Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: R.
Category: First Time.  Romance. Angst.
Season/Spoilers: Small Spoilers for FIAD, Threshold.  Post Menace.   
Synopsis: On the evening before his birthday, Daniel makes a life-changing decision.  And then, Jack happens. 
Warnings: None except it's really, REALLY angsty at the beginning. Oh yeah, and the very possible suckage alert!
Length:  180  Kb   This story was originally published to the net 7 July 02.

Notes:  Extremely late entry for the Friday night Birthday Challenge. I tried to get it done in time I really did. Three weeks later this is the best I can do. Sorry. I've been extremely depressed lately so I decided to go with it instead of fighting it. I'm totally stunned I've actually been able to finish a story although less than satisfied with the results. Ah well, it's always something isn't it. The scenario I'm postulating in the beginning of this tale seems unhappily plausible to me given the way I've been watching things develop in the latter part of the fifth season. I hope I've made a strong enough case for Daniel's state of mind 'cause Lord knows I'M bummed out by what I'm seeing!


"JULY 7th 2002"

I've written the date without thinking, but as soon as I finish my eyes are drawn to the stark, black symbols defacing the white expanse I'm peering at, and what they make me remember - what it means arrests all intention and stills my hand.  Freezes it there, on the spot.  Impossible to move the pen from the point where it completed its last, finishing stroke on the pristine, empty page.

Impossible to bridge that gap, to continue with my pre-programmed, customary actions, to make myself write and recount the details of this particular day, which I've just realised happens to be the last day of my most recently completed year of emptiness, loss and regret.  I can't make myself signify this fact in black and white - dignify the occasion through the ritualistic recapitulation of the day's events - of THIS day in particular - what's the point?  I mean, what is there to say, really?  

One more year of my life down the tubes.  Yippee.  Who wants to make a big deal of that?

Not me, that's for sure.

What exactly have I done since this time last year?  Not much.  Only lived through another year of one step forward, five steps back.  Another year of being alone.  Three hundred and sixty five hard, unhappy days of so much lost, so very little found, too much surrendered for scant gain, day after day of piled regrets and sorrows. This day being simply the last one in a whole bunch more of the same where so much could have been and yet again, never was.

So what about tomorrow?  Good question.  I only wish the answer wasn't so inevitable.  Or depressing.

I have no reason to expect when tomorrow dawns on the first morning of next cyclical round, as another year of my life starts ticking out and down that anything will be any different.

Why would it be?  Why should it be?  When has it ever been?

Now Daniel, that's not fair.  It's also not entirely correct, either.  Your whole, entire, complete, total life hasn't ABSOLUTELY sucked.  It's just been the last three years that have really bit the big one.

Ever since Sha'uri….died.

Sha'uri.  So beautiful, so unique, so precious. The beginning of my end. Sometimes I think in finally leaving she took not only what was essentially good in my life but also what future good I could have ever hoped for, achieved or enjoyed.  As if in some weird way she was the keeper of all my chances for happiness, not only as long as she was alive, but for all the rest of my life without her.

Okay, Daniel, now you're REALLY starting to get strange; it sounds like you're blaming Sha'uri for the  sorry state your life is in but I'm not, not really - that's not what I'm saying, not what I mean.  I know it doesn't make any sense for me to think or feel this way, but I can't help, not when it was Sha'uri's death where all this started. Or ended.  I don't know which, and maybe it doesn't really matter because in the end the result is the same no matter how you look at it.

She's gone.  Now it's all gone.  Not all at once, not dramatically, not in a way noticeable enough to have sounded an alarm, alerted me, made me sit up, take notice, do something to stop it, maybe.  I don't know what I could have done but if only I'd seen, if only I'd….

If only…  Two of the most pointless words in the English language.  Right up there with 'I'm sorry'.  I guess I'll never know if clueing in sooner would have made a difference.  If I could have stopped it from happening.  Stopped him…

I'm sounding pretty melodramatic here and someone on the outside looking in probably wouldn't get what I'm going on about but that's okay.  Most of the time I don't get it myself and I'm the one living it.  I mean, to look at me and where I'm at for thirty six years of living - it's not that it's all bad, it's not.  It's just - nothing's GOOD.  I realise that seems like a contradiction in terms but even at the best of times the truth tends to be contrary.  And reality bites.  I probably 'have' more now than I've ever had in my life of absolutely everything anyone would think any person would need to be happy, and yet with everything I DO have, for want of that one little, teeny weeny itsy bitsy thing I don't…

I'm not selfish, not greedy; I don't have to have it all for everything to be wonderful. I don't even have to have MUCH.  I'm not ASKING for much.  At least, I don't think so. Just one thing.  One little thing.  Maybe not so little, I realise, but still, not all that much to ask and it's everything to me.  Without it, for everything I have - everything I see, feel, know, experience, the very essence and quality of life itself - it's flat, empty, shallow. Bereft of meaning.  Joyless.

Worthless.  Just like me.

Okay, whoa, slow down a minute geekboy, that's over the top, even for you.  You don't do this - I - I don't do this - the 'boo hoo, woe is me' stuff, that's not my style. What's the point? It doesn't change a damned thing and it sure doesn't help you get through the day.  I never would have made it this far if I'd let myself get pulled into the self-pity maelstrom so I never did, never let myself go there.  Now's not the time to start breaking the discipline of a lifetime.

I should take a page from my own survival manual and put this whole pointless train of thought aside.  Stop thinking and just get on with my customary daily recap.  Finish the journal entry I started.  Start the journal entry I've dated.  Yup, that's what I should do, all right.

I should.  But I can't.  It's not because nothing worthy of being recorded for posterity happened to me today, nothing like that.  As a matter of fact I have quite a tale to tell, a reason to celebrate to boot, but even with all of the stuff I've got to go on about I can't bring myself to start with making this blank page staring at me a little less…empty.

I can't write about today. Just…I just can't. What's the point?  Yeah, sure, I made a discovery today that could unlock a mystery that's been puzzling me for six months and I should be happy about that, excited, triumphant - but I'm not.  What I learned today is huge, monumental, could be a major breakthrough but ultimately the only emotion I can muster about the whole thing is a big, fat 'so WHAT'?

It's no damned fun when the only one who knows - or cares - about what floats your boat is you.  Not for someone like me, anyway.  The thrill of discovery lasts about thirty seconds and after that…

Well, it's just not enough.  Not when I want - not when I wish…

Ernest Littlefield once told me something I didn't understand, even when I thought I did.  He shared with me a little snippet of profundity I didn't fully appreciate at the time but now has become the mocking description and definition of my entire life.  The simple, pithy truth of my existence.

Anything you learn or discover or experience or know means nothing if you can't share it.  Even if those weren't his exact words, that's the gist of it and you know what, he was absolutely right. Nothing means ANYTHING - has any POINT if you can't share it.  Not to him, and as I have subsequently discovered, the solitary 'Eureka' experience doesn't mean diddley to me either.  Sharing meaning IS my meaning.  The whole point of why I want to learn everything about everything. Why I go out there isn't just about what I can learn, it's as much about what the act of learning can enable me to do. Impart.  Pass it on.  Disseminate.  Share.  Discovery and revelation MUST be followed by education and enlightenment or the whole darned process - what you're ultimately doing it all for - what good is it?

What I discovered today, although it's important, it's also utterly pointless, it has no meaning for me, brings me no joy because no one cares about it but me.  That's not enough. I want - oh God, what I want…

I want to share.  And not just with anyone, I'm not screwed up enough, I have to be selective too - I want to share it with him.  I want what I want to MEAN something to him.  I - I want to mean something to him.

Oh God, why don't I mean anything to him any more?  Why did she take him too, when she left me forever?

Okay, oops, now I've gone and done it, slipped up, it's out in the open, this isn't about being melancholy over being misunderstood about scratching in the dirt stuff no one gets but me, this is about him.  Him not getting me.  Not just when it comes to the scratching in the dirt stuff, but about everything there once was between us and now is gone, and stuff I foolishly hoped WOULD one day be between us, but it goes without saying if he won't take my calls any more he certainly…well, none of THAT will be happening either.  Ever.  But that's neither here, nor there.

God, right now I wish I wasn't.  Here, that is.

