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A Quiet Victory

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					A Quiet Victory by Biblio

Title: A Quiet Victory
Author: Biblio
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Jack and Daniel
Category: Angst. Drama. First Time. Friendship. Romance.
Status: Complete
Series: Independent story.
Season/Spoilers: Season 5
Synopsis: Sometimes, simply reaching out is a victory in itself.
Warnings: A little language.




                                A Quiet Victory
                             A slash story by Biblio
It was all there. The long, meaningful shared looks; the fleeting touches of hand over hand.
Daniel’s sweetest smile, and that way he had of focusing on the other until the world fell away,
the way he focused on a text or artefact. Daniel making the choice, making the effort to pursue
the other. Daniel reaching out.

Jack shouldn’t have been surprised Daniel was finally ready to move on after four years of
celibacy. He had been ready for it to happen in a way. Maybe braced for it was more honest.
There was no chance Daniel would ever really look at Jack, see beyond the friendship thing they
worked at so diligently, beyond Jack’s rank or the mere fact of his gender.

Jack was wryly aware he shouldn’t ever have looked at Daniel.

He was looking now. He had been braced for Daniel to be ready for someone; to need again. It
had never crossed his mind the someone would be Fraiser. She was the Doc. Dammit Janet;
pithy pint-sized power-monger, pissy purveyor of needles and painfully invasive tests. The
SGC’s CMO, Carter’s friend and Cassie’s mom. Jack’s friend.

And now, seemingly, more than Daniel’s friend.




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Jack idly rolled the mug of lukewarm coffee between his hands, his oatmeal pushed to one side,
uneaten. It was 05:30; the mess was deserted. Just Jack here, and Daniel with Fraiser, there.
Funny. Wasn’t there a linguist 'round here ten minutes ago? Jack certainly had a plate of
pancakes next to his oatmeal. He was drinking Daniel’s coffee. He’d lingered over Daniel’s
coffee, and even if he could hang here much longer without completely telegraphing ‘seething
middle-aged Special Ops colonel with humiliating crush on shit-hot male civilian consultant’,
there was no point. Daniel wasn’t coming back over.

Fraiser was pale from pulling an all-nighter, but quietly triumphant; her warm brown eyes
glowing and her long sensitive fingers snapping as she eloquently described ‘heroic measures’
to Daniel, who was hanging on every word, wide-eyed and appreciative.

Jack was glad Kearns was going to make it; he was a good man. He was happy Fraiser had
gone to the wire, taken every risk, worked every chance the man had given her and pulled him
out of that coma. He WAS glad.

He just hated he was thinking of her as ‘Fraiser’. She – JANET deserved better. How many
times had he been where Kearns was? Or his kids? He didn’t want to sit here another minute
fighting to not hate Janet for putting that answering glow of warmth in Daniel’s eyes or the way
Daniel was holding her hand now.

Jack decided if he absolutely had to get intimately acquainted with his own fathomless
pettiness, he might as well book and do it in the purely hypothetical comfort of his own office.
It wasn't like he didn't have anything to do. He had the report Carter had sent to him to read
for the mission to P2P-459 for a start.

Jack set down the mug, pushed back his chair with a squeal that made him cringe, noted
ruefully that neither Daniel nor Fraiser even twitched, shoved his clenched hands deep in his
pockets and strolled out, headed for the elevator and his office.

He could read the report. He could do that. Or he could review the footage Daniel had sent
him at his request from their mission to P7X-331. Jack smiled as he usually did whenever he
thought about Daniel these days, hoping, REALLY hoping he wasn't coming off as doting for
the cameras. He didn't want anyone thinking he was losing it, especially as it was the truth. He
glanced up and waved cheerily for posterity and whichever security team was on right now.
Hey! Middle-aged Special Ops colonel here! Horny. Desperate. In love with his shit-hot
linguist. You KNOW the one. Hopeless loser here. Get it? Got it? Good.

Recalling Daniel's reaction to his request, Jack smirked. Daniel had been shocked. Delighted.
DEEPLY suspicious. Jack didn't know why. He'd suffered through plenty of mission footage
before, this one had been a damn good mission and for obvious reasons, the footage was a
keeper. No shooting, no angry natives. Allegedly interesting ruins. Some sort of trippy flower
power alien text which had Daniel excitedly explaining something incomprehensible yet
grammatically important, hands everywhere, smiling, his hair glinting gold in the sunlight
slanting down to pool at his feet.




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If Jack fast forwarded through the boring close-ups of the alien text, he’d find the good part, the
part where Daniel had handed him the camera. The part where Daniel kept leaning over to
excitedly explain something equally incomprehensible to do with pictographs.

The part with the ass shots.

Jack was a middle-aged Special Ops colonel, and he had inconveniently fallen in love with his
civilian consultant. He didn’t like to use mission time to blatantly check out Daniel’s ass, but
when the opportunity presented itself, he took it.

And then he uploaded it to his hard drive and made a VCD of it.




Daniel dropped into his chair, unenthusiastically eyeing the heap of mail he’d brought from
home. He sorted rapidly. Bills, junk mail and circulars went into the crap file, aka the waste
basket. Professional journals and flyers he put aside to read later, then he turned his attention
to work mail.

