Okay, the grocery store was one thing, standing patiently while the checkout girl made inane conversation with Daniel over his food choices. The line behind us growing to epic proportions while the "ten items or less" patrons began to grumble extremely loudly. Did they complain to my lover, standing there in jeans and a tee shirt? Of course not, I received the brunt of their angry words ... me, the almost eligible for AARP, grey haired older-gentleman, dressed in Saturday morning sweats.
I nudged Daniel with my elbow, interrupting a stimulating debate over of using brown rice versus white rice in a recipe. "Come on, Daniel, pay the nice lady and let's go."
The cashier throws me a look of disdain at the same time she hands Daniel his money. She gives Daniel a beautiful smile and a "have a nice day, please come back." Me ... she snorts in my general direction, pops her gum and says, "Next customer."
I dropped Daniel off at the bookstore, "Between the Covers," which, for some obscure reason, brings up quite a few visual connotations in my mind that have nothing whatsoever to do with reading.
By now, I've completed a number of my own boring errands and return to pick him up. I outmaneuver another car for a parking spot right in front and, with quiet amusement, I watch the scenario being played out by the cash register through the plate glass window. No better than the grocery store. Okay, it's a different setting, surrounded by shelves and shelves of books rather than food, but the outcome is basically the same.
Even at this distance, the under-aged clerk's body language is telegraphing signals to Daniel. Signals that, thankfully, my clueless archaeologist just doesn't seem to pick up ... or doesn't seem to even be aware of, or is too much enamored with one aging Colonel to even care.
The young woman is leaning forward on the counter raptly hanging onto every word Daniel is speaking. And speaking he must be doing as his hands are expressively moving at breakneck speed to emphasize whatever story he's telling. I sigh ... voyeurism at its finest ... as I watch Daniel. He must sense my observation and turns toward the large expanse of window, smiling as he sees the Avalanche. Daniel's view of me is completely unobstructed and I raise my hand, tap the face of my watch and crook my finger in his direction. The sales clerk follows Daniel's line of vision and her face falls. Straightening, she smoothes her skirt and pulls down her sweater. I note the hard set of her profile; the smile she has plastered on her face is tight and false as she rings up Daniel's purchase without any further conversation.
Daniel mentions something about the cashier's change in attitude as we travel to our next destination. I "hmm" and "you're kidding" in all the right places while Daniel regales me with reports of people's fluctuating attitudes. I nod my head in mock sympathy at his confusion.
Without Daniel's asking, I stop at the local coffee shop, park the truck and follow Daniel into his hunting grounds. Daniel disappears to the bathroom and I place orders for the two of us by rote. I am hard-pressed trying to convince the waitress that Daniel wants nothing more than coffee. I, on the other hand, am willing to try one of their daily specials.
Daniel returns, talking before he even takes his seat. The waitress appears with my pastry and the two coffees. I squash my annoyance when Daniel eyes my delicacy, questions my ability to order for him and requests from our hovering waitress the same chocolate concoction for himself. She returns with a "here you go honey," placing the plate in front of Daniel with flourish. Me ... who knows Daniel better than anyone, receives the age old "I told you so smirk." Fifteen minutes later, Daniel checks his watch, grabs the check from the table and goes to pay. I stretch my legs out, leaning back in the chair, cross my arms across my chest and watch that wonderful ass walk to the counter to pay the bill. And the waitress watches, and the people waiting in line watch ... hell, even the mailman who has stopped in to make today's delivery is intent on keeping those cheeks in his line of sight.
In a flash, I'm on my feet, standing behind Daniel, covering his six with mine. If I was allowed, I would whip out my penis, pee on Daniel and mark his body as my territory. But I'm thinking the Colorado police would frown on that behavior, the owners of this coffee shop would have something to say, a dishonorable discharge would be in my immediate future ... but that would be nothing compared to Daniel's angry reaction to my possessiveness.
Our last stop for the day is Tony's Auto Body Repair Shop. Daniel treats his beloved Thunderbird with kid gloves, trusting the upkeep of the car to no one but Tony. Not another worker is permitted to look at the car, let alone touch it. Kinda like how I feel about my relationship with Daniel. Tony and I don't see eye to eye ... and it doesn't have anything to do with my relationship with Daniel. Nope, Tony's distrust of me has to do with my relationship with the Thunderbird, or my lack of relationship with that car. Daniel listens intently as Tony rattles on, admonishing Daniel's care and feeding of this red monster. He drags Daniel into the shop, pointing out the dings and bangs he has painstakingly buffed and painted over. Daniel says nothing, just nods his head, eyes wide, his face a kaleidoscope of emotions as this man wags his finger in Daniel's direction ... yelling. I am unable to process the conversation, so surprised by Daniel's subdued attitude towards a guy who outweighs him by 30 pounds and is approximately 4 inches shorter than my archaeologist. Daniel quietly asks the prognosis for his car.
