JD-DIVAS: STARGATE SG-1 JACK & DANIEL SLASH FICTION
BY PHOENIX E

DAMAGE CONTROL PART THREE

NO ONE BUT YOU   BY PHOENIX E


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: First Time.  Angst
Season/Spoilers: Season 4  Spoilers for Stargate the Movie, Fire and Water, TBFTGoF
Synopsis: Jack faces the most important decision of his life and then goes to get his man.
Warnings: Nothing comes to mind.
Length:  150   Kb  Originally completed and posted to the net 17 Sep 00.

 

God, just look at him.

I don't know whether to hug him or slug him again. We've barely hit the ramp and there he is, lying through his teeth to the general. Doing a pretty good job of it too, spinning a tale that has Hammond eating out of his hand.

All to protect me.

Me. The pea-brained, scum-sucking rat bastard who just punched his face in. For no good reason except I am a pea-brained, scum-sucking rat bastard and I could.

No one but you, Danny. No one but you would do something like this for someone like me. And if I ever figure out a way to square this with you I swear to God you are never going to have to do it again.

They'll be carrying me out of here in a pine box before I ever do anything like this to you again.

Yeah, yeah, I know, don't say it. Who do you think you're kidding, Jack? Road to hell, yadda, yadda. The only thing bigger than your mouth lately has been your temper. And I haven't exactly spent my life practising being the soul of restraint. The man I have been wouldn't last a week before something would set him off and there he'd be, popping off at you again, Dannyboy.

So much for good intentions.

Been there. Done that. Don't want to do it any more. Don't want to be that man any more.

So what do I do to get from where I am to where I want to be?

Hey, here's a thought! Why don't you try apologizing to the man, for starters? Not something you've had a lot of practice at lately, but it's a beginning. Start small; work your way up. One step at a time. 'Cause if he won't forgive you, all the other stuff is sorta out the window as well, isn't it?

We are not going to think about that right now.

Teal'c is leading Daniel out of the gate room, lending a hand. Danny wavers a little from time to time, and every time he does, Teal'c is right there to shore him up.

I hate his Jaffa guts. And his little snake, too.

Sure. Fine. Great. Now we're getting really  irrational. I'm thinking right about now it might be better to stop thinking and just follow along behind. I keep going down this road and I'm going to be punching everyone out.

Which seems to be the only thing I'm really good at lately. Other than being a complete and absolute asshole, that is.

Carter doesn't say a word as she walks beside me. Come to think of it, nobody is saying much of anything. This has to be some kind of first. If this was one of our usual post-mission jaunts to the infirmary either she or Daniel would be yakking about something. Or both of them at the same time. If the reason for it wasn't so damned tragic I'd be thinking this silence was a nice change of pace. Instead of wishing somebody would say something so I wouldn't have to listen to it.

Just so long as that somebody isn't me.

Crap, I'm thinking again. Surprised my head doesn't explode.

 


 

I wish Teal'c would quit looking at me like he's trying to think of new and interesting things to do with my internal organs. Once he's come up with an equally interesting way to remove them from my body.

I wish Daniel would just look at me.

I've been sitting here trying to think what to do, what to say. How much to say. Whether to say anything at all. Wondering if the French Foreign Legion is still looking for a few good men.

I guess that lets me out.

Now for some good news. Daniel is okay. I shook him up a little, but didn't really hurt him. Not physically, anyway. That, at least, is a little bit of a load off my mind.

The doc has been giving us all enough funny looks to more than guarantee I am going to be having a little chat with the man from Texas once he hears from her. But she lets us go.

I can't stand this. I have to talk to him. I still don't know what I'm going to say, but I'm sure going to say something.

Or not…

I barely got his name out when he cuts me and runs. What really happened doesn't matter? Forget about it? What the hell is this?

A sinking feeling in my gut tells me things are a lot worse than I thought. I have to do something before what I've already done can't be fixed.

I'm starting to hurry after Daniel. Only to run into the six-foot and then some Jaffa barricade suddenly directly in my path. Teal'c, standing in the middle of the corridor, arms folded across his chest, looking as if he'd very much rather be wrapping them around my neck and twisting my head off.

Slowly.

Note to self: if by some miracle I manage to talk myself back into Teal'c's good graces do not, and I repeat do not ever piss him off again.

"I will speak with DanielJackson," he booms at me. "Then I will speak with you."

Crap. When exactly, did I lose control of this situation? Ah, I remember. Right about the time my right fist connected with Daniel's face.

I don't say anything as Teal'c's eyes rake me over. With a parting glance at Carter no warmer than any he's been firing in my direction, he turns on his heel and stalks away.

Carter and I just stand there and watch him book. I'm not moving, she's not moving, alone at last.

Go on Sam, walk out on me too. I know you want to.

"Buy you a cup of coffee, sir?" she says suddenly in a voice trying to be cheerful and failing miserably. "I think we need to talk."

Crap.

 


 

The comisssary is mercifully sparsely populated. While neither one of us wanted to be somewhere more private I'm still glad there aren't too many people around while we do this. Carter looks like she feels the same way.

She also looks like she's got a much better handle on what it is we should be talking about than I do. Not that I don't know, I just don't know where to start.

"I owe you an apology, Sir," she starts out briskly, quickly. A little too quickly. Like she wants to get it all out before I have a chance to stop her.

No worries there, Carter. Say whatever you want. Talk as long as you want. Not really in any hurry for it to be my turn.

"I've let you down, Sir," she continues resolutely onward, her eyes unflinching and and scary-determined. "Lately I haven't always been as effective a team member as I could have been, nor has my performance as your second in command been up to par. One of my primary responsibilities in the field is make sure you know everything you need to know. You need to be correctly apprised of all the pertinent factors relevant to the mission in order to be able to make informed command decisions. Even when I am not personally the originator of the theories, observations, facts or recommendations, if they are accurate and on point you need to know about them. I've let other considerations influence me and impair my judgment with respect to my conduct in this regard."

Yikes!  Carter, easy with that two by four!  You whack yourself on the head with it any harder you'll be unconscious.

"As an officer under your command I am required in the course of the performance of my duties to suspend my personal prejudices, beliefs and agendas in favour of that which will best serve the successful completion of the mission objectives. It is my duty to offer my full and uncompromising support to suggested courses of action which will best accomplish this. I've fallen a little short of the mark on this count as well."

I don't like what I'm hearing. Don't like what she's saying. Not that she isn't saying anything I didn't already know. I just don't like hearing it.

She's not exactly getting a charge out of saying it, either. But she's saying it. She's facing it. I've got to give her credit for that. She's got guts. So glad to see her finally using them.

I might hate what I'm hearing but I'm even less fond of what the two of us have been getting up to as of late. It's time we both 'fessed up. Keep going, Carter. Let's just get it all out, right here and now. All the cards on the table. Facing it now is the only way we're ever going to be able to face each other later.

Lord knows the way things are looking at the moment we both might be the only friends we've got left.

She looks at me, a tight, grim set to her mouth. But the fire that used to be in her eyes, that 'this sucks but I'm not going to back away from it' tilt to her jaw is back. She's going all the way to the finish line with this.

I've missed you, Major. Welcome back. Now all I have to do is find the man I somehow mislaid along the way again and we'll both be who we used to be. Before we turned into whatever the hell it is we've been lately.

"There's something else I haven't been doing," she continues, smiling suddenly at me with more than a glint in her eye. "Not simply as your second in command, but as your friend. I haven't been standing up to you when you've been full of shit and I've damned well known it. With all due respect, Sir."

Ow! Full of shit?

"I apologize for letting you down. For letting the team down. I'll fully understand if you deem it necessary to replace me, but I want to assure you it's not going to happen any more. I have every intention of doing my job from now on. If you'll let me stay on the team, Sir."

If there's going to be a team for you to be on. God, I hope there's going to be a team for you to be on. The same team you were on before Colonel Bag of Crap screwed it all up with his trusty right.