It's all about him.  It's always about him, everything is about him, always has been, and if I can't have his attention, his affection, even a particle of his interest, then everything else I do, with or without him…

No damned point to it at all.  No point to anything.  So I'm back to where I started.  Staring at the blank page of my journal with the dumb date on top.  Pointless.  Me, my whole damned day, my entire existence up to this moment of gawking at a page I refuse to write on about my stupid, pointless day because - what's the point?

What's more, if all of this wasn't sad enough I've got a stack of journals back on Earth filled with pages describing the pointless events of the last three hundred and sixty four pointless days of the last pointless year of my pointless life and even if I leave this page blank it won't stop the whole, tedious, pointless thing from perpetuating itself.  Tomorrow will dawn, odds are the day commemorating my natal debut on Planet Earth is going to come and go in an equally insignificant fashion except I'll be a year older but no happier and the whole pointless process will just continue to proceed…without a point.

Just as it always has.  Everything exactly the same.  Nothing changing, just…this.  Nothing.  That is, unless…

Well, now that I've so definitively delineated the situation I feel SO much better.  All I can say is it's a damned good thing I'm not the suicidal type or right now I'd be seriously worried about me.

No need for concern.  Move on, folks, nothing to see here.  I might be pathetic, but I'm not stupid.  Just crazy.  Crazy about him.

Another pointless pursuit.


Sam's soft laugher wafts through the still night air, infiltrating the illusion of my isolation.  And it is an illusion for although I feel like I'm alone and have been kinda acting that way I'm really not.  The gang's all here.  My 'family'.  My 'friends'.  Hah, that's a hot one.

I've briefly tried to ignore them, blot them from my awareness so I won't have to be reminded of yet ANOTHER sad facet of my current reality but that doesn't mean they're not still here.   Yeah, they're here. Los tres amigos. The charter members of the SG-1 mutual appreciation society.  Archaeologists need not apply.  They're here all right, but they're not with me.

The proof is in the positioning.  I sat down first, found a nice, cozy spot beside the campfire and waited to see how things would play out.  Once again, surprise, surprise, they followed true to form, fell into their new, customary alignment.  Followed his lead.

And there they sit, on the other side of the fire. The three of them.   As far away from me as HE could get. Them against me.  Because HE turned away from me, and took them with him.

To be fair, it's been a long time coming to this, and I know - Sam and Teal'c - they don't mean to hurt me. I don't believe they even understand how things have changed.  The incremental attenuating of the bonds between us has been so subtle - the shift so gradual, they don't understand how fundamentally the team dynamic - our gestalt -  has altered.  They only know they've grown closer to Jack which is good - GREAT for them and three quarters of the team but what they don't - or won't let themselves see - the more he's turned to them - they're reaping the bounty of the attention, focus and affection he once reserved exclusively for me.

And now won't let me get even the slightest taste of.  I don't know why.  I don't know why he's shut me out and turned away but I do know when it started happening.

Abydos.  The day he helped me bury Sha'uri.  We laid her to rest in the sand and then he turned to me, gave me a look I'm still trying to understand then walked away without a word.

He's been walking away ever since.  Never stopping, never relenting, never looking back.  Gone.  All of it gone.  The affection, the friendship, the camaraderie, concern.  His tolerance, understanding, patience, solicitude.  The touches, the brushes, the gestures, the warm melting smiles.  The hugs.  Oh God, the hugs…  All withdrawn and as far away from me as he is right now. Even though I can see him sitting there, plain as day.  With them.  

Not me.

I've become so caught up in visually devouring him I've quite forgotten about the mocking whiteness resting on my lap. I keep my head down, pretending to be absorbed in the act of non-writing, but all the while I'm covertly looking, covetously watching each movement, smile, glance, gesture - absorbing every aspect of the happy, comfortable tableau in front of me I'm not a part of, even though it's all unfolding before my envious eyes, only a few feet away.  I observe him intensely, like this is the last time I'll ever see him and something about that idea starts something else whirling in my head.  A bold, bizarre, insane, inchoate notion begins niggling at my consciousness, fighting to coalesce, become concrete, struggling to get my attention.

Doing its damndest to impel me to action…

What?  I - I couldn't do that!  Could I?

No, I couldn't…and yet…

God, just look at them. They look so happy.  So much like they all belong together. Sam.  Sam's smiling.  Good - it's good to see her smile.  We've been through some pretty rough times in the past few months. She hasn't been smiling a lot, lately.  I've missed her smile.  Nice.  It's nice.  Teal'c…looks good.  Mellow, content, more at peace with himself. We almost lost him - came so close. It was hard for him to trust himself, to believe we trusted him after Apophis turned him against us.  Jack helped him through a lot of that. He's been a big help to both of them.  Really, he's been swell with all of SG-1 except me. Jack's been there for them, done them both a lot of good. That's good too. It is.  I want them to be happy.  All of them. I love them all, love them so much, but most of all, love…I love…

"Hey Daniel - what's up, zoning out of our zip code or just catching flies?"

Jack's not so gentle jibe startles me as it strikes, stinging deep. Hurts, it hurts so much and all of a sudden I can't stand his callous dismissal for another second.  I won't let it go on.  Last time, this is the LAST time he'll hurt me.  No more.  It ends here and it ends now.

I'm on my feet so abruptly my journal tumbles from my lap unheeded to the ground.  I don't look at it, don't care what happens to it, for I've suddenly realised I no longer need it.  It doesn't matter.  Leave it where it is.  Leave it lie.  Just - leave it.

Leave everything.  Leave.

"I have to go," I blurt out, as I look at all of them for the last time.  I do.  I must.  Hafta, gotta.  I can't live another moment like this.  Not like this.  I can't continue.  This - this can't continue.  There has to be more to life than the everything these people used to be to me that's no longer here for me…here.  There has to be SOMETHING else out there - something other than them.

Than him.

I'll never find it sitting here.  Only one way - one way to save myself.  Go.  I have to go.  Go, go, go!

"Nature's calling," I mumble at Jack without looking at him.  None of them, I won't look at any of them as I turn away.  "I'll be right back."

But don't hold your breath.

Adios, SG-1.  Ciao, babies.  Don't wait up for me.  That light in the window, thing?  Forget about it.

Not that you would bother, that is, but I can allow myself this one last delusion, can't I?

My heart is pounding in my chest, I'm afire with the notion of escape, every muscle in my body screaming with the need to run but I hold it in, force myself to stroll casually out of the soft, cozy, lying halo of light emitted by the campfire.  I make myself play it cool until I know they can't see me.  'Til it's dark enough to make a break for the gate, just in case.

Might follow me, they might.  Might try and stop me.  No way, I'm on my feet, made up my mind, made the break, on my way, I'm doing this, no way I'm stopping, turning back, looking back, chickening out.

It's darker out here than I realised and my, a flashlight would come in handy right about now, but you know what, I don't happen to have one with me at the moment. Why, you ask?  It's a rather embarrassing answer, but the truth is I took off without thinking and left it behind at the campsite. Damn, that was a stupid thing to do, Daniel!  Really, you think so?  If that's the case I should introduce you to a man named Jack O'Neill, I have a feeling you'd hit it off right away, you have so much in common.  You both think I'm stupid.

Whatever, here's me flouncing off into the forest in the dark without a flashlight. Oh well, I've got no choice now, I can't go back for it, it's too risky, I guess I'll just have to stumble on as best I can.

I can do this, I just have to take my time and tread carefully. Watch where I put my feet.  I want to run but I force myself to keep it to a steady but cautious pace.  Enthusiastically bounding through the bushes might get me there faster but I don't want to gallop madly into a tree.  It's not that far to the gate.  I can make it.  Calm, stay calm.  Don't rush things. One step at a time, every step carrying me away from him - I mean them toward - something better.  At the very least, something new.  Or something that will put finally put this empty ache inside me to rest forever.  One way or the other.

I just pray I'm actually headed in the right direction.  Making for the gate instead of the opposite direction or even worse, not running around in circles.  Funny how everything looks so much different in the dark.  Dammit, Daniel, just keep going and whatever you do don't screw this up!

I'm trying not to make too much noise as I bumble through the underbrush, straining my senses for even the slightest sounds of anyone following me.  I can't hear anything but my own thrashing, crashing and heavy breathing.  Good, that's good. The longer they think I'm off in the flora taking a leak the better.  Pretty soon I'll have put enough distance between us it won't matter if someone decides I've been gone too long and tries to find me.  They won't have time to reach me won't be able to stop me -

Ow!  GoddAMMIT! Root!  That was a close one.  Nearly tripped on the stupid thing and went face first. Slow DOWN, Daniel!  This ground is so damned rough and uneven, it'd be just like me to fall into a hole and break an ankle or something.  Then I'd have to sit and scream for someone to carry me back to camp. So much for dignity.

