Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17
Category: First time, angst, H/C
Season/Spoilers: Anytime after season three
Synopsis: Jack's inability to express his feelings leads Daniel down a path of heartache and self discovery.
Warnings: Daniel is involved in an abusive relationship. If this type of fic, or this characterization of Daniel bothers you, please do not read any further. The story was a challenge to try something a bit different.
Length: 112 Kb


Colonel O’Neill sat in his office and rubbed at the pain in his right temple as he tried to finish up his reports. He wasn’t getting anywhere. Daniel’s words kept reverberating in his mind. “I’m seeing someone, Jack.” The enthusiastic admission played over and over in rhythm with the pounding behind his right eye. Worse than the words, was the shy smile that had lit up the archaeologist’s face and the light that sparkled in those spectacular eyes.

Despite the bile that rose in Jack’s throat he had managed to plaster on a smile and tell Daniel how happy he was for him... the mother of all lies. But the colonel was an expert in subterfuge and deceit so Daniel had bought it. Why wouldn’t he?

Jack understood he had only himself to blame for the complicated mess that was his life. He was in love with Dr. Daniel Jackson. He had no idea how or when he had allowed it to happen, only that it was true. Since the night of Daniel’s drunken, emotional confession that he was bi-sexual, Jack had been forced to wrestle his own demons. Instead of being thrilled at the possibilities Daniel’s courageous acknowledgement opened up, he had been terrified and reacted badly. Reacted badly? That would cover a “Why, Daniel, I’m shocked” as opposed to a condescending, “what the hell are you telling me for? Do I look gay to you?” That was two months ago, and just when Jack was gathering the courage to make a declaration of his own, Daniel announced he was seeing someone. Jack was still shocked at the jealousy that had flooded through him.

Closing his eyes against the throbbing headache gave Jack just enough relief to allow his troubled mind to think. Who would appreciate Daniel Jackson as much as he did? No one. Of that, he was certain. Daniel would never be able to divulge what he did for a living or explain his long absences or god forbid, his injuries. Did he realize what a strain that would put on any relationship?

And just who was this new guy in Daniel’s life? Could he be trusted around the classified stuff the archaeologist kept at the apartment... the artifacts, the translations, Daniel’s laptop and journals? Jack jumped up from his desk. It was his duty as Daniel’s CO and the 2IC of the SGC to check this guy out. After all, the fate of the world was in their hands. Certainly Daniel would understand that.

Congratulating himself on the logical excuse he had come up with for probing into his teammate's personal life, Jack changed into his civvies and signed out. It was 1800 hours. Despite the teasing the colonel heaped on Carter, it suddenly dawned on him he was the one in desperate need of a life.

Jack rubbed a sweaty palm down his jeans as he stood in the outside lobby of Daniel’s apartment building and studied the names on the bells. He had to get this right. He already rehearsed his spiel several times in the truck in route. He took a deep breath and rang the buzzer, hoping Daniel was home and would understand his concerns, and wondering if this would be the night he'd have the guts to tell Daniel everything.

“Who is it?”

Jack shook his head miserably at how his heart fluttered at the familiar voice. He had known Daniel for five years now. This was the first time he had ever fluttered.

“It’s me.” Jack was pleased at the level of casualness he managed. He grabbed the door and headed for the elevator as soon as Daniel buzzed him in.

The door to the apartment opened before he had a chance to knock. Daniel had on faded jeans, a white button down shirt and no shoes. Jack cursed his heart for fluttering again.

“There’s something we need to talk about.” Jack started to unzip his jacket but stopped abruptly as he spotted movement in the kitchen.

Daniel smiled broadly as a stranger came into the living room to stand beside him. “Jack, this is my friend, Adam. Adam, this is Colonel Jack O’Neill, my boss and CO.”

A sharp pang of disappointment rifled through him at Daniel's omission of the word ‘friend’.

Adam offered his hand. “Colonel.” Jack shook it even though he would have preferred his hands around Adam’s neck, shaking that instead.

Jack’s highly trained eye took in the sight of Adam Carducci to get an idea of the kind of man his archaeologist, his linguist, his teammate and his best friend would consider spending time with. ‘His’ being the operative word.

Adam. Jack swirled the name around in his mind a few times. The weasel was rubbing a hand down his Daniel’s arm, right in front of him, not caring it obviously made Daniel uncomfortable. The man was confident, if not a little cocky, and that didn't bode well with him.

The colonel in Jack stopped his silent assessment as the pain of realization hit. Adam was a good ten years younger than he was. The bastard had a head of thick, wavy dark hair that held not the slightest hint of gray. He was a fool for thinking Daniel might be interested in the first place. ‘There’s no fool like an old fool,’ his mother always said.

“Is everything okay, Jack?” Daniel’s concerned question snapped Jack back to reality. He realized he hadn't stated the purpose of his visit. What the hell was the purpose of his visit?

“Fine. Just fine. I didn’t realize you had company. I’ll see you at work tomorrow.” Jack hated the thin smile that crossed Adam the weasel’s lips.

“Okay, if you’re sure it can wait. You’re welcome to stay for dinner. I made my famous sauce for chicken cacciatore.” Daniel smiled at his new friend. “Adam thinks it’s a little bitter so I’ll have to adjust the recipe next time.”

It was only then the normally observant colonel noticed the table was set for two, complete with fancy napkins and wine glasses. Hell, Daniel had even lit candles. Jack felt his throat constrict with the implications and decided he'd better get the hell out of there before he embarrassed himself.

“No thanks. I’m going to go home and hit the hay.” He zipped up his jacket and retreated to the door. “Nice meeting you, Adam.” He choked out the words for Daniel’s sake.

The always-polite Daniel walked him out. “There’s not an emergency is there, Jack?” The blue eyes were anxious with worry.

“No, nothing like that. Nothing important. I was in the neighborhood.” Jack paused, one hand already on the doorknob and turned around. “Daniel?”

“Yeah?” Daniel was wearing the hesitant smile Jack suddenly hated because it was no longer reserved solely for him.

“Don’t change your sauce. It’s perfect the way it is.”

That earned him a chuckle. “See you tomorrow, Jack.”

“Right. Tomorrow.” Jack forced himself not to run down the hall in an effort to get outside and get some air. He sat in his truck and rested his head on the steering wheel for a full minute to get a grip. Daniel had made his choice and it was not Air Force Colonel Jonathan O’Neill. Not that he had ever actually offered himself up as a choice. Thank God he hadn’t. Daniel obviously needed someone younger, and more importantly, not military. Maybe the weasel was more of an intellectual, someone Daniel could better relate to. Who knew what the two of them did for fun. Whatever it was, Jack was positive it didn't involve screaming at hockey games and fishing in remote lakes.

Sleep didn’t come easy to Jack. He tossed and turned all through the night wondering what Adam and Daniel were doing. Unlike Daniel, Jack had no experience with men. He had never given the idea much consideration before Daniel filtered into to his every waking thought. He was unsure if his total lack of experience made it better or worse in imagining what Daniel and the weasel were doing at 0100.

At 0400, Jack decided he had to let it go and not stand in the way of Daniel’s happiness. He trashed his plans to spy on Adam Carducci under the guise of concern for the integrity of the SGC. Besides, he was a Colonel and Daniel was under his command. What the hell had he been thinking? He should be thanking the weasel for saving him from starting something that could have ended very badly.

Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to be grateful.

“This is definitely too bitter, Daniel.” Adam was standing at the pot tasting the sauce off of a wooden spoon.

Daniel stuck a finger in to do a taste test of his own. “It tastes okay to me. No one has ever complained about it.” He had chosen this meal for that very reason.

“They’re probably just being nice. It needs some sugar.” Adam’s tone left no room for argument.

Daniel couldn't disagree about his teammate's motivations. Jack, Sam, and Teal’c probably were just being nice, not wanting to hurt his feelings. He blushed at the thought of his friends eating the dinner and even going so far as complimenting him on it when they didn't truly enjoy it. Did they really think he was that fragile?

It was not as if Adam was trying to hurt his feelings. It was just that Adam was opinionated and extremely honest. Working for the SGC had forced Daniel to evaluate personnel and occasionally confront employees with problems with their work habits, but it was rare, most of the scientists employed by the SGC were top notch. Because Daniel had a hard time with that aspect of his job, he admired Adam’s frankness. He was happy he could count on Adam to tell him the truth. He added a few teaspoons of sugar to the sauce and stirred.

Adam ran an appreciative hand down Daniel’s back and rested it on his backside as he leaned in for a kiss. “I love you, Daniel Jackson.”

A brilliant smile lit up Daniel’s face at the words. “I love you too, Adam.” He was not yet certain if it were true, if this was love, but he was willing to be opened to the possibility.

“So that was the great Colonel O’Neill?”

Daniel frowned and pulled away from Adam’s embrace. “Why do you say it like that? He’s a great man, and a good friend.”

That was the first time Adam hit him.

Later that night Daniel accepted Adam’s apology and they had made love, hard and fast, just the way Adam liked it. Daniel lay awake until dawn, troubled, but certain Adam loved him, positive the punch was an aberration. People did irrational things when they were angry, things they didn't really mean. Even Jack had hurt him over the years. Maybe not physically, but sometimes words and deeds bruised worse than fists. Daniel would cope, same as he always did.