"Relax, Major," I say to her apprehensive face. "First off, let me say to you while I appreciate your candor, don't be quite so hard on yourself. Your less than kind self assessment aside, I'd be an even bigger shit-head than I already have been if I raked you over the coals for not being up to speed lately when I haven't exactly been the poster boy for the 'Colonel of the Month' club myself. I've done my own fair share of dropping the ball. If I was kicking anyone off the team for not being up to scratch I'd have to start with me."

Oh man, ain't that the truth!

"Replace you?"  I shrug and beam a high-watt, reassuring smile at her hitting her stern, self accusing face head on, making it waver.  "The thought hadn't even crossed my mind. Not only is there no need to, in my opinion - which is the only one that counts here, by the way - there isn't another 2IC in the SGC I'd want in your place. Besides, I wouldn't want to deprive you of getting to tell me I'm full of shit. I'm sure it'll come up it a lot."

She flushes a little and quickly lowers her gaze before catching herself and making herself look back at me. Her eyes narrow slightly with determination, and there is this hint of 'the cat that swallowed the canary' thing happening with her mouth.

"I'm hoping I won't have to, but don't think I won't, Sir."

"What can I say?" I shrug at her. "We both know why my eyes are brown."

She snorts the mouthful of coffee she was in the process of taking clear across the table. Which means I end up wearing most of it, but under the circumstances I don't mind.

We laugh, I wipe off my face and suddenly it just feels….better. Like a weight has been lifted, the air has cleared.

Like we're finally starting to be straight with each other for the first time in a long time.

"Wow!" she says as she throws me a crooked grin. "It felt pretty good to say all that. I honestly don't know what I've been thinking, Sir. Being a part of SG-1 is the most important thing in my life. It's all I want to do with my life right now. It took doing something really stupid and almost throwing it away to make me realize it."

Ah, yes. The team. I bite back the urge to say, 'what team?' We're entering the area of the conversation I've been most dreading, and as it seems as if she's going to do most of the talking here as well, who am I to stop her?

A chickenshit who hopes she's going to make this a lot easier for me than she should.

"And being a member of SG-1 is the most important thing in the world to me, Colonel. I see that now. As briefly interesting as certain other… possibilities… might have temporarily  seemed, my career comes first. The team comes first. No question. There's no room in my life right now for anything which might cause a conflict with my career or my ability to function as a member of SG-1. Nor does anything else interest me. At all."

Well, that was pretty clear. Crystal, as a matter of fact, Carter.  That two by four?  It's baa-aaack!

Her eyes soften a little in sympathy as she looks at me. I can see she really means what she just said, and she's okay. Oh, more than okay. It's not a question of 'I had to make a choice and it kills me and consequently my heart is breaking into little bitty pieces, and sorry to have to tell you this but you lose.' Nothing like that at all.

It's more like, 'wow, what the hell was I thinking thank God I came to my senses just in time, I almost made a huge  mistake. And by the way, you lose.'

I'm not exactly how sure how I feel about this. I mean, like, so it would have been so awful? She can dust me off just like that and not even blink? I definitely must be slipping in my old age.

Oh, for crying out loud, O'Neill, you really are a horse's ass! Now you're sulking 'cause someone you never even wanted in the first place and was racking your brains about trying to figure out a way to let down easy dumped you first!

From the sparkle in Carter's eye I'm thinking maybe she's seeing a little too much just now so I just shrug and try to brazen it out.

"We all have to follow our hearts."

I can't believe I just said that. Crap. She's looking at me funny, now. This is just so not my day.

"Yes, sir," she says softly. "We do. I intend to. You should as well."

What the hell is that  supposed to mean?

"The first thing I have to do mend some fences with Daniel," she continues in a low voice, that unhappy frown on her face again. "I've got some things to say to him he might not want to hear, but if there's any chance he's ever going to trust me again, I have to tell him what's been going on. And why."

"For the good of the team?"

Ugh. That sounded a little harsh. Not quite sure why I said that. Also not quite sure why I am suddenly a little ticked about the thought of her being able to be Daniel's friend again when maybe… when maybe...

"That's part of it." Her eyes are still saying a lot more than she is. "But only a small part. I've got to do this for Daniel.  We've got to do this, Sir. He deserves to know the truth. About everything that happened, and why. About both of us. From both of us."

And exactly what 'truth' would that be, Carter?

She's fighting with herself. About what else it is she wants to say to me and whether or not she should go all the way and say it. Given what she's just said about how important the team is to her, I can understand why she's having problems. . 'Cause she must know what the 'truth' could mean for the team.

She suddenly gets to her feet. Conflict concluded. I guess the team has won. Then she puts her hands on the table, leans towards me and shows me I guessed wrong.

"Follow your heart, Sir," she says to me with gentle earnestness. "Nothing is more important than that. Nothing."

Oh God, Carter, if only it was that simple.

Then she's gone and I'm still sitting here. With a heart full of lead and fear, feeling more alone than I've ever felt in my life.

I know what my heart has been saying to me all this time. Where it wants to lead me.

Right to Daniel's door.

My heart is screaming louder than Heru'ur with his dick in a meat grinder but I don't know if I should listen, because I don't know if there's any point any more. I'd bust that door down in a cold minute on the faintest hope of a prayer of a ghost of a chance, but I don't know if I even have the right to knock on it any longer.

I don't know if Danny will even take my calls, never mind take me back even only just as a friend. Never mind anything else.

And if he won't, I don't know what I'm going to do. Because there's no getting away from the truth.

Nothing else matters to me without you. Nothing else matters to me but  you. There isn't anything else for me, Danny. Or anyone. Nothing. No one.

No one but you.

God, it really is the truth. I'm nothing without him. I said it to myself just now like admitting it was no big deal, and now what  I just said hits me. Like a tidal wave crashing into me, washing me away.

Taking with it everything I ever thought I was and am. A whole life of lies laid open in an instant.

I can't deal with this. I feel naked, exposed. Like everybody is looking at me, seeing everything. I have to get out of here.

I'm out of the chair, out of the cafeteria, heading down the hall heading… I don't know where I'm just going. Like going anywhere is going to help. Like I can just walk away from this, walk it off, turn a corner and everything will be back the way it should be.

Back in the box, back on track, back where I knew what I was and who I was, back where everything made sense.

Or at least the kind of sense I wanted it to make.

This is nuts. This can't be happening. This wasn't part of the plan. My name is Jack O'Neill; I am a colonel in the United States Air Force. Assigned to Stargate Command, the Team Leader of SG-1. Once husband of Sara, father of Charlie. This is who I am.

Not a man who's not only admitted he's in love with his best friend but has also admitted he's ready to chuck the whole ball of wax in order to 'be' with that friend in a way that cancels out everything he's ever believed himself to be.

What the hell am I? The colonel? The leader? The failed husband? The one time father? Future best-friend buggerer?

Roles, Jack. Those are roles. Definitions. Yeah, but they filled the spaces and gave me something to be. So I wouldn't have to work on becoming anything. They are what I am, dammit. What I've based my life on being. What's been most important to me.

Oh yeah? Well, Sara's gone. So is Charlie. You chucked the military once, too. Almost did it again. If being Joe Colonel is such a big deal to you, why would you do that?

The first time was for Sara, right? She left you, but you were going get her back. You resigned to show her you had really changed, that you were willing to quit the service to be with her. Like she'd wanted you to before you left on the Abydos mission. You were going to go after her and win her back. On hands and knees if you had to. New start, new page in the book, new life, new man.

At least that's what I told myself at the time.

But if that was true, if that was the real reason why I left, then why didn't I go after her?

I didn't go after her. I never did. I resigned all right, but I didn't leave. Didn't follow her, beg, plead, and camp at her doorstep until she took me in. Hell, I didn't try at all. Barely even spoke to her.

I went through the motions. Got me a big, fine house, kitted it out in high style, made a nice and cozy love nest for myself. A fine place to start making a lot of new, happy memories in.

All I needed was someone to start making them with.

I didn't go after her. I didn't do anything at all. Except sit there alone in a place I didn't really need surrounded by a lot of stuff that didn't mean a damned thing to me. Thinking about... him.

All those nights, up on the roof, staring at the stars. Thinking about Daniel. Hating myself for coming back to nothing. Hating him for letting me.

