Pure of Heart
Part Ten


Well, Chronos, guess we'll never know which one of us is the better man.

'Cause between us we may have just done in the best one.

"ENOUGH!" Daniel shrieked, the soul-splitting sound of the cry cracking Jack's heart. More followed it as Daniel lurched about in the startled System Lord's grasp. Chronos' hands fell to his sides in uncomprehending dismay as Daniel began to beat and claw at the front of his chest to the accompaniment of the anguished words bleeding out of him.

"Enough, enough, when is it enough for you? God - what more do you want? What more do you need? When will you stop? What - what do you want me to do? What do you want me to say? I'm yours? Okay - okay - you win! Whatever you want. Whatever you say. Just please don't - please don't do this to him. Don't do this to him. You don't have to. You don't have to. See - see - I'll - I'll show you. You win. You win. You don't - don't need to do this."

Daniel's legs folded; as Chronos stared at him in helpless horror the shattered man slid down the front of the System Lord's body, coming to rest on his knees before him. Wrapping his arms around Chronos' thighs, hugging him fiercely, Daniel buried his face in his groin and continued to sob.

"Please don't do this. Please don't do this. Whatever you want. I don't care. I don't care anymore. Anything you say...anything. Anything. I'll do anything you say, just please...please, please don't do this to him."

Rendered equally helpless by the solid Jaffa holding him, Jack could only watch with dread as what he knew was coming next played out before him like his worst nightmare.

Chronos was still staring stupidly down at the man clinging to him, not getting what was really happening to him. Not understanding what it meant as Daniel's choking words began to be replaced by deepening, gulping, lung shattering gasps, his body beginning to tremble uncontrollably as his eyes grew fixed, staring, unseeing.

Jack knew what it meant. He'd seen it before. During the course of a terrible night shortly after he'd brought him home, when what had happened to Danny before he'd come back to them had for some reason been triggered and had come up to blindside his lover completely out of the blue. It still scared him to remember that night.

He wasn't sure exactly what had caused the violent flashback. They'd been talking when suddenly - something - had set off the slowly ticking time bomb that was the deeply suppressed mass of trauma from the ordeal Daniel had been carrying around stuffed down and locked up tight in his heart and soul. Just waiting for the small, little piece of that one thing too much to set off the charge.

Daniel had just looked at him and started to shake. Then he'd shut down. Like a light burning out. Blinking off. Without making a sound. He'd folded up, silent, staring, inert, catatonic.

Just like he was right now.

He'd pulled Daniel through somehow. Hauled him back up from the void, back to the world, back to himself. Flying by the seat of his pants, working on gut instinct alone. Still wasn't exactly sure why what he'd done had reached him, but it had. It had taken nearly all damn night and practically everything he'd had and Daniel hadn't even been half as gone then as he was now.

And getting further and further away with every passing second.

Chronos was finally doing something more than standing there and staring. He'd pried Daniel's arms off him, and was holding onto him by them, which was just as well because without the System Lord's support the ramrod stiff body would have keeled over and crashed uncaring to the floor.

Daniel's rigid form jerked at Chronos' every touch, his sightless eyes ignoring his captor's anxious entreaties as the Goa'uld knelt beside Daniel, trying to take him into his arms. Daniel gazed fixedly beyond him, eyes seeing nothing, body instinctively flinching from the hands he hated. The spasming, recoiling movements grew more distressed and violent as Daniel tried to distance himself from Chronos' clumsy attempts at comfort by curling up into a tight ball and disappearing.

Exactly the same way he was turning in on himself inside. For the same reason.

Chronos was clearly devastated, appalled at the undeniable evidence his very touch was having the opposite effect on Daniel to what he intended, that it in fact his attempts to soothe and calm him were only serving to make things worse.

Fine time for remorse, asshole. The damage is done. Now that you've broken him, how do you plan on putting him back together again?

"Chronos!" Jack snapped, pulling angrily against the hands on his arms. "Dammit! Look at me, you son of a bitch!"

The System Lord didn't respond. He was supporting the sightlessly staring man in the crook of one arm, holding his face so as to try and force the blank eyes to look into his. Calling his name desperately as Daniel merely shook and tried to twitch his head away in reaction to every syllable.

"Chronos!" Jack cried again, more urgently this time. "Tell these creeps to let go of me! Let me get to him. I can help him!"

Chronos heard him this time. His head snapped up; glaring angrily at Jack he wound his arms around Daniel and crushed him to his chest in a tight, manifestly possessive embrace. Daniel immediately, and ominously, stopped moving completely. While Chronos continued to clutch him and look at Jack in stubborn, territorial denial a small, horrible moan began to rumble in Daniel's chest. Growing larger, louder, more distressed with every passing second, until it exuded from his throat in a low, piercing wail of primal, mindless terror.

Chronos' certainty began to buckle, along with his resistance. Jack knew it was now or never. If he was kept from him much longer, Daniel would slip too far down into himself for anyone to ever reach him.

"Back there you asked me to do what was best for him. It's down to you, now. Can you do the same thing? Danny's in trouble. I can help him. I'm the only one who can. Turn me lose!" Jack implored. "Let me go to him. Let me try! If you don't - we're both gonna lose him."

Chronos' cold stare wavered; he looked briefly down at the man in his arms. Daniel's cry continued to rend the air and the hearts of the two men who were still each determined to be the one Daniel would turn to.

Chronos looked up at Jack again. He'd made his decision. The only one he could make.

"Release him," he said reluctantly to the Jaffa.

The instant he felt the grip upon him loosening Jack angrily pulled his arms out of the hands which had been repressing him. That one small gesture of defiance was all the urgency of the moment allowed him; he spared not another thought for the men behind him as he quickly crossed to the one they had been keeping him from.

Jack struggled for self-control as he carefully lowered himself to the ground in front of the System Lord and the precious burden he jealously guarded, which he still looked exceedingly reluctant to relinquish into the custody of the man coming to claim it. Jack fought to restrain his aching, twitching hands, strove to keep them from reaching out too quickly, from chancing to presume too soon to take before the one who could still deny him was ready to let go.

Most of all as he knelt there, forcing himself to meet Chronos' frightened, but envious stare, he fought to keep the System Lord from knowing his next breath was contingent on holding the man the Goa'uld still would not surrender.

Somehow, something of Daniel was yet with them enough to know his lover was near. Fierce hope there was still time to save him flared brightly in Jack's breast as the sound coming from Daniel transmuted into a strongly spoken name. The same one. Over and over and over. Not a beseeching appeal for satisfaction, but a stringent, strident request.

"Jack. Jack. Jack. Jack. Jack."

That did it. Chronos' last shred of unaccepting resistance evaporated before the undeniable need of the demanding mantra.

Jack seized the unquestioning authority it granted him and pressed home his advantage.