He and Adam had met two months ago. Daniel would never forget that night. It was the night he had gotten drunk with his teammates and ended up at Jack’s house. It was the night he had told Jack he was bisexual. It had not gone as Daniel had played it over and over in his mind with Jack confessing his love and the two of them living happily ever after. Instead, Jack had snapped. Daniel had never seen his friend more agitated than he had been that night. “Do I look gay to you?” It wasn’t a question; it was a resounding no.

Daniel should have known better, happy endings were rare for most, impossible for him. He was a fool. Jack had not only been shocked and embarrassed but angry as well. Daniel was grateful they had somehow managed to remain friends.

Later that night a hurting, depressed Daniel Jackson met Adam Carducci and the rest, as they say, was history.

"Hey, Mud Boy, where ya going? Showers are this way."

"Actually, I need to stop at my office." Damn. It was Jack and Teal'c heading for the locker room. Daniel thought he had fiddled around long enough after the briefing to avoid them. He waved his hand vaguely down the hall and ducked his head to avoid eye contact.

"We can wait." Jack paused in the hallway.

Wait? Why would they wait? Jack was calling his bluff. His observant CO must be getting suspicious of his tactics to avoid showering with his teammates, not that it was any of their business. Daniel forced himself to meet his friend's eyes. "No, you guys go. I'll catch up."

They both knew it was a lie. There would be no 'catching up'. To Daniel's disappointment, Jack didn't argue with him. Instead, the deep brown eyes bore into him with enough intensity to make him squirm. "Team night at my house tonight. Think you can make that?" "

"I-I I'll try." Daniel immediately dropped his gaze.

"If you're too busy, just say so." Jack eyes never wavered

Daniel blushed at the implication and flippant tone and stuttered, "I-I probably can't make it."

"Yeah, that's what I thought." After a disapproving shake of the head, Jack turned away and walked briskly to the elevator.

Before Daniel could breathe a sigh of relief at Jack's huffy exit, Teal'c picked up the slack. "This will be the third team night in a row you have been unable to attend, Daniel Jackson. Are you well?" Teal'c's stare was no less intimidating than Jack's.

"Yes. I'm fine, Teal'c. It' just, well, it's just hard to make time for everything." Daniel shifted the papers he held in his hands.

"Are your friends not a priority?" Teal'c wasn't about to let him off the hook that easily.

"Yes. Of course they... you are." Daniel's blush deepened at the bluntness of Teal'c's words as he made his decision. "I'll be there tonight."

"Very well. We will be pleased to enjoy your company. I shall inform O'Neill." Teal'c bowed slightly and was gone.

Daniel made his way to his office and sank down into his chair with a sigh, waiting for any and all SG teams to clear the locker room, and more specifically, the showers.

Life would be easier if he had just waited another few minutes and missed running into his teammate's altogether, but easy was not a word associated with describing Daniel Jackson's life. It had been a while since he was 'clean' enough to hop into the communal showers with Teal'c, or worse yet, Jack. The bruises would be hard to explain. The majority of the marks and handprints were the result of rough sex. Adam was aggressive, and while Daniel longed for one night of slow, gentle lovemaking, he wasn't about to complain. Anything was better than the hollow loneliness of lying awake for hours on end, aching for someone you could never have. Adam was the alternative and Daniel was determined to please him and make the relationship work.

While the small smattering of bumps and bruises might have garnered a comment or two, the spectacular purple mass on his left hip would be difficult to explain. That was a souvenir of an Adam Carducci temper tantrum from the night Daniel had lost track of time and failed to call home to explain why he was going to be three hours late. Adam was jealous. For the life of him, Daniel could not figure out what there was to be jealous of, but it was an Adam trait no amount of reassurance on the linguist's part was able to soothe. Daniel guessed it stemmed from the secrecy of his job and the necessity of nights away from home. It had taken months to convince Adam he would never be able to share the part of his life that was classified. Adam had gradually, begrudgingly, accepted the fact but Daniel was well aware it still bugged the shit out of his suspicious lover. Adam was also jealous of Daniel's time and friends and oddly enough, of Jack. The last example, a dazzling display of the universe’s impeccable sense of timing, humor and irony.

The jealously was not without merit. Before Adam, thoughts of Jack consumed Daniel, keeping him awake and restless night after sleepless night. It had taken Daniel years to get up the courage to confess his true feelings, years of playing geeky scientist, teammate and best friend. What had the admission of love gotten him? Nothing but a cold shoulder and a shattered heart. To be honest, the pain of that encounter hurt far worse than the dark fingerprints imbedded in his arms and the colorful contusion on his hip. Jack's lack of interest had been the painful punch line to the cosmic joke.

Daniel Jackson was not a stupid man. He understood Adam's loss of temper and occasional physical violence was neither normal nor right. Still, it was nice to have some one waiting at home who cared enough to worry, even if they were occasionally angry. Since Daniel was eight years old, love had been elusive and expensive. There was always a price to be paid. Nobody gave love away for free, not to him anyway. Love hurt, and that was okay, his eyes were wide opened, he knew the price going in and for the most part, he was willing to pay it.

Daniel checked his watch then rested his head in his arms. Most people would say he settled for Adam. He supposed they'd be right. Despite appearances and the nature of his job, Dr. Daniel Jackson did not reach for the stars, he simply made do. The optimistic, impossible dreams of his childhood had been crushed years ago in the Egyptian exhibit at the New York Museum of Art. With the exception of his place on SG-1, his entire life was a series of disappointments and compromises. Why should love be any different?

The phone taunted him and Daniel finally reached out and grabbed it to place the call he dreaded making. He listened to Adam's cheerful voice on the answering machine and silently hoped his lover would be as cheerful when he arrived home and listened to the message. He tried to sound happy and casual, the opposite of his true emotions. "Hey, Adam, it's me. Something came up at work that I can't get out of. I'm going to be late, but don't worry... I'll more than make it up to you." Daniel hesitated a second before adding,” Love you."

He was never sure of the last admission. Adam didn't hesitate to say those simple little words and insisted Daniel reciprocate, so he did, in the hope that repeating them often enough would make them true.

Team night at Jack's house. The safe, security of the evening beckoned him and Daniel made a conscious decision to take a break from worrying about Adam's temperament and Jack's lack of understanding. He was determined to spend the evening basking in the glow of good food and good company, fun and friendship. He'd deal with the fall out later.

Jack sat outside the small office and waited impatiently for Dr. Warner. He wasn't concerned about his own health, if this were about him, he'd be sitting outside of Fraiser's office. The door finally opened and to his annoyance, Warner was alone with a file on his desk. The Doc had kept him waiting for paperwork?

Warner must have read his mind. "Sorry, to keep you waiting, Colonel. Have a seat. I've been struggling to decide on who, if anyone, to share this information with."

"What is it, Doc?" Jack tried to keep the irritation out of his voice.

"It's Dr. Jackson."

"Daniel? Is he okay?" Jack sat up a little straighter.

"That's what I'm trying to determine. He's had a lot of injuries and odd bruises of late."

"Well, I heard the stairway collapsed in the temple he was working in during his field trip with SG-11. Only Daniel could fall down a flight of stairs and still manage to finish the translation. He takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

Warner didn't even smile. "The injuries I'm concerned about are not consistent with a fall. Some are definitely older and in various stages of healing."

"What does Daniel say?"

"He says he's fine. That he fell down the stairs, end of story."

"And you're telling me this because?" Jack sighed out loud and rubbed a hand through his hair.

"Because you're his friend and CO and some of the injuries appear to be deliberate." Warner paused for the implication of his words to make an impact. "Some of the marks are fingerprints; others seem far more likely to be the result of punches or kicks than of a fall. Colonel, is he having trouble with anyone here on the base?"

"Not that I'm aware of, Doc." Jack stood up to leave, uncomfortable discussing Daniel without his friend present. "I can take it from here. You did the right thing."

Jack returned to his office to think. Warner's concern was a legitimate one and not without precedent. It wouldn't be the first time an overzealous bully of a marine picked on a nerdy scientist, but Jack had his doubts. Daniel wasn't just any nerd. He was the premiere archaeologist/linguist of the SGC. He opened the Stargate for crying out loud, not to mention his standing on SG-1. The idea of a twenty-something enlisted man risking his career to play schoolyard bully to someone as prominent and well-known as Daniel seemed a bit farfetched, not impossible, just not likely. Getting Daniel to talk wouldn't be easy, but Jack was determined to get to the bottom of this.

Team night was a huge success. If someone or something was bothering Daniel he certainly hid it well. The four of them played a hysterical version of a trivia game Daniel invented last year called 'Stump the Jaffa'. Jack was never positive how many of Teal'c's guesses at the meaning of common American slang were legitimate and how many were designed to make them laugh but the result was a sidesplitting evening. Tonight was the most fun they'd had together in quite a while. Jack realized it was Daniel who made the difference. The team was incomplete without him.