Yeah, that'd be good. Getting toted back to the SGC, slung over Teal'c's shoulders like a sack of stupid, useless archaeologist because I was a brainless twit, took off without my flashlight and fell into something.  Or off something. Where the HELL is that gate?  Why are things always so much further away in the dark?

I stumble through a particularly thick patch of tangled vines and branches and burst into the open so abruptly I almost fall over.  There it is, only a few hundred yards away, my point of departure.  And hopefully the eventual end to pointlessness.

Or simply, an end.

The Stargate looms over the moon-kissed clearing, a huge, hulking donut gleaming dully in the darkness.  Its alien, eerie shadow sprawls hungrily beyond it, blanketing the swelling mound of the DHD in inky obscurity making it look like a squatting, mutant mushroom.  I sprint silently towards it, giddy with excitement and fear, feeling like I'm floating over the damp, dark grass.

I all but fling myself on the waiting device and sprawl extravagantly across its inscrutable surface, embracing it as fervently as I would a lover.  If I had one.  Nope, sorry, no one wants the position, so how about you?

Do it for me, baby.  Show me a good time.  You know you want to.

We've got this strange thing going, the gate and me.  It's hard to explain, but from the moment I called her by name for the first time in five thousand years - let's just say in exchange for showing me how to turn her on she's wanted to have a say in where her light leads me.  She hasn't always been kind, but she's never ceased to be compelling.

She's also the one thing in my life I've never EVER been able to say no to.  Or walk away from.

That is until…but, that's not true now.  I can do this.  I can leave him. He walked first, now it's my turn. My turn to leave, hopefully to start living again.

Living…without him…  Life, without my reason for living.  If Military Intelligence is an oxymoron well, this is an even better one.

Be that as it may, for the sake of the rest of my life it had better be possible.

I push myself up from the cool smoothness of the DHD, bracing myself over it on arms shaking with anticipation, intoxication and a dash of terror for seasoning.  The clearing is empty, still, complacent with mystery.  The only sounds are the arcane rustlings of a slight breeze flirting with the leaves overhead - and loud panting.  The last bit, the heavy breathing part - that would be me. Not a soul is stirring, not even a mouse.  Presuming they even HAVE mice on this planet, I dunno, I'm not a xenobiologist.  But that's not important right now.  What is, is I'm ALONE.

Holy shit, I'm gonna get away with this!  My audacity is bubbling inside me, absurd inebriation making me want to giggle.  This is…impulsive, even for me, yeah, I know that, I've got to be out of my head to even think of going through with this, but the whole 'completely off the wall' aspect of the enterprise is what appeals to me the most.

It's just plain nuts, but then, so am I.  I'm here, aren't I?  Case and point.

So yeah, I'm here.  I'm here.  So - now what? 

Aw geez, I had to ask, didn't I?

Up until now the IDEA of leaving, starting anew has been so compelling - so overwhelming I haven't really thought about the actual ramifications of what I'm contemplating.  The…um…details.

Oh pooh, now I've done it. If I'd stayed with feeling and reacting everything would have been fine.  But oh no, not me, I had to go and start THINKING again.  Damn. Cold, dull old reason abruptly and inconveniently starts trying to reassert itself.  With a vengeance.  I hate it when this happens because now that my brain is kicking in the first thing it's telling me is I'm out of my tiny little mind.

What the HELL am I doing, what am I thinking?  This is absolutely NUTS.

It is, it's insane.  I don't have a clue where I'm going, what I'm going to do when I get there, no plan other than - dialling something up and jumping through.  Woo.  Just going?  But where?  Where the hell am I going?  I have no idea.  Not a blessed clue.  My mind's a blank.  I must have hundreds of gate addresses crammed into my head and right now I can't think - can't remember a single one.  I don't know where I want to go, I only know I want to.

I haven't thought this through, haven't planned, just got this damned, fool notion in my head and here I am. Freaking out all over the DHD.  I don't have any supplies, no food other than a couple of energy bars stuffed in my vest. Canteen?  Nope, that's back at the camp, took it off my belt when I sat down.  Great.  No food, no water, we've already established I don't have a flashlight but - look what's come along for the ride without me even realising it.   My GDO.

My GDO.  Still velcroed to my wrist. Well what do you know about that?  Proof positive I've learned SOMETHING over the course of the past five years.  Lose your cool, lose your mind, lose your bearings, lose your dignity but whatever you do, don't lose your GDO!

Well, one thing's for sure I'm not going to need this puppy where I'm going.  As a matter of fact, I should ditch it.  Yeah, that's what I should do.  What better way to literally burn the bridge, to show my commitment to my decision, to absolutely ensure I can't change my mind and renege on my own resolution -

It must be my excitement over my impending adventure making me so shaky.  It's just a stupid strip of velcro securing the device but my fingers are so clumsy, it seems to take an eternity before I can manage to pry the ends apart and rip the damned thing from my wrist.  I hold it in my hand and stare at it for a second, contemplating hurling it into the blackness as far as I can but that's a bit over the top.  Besides it might look like a TV remote with delusions of grandeur but it is a valuable piece of equipment. Not to mention if there was even the slightest chance it could be found by someone who could use it against us…

I shouldn't just toss it away I should leave it where they can find it, just to be on the safe side.  Yeah, Jack will look after it and make sure it gets back to Earth, safe and sound.

I carefully place my GDO on the far upper surface of the DHD where they can't possibly miss seeing it and then it's back to business.

Okay, so we know what we don't have, what do we have? Pockets, let's start going through the pockets and inventorying the contents.

I've got my hat, oh yeah, don't leave home without it, my gun, my knife, my radio, un huh, fabulous, that's gonna be useful.  Nice to know I can not only talk to myself but share the experience with no one for miles.  Clip on shades.  Don't need 'em right now but who knows what the weather on the other side is going to be like.  It might be dark here, but it could be the middle of the afternoon - wherever.  I'm sure somewhere, it is. Sunscreen?  Damn, this stuff is EVERYWHERE. Six ammo clips.  A Band-Aid.  A note book - but oh my god, here we go, this is clever - and typical - no pen. Nope that would be back at the camp as well, with my journal.  Matches AND a lighter, well, what do you know about that.   Semper paratus, yep, that's me, all right. What else, what else…nothing else.  What?  That's IT? Goddammit, I don't believe this, I can't even run away right.

Okay, back up, let's not panic here, maybe this isn't the best executed operation in the world and Jack would be laughing his ass off at me if he could see me now, Doctor Jumping off into the wild black yonder without a clue, but maybe the whole thing isn't as stupid as it seems.  Just maybe… it's the sanest thing I've ever done.

I know it looks crazy to be contemplating doing this given my current state of complete, absolute and utter unprepared-ness, but what the hey, it's not like I haven't done stupider things in my life and managed to muddle my way through - I have, just can't think of any right now, but I have - anyway, whatever, the point being - as nuts as this sounds, as unprepared as I seem to be - you know what, I don't care.  I'm doing it.  It might be nuts but it still feels right.  Don't ask me why, I honestly can't tell you but I feel - I feel like going - moving - doing SOMETHING - it's the right thing to do. And today, the day before a new year of my life is about to commence, this is the time to do it.  New day, new year, new life, hey, it makes sense.  Sort of. Why are you looking at me like that, I'm sure in some reality Jerry Springer makes sense too, so why can't this?  Besides, what do I really have to lose?

I am, I don't care what it looks like I'm going.   If I can't have what's behind me all I know - it doesn't make any sense to try and live another day of a life that's a lie.  I don't know where I'm going but I do know I can't go back.  I can't.  Not back to more of what just I've run from.

I can't go back.  Impossible.  Ergo, I have to go forward. I've got no plan, no provisions, I'm contemplating sallying forth into the cold, cruel universe armed with practically nothing more than hope and chutzpah.  But that doesn't matter, I have to go.   So I guess what it all means is I'll have to take the rest of my life on faith.  Hey, it's worked before.  It's not like I've never taken a step into the unknown having no clue what was waiting for me on the other side. Now, I won't say every time I've done so it's all turned out for the best because if that was true I wouldn't be where I am right now but while it hasn't always worked out, so far, nothing I've done has killed me yet.  