"Give him to me," Jack said sternly. "NOW!"

Blinking, stunned, reacting unthinkingly to the unprecedented occurrence of another giving him an order, Chronos mutely thrust Daniel toward him. Trying to regain control of hands suddenly quaking with excitement and need, Jack wrestled back the rising roar of triumph swelling in his heart and throat as he quickly, easily took Daniel from him.

Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. Touching him. Holding him, feeling him in his arms again. Here. Real. God, he's real. His again.

Jack wanted to swoon into the depth of the joy shuddering through him, but knew he had to hold on. Not right yet. Daniel was here, he was here, but it wasn't right yet. They weren't alone. They weren't alone. They had to be alone.

Jack didn't know how he was managing to do it, but he made the hands wanting to touch every inch of Daniel content themselves with simply holding him while he made eyes wanting only to devour the man in his arms look at the one he most hated. The System Lord, still kneeling beside Daniel staring at him with naked longing, his now empty arms hanging slackly, useless and limp, open hands in his lap.

"Leave us alone," Jack said sharply. "All of you. Get out!"

Whatever was going on with Chronos, it still seemed to be working to Jack's advantage. The Goa'uld simply stared at him dumbly, not even seemingly pissed by his demand, his tone or his presumption. Chronos said nothing, delivering no threats, oaths or dire predictions and promises of doom if the man who had promised he could didn't succeed in pulling Danny out of the hat. Barely even looked at Jack and the man he was giving into his care as he nodded and rose slowly to his feet. Jack at last dared to move his hand, cradling the back of Daniel's head tenderly with it as he looked over his shoulder in order to watch the Goa'uld and his retinue leave the room.

Gone. Chronos was gone. They were all gone. Jack at last let the hounds loose, feeling them baying with triumph to the depths of his being as he crushed Daniel to his chest. An ague of joy shattered through him, he quaked with the force of it as Daniel trembled and clung to him in blind, semi-awareness of his reality. The hot warmth of his lover's shallow, rapid exhalations against his throat brought Jack back to himself. Daniel was in trouble. Daniel needed him. Had to move, had to help him. Had to do what he'd done before. Quickly. Now.

The sketchy details of the layout of the room he'd absorbed upon first entering reinserted themselves into his consciousness. This was someone's personal living space. Someone's quarters. Bed. He'd seen the bed. Where? Behind, to the right. Okay. Get Danny there. Fast. Move.

Daniel didn't make a sound as Jack quickly but gently raised him to his feet. Didn't resist as Jack carefully lifted his limp body and carried him the few feet to the bed which was behind them, its covering already partially pulled back no doubt in preparation for the demonstration which thankfully had not come to pass.

Daniel's eyes still did not seem to see him, but a small, fearful sound escaped him as Jack laid him carefully on the bed and stepped briefly away from him. Jack never took his eyes from him, watching Daniel with worry and apprehension as he swiftly shed his jacket, tie and shirt prior to joining him.

God help me Danny, this is all I know what to do. Just hope it's the right thing. Just hope it's enough, 'cause it's all I've got.

Now half naked, Jack hurriedly slid onto the bed beside the man who had started to curl up into a ball during the short time he had been there on his own. Jack moved into him, touching Daniel gently, instantly arresting his compulsion to compact himself. Jack expended only one more precious moment unfastening the other side of Daniel's gown in order to expose the maximum amount of surface area before pulling Daniel fiercely, tightly into his chest. Melding bare skin with bare skin, pressing Daniel's face against his chest, holding it firmly there as he began to gently rock the man in his arms and whisper softly to him.

"I'm here, Danny. I'm here. It's me. It's me. Feel me. You've got to. Feel me. I'm here. Come on back now. It's okay. It's okay. It's okay. Jack's here."

Jack held him locked close with one arm while he began to slowly, gently rub Daniel's back. Words poured out of him, low, soothing, continuous. Exhorting, loving, encouraging, pleading; words coming out of every bit of love and need and desire he had in him. He heard himself saying things to Daniel he swore he'd never say, things he'd never even admitted to himself before. Things he hadn't even known until they were so true and undeniable not saying them to Daniel was worse than anything else that had been done to him. He said it all and more, his hands moving reverently with slow, healing love over every part of Daniel he could reach. His body closely aligned with Daniel's unresponsive, unresisting length, pressed as tightly to him as he could possibly be. Daniel's head nestled deeply into his chest; his cheek rubbing against the skin beneath being warmed by the deep, calm respirations it received.

Oh god, Daniel, please still be in there.

Jack didn't know how long they'd been lying there together without a single movement or sign from Daniel he was aware who was now holding him. Or if he was ever going to be aware of anything again. Still, Jack wouldn't let himself stop touching him, talking to him, trying to reach him. Wouldn't let himself let go, and wouldn't let himself believe Daniel had given up and had gone so far away he was lost to him for good. Not Danny. Not the Danny he knew. He was in there. He was. He had to be. Danny would find his way. He just had to keep sending him the all clear.

Light's in the window, Danny. Come on home now.

The change was so subtle Jack almost missed it. The barest movement of the tousled head on his breast, the deepening inhalation as Daniel sensed him, smelled him, the faint nuzzling of the lips against his skin as the activation of one of Daniel's senses and the realization it brought to him impelled him to seek tactile confirmation.

Message received. Maybe only on the most basic, sensory level, but wherever Daniel was, he'd reached him. Daniel knew he was here.

That's it, Danny, that's the way. Here, I'm here. Come on, honey, come on back. You can feel me now, I know it.

Daniel's body heaved with an enormous gasp as if something had abruptly shocked life and animation back into it. He trembled slightly, then gasped again as he turned his head into Jack's chest, inhaling deeply, greedily. He burrowed his face into Jack's bare chest as if he was trying to suck the skin into his lungs, then he whimpered softly, happily and began to make small, unintelligible sounds as he started licking the bare skin beneath his face with almost feline satisfaction and thoroughness.

"That's it, Danny, you lick it up," Jack murmured soothingly as his hands gently stroked the length of Daniel's back. "That's my boy."

"Jack," Daniel shivered with the happiness rampant in the utterance. He was aware now, but hardly reasonable, his hands moving with restless frenzy over Jack's body, driven by the urgent necessity of confirming his reality. It was blind, instinctual, barely believing need of the most basic order. The part of Daniel coming back to life first had very little to do with anything involving rational cognitive processes. Jack found himself responding rapidly and enthusiastically in kind.

There'd been no time to let himself give into the force of his own too long denied desires. This hadn't been about anything like that - it had only been about getting through to Daniel. Jack knew he shouldn't be letting himself get so turned on. Danny needed him to help him, needed him in control, and who knew where Chronos was? The Goa'uld could be right outside the door for all he knew, waiting to bust in on them at any time. Shouldn't be thinking about...shouldn't be thinking about doing this.. But oh, god, it had been so long and now, holding Danny again, feeling him, the way Danny was touching him, moving on him. Oh god. Jack knew he shouldn't, but Danny was giving him a few messages of his own and he was only human.