It was almost midnight when Sam announced she was tired and would drive Teal'c back to the base. Jack smiled to himself when Daniel jumped up completely shocked at the time. The brilliant scientist never seemed to be in tuned with the passage of time or the concept of punctuality. He vaguely wondered if that trait drove Adam the weasel as crazy as it drove him.

"Hold on, Daniel. I need a minute." The archaeologist looked as if he were going to protest for a second but then thought the better of it. They both said their goodbyes to Sam and Teal'c and retreated to the living room.

"Beer?" Jack offered before sitting down on the sofa.

"No." Daniel appeared anxious as he settled into an opposite chair.

A few awkward seconds passed before Jack opted for the direct approach. "Are you okay, Danny?" The question was sincere, asked without a trace of sarcasm.

The blue eyes that met his registered surprise along with sadness. It was difficult to tell if the reaction was from the question itself or the use of the nickname that had gone unuttered for so long. It saddened Jack either should surprise Daniel. He forced himself to remain patient and wait out a response.

The incredible eyes closed for a second. "I'm fine. Why?" When they reopened the sadness was gone replaced by determination.

"Dr. Warner is concerned. He says you've had an inordinate number of injuries lately." There was no point in prolonging this by beating around the bush.

"He has no right. It's none of your business." The intense eyes darkened and then flickered with anger.

Daniel had a point. It was none of his business. "I didn't ask, he called me in. He was worried about you. He's afraid that someone on the mountain is... bothering you."

The incredulous look told Jack everything he needed to know. No one on Cheyenne Mountain was hurting his archaeologist. "Yeah, I figured he was way off base with this one. I'm sorry, but I had to ask."

Daniel appeared relieved at the apology. "Jack, I'm only going to tell you this once so you can... um ... cover for me."

"Cover for you?" Amused, Jack waited to see where this conversation was heading.

"I'm not quite sure how to say this." The stammering linguist offered up his best self-depreciating, false smile and focused his attention on Sam's bottle of beer sitting half empty on the coffee table. His head bobbed up for a second as he brought his index finger to his lips.

"Just spill it."

"Okay. Some of the marks are from Adam." The forced smile remained plastered on Daniel's face even as his gaze returned to the stray beer bottle.

"Adam!" Whatever Jack had been expecting it was not that.

"Calm down, Jack. It's not what you think." A deep shade of pink slowly crept up Daniel's neck as his gaze left the bottle in favor of the area rug on the hardwood floor. "It's from sex," he whispered. "Rough sex."

"And this is okay with you?" With understanding came irritation.

"It's what Adam likes."

It took Jack a few seconds to swallow down his anger. "You, Daniel. I asked if it was okay with you. I don't give a rat's ass about the...." Jack bit back the word 'weasel' and managed to choke out "about Adam."

"Of course it's okay. It's consensual sex between two adults," Daniel answered calmly. "You can see why I can't explain it to Warner." The words sounded hollow to the colonel's trained ears.

"Let me see exactly what it is we're talking about." The locker room, the showers, it was all starting to make sense.

"No!" Daniel's mouth dropped opened at the suggestion. "This is no one's business but mine and Adam's."

"Warner doesn't seem like the type to get overexcited by a few stray bruises." Jack was determined. "If you show me, I promise I'll never ask you about it again."

Daniel thought over the offer. "Okay. One time."

Jack was stunned that Daniel, earth's top negotiator, accepted the stipulation without a fight. He watched in fascination as the shirt was hesitantly lifted up. The fascination turned to horror when the mottled, discolored skin was revealed.

"That is not from a little over aggressive sex." Jack pointed out the large contusion near the hip.

"No, that one is from the fall down the temple stairs," Daniel nervously lied. "Dr. Warner is talking about these."

Jack bit his tongue while Daniel pointed out the grip marks higher up his hip and stomach.

For a brief second it struck Jack that Daniel was lying but the notion quickly passed. This had to be humiliating for the modest scientist. Daniel would have no reason to subject himself to this kind of scrutiny if he were lying. Plus, Jack could always check with Warner on which marks were before, and which were after the temple stairs incident. He could, but he knew he wouldn't. It occurred to him Daniel knew he wouldn’t too.

"Satisfied?" The bruised archaeologist self-consciously pulled down his shirt at Jack's nod.

"You like it that rough, huh?" The idea of Adam the weasel causing Daniel pain was difficult for Jack to swallow.

Daniel ignored the question and made a beeline for his jacket and the door only pausing to face his friend when one hand firmly gripped the security of the doorknob. "You said you'd never mention it again. I'm going to hold you to that."

Jack licked his lips that had suddenly gone dry and nodded. He reached out and grabbed Daniel's arm and did not miss the slight flinch. Fuck, he must have squeezed one of the tender spots. "Sorry," he whispered, quickly letting go. Daniel and the weasel might like it rough, but that was not Jack's style. He would never understand it. He was military and had caused more than his share of pain in the name of duty; he would certainly never intentionally cause any in the name of love.

"I'm fine, Jack. Really." Jack noted that even as he said it, Daniel lowered his head.

Although assessing was what Jack did best, he could not seem to get a handle on this. Daniel was leaving out some pertinent facts or he was just too damn close to the situation to do a proper evaluation. He had no alternative other than to accept Daniel's word at face value.

"Okay. You're fine." Jack threw his hands up in mock surrender. "You know where I am if you need me."

"I had fun tonight. I'm glad I came." Daniel finally looked him in the eye.

"Good. Don't miss any more team nights, Dr. Jackson. We miss you when you're not here." Jack forced a light tone.

Daniel smiled shyly at the acknowledgment and then he was gone.

Jack stood rooted in the doorway, reminiscent of his mom when she'd send him off for the first day of a new school year. Only when Daniel's taillights were out of sight did Jack close the door and head upstairs for a shower and bed.

Sleep proved elusive. It was difficult to resist the urge to call Daniel and check up on him. Jack had the phone in his hand when he realized how much that might annoy his stubborn teammate. Or worse yet, what would he say if the weasel answered?

The image of Daniel's colorfully marred body continued to haunt him, making sleep impossible. Daniel liked rough sex. It was hard for Jack to come to terms with that idea. Not just a little rough either. It took more than an errant squeeze or a playful slap to cause that kind of damage.

What Jack knew about male/male sex could fit on a yellow post it note. He had never given the subject much thought until Dr. Daniel Jackson made his confession. Maybe male sex was supposed to be rough. For all Jack knew, maybe that was the appeal of it. It certainly wasn't part of any of his own midnight fantasies. In those, he held Daniel close and gently kissed and tasted every inch of the archaeologist's lithe, supple, and completely unmarred body.

It was Jack's opinion Daniel needed to feel loved and cherished. He doubted the scientist, and the little boy in Daniel would ever believe he was truly loved without substantial proof. Apparently, that opinion was wrong. Jack laughed bitterly at himself. He was a silly old romantic at heart. Sara had loved him for it, perhaps a guy, even a guy like Daniel, would scoff at it. As much as he hated to admit it, maybe everything had worked out for the best. Maybe Adam the weasel was better able to give Daniel what he needed.

It hurt, but Jack decided to keep his nose out of places it didn't belong. Tomorrow he would assure Warner Daniel's injuries were legitimate. Perhaps the result of some self-defense training class Daniel was taking. That would probably fly. It was the least he could do.

Daniel sat at his desk blinking furiously in an effort to keep from rubbing his eyes, it was only noon and they were already were red and irritated. He had promised Adam he would try the contact lens and was determined to keep his word. His allergies made contacts impossible. Convincing Adam of that fact was even more impossible. Long enough, he decided. Adam would have to accept that he was one of the few people in the universe unable to wear them. Daniel opened the top drawer of his desk and felt a comforting relief at the sight of his glasses.


He jumped and quickly shut the drawer at the sound of Jack's voice.

"Hey," he responded automatically, involuntarily squinting up at his friend.

"Hang over?" Jack gestured toward his eyes.

Daniel cleared his throat and forced a smile. "No. Actually, you'll be happy to know I'm attempting to wear contact lens."

"Ah," Jack's voice was neutral. "And why would that make me happy?"

"You always tell me I'm a geek."

"Yes, well, newsflash, Daniel. You'll still be a geek whether you wear glasses or not." Jack smiled and picked up what looked like an old bone off of the archaeologist's desk. "You're a scientist. Geekiness is in your blood. There's no getting around that. Besides, I thought you couldn't wear contacts."

Daniel pointed a finger at his watering eyes. "I guess I can't." He nodded toward the bone. "Could I have that back please?"

"Sure. Catch." To Daniel's horror Jack tossed him what was left of a civilization SG-8 had discovered on P2X-904.

He caught it with two hands and gently returned it to its original position on the desk. "What if I would have dropped that?" he admonished his unrepentant friend.

"I was confident. You're not that much of a geek. Lunch?"

"Sure, give me a few minutes." Daniel suppressed a smile at Jack's irreverence.


"Yeah?" He took a deep breath and looked up, mentally willing Jack not to ask the reason behind the failed attempt at contacts.

"The glasses are fine,” he winked. "I like geeks. They tend to grow on ya."

