I answer the phone on the third ring. I've been expecting the call, but the ringing phone in the quiet of my house still catches me unaware. "It's late, Daniel ... do not tell me that you are still at the mountain? Home? On your way here?"
Daniel chuckles ... a sound that warms my heart. "Hello to you, too, Jack. No ... just got home, fed the fish ... took two aspirin ... went through my mail ..." Daniel's diatribe is interrupted by a yawn. "I'll be over in awhile."
"Daniel ... stay home. I'd feel better if you weren't on the road half conscious."
He sighs in gratitude. "Early ... I'll be over early."
"You took two aspirin?"
Daniel exhales, accompanied by a tiny laugh, borne of five year's tolerance to my mother hen propensities. "Jack, I've been inside the mountain without seeing daylight ... I haven't breathed air that wasn't filtered for over 72 hours. I've been staring at a computer screen and ..."
"You are tired and crabby ... don't want to answer any more questions."
"Bingo." I can hear Daniel settling down in bed.
"Already in bed ... hmmm." I could picture the scenario. Darkened room, disheveled Daniel, clothes piled on the floor, glasses off, boxers, tee shirt. Oh God.
"Daniel ... whatcha wearing?"
I laugh at the exasperation clearly evident in his voice. "Jesus Jack, are you sure you didn't miss your calling as a 900 sex phone operator? Please, I'm tired ... and I would like all my body parts to go to sleep now. I'm beggin' ya? No phone sex ... no thought of sex."
"Good night, Jack."
I'm left holding a phone that is responding with just a dial tone. My job is done ... I know my lover well enough to believe the hard-on he is now sporting is as painful and unfulfilled as mine.
The sound of a car pulling in my driveway awakens me. Daniel's car, the Thunderbird, has a distinct sound, and I am like an animal attuned to my master's return.
I turn towards the illumination of the bedside clock ... 0400 hours -- two hours since my conversation with Daniel. I prop myself up on pillows, reaching a full state of awareness as the front door is opened, closed, and then locked. I can picture Daniel downstairs. Coat thrown over the chair, shoes left by the chair. Overnight bag, containing mostly books and research material dropped on the floor ... his laptop placed with care on the kitchen table. The faucet turns on ... gulping down a glass of water, cup stays in the sink. In my mind's eye, Daniel rubs the bridge of his nose and begins to trek up to the bedroom.
He enters the room wordlessly; eyes on the floor, head and shoulders slumped. He strips off his pants, stepping out of where they fall. Daniel positions himself at the edge of the bed, clad in the boxers and tee that only two hours ago I couldn't wait to see.
The time to touch him has not arrived. He will let me know. I ask one question. "Bad?"
I know the response before he gives it ... a shrug of the shoulders and a curt "I'm fine." This little scenario has been played numerous times where Daniel is the director, producer and star. I never ask him about the nightmares that make him leave the warmth of his bed, get in the car, and travel to my house and to the warmth of my bed. I just make sure he knows I am here with waiting comfort. He doesn't come to me now for sex, he comes to me for the want of a family, of a friend.
We have never discussed his night terrors. Or mine for that matter. We share a tent out of necessity, understanding. There are times we share our bed for the same reason. There are moments that the closeness of another human being that cares about you is enough. In our lives, there are moments when saying aloud the actual words makes them real, and sharing becomes too painful.
He gets into bed, removes his glasses and covers himself, never looking at me never making eye contact. Daniel is well aware I am in bed. He knows I am next to him and for tonight that is enough.
Our internal clocks have always been a bone of contention between Daniel and me. Even offworld, he would rather stay up late, sleep later. Always first watch for him -- once sleeping, no one wants to risk life and limb getting him up. I'm always last watch -- the ability to wake up with the sun an ingrained military habit.
The bedside clock reads 0600 and I'm awake, covered not only by blankets, but one sleeping, snoring archeologist. Daniel must sense my change in breathing as he mumbles, "Morning?"
I kiss the top of his head. "Not for you, but I'm getting up and going for a run, come home and shower, then maybe ..."
"Coffee, Jack. Could you bring me back coffee and a chocolate scone?" His eyes are still closed as he whines, rubbing his morning erection against me.
I call his bluff, grabbing him through his boxers. "Bribery, Daniel?"
"Hey, for Starbucks coffee and a scone, I'll do anything."
"Hold that thought ... I'll get back to you after my run." I kiss his cheek and untangle myself from his arms and legs. By the time I have changed into my running clothes, he has overtaken the whole bed, fast asleep.