You son of a bitch. You had some fucking nerve. Getting in my face, waking me up, giving me a reason to want to start living again. I was all set to check out and you wouldn't let me, you fucking bastard. You made me believe again. Believe in life, and living and there was some hope for happiness and a reason for going on and getting on with it.

You made me believe in love again, you prick. You made me believe in… you.

Then what did you do? You lied to me. What you gave with one hand you turned around and took away with the other. You left me - for her. Just ditched me, stayed behind and let me go back to Earth to the big joke of the nothing waiting for me. You not only ditched me, you had to go and be happy, too. Bastard! Happy, loved, with her, without me. Rub salt in the wound, why don't you. You had everything and I came back to nothing.

I had to resign. If I'd taken that spot they offered me, if I'd stayed close to that gate I'd have found a way back through it. You couldn't have buried it deep enough to have kept me away. I'd have gone back through, and made you come back with me. Or I'd have killed you. I hated you that much. Loved you…

Oh my God, where did that come from? Jesus, I'm shaking. Where the hell am I? Less than a half an hour to the debriefing. I have to pull myself together. I'm coming apart at the seams.

'Colonel flips his lid in the halls of the SGC. Film at eleven.'

I know where I am now. My office is just down the hall. Thank God.

I make it to a chair just before my legs give out. The door's shut and safely locked behind me, it's good and dark in here, nice and quiet. The earthquake happening inside me is gathering speed, seismic disturbances registering in all extremities.

I'm shaking like a fucking leaf.

Hate you, Danny? No, no I don't hate you, but I've been plenty pissed at you. For a long time, I guess. You keep leaving me and I know I can't take it 'cause I've already been through having you die on me three times and it almost did me in.

The first time you died you brought me back to life. Charlie going had almost taken me all the way with him and when I went after Ra's men I admit it, I was hoping one of them would finish the job and put me out of my misery. Then I got my wish, was just about to finally get blasted into oblivion and damned if you didn't throw yourself in front of me and take the shot for me.

Up 'til then as far as I was concerned you weren't even worth the energy it would have taken to pick on you and there you were, saving my life and getting yourself killed in the bargain. Hell of a thing to do for someone you barely knew who you knew damned well had no use for you - it sure impressed the crap out of me. Still does. But I never said so then any more than I do now.

Come to think of it that rather 'grand gesture' kinda set the tone for a lot that's happened between us since, hasn't it, Danny? You're still throwing yourself in front of me and taking the bullets. It's a wonder you're not a freakin' sieve by now you've taken so much shit for me, and from me. I wish I could say it's done as much for me since as it did then. But then, I haven't let it, now have I?

Ra's goons killed you, but you didn't stay dead. Like I said to you once before, you're surprisingly difficult to kill. Thank God for that.

The next time you died I almost walked away from all of this a second time.

I watched you die. Or - thought I did. The flames, the screams… you screaming for me. For me…

The fire took you from me, right before my eyes.  I couldn't do anything to stop it, to help you.  Couldn't do anything but watch you die.

You died. And suddenly, nothing made sense any more; nothing meant anything to me any more. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew I couldn't go through that gate ever again without you. It was over.  Finished. The gate brought you back to me and now it had taken you away again.

I was done with it. Done with the Air Force. Done with everything. Even said so to Hammond.

None of it meant a damned thing to me without you. It didn't. Nothing did. How could I have forgotten that, Danny?

But I did. I made it all go away. I was mad at myself for letting you do it to me again. Pissed at you for leaving me and making me go through all that, thinking you were dead and you'd gone and booked on me again. I was furious with you for leaving me. Even though it wasn't your fault and it wasn't really real after all. 'Cause there you were, alive, April Fool on O'Neill.

Daniel Jackson, Resurrection Boy. And for his next trick, watch him come back from the dead - again.

I made myself forget how losing you made me feel because there was no way I was ever going to let you do it to me again.

But you did. God, you did. You left me again. Made me leave you behind to die alone. No mistake this time. I watched the ship blow up with you on it. But you weren't on it, you sneaky bastard. You pulled another life out of your hat and gave me back mine again at the same time.

How could I have forgotten how good it felt to hold you, to feel you alive, warm and breathing in my arms after the way I'd last seen you? The way you looked when I left you.

I still have nightmares about that moment. Still sometimes see you lying there, bleeding and dying before my eyes, telling me you'll watch my back as I turn mine on you and leave you there. Only in these dreams, you don't make it.

But you did. God, somehow you did. There you were, coming toward me, whole and well again - alive - that funny little 'sorry to mess up your universe but I'm alive' expression on your face. Like you were almost apologizing for having pulled your own ass out of the fire.

No one but you would feel like they had to make excuses for managing to beat the odds.

No one but you would make me want to kiss you hard, long and full in the middle of the gate room not giving a shit who saw me or what would happen to me if I did.

Like I want to be kissing you right now, and damn the consequences.

God, I am so screwed. If I do what the man wants to do, the colonel is through. But if the colonel turns his back on what the man wants, then the man is through.

Who the hell am I, the colonel or the man? What is the colonel without the man? What is the man, without the colonel?

I think I just answered my own question, here. The colonel has been trying to get along without the man and hasn't he just been doing a fine job of things?

Not.

I need Jack O'Neill, the man. I don't need the colonel. He's a macho prick and he needs to get a life. He's sure never done me any favours. Once I get what Jack O'Neill needs sorted I'll see what I can do for the colonel but if I have to choose between them the man wins.

 

 


 

It's taking everything I have to stop myself from leaping over the table, taking Daniel in my arms and trying to tell him how sorry I am. He looks so tired and worn to the bone I don't know how he's managing to keep his eyes open. Never mind being capable of speaking remarkably coherent sentences. He's so pale he's scaring me. His face is whiter than a sheet. The part of it, that is, not being overtaken by the multi-coloured sprawl of the bruise coming up over most of half of his face.

Yeah, Teal'c, he looks like hell and yeah, I'm the one who did it to him. You know it, I know it, he knows it and if you want to take it outside already I'm more than good to go.

I don't need you to tell me what I've done. I fucking well know what I've done. Enough already. Beat the crap out of me if it'll make you feel better, just get out of my face about it. I'll deal with you and your problems with me in due course. Daniel comes first.

Hmmm. This is interesting. If I read my Major right she's going to be taking care of my Teal'c problem for me. Cool. I can see a plan happening. We are just about through here. Daniel is going to bolt, that's a given. He won't be going far, though. Only as far as his bed here on the base. He won't try driving when he's this tired, and it wouldn't occur to him to ask anyone to drive him home.

So it looks like he could use a lift. I'm sure he'd much rather be at home than crashing here on base. And with any luck, by the time I get him there he'll rest a lot easier. After I tell him a few things.

This will be good. This will work. With Carter running interference, keeping Teal'c busy I'll be able to get to Daniel. Finally, maybe something's going my way, today.

Aw crap! Dammit, George, does it have to be now?

Yeah. It does. Curses, foiled again.

There he goes, first one out of the starting gate. Run For Cover Boy. Faster than a speeding bullet. He's got a good head start, but I could have caught him. 'Cause there's Carter, grabbing a hold of Teal'c's arm, hauling him off for 'a word'. Just like I figured she was going to.

Crap.  It woulda worked like a charm.

What do you want, General? As if I didn't know.

 


 

That has to have been the slickest piece of fast-talking I have done in a long time. Hammond isn't any more enlightened about the actual situation, but he trusts I will 'take care of it'.  Whatever 'it' is.

Count on it. Already on my way. There might yet be time to pull this thing off. As long as Carter is still giving Teal'c the third degree I just might -

"O'Neill!"

If somebody up there had to pick a day to finally get me why did it have to be today?

Sorry, Danny. I tried. I really did. It looks like you're going to have to wait a little longer.

The Jaffa of Doom is closing on me. He's big, but I'm a bigger jerk, so I figure we're pretty evenly matched. Whatever, I'm ready for whatever he's got in mind.

The sooner we get this over with the sooner I can get to what's on my mind.