Daniel smiled in relief. As soon as Jack was out the door he stood in front of the mirror to remove the irritating lens. He took a second to stare at his own image and was disgusted by the weakness of the man staring back at him. Contacts. Who the hell was he trying to kid? He knew he couldn't wear contacts. It was just one more thing, on a pitifully long list of things he had given in on in an effort to appease Adam.

Since they met, Adam had been bugging him to change his appearance. The contacts, a pair of tight fitting jeans and an expensive, clingy shirt was Daniel's way of apologizing for the secrecy of his job, and more recently, the lateness of team night. Adam was immensely pleased with the new look. Daniel decided that while he may be able to put up with the uncomfortable 'too small' jeans and the ribbed shirt, the contacts were out of the question. He removed the offending lens, slid his glasses onto his face and headed to the commissary, suddenly appreciative of the familiar comfort of his loose fitting BDU's.

Lunch was enjoyable until SG-1 was abruptly summoned to the briefing room.

Daniel fidgeted in his seat at the conference table, rolling a pencil back and forth between his hands, waiting with his teammates for a hint as to what this impromptu afternoon briefing was about. He almost wished it would be a sudden off-world mission so he could put off seeing the disappointment on Adam’s face when he walked into the apartment this evening wearing his glasses. Don’t be ridiculous, he silently chided.

General Hammond arrived and wasted no time in getting to the point. SG-12 was in the middle of intense negotiations on Malotia. SG-1 had done the initial 'meet and greet' and the general was looking for answers. The planet was important; rich with trinium deposits and other newly discovered alloys that could prove useful over time. Apparently, the negotiations were not going well. The Malotians seemed displeased with SG-12's questions, requests and timetables. Daniel dropped the pencil he was playing with and blushed. He had written the proposed treaty and then worked tirelessly on the tedious translation and details of the final document. He must have made a mistake.

"General Hammond, I-I apologize. There must be an error with the translation. I'll go over it right now and make any necessary corrections."

While all eyes focused on the stuttering linguist it was General Hammond who spoke. "You made a mistake on the translation?"

"Yes, well, I must have." Daniel kept his head bowed and stood up to leave.

"Which part?" Jack quipped, his voice exuding concern more than anything else.

"I won't know until I look over it," Daniel mumbled. He turned back to the General. "I'm sorry, sir." Before the general had a chance to respond, he disappeared out the door.

Get a grip, Daniel angrily bereted himself, his hand shaking as he inserted the Malotia disk into his computer. Even before sipping his coffee, acid burned in the pit of his stomach. This was important. He had worked on the fine points of this treaty and the subsequent translation almost exclusively for weeks. How could he have been so careless and stupid to screw it up?

A knock on the door gave Daniel pause to glance at his watch. He was shocked to find four hours had passed since the briefing. He was no closer to an answer now than he was then. He ignored the knock and continued working.

"Hey." Jack opened the door and poked his head inside.

Daniel answered with a nondescript grunt. The last thing he needed was to waste time chatting about nonsense with Jack.

"Why the closed the door?" As always, Jack ignored the hint and invited himself in.

"I'm working." Daniel didn't look up, hoping to discourage further conversation.

"Yeah about that..."

Jack was not easily discouraged. Daniel closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself. "Please. Whatever it is, can it wait? I have to fix this." He wondered why his heart was racing and Jack was looking at him strangely. He didn't remember Jack crossing the room, but his friend's hand was firmly gripping his shoulder.

"Fix what?" Jack's voice sounded oddly gentle.

Twisting away from the comforting touch, Daniel retreated and exploded. "Fix what? The treaty. I made a mistake. You were at the briefing." He forced himself to calm down. "It'll be okay. I'll take care of it."

"Daniel. Stop." Jack took a step toward him.

"If you'd leave me alone... I-I could get it right."

"Daniel." Again, Jack's hand made contact with him, this time, moving slowly up and down his forearm. "That's what I'm trying to tell you," he said quietly. "There's nothing to fix. There's nothing wrong with the treaty or the translation."

"I don't understand." The blue eyes blinked in confusion.

"Turns out that's just the way the Malotians do business. They bitch and argue and in the end they sign and according to Major Buckley, get drunk."

"They signed it?"

Jack looked at his watch. "Twenty minutes ago. Buckley radioed in for permission to join them in getting smashed. They accepted all the terms."

"All of them? I asked for a lot." Daniel was lightheaded with relief.

"That's what Hammond said. Now do you mind telling me what this was all about?"

"All of them," Daniel repeated happily.



"Why did you automatically assume you did something wrong?"

"It made the most sense."

"Not to any of us."

"I'm not perfect, Jack. I make mistakes. Tons of them."

"You're under a lot of pressure. We all know that. No one's perfect, and no one here expects you to be."

"I know," Daniel whispered. "Thanks."

"So, I was thinking maybe the four of us should go out and get drunk. Do a little celebrating of our own. We found Malotia in the first place. What do you say?" Jack's voice changed to its more familiar, brash tone.

More than anything else, Daniel wanted to say yes. He put a ton of hours into this treaty and it would be nice to revel in the success.

"Come on," Jack prodded. "We, especially you, did all the work. Why should Buckley and SG-12 get to have all the fun?"

Daniel lowered his head in regret. "I can't. I have plans." And he did. Adam was taking him out to dinner tonight. He would be wearing the tight fitting jeans and the new shirt. Adam wanted to show him off. Daniel had been flattered, but now he wished he could go out with his teammates instead. It wasn't Adam's fault that the secrecy of the SGC came first, but it certainly limited meaningful conversation. If Adam bothered to ask how his day went, he would reply 'fine' unable to share his excitement and accomplishments.

Jack grimaced, but to Daniel's relief, did not prod him further. "Okey, dokey. We'll be at CJ's if you change your mind."

Daniel nodded, cleaned off his desk, and headed home.

As soon as they placed their orders, Adam leaned across the table and motioned for Daniel to do the same. Their heads met in the middle as if Adam was going to divulge a closely guarded secret. Instead, he reached for Daniel's glasses.

Daniel squinted. He'd been wondering when Adam would get around to mentioning the failed contact lens experiment.

"Do you mind?"

"No. It's fine," Daniel readily agreed, not wanting to spoil Adam's good mood.

Adam slid the glasses into his shirt pocket. "That's better. You look so hot, Daniel." Adam beamed at him, genuinely pleased. "Your eyes are spectacular. It's such a shame you have to hide them."

Daniel blushed and shrugged at the words.

"How was your day?"

Daniel raised an eyebrow at that. He couldn't remember the last time Adam had asked that question. It was one part of Daniel's life Adam couldn't exercise control over so he tended to ignore it as much as possible. Daniel blinked happily and sat up straighter. "As a matter of fact, it was an awesome day. A project I've been working on for quite a few weeks turned out to be a huge success."

"What project?" Adam nodded neutrally and sipped his water.

"You know I can't tell you that." Daniel's face fell.

"Did you make any money on it?" Adam stared unflinchingly.

"I don't get paid extra for projects, Adam. You know that. That doesn't make them any less important." Daniel glanced down at the appetizer set before him. It was always the same questions and the same condescending tone when it came to his job.

"Can you share anything about the project?"

"No," Daniel answered quietly. Adam was running through his annoying list of facts and questions designed to minimize the importance of Daniel’s work.

Adam surprised him by laughing. "I didn't think so. Aren't you going to ask how my day went?"

Daniel inwardly sighed at Adam’s transparent motive, which was to talk about himself. He must have finally closed the deal on the strip mall he'd been in the process of selling. Daniel had been so wrapped up in his joy at the treaty signing that he failed to recognize Adam's tried and true tactic of asking about Daniel's day in order to talk about his own. It obviously made Adam feel better about monopolizing the conversation when he made a point of giving Daniel the first opportunity. An opportunity, he knew for a fact, Daniel could not take him up on.

Adam raised his glass of wine so Daniel did the same. Yep, here it comes. "I closed the deal."

"That's terrific, Adam. Congratulations." Daniel mustered up some enthusiasm.

They toasted the deal and the commission and then Adam was off and running. True to form, Daniel spent the rest of the evening listening to Adam describe, in excruciating detail, the various pitfalls and problems of selling commercial property.

Though he would never be rude enough to tell Adam, real estate made Daniel's eyes glaze over. He had become adept at feigning interest. He nodded at all the appropriate places and asked the occasional question while Adam chatted happily about his prowess at closing deals. Luckily, Adam only talked about his work when he sold something important enough to garner a commission worth bragging about.

Daniel understood how difficult the secrecy of his job at the SGC must be on Adam but he wished the real estate agent were a little more understanding. Even though he couldn't talk specifics, Daniel would have loved to share his emotions... his anxiety about the project, and then the feelings of relief and pride and exhilaration when it all worked out. Those were things he could talk about. Unfortunately, Adam was more concrete. He was into the bottom line and that wasn't something Daniel could share.