Jack groaned with rapidly burgeoning desire as Daniel devoured him, his mouth rapaciously, insatiably blazing a steaming trail across his chest, toward his throat. Jack felt himself being rapidly pulled into the undertow of Daniel's consuming awakening, unable to contain the basic, primal force he had created in the man atop him who was with wild, irresistible determination, eating him alive.

Daniel was quite mad, but it was an insanity Jack welcomed. Surviving it, however, might be another matter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Daniel.

Heaven had a sound and a name and a face and it was all right here. His own bit of heaven, larger and wilder and harder than life, straddling his thighs, pushing him into the mattress, trying to suck his lungs right out of his chest.

Jack decided he didn't really need them and opened his mouth wider so as to assist in the extraction operation.

Like Daniel needed any encouragement. He ravaged Jack mouth with mindless, enthusiastic ferocity, rubbing his rock-solid groin against Jack's far from quiescent party area. Mister Happy definitely wanted to come out and play and if Daniel kept sending him such blatant invitations there wouldn't be a zipper made able to take the strain.

Groping for him blindly, needing to touch him, Jack cupped Daniel's taut ass in his hands, only to have the man riding him growl dangerously and abruptly pull away from him. Startled, Jack watched dismayed as Daniel scuttled off to the side of the bed. He hunkered there, glaring reproachfully at Jack, his eyes still wild and more than a little strange. Wanting to come back, but hovering suspended between desperate desire and some deep, compelling dread pinning him where he was.

With a sad, angry jolt, Jack realized why.

No touching, huh, Danny. Not even me? Not yet? Okay. Okay. If that's the way it has to be. Your show. Your rules. We'll play it your way.

Jack extended his open hands toward Daniel, and then laid them carefully at his sides. Lying perfectly still, holding Daniel's eyes, sending him his firm promise the hands were staying right where they were. As was the man they happened to belong to.

Daniel peered at him carefully for several seconds through narrowed, wary eyes. Jack could see the reawakening filaments of the rational side of Daniel's awareness questing about the more instinctual portion presently firmly in the driver's seat. Not enough yet to override Encino Dan, who still pretty much had only one thing on his mind, if the way he was now currently hungrily gazing at in the bulge in Jack's pants was anything to go by.

While Daniel growled again and wrestled the garment he was somehow still partially wearing up and over his head, Jack hurriedly grabbed a couple of handfuls of what he was lying on to brace himself for the assault. He'd barely had time to anchor himself when Daniel tossed aside what was apparently his only article of clothing. Sporting a newly revealed erection harder, bigger and way more dangerous than any Jack could ever remember his lover having displayed, Daniel pounced.

Jack sucked back an excited breath and struggled to keep his hands knotted in the material beneath him as Daniel quickly, ruthlessly divested him of his pants and briefs. A petulant toss of his wrist sent them flying across the room and then Danny was on him, hands travelling possessively up his legs while he followed them, eyeing Jack's equipment with predatory lust.

Officially out of uniform. Sweet. About time. Here's hoping Danny was going to be the only one catching an eyeful of him with his pants - ah - down.

Jack had scant time to contemplate or even care about the awkwardness of his situation as a raft of new sensations originating in the area Daniel had shifted his full attention to drove all vestiges of rational thought out the revolving door of Jack's rapidly frying neural net. Daniel was hungrily snuffling about his loading zone as if he was checking out the neighbourhood to see if everything was the same as when he'd last left it.

Still all me, Danny. Still all yours.

Jack groaned and struggled to still the reflex response as strong, determined fingers gripped the insides of his thighs, spreading his legs apart. Groaning yet again as Daniel lay down between them and buried his face in his balls, seemingly set on sniffing him from one end to the other.

Oh God, not just smelling him now.

He hadn't been shitting Chronos about Daniel's oral proclivities. The proof was in the eating. Jack tried desperately to keep from swallowing his tongue as his body began to twitch and shudder uncontrollably in the ecstatic throes of Death by Danny. His lover was making an enthusiastic banquet of everything within sampling range of that amazing mouth.

As always, Danny was thorough, precise and didn't miss a mouthful. From flagpole to sinkhole he was licked, kissed, smelt, nuzzled, nibbled, groped and fondled. Until Jack thought he was going to pass out from pleasurable frustration if Daniel didn't soon finish up with the appetizers and get to the main course.

However Jack knew from experience there was no rushing the boy. He'd get there when he damned well got there and what was more, it was well worth the wait.

Jack began to thump his head into the pillow beneath it with the force of his frustration. So hard to keep still when every part of him wanted to feel Danny, to hold him close, kiss him, explore every inch of him with as much evident, happy wantonness as Danny was currently doing him. Jack needed to touch him so desperately, and yet he didn't want to break the spell. Didn't want to drive Danny away from him by jumping the gun. The hands fisted at his sides jerked with the fierceness of his need but he didn't give into it, the same way he choked back the pleas and cries trying to burst out of his chest.

Daniel was lightly stroking Jack's stomach as if fondly massaging a beloved pet, the fingers of his other hand tracing secret symbols in Jack's pubic hair before teasingly walking them up the startled length of the until now sadly neglected joystick. The jolt of sheer joy resulting from the unexpected touch was very nearly Jack's undoing. His hand was flying toward Daniel before he was aware it was moving; only battle-honed reflexes enabled him to jerk it back to his side before it succeeded in making contact.

Daniel had been in the process of inspecting the main course when he caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. He paused, looking up for the first time at the sweating, contorted face of the man above him. Jack could barely make out his thoughtful scrutiny through the red haze swarming his vision.

Daniel ducked his head back down again, until his face was hovering over the erection quivering beneath it with frenzied anticipation. He slowly, lovingly licked it while he reached over and took Jack's hand. Jack couldn't hold it in anymore, loudly moaning Daniel's name as he felt himself being licked again, and felt his hand being carefully placed on Daniel's head. Jack lightly threaded his fingers through the silky soft strands cushioning them, looking down at the man who raised his blue eyes long enough to shyly smile at him. Then Daniel hid himself away again, wrapping his long, knowing fingers around the only remaining part of Jack which hadn't as yet been thoroughly cherished.

In this intention Danny proved to be every bit as thorough as he had been in his previous efforts.

Jack knew he wouldn't last very long; what Danny had done to him before this had been unbelievable enough but the deeply contented abandon with which he licked, slurped and sucked - this lollipop was clearly his favourite flavour. Jack was more than happy to be considered the treat of the week. Any second now, Danny was definitely going to be getting the surprise filling.