"So, you wanna talk or punch me out?" We might as well cut straight to the chase. It saves so much time.

"Are you in a particular hurry to be injured, O'Neill?" Teal'c rumbles as he reaches my side. "If that is the case, I can oblige you."

"If I have a choice, I'd rather talk." Well, I would. Only an idiot asks for as much trouble as Teal'c could give them.

"That is fortunate," he growls.  Still not giving an inch or showing the slightest sign he's in any mood to be forgiving. "Had you not been amenable to discussion I would have had no choice but to have hurt you."

Ouch.

"Disappointed I'm being reasonable and you won't get to?" What did I just say about idiots? Just can't leave well enough alone, can you, Jack?

His eyebrow shoots half way up his forehead and I'm suddenly thankful Teal'c seems to have cultivated a lot more self-restraint than I have.

"The day is far from over, O'Neill."

I hear ya. Shutting up now.

He leads me back to his room and we have a little squat down in the middle of the floor. When he's doing scary, Teal'c looks even scarier by candle light. He gives me a glance would send a serial killer crying to his mommy and then closes his eyes. I guess he wants to mellow out a bit before he tells me exactly how he's going to kill me. I'll just sit here and wait. Quietly. Until he gets back to me.

So I sit. So I wait. Nice room. Not that he's done a lot with it or anything, but it's, well, him. Maybe I'll just play around with the candle to kill some time. Daniel must be asleep by now. I won't bother him. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to wake him up to offer to drive him home so he can sleep. I guess talking it out will have to wait 'til morning. First thing, though. Absolutely the first thing. He could be still awake. Not very likely, but it's possible. I'll stop by, look in on him, just to make sure.

Nice room. Crap! Burned my finger!

I don't know how Teal'c sits like that for hours at a time. Ten minutes of O'Neill trying to assume the position and my knees are screaming.

"DanielJackson intends to leave SG-1."

Teal'c's voice sounds so loudly and unexpectedly in the crushing silence I nearly have to peel myself off the ceiling I jump so high. While I'm trying to get my heart to start again I register what he's just said to me.

"Whoa! What?  How do you -   Did he tell you this?"

Teal'c still hasn't opened his eyes. His voice sounds calmer, less cold. "He did not wish to, but he confirmed my suspicions when I voiced them."

"What? Why? Because I hit him? Shit, well if that's all I'll go and apologize right now -"

"He believes he is the cause of the current discontent within SG-1. He believes if he leaves we will once again be able to function as a harmonious and cohesive unit."

Without him? There is no SG-1 without Daniel. No SG-1 I want any part of, anyway.

"Why does he do that? What is he thinking? That's wrong. He's wrong. He's not the problem. God, he's the only one who's been holding us together and getting us through. Daniel's not the problem. I'm the problem."

"I am pleased to hear you say that, O'Neill." Teal'c is looking at me at last. Probably just the way the candlelight is flickering, but I could swear I almost see a hint of warmth in those dark, formerly extremely frosty eyes. "I feared you would seek to avoid your responsibility in this matter. In the past you have not always shown yourself to be especially disposed toward facing personal truths."

Okay, here's another one going on about 'truth.' So, does everyone know how I feel about Daniel, and if so why didn't they let me in on it?

'Cause of what he just said, you schmuck!

I have to do something about this. I have to fix this. He can't leave me. He can't. Not again. Not now.

Goddammit, Teal'c what now?  Crap, he's gearing up for something.  The Angel of Death's larger, badder, scarier older brother?  Looking at him right now glaring back at me.

"You must restore your honour in this situation by making a full confession to DanielJackson. O'Neill," Teal'c intones.  " You must ask his forgiveness, and you must tell him the truth. He cannot be allowed to believe he is at fault. He has done no one harm, and he must not continue to believe he has. If he still wishes to leave SG-1, it must be because he truly feels it is the right thing for him to do. Not because he wrongly believes he must, in order to spare those he loves."

I hear what Teal'c is saying and it scares me. I've been so wrapped up in what Jack O'Neill wants I've forgotten I have no idea what Daniel thinks of me now.

I was planning on doing something spontaneous, off the cuff and insane like rushing down to his room, throwing the door open and screaming, 'kiss me quick, I love you.' I must be losing my mind. 'I'm sorry I hit you, can you forgive me, let's kiss and make up and be pals again' is nowhere even close to 'I'm sorry I hit you, can you forgive me let's kiss and make up, by the way I love you, how do you feel about fucking your best friend?'

"I can't. I can't tell him everything." I sound like a crazy man. I'm starting to lose it again as I realize I can't tell him anything. Can't take the chance he'll hate me even more than he already does. I'll move heaven and earth to get him to stay. To keep him close to me. That'll have to do. Don't know how I'll make it do, but I will.

I'll put a bullet in my brain before I let him leave me again. So I'll repair the friendship and keep my mouth shut about the rest of it. Too much to lose to play it any other way.

Thank God I came to my senses before I ruined everything.

I'm wondering when it was that Teal'c became telepathic. The bastard has been holding out on us. He has to be reading my mind 'cause what he says next nearly takes me out entirely.

"DanielJackson has not turned from you even though he believes you hate him. Why would you think he would hate you if you tell him you love him?"

 


 

Daniel's asleep. That can mean a lot of different things. He's got varying levels of unconsciousness, depending on what condition he was originally in before he hit the sheets. If he's wound up, nervous and suffering from caffeine poisoning a fly landing across the room would wake him up. If he's worked himself into such a state of exhaustion he's too stupid to stand up he falls into a coma you couldn't get him out of if you blew the mountain up around him.

One look at him tells me I can stay for a while and watch him sleep and he'll never even know I was here.

Sitting down on the bed beside him and reaching over to turn on the bedside lamp doesn't even make his eyelids twitch. He's out. He's so out I know I can do a little more than look at him.

I know because I've done this before.

Sat beside him, watching him sleep when he's stayed over. While I've been watching over him in the infirmary. When we've been out in the field and I can't sleep, and there he's been, right beside me, out like a light, never knowing I've been watching him.

Sometimes, more than just watching.

I reach down and touch his hair. So soft and fine. Like silk. I've always loved the way it feels between my fingers. I miss the long hair he used to have. Can't weave my fingers through it now, really feel it curling around them the way I used to. It's darker now, too. But it still feels like silk.

He feels like silk. He has the softest skin. Astonishing how soft and smooth it is, seeing as how he's a man and he spends as much time outdoors as he does. But it's soft. God, I can't believe how soft. I can't get enough of it. My hand traces the lines of his face, lightly lingering where I have hurt him, moving on, feeling the smoothness of his neck.

My hands are itching, my throat tightening. He's lying sprawled before me, splayed all over the bed, only a blanket between me and everything he is, unconscious and completely unaware I'm here. Also completely unaware I don't know how I'm stopping my hand from finding out what his skin feels like… everywhere.

The hand on his chest is burning. I'm surprised it doesn't leave a mark where it's been resting when I move it, ever so slightly, just a little lower.

His mouth twitches. He sighs suddenly, deeply, making a low, moaning noise that sound like, almost like…

I have to get out of here or I'm not going to be able to control myself. I want him so much I'm almost coming in my pants just looking at him. Touching him, feeling him, smelling him…

"I love you, Daniel."

Did I say that out loud? God, I think I did.

Out of here - get out of here, Jack. Get out of here, now.

I snatch my hand away and bolt for the door. I'm almost there when he makes another sound, like a sob. Then I hear it.

"Jack."

He's still sound asleep but he says my name like his heart is breaking. I look back at him and see a single tear trickling down his cheek, shining in the soft light bathing his face.

I run.

God help me.

 


 

Crap, isn't there any way to get this goddamned gate to dial faster? Give it some gas, will you, Carter? Shake a leg or something! Jesus Christ, Danny's halfway across the universe, that bastard is doing God knows what to him and I'm standing here watching this damned wheel spin in slow motion.

Dammit, why the hell did I go home last night? Why did I leave? Stupid, stupid, STUPID! I should have stayed with him, stayed right where I was, been there when he woke up. Maybe if I'd been here when that Vomar prick had his little chat with Hammond I could have stopped all this from happening. Could have stopped Daniel before that bastard tricked him into going back.