Dessert arrived and Adam was still explaining his strategies. Daniel stifled a yawn and wondered if this was how Jack felt when he babbled on about ancient cultures and dead languages. He smiled at the thought and decided to cut Jack a little more slack in the future. Thinking about SG-1 made him smile. They were at CJ's, probably eating burgers, drinking beer and shooting pool. Jack had promised to teach him and Teal'c how to throw darts. While Daniel had no way of knowing what his teammates might be discussing, he was positive it had nothing to do with property values, percentage rates and title searches. That was mean. He refocused on Adam and tried not to wish he were ineptly throwing projectiles, Teal'c's word, at a stupid round board.

"Good morning, Daniel.” It was Jack, clapping his hands together and sounding like his usual chipper self. "Lovely Friday morning we’re having here, isn't it?

Daniel grunted and sipped his coffee.

"We missed you last night."

"Morning, Jack." Daniel was finally caffeinated enough to answer. "Yes, well, I was sorry I couldn't make it. I assume you guys had fun?"

"As always."

It was true. They always had fun together. "Did you teach Teal'c how to throw darts?"

"Oh, yeah, I taught him." Jack leaned his butt on the edge of the desk. "After one warm up toss, he did pretty well. He hit the target regularly."

"He kicked your ass?" Daniel raised an eyebrow.

"No. Well, maybe a little... oh hell, he pretty much mopped the floor with me. Must be a Jaffa concentration thing. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone hit the bullseye that consistently."

Daniel laughed out loud. Unlike Adam, Jack had the ability to laugh at himself. Adam thought it was a sign of weakness to lose at something or to be wrong. In reality, it was a sign of confidence and strength. It was a quality of Jack's Daniel greatly admired.

"I'm sure I'll have better luck when I teach you how to play," Jack added with a grin.

"Yes, I'm sure you will," Daniel agreed, chuckling at the truth in that statement.

"So, how was your night?" Jack made himself comfortable in a chair across from the desk.

It struck Daniel that Jack was checking up on him after his melt down yesterday. He didn't mind. He was happy their friendship finally seemed to be getting back on track after the awkwardness of his ill-advised ‘coming out’ and then subsequent relationship with Adam. He tried to put his friend's mind at ease. "I'm fine, Jack. I know I was a little wired yesterday."

"A little," Jack acknowledged.

"And, to answer your question, I had a good night too. Really good." It had been good. Adam's mood held all evening. After dinner they had shared some wine and then had sex, more than once on the living room floor.

"Good." Jack stood up to leave. "General Hammond has decided we could all use a little rest so he has ordered SG-1 off the mountain by noon today and to stay away until our mission next Tuesday. Can you handle that?"

"Yes," Daniel replied happily. "I think I can."

Jack flashed him a smile and was gone.

At precisely noon, Daniel packed up his laptop and a few books and headed for home. He felt more hopeful than he had in a long time. Adam had been in better spirits for weeks. Boring conversation aside, last evening had been fun, maybe their relationship was finally turning a corner.

Daniel used the ride home to mentally run through possible restaurant choices for dinner and movies he would consider seeing during his suddenly freed up weekend. The art festival was tomorrow, maybe he could convince Adam to go. He took the elevator to the eighth floor hoping his lover was still there.

What he saw when he opened the door shocked him. Adam was there all right; he was also nude and rolling around on the sofa with another man.

"What the hell is going on?" Daniel tried to shout but couldn't find his voice. Adam jumped up and pulled on his pants. The stranger did the same, quickly getting dressed and leaving in a hurry.

"Hold on. Don't make a big deal out of this, Daniel." Adam sounded apologetic as he pulled his shirt over his head.

"In my house? How could you? I trusted you." Daniel's voice was shaking.

Adam's contrite tone quickly turned to one of anger. "You trusted me?" He shouted the words. "You never trusted me. You won't even tell me what you do for a living. Don't blame me for this, Daniel. You're the one with all the trust issues."

"You actually have the nerve to blame this on me?"

That's when Adam lost it and hit him... again and again.

There was a reason Daniel didn't hit him back. In his mind, Adam's words held a grain of truth. Maybe his job secrets, combined with his personality and trust problems were partially to blame. It was a fact of life that his relationships failed. They all ended badly, every single one, and he, Daniel Jackson, was the only common denominator.

Daniel stayed on the floor until he heard the door slam. Adam had packed up his stuff and was gone. Adam cheated on him and humiliated him, and still he was the one to leave. How pathetic was that?

Dragging himself to the bathroom, Daniel examined his injuries in the mirror. True to form, his face was left unmarked. The rest of his body was another story. He downed four tablets of ibuprofen and pulled himself onto the bed. Thank god he didn't have to be back at the SGC until Tuesday. That gave him four days to heal. He took the cell phone out of his pocket and automatically dialed Jack's number but stopped short of pressing send. What would he say? It was enough comfort to hold the phone and see the number displayed. He could press it later if he needed medical attention, or if Adam came back for another round. He was confident that at the push of a button, Jack would be there in an instant. With the phone securely clutched in his hand like a lifeline, Daniel closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Shit. Why did he have to be such a klutz?

Sore knee, bruised ribs, painful stomach and too many black and blue marks to count, Adam had really done a number on him. Daniel was still stunned by the events that had transpired over the past weekend. He certainly didn't need to trip over his own two feet and fall down a gently grated slope on P2C-224. Of course, his aching injuries may have been a contributing factor to the fall.

It had been difficult enough getting off world clearance with the shape he was in. He had methodically waited for Dr. Warner to leave the SGC before presenting an old note with Warner's signature to Fraiser. She barely glanced at it before signing off on his pre-mission physical. He felt guilty that she never questioned it. She trusted him; it never crossed her mind he might be deceiving her.

Daniel took a deep breath and waited for Jack's smart-ass remark on the subject of his clumsiness. It never came.

"Carter, check him out. Teal'c do a quick check of the perimeter."

Daniel's eyes narrowed at Jack. "I'm fine." The words were slow and deliberate, leaving no room for debate. Thankfully, Sam stopped moving toward him and waited for the colonel's next order.

Jack gave him an odd look. "Never mind, Carter. I forgot... he's fine." Jack offered him a hand. He would have refused but wasn't sure if he could stand up under his own power. Even after four days of rest, the beating Adam left him with hurt like hell. He let Jack's firm grip pull him to his feet and then quickly turned away in an effort to hide the grimace.

Walking upright to the tent took every ounce of willpower Daniel could muster. He cringed when he heard Jack's next order to Sam. "Carter, you've got first watch. Have Teal'c relieve you. I'm going to go find out just how 'fine' Daniel is."

Daniel didn't wait around to hear Sam's 'yes, sir'. He desperately wanted to unroll his sleeping bag and climb into it before Jack had time to confront him. It was a slow go. His right arm worked on unrolling the bag while his left clutched his painful side.

He almost had it when two familiar hands gripped his shoulders and firmly moved him aside. He didn't bother to protest. Jack expertly laid out the sleeping bag with practiced efficiency, and then wordlessly laid out his own. Daniel watched in silence, his arms wrapped protectively around himself. To his horror, he realized he had tears in his eyes. If Jack would just leave him alone he'd be fine. But that wasn't Jack's way.

"Okay, Daniel. I'm going to check you out."

"No, you're not. There's nothing wrong with me." Daniel kept his eyes down and concentrated on keeping his tone neutral. His voice sounded shaky and weak to his own ears, he couldn't help wondering what it must sound like to Jack.

"I'm going to check you out,” Jack repeated. “You can lift up your shirt or I'll do it for you. Either way, I'm going to make sure you're okay." A determined squeeze to his shoulder accompanied Jack’s words.

There was no point in arguing. He was off world and had taken a fall. There was no way Jack would let this go. Daniel took a deep breath, lifted his shirt and steeled himself for the reaction.

There was a moment of fragile silence before Jack let out a gasp. "Daniel!"

"Don't say anything, Jack. Please." He hated himself for the begging tone.

Daniel watched Jack bite down on his lower lip and take three deep, deliberate breaths to calm himself. It was an O'Neill temper control technique the colonel rarely needed. It emphasized just how pissed the man was. The voice was surprising calm. "Tell me the truth, Daniel. Did Adam do this to you?"

So he knew. Daniel's mind raced. Humiliation aside, he didn't want to get Adam in trouble with his overprotective teammates. In the end, they would only get themselves in trouble... for him. It wasn't worth it. He wasn't worth it. He just wanted the 'Adam' part of his life to be over with, permanently. He would go back to being a lonely, geeky scientist with a few good friends and an exciting job resume. He was done with love. Finished. It never worked out well. The only comfort was that Adam hadn't ended up with a snake in his head.

"Daniel." Jack's hand gripped his wrist. "The truth."

Daniel closed his eyes and then opened them and found himself staring into the depths of Jack's dark, concerned gaze. There was no getting around this. "Yes," he whispered softly.

"Fucking son of a bitch!" Jack's voice exploded with hatred. "No more, Daniel. You hear me? No more. This is going to end. One way or another, this is going to end."

"Calm down, Jack. You don't have to worry... it's over." If it weren't so pitiful, Daniel would have laughed at the irony

"Over?" Jack eyed him suspiciously.