If he'd known he was going to be coming, he'd even have baked him a cake.

Jack closed his eyes, thrusting his hips wildly up into the adoring heat, feeling reason, awareness and sanity falling away from him as Daniel's love pulled him shrieking into utter, blissful madness. This - this was it. The big one. This was the one. The one he wasn't going to walk away from. He was a goner. Brain completely fried. Gonna be a gibbering idiot for the rest of his life.

This was the Hiroshima of orgasms.

Jack flopped about on the bed like a beached mackerel as the aftershocks jolted through him, so maxed out he'd even forgotten how to breathe. Daniel was still clamped to him, making loud and enthusiastic happy noises while Jack jerked and helplessly spurted and Danny milked him for all he was worth.

Good job. Kill me now.

Jack was all instinct and reaction, coming back from coming like he'd never come before. Only one thing more he wanted now, and he reached out blindly to claim it before either man had any clue he was going to do it.

Arms that shouldn't have worked but did reached down, scooping Danny, drawing him up, and clasping him to his chest. Through the post-orgasmic fuzz blanketing his brain Jack was aware Daniel was struggling, fighting, crying out in distress. Jack heard him but didn't heed him, the part of him still in sync with his instinctual, almost infallible understanding of Daniel's needs knowing he was doing exactly what Danny needed him to do. Jack held him tightly, ignoring his resistance, kissing his face and neck thoroughly, doggedly, defiantly.

When the tears started to fall he kissed them away too.

"Jack," Daniel finally quavered. "Please. You don't.. you shouldn't. You don't - you don't know... I don't.. I don't deserve..."

Back. Danny was back. Back in his right mind with all the boogies lurking there waiting for him. Jack crammed his own sorrow firmly down, bent and determined he was going to put the boots to as many of the slimy fuckers as he could.

"Shhhh, honey," he said softly, never breaking the pattern of kisses he was laying across Daniel's face and neck. "It's me. Take it easy. Just saying glad to see ya."

He brushed his lips against Daniel's mouth, feeling it quiver beneath him as if he meant to try to pull away. Pressing more firmly, kissing a little more insistently, darting his tongue past the lips suddenly parting with a deep, hungry moan, pushing it in deeper as Daniel stopped struggling, swirling it teasingly about in the way he knew made Danny crazy to the accompaniment of deeper moans and twitching, needy pelvic bucks.

But Jack could also taste the sorrow in his lover's sighs, feel the tension of guilt over-writing his body's eager responses. Jack kept kissing him, upping the ante by starting to gently caress his ass, feeling the instantly answering resistance.

"Don't," Daniel gasped into his mouth. "You shouldn't, it's not right."

"Why not, love?" Jack asked softly, gently nuzzling his face, continuing to tenderly, carefully fondle him while clearly reading his body's positive reactions, which were quite at odds with what Daniel's mouth was saying.

Danny wanted it. But he didn't want to let himself have it.

"I don't deserve it," Daniel murmured so quietly Jack almost didn't hear him. "I - I don't deserve you."

Jack slowly moved his hand around until he was lightly stroking Daniel's hip, gliding his fingers up and down the long, smooth flank in the way that always made him shiver.

Just the way he was closing his eyes and gulping and quivering now.

"Do you want it?" Jack licked the spot just behind Danny's ear. The one that had always made sure he got the last word if he pressed the advantage it gave him. This was not the time to play fair. "Do you want me?"

Daniel nodded, unable to speak for a moment as the jolt of pleasure briefly robbed him of the power of speech. Almost on the heels of it he shook his head while he fought to get the words out.

"You don't understand. I - I've let you down." Daniel's voice was so laden with sorrow Jack didn't understand how his eyes could now be dry. "You saw. He - he makes me feel things sometimes. I'm sorry. I don't mean for it to happen, I try not to let it happen. I really do, Jack. But, he just - he just keeps - touching..touching me. All the time. Sometimes I just can't - just can't..stop it..from happening.."

"Jesus Christ!" Jack growled, hugging Daniel to his chest so he wouldn't be able to see the smouldering fury in his eyes. "I swear to God, Danny, some day that bastard is going to pay for every single thing he's done to you. I'm gonna find an interesting alternative use for every single one of his body parts. Starting with his dick."

Jack pulled back and took Daniel's face in his hands so he would have no choice but to look in his eyes as he continued. "Now, you listen to me, Daniel Jackson..O'Neill."

Jack paused, warmed by the small light of happiness shining on Daniel's face at the pointed affirmation of what they still were to each other, no matter what Chronos had made him say. He kissed Daniel gently to acknowledge it before continuing.

"You are not at fault in any of this - especially that! Crapos has been pulling the wings off flies for centuries. He's real good at pressing buttons. Way good. So don't feel bad if every once and a while he can press yours. Not your fault, babe. Not your fault at all. He wants you to think like that. So it'll be just one more way he can trick you into believing you've got no other choice than to see things his way. Not true, Danny. Not true. Believe it is, and you're playing his game. He gets you to buy his crap and he wins. Which means we lose."

"Don't want to lose you, Jack," Daniel sighed. "Don't want to lose - us."

"You're hearing what I'm saying, then?" Jack smiled at him, moving one of his hands down to Daniel's chest, describing gentle circles over his smooth, moist skin while he curved the other around the back of Daniel's neck.

"I hear you," Daniel replied lowly, his blue eyes shining with love, "Jack O'Neill..Jackson."

"I should think so, for crying out loud," Jack chuckled indulgently and leaned forward to start nibbling on Daniel's lower lip. Daniel sucked in his breath and arched against him as Jack's fingers unexpectedly brushed against the nipple they had been sneaking up on. "Now we've got that settled, your old man is going to make hot, stinky monkey love to you right now. As long as it takes, for as long as we've got. You got a problem with that?"

Daniel shook his head. "Only as long as you promise I won't survive the experience."

"I'll give it my best shot," Jack replied fervently before pulling Daniel into a blistering, lung extracting kiss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

God, how Danny had cried.

He was quiet now, asleep, nestled safe in his arms, but even though the tears had long dried, Jack's chest was still soaked, wringing wet with the memory of them. Now it was all he could do not to add to them as he lay awake, holding his lover close, knowing the safety Danny slept so trustingly in was a brittle illusion subject to shattering at any instant.

Jack had no idea how long they had been here, how long they'd been allowed this momentary, puzzling dignity. This disconcerting gift they'd been granted and had greedily taken fully advantage of. Couldn't be sure how long it had already been, but he'd be willing to bet it wasn't going to last much longer.

Jack warred with himself, unwilling to waste these few precious, passing seconds, and yet loathe to pull Danny from the blissful serenity he slumbered in. Awaken him - to what? The reality of what had to happen next? The certain expectation of loss and yet more suffering? Wake him up to knowing they were going to be parted from each other again?