God, this is some kind of nightmare. Danny's gone, I don't know what the hell is happening to him and we never got a chance to - I never got a chance to say anything to him. To tell him…

Please, God, it isn't too late. Or whoever the hell is listening, if anybody is. I know I don't deserve another chance and there's no reason I should get one but I swear, just one more chance, that's all I need. I won't jam out this time, I won't run out on him. I'll tell him, I'll take whatever contempt he wants to heap on me, hell, I'll even let him hit me if it makes him feel any better. Just give me a chance to finally do right by him.

"Jack, I'm not too pleased with this situation."

Yeah, yeah, George, that makes two of us. Give me the pep talk and then get out of my way. I'm outta here.

"Given the turn events have already taken, it's against my better judgment to allow you to return to P5J-705 unaccompanied. It doesn't seem wise. His assurances you will be offered safe conduct notwithstanding, given the Vomar's history of erratic behaviour we have no guarantee he won't make you a prisoner as well the second you step through the gate."

"I'm willing to take the risk, sir."  Damned straight I am!  Not much I wouldn't do for Daniel.  "Besides, I don't see as we have a whole lot of other options. We don't know for sure where Daniel is being held and we got a thumbs down on mounting any sort of rescue mission - large or small scale."

We don't want to do anything that could mess up the treaty, now do we?  Sometimes I really hate this shit.

"My going through alone is our only shot at getting Daniel back. The Vomar was pretty specific. Daniel's allowed one witness. Me and only me. Anyone else comes with me and all bets are off. The alliance, the treaty, the trinium, never mind what it would do to our odds of getting Daniel back in one piece."

The rest of it can all go fuck itself. That last bit. Getting Danny back in one piece. That's all I care about.

Hammond is looking at me like a man who suddenly knows more than he is saying. I've been seeing a lot of that look lately.

It's starting to really piss me off.

His face suddenly gets kind and sad, and he pats me on the shoulder like he wishes he could tell me he knew everything was going to work out okay.

"Take care, Jack. Bring our boy home."

I won't be coming back without him. I mean it. Hammond knows it too; I can see it written all over his face as he backs away. I shoot a glance over at Carter and Teal'c, standing on my other side.

"Good luck, Sir," she says, in a small, brave voice.

Thanks, Major. I have a feeling I'm going to need it.

"You will succeed, O'Neill," Teal'c solemnly announces. "I know you will do what needs to be done."

His words roll around inside me as I walk forward into the light. Maybe he knows something I don't know, and I don't fully get what he was trying to tell me, but somehow hearing him say it makes me feel suddenly calmer and less crazy.

Which is probably a much better way to be, all things considered.

The Vomar's welcoming committee is standing there waiting for me when I walk out the other side of the gate. The head lap dog, Arlit, I think his name was, doesn't say a word as he pats me down for weapons. The whole bunch of them keep up the stone-cold silent routine as we begin the trek from the gate to the city.

The sun is shining and the road to the city leads through about five miles of inevitable forest which is actually quite scenic and tranquil, and under different circumstances I'd probably allow myself to appreciate it a bit.

As it is, I wish I had a chainsaw.

I'd start with the trees. Take out every single goddamned one of them. Finish up with the Vomar. Oh look, that's the Big V. All over.

This isn't helping, this isn't helping. I have to get my head straight, calm down, start thinking. No matter how much it hurts. Running off at the mouth and giving into my behaviour patterns of late of shooting first and thinking later aren't going to help here. There's too much at stake to take the easy road of falling back on getting stupid.

So, let's run it again. What happened? What do we know?

Not a hell of a lot. Hammond and the Vomar have a conversation during the course of SG-9's routine check-in and something gets said that causes his royal 'V-ness' to have a hissy fit. Two hours later SG-9 comes back through the gate saying they have no idea what is going on but all of a sudden they are major persona non grata and everyone from Earth is going to stay that way until Daniel 'presents' himself and provides an explanation for the insult. What insult, we don't know, but apparently there is one that has to be dealt with and Danny is the only one the Vomar will talk to about the whole thing.

Hammond, bless him, smells a rat, but a lot's riding on this damned treaty and Daniel, being Daniel is confident he can handle the Vomar. He assures Hammond it is probably nothing - someone has likely inadvertently broken one of their little taboos, and he'll bow and scrape a little and have it smoothed over in no time.

So Hammond let him go. Alone. God, Daniel, why wasn't I here? Hammond didn't know all of it. He didn't see the way that shit-head slobbered all over you. No way I would have let you go back there by yourself. No way I would have let him get his hands on you. Screw the treaty.

Why wasn't I here? This never would have happened. 'Cause now that dick-wad is screaming Daniel is the one he's pissed at, some sort of insult to his 'honour' Daniel has to be punished for and I'm supposed to show up to watch it happen.

I've decided the Vomar is going to be getting a language lesson from Jack O'Neill. He's going to be introduced to a few choice Earth phrases. Such as: in a pig's eye. When hell freezes over. That's what you think. And my personal favourite: over your dead body.

Okay, that last one isn't strictly correct usage but I like my way better.

Goddamn, stinking trees! Are we there yet?

 


 

The vReel city looks like something you'd find squatting in the middle of a jungle somewhere in South America. Without the jungle. With indoor plumbing and electricity. It's a little confusing. Daniel thinks the vReel are a mixture of the original transplanted humans and a more technologically advanced civilization who came here to get away from it all and decided to stay. He was quite fascinated with all the stuff he was finding out about their history and such.

At least, he looked pretty excited. It wasn't as if he actually tried to tell me much about it. Because it wasn't as if I gave him much reason to believe I'd be interested.

The dis-honour guard is leading me toward the main pyramid in the middle of the city. The one I took one look at when we were here before and declined to climb the one thousand or so odd steps up to the top in order to be able to stand around and pretend to be interested in the ceremony we were invited to witness. Daniel went, of course. Teal'c went with him. I don't remember what the hell Carter and I did. It doesn't matter now.

It looks I'm being invited to another 'ceremony'. I'm trying very hard not to think about what kind as we start up the steps.

We get to the top and when I see what's going on I'm shifting pretty quick from apprehensive to actively shitting bricks.

The pyramid is topped by a wide platform. A few guys kitted out in early aboriginal, your standard loincloth, hinky feathered head-dresses and war-paint, standing there looking like statues with attitude. Backing up the Vomar, who's also traded in his more overstated threads for the costume du jour so he'll blend in with the others.

He also happens to be standing beside a huge stone slab in the middle of the platform. Looking at the guy stripped down to next to nothing, painted up and tied up spread-eagled to it.

Danny.

I only just got here and I hate it already.

Daniel turns his head toward us as soon as he realizes someone else is here. He sees me, and the look he gives me cuts me to the quick.

Confusion. Surprise. Genuine disbelief. He sees I'm here, but he doesn't believe it. Doesn't believe, honestly didn't believe I would come.

It only lasts a second, but it's more than enough to make me wish I'd never even been born. Especially when the surprise is quickly replaced with another emotion.

Fear. Not for himself. For me.

No reason he would need to be afraid for me. I don't get it.

And then I do. Aw, crap. I know what this is all about. God, God, God! Still at, it, aren't you, Daniel? Still trying to save me from myself.

No FUCKING way. This stops here and it stops NOW!

"You are here," the Vomar booms as he looks up from Daniel and glares at me. The prick loves to posture. Loves the sound of his own voice. He's in mighty fine form as he crosses his arms and puffs out his chest at me.

I'd love five minutes alone with you in a dark alley right about now, you son of a bitch.

"Colonel O'Neill," the puffed up, lad-de-dah, feather-wearing, hinkey-looking shit-head spits at me. "You are responsible for this man and his conduct. Therefore it is proper for you to be made aware of his dishonourable actions toward one of your allies and to witness his punishment. It is important you be informed of his disgraceful acts, as you will no doubt wish to properly admonish him yourself once you have learned how he has also dishonoured your team and your world through his falsehoods."