Daniel is still sleeping when I return. It is a beautiful spring day in Colorado, and I can hear in his breathing that Daniel has totally forgotten the time of year. Being in the mountain for days at a time will do that to you. Passage of time becomes meaningless. Flowers, grass, allergies ... forgetful archeologist. I shower, dress, and grab a blister pack of his medication from the medicine cabinet and fill a cup with water. Hands full, I vibrate the mattress with my knee.
'F'ck off Jack," he moans, whipping the pillow over his head.
I laugh as a muffled cough and sneeze emanate from beneath the pillow. He sits up in bed, eyes closed ... awake but not coherent. "Coffee?"
"Daniel ... God ... you have a one track mind. No, not yet."
I grab his hand, turn it over and pop two pills into the palm. He places them in his mouth, and I hand him the water. He washes the pills down, hands me back the cup, yawns, and lays back down on the bed, never once opening his eyes. Daniel mumbles a Stargate address in his sleep.
Laughing, I cover him up. System Lords would never have to torture Daniel to get information, just wake him before 8 am on his day off and he'll tell you anything you want.
"I love you, Jack."
The coffee and the scones sit on the counter, and I sit at the table reading last night's sport scores in the paper. Daniel shuffles into the kitchen dressed only in the boxers and tee shirt he slept in. The time, based on the microwave clock is 0930. The time, based on Daniel's internal clock, still too early to be up.
He grabs the coffee, takes a sip and warms it in the microwave. The first scone is eaten while the coffee is heating. The remaining one, he brings to the table with the warmed coffee.
I don't speak to Daniel as he sits at the table catatonically drinking the coffee. It's safer that way. Before SG1's archeologist has his morning cup, we usually choose to ignore his presence. The one-word utterances begin.
"Shopping. Barbecue at Janet's ... something for Cassie," I answer, turning the pages of the newspaper.
"Don't think so. I'll call Carter to find out the occasion."
Daniel finishes the coffee in one gulp, stretches and throws his garbage away. "Morning, Jack."
I look up at Daniel and smile. The day has begun.
"You could help, Jack."
"Admiring the view."
Daniel turns from putting food in the refrigerator, gracing me with an evil, vile look through narrowed eyes. "That's what got us in trouble a few weeks ago when we were late to Janet's house. Stop drooling over my ass and at least call Sam and see if we need to bring anything."
I help myself to a handful of grapes draining in the sink and a handful of Daniel's denim clad ass.
Talking around a grape I had stuffed in my mouth, "A necessary skill I developed in my old age." He thrusts the phone at me.
"Call." Arms folded, Daniel leans against the counter, eyeing me while I eat the grapes. Moistening his lips, he's giving me that "look." I leave the room to make the call to Carter, wondering if being late with Daniel is worth risking Fraiser's wrath a second time.
Spatula in hand, flipping burgers, relocating franks to various parts of the grill, my attention is split between the work at hand and watching one sweaty archeologist make the most of playing football.
Fraiser and I grimace simultaneously as Daniel is tackled for the third time by a friend of Cassie's, who not only is younger than Daniel (way younger), but outweighs him by at least 30 lbs. We collectively hold our breath until Daniel gets on his feet-a little slower this time, a little stiffer than the previous two takedowns. Fifteen minutes later, the play is repeated, but this time Daniel is tackled by Carter. Impressively, I might add. He refuses to relinquish the ball to her, and she begins to tickle him in retaliation. Daniel's protest and laughter echoes through the backyard.
"Torture, Carter," I yell.
"Sorry, Sir." A reluctant Carter gets up, grabs the ball out of Daniel's still convulsing hands. I shake my head in wonderment. Always knew my Daniel had a death wish, because as Carter is walking away, Daniel gets up, grabs her legs, taking her down.
"No way, Sam."
Fraiser and I both jump, neither of us saw this one coming -- and neither did Daniel, as Cassie and her friend broadside him, throwing him bodily off Carter.
"Ow ..." I mouth in silent sympathy.
"Cassie, I do not want Daniel in the infirmary this week!" Janet reprimands.
"I'm okay, Janet," Daniel groans from his prone position on the grass, waving his hand in accompaniment.
"Truce, Daniel?" Carter claims, extending her hand down to him.
I am not privy to what Daniel replies, only that Carter laughs and bends down to him. I can feel the smile that had been plastered on my face all afternoon melt away as I watch Carter lean in to place a gentle kiss on Daniel's cheek. Hot jealousy flows through my veins, not because her touch is one of seduction, not because she's crossed into my territory. No, not at all. But because she can, and I can't. Hurtful, that *she* can exhibit her love to Daniel, yet our feelings for each other are a private matter, expressed only in the solitude of our homes. Hidden away from those who would judge us by whom we love and take into our arms at night. A second thought, not a glance will be thrown Carter's way for touching Daniel ... something I'm relegated to do in behind closed doors ... all because of closed minds.