Yeah, that sounded like a damned fine plan to him.

Jack kissed the top of the head he cradled, not giving a shit he couldn't see so well anymore. There were some moments so real, so tragic there was no room inside them for anything less than everything you were. In these few remaining, significant seconds Danny deserved no less than everything he had.

"I'll have to go soon, honey, but I promise I'll never, ever leave you," Jack whispered softly into the gossamer strands of hair kissing his lips.

Jack stiffened as a subtle sense of presence snaked through his misery, instantly twigging him to the fact they were no longer alone. Turning his immediate 'go on the offensive' instinct into a protective clutching of the man in his arms, Jack whipped his head around to confront the unwanted intruder.

Chronos stood a few feet away, quietly contemplating the couple lying before him, his face frighteningly serene. Given the Goa'uld was no dummy and it didn't take a rocket scientist to suss out what he and Danny had been up to, Chronos was looking mighty, mighty calm.

Damned calm.

Which wasn't doing much to up Jack's own calmness quotient.

Jack glared at the System Lord, drawing the covers higher and tighter around the man in his arms as if doing so would bolster the illusion he had the power to keep Chronos at bay. Like a sheet and a pair of arms was all he needed to bar Danny from the one who had come to claim him.

If only it was that simple. If only it really could be enough.

"He is himself again?" Chronos asked in an oddly quiet voice, as if he too was reluctant to rouse Daniel from his placid, peaceful state.

"He's not going to be doing any vegetable imitations, if that's what you mean," Jack returned quietly. "He won't be 'himself' again, until he's the hell away from here. And you."

The System Lord gazed raptly at the sleeping man as if Jack's accusation meant nothing to him.

"I thank you for what you have done," Chronos continued in the same slightly bemused tone. "This shall not be forgotten. You have earned my gratitude."

"Keep it!" Jack snorted, a little louder than he had intended. "Cram your thanks and give me back Danny. That's all I want from you."

Chronos tilted his head and favoured Jack with an eerie, piercing stare impossible to quantify. More than slightly creeping him out in the process.

"You think this worth nothing?" the System Lord purred, his voice velvet with unfathomable meaning. "You shall not deem it so, someday. There will come a time when you will understand what you now possess."

Jack opened his mouth to make a rejoinder, but Chronos held up his hand.

"I have no wish to bandy words with you. My effort to diminish you has only succeeded in showing me this cannot be done. Therefore, I will waste no more energy on a pointless activity. Daniel has explained to me the manner in which you measure time. I give you one more hour. After this interval has elapsed, I will return for Daniel and you will be returned to your planet. One hour, O'Neill."

Chronos inclined his head gravely in a slow, graceful nod, and with an enigmatic smile curling upon his lips turned and left the room in a swirling, silken flourish.

Jack gaped at the empty air formerly occupied by his nemesis, running the exchange back in his head, trying to figure out exactly what he had just seen and heard. And what had just happened.

It was nuts, but somewhere in there, he could have sworn, the Goa'uld had actually given him a compliment. Well, maybe he wasn't exactly sure about that, but what he was sure of was - he'd just been handed his walking papers. Didn't have to wonder any more how much time he and Danny had left. He'd just had it out of the serpent's mouth.

One short hour. Counting down. God.

"Jack?"

The man addressed started slightly at the unexpected sound of Daniel's voice. Awake. Crap. How long had he been awake?

"Not much time left," Daniel continued in his best, brave voice. Trying desperately not to sound afraid or resigned. "Knew it had to come... knew you'd have to go... but.."

Daniel clutched him tightly, his voice breaking in spite of him. Not so calm as he was trying to convince both of them he was. Jack was amazed he was even able to try.

"I'm sorry." Jack stroked the head lying on his chest with a trembling hand, feeling the faint quivering resulting from Danny's efforts at control thrilling through the body close to his.

Scared shitless, but no way Danny was gonna let it go.

"Hey, that's my line," Daniel forced himself to emit a puff of laughter sounding horrible and hollow in the awful silence.

"I'm still sorry." Jack made no attempt to stop the pain he was feeling from bleeding out into his voice.

"I know." Daniel had turned his face into Jack's chest, muffling the words. His body heaved abruptly in one, huge, convulsive sob and then he lay still for a second before lifting his head to meet Jack's eyes.

"So am I."

Jack had expected to see many things waiting for him in those beloved blue depths. Despair, fear, regret, grief, loss. But Danny looked at him now with the eyes of a stranger. Hard, closed, filled to overflowing with the utter desolation of the death of all hope and joy.

Danny wore the empty, resigned expression of a man who had accepted he had nothing left to live for.

Jack was still reeling from the shock of it as Daniel started to speak. As appalling as his eyes were, the words coming out of his mouth were ever so much worse.

"Jack, this is important. I need you to do something for me. I don't want you to argue with me, I just want you to listen. And promise me you'll do what I ask.

"I wouldn't ask you to do this if I believed we had any other choice. If I thought there was even a particle of hope there could ever be .. anything.. more for us. But I know better, Jack. I know there's no hope. It was nice to pretend there was, for a little while, but it was only self-deception. I've had to face this. It's time you faced it, too.

"I want you to get up and leave here. I want you to go. Now. Just go - and don't look back. Forget me. Forget you even knew me. Forget all about me, and go on with your life. This is what I want you to do. Please. If you love me - please do this for me."

If you love me.

That one single phrase sent a jolt of rage through Jack, instantly cancelling the shock and surprise of the unexpected, unthinkable - but not illogical - request. Sneaky little blue eyed bugger! Almost had him, almost made him listen, but then, he'd gone and blown it.

Four little words too many.

If you love me.

What a rotten, lousy, stinking underhanded, scummy, goddamned clumsy and stupid - trick. Never, ever once during all the time he had known him had Danny ever done anything as... despicable as this. To sink so low as to try such an obvious piece of emotional manipulation on him? Desperate times call for desperate measures?

Nice try for a first-timer, but not good enough.

If you love me. You're damned lucky I do or I'd be knocking your block off for trying to pull this crap with me.

With an angry snarl Jack rolled him over until he had Daniel pinned to the bed beneath him, unable to pull away from or avoid the anger of the man atop him.

"Don't you DARE go all freaking noble on me now, Dannyboy!" Jack seethed. "Forget you? What sort of crap is this? Forget you? What - you think I'm going to just skip off into the sunset with - oh hell - I dunno - Carter - and leave you here to rot with his royal Goa'uldness? What sort of an asshole do you think - what? What did I say, what's so damned funny?"

Daniel was shaking with small quakes of barely suppressed laughter, biting his lip desperately to prevent their escape.

"Oh, what you just said. The mental image," Daniel gasped. "Just for a sec, picturing you with Sam. Have to admit it's pretty funny, Jack."