Well, not permanently, anyway.

So far, I've made it. I've been lucky.  So that's another thing I've got.  Luck.  For whatever it's worth, for some reason I certainly can't fathom, against all the odds I'm still here.  I don't know if that means anything or not or if I can count on it to continue to carry me on through, but so far, so good, so I'll take my chances and just go.

That's what I'll do, I'll stop thinking and go. I'll go.  I'll throw it all up to the fates.  Cast myself into the unknown, literally, and whatever happens to me on the other side - that's the way it was meant to be.  I'm just going to put myself in the hands of whatever it is out there that's been using me to make things turn out for everyone else.  Take the rest of my life on trust.  If it still thinks it can get a few more miles out of me and it has some use for me it'll look after me.  If not, well then, you know what, it's been fun.

Okay, that's the plan. I'll trust my fate to Lady Gate.  And hope she still loves me, even a little.  Here we go.

I slam my hand down on one of the chevrons - not looking at which one. The ensuing heavy, thunking 'chunk' sound so familiar I hear it in my sleep tears through me like an alarm klaxon, making me shake.  That's what it is, it's the noise of the gate groaning as it rouses itself, the sound so loud and betraying in the dark silence making me shiver, causing my chest to tighten, my eyes sting and blur.  My hand isn't shaking as I stretch across and slam it down on another chevron - it's only my slight, temporary ocular dysfunction making it look like it's trembling.

I'm moving so slowly, taking an agonisingly long time to reach around the huge, daunting surface of the DHD which seems to be getting vaster and more difficult to span by the moment.  Two symbols are brightly glowing in the darkness, indecipherable to me because my sight is smeared and wavering.  I have to find another chevron, dial the next one, come on, come on, you've done this a million times before, this isn't hard, pick a symbol, any symbol and get on with it already.  Dammit, it's getting difficult to force air in and out of my lungs, and what's with this pain in my chest?  I haven't got time for this, I have to keep going.  I don't want to give them time to catch up with me.

I pause for a minute, press my hand to my chest, try and massage the ache away but it doesn't help.  Then I have to rub my arm across my eyes.  They're burning.  Must be my damned allergies acting up again.   That's it - that's why it's so hard to breathe and I'm getting this huge lump in my throat.  Allergies.  Stinking allergies.

Back to dialling, Daniel, reach out and touch another chevron.  Pick a key, any key, spin that wheel and see where we end up.

Wet…my hand is wet - what - is it raining?  I shake it to dash away any drops of mysterious precipitation and then slam it down for a third time.  I WILL do this.  I've made up my mind, no backing out now. Although, to be honest, I'm not so sure I really want to now, not really, not as sure of myself as I was when I started dialling, not at all, though  - oh, I know I NEED to, know I've got no choice, but it's not what I want.

Not really.  Now I'm standing on the edge of the point of no return all I can think of is not what's ahead, but what I'm leaving behind.   Them.  I can't stop thinking about them.  How MUCH I love them and don't want to leave them -

I don't want to do this I don't, but if I don't then I'm right back where I started.  Oh God, I feel like a hamster in a wheel.  Just going around and around and around and never -

Never getting anywhere.  Never.


That's it; I'm outta here.

Jack, I'm sorry, I love you, I do, I don't want to leave you, but I'm going.  I can't spend one more day loving you, seeing you, wanting you and not having you.  I can't.  I'm not that brave or that strong. I could have learned to be content with your friendship if not your love, but a life in your shadow with no hope of either?  I'd rather be dead and I don't want to die. Whatever's waiting for me on the other side has to be better than the sum of the sorrow of the last three years because nothing could be worse than staying here with you and yet without you…

Shut up.  Just shut up and stop being so stupid.  What does it matter what you want?  When has it ever mattered?  Just do what you have to do and stop snivelling.  Get it over with and get the fuck out of here.

I'm reaching blindly for the fourth chevron when I feel the gentle hand fall firmly on my shoulder. Awwww…SHIT!  Busted!  Slow, I've been too damned slow!  Should have dialled faster should have -

" Daniel? Whatchadoin?"

Jack's soft, calm voice sounds from behind me.  Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT!  What is he - how does he ALWAYS  - he must have followed me, the BASTARD!

Bastard!  Months and months of not giving a damn and now, all of a sudden he has to take an interest?  Now, of all times?  Prick!  How long was he standing there?  Watching me? I hope he got an eyeful and now he's had a chance to watch me make a fool of myself he's good and happy. Yeah, I bet the sight of the stupid geek slobbering all over the DHD was a real laugh riot.  Well if nothing else I'm sure he wants to keep me around for my entertainment value.   How else is he going to get his kicks?

I can't believe he FOLLOWED me!

"What are you doing here?"  I fire back at him, trying to shrug away from his touch.  I have to get control of myself, I don't want him to see me like this.  I've got some pride, I don't want him thinking ANY of this - what I'm doing, the way I'm - I'm shaking and…well, I don't want him thinking any of it has anything to do with him.

Jack sighs and gently squeezes my shoulder, pulling back, ever so slightly, like he's trying to ease me around to face him.  I don't want to - my face is wet, I don't want him to see me while I'm still slightly…distraught.

I shrug my shoulder sharply to dislodge his hand but he doesn't let go, so I try and take a quick step forward, out of his reach, but I forget where I am and you see, there's this big naquadah mushroom blocking my path so my not so brilliant bid for freedom is abruptly terminated as I whack my pelvis emphatically against the edge of the DHD.  


FUCK!  Trapped like a rat between Jack and the DHD.  This is not working out the way I pictured it at all.

Jack hisses sympathetically in response to my low grunt of - well - discomfort.  "Yikes, that's gotta hurt," he murmurs kindly if not somewhat redundantly.

Hah hah.

"What am I doing here?" Jack continues in a low, mild voice.  "I could ask you the same question. As a matter of fact, I just did.  For someone meaning to take a tinkle you took off in the wrong direction, so I figured I'd tag along, see what you were up to.  Looks like it's a good thing I did.  So now we know what I'm doing here, it's your turn.  You haven't answered my question.  What are you doing?"

"What does it look like?"  I blurt out numbly.

Please Jack.  Go away.  Leave me with something, since you won't let me leave.

"Well, you aren't dialling Earth, that's for sure," Jack responds.  Cool, calm, concerned even.  Not a confrontational nuance in his voice.  That's a switch.  But as unusual as such consideration has been lately and in spite of how much, how desperately I want it - it's so little, after so many 'I don't cares' - God help me, I'm still suspicious, leery of his unexpected interest, unwilling to be taken in and duped by my own foolish desires.

I can't afford to trust what I'm hearing.  There's just been too much - too much…

"So?"  I mutter defiantly, breathing deeply, trying to make the shaking stop.  The hand clutching my shoulder burns where he's touching me, my chest still hurts like there's this burgeoning, live thing struggling inside me, aching to escape.  I can't let it out, not now, not in front of Jack.  I have to hold on, have to get a grip, make him let go of me and go away, so I can pull it all together again, and I can, I'll be able to if he leaves me alone.

"What do YOU care?"  I snarl at him as meanly as I can manage.

Jack's hand shakes as my rebuff hits, he's silent for a moment, processing, and then he closes in behind me, crowding me until there's barely a whisper between us.  He leans into me, reaches across me and picks up my GDO.

"What's this?"  he murmurs, backing off just enough to enable me to start breathing again.  Neither of us says another word but I can feel him putting the pieces together and know the instant he understands.

He gasps as he gets it, the tiny, startled 'woof' he emits as astonishment pile-drives him in the solar plexus gusts past my ear and his warm, moist breath heats the side of my neck.

"You were leaving me," he softly, tragically bleats, his voice wounded and bleeding with stupefaction.  He grips my shoulder so hard it hurts, the bewilderment in his voice cutting me to my soul.

Jack is rocked with disbelief; he's rattled right down to his boots. What he's just figured out - he can't take it in, it's almost too much for him to comprehend I would actually abandon him.  Given the way he's treated me his dazed and enormous astonishment is a colossal, egotistical irony almost too much for me to bear.