Exhausted and in pain, Daniel swayed on his feet. Jack was at his side in an instant, easing him down on the sleeping bag. "Thank you," Daniel managed to whisper as Jack gently got him situated.

"Tell me what happened." Jack laid down on his own bed and propped his head up on his elbow.

"He left me." Daniel was on his back, eyes staring straight up to avoid the look of disgust that was bound to cross Jack's face.

"He left you?" Jack was incredulous.


"And you're... sad about this?"

It was difficult to explain, but he'd gone this far. "I'll miss the companionship, but no, I'm not sad it's over. He was cheating on me. I was a fool. I trusted him completely. I have no idea how long it was going on. Maybe the entire time." Daniel forced a hollow chuckle.

"How'd you find out?" Jack’s tone was devoid of humor.

"I walked in on them. In my own apartment."

"Fuck. He's a bastard, Daniel. You're too good for him. He's not even in your league. How can you not see that?"

Daniel cringed at the undeserved sympathy. "It's just... it's hard to be alone. But I guess the last few months have taught me there are worse things than being alone."

"You're not alone." Jack leaned over and touched a startled Daniel's cheek.

"I know. I'm lucky to have such close friends. I'm sorry for the way I treated all of you. I never meant to neglect those friendships." Daniel blinked back tears and turned away from the touch. It was hard having Jack so close and sympathetic.

"Daniel, we need to talk." The voice sounded rough and hoarse.

"We are talking."

"Yes, we are, finally. But I mean about... other things."

"What things?" A lump formed in Daniel's throat as he suddenly worried about all the lying and deception he had managed in the few short months since he'd had been seeing Adam. He forgot there would be consequences for his actions. How could he have forgotten? There were always consequences.

"Friendship. Being alone." Jack lowered his head and laid back down. "Not here, Daniel. Not now. You'll stay at my house until you've had a chance to heal. We'll talk then."

"Okay," Daniel managed weakly, worried about what exactly Jack wanted to talk about. If it was about his lack of trust and honesty with his teammates, he supposed they had a right to be angry.

Daniel appeared in Jack's kitchen, looking alert and rested for the first time in three days.

"Feeling better?" Jack eyed him carefully and poured a cup of coffee.

"Yes, much better. Thank you." The words were mumbled and Daniel's head was down.

"For?" Jack prodded.

"Everything." Still no eye contact.

"As in..."

"As in, covering for me with Fraiser, taking me home, feeding me soup... being a friend, even though I don't really deserve one."

The last part is what got to Jack. "Oh for crying out loud, Daniel, would you stop that. I can't stand it anymore. Just stop." The self depreciating comments and lack of confidence were driving Jack nuts. Shit, the Malotians, the contact lenses, Daniel had certainly been sending out enough signals. Jack had been too consumed with his bruised ego and death fantasies of the weasel to notice. It was time to talk.

"Sorry." Daniel flinched and backed away at the outburst.

Realizing his mistake, Jack cursed himself and moved toward the retreating man. When Daniel's back was literally against the wall, Jack threw caution to the wind, wrapped his arms around a skittish Daniel and held on tight.

"Stop," the linguist pleaded, struggling to break free of the firm embrace. "You have no idea how hard this is for me."

Now that Jack had Daniel safely in his arms, he wasn't about to let go.

"Please, Jack, I can't do this," Daniel confessed miserably. "I-I still have feelings for you."

"It's okay," Jack soothed.

"No, it's not okay." Daniel pushed at Jack's chest. "Let me go."

Daniel pushed, but Jack wouldn't budge. "I'm not letting you go," he said quietly. "Not this time. I’m sorry for the things I said to you that night. I wasn’t ready to face my own feelings and I took it out on you. I’m sorry."

At the words, Daniel quit struggling and relaxed in the firm embrace, resting his head on Jack's shoulder, surrendering completely. Jack continued to stoke the short brown hair, marveling at how good it felt to hold Daniel, to be this close to another man.

They stood wrapped in each other's arms for a long time, for as long as Daniel needed. When the blue eyes finally looked up, Jack kissed him, full on the mouth. He hadn't planned it, it just happened. Daniel was speechless, so Jack did the only thing he could think of... he kissed him again. This time, Daniel kissed him back.

"Jack, what are we doing?" When they finally needed air, Daniel asked the obvious question.

"Kissing." He brushed a stray hair off of Daniel's forehead.

"Why?" The simple word conveyed hope.

"Because... I like you, Daniel." That was lame.

"You... like me?" One eyebrow rose in confusion.

"Yes. Maybe even... love you." Damn it. This was Daniel, and Daniel needed reassurance and security, not feeble hints. He deserved the truth. Jack's past cowardice had done enough damage.

"Maybe love me?" This time both eyebrows rose in unison.

"No, no maybes, Daniel. Definitely, I definitely love you." That wasn't so hard.

"You-you do?"

Surprise, Danny boy. "Yes, I do. I should have figured it out sooner. It would have saved us both a lot of grief. I'm sorry."

"So, do you wanna... kiss me again?" The baffled expression on Daniel's face disappeared with the joy of understanding.

Jack eagerly agreed, thrilled at the playfulness of the hesitant question. He and Daniel were going to be just fine.

SG-1 was on stand down until Daniel recovered from his injuries. Over the course of the next week or so, Jack decided that kissing Daniel was good, really good. Daniel seemed to be enjoying it as well. Snuggling and kissing was as far as their physical relationship had progressed. That was Jack's decision and Daniel's frustration.

They were in bed together and when they finished kissing; Daniel did what he did every night and retreated to the far end of the bed, away from him. Jack wondered if that meant anything or if it had to do with Jack's hesitancy to have sex. He decided to ask.

"Um... Daniel?"


"Why do you sleep way over there?"

Daniel barely hesitated. "I don't want to be too clingy."

Too clingy? "Get your ass over here, Dr. Jackson."

When Daniel inched his way over, Jack wrapped his arms around him and pulled him in close. Daniel immediately burrowed under the covers and melted into Jack's embrace, his face nestled against Jack's chest.

"Can you breathe in there?" Jack chuckled.

A contented sigh was the only response.

"Daniel?" Jack asked thoughtfully. "Did the weasel tell you, you were too clingy?"

"I wish you'd stop bringing him up."

"Did he?"

"Yes. He liked a little space when sleeping."

"Well, this is me and I like no space. Zero, zilch, none. Got it?" He squeezed a little harder for emphasis.

Daniel didn't answer. Instead he ducked his head further down under covers and licked Jack's penis.

"Whoa! What the hell was that?" A startled Jack straightened immediately.

It was Daniel's turn to chuckle. "You know damn well what THAT was."

"Yeah, well, let's save THAT for later."

"Later when?" Daniel whined. "I know you think you're not ready for this, Jack, but I promise you'll like it."

"No." Jack sighed at Daniel's lack of understanding. "You’re not ready for it."

"Me? I've done this before. Many, many times."

"Not with me."

"No, but essentially you have the same equipment as any other guy..." Daniel cocked an eyebrow. "Right?"

"The equipment may be the same, but you said yourself this kind of sex is all about trust."

"Yes, and... what? You don't trust me?" Daniel's voice was hesitant, confused.

"You don't trust you, Danny," Jack said quietly, planting a kiss in Daniel's hair. "It's okay. We have all the time in the world."

"There are times when I have no idea what you're talking about," Daniel murmured into Jack's chest.

A few quiet minutes passed. "I'll never cheat on you," Jack whispered. Daniel moved restlessly in his arms, proving his point. "See, you don't believe that."

"It's not that I don't want to believe it, but how can you say that for sure? You've never lived with me or even made love to me. You can't know what the future will bring."

Jack deliberately sighed out loud. "The weasel must have really messed with your head. I don't have to know what the future will bring, I know you, and I know me. If I wanted someone else, which I don't, I would never slink around behind your back like a goddamn coward. I'd tell you to your face. You can trust me, Daniel, with everything."

It was quiet for a while and Jack thought Daniel might have dropped off to sleep.

"I tried." The quiet voice trembled with emotion. "I tried so hard."

Jack kissed the wounded man in his arms. "See, I don't want you to try," he soothed. "You don't need to wear tighter clothes or stop wearing your glasses. I don't want you to change anything for me. I love you, glasses, plaid shirts, lectures... hell, get a pocket protector if you like. It's you I love, Daniel. You."


"Why do I love you?"

"Yes. Why?"

"I don't know why. No one knows that. Isn't love one of the last great mysteries of the universe?" Jack had been right about Daniel's need for proof and security after all.

"Yes, I suppose it is. How philosophical of you. Geez, Jack, who knew you were such a romantic?"

Another kiss to the short brown hair was Jack's only response.

"What does any of this have to do with you screwing my brains out?" Daniel asked.

Jack attempted an explanation. "You try too hard. You think you have to do things, like let me screw your brains out, or give me the greatest blow job of my life so I'll want to keep you around. I know how you think. I want you to trust that I love you aside from all that. Aside from sex."

"Tell me that again after we've had sex." As always, Daniel used self-depreciating humor to avoid the truth of the words.

"I'm serious."