"Hysterical," Jack growled at him. "Dammit - you're changing the subject again I hate it when you do this!"

Just as quickly as the flutter of mirth had wafted through him it was gone. Daniel was quiet, grim and determined again.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make fun of you, Jack. But I'm serious. You have to face the truth. He's never going to let me go. It's wrong of me to ask you to wait. It's not right. I can't be that selfish. We shouldn't both be unhappy. I want you to forget -"

"Yeah, yeah - I HEARD you!" Jack thundered. "And if you say it again I'm going to backhand you! Don't think I won't either! You ever say anything so STUPID to me again..."

Jack found he couldn't speak for a moment for choking on his rage. He struggled to calm himself enough to be able to speak again while Daniel looked up at him, white, large eyed and completely silent.

"Aside from the fact forgetting you is not an option, how do you propose I do so, exactly? How do I forget someone I love more than my own life, someone I can feel inside me every second we're apart - in my head, my heart, my guts, for crying out loud! Everything you feel, Danny, everything you are. It's all inside me. Every goddamn minute of my life. How do I put that aside and have a life - that's no life at all if you're not in it?"

"I just thought.." Daniel began unhappily.

"I know what you goddamned well thought!" Jack cut him off. "What is it with you and this 'grand gesture'... thing? Give 'em hell, Danny, watch him go, gonna make the supreme sacrifice for everybody else's sake but his own just one more damned time? Watch him take all the blame, accept all the punishment, take the sins of the world on his shoulders! No problem for our boy!

"Got news for you pal, it's been done! Not only that, you may be an overachiever in the sacrificial lamb department, but the job requirements of 'saviour' are a little more than even you are up for. Get down off the goddamned cross, already! This martyr routine is getting just a little old. Quit throwing yourself away, Danny. You're worth more than that. You're worth everything, to me."

"I gave him my word, Jack," Daniel replied stubbornly, his voice as flinty as his expression.

"What if ya did?" Jack shrugged. "Promises don't mean squat to dead men. Chronos is going to let you go. One way or the other. Now there's a promise for you."

Jack leaned down, using kinder, more entreating tones as he began to gently, teasingly nibble on the warm, slightly unhappily pouting lips beneath him.

"All this talk of promises. Only promises that mean anything to Snake Face are the ones that serve his interests. Crapos made you make one he thinks will hold you? Doesn't seem to bother him, he doesn't seem to remember, you made another one first. Another one, Danny. You promised me first - I got dibs. That means something to me, love. I keep my promises, too."

Daniel's arms wound around his neck, pulling Jack deeper into his melting, answering mouth. Jack felt himself gladly falling face first into the invitation, making getting his next words out harder in between the tasting, the licking, the thrusting and the panting.

"Haven't got much time left, honey" Jack groaned, unable to stop himself from pulling Daniel closer as the fire in his mouth started sparking new storm warnings in formerly becalmed and flaccid areas. Damn, as much as he didn't want to, he'd better try to break this up. 'Cause the harder it got the harder it was going to get.

Talking wouldn't be too easy either.

"Danny, listen to me," Jack scolded in a quiet, firm voice after finally extricating his lips from the ones they'd been crazy glued to. Daniel sighed petulantly, lifting his head, mouth seeking to renew the intimate touch and aiming for the one retreating before his determined advance. Jack kept pulling back until he was just out of Daniel's reach, causing the younger man to drop his head dejectedly back onto the surface of the bed. He lay there, unmoving, bathing Jack in a lightly reproachful look that made him want to beat himself up for having put it there.

But they didn't have much more time. And they had something else to do too important to risk not having the time to get it done.

"Stop with the look and the lip and just listen to me for a minute, Danny," Jack whispered into Daniel's ear as he lowered his head and brushed his lips against the side of Daniel's face. "Don't die of shock, and don't expect to ever hear me say this again, but we have to talk."

That got him. Jack knew it would. Danny was listening. Jack took a deep breath and kept on talking while he lightly kissed the side of Daniel's face as a cover for what he was really doing. Just in case.

"This thing Lu's Mom put in our head - we've got to start using it instead pissing it away trying to figure out ways not to share things with each other. That's why she gave it to us. Not simply so you can know the instant I break a nail or I can feel it every time that bastard hurts you. She didn't put this thing in our heads to drive us crazy knowing about things we can't do anything about. She gave it to us so it could help us bring you home!

"Don't you remember what she said? It's not just for connecting us - it's so we can communicate with each other. I know it's not working right now but Lu explained it to me, it's 'cause we're together. It'll kick in again when I get back to Earth. Don't want to say too much more right now - little Goa'ulds, big ears, you know, but as soon as we're online again it's straight down to learning how to really get into each other's heads, okay? We've got something here we can use, and I'll fill you in more how we can use it when it's safe. So what do you say, lover," Jack grinned as began to kiss his way toward Daniel's mouth, "think you can handle having me inside you - full time?"

"I'm impressed, Jack" Daniel smirked. "Didn't think it got that long."

"Only when you pull on it, babe," Jack moaned as he reached his destination and switched over from talking to kissing.

There wasn't time for much more than a few snatches of breathless, shared sweetness, joining them together in defiant finality. Daniel was clinging to him and kissing him hungrily when Jack felt the prickling on the back of his neck that told him eyes were boring into the back of his head.

He squeezed Daniel's arm to warn him of the interloper. Daniel was instantly alert, body taut and wary, head snapping up to take in the identity of the unwanted, most final interruption.

Jack lay still as Daniel stared daggers and began to warily move over him until he'd reached his other side. Danny stretched out in front of him, placing his body deliberately, protectively between him and the scrutiny of the tall, thin, over-dressed dude glowering at them. Making of himself a living barrier as if to shield Jack from any ogling by the dark-haired fashion plate.

Guy looked familiar. It took Jack a moment, but then he placed him. He fit in a faint memory Jack had of entering this room for the first time. He'd been in here with Danny. Jack hadn't paid much attention to him, and he'd gone out with Chronos and the Jaffa, but he'd definitely been Danny's baby-sitter.

Daniel evidently knew him. Didn't like him. Wasn't too scared of him either, if the way Danny smirked at the dude while blatantly snuggling into the slightly nervous man behind him was anything to go by.

"Delios," Daniel uttered the word in a voice dripping with disdain. "Something I can do for you, or you just here to watch?"

Daniel leaned heavily back against Jack, smiling contemptuously at the man surveying them with an archly haughty look. Who also seemed to be completely unperturbed by Daniel's more than provocative actions, barely reacting as Daniel reached for one of Jack's hands and clasped it widely splayed to his chest.

There was definitely some history here. Jack didn't know what was going on, but lacking any better ideas himself as to how to handle the situation he just sat tight, kept mum and let Daniel run the show.