"You left ME!"  I howl, the truth shrieking out of me with a primal savageness beyond my ability to suppress or minimise for his sake.  Why should I - why should I spare him?  I've never wanted to hurt him - to make him feel as badly as I have but now - now his dumb, gaping incredulity at the very notion I could 'betray' him - was he truly THAT blind to how profoundly his accumulated and vigorous rejections hurt ME?

Was he really that oblivious to me he truly, honestly didn’t KNOW?

My God, if I didn't love him so much I'd shoot him right on the spot for the unbelievably complacent ARROGANCE!  How could he - I mean he saw me every SINGLE - I can't believe he didn't have a -

ARGH!  Get off me you SHIT I've got places to go!

Before I can thrust him from me and make a mad bid to carry on dialling he sunders me again, this time with a quiet, stark admission as abject as the desperation in his delivery.

"Yeah, Daniel, I did," he admits in a voice overflowing with sorrow and surrender.  "I left you high and dry.  I thought it was for the best, I really did, but I guess I thought wrong."

For - for - what the hell is he talking about?  What does that mean?  What?  What?  I don't understand - what's that got to do with…

"You've gotta understand," he continues with eerie calmness, like he's giving directions or explaining how to change a tire. "It had nothing to do with you - it was me.  I…I'm no damned good, Daniel.  Trust me. You'd be much better off if you'd never even met me.  After the way I let you down… I promised you we'd find her - I'd bring her home to you and you believed me - trusted me.  You shouldn't have.  I shouldn't have - I had no right to call myself your friend, never mind…  Well, just - never mind.  All I've been trying to do is shake you for your own good but you're too damn stubborn to take a hint!"

My mind is sputtering, spinning, frantically trying to get back on the rails.  I'm completely out to sea.  I've unwillingly witnessed this man turning into a stranger over the last few years, watched him walk away from me and almost everything he used to be, but even with the distance between us and the expiration of our former camaraderie whatever he's become - I still know which way he's going to jump and exactly what he's going to do in every conceivable situation.  That is - at least, I thought I did.   Let's just say based on the sort of responses I've learned to expect from new and not exactly improved Jack O'Neill - of all the possible things I've been anticipating him doing and saying to me right now, what's actually happening is definitely the very LAST thing I was prepared for.

"I'm bad news, Danny," Jack sighs, sounding old and weary.  "Nothing but the pits for everyone who's gotten too close to me.  No one I've ever loved has been better for it.  Just ask my ex-wife if you don't believe me.  Talk to Skaara and ask him if he thinks making me his 'hero' was such a smart thing after all, ask…"

Jack's voice abruptly chokes off and his fingers bite into the muscles of my shoulders as he suddenly, savagely spits his next sentence into the back of my neck.

"I didn't want you to become another casualty!" he snarls.  "I thought I was doing you a favour but all I've done is mess it up again!  All I'm good for - all I'm good at!  Screwing up!"

His anger batters me, bewilders me.  I can't cope with it right now, it's too much.  I need him to give me a moment, to let me breathe, figure out what he's saying, what it means.  I'm trying to find the words to tell him to back off for a bit, let me think, but nothing's coming out, there's this huge knot in my throat I can't push anything past.

"Sorry, Danny, I'm so sorry," he pleads, his anger seemingly evaporating as quickly as it chewed through us.  " It wasn't supposed to go down like this. You were supposed to hate my guts and forget about me.  Get a life, find someone better.  Better for you…kinder, someone who wasn't - wasn't me.  You weren't supposed to get hurt, believe me I never, NEVER wanted - "

Jack's not making any sense - none.   I have no idea what to think or feel.  Or what the hell is happening.  He seesaws from anger to grief with the insanity of a possessed pendulum and I'm being tossed from side to side with him.

I don't understand a word he's saying - the sounds are going into my head and churning around but I haven't got a clue what they mean.  He might as well be speaking Swahili, but come to think of it, if he was - I can get by in Swahili if I have to but whatever he's saying - I'm not getting it.  And right now, with everything I went through to get this far, this - it's all too much.

I feel like I'm falling, folding in on myself, wish I could, just let myself tumble forward and be sucked right into the DHD.  Absorbed, absolved, assimilated, beyond all sense, thought and feeling.  Oblivious…

"Daniel, awww, Danny - don't!  Don't do this.  Come on, will ya, will ya just - just LOOK at me!"  Jack urgently entreats as he starts to whirl me around, and I haven't got the heart or strength to resist him.  I let him spin me, like he always does, turns my world upside down, completely on its ear and inside out, always, constantly, why should now be any different.  I couldn't work that wheel and make my escape but Jack can spin me, he's got the knack, he knows how to play me I'm nothing but a wheel going 'round and 'round and 'round whichever way fickle fortune or the man who holds the key to me twirls me.

Jack.  Oh Jack, why are you here?  Please don't pull me back from this path to set me adrift yet again.  Don't wind me up and walk out on me.  Please…have mercy…

Jack.  He's standing close, so close, much closer than he's been to me in as long as I can remember.  I don't want to see his face, don't want to get sucked in by the siren lies waiting for me in those eyes that used to say so much, were so warming, kind and understanding but lately, cold, hard, closed and barred to me.  I don't want to look, don't want to see more of the same disappointment but his firm, rough hand is cupping my cheek with a tenderness that makes my heart ache, his thumb gently stroking across my skin, coaxing, begging me to look at him.  I'm weak - God help me.  I don't want to know but I can't - can't NOT know, so I'm a fool.  

So I look.

Jack's face is a complex, arid tapestry of bleak comprehension and self-blame, his eyes naked, blazing, wrenching sorrow. I've seldom seen such anguish in the man before me; he blinks rapidly, almost compulsively as his appalled gaze rakes over every inch of my face.  He says nothing, his eyes sear me, absorbing what I can neither hide nor articulate, flinching but not fleeing from the entire, sordid spectacle.

I don't know if I can believe what's before me but oh, the hope warms me even as it wrings my heart in two to see him so - so much sadness in those deep, brown eyes devouring me with the same unquenchable, aching hunger I've seen looking back at me from my own mirror.

Every time I think about him.

I see something else.  I see his shame, how terribly he's twisting on the spit of his past decisions. Whatever he did - for whatever reason he acted from the best of intentions.  No matter what it looked like he honestly thought he was doing good. For me.

He didn't know.  He really didn't know what he was doing to me.  Not because he didn't care enough to look, oh no, he cared, he cared plenty; he just didn't understand what he was seeing. The plea for forgiveness he doesn't believe he deserves wings from his heart to mine, I get it, he didn't mean it, didn't realise how deep the hurt went because he didn't realise how it was - with me - about him, he honest to god didn't know. Didn't know how much…but I think he's starting to put it all together…

Still soaking in my bewildered misery and reeking with regret he drinks me down to the last bitter dregs. Without sparing himself a drop.  He finally squeezes his eyes shut and heaves a heavy, shuddering sigh as he gently, almost hypnotically slides his palm across my jaw towards the back of my skull.  His eyes open once more, his melting, regretful glance bathing me as his hand curls tenderly around the nape of my neck, soothingly caressing my skin for a brief moment leaving me breathless, aching and tingling at the contact.

"Oh baby, what have I done to you?" he brokenly murmurs as he draws me in, pulling me gently toward him until my head is firmly cradled on his shoulder.

I go to his flame like the shameless, heedless, desperate moth I am.  Though it might mean my immolation, I'll risk it.  One glorious, consuming, blazing, taste of his brightness, no matter how ephemeral or fleeting is worth trading a lifetime for.  I'd die for this, for him.  And it's only now, as his arm comes around me and fiercely clutches me I understand I'm as good as dead without him.

I still don't know how this is happening and what it all means but I'm numb, dumb and desperate for him.  So starved for even the smallest hint of the affection I need more than oxygen - so long, I've been living so long without his touch.  I'll take as much of him as I can get for as long as he'll let me.  I have no shame and I'm not sorry.

God, god, I can't believe how GOOD it feels to wrap my arms around him, to feel the strong muscles of his back working beneath my splayed and greedy fingers, how intoxicating his smell is as I burrow my face into the hollow of his neck, seeking the warm, salt-kissed velvet of his throat.  I just want to feel him, smell him, and be warmed by him as long as I can, nothing more, I'll be good.  Honest.  Just let me stay, for a little while longer so close to you.  Just a few moments more…

Joy and sorrow mingle and swells in my chest, bellowing for expression, threatening to crack my ribs.  I can't let it go but I can't hold it back.  Anguish roars within me, an internal, dissonant wail I'm suddenly hearing on the outside, a sound so distressing it makes me tremble and want to slink away with shame.

