Daniel can protest as much as he desires, but the word 'fine' shouldn't be appearing anywhere in his linguistic repertoire at the moment.
"Ow ..." He grabs my hand, halting my forward motion with the antiseptic. "Enough Jack, okay?" Daniel graces me with a half smile. "I'm okay, please believe me."
I throw the cloth I used to clean the injuries on Daniel's face and hand into the hamper.
"How's the shoulder?"
He leans into my hand as I outline the bruises under his eye with my thumb.
"How's yours?" Daniel's eyes reflect a true mirror of his soul. He's having a hard time dealing with the hurt and anger in his own backyard. His eyes reveal confusion ... he travels through the universe and deals with hate because of who he is and what he's accomplished ... but experiencing hate where you live, in the place you call home, because of your sexual preference, is overwhelming Daniel.
I rotate my shoulder, keeping my face devoid of the twinges of discomfort I'm feeling. "Okay, nothing a handful of Tylenol can't take care of."
Daniel reads me well, knows that my act is for his benefit and he allows it. I lean forward, kissing him lightly on his lips, acknowledging my gratefulness at his purported ignorance.
"You want Chinese or pizza with your Tylenol?"
"Depends, you got Tylenol 3 or OTC Tylenol?"
I open the medicine cabinet. "Ooohhh ... we got the good stuff."
"Chinese ... please remember to ask for no MSG this time ... I don't need my headache ..."
"Dammit, you have a headache and didn't say anything? Maybe I should call Fraiser."
"No Fraiser, please?" His eyes plead with me. "I'm fine."
And for a brief selfish second I'm glad he said that. I don't want to call Fraiser, our friend, our doctor-the only one of our family who's aware of our relationship. I have no desire to explain the bruises and the haunted look in Daniel's eyes.
Tonight we are treating our relationship like spun glass with a hairline fracture. An object of great beauty that is to be taken out and admired ... to be handled with great fragility to keep it together. One word perceived the wrong way might widen the gap in this priceless object, causing what we hold so precious in our hands to shatter. With each other tonight, we are gentle to a fault. Moving through our time with smiles, touches and intimacy.
The brandy and Tylenol are beginning to work their magic as we sit watching the fire. The warmth of the spring day is gone in many ways, the fire helps warm this house and our souls. Our breathing is synchronized, our hearts the same, our relationship to an outsider is unfathomable ... to us, our being here together makes perfect sense.
Daniel and I were friends first ... best friends. We have spoken about this a few times, taken the memories -- shaken and aired them out like a freshly laundered blanket and enjoyed. We fit together well and we stay together, because we have retained our friendship. We have endured terrible hardship, wives and family lost, friends gone, ideals stripped and replaced with things never previously conceived. But we have stayed constant as our lives spun out of control-us-the colonel and the archeologist, Jack and Daniel.
I had never been interested in men before, and if something should ever happen to Daniel, I will never be interested in loving anyone again. There is a part of Daniel that completes me; smoothes out my rough edges and makes me whole. He is my best friend, my lover, and he is a man.
His kisses and caresses, his looks and smiles, his facial expression when he calls out my name in ecstasy, in anger, in pain, in fear, in exasperation, in love, these are only some of the reasons why I love him, the tip of the iceberg. Daniel's personality is so multi-layered that there are days that being with him is comparable to unwrapping the best present in the world. The wrapping always hiding the surprises.
Having Daniel in my arms was the next step in our friendship. Things we could share with each other strengthened our resolve and our relationship. Like a new friendship, becoming lovers was a slow progression, filled with pitfalls and misunderstandings. We are still learning and experiencing ... always falling back on our friendship to guide our way.
I can sense Daniel is drifting to sleep, and I feel myself getting maudlin thinking of the day's events.
The fire has died down, only the embers now glow.
Daniel is sleeping, his stocking feet in my lap. His body is stretched out the length of the couch. I must have dozed, I remember thinking we should go to bed, the couch is not the place for us. Bruises will turn to stiffness from these cushions.
The couch is not wide enough to allow Daniel to turn ... and his injuries are prohibiting him full comfort irregardless of the strength of the Tylenol. He moves onto his back, opens his eyes and begs forgiveness for the sleeping arrangements with a smile.