"It is time to prepare you for your return to Chronos," Hoity-toity answered in a Goa'uld voice. So he was a snake boy. Peachy. "I left the attendants outside in the corridor. I thought it best to check first, in order to spare them the accidental sight of any possible... unpleasantness."

He paused, wrinkling his nose as if he'd gotten a whiff of something distasteful while he looked down the same long, thin, elegantly shaped facial protrusion at them.

"I see I was completely correct to do so."

Wow. No love lost here. Jack wondered just how much guff Danny'd had to take from this bozo, because the way his lover's body suddenly stiffened with hard, bitter defiance told Jack this wasn't the first time this Goa'uld had gotten under Danny's skin.

Uh oh. Danny was getting his back up but good. Crap. This was possibly not the smartest thing to be doing right now. 'Cause Delios didn't look like he was in any mood to be messed with.

Daniel stretched suggestively against the man supporting him before he lobbed his answering volley. "What, they've never seen two men doing it before?" he leered, then paused, turning his head to nuzzle the side of Jack's face. "The way you and Chronos must have carried on, I find that very hard to believe. Oh, sorry, that was your HOST and Chronos, wasn't it?"

Yikes. Good shot, Danny. Bullseye. That one didn't go over too big. Definitely a story behind that crack, judging from the lovely shade of puce Braideylocks' face was turning. Not a very happy story, either. Jack found himself wishing Danny wasn't getting into playing with the Goa'uld as much as he seemed to be. The room had abruptly gotten about ten degrees colder and definitely was no longer a very happy place to be.

"Kree!" The Goa'uld turned and howled at the door. Immediately it opened and four bruisers wearing white dresses and big bad bully faces came bundling into the room.

Crap.

Jack felt suddenly very naked, outnumbered.

And a long, long way from home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Backed up by the Bully Boy quartet Delios folded his arms across his chest and shot a withering visual salvo at the man whose angry blue eyes were spitting 'God, I hate your guts' right back at him.

"You will come with us now, Tau'ri," Delios' voice was colder than Jack's ass had been when it was frozen to that glacier in the Antarctic.

"Bite me," Daniel threw back at him in equally icy tones.

Delios arched a carefully shaped dark brow. "I grow bored with this particular response. Do you know another one?"

"Wouldn't want that to happen," Daniel snarled. "I know plenty. Up yours!"

The boys in white stood solidly on either side of Delios, forming a rather formidable wall of flesh. They also seemed to be looking straight ahead, trying very much to appear as if they were blind, deaf and dumb. See no evil, hear no evil, get to live longer? Jack found himself wishing Daniel would calm down just a little and start following their example. 'Cause he had no doubt even though the help was currently standing there trying to make out like they were part of the furniture, if Delios snapped his fingers, pointed and said 'Kill' - well, whatever they would do to them, it would probably hurt a lot.

Oh yeah. A whole bunch.

Danny couldn't be unaware of this, but it was as if his usually more calm and rational lover's self-control trolley had jumped the rails. Like every single piece of stored up rage and frustration he had in him was coming up and out and spewing all over Chronos' stand in.

Who, for all he also seemed to be hissing and spitting right back, was, Jack realized, taking the whole thing a lot better than he should have been.

A lot better than he should have been. What the... What the hell was going on here?

Suddenly Jack thought he knew, but still wasn't completely sure. But he found himself feeling less apprehensive as he continued to watch the floor show.

Delios heaved a petulant snort and extended an open hand to his right as if he expected something to be placed into it. Apparently, that was exactly what was supposed to happen, for the attendant standing there promptly put the robe he had been carrying into the hand waiting to receive it. Delios did not acknowledge the action, merely took the robe in both his hands, furling it open with a dramatic flourish. Holding it up ready to receive the body of the man expected to occupy it.

"Tau'ri scum, you will come with us now," the Goa'uld snapped crisply as he began to walk toward the side of the bed. "You must be... cleansed. You cannot possibly be presented to Chronos smelling like.. " He wrinkled his nose yet again.

"Smelling like...."

"Smelling like.. Jack?" Daniel was practically purring, licking his lips as he lounged against his lover and rubbed Jack's hand lasciviously over his chest. He affixed Delios with baleful eyes then took his other hand and swiped it slowly and deliberately across the patch of skin over his heart. Flashing Delios the mocking travesty of a smile Daniel cupped the hand to his nose and held it there as he drew a huge, noisy draught of air into his lungs. After making quite a visibly loud show of smelling the appendage Daniel let his hand fall to his lap, grinning impudently once more.

"I don't think so." His voice was anything but amused. " Chronos can go screw himself. I like the way I smell."

"You will do as you are told," Delios reiterated stubbornly, holding the robe out toward Daniel. Practically in his face.

"Go fuck yourself!" Daniel yelled as he tore the robe from Delios' grasp and threw it across the room.

Delios crossed his arms and looked down at the furious man before him with a surprisingly mild expression on his face.

"Now you are trying to annoy me."

"Is it working?" Daniel panted.

Delios shrugged and snapped his fingers.

"You will always insist on doing things the hard way," he sighed in an almost apologetic tone. "Remove him and help him to find his way," he said matter-of-factly to the men advancing on Daniel at his command. For the first time since he had arrived in the room Delios suddenly shifted his gaze to meet the eyes of the other man in the bed. Something intriguingly ironic flashed in them as Delios added, "leave that one where he is."

Jack knew there wasn't a thing he could do and didn't want to risk making the situation any worse. He lay completely still, offering no threat to the very large men who grabbed Danny with very large hands and hauled him from the bed, buck naked, kicking and screaming.

Daniel continued to struggle bitterly and futilely against them as they swiftly propelled him toward a door at the other end of the room. They were big, and very, very strong, and Danny's frenzied resistance was neither the slightest impediment nor difficulty for them. And he was giving it everything he had and then some. Jack gnashed his teeth in frustration at the sight of it, but there wasn't a damned thing he could do to stop them either and he knew it.

For as satisfying as trying to make a futile grand gesture of his own might have felt, Jack knew he'd probably only get to enjoy it for about thirty seconds.

Which was probably only about as long as it would take only one of them to smash his head open against the wall.

When this Goa'uld brought muscle he definitely didn't mess around.

The stormtroopers almost had Danny through the door. He was laughing now, and calling them every name in several books. Somehow he managed to dig his heels in long enough to throw his head back for a last look at the man he had been torn from. Jack felt his heart lurch as Daniel's angry and yet frightened eyes found his for one, final, fleeting second.

"Sanitized for his protection!" Daniel bellowed as if it was a final call of defiance akin to 'Remember the Alamo.'

Then he was gone.

And Jack found himself alone with Delios.

The atmosphere in the room grew more than interesting as the two men sized each other up, neither one allowing the muted sounds of Daniel's outraged howls and curses to distract them from their assessments. A particularly inventive piece of invective from the other room caused Delios' lips to twitch in a faint, amused smile, and then he finally spoke.