"Prognosis ... jeez it's just a car, Daniel." I state, shaking my head in exasperation.
Daniel shoots me a look of hurt and Tony hands off to me the glance that I've been privy to all day ... different store, different person ... same gaze. Suddenly I realize that Tony's vested interest in Daniel's car might go a bit deeper than the car. His interest might have branched out to encompass the guy who is usually sitting behind the wheel of this antique, convertible automobile, one Dr. Daniel Jackson. I want to grab Daniel, the car and high tail it back to my house ... lock the door and hide my lover under the bed.
Daniel has cooked dinner and I'm listlessly moving the food around with my fork. I begin to tap my utensil against the plate, secretly enjoying how much that habit irks Daniel. The day's events tug at me and I feel misplaced anger bubbling up against Daniel ... who at the moment is not only clueless as to his attractiveness but also my possessiveness of him.
I cringe at the concern in his voice asking if there is a problem with dinner. "Yeah," I answer. "I definitely would have preferred white rice over this brown organic shit rice." Even to me, my voice sounds childlike and whiny. I get up, dump my uneaten dinner in the garbage, open the dishwasher, place the dirty plate and fork in their appropriate slots, slam the door shut and turn, leaning against the counter, defiantly crossing my arms over my chest. Daniel blinks at me slowly in an attempt to process my outburst. My anger is deflating like a spent balloon, leaving me feeling incredibly stupid and surprisingly vulnerable and insecure with regard to my relationship with Daniel.
I step forward, pulling the fork from Daniel's hand, placing it on the tabletop.
"Hey! I was still ..."
"I need to show you something."
"Now!" I leave no room for argument as I grab Daniel's hand, pushing and prodding his protesting body along the hallway and into the bedroom. I shush Daniel's objections with a quick kiss, fling open the closet door and position Daniel in front of the full length mirror.
He raises his eyebrows making eye contact with me through the looking glass. "My clothes? You have a problem with what I'm ..."
"What do you see when you look in the mirror?"
"Oooookay ... I see ... Jack and Daniel? What was the name of that show with the teacher and the mirror ... um Romper Room?" He turns his head over his shoulder "Or maybe is this some new kink you've discovered. A fantasy thing ..."
I stand behind him and place my hands on either side of his face, pivoting his glance towards the mirror. "What do you see?"
"I see someone who is standing in front of a mirror when he would rather be finishing his dinner ..." He raises his eyebrows, shifting his eyes from the glass. "Ummm is this a trick question? Something I should know about ... something I forgot?"
I never noticed this before, shocked at how something like this didn't penetrate before. Daniel is having trouble meeting his own gaze in the mirror. His face is pointed in that direction, but his eyes slide all over the room.
I shuffle closer so are our bodies are not only touching, but are melded to each other. Daniel doesn't shrug my hands off, but I can see that impatience is beginning to cloud his emotions. My two thumbs begin to stroke identical points on opposite sides of his jaw line, trying to smooth out the tension that I sense under my fingertips. "Really look Daniel. Look and tell me what you see." Though his face is locked in a forward position, Daniel's hooded eyes are downcast, unable to meet his own reflection.
"Why is how I perceive myself so important?"
Until a few moments ago, it hadn't been, but with Daniel's avoidance, his skirting around the issue ... now I've become like some damned dog that has sunk his teeth into something ... and I'm holding on for dear life until I get an answer.
I remove my hands, shifting their hold to around his waist. Daniel gives a short puff of air as I forcibly pull him closer digging, the point of my chin into that sensitive hollow on his shoulder. Daniel squirms under the pressure but stands firm, suddenly transfixed by the image before him.
"What do you see?" I whisper gently. Goosebumps stand out on his exposed skin as the warm words of my question dance along his neck. "Hmmm ... who's there, Daniel?" I wait as he blinks slowly at his reflection, furrowing his brow in concentration, studying it as he would an artifact. I nudge my knee into the space between his legs to get his attention.
"Four eyes." Daniel draws a deep breath and hurriedly spits out the next word, saying it so fast that I have to smile. Relieving himself of this four lettered declaration like it was a well kept secret that no one knew. "Geek. A four eyed, plaid shirted geek. I'm a card carrying, pocket protector wearing, Saturday afternoon in the library ..."
That is what Daniel sees in the mirror ... not the here and now ... not me ... not him. Not the Head of the Department of Archaeology of the SGC ... not my lover ... not the man who turned heads today no matter what door he stepped through. Daniel's stuck in some time warp that refuses him access to what actually stands before the mirror.
I reach up to pull off his glasses only to have my motion stopped. Daniel squeezes my hand before guiding it back down. "It's not that, Jack. Removing the glasses, isn't the answer." He tugs on his tee shirt. "See ... no plaid shirt ..."
