O'Neill sat carefully on the side of the bed. For a moment, he just looked at the other man, a deep crease between his brows.
"OK, how about we start with our little 'thing.' You know, the one that fizzled so spectacularly." O'Neill's first rule of combat: when backed into a corner, attack.
Color touched Daniel's cheeks. "I... uh..."
"Talk, Dr. Jackson. One night. We had one night, then you started saying 'no' every time I extended the invitation."
It was Daniel's turn to avoid eye contact. "It only took me one time to figure out that what you were after wasn't the same thing I wanted."
"What? Just what was it that you wanted that I didn't offer?"
"Just what did you offer? A weekly wrestling match? Which I was, I might point out, bound to lose every time!"
"What the hell are you talking about...?" Wrestling match. Was that what it had been? "Seemed to me you were having a pretty damned good time."
"I was. It's just... I... I wanted..." Daniel's voice stalled. His tongue flicked over his lower lip, distress evident in the lines of his face.
O'Neill made his voice as gentle as he could. "What, Danny? What did you want?"
Daniel's head snapped up, his eyes nailing Jack to stillness. O'Neill could see the indecision playing across those mobile features.
"You wouldn't even kiss me." There was a world of sad longing in the whispered words.
O'Neill shifted closer, lifting one hand to carefully stroke a bruised cheek, letting his thumb rub gently at the corner of that lovely mouth. His other hand came up to mirror the gesture as he leaned closer.
"Like this...?" he breathed, and closed the distance, tenderly caressing Daniel's soft, full mouth with his own, nibbling gently before sealing their lips in a long, moist kiss.
For a breathless moment, Daniel was passive under him. Then Jack felt the tender mouth move against his, the body shifting to cling with a hunger made desperate by months of deprivation.
Carefully letting his lips break contact with that delicious mouth, Jack allowed a hand to drift down to stroke Daniel's smooth, muscular shoulder, then his hairless chest. He nuzzled gently along the slightly rough hardness of Daniel's jaw, then lowered his head to the pillow, inching as close as he could, nosing the silky hair scattered beneath his face.
Still whispering, "We wanted the same, Daniel. It just took me a hell of a long time to figure things out."
Breathing a bit hard, Daniel slipped a hand into Jack's, interlacing their fingers, then tightening his hold.
"You do know that I... that I..."
"I know, Danny. Me too. Maybe we can wait until some other overstressed moment to actually say the word, OK?"
For a short time, they simply lay together, each absorbing the reality of the presence of the other. But there were other, harder issues between them.
Daniel's fingers tightened on Jack's hand, then he shifted slightly away, turning his head, serious eyes searching the other man's.
"Jack, wh... when we c...came back from 423..."
O'Neill squeezed his eyes shut, then carefully rolled the other man's body against his, pushing Daniel's face down against his own chest.
"God, I can't tell you this and look you in the face at the same time."
"What y...you said to me... I..."
"I think the most memorable word in the conversation was 'whore.'"
Daniel's body jerked slightly, and he tried to pull away. O'Neill tightened his hold, rubbing his cheek against the top of Daniel's silky head.
"Stay. I can tell you; I have to, because we have to fix this. But it's going to sound so bad, so cruel and pointless."
After a moment, Daniel once again relaxed against him, listening.
O'Neill took a deep breath. "It was jealousy, Daniel. Nasty, irrational, totally unfair jealousy."
This time he anticipated Daniel's retreat. "I know, I know. But on 423... well, you'd said 'no' to me, and there you were saying 'yes' to those bastards." He held tightly, feeling Daniel's body begin to shake.
"Somewhere far back in the bottom of my brain, I knew why you agreed; I knew that, if you hadn't, none of us would have come back from that pit, and I knew that agreeing isn't the same as wanting. But that old reptile brain you talk about didn't care about any of that. You'd said 'no' to me, over and over, and there you were agreeing to let them play their filthy little ritual games with you."