"Janet?" the tone of Carter's voice, interrupts my thoughts. Looking up, I see Carter squatting by Daniel's side. Daniel is still lying on the ground, his elbows providing support for his upper body. Carter's hand is placed firmly on his chest, preventing him from rising any further. Fraiser and I exchange knowing glances, and proceed to provide damage control.
Fraiser follows us out to the car, her light touch on my arm forces my attention away from my lover. I look down in confusion at the object Fraiser holds in her hand, a pill bottle. "Muscle relaxants ... believe me Daniel is going to be hurting tonight."
I watch Daniel get in the car, stiffly, but moving under his own volition. "He seems alright ... the Advil you gave him this afternoon worked okay."
"Hopefully, it will continue to work." She shakes the pill bottle for emphasis. "But these are for later, I'm betting he might need something a little stronger as the night wears on. He strained a muscle in his lumbar sacral region, more painful than he really is letting on. You know the drill. Call me for anything out of the ordinary, Colonel. Cell, home, just call."
I read the dosage level of the medication bottle she has pressed into my hand and shoot her a questioning glance "Perks of the job, Colonel. Don't ask, don't tell."
I am in the process of opening the car door, but the sound of his voice causes me to pause. I turn towards Daniel, his hands sit listlessly in his lap, forehead resting on the steering wheel. A pang of guilt runs through me, a few beers too many and Daniel was forced into the designated driver position.
He slowly turns his head in my direction, still using the wheel for support. "Ow ..."
I pat the bottle of medication from Fraiser, checking their availability. "Are you alright?"
I smile at the incredulity that Daniel's voice holds. "I think I'm getting old, Jack. When did I get old?"
I rub his arm in sympathy. "Maybe driving the stick wasn't the best idea."
"Maybe playing football and being tackled by exceptionally large, exceptionally young ... make that much younger people than me for over three hours wasn't the best idea."
I place my hand on his exposed cheek, using my thumb to rub an overlooked, dried spot of mud. "Come on Daniel, I got something that will make you feel better."
"Come on Daniel, the water's fine."
Daniel eyes me warily from the edge of the bathtub. "A bubble bath, Jack?"
"Not bubbles, Daniel. A gift from Cassie. Aromatherapy to supposedly relieve aches and stress." I rub his leg in invitation. He smiles and gently maneuvers his body with a groan into my oversized bathtub. My back rests against the cold porcelain of the tub and with much trepidation, Daniel places his body between my spread legs. Thank goodness for large tubs, and Daniel's ass as he rubs himself against me, totally unaware of my predicament. Too focused on his own aches to even be aware of my pain of having a wet, naked, Daniel between my legs in the bathtub.
His face reflects the world of hurt that his body is feeling. Daniel cautiously leans up against me, protesting until he can get his body comfortable in the water.
"I'm so stiff."
I extend my hand under the water until it makes contact with Daniel's erect penis. "Yup, you're stiff alright." Daniel moans, bending his knees, pushing himself on my thighs, movement to give me better access to touch him. He whimpers pathetically in response to straining already overtaxed muscles.
I whisper in his ear, hopefully keeping the amusement from my voice. "Calm down, Daniel. We have all night."
"You have your hand on my cock. How the hell do you expect me to calm down, Jack?" He splashes the bath water in frustration.
"How old are you, Daniel?" I wrap both arms around his chest, and Daniel grabs my forearms, leaning back, resting his head on my shoulder with an audible sigh.
Subdued and embarrassed, he questions, "How old am I acting or how old do I feel?"
"Progression of time, Daniel." I rub my cheeks against the short, stiffness of his dampening hair.
"Ow," he says stretching out his long legs again. "Why didn't you mention I was old ... instead of watching me ... ow ... kill myself?"
"Daniel, quit moving. Just lean back ... there."
He moans as I hold his body closer, relaxing against me. "You're not old, Daniel. And you were very sexy playing football."
I could feel his smile against my shoulder, making me smile in response. I watch the tendrils of steam rise off the warm water, feeling Daniel's body grow heavy in my arms. We stay in that position for an indeterminate amount of time. The water begins to cool and Daniel stirs as I place bites teasingly down his exposed neck.
"Come on, Daniel. Time to get outta the tub. There are parts of me that I would prefer not to get shriveled."