I kiss his neck. "Pocket protector?"
He chuckles. "It was a visual, okay. Never had a pocket protector. The glasses, the clothes, the books ... those are just the accoutrements. This ..." Daniel taps his temple for emphasis. "What's in here makes me a geek."
"I ..." Daniel cuts me short, the anger that I'd had before has been transferred to Daniel as his body thrums with tension under my hands.
"Please, you wanted to know how I see myself ... let me talk." Daniel squares his body against mine, and for the first time really looks in the mirror, seeing way beyond this bedroom, way beyond our relationship, into something only he can see. Daniel begins so quietly I'm almost straining to hear his words. "In my world, when my parents were alive ... knowledge was a fact of life ... like breathing. You opened a book, you learned ... even at eight the written word was something to be revered. We read around the table ... we talked ... they talked I listened and learned. Knowledge was power."
I don't move. I don't dare to even shift positions. Daniel rarely, if ever, opens up about anything that isn't work related. This is painful for him, but not as painful as keeping this hidden, locked up ... stored away.
He clears his throat, leaning forward, almost trying to see the past in the reflective glass that is an arm's length from him. "After they died, I was shocked that people didn't feel about learning the same as my parents did. Books were frowned upon ... sense of worth based on how fast you could run, jump, throw a ball. Things that were alien to me ..."
I can feel my eyes cloud with uncustomary tears, but I refuse to let them fall. I am afraid that he will construe my tears as pity ... I will not feel pity for Daniel ... sadness and sorrow for an orphaned 8 year old boy, yes ... but not for the man I hold in my arms.
"All those books, my father's journals, my mother's notes ... disappeared." He shrugs his shoulders in resignation. "I guess no one believed that an eight year old would want two scientists' knowledge. So I took the only legacy my parents' left to me ... my thirst for knowledge and I used it. At first, I used it as a barrier ... hey, a nose in a book precludes eye contact. My intellect shut people out ... and shut me off. It was a way to get closer to my parents ... make them proud of me ... to me, it became a continuation of our lives."
"Knowledge helped me build walls against a system that didn't care enough, against the kids who I couldn't fit in with, against parents who weren't my own, against relatives who didn't want little boys ... against parents who died. I shored up my borders with facts and beliefs that I allowed no one to penetrate."
"And I became the geek that everyone made fun of ... the one everyone whispers about. The kind that walks with his head down, books held tightly to his chest ... glasses taped ... a desire to blend into the woodwork a matter of survival."
"No pocket protector though?"
He leans back into me and snorts at my retort. Daniel grabs my hands, joining them with his, intertwining fingers ... two pairs of arms now sliding up his chest, tucking fingers and hands under his elbows. The tension within him dissipates, glad for my respite, but yet I still sense his need to talk. "Nothing protecting my pockets, Jack."
He draws a breath before continuing, gaining strength from my presence as he applies pressure to my hands with a squeeze. "Somewhere between being shuffled from pillar to post, I recalled my parents' life lesson. I allowed my knowledge to become my power. Instead of a shield ... I now yielded a sword. The geek may still be a geek ... but he now used words as weapons, instead of hiding behind them. He used them as protection ... Intelligence became armor rather than a barrier ..."
His voice trails off and I train my eyes on his reflection. His teeth pull convulsively on his lower lip. He catches me watching, blushes and halts his nervous habit. Offering in its stead a small smile of apology.
"I found the chink in your armor," I confess proudly.
He wants to refute my words, make a witty comeback, but in the end, he whispers a quiet "thank you."
Daniel rotates his neck, and without thought I begin to trace geometric shapes with my tongue on the proffered skin. Chuckling at my ministrations, he allows me better access as he tilts his head onto my shoulder. Without warning, he releases our hands and turns so are bodies are pressed together, nose to nose. Daniel licks the tip of my nose, mumbling something about payback.
"Jack," my name a whisper into my ear, sending shivers down my spine. "What was the purpose of the mirror ... why did you want to know ...?"
"'Cause you can't see ..." Coherent thought is in danger of leaving me as Daniel's hands work their way under my shirt, ten fingers doing a massage dance along my back.
He steps away, breaking contact and I have to hold back my objections. Honestly, I feel that I started this discussion, so I need to finish it. Daniel's flushed face is awash with confusion. "Can't see what, Jack?"
I wave my hand up and down the length of his body. "This Daniel ... you can't see this."
"I see my image quite clearly."
I snake out my hands, grabbing Daniel's appendages before they can ensconce his body in a self hug. I click my tongue against the roof of my mouth producing the tsk-ing sound that Daniel hates. "You look Daniel, but you don't see ... there's a difference." I turn him so he again faces the mirror. Standing behind him I slowly run my hands over his biceps. "These ..." I slide towards his forearms ... "and these" and continue on, taking his hands into mine, "and these ..."