Jack growls and clutches me tighter, almost violently, hitching my head even more firmly into the shelter of his shoulder.  The fingers strongly gripping the back of my skull tense protectively and then begin to slowly, almost sensuously card through my hair.  Stroking, so fondly, gently…

"Shhhhh, baby, don't…don't…it's going to be okay,  Gonna be all right now.  Promise.  I promise," Jack croons as he pets me and slowly rubs his cheek soothingly against the side of my head. "I'll make this up to you somehow, I'll get a grip, it'll be better.  It will, you don't have to… "

I close my eyes and give myself over to my swooning senses.  I have no defences left, no will to resist.  I should be regrouping, withdrawing, protecting, not letting him - ohhhhh Jack, I've waited so very, very long and it feels so, so good…

He feels so good.  Like everything…everything…

Nuzzling.  There's no better word for what he's doing right now.  Definitely nuzzling.

"Sorry, sorry, I'm so sorry."

 Ohhhh, nuzzling…yes…and -  Oh!  Small, astonishing thrills of completely unexpected but oh, so welcome pleasure ripple through me as his lips brush against my hair once, and then again.

More?  Please?

He's still holding me tight, stroking, nuzzling, now - now oh, oh yes - more soft touches of his lips not quite kisses, but…nice…face, side of face, oh, oh, ear -  oh…ahhhh…do that again…touching, and stroking he's still nuzzling and murmuring soft, incoherent phrases I'm only now becoming aware of because quite frankly what he's doing is definitely - stimulating - certain parts of me and absolutely melting others.  Knees, knees turning to jell-o.  Brain going out window…or down my drawers…

I'm definitely becoming gloriously confused, wonderfully muddled and engorged - I mean gaged…oh, fuck it, I'm hornier than a seven-headed unicorn and we're so closely pressed together Jack can't help but be aware of my newly erupted rampancy…

But if he is, he doesn't seem to be having a problem with it.  Either that or he's playing dumb.  Whatever, whatever, this all feels so damned wonderful I'm not going to worry about it.  I still don't understand how this can be happening but I'm not only not biting the hand that's petting me I'm just going to go…go with the flow…

"…sorry, God, I'm so sorry," Jack's babbling in a brittle, aching voice, his contrition hindered by the fact he can't seem to keep his mouth off me so the breathless phrases are compressed between apologetic brushes and hesitant, panicked pecks.

"I know…I know I can't…can't give her back to you…Danny, I'm no prize…no substitute for her but I'll try…we'll work on it…we will…whatever you need…anything, anything…you just have to say - it'll be better…it will…you don't have to - please, please - don't write me off, Danny.  Don't leave me - "

Never, never, never.  Leave?  I must have been out of my mind to even think -

"I've done it again, haven't I?"  Jack chokes as he mashes his mouth against the side of my face, hotly panting into my ear. "I've screwed everything up.  I swear to god I don't mean it to come out this way but even when I try to do the right thing I still get it all wrong."

His words wash over me, blanketing me with sorrow.  I hear them with my heart, not as sounds, but waves of anguish and desperate, unanswered longing pulling at me, pleading with a force I can't resist.  I no longer know what I'm doing, blind compulsion and answering need make me respond instinctively and immediately to the feel of his warm, racing breath tickling my skin, his mouth hovering so close to connection, seeking to impart comfort and assurance without transmitting deeper, hidden desires.   My lips are hot, aching, all I know is that I have to FEEL him, meld with his burning in order to answer him, assure him, make him hear me.

Time to make my move. Once again, I'm taking action.  Taking a crazy chance, going out on a limb, throwing myself at my future without a net but this time, I'm slightly surer of what awaits me.

Also pretty darned positive I'm not taking that much of a chance.  Whatever, whatever, it's now or never, I'm reckless, intoxicated, aflame, nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I'm going for it, going for HIM.

A soft puff of air cherishes my cheek, a harbinger of his intention.  His mouth is making toward my face again; he thinks he's going to sneak a surreptitious peck on my brow by me but I have other plans.  I intend to offer him a whole new target area for his mouth to obligingly meander into.

Before he can blink or back away I quickly swivel my head toward him, causing his lips to skid across my cheek and land on mine.  Houston, we have full oral contact and just so there will be no doubt this particular intimate interface was intentional I hold him tightly by the waist, blatantly rocking my hips forward as I boldly press my lips into his.

At the first, tentative touch he instantly freezes, his lips stiffly pursed against mine, obstructive and unresponsive, his eyes wide, wild and loaded with desperation as they lock.  The hand cradling the back of my head stills, clutches, trembles but does not withdraw, nor does it let me move my mouth an iota from its current position.

He hears me knocking and while he's too astonished to let me in quite yet - he's definitely thinking about it. I haven't got it wrong, I know what he wants but the startled, completely flummoxed terror in his eyes - I almost start snickering uncontrollably at just how SHOCKED he is to see the 'uh huh, you know it, I lust you backatcha squared' written all over me.

Oh Jack.  It seems you didn't have a clue about this either.  We've got some talking to do in our mutual immediate futures but right now…

Don't wanna talk, wanna kiss.  Come on, Jack, work with me here.  Don't be afraid I won't bite.


We maintain a volatile, electric holding pattern, panting, lips and eyes meshed together, swaying to and fro in a delicious stalemate neither one of us is backing away from but I can see he's not quite ready to chance…violating…  He's knows what he sees but he's afraid to believe he can, yep, it really is true, I not only know exactly what I'm doing but I want him - oh it's not just him, I want too.

I can smell his fear, taste his desire, see his astonishment, dumb hope and indecision, and feel how MUCH he wants as I deliberately rub my thigh against his swelling crotch.  He shudders, startled and excited, immediately pressing his pelvis forward, craving more contact. His eyelids flutter madly and he moans my name hotly against my mouth, his lust-laden breath flushing my skin and calling forth an instantly spiking quickening of my own rate of respiration.

Among other things.

He groans again and his eyes fly open, dark, glinting wells of desire starting to subtly pool with the desperate fierceness of what he wants but won't presume he can claim.  He wants - he needs, he doesn't dare ask, but he's about to get.

I slowly, deliberately inhale him in, then after flicking out my tongue to touch his lips I close my eyes.

He shivers, a helpless moan of surrender rumbling in his chest, vibrating through to my bones as he finally opens, permitting my tongue to penetrate the barrier of his lips and slide happily home.

I barely have time to enjoy the intoxicating sensations of sinking into the torrid delights of Jack's mouth when I find myself engaged in a serious battle of wills as to who exactly is going to get to suck who's face off. Jack doesn't take long to recover from the initial indecision leaving the first move down to me.  He's got a few moves of his own and now the kissing has commenced he's not at all shy about pressing his advantage and laying them on me.

Or…laying ON me, for that matter.

Jack growls hungrily as he advances, his hands grabbing, roaming, hips thrusting and crowding me back, licking, nipping  - rubbing.  He seems determined to devour the lower half of my face and I'm hungrily attacking every inch of him I can nibble, lick and orally explore with similar avidity.  We're doing a fair amount of clashing and clutching as he continues to barrel into me until the backs of my thighs bark against the DHD and the next thing I know I'm sprawled across the device with my colonel enthusiastically plastered all over me.

He's gloriously heavy, hot and heaving as he shivers and shimmies uncontrollably all over me.  I throw my head back as I feel his teeth latch onto the side of my throat, the jolt of pleasure the sweet pain evokes in me escaping in a shuddering sigh which further incites him.   I wrap my arms around him and cling to him desperately as his face burrows into my neck.  He sweats, huffs and grunts animalistically against my inflamed skin while he repeatedly rams into me with helpless, compulsive urgency.

I'm lost in my own equally desperate, swelling, consuming passion, my entire reason for being entirely focussed in the man I'm wound inextricably around, clamped to, glued to, my tangled limbs holding him to me as he rides me and grinds me brutally, wonderfully into the uneven surface beneath my sliding, shifting body. The area between my shoulder blades is going to bear the indelible imprint of the centre crystal and somewhere on the periphery of my awareness I hear the DHD clunk and the gate start to whine.  Oops, I guess we're not just drilling we're dialling as well.  Multitasking?  Hump your way across the universe?