Oh yeah, I definitely know what this is all about, now.

"I also do not wish this incident to cause difficulties between your people and mine."

Yeah, right.  Pull the other one,  Curly.

"I regret the unfriendly steps I was forced to take in order to compel him to return to face his punishment, but they were unfortunately necessary. Our laws are quite specific in what they require of us and this is a very serious matter. Honour must be restored before there can be any renewed friendship between our peoples. This matter must be addressed. However, I do not wish it said I acted incorrectly or unfairly in accomplishing this. Or that I punished the wrong man."

He smiles at me, his lip curling back from his teeth in a challenging snarl. Okay, bucko, bring it on.

"What's your beef?" I snap at him. As if I didn't know.

The Vomar reaches down, grabs Danny by the chin and wrenches his face around so the bruise on it is facing me like an accusation.

"This taskek tells your leader I was responsible for this injury!"  V snarls.  "Tells your General Hammond I struck him! This is a lie. He baldly defames me, insults my honour by insinuating I would treat an honoured guest and ally so shabbily, and then compounds the offence by refusing to recant this lie. He will say nothing. He will not admit he has lied, nor will he divulge the true circumstances by which he received the injury"

Awww, Danny. Godammit.

The Vomar continues his little tirade, smiling smugly at me as he releases Daniel's chin and languidly trails his fingers along his jaw, then down his neck.  I'm fighting back a red mist of rip-snorting rage wanting to come screaming right out of me at the sight of that bastard pawing him and Daniel's fearless, unflinching endurance of the manhandling.

Touch him once more and if it's the last thing I do I will  kill you.  For days....

"There can be only two reasons for the original falsehood and his current refusal to defend himself."  The Vomar is still talking and still pawing.  Killing him for a week won't be long enough.  "He was struck for behaving dishonourably and wishes to hide this fact from your General with this lie. If this is the truth, he deserves to be doubly punished. He is not an honourable man - scarcely a man at all, and deserves little better from us than our scorn."

Bastard.  Fucking bastard.  You have no idea what you're talking about.  Or who.

"Or - the one who struck him acted without honour and he is lying to protect this coward from the consequences of his actions. If this is the truth, Daniel has my apologies for thinking ill of him, but his desire to protect this unworthy does not change what he has done. He must still be punished. My honour must still be restored. The truth will do this, but if I cannot have it, there is only one course of action left to me."

The Vomar finally takes his slimy paws off Danny and holds out his hand, at the same time fixing me with a look making me want to puke. One of the guys behind him steps forward and gives him a whip.

"He will bleed until he has bled enough."

"No! Don't!" The protest explodes out of me. "You don't have to hurt him. You say getting the truth will be enough to set this right? I'll give it to you."

"Jack - don't!" Daniel cries. "You don't understand -"

"Shut up, Daniel!" I roar at him.

The words hit him. Those same, damned words I've said to him too many times before. To shut him out, to turn him away, to deliberately hurt him. I see I've done it again by saying them, as just for a second, he doesn't understand what I am really saying.

You've made a career out of doing the right thing, Daniel. More than had your turn at being the one who gets to do the 'being noble' thing. Keep your damned mouth shut and get down off the pedestal buddy boy, it's Jack's turn. 'Cause if I don't come clean about all of this now there's no way either one of us is ever going to be able to respect me again.

The Vomar isn't the only one who needs to restore his honour. I've got a whole lot of catch-up to do and it starts right here.

I haven't said another word and yet I can see Danny gets it. He understands. Jesus. After all this time of getting it wrong between us we've finally gotten something right.

He looks better already. Just 'cause he knows no matter what happens next, I'm here. I'm here for him and with him and he's not alone.

"What do you have to tell me, Colonel?" The Vomar looks at me calmly, expectantly, as he idly tapes the handle of the whip against Daniel's chest.

"I'm the one. I did it. I hit Daniel. You were right. It was not only a dishonourable thing to have done, by the laws of my people I should have been severely punished for doing it. He lied to the general to protect me from this punishment. He meant no disrespect to you. He was only thinking about me."

"Ah." He's smiling that smile again. Looking mighty pleased with himself. If I thought things were tense before something tells me they are about to get a whole lot dicier.

Something also tells me Daniel isn't really the one the Vomar had the beef with after all. And I've just given his royal prickness exactly what he wants.

"So, one truth satisfies one point of honour," he gloats.  "And reveals another which needs to be addressed. My honour is restored by your admission. But the matter is not yet finished."

Uh huh. Not surprised. Going to have a heart attack and die from not surprised. Here it comes.

"You committed this offence while you were still on dUrmir soil, did you not?"

Go ahead and smile, you bastard, you know you've got me. Short and curlies and all.

"I did."

"Just so. You have violated our laws on our soil; therefore you are bound by them in the resolution of this matter. You must answer for what you have done according to our laws and customs. You must be punished."

Again with the not surprised. This is what Daniel was trying to warn me about. This is why he was keeping mum, and intended to take the beating on my behalf.

It's okay, Danny, I'm a big boy. I did the crime. I can take what's coming to me.

"I offer you the same choice I offered Daniel. You may meet the requirements of honour by taking the path of truth. Or you may accept the judgment of the whip. The choice is yours."

What? What truth? What the hell is he talking about? What more is there to say? I did it. I'm guilty. What more does he want?

The Vomar nods at someone behind me. I get swiped and knocked down to my knees as the man of the hour skirts the slab and starts to stride toward me. I just stay where I am, waiting for him to get to me. Daniel's scared for me, looking at me like he wants to do something, but he's not saying a word.

Doesn't have any more of a clue what's going on now than I do.

The Vomar stands over me, then turns and brandishes the handle of the whip back in Daniels direction.

"You struck this man without cause, dishonoured him. You admit this."

"I did. I do."

"Furthermore, after having dishonoured him you stayed silent and allowed him to utter a lie which shielded your reprehensible act. Thereby placing him in a position of compromising his own honour for your sake and having to suffer grievously for it. All to hide what you had done."

"Right again."

It's what happened. But it isn't what I meant. You understand that, don't you Danny? I wouldn't have let you, I mean, if I had known, it's what you wanted me to do and yet it wasn't right.

No, it damned well, wasn't, Jack. But that's okay, 'cause I'm going to make it right. No matter what it takes.

"And yet you are here now, finally ready to face what you have done. You claim you are willing to at last answer for what you should have admitted to in the first place."

"Yeah. So?"

"To remove the stain of your actions against Daniel you must tell him why you are doing this. Why you are here, why you have decided to confess to all your transgressions and be rightly  punished in his stead in order to redeem him. Here and now, tell him the reason for your sudden decision to finally admit to and answer for what you have done.  Tell him the truth."

All of a sudden, the Vomar isn't smiling anymore. He no longer seems like some trumped up martinet drunk on his own power, either. He's looking very wise, very kind and right out of the blue I'm looking into the eyes of someone I've never met before.

Someone who's telling me if I don't do the right thing right here and now I'll lose everything. 'Cause if I back away from this now I'll never have the guts to do it again.

And 'doing the right thing' doesn't mean allowing myself to be trussed up in Daniel's place so I can have the crap whipped out of me.

You son of a bitch. You set me up.

Thanks.

I turn and look at Daniel. His eyes are wide, I don't think he's even breathing as he hovers between disbelief and expectation, waiting for what's going to come out of my mouth. I didn't really need it, but the expression of painfully naked hope shimmering in his eyes makes it just a little easier.

The truth. Here it comes.

"I love him. I love you, Danny."

"Honour is satisfied," the Vomar says in a gentle voice. "You may take him from this place and go home."

 


 

I'm on my feet and sprinting toward Daniel. It isn't until I'm hacking at the ropes holding him I realize I don't remember how the knife got in my hand.

Daniel's lying on the slab, staring wide-eyed up at me as I cut him loose. He's breathing hard like he's scared, and his face is quite the playground of conflicting emotions. He's mighty confused right now, and I can't say I blame him. Even though I've said what I can see he's wanted to hear, he doesn't quite know why.

Did I really say what I just said? Did I mean it? Or did I just say it to get him off?