Daniel snorts in response, his body reacting to Fraiser's muscle relaxant I insisted he take before the bath. Pulling himself out of the tub, standing and dripping on the tile floor, he sways slightly and shivers at the temperature change. Daniel is making no move to grab a towel.
I step from the bath handing Daniel a towel and lean past him, removing my terry robe from the back of the bathroom door. Slipping it on, belt in hand, my attention is drawn to Daniel still standing there, still holding the towel, still dripping.
"Daniel? You okay?"
The look reflected back to me, indecipherable. He drops his towel, stepping up to me, pressing his wet body against mine, his arms winding around my waist.
My hands take the edges of the robe, wrapping the material around both our bodies. I begin to rub Daniel's body dry with the soft terry covering, his forehead resting on my shoulder. "Feel better, Daniel?" From experience, I know with the pills, he is feeling no pain.
He nods, tickling my jaw line with his short hair. "Better," he echoes.
There are many things I would like to do with my archeologist and to my archeologist tonight, but he is not coherent enough to either enjoy or be a willing participant. "Bed for you."
Two beats behind, he questions. "Bed?"
"Sleep, Daniel. Drugs."
In the midst of our stimulating conversation, I have managed to move Daniel to the bedroom. Locating his boxers and a tee shirt, I make an honest attempt to dress him while Daniel, sitting on the edge of the bed, head hanging, is fighting a losing battle to stay awake.
I stand before him, still dressed in my robe not yet tied. Daniel reaches out and comes into contact with my penis. It only takes his touch and a few gentle pulls along the shaft for it to become engorged.
I look down at Daniel, his hand lazily stroking me. I shake my head and sigh, the things I do for love. Daniel's face falls, like I have taken away a prized Christmas present, when I gently remove his hand. "No?"
"Not tonight. I'd kinda like it better when you are awake."
He is asleep somewhere between his head hitting the pillow and my covering him up with the blanket. And me ... I'm gonna end the day with a cold shower.
The darkness of the room belies the numbers on the clock. The tree outside the window tapping the glass, as the wind increases, rain beating a staccato rhythm on the roof. Daniel moves from sleep as thunder in the distance awakens him.
Fingers work their way under my tee shirt, up my back, and I turn to face the intruder. Daniel's mouth captures mine, his tongue darting against my closed lips. I open my mouth at the invitation, touching his tongue, moaning as his hands touch my still sleep-warmed body.
I mirror his hands, working my way up Daniel's back, up the broad expanse of muscle, pulling him close to me. Our clothed erections make contact, a whimper escapes Daniel, vibrating within my mouth. Shaking my very soul.
Time is irrelevant in our exploration, the darkness of the room, the sound of rain on the windows, cocooning us with a feeling of safety, anonymity, security. For once, the ticking clock not an issue. For a rare moment in our lives, I can almost feel time is standing still. Permitting us ... granting us normalcy in our lives.
We speak no words, our bodies speaking for us, Daniel's linguistic talents transferred to mouth and his hands. Our boxers and tees are removed in silence, Daniel's face pained at our need to separate. I draw him to me, and he throws his left leg over my hip, hooking my lower body to him. A short pulse of air escapes my lips in an expression of pleasure, as our cocks twitch against one another.
I slide down his body, using my hands and tongue to guide me. Daniel arches his hips in pleasure as first my tongue and then my mouth make contact with his penis. He reaches blindly for mine, I see his waving hand in my peripheral vision.
I grab the flailing appendage, controlling its descent to my groin. His long fingers, gentle in their search for artifacts, are just as gentle with me. Exploring, touching, pleasuring, my balls, my penis, me. All of me ... how his touch pleasures all of me at one time astounds me.
The room is lit by lightning, followed closely by thunder. The storm outside intensifies, matching our feeling within the room. Our rhythm is such as Daniel releases within my mouth, followed shortly by my own orgasm on those gentle fingers.
Daniel positions himself, cleaning the dripping cum from my penis with his tongue. I feel myself grow hard again as he takes my shaft into his mouth. I am too gone in my feelings to make an effort to pleasure Daniel, relishing the movement of his tongue, lost in the warmth of his mouth. Within moments, I again reach an orgasm. The storm has not abated, windblown rain pelting the window. We lay entwined together, Daniel dozing, me not far behind, bodies covered in protection of the chill of the room. I need to get up, make breakfast, read the paper, laundry, clean, Sunday chores. I need to lie here in bed, listening to the rain, finding comfort in the man I hold in my arms. I kiss Daniel on the lips, he smiles and sighs in his sleep, my eyes close. I have chosen the latter. Sunday morning has begun.