"I know you’re serious and you're right." Daniel's tone turned soft. “I’ve trusted love twice in my lifetime. Once as a child in Egypt and again as a husband on Abydos.” His voice faltered. “I’m not sure I can go through it again.”

"Trust it now. Trust me. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere."

"I will. I do."

Jack had an idea. "Make love to me, Daniel. Show me what it feels like, show me how it's done."

"No, Jack! You want me, you told me you do. You can have me. Your first time will be better if you take me."

"I don't know what I'm doing. This way I can learn first hand." Getting Daniel to agree wasn't going to be easy but Jack decided this was definitely in their best interest.

"Did you read the book I gave you?"

"Yes, but..." Jack rolled his eyes, not sure if Daniel could see the gesture in the dark. "The book is too... technical. You know I don't learn well from books. I'm a hands on kind of guy."

Daniel was quiet for a few long minutes. "The first time can be painful. Sometimes it's not all that enjoyable. I don't want you to get the wrong idea of it."

"Well, there you go. That's my point. I don't have a clue what I'm doing and I don't want to hurt you. This way you can show me how it's done."

"I'm experienced. It will be harder for you to hurt me. And if you do, I'll get over it." Daniel sighed impatiently, as if explaining to a child.

"Yeah, there's the rub. I don't want to clumsily penetrate you while you're biting your tongue to keep from screaming in pain and then telling me how 'fine'' you are afterward. When we're finished, I want you to understand what it's liked to be loved. Truly loved. This is non-negotiable. You do me first or we can go to sleep and save this for another day."

"Why are you being so stubborn about this, Jack?"

"You've been used enough."

A few minutes later Daniel made his decision. "Okay. I'll show you. Just remember that no matter how gentle I try to be, it's your first time so it will probably hurt like a son of a bitch. There could also be a small amount of blood. And, Jack, you have to promise me that if you want to stop at any time you'll tell me. It's never too late. Okay?"

"Okay," Jack said slowly. "Where exactly does the fun part come in?"

That broke the tension and drew a laugh out of Daniel. "You'll get a glimpse of the fun part too. I promise."

"I trust you. Let's do it." Jack confidently voiced his consent.

Daniel had not lied about the pain. Despite the prolonged preparation, the burning sensation when Daniel entered him made Jack feel like he was being ripped in two. He bit down on his lip and concentrated on not crying 'uncle'. He had just secretly vowed never to do this to Daniel when the pain eased a bit and Daniel began thrusting into him with a slow steady rhythm that was beginning to feel pretty good. Damn good. Jack began panting as Daniel hit the fabled prostate again and again. He found himself enjoying the sensation and getting hard as Daniel expertly worked his body. His pleasure peaked when Daniel came inside him.

"Jack, you okay?" As soon as Daniel was able he voiced his concern.

"I’m good," Jack acknowledged slowly, only sorry he had been unable to come while Daniel was still buried deep within.

Daniel must have sensed his regret. His warm hand was suddenly stroking Jack's waning erection. Within minutes, Jack came forcefully in his lover's expert grasp.

Both men were breathing heavily when Daniel relaxed his head on Jack's chest. "You really okay?"

"A little sore, but yeah, I think I'm fine." The colonel would definitely remember not to do this before a mission.

"You want me to check you out?" Daniel was the picture of worry and concern.

"No, really, I think I'm okay." Jack felt the tension leave Daniel's body as his experienced partner relaxed at the words.

"Did it hurt?" Daniel's fingers were lightly playing in Jack’s chest hair.

"Well, yeah, it hurt." There was no point in lying. Daniel knew more about this stuff than he did.

"Did you like it?" The question was laced with hope.

"Oh yeah, I liked it. It has unlimited potential," Jack responded truthfully, his heart still racing at the possibilities.

Getting back to work after the long lay off was exactly what Daniel needed. His body had healed, and although his heart and mind would take longer, he felt better than he had in a long time. Jack had brought home some of the more urgent documents and translations that required his unique knowledge and skills. He would be back at the SGC in the flesh in a matter of a few days. His life was finally getting back on track.

Daniel stared at the computer screen. It had taken him fifteen minutes to get organized and now he was ready to dig in. Jack had a meeting in Washington with the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he'd be back first thing in the morning. Although Daniel would miss him, he was content to be back at his apartment and was looking forward to catching up on the mounds of work that had piled up in his absence. He had the books he thought he might need stacked on the desk, along with a bowl of pretzels and a cup of coffee. He should be immersed in translations by now but was having trouble getting started. He missed Jack's sarcastic comments and childish questions. He smiled, wondering if he should confess that to Jack... probably not.

Jack had only been gone an hour when the doorbell rang. Daniel jumped to answer it. Maybe his patner had forgot something.

Daniel opened the door and was shocked to see Adam.

"Can I come in?"

"Sure." Peering at the wavy brown hair and hard dark eyes, Daniel was relieved the sight of his ex lover evoked no emotion.

Adam knew his way around and showed himself to the sofa. "You're not being very polite, Daniel. Aren't you going to offer me some coffee?" He must have smelled the fresh brew.

"No, I'm not. It's not the brand you insist on anyway. What do you want?" Daniel folded his arms across his chest and waited. This was too coincidental; the weasel had to have planned this. Stop it, he admonished himself for using Jack’s favorite pet 'Adam' name.

In his mind's eye, Daniel could see Adam sitting outside in his car watching the apartment, waiting for Jack to leave, then waiting an extra hour to be sure the colonel wouldn't be back. Jack was right, at the very least Adam was a coward. And while there was no question Adam was also a manipulative bully, Daniel was no longer in denial. He acknowledged the blame for his previous situation rested squarely on his own shoulders. It wasn't Adam’s fault he had been so needy.

"I want to get back together, Daniel. I'm sorry for my... indiscretions. I didn’t realize how much I need you. I’ll do better." Adam's eyes studied him intently, as he leaned forward and attempted to stroke Daniel's arm.

"It's over." Daniel's voice was firm as he took a step backward to avoid the contact. He was amazed to feel nothing, not even self-loathing. Adam hadn’t used him; they had used each other. Adam had filled the void left by Share’s love and Jack’s friendship. Daniel had let him do as he pleased because the pain of the beatings felt better than the numbness of feeling nothing at all.

"I said I’m sorry and I mean it. What can I do to prove it to you?"

"Nothing. I don't want you to prove it. I don't care. I'm not interested." And he wasn’t. Adam’s occasional “I love you” was an empty promise compared to the warmth and depth of Jack’s all encompassing friendship and love.

Adam's words turned vicious. "It won't last. He's military, he's not your type. He'll get sick of you, Daniel. You'll end up alone. You need someone like me."

"I'll take my chances," Daniel said mildly, wondering how he could have allowed himself to be taken in by someone as shallow and manipulative as Adam.

The sarcasm wasn't lost on Adam. "Who do you think you are, Daniel Jackson? Do you think you can get rid of me that easily?"

"Let it go. You don't want to take this on. Trust me on that. Now if you'll excuse me I have work to do."

Rage was building inside of Adam. Daniel recognized the all too familiar signs.

"Are you dismissing me?" Adam was incredulous. "Careful, Daniel Jackson. Your Special Forces colonel isn't here to protect you."

When Daniel spoke his voice was deadly calm. "I don't need any one to protect me. I never did. Think about it, Adam. I work for the military. I'm well trained in all aspects of combat and self-defense."

Adam stood up and sneered. "You're an archaeologist. I'm not exactly quaking in my boots here."

It shamed Daniel to admit it, but he was glad Adam wasn't afraid. It assured a confrontation and he wanted to hurt Adam. Realistically, why would Adam be nervous? For all the times the man had bullied him, Daniel had never fought back, not once. He had never raised a hand to defend himself.

Adam clenched his hand into a fist and attempted to punch Daniel in his favorite spot, the stomach. Daniel easily blocked the blow and landed a smashing blow of his own to Adam’s jaw. Adam fell immediately and Daniel pounced on him to deliver two more shots, one to the face and one to the midsection before he was able to regain control over his emotions.

"Do you believe me now?" Daniel panted.

"Yes," he murmured. "Don't hurt me." Pain and shock mixed with fear, permeated Adam's expression.

Daniel was still straddling the shaking man. "Do you remember saying you wanted to get out of Colorado and move back to Los Angeles?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Now would be a good time to make that move." The fear on Adam's face made it clear how rare it was for Adam to be in this position. "Jack is not as forgiving as I am," he continued without emotion. "When he finds out you were at the apartment, I'm not sure I can control him. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I'll go. Please, Daniel, don't hurt me."

As soon as Adam was on his feet he began stumbling toward the door, holding his side in obvious pain. Daniel searched his heart but couldn't muster any sympathy for the abuser turned abused. Neither of the men said a word as Daniel found Adam's jacket and flung it towards him.

"Good bye." Daniel uttered the word after he had closed the door on a part of his life he would just as soon forget.

Power and a sense of wellness flowed through him. It was impossible to get any work done, his adrenaline was racing and his concentration was shot. What he really wanted to do was talk to Jack. Just hearing his lover's voice would calm him. He calculated the meetings would end in another hour or two and then Jack would probably grab some dinner. He should be in his room some time after that. Jack hadn't said he would call, Daniel just hoped he would.