Sweet. That was one of those 'Freudian slips' if ever I heard one. Now that he's mine, my mind is heading straight to the gutter.

Now that he's mine.

Mine. Mine. Oh yeah. I like the sound of that.

I'm also about thirty seconds away from pounding on my chest and howling at the moon as I grab him up from the slab and hug the shit out of him.

He stiffens, not knowing what to do. Wanting to hug me back and yet still not daring to trust he can.

"I meant what I said," I tell him as I nuzzle his neck and squeeze him tighter. With a small sigh of relief he sags into me and clutches me back.

"Thanks for coming for me," he whispers as he hugs me. "Thanks for what you just did."

I feel a lump in my throat. "I didn't do anything. Except be the jerk that got you in this mess in the first place. I'm sorry I hit you. I'm sorry for… everything. I didn't mean it. I'd do anything to be able to take it all back."

"I know, I know." His voice is as soothing as the hand stroking the back of my head. I know you didn't mean it. Don't worry about it. It's forgotten."

Jesus. He means it. It is. It really is. He's just wiped out the blot between us in an instant. Cancelled. Gone. Like it all never happened.

I don't deserve it but I'll take it. Take him too, while I'm at it.

I'm hauling him off the slab trying very hard not to notice there's an awful lot of bare, smooth, sweaty skin pressed up against me. I was hardly in a position to have time to appreciate so much of Danny on display earlier but I'm finding it difficult now to keep my hands from doing what they wanted to do last night.

I'm trying to concentrate on keeping Mister Happy from getting much happier until there are a whole lot less people around.

Daniel suddenly pushes away from me and shoots an indignant look at the Vomar. Who's been standing beside us for I don't know exactly how long, a rather indulgent smile on his face.

"I can't go home like this!" he complains as he looks down at himself. "I'd like my uniform back now, if you wouldn't mind!"

The Vomar shrugs. "That is impossible, Daniel," he replies with a slightly doting smile. "Your clothing was burned. It was a necessary part of the purification ritual."

Daniel gapes at him. "You're kidding  me, right?" he fumes.

The Vomar shakes his head.

"God, I don't believe  this!" he wails.

That's my boy. Only a couple of minutes ago he was looking at getting thrashed within an inch of his life and now he's all bent out of shape because he's only wearing an apron and he's shy.

I guess I shouldn't mention someone stole the ass-end of his loincloth.

I don't see what he's so upset about. I have no problem with what he isn't wearing. But on second thought, while I'm enjoying the view I'm not sure I want the entire SGC getting an eyeful. That ass is mine.

Not too crazy about the way the Vomar is checking it out, either.

I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm the jealous type.

Besides, Daniel is looking pretty miserable. He's moved a little away from me, his face redder than a beet, blinking up a storm, massive pout alerts happening in lower lip land. His arms wrapped around himself in that too familiar self-protective signature stance.

He's not having a very good time.

I turn to the Vomar. It still feels a bit odd the way things have gone from freaking serious to buddy buddy, just like that, but even though he's smiling at the pair of us like an indulgent parent  he's still the one calling the shots around here. So even though it seems like he likes us again we still can't do squat until he says so.

Confusing, yeah, but I should be pretty used to being confused by now.

"Listen, have a heart," I ask him, reasonable-like.  Guy to guy. " Do you guys have something he could borrow to cover up a bit, and maybe he can wash some of the paint off or something?"

"This is possible," the Vomar nods solemnly, just the faintest amused gleam in his eye.

Daniel melts me with a look of unabashed gratitude that curls my toes.

Cool. Now I'm a hero. Doesn't take much to please this boy.

That doesn't mean he's ever going to get any less than everything I've got.

 


 

Great horny toads, I thought we'd never  get away from those guys! The Vomar wanted to throw us a party to celebrate everybody being friends again, but I managed to beg off. Without offending anyone in the process.

I kid you not, those vReel are crazier than geese on speed. I mean, one minute they're threatening to slit your throat 'cause you pissed them off picking a daisy you never knew you weren't supposed to, but after getting you to pat your head, spin around in a circle and spit into the wind it's like nothing ever happened and they want to throw you a party lasting a week and marry you to their sister in the bargain.

One of the recommendations Daniel made in the debrief was for our people to keep to ourselves for the most part, not mingle with the locals and definitely not headquarter in the city until all personnel attached to dUrmir were brought up to speed about the way things are done here. He also stressed the importance of the official liaison becoming an expert in vReel culture.

After all of this I'm going to be adding more than my two cents of support to those points in my own mission report.

I'm also thinking maybe the Vomar really isn't such a prick after all. He never owned up to deliberately staging the whole thing in order to  pull one over on us, but if I didn't know any better I'd swear he put two and two together and set the whole thing up. I don't know why. I know he's more than fond of Daniel. Maybe he just likes happy endings, even though he isn't going to be the one who gets to go walking into the sunset with him.

Whatever his reasons, one thing I can say for the guy, he's sure a much more gracious loser than I could ever be, if our positions were reversed. Gotta respect him for that.

He's also got a hell of a sense of humour. The only thing he was willing to provide Daniel in the way of a 'cover up' was a pair of sandals and this cape deal barely big enough to do the job.

At least the paint came off. Well, most of it, anyway.

We've said our good-byes and now we're tromping through the trees. Daniel's holding onto that cape for dear life and he's got it wound so tightly around himself I'm surprised he can breathe. He's not saying a word. Skittish. Head lowered so I can't see what's going on behind his eyes as he walks beside me.

I think I know what he's chewing on. Putting it in technical terms, he's well and truly freaked. I just took everything he though he knew and understood about Jack O'Neill and shot a lot of big, freaking holes through it. He thought he had me pegged and now he's trying to deal with finding out everything he thought he knew is out the window. He hasn't got a clue what to do or say and it's driving him nuts.

I'd rather be driving him nuts in a completely different way. Besides, if he thinks we are going to just stroll back to the gate and walk through it like nothing happened back there he's got another thing coming.

"Penny for your thoughts," I say to him as I grab his ass.

He jumps so bad his hands fly all over the place, making him lose his grip on that damned cape. He makes a grab for it as it falls away and drops to the ground but I get a hold of him first.

"Don't you want to know what I'm thinking about?" I growl at him as I pull him into me. His eyes widen and he hitches in his breath as he feels how hard I am.

"Say hello to my little friend," I leer.

His breath is quickening, pupils dilating. He licks his lips nervously as he tries not to look at me closing on him.

"Not so little, Jack," he grins nervously, trying for casual and just not making it. At all.

"He's an overachiever. He grows on you."

Daniel gulps and tries to push away from me. I grab his ass with both hands and pull him back in tighter. He gasps as our groins reconnect with a vengeance. Aha. Just as I thought. Your mouth might be trying to say no, but parts of you are definitely saying yes, oh yes.

"Jack!" he pants as he continues to struggle weakly against me. "Don't! Uh… I… we - we shouldn't. You shouldn't. We have to… have to think… think about…"

I'm holding him crushed to me, caged by my arms, hands imprisoned against my chest. "What are you saying to me?" I breathe into him as I lick his neck. "You don't want to?"

"No," he moans as he lifts his head to let me get at more skin. He shudders as I devour his throat, like he's going to shake apart. "I mean, yes! I mean, I - I want to, but we - we can't. Have to think… your… your career…"

"Why don't you let me worry about that and just kiss me?" I tell him as I take his mouth.

I've fantasized about this moment, wondered about it a lot in the last couple of days. What would he feel like, what would he taste like? What would it be like? Would it be weird? Would it be okay? Would it freak me out? Could I actually even do it?

Oh yeah, I can do it. Of all the things I wondered I'd feel the first time I kissed Daniel what I never expected is what's happening right now.

Danny's mouth fits into mine like it was custom made. Perfect fit, perfect match, perfectly comfortable, perfectly wonderful. It feels so damned right and so damned good I know damned well I'm going to be kissing this mouth for the rest of my life.

As soon as I can get him to stop fighting me long enough to let me.