"They're just arms, Jack."
"Not just arms ... see that's your problem. There are muscles and strength and gentleness in these arms." I yank his tee shirt over his head in a fluid motion. Daniel is startled, but I have to give him credit because he stays rooted to the spot. The only indication that I've invaded his personal space is the slight stain of a blush already traveling up his body. "And this ... chest ... poster boy for Michaelangelo. Outwardly people only see this perfection ... but I see more." I glide my hand up the expanse of skin, over nipples hardening at my touch and rest it over his heart. "I get to see this heart, touch this heart."
Daniel shakes his head, short hair tickling my nose. "No one else, Jack. Only you."
My hands travel up his neck, outlining his jaw. "Character in the planes of this face, honesty in those eyes ... beauty in that rare smile."
To his credit, Daniel snorts in embarrassment, his shade of red darkening. "Beauty? Come on, Jack ... since when did ..."
"Did I get so sappy? Daniel? Look at me." Daniel turns, eyes me up and down and shrugs his shoulders. "I'm old, soon to be retired ... and ..."
"And I love you, Jack," Daniel states, simply, unequivocally, truthfully. We stare at each other for a few moments. His lips turn up in a half smile and in those eyes I see confirmation. Daniel is incapable of lying ... he is oblivious to others' looks and comments, there is only me. The ultimate in tunnel vision.
In movements that would qualify Daniel for special ops privileges, I find myself pressed up against the door, the coolness of the mirror penetrating the area of my back where my sweatshirt has ridden up. Daniel's lips press hungrily against mine, his tongue penetrating the sanctuary of my mouth. Grabbing the nape of his neck, twining my fingers through his short hair, I hold him to me, disallowing our separation. He mirrors my action, holding me to him, searing kisses rippling through our veins until the need to breathe forces our disconnection.
I step backwards, panting, banging into the door, and feel it hold my weight as it wedges into place held firm by the dresser.
"Backed into a corner? No where to run?" Daniel asks, his voice almost unrecognizable, husky with desire. His blue eyes are dark with anticipation, orbs matching the unspoken hunger of his needs.
I pull my sweatshirt off, throwing it to land somewhere, placement of my articles of clothing as I doff them of very little concern at the moment.
"What do you see Daniel?" I keep my hands tight to my side, restraining the appeal of the body before me. Daniel's eyes reflect desire but I want to hear the words. I had always prided myself as being an organized man, emotions neatly compartmentalized. A place for everything and everything in its place. Since the beginning ... from our first meeting in the briefing room to our state of semi undress in this bedroom, Daniel has changed all that. Forcing me to face feelings and emotions I had long since buried ... emerging into a man that sometimes I'm still not quite comfortable with. A man who loves this person standing before him with an intensity that is frightening. I've become a walking Hallmark card and I impel myself to rein in emotions that I've kept hidden for so long.
Daniel's breath on my neck precedes his touch. Splayed hands rest on my chest, their heat infusing my body with mental and physical desire. He touches all of me, body and soul.
"I see you, Jack." His murmurs tickle my ear. "That is enough for me ... I don't want or need anything more than that." My cock responds to his words as much as my heart and my mind. "I need you always ... here, now ..."
I capture his lips, as his hands slither under the waistband of my sweats and through the confinement of my boxers. The outside world moves down the ranks of importance as the warmth of Daniel's fingers and soul wraps itself around my cock with gentleness that belies the hunger in his kiss.
The sweat begins to dry on our bodies and the warmth we had procured by our spooning is no longer enough. Daniel releases his hold and automatically reaches down to extricate the comforter as the heat of passion settles to a livable level and a slight shiver passes through our entangled limbs. We experience a brush of cold air and then the bedroom is filled with our echoing noises of appreciation as the blanket settles over our naked bodies. Under the covers, Daniel drapes his left leg over mine, pulling my body closer, resting his cheek against my shoulder blades. Teasingly, he rubs his 5 o'clock shadow against my back and the moan that Daniel produces is one of contentment and home.
"Later ... comfortable now."
We are in perfect sync with one another and take pleasure in the rightness of the moment when Daniel rests his chin on my shoulder and utters an unfamiliar phrase.
"Mmmmm?" I question, more asleep than awake.
"It's Spanish ... mi contentamiento." He grabs the corner of the blanket, tucking it under me, creating a cocoon. "My contentment ... it means 'my contentment'."
I agree with a nod of my head and intertwine our fingers, pulling his hands and mine tightly to my chest. His right index finger rocks my dog tags in rhythm with our breathing ... a metronome of sorts. A passage of time measuring a life together in glimpses, in looks ... in mirrors of the mind and soul. Our reflection.
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