"A little more to the left."
"Dammit if I was any more to the left, I'd be out the door."
"Putting up the shelves in the guest room was your idea, Jack."
"For your books, Daniel. Books that I keep tripping over in the middle of the night. These shelves are a matter of my self-preservation."
Daniel is sitting on the bed in the guest room, back against the headboard, legs splayed out in front of him. He's barefoot, clad in jeans and a tee shirt. And smiling. The smile that SG1 very rarely sees, the smile I am on occasion permitted to observe. Happy, content ... at home.
Different from this morning, the ticking clock will come into play in a few hours, Daniel's comfortable and open manner will shut down, will be withdrawn. The time we have spent together this weekend locked away as a memory. Put away as he puts on the uniform, as we both put on the uniform.
He becomes a member of the team then, taking precedence over my lover. Uniform on and in the mountain, we are Colonel and archeologist. We've learned to distance ourselves from the people that we are during our downtime -- the night before a mission spent always in our respective beds.
"Permanent?" Daniel questions.
"Huh?" I ask eloquently.
He waves his hands in the directions of the shelves. "Permanent. Ummm, not like a space in a drawer or extra hangers in the closet."
There are times -- Daniel doesn't even see it -- when the eight-year-old orphan materializes. Times when Daniel will let his guard down. Like now.
"Yes, Daniel. Permanent ... holes in the wall, brackets." I shake the shelves for emphasis. "See, not moving. Staying here ... like you. Permanent. In my room ... in my house ... in my life."
And for the thousandth time I wonder how Nick could have abandoned an eight-year-old boy who smiled like that.
I stand surveying my handiwork, while Daniel carts books into the room. "Won't people wonder why my books are here?"
"Daniel, your body is in this house often enough for people not to question your books being in this room. They will be very happy. We're all tired of tripping over your things."
I grab the top book from the pile Daniel is carrying, sliding it onto the shelf. I lock onto the back of his neck, pulling him towards me ... for a kiss. Just a kiss. Sometimes with Daniel, a kiss is never a kiss. Daniel struggles with the books in his arms, unsure of what do with them, frustrated because they are prohibiting him from touching me.
In desperation, in hunger, in lust, in losing control, he just drops them where he stands, narrowly missing my foot. He blindly steps over them, placing warm hands on either side of my face, thumbs simultaneously tracing my jaw. He breaks the kiss, "Permanent." A statement this time, not a question.
"Ah, Daniel. Permanent."
"Abiding," he counters.
"Forever, Daniel. Don't forget, forever."
The laptop and jacket wait by the front door. Work on Monday -- it's rare for our time off cycles to be weekends. Usually, it's two days in the middle of the week. The weekend is even harder. It's that fleeting feeling of being like everyone else on a Monday through Friday workweek, 48 hours off and back to work on Monday.
"You wanna take one of the muscle relaxants?" I offer after seeing Daniel rubbing his lower back.
"No. They really knock me out. I wake up groggy."
I lift my eyebrows in response. "Not to my knowledge ... groggy isn't what I would call it."
Daniel's lips turn up, and I am rewarded with a ghost of a smile. Obviously, this morning's memory is not locked away too tightly yet. I press the bottle of pills into his pants pocket. Just in case."
"I need to go."
"I don't want to."
"I know." I beg him silently not to do this. Please just leave, Daniel. I know he wants me to tell him to stay, but I can't. I need to become Colonel Jack O'Neill in less than 24 hours, and I can't do that if he sleeps in my bed, in my arms tonight. I need him to be Daniel Jackson, Ph.D. on that ramp tomorrow, not my lover.
We have discussed this ... countless times, through countless scenarios. This is for the best. For our safety, for the safety of the team. For our sanity, for the sanity of the team.
He leans forward, kissing me. Then grabbing his coat and laptop, he is gone before I can even say anything. Before I can beg him to stay.
The phone rings, even though I was expecting the call, I still jump as it echoes in the silence of my now empty house.
"Took one of Janet's pills ... need to close my eyes." I smile as I hear him yawn. "See you in the morning."
"Thank you ... for the shelves, Jack. The permanence ... it's important ... to me."
"To me, too, Daniel. Don't forget, to me, too."
We say goodnight and hang up the phone. I lay awake thinking, it's the little pieces of life that Daniel and I have ... these slices stuck amidst the craziness. The smiles, the dinners, the breakfasts, the conversations, the arguments, so many things ... this is why we love each other. The important things. Not the trips through the Stargate, the military ... just us.
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