"Stop it!" he cries as he pulls out of the kiss. Tears are stinging in his eyes it's killing him so much to try and fight what he wants. Dammit, I don't believe this, but he's still  trying to fling himself on that sacrificial pyre in order to protect me.

I really wish he would quit it, already. I know what I'm doing. I know what it means. I also know what I want.

Nothing else for it.  I guess I'm just going to have to keep kissing him 'til I kiss all the fight out of him.

"No, you stop it!" Kiss him again.

"Uh - what?"

"Stop throwing yourself on every moral land mine in my path. Stop trying to save me from myself." Diving back down into lip lock heaven.

"Mmmmph! I do not!"

"Do too. Cut it out." Kiss, kiss, kiss.

"Do not!"

"Do too!"

"Ohh god, do… not…"

"Do too." Kissing me back, he's starting to kiss me back.

"Ohhhhh… Bastard…"

"That's it, that's the way, talk dirty to me. Makes me all hot when you make with the smut. Tell me more…" His mouth is boiling, chest heaving, he's moaning and twitching and rubbing up against me and driving me so crazy I can hardly stand.

"……prick…"

"More, you want more? How about this, Danny, how does this feel?"

"…ass… asshole…Oh! Oh! Oh God, oh GOD! Jack! JACK!"

His shaft is hot, thick, slick and throbbing in my hand. I barely have time to feel it, stroke it, when his legs give way and he pulls me over. We tumble to the ground, still locked together and the second we hit he's on me. Frantically kissing me, clawing at my clothes, heaving, groaning and shuddering as he thrusts wildly against me like a crazy man.

I think I've finally brought him around to my way of thinking. Time to go a little mental myself.

Somehow my pants are down around my ankles but I don't much care 'cause right now I'm in heaven. Daniel is on top of me sobbing my name as he rams into me like a humping express train. I'm so close to coming, just from what he feels like sliding over me. Again and again and again. He's so hard and so hot and every time he hits me I feel a jolt splitting me from one end to the other. It can't get any better and then he screams, grabs me and jerks me hard and I'm going off like it's the fourth of July.

The way he's howling he's doing a 21-gun salute.

He collapses on top of me and I try to hold on to him as best I can, but it's not easy, 'cause I'm still seeing stars for several minutes after the main event. He shakes for a long time. I don't know if it's because he's crying or because he's trying not to, but he's not making a sound and I'm hoping it's because he's too happy to breathe.

"Jack," he says finally, in a mournful voice. "What have we done?"

Aw crap, Danny. Don't spoil it.

"Well, I don't know about you but I've just had the best sex of my life with the man I love." This day has been all about truth. I see no reason to change the theme now. "And I'm really hoping we're both on the same page, here."

He pulls back to look at me. Not crying. Not yet. But so damned close it's not going to take much to push him over the edge.

I kinda know how he feels.

"I'm sorry," he quavers. "I've ruined your life."

"Do you love me?" I demand as I pull him closer.

He blinks, confused. "What - what does that matter now?"

"Just answer the question!"

"Yes," he says lowly, looking away as if he's just confessed to killing someone.

"If I said to you, screw everything, let's just get up, walk over to that gate,  go through it and take off to wherever we damned well want to, would you do it?  Would you come with me?"

His eyes are definitely pooling. Any second we will achieve overflow.

"Wherever you want to go."

"No hesitation, no regrets, no doubts?"

Houston, we have lift-off. A tear the size of Texas plummets down his cheek. I reach out my hand to capture it on my finger and then touch it to my lips.

"No. I just want to be where you are."

"That's all that matters, Danny. All the rest of it was just something we both did before we both figured out what was really important. You. Me. Us. This. This is what I want more than anything.  This and - and you.

"Me too." He says in a voice so small I can hardly hear it. "It's all I want. It's all I've ever wanted. For a long time."

He sighs and lays his head back down on my chest. I close my eyes and drink in the smell of his hair as it tickles my nose. I feel so damned happy I could split something.

Danny loves me. He loves me, and he wants to be with me. Anything bad which might happen back home as a result of what we've just done, I don't give a damn. Because I know what is really important to me is secure.

"What about the team? What about your career? The Air Force? What about all of that? What are we going to do?"

Even this 'being on the same wavelength' thing is feeling natural now.

"I don't know, what do you want to do? Do you want to chuck it right here and now, or do you want to go back? What do you think?"

He's quiet for a long time. He's actually thinking about it, considering walking out on the SGC as a viable option. That makes me pretty happy. Damned happy, as a matter of fact. Tells me just about everything I need to know.

"Can we go back?"

And still be 'us' you mean.

"It's not impossible. Probably not smart. We'd have to be careful. And we'd have to find out if we can still get the job done without placing Sam or Teal'c or anyone else at risk."

"What if we can't?"

"Then, we're gone. You and me. Together."

"Sounds - selfish somehow," Daniel sighs.

"What?" I laugh. "Blowing off saving the world for blowing each other? How is that selfish? You're saying we haven't already done enough for the world already? That we don't deserve to find a little happiness before one or both of us gets ourselves blown to bits?"

"Guess I am." I can hear the frown in his voice as he wrestles with this.

"Well then, guess again," I reply stubbornly. "I've given my life to serving my country. And gotten precious little back in return. The 'warm glow' of a job well done is pretty cold comfort when you're alone. What's the point of getting clapped on the back for saving the world when there's no one to share it with? Or no one waiting for you when you get home from a hard day at the office?"

He's not moving, not saying a word.  That means he's listening.  That's good, because I've never said anything more important in my life.  Or tried to tell him anything I'm more dead serious about.

"I'm tired of it, Danny. Tired of being alone. Worn out from fighting and killing and only having myself helping me try and hold what's left of me all together. I'll serve if they'll let me. I'll do what I can for them if you still want to try, but if they ask me to give you up in order to keep on doing it the answer is no. I can't. I won't. And I'm not sorry about it, either."

There, I said it.  Meant every word of it too.

"So, what do you want to do?" he asks after he's given himself a little time to take in what I've just said.

"Hey, I asked you first."

"So you did," he laughs as he moves up on me and plants a big, long, wet one on me. "I'm not sure. I think I need to do a little more research. In order to be able to clearly understand my options."

"Research is good," I gasp just before he plunges his tongue into my mouth. "I like the way you think. What are you coming up with?"

"Don't know yet. But I'm expecting things will firm up soon."

Hey, I'll take that bet.

He's reaming my mouth out like he's looking for buried treasure. With his tongue. Family jewels are a little lower. Oh yeah, right… right there…"

God...

"You in any hurry for me to make up my mind?" I didn't know Daniel could make his voice sound so dirty. Little dickens, he's full of surprises. I can't wait to find out what else he can do with that mouth.

"Hurry? Me? No, not me - aw… sonofabitch, that feels good! Take all the time you want…"

Take all the time you want. All the time in the world. Take the rest of my life. Take whatever you want, just make sure you take me with you.

"Oh, and by the way," Daniel says between kisses, "I do not."

"Do too - Ow! Geez, easy with the equipment! Standard issue is one per customer. Got to make this one last a long time."

"You going to argue with a man who's got his hand around your dick?" That is one filthy, filthy smile. More surprises. Sweet.

"I'm thinking it over. Move your hand up and down while you're waiting, will ya? It'll give you something to do. Faster. Oh God, you keep getting this good at following directions I'm definitely keeping you."

"I hope so," Daniel's eyes are shining as he leans toward me. "I plan on letting you."

His mouth melts into mine and I'm in heaven again. Flat on my back in a forest billions of miles from home being kissed within an inch of my life while I'm being jerked off by the man of my dreams. Now I ask you, does it get any better than this?

Plan on letting me keep you? I should be so lucky you'll plan on keeping me. I sure hope you do 'cause there's no one anywhere like you and now I've finally figured this out I'm not letting anything or anyone come between us. Ever. We go back, we take off, it's all the same to me. As long as you're with me.

I'm not much of a bargain, Danny, but for what little I'm worth, here I am. Come what may, no matter what happens, you come first and you get the best I can be. I know it's not much, but it's all I have and it's all for you.

No one but you.

~*~The Beginning~*~

 

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