I rub his feet between my hands, feeling their coolness even through the socks. He grabs the afghan from the back of the couch and hands it to me. I cover his feet, my lap and his body. His smile is expanding as his comfort level increases.
Daniel draws a breath, and asks the question that has been on his mind and in his heart. "Why?"
The beautifully warm spring day warranted a drive in the Thunderbird. Top down, we drove aimlessly. Well, Daniel drove, he was getting as much joy from maneuvering this car down the open road as I was from watching him drive. He smiled at me in quiet understanding when my hand rested on his thigh.
I dozed for awhile and when hunger pangs awoke me I was greeted by totally unfamiliar territory. We were far from town, from home, from the SGC, Cheyenne Mountain ... far from anyone who knew us.
There was a confidence, a happiness in Daniel's face that prevented me from yelling.
"I've found my way out of deserts ..." he hesitated, looked around and shrugged his shoulders. "We're on earth, how hard could it actually be to find our way home?"
"Are we still in Colorado?"
"Honestly, I don't know." Pointing upwards towards a roadside sign, he made a sharp right turn down a road. "Look ... I'm starving, I'm sure you're hungry and the car needs gas."
I'm calculating how far we are from Colorado Springs based on a full tank of gas and miles per gallon when Daniel pulls into the diner/gas station. The remainder of the story and what took place is probably our fault. What possessed me ... us ... to touch each other was a stupid and dangerous thing to do. Hands making contact over menus, passing napkins, silverware. Little things, done in public, something we never are permitted to do progressed to hand holding at the table. Just until the waitress came with our order, just until we began to eat.
I needed to pee, Daniel went to gas up the car and by the time I went into the parking lot, five very big men were deep in discussion with Daniel about who is permitted to fuck him and where. I was close enough to hear the shouting but too far away to come to Daniel's immediate aid. Daniel turned and walked away. My Daniel had been tortured by the Goa'uld ... he had taken their shit, he didn't need this ... not from his own "people." Immediately a beefy hand snaked out and grabbed Daniel's arm, I began to run ... because I know Daniel. Five years with honed instincts, Daniel turned and took the guy out with one punch.
When the smoke cleared, the owners of the diner were screaming that they were going to call the police if we didn't leave ... they wanted the "fuckin' men-loving faggots" off their property.
We left in silence and drove in silence until I noticed that Daniel was having difficulty shifting the car into gear. "Can I drive, Daniel?" Those were the only words spoken. Daniel pulled over to the side of the rode, we changed places and he drifted into sleep as I found our way home.
"Why?" Daniel reiterated, gaining my attention by rubbing his foot along my thigh. "If I love you ... why is it wrong?" Like a child, asking one of the damned "wh" questions, he expects me to have the answer.
I push off the couch with a sigh. "Come with me, Daniel."
We head to the observation deck. Though cool, the night is crystal clear, the stars are in full bloom. Daniel and I settle in, lean back and sigh simultaneously. "We've seen unbelievable things out there, Daniel. Some of them great ... some of them ... umm ... not so great. We've met people who hated us because we're from earth, and people who we've been able to save."
"But that doesn't answer the question."
"No, it doesn't." God, I wish I had a drink, but the brandy and the Tylenol is enough ... or they should be. But I can't take away the pain of the question or what I'm feeling. "Those people we encountered today are closed minded, dangerous individuals who don't see the big picture. They haven't touched the stars and met long lost civilizations ... and made incredible discoveries like we have. They haven't lost what we've lost ... or gained what we've gained. I've learned ... from this merry-go-round that I'm grabbing the brass ring ... no matter what anyone thinks."
"Those guys ... they described us ... even though we do what they said ... they made it sound ..."
"Dirty? Disgusting? Because to them it is, Daniel. To them what we do is fuck ... to me, we make love. There's a difference ... but those people ... well, they can't or they won't see it. And for that I pity them." I pull Daniel's hand towards me ... intertwining our fingers. "I pity them and their hardened hearts because they will never have what I have ... I have perfection. By opening up my heart and my mind ... I've discovered perfection. I found you."
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