Dialling be damned, there's only one place I want to get to right now and it's got NOTHING to do with gate travel.

Omigodomigodomigawd this feels so damned GOOD!

"Ohhhh, Danny, Danny, Danny, " Jack's laboured, barely audible grunts penetrate my undulating euphoria.  "Sorry -  sorry -  I can't help myself - shouldn't - we shouldn't be doing this - we should stop…now - oh GOD you feel so good!" he moans as his body suddenly spasms and the rate of his frantic rutting and ramming abruptly increases.

Stop?  Oh, no Colonel, I don't THINK so!

I fist both my hands in his jacket, wrap my legs around his waist and draw him in so vehemently the air squeezes out of his lungs in a long, protracted, ecstatic growl.

"No," I breathlessly bleat between the kisses I'm plastering all over his face.  "Don't stop.  I want this, I want you, do it, do it, DO IT!"

Intoxicated, completely gone in an 'almost, so damned close I'm almost there' haze I'm babbling, urging him on, slamming up into him as he rams into me when I feel his hard, demanding hands holding my face, fingers digging into my flesh, seeking my attention.

Responding to his call I force my eyes open to find his sweating, earnest face inches from my own.  He's still brutally bucking into me, jolting us, bringing us both closer and closer but he won't let go of my face, is forcing me to focus on him, he wants something from me, needs to know…

There are desperate tears glinting in his eyes as he spirals closer and closer to the edge of bliss but he won't let me look away; he holds my eyes, striving to bring me with him as he's thrown joyfully screaming into the promised land but he won't let either of us get there, not yet, he still needs one thing from me, one -

"Promise me you'll never leave me!" Jack desperately grates out from between clenched teeth as he thrusts and shudders.    His face and the muscles in his neck are beginning to twitch and contort - he's close but he won't let it go until - until -

"Never give me a reason and I won't," I cry, pulling his head down until our mouths meet.

I don't know if he's heard me or not, his eyes are rolling back in his head and he's shaking, seizing and quivering like he's about to fly apart.  Three guttural grunts rapid-fire out of him as his hips frantically pump into me in a final, finishing flurry and then he collapses onto my chest, sobbing my name and heaving with the violence of his release.

I'm not long behind him - witnessing the incredible wonder and awe in his eyes the second his orgasm begins to tear through him - there've been times I've wanted him so much the sound of his voice was enough to…

I've got way more of him now than that and abruptly I'm just as gone as he is.  I can't think, can't move, can barely breathe as waves and waves of pleasure and Jack's heavy, quaking body pin me flat to the DHD.  I think we managed to dial a couple more chevrons in our mutual orgiastic flailing but who cares?

When I can actually coax movement out of the various parts of my body which during the few moments previous have been only very loosely associated I am not at all surprised to discover my extremities are still wound around Jack and are still holding him pretty darned close.  Which is probably just as well because even though he should be recovering by now he's tightly clutching me and lightly shivering as if he's caught a sudden chill in the wake of the abrupt quenching of our mutual fevers.

I stay where I am, letting him lie on me as long as he wants to, moving only to lightly stroke his head as he so very recently comforted and cradled me.

"You mean it?"  he snuffles into my jacket after a few moments.  "What you said?"

"Yeah," I tell him gently as I press a kiss into his hair.  "I was only leaving because there seemed to be no point to staying. No point - without…"

I can't finish the sentence and from the way he bangs his forehead into me and emits a barely distinguishable but heart-felt expletive…

He doesn't want to hear it any more than I want to say it.

At last he lifts his head and looks at me.  As I suspected, he's not exactly dry-eyed, but he's definitely looking better.  And from the way his eyes light up as he takes me in, I guess what he's seeing is looking okay to him as well.

Maybe a little bit more than okay.  Detecting the beginnings of a decided sappy smile doing its best to erupt all over his face.

He tenderly brushes the back of his hand across my cheek and then sheepishly grimaces at me.  "God, Danny, I almost really blew it this time.  I can't believe I drove you to  - you were that desperate - you were actually gonna do it - bug out on us - on me?"

"Yeah," I reply quietly, suddenly ashamed to admit it.  Even if it was the truth, still, it hurts to recall it and see pain and fear briefly flame in his eyes once more.   "I was.  I would have.  I had to.  If you hadn't followed me…"

And then Jack smiles, his face softening with endearing ruefulness as he gently shakes his head and presses a soft kiss to my lips.  "Don't sweat it, baby," his eyes beam at me as a fond, crooked smile quirks his face.  "It wouldn't have made a difference.  I'd have come after you. I'd have found you.  There's nowhere in this entire universe you could go I wouldn't find you."

"Promise?"  I hear myself saying as my own eyes start getting a little blurry.

"Youbetcha," he solemnly nods as his fingers wipe away some moisture from the outside corner of my eye.  "You're stuck with me," he murmurs as he swoops down to suck on my bottom lip.

"Um, make that more like stuck TO you," I grimace as I'm becoming aware of a certain situation happening below my belt which is proving to be as uncomfortable as getting this way was pleasurable.

Which makes me giggle.  Jack grins and licks the side of my face.  Again with the giggling - what is this?  I'm not three.  I don't - I don't…giggle!

"Yeah…" Jack makes a face as he starts to shift off me.  "You and me both. This is definitely…uncomfortable."  He gives my hair an affectionate ruffle before extending a hand to haul me up off the DHD after him.  "It's been a damned long time since I've gone off in my shorts and I gotta tell you, it doesn't feel any hotter now than it did then."

"Quite the opposite, actually," I smirk as we both try and shake ourselves out a bit.  It doesn't help.

Jack chuckles, reaches out an affectionate hand and draws me back into him again by the back of the neck.  We stand brow to brow, my hands lightly resting on his chest, reluctant to break eye contact or move any further away from each other than we are.

"Are - are we good?"  Jack ventures.

"Yeah," I softly assure him as I firmly hug him.  "We'll talk more later but for now, yeah, I'm okay if you're okay."

"I'm okay," he affirms, affectionately rubbing his forehead against mine.  "But I'm okay with - that is, if you want - I can do the talking thing…later…if you think we need to," Jack awkwardly mumbles and then kisses me tenderly on the cheek.

Oh yeah, Jack, I think we need to.  I've heard a few things tonight which have me more than a bit concerned for you.  We need to talk about the way you see yourself and some very strange notions you have about your relative worth.  We'll talk.  All in good time.

"Well, I don't know about you but I'm really not crazy about standing around here with this load in my shorts," Jack announces after heaving a large, reluctant sigh.  "It's not that I want to break this up, but - ugh," he shudders theatrically. "I hope you brought a change of underwear."

Why yes, Jack, as a matter of fact I did.  Although from the decidedly calculating gleam in your eye I have a feeling I'm the only one who's packing clean skivvies and what's more, I'm further wondering if I might be defending them with my life when we get back.

And speaking of getting back, I wonder how long we've been gone.  Sam and Teal'c -

"Shit!"  I jerk my head up as I remember.  "Sam and Teal'c, they'll have - I mean, by now, surely they'll - what if they've - "

"Relax," Jack's voice is as soothing as the hand massaging the  back of my neck.  "Carter and Teal'c are fine.  I told them not to expect us back right away."

"You did?"  I blurt, a little confused.

"Yeah," he breathes as he nuzzles my cheek.  "You looked…upset.  I said I was going to find out what was going on so they shouldn't wait up for us and I'd check in in an hour if we needed longer.  To…talk."

"You did?"  Now I'm even more confused.  Touched, but confused.

"Well….yeah,"  Jack growls, a little defensively.  "I may have been acting like a shit but that didn't mean I WAS one.  No matter what it looked like I never once stopped CARING about you Danny.  I couldn't help myself.  Couldn't stay away from you either, I guess.  It's a damned good thing for both of us I'm a selfish bastard," he breathes into my ear before taking the lobe delicately between his teeth.

"What?"  I gulp and shiver as he gently gnaws and sucks.

"Me," Jack leaves off the ear and gives my cheek a fond lick.  "It's a good thing I'm a bastard.  I tried to do the whole walking away thing, but I couldn't.  Couldn't let you completely go, Daniel.  If I'd left you alone..."