"I didn't... it..." The tears that Daniel had been fighting so well finally defeated him. Jack could feel the dampness spreading through the fibers of his shirt. He rocked their twined bodies gently back and forth, riding the storm of emotional release.
As Daniel's shaking eased, O'Neill drew another deep breath. "When we got back, you were so badly hurt-we never had a chance to talk about anything. They ran you off to the infirmary and hooked you up to every machine known to mankind, and I stomped off to my quarters and-stewed. Stomped and stewed. I was frothing at the mouth-eaten alive by anger, frustration and fear. And jealousy. By the time I finally went in to talk to you, I'd worked myself into some kind of towering, mindless fury. And, being me, I let my stupid mouth do my thinking for me. I wanted somebody to hurt as much as I was hurting. Boy, did I get my wish."
He tightened his hold and rocked a bit harder. His own voice was becoming suspiciously shaky. "I'm just so, so sorry that you were the one I dumped on. So, so sorry."
After a long moment of shared grief, O'Neill loosened his grip and pulled away to look into Daniel's too-bright eyes. Moved forward to place a couple of gentle kisses at the corner of his sweet mouth, then leaned back again.
"Can you get past this? Do we have a chance, here?"
Daniel eased back and lay against his pillow, keeping his gaze focused on Jack's face. His own expression was troubled, hope warring with distrust.
"I want to. I r... really want to."
Jack's hand reached to caress Daniel's damp, reddened cheek.
"Jack, I'm just... I'm so tired of being alone. And I want to be with you, no one else. But..." He shifted his gaze to the ceiling. "But wh... what happens the next time?"
"Shit, Daniel! I'm never the hell going to let there be a next time like this!"
"You can't guarantee. What do you do the next time I make a choice you don't like?"
"I..." Jack's sharp reply choked off. He took the time to draw a couple of deep breaths. "OK, fair point. All I can say is that I will try my damnedest to see your viewpoint. I can't promise I'll always be willing to go along, but I'll try to understand. And, Daniel... the last three months have been one of the most painful training periods of my life. I swear I will never let something like this happen to us again."
Daniel stared at him for a long, long instant. Then the tension drained out of his face, his eyes lightening toward something like happiness.
"So we try, right?"
"Yup. Life doesn't give any guarantees, but if you're willing to give me a chance to behave like a human being, there's nothing I want more than to try."
A sudden, brilliant smile. "OK."
Jack smiled back, and kissed him again. "OK. Now sleep. Remember those early classes."
Daniel ducked his eyes away, color staining his cheeks. "Umm... well... I don't actually have any classes tomorrow."
"You don't... Daniel? Did you lie to me?"
A tiny remnant of the earlier giggling fit shook Daniel's body. "Well, you have to admit it made a great exit line."
"Damn. You're getting way better at that lying thing. Must be the bad influence of all these runny-nosed SG-wannabees."
"Sleep, Dr. Jackson."
Jack could feel the body pressed against his relaxing toward slumber. Deliberately, he stilled his own movements to avoid interfering with the trip.
"Jack?" Daniel's voice was drowsy and scratchy.
"Jack, I... I don't know... I'm not sure I can."
O'Neill lifted his head to look into bleak, troubled eyes.
"They really hurt you, didn't they."
Daniel shut his eyes tightly, squeezing out one final tear.
"Danny, we've got all the time you need. I'm not saying that I wouldn't like to make whoopee with you twelve times a night, but as long as I know we're... you know... together... well, I figure I can be pretty patient. And you're going to be all right. And I'm not dumb enough to figure that we haven't still got a lot of that one hell of a major issue to settle between us. We've got time for that, too. As long as we're together, we can deal with all of that."
Wet, sleepy blue eyes regarded him intensely for a long moment. Then their corners squeezed as Daniel's mouth curved into a small smile.
Eyes fluttering shut, Daniel finally gave in to the pull of the pain medication. Jack watched him for a moment, then carefully, carefully worked his arm under the other man's body and so, so gently pulled him into his arms. Daniel's head dropped onto Jack's chest, tucked warmly on his shoulder, just under his chin. Right where it belonged.
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