"He is spirited, is he not? Far more trouble than he is worth. You must be relieved to be well rid of him."

Jack took a deep breath and said nothing. He'd already had more than his fill of this game with the big C. No way he was getting into it again with the help.

Delios nodded thoughtfully as if he was somehow secretly pleased at his failure to bait Jack. He cast a quick glance at the closed door behind him, noting at the same time as Jack did, that the noise level behind it was approaching alarming proportions.

When the Goa'uld turned his head back again there was a hard, serious look in his dark eyes. He drilled the meaning of his words into Jack's skull with them as he lowered his voice and spoke quickly in a tone laden with hidden meaning.

"Daniel's defiance is strong. It will sustain him. I will keep it alive and burning as long as he needs it to serve him in this place."

Goddamned son of a bitch, I knew it! You sneaky snake bastard, you! Well, what do you know about that?

"Be quick!" Delios hissed as he pointed an admonishing finger at Jack and then whirled and began to make toward the room where Daniel was.

Jack fumbled past his surprise, needing to stop Delios before he left.

"Ah, excuse me?"

Delios halted at the door and turned back at the sound of Jack's voice.

"You require something of me?"

"Just wanted to know if you could point out the way to the little Goa'uld's room."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Once alone Jack had hurriedly gotten himself together while Daniel was dealt with in the other room. He barely had time to finish straightening his tie while making a restless, pacing circuit of the room when the door opened and a washed, fluffed and redressed Daniel came hurtling out at him. Not stopping until he had reached his side and grabbed a firm, almost crushing grip on his arm.

"You okay?" Jack said quietly as he looked into the desperate blue eyes meeting his as if seeking to try and pull him inside through them. "Did they hurt you?" Jack stroked his cheek with gentle hand while trying to convey the same concern to Daniel with his voice.

Daniel shook his head faintly, too full of the realization of what little time remained to them to be able to speak.

And then the head thundercloud came striding up to rain on their parade.

"You will stop this now," Delios said grimly as he reached out to snatch Jack's hand away from Daniel's face.

"DON'T TOUCH HIM!" Daniel roared, turning and splaying himself protectively, warningly against Jack, forcing Jack to take several retreating steps as Daniel pushed his body forcefully into him, thrusting him beyond Delios' reach. Daniel was shaking with rage, livid with fury, and though every man in the room could have easily beaten him to a pulp, in that one moment of pyrotechnic, protective omnipotence there wasn't one man in the room who would have dared to try and go against him.

God help the mister who comes between me and my man? Right there and then Danny was fully capable of killing every single person on board before he'd let even one of them lay a finger on Jack O'Neill. What was more he wouldn't give doing it a second thought.

Whoa.

Wisely, these guys had figured this out. Delios held his ground, gesturing toward the door. Making the other boys keep their distance as Daniel backed him out into the corridor, slow and easy, keeping a wary, watchful eye on the group behind him as he got Jack out into the clear.

Daniel was still in full protector mode during the noticeably shorter walk back the room where the transport rings were. He never said a word, his grip on Jack's arm unrelenting as he stalked by his side, radiating waves of defiance, daring anyone to try and penetrate the mental force field he was maintaining about the man next to him.

Jack did nothing to deter or distract him, knowing how much Daniel needed these last, powerful moments of intense connection and control. Needed to feel as if there was something he could do that no one could stop him from doing while he still had the power to do anything for the man he loved.

No one was going to cross him. For a little while, anyway.

As expected, Chronos and the Jaffa team were waiting for them when they got to the room of the rings. A curt look from the System Lord stopped Delios and his crew at the door; it seemed he and Daniel were being allowed to walk the last mile together alone.

Daniel strode haughtily, stiffly past the System Lord as he solemnly led Jack to the platform. Chronos studied every move of the two men in utter silence. Daniel did not look at either of them until they reached the spot where he would have to let Jack go.

God. This was... it.

Daniel kept his back to Chronos as he turned Jack to face him. Pulled him close, swiftly took his face in his hands, fervently breathed, "yours forever," and then began to fearlessly, passionately, desperately kiss him.

He didn't care who saw him or knew. Didn't care what would happen to him. Kissed him deeply, fervently, completely, as this was the last time he would ever be able to do so. In case it was the last time he ever could.

Jack clutched him and met him lip to lip with every unspoken promise and intention. Trying to tell him it wouldn't be the last time and even if it was, it wouldn't make a shred of difference. Even if it wasn't possible to squeeze an eternity of love into a few hot and hungry seconds, they sure were going to give it the old college try.

Jack couldn't remember hearing anyone give the order to do so but suddenly Daniel was being torn from his grasp. Ripped from his hands, his mouth, pulled back away from him and held fast by two huge and granite faced Jaffa who were barely even ruffled by Daniel's furious attempt to escape them and run back to him.

"I love you, Jack!" he cried, the words more than edged with the panic starting to well up within him. He was beginning to shake even as he struggled, his mouth working with the huge, gasping sobs threatening to crack his chest open.

Crap. Hitting him. It's finally hitting him. He hasn't let himself really believe it was going to happen, but now he knows. Now he really knows.

God, Danny I am so sorry. Leaving you alone with this. Leaving you alone - with him.

"Take him back to the Chaapa'ai."

That was Chronos' voice. Strangely calm. Strangely quiet. Almost - considerate?

Naaaahh!

Daniel started at the sound of it, trying to pull himself around to face the man who had just spoken, cursing at the hands of the Jaffa preventing him from doing so. Chronos nodded at them to release him.

As soon as he was able to, Daniel walked up to the System Lord. From his vantage point Jack could see the expression on Daniel's face as he looked long and hard at the man before him.

It scared him.

What he saw was really, really scaring him. Hate. Nothing but hate. Waves and waves of it, going on for days, deeper and blacker and scarier than anything Jack had ever seen coming out of Daniel's eyes before. This was the kind of hate that strangled the soul, killed the heart and turned you into stone. This was the kind of hate no one like Danny should ever have inside him.

'Cause all it would do for him was eat him up and spit him out, until there was nothing left of him. He'd be dead from it long before his body finally stopped working.

Chronos had no idea what he'd done. Didn't have a clue what he had created. But Jack had a feeling he was about to find out.

Daniel spoke one sentence. A single string of cold, calm, cutting words. Containing yet another promise. Hardly the one the System Lord had been hoping for. But surely the fitting harvest for the seeds he had sown.

"I will never forgive you for this."

Then every bit as coldly, calmly and deliberately, he spat in the System Lord's face.

Back to previous part / On to next part






Return to homepageThe Pure of Heart title graphic appears courtesy of Bri's Stargate SG-1 wallpapers.  Click here to visit this wonderful site.