By 11:00 PM Daniel gave up and decided to call it a night. Jack would be home in the morning. He took a few minutes debating whether or not he should try Jack's cell phone, but scrapped the idea, not wanting to interrupt something important. Plus, he didn't want to appear jealous or worried when he wasn't. That was the old needy, insecure Daniel Jackson. Daniel smiled to himself. He was the confident, more secure version of his former self, the one who, for reasons he would never understand, was thoroughly loved by Colonel Jack O'Neill, not to mention, the one who had just kicked Adam Carducci 's arrogant, abusive, self controlling, manipulative ass.

Daniel tossed and turned. His heart froze when he realized a hand was on him. Jack was in Washington, he couldn't believe Adam had the nerve. He pulled away and clenched a concealed fist under the blanket.

"Whoa, Daniel." A familiar hand gripped his wrist to stop the impending blow.

"Jack?" Daniel rubbed his eyes to clear his head.

"Yeah, it's me. Expecting someone else?" The sarcasm was unmistakable. Daniel wrapped his arms around Jack's waist and hugged.

"That's better." Jack chuckled as he returned the embrace and slipped under the sheets.

"I-I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow," Daniel stuttered, slightly embarrassed at almost decking his partner.

"I got lucky. I didn't want to hang around after the meeting so I called Andrews and a transport was leaving for Colorado. They squeezed me in."

"How'd you get home from the base?"


"Jack! You should have called me."

"It's three in the morning, I didn't want to wake you." Jack stretched out and relaxed under the covers.

"I'm glad you're home. I, well, I just really missed you."

"Yeah... something happen?" Jack's incredible sixth sense for detecting trouble must be flashing him a red alert.

"Sort of..."

"Daniel?" An impatient edge laced Jack's voice, the one that meant he wouldn't wait long for answers.

"Adam stopped by for a visit."

"What?" Jack bolted upright and switched on the bedside lamp in record time. He pulled the blanket down low off Daniel. "So help me God, if he so much as touched you he's going to regret it."

It took Daniel a second to realize he was being checked for telltale bruises. "I'm fine, Jack. Adam's the one who needs checking." Daniel tried, but failed, to keep the pride out of his voice.

"You fought back?" Jack was beaming at him.

"I kicked his ass. He won't be coming back." When Jack relaxed, Daniel rested his head on the graying chest. "That was the first time I ever fought back," he said in wonder.

"Yeah. I've wondered about that. Why is that?" Jack's hand was warm as it touched his shoulder.

"I-I don't know."

"Sure you do."

He could do this. Daniel focused on the steady heartbeat beneath his ear and summoned all of his courage to whisper his deepest secret. "I thought I deserved it."

"Why?" Jack didn't sound surprised.

"Because I let people down." The world went still except for Jack's heartbeat and his thumb that was quietly tracing a barely perceptible path back and forth on Daniel's arm.

"Who did you let down?" Jack's tone remained neutral, nonjudgmental.

"A lot of people. Everyone."

"Who, Daniel?"

"My parents for starters. I should have done something to save my parents."

"Like what?" Even the thumb went quiet.

"I should have shouted to them, or grabbed them out from under the stone... something. I-I just stood there and watched them die."

"You didn't know what was going to happen," Jack said matter of factly.

"I feel like I knew." It was true, especially in the last few years. Daniel was positive his feelings of foreknowledge and guilt had intensified since playing the starring role in The Keeper's virtual reality show. He was glad Jack hadn't been there to witness that pain.

"You didn't know. How could you possibly have known what would happen?"

"Logically, I know you're right. It's been thirty years and it's still hard to forgive myself and let it go."

"It's time, Daniel. There's nothing to forgive. You were a little boy. It wasn't your fault.

Daniel closed his eyes and nodded his head at the words.

“Who else?” Jack’s voice was oddly gentle.

“Sha're.” Daniel whispered the name even though he was positive Jack already knew the answer. “She trusted me. She believed in me with all her heart and I...”

“And you what?”

Daniel remained quiet.

Jack answered for him. “You loved her. You trusted her and you did everything in your power to save her.”

“But I couldn’t.” Daniel’s shoulders slumped forward.

“No, you couldn’t. Fate has her own plans and reasons and she can be a fickle bitch. Some hurts have no answers, Daniel, believe me on that one. We’re not gods anymore the Goa’uld.”

"I know," Daniel answered. And in his head, he did know. His heart would need more time, but at least it was a start.

"How badly did you whip the weasel?"

"Jack! What I did was not funny." Daniel tried to sound appalled at the callous words.

"I only ask out of concern for him."

"Right," Daniel smirked.

Jack raised a curious brow and waited patiently.

"I decked him in the jaw." Daniel found it almost impossible not to brag.

"Sweet. Did he go down?"

"Oh, yeah, he went down. He begged me not to hurt him and..." Daniel's voice lost its bravado. "And it felt good. What does that say about me, Jack?"

"That you were tired of taking his shit. That's what it says. He got what he deserved. Actually, he didn't. He got off easy. He better pray he never runs into me. There's this technique I learned in the Middle East..."

Daniel closed his eyes. "Please don't share it with me. Besides, it wasn't all his fault. Not really. I let him do what he did. I stayed." He felt Jack's lips on his neck.

"I suppose so, but it's so much more fun blaming him, isn't it?" Jack's mouth moved from Daniel’s neck to his chest, taking a swipe at his nipples.

"Jack!" Daniel squirmed.

Strong hands pinned his wrists and suddenly Jack was hovering over him. "Daniel... "

His own name sounded erotic as Jack's lips continued kissing and nipping at his hard, unmarked body. "If I had known what a turn on this would be for you, I would have kicked the crap out of someone a long time ago." Daniel's body grew tense with need when Jack's mouth finally settled on the lower portion of his belly.

"Can I have you tonight, Daniel? All of you?" Jack was breathing heavily, his cock already hard, poking in anticipation.

"Yes." He reached up to stroke the graying hair. "Oh, yes." He was more than ready.

The careful deliberateness of Jack's efforts with the lube and preparation touched Daniel deeply. Jack was all business as he methodically attempted to get this right. Daniel had no doubt Jack was mentally reviewing the memories of what he had learned from their one and only previous encounter. Maybe Jack had been right, that experience did seem to be making things a bit easier. Daniel decided to relax and enjoy the well-placed kisses and warm touches, even as he offered encouragement and urged Jack along.

Daniel felt like he might burst by the time his newbie lover decided he was ready. Still, Jack flinched at entering him.

"I don't know what I'm doing."

"You're doing, fine, Jack, just fine. Get on with it already." Daniel took hold of Jack's hand and pressed it against his erection as proof to just how fine he was doing.

The reassurance gave Jack the courage he needed to take the final step. He cautiously began probing at Daniel's opening, but still hesitant, no doubt recalling his own painful experience. As Jack began to timidly work his way in, Daniel decided enough was enough and took matters into his own hands. In one quick motion, he forcefully pushed himself upward, effectively taking Jack's hard cock deep inside him. Jack moaned in surprise and pleasure. Daniel hoped the reason behind Jack's hesitancy was inexperience and not a perception of weakness, or worse yet, the idea that Daniel was too fragile to enjoy himself.

Jack's shock wore off quickly and he tentatively began easing in and out of his frustrated lover. Just as Daniel began to think his fear was well founded Jack picked up the pace with deeper more powerful thrusts. Daniel cried out in pleasure and gratitude, letting his groans guide Jack's movements. When Jack finally exploded inside of him, Daniel's own body burst as well, coming in unison with his partner.

It took a few minutes to recover. They lay quietly, neither one wishing to break the sweet silence.

"Wow," Jack finally whispered.

Daniel smiled. "Thank you, Jack."

"So, it was... okay for you?"

Daniel was stunned. Wasn't it obvious? It was strange to hear Jack so uncertain. "Of course it was. It was more than okay. You were there. You didn't notice how great it was?"

Jack blushed slightly at the compliment. "Oh, I noticed. It was a big, huge 'wow' for me. It's you I was worried about. I don't have as much experience as you do. I guess I was a little worried it might not be as good as... you know."

"Jack! Stop it. When someone cares, it takes sex to a whole new level."

"Ah, good. Well, at the end there I kind of lost it, I hope I didn't..."

Daniel placed his finger on Jack's lips. "Do you know why I thanked you?"

"Because I was good?" Jack tried hopefully.

Daniel smiled. "Yes, you were very good," he soothed. "But I thanked you for not being too gentle with me. For not treating me like I'd break. You don't have to worry about hurting me. I'm strong, Jack. I've never felt stronger."

"I know you're strong. You always have been, I've never doubted that."

Daniel allowed Jack to pull him in for a hug.

They happily settled in for the night. Daniel's eyelids were heavy, he was seconds away from light snoring when Jack whispered in his ear. "Love doesn't have to hurt, Danny. And it's free. If it's not free, it's not love. Remember that."

When the hell did Jack get so smart?

Daniel closed his eyes, and for the first time in thirty years felt safe enough to dream.


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