"But you didn't," I reply, although it isn't easy. "It's okay.   Don't - don't worry about it.  That's all behind us now."  I want to tell him more, assure him of my understanding but I'm having a hard time concentrating on anything other than the large, callused hands tenderly cupping my face, lifting it up to be kissed…

"Hey Danny," Jack smiles against my mouth.  "By the way, Happy Birthday."

That's right, it is - that is - it will be, but -

"Thanks, Jack," I mumble, feeling my face flush with pleasure.  Remembered, he actually remembered…" I appreciate the thought, but you're a little premature.  It's not midnight yet."

Jack snorts as he hugs me so vehemently my ribs creak.  "Who gives a crap, close enough.  Besides, how do you know it isn't midnight already, where we are?  Maybe not on Earth, but here, why not?  Who's to say it isn't your day, right here, right now? I'll bet it's after midnight somewhere out there so as far as I'm concerned, Happy Birthday, Dannyboy. You gonna give me any lip about it?"

Nope, only this kind.  The best kind.

We lose ourselves in a few more moments of exploratory, enjoyable but only modestly ardent kissing.  We got a little carried away earlier with finally having the chance to get what we've both been wanting longer than either one of us would be willing to admit to ourselves or each other, but that was before and now is not the time to start something we really can't finish.

Not when we've got two team mates within screaming distance - literally -  and no real excuse not to exercise SOME self control.

As if reading my mind Jack gives a reluctant groan and peels his mouth off mine.  "We gotta knock this off," he admits with a grimace signifying having to put a lid on us is the last thing he wants to do.  "I don't want to, believe me, but we really should get back.  Come on," he grins at me and takes me by the hand.  "Let's head back and start celebrating your birthday early."  Jack frowns and waggles an 'ah, ah, get your mind out of the gutter' finger at me in reaction to the salacious grin I throw at him in response.

"Never mind that," he fondly scolds me.  "You know what, come to think of it I don't have a cake for you back at the camp and I don't sing so well and yeah, I guess you'll have to wait 'til we get home for your present so maybe this whole 'starting the celebration early' thing is a bit of a bust after - "

"You got me a present?"  I inquire hopefully, all the more touched if it's true knowing he would have done so, before, that is…

"Yeah, Danny, as a matter of fact, I did," he grins like a goon at me and he's so damned pleased to have actual proof he's been considerate without being reminded or goaded or shamed into it I have to shake my head and look away or how much I love him is going to make me start bawling or something really stupid like that and that would be embarrassing.

"Yep," Jack smiles smugly as he wraps a possessive arm securely around my waist.  "Got you a present. Yeah, I did. Nice one.  Really nice. One you can actually unwrap in front of Carter and Teal'c."

He pauses, takes a dramatic breath and leers at me.  "That one I bought.  Then there's the other one I've been wanting to give to you for years but the time's never been right.  That one, you're gonna have to wait until we're alone.  Really alone. At home with the door locked and the phone off the hook and no one coming to look for us for days kind of alone."

He stops again, and from the doting, melting look in his eyes I'm guessing I'm about to get kissed.  Again.  "This gift is strictly your eyes only," he says shyly.  "That is, if you think I'll do."

Nope, scratch that.  I'm not the one who's about to be kissed, he is.

"Deal."  I lean in to tease his lips with the tip of my tongue.  "Consider yourself accepted. Does this mean you'll let me finish an explanation from now on?"

"Get real," he teases right back. "You wish. Just because I'm crazy about you doesn't mean I've completely lost my mind."

Just checking.  There are some universal constants after all.  Jack O'Neill being the biggest one in my life.  Thank God.

Jack groans and gently grasps me by the upper arms, reluctantly but deliberately pushing me away to break the contact.  "Ohhh, god, Daniel, we HAVE to stop now,"  he shudders as he takes a deep breath.

"Yeah, you're right,"  I accede, every bit as reluctantly.  "We should go back."

"Okay, " Jack places a light hand on the small of my back and starts to steer me toward the slope we have to ascend to return to the others.  "When we get back, why don't you tell me about that stone tablet you found today.  You know the one you were so - what?"

He's staring back at me, a puzzled expression on his face.  I realise I've stopped dead in my tracks and he's reacting to what is very probably a look of compete and utter astonishment on mine because that's pretty much the way I'm feeling.

"What?"  I sputter.  "You want to know about the tablet?  What?  You're kidding right?  Jack O'Neill has actually ASKED me to enlighten him about my work?  Wants me to talk about it?  Has volunteered to LISTEN to me talk about it?"  I start fanning my face and reeling from side to side.  "Quick, catch me I think I'm going to faint."

"Shut up," Jack barks playfully and gives me a gentle shove.  "All right, I had that coming.  But no foolin' Danny, I mean it.  I really want to know.  I might not understand everything you do but you know what, if it matters to you, hey, it matters to me."

And with those few, simple words Jack has just given me absolutely everything I need to give my life meaning.

Wow, Happy Birthday indeed.  Right now I'm looking at the best birthday present I've ever received even if I don't get to properly unwrap it until later.

Wow…  I mean, seriously - WOW!  It's just hit me.  I've got it all.  Me.  The one thing I really wanted, the last thing I ever thought I could have.  I - I -

This just doesn't HAPPEN to me.  It doesn't!  I - I - I don't know what to do!

I'd better quit or I'm going to start freaking out here and Jack might get the wrong idea what the problem is.  It's a strange feeling this - happiness.  I'd almost forgotten and it's so - beyond what I've become accustomed to it's almost frightening, but you know what?  I could get used to it.

I will, too.  Why shouldn't I?  After all, I'm entitled, just like anyone else.  It had to happen some day.  If there's any justice at all in the universe, and I believe there is, no matter how it looks sometimes, sooner or later it had to be my turn.  I'm due.  Long past due.

Daniel Jackson, come on down.

"Let's go," Jack urges, starting to pull me back the way we've come.

I let myself be willingly led.  But not before I cast a fleeting, parting glance at the other participant in these monumental proceedings.  My silent, shining lady glinting smugly in the clearing behind us.

What do you know, I was right after all.  In a roundabout way.  I had to go to find out I could stay and once again, the gate showed me the way.

Oh God, that's awful.  I should quit before I break into song.

I throw a heartfelt thanks to the gate for throwing me back where I belong. She still loves me after all.  And so does Jack. He didn't say the words but he does.  He so does.  That one little thing I needed to make my life complete?  Got it. And thanks again for everything.

And you know what else? Tomorrow is going to be great.  So is the rest for my life for that matter.  One amazing day after another.

However, before we go any further there's one teeny tiny thing….

"Jack," I say softly as I fall into step beside him. "I've got something to tell you and I want you to listen very carefully because you're only getting one warning."

"Oh?" he ripostes, somewhat apprehensively.

"Call me baby one more time and I WILL shoot you."

"Dead?"  he crooks a rakish brow at me.

"Oh yeah."

"Hmmm.  That's not good. Dead is definitely not good."

"I'd rather not have to."

"I'd rather you didn't."

Now at this point a soul less conversant with the workings of the mind of Jack O'Neill would think the conversation was over and the problem dealt with but alas, I know better.

Jack has not even begun to be annoying, bless him.

"Okay," Jack nods thoughtfully, "So baby is out.  I can live with that.  So how do you feel about sweetie?"

"Not nuts about it, I have to say."

"Damn," Jack shakes his head as we stride slowly up the hill.  "Making me work, here," he scowls.  "Honey?  Muffin?  Darling?"

'No, no and NO!"  I shudder.

"Well, I have to call you SOMETHING!"  he whines, clearly vexed.

"I have a perfectly good name," I patiently explain.  "DANNNN-iel.  You can call me that."  I cast a sidelong glance at him as he emits an unhappy humph.  "Okay, okay if you absolutely HAVE to be maudlin and revolting -"

"Oh, I do, Daniel, I do," Jack gravely informs me.

 "Only occasionally!"  I warn him. "If you must - well, I don't mind Danny. From time to time.  You're the only one who gets to call me that, but don't overdo it!"

"Or you'll shoot me."

"You got it, Flyboy."

There's an evil glint in Jack's eye telling me I'm in for a long, exasperating, entirely wonderful association with this incredibly wonderful, eternally frustrating man.

"Lambie-pie!"  Jack fervently exclaims with far too much feeling.

Oy vey, I am so screwed! And god help me, I wouldn't have it any other way.



PhoenixE, 2002-9.
Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, Sci Fi Channel, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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