The first was a pithy memo from Jack demanding to know ‘what the hell is this?’ but the ‘this’
had regrettably become detached in transit so Daniel had no hesitation in adding it to the crap
file. Jack would either forget about ‘this’ or get in Daniel’s face about it. There was a request
from the Harbinger of Doom for a personal briefing at the Pentagon, which Daniel got from
time to time and always forwarded to Jack to deal with in his own inimitable style. Needless to
say, Daniel had yet to set foot in the Pentagon. They’d never met Major Disaster Davis yet
when there wasn’t one.

He also had four memos from Sam, which was pretty good going this early in the day. There
were usually more. Daniel was sorely tempted to put those with Jack’s memo in the waste
basket, but Sam didn’t mess with paperclips. She stapled. All of her attachments were
tragically still attached. He sighed and slid them into his maybe tray. It had started out as
pending, but Jack had relabelled his trays as sometime, maybe and never.

The rest of it was a none too gentle reminder from the personnel clerk about his unused leave
allocation and his ongoing unauthorised absences from his place of employment. The
complaint had been referred to Colonel O’Neill, although Daniel wasn't too sure how much of
a threat even the personnel clerk thought that was. Daniel glanced at his last letter, which was
also from the Pentagon, and decided to go and see Colonel O’Neill in person to complain about
the personnel clerk.

He shoved the letter in his pocket. It would give him something to read while Jack was
dripping sarcasm at or around him. He felt a little guilty for standing Jack up at breakfast, but
Janet had been desperately tired and in need of a sympathetic listener. He honestly didn’t


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know why Jack had planted himself at their table, refusing to join sit with him and Janet. It had
been a little too blatant to order fresh food while Jack was sitting there like a bump on a log
with the plate Daniel had started out with, and he’d decided to leave Jack well enough alone
given his all too obvious reluctance to be with Daniel. Jack didn’t have anything against Janet,
so it had to be something Daniel had done, something Jack had chosen not to let him in on yet.
This was SOP. Jack liked him to suffer first, soften him up for the inevitable kill.

Maybe a Snickers would help. It would help Daniel; he felt light-headed after eating only an
apple for dinner. That new journal on ethnolinguistics had been so provocative…maybe two
Snickers, and one for Jack, who was always more receptive to anything after he’d been fed.
Daniel retrieved three Snickers, and after some thought, M&Ms from the secret stash Jack was
always raiding in his bottom drawer, then headed out, certain he could rely on Jack for coffee if
he provided the family pack of snacks.

Daniel ate one of the Snickers without a pang of guilt during the elevator ride down. His blood
sugar was in his shoes. If it got much lower, his ass would be on the elevator floor and then in
one of Janet’s beds. He was only half way through the second Snickers when he reached Jack’s
office and had the M&Ms ready in anticipation of Jack sulking.

Jack wasn’t sulking. He looked up from his PC as Daniel sidled in through the door with the
'Don't feed the colonel' sign on it. A sudden, blinding smile from Jack caught both of them off-
guard. Daniel smiled involuntarily back at Jack, vaguely waving his Snickers bar in greeting,
which he kept custody of for exactly as long as it took for a ferocious scowl to replace Jack’s
smile and Jack to get out from behind his desk and in Daniel’s face.

“You’ve been eating fruit again, you shit,” Jack accused him indignantly, plucking the Snickers
from him. “I keep telling you that fruit is as well as, not instead of.” He bit into the Snickers
vindictively.

Daniel waved the M&Ms temptingly, smirking as Jack’s eyes dwelt fondly on the gently
swaying bag. He held out his hand. “Give it up,” he ordered. Jack being Jack, he took one
more bite of the Snickers before he surrendered and traded up for the family pack sized snack.
“Coffee?” he suggested. At his nod, Daniel poured two mugs from Jack's elderly, beat up
coffee maker - which Jack insisted had historical significance for reasons he would never
explain - and carried them over to the desk. He pulled the ‘unwanted guest’ chair haphazardly
out of alignment before he sat down, so he could stretch out and not have the office door hit
him on the head if anyone else was stupid enough to come in. Jack had a target painted on the
inside of the door with 'Bang head here' inscribed through the centre of it. He still wondered
why everyone thought he had an attitude problem.

Because he was an awkward bastard, Daniel thought fondly.

“Did I ever thank you for Feng Shui-ing the shit out of my office?” Jack mumbled thickly round
his handful of yellow candy coated peanuts, which he always rooted out and ate first for no
reason Daniel could fathom. “That book said it wasn’t possible for a room to exist without a




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little bit of yang creeping in to take the edge off the yin, but you managed to get everything in
here pointing to evil.”

“Except the coffee pot,” Daniel reminded him smugly.

Jack toasted Daniel with his mug. “You’re very good.” The yin in Jack’s life was Fraiser; dark,
feminine and nothing but negative right now.

“Jack, I have a complaint.”

“Me too.”

“Personnel.”

“Ditto.”

“You remember shooting the shit out of those Replicators?” Daniel asked solemnly. “Unless
you and Sam are prepared to spot me a dime apiece for them, I’m not getting paid.”

“I thought the complaint about Velona was justified,” Jack said chattily. “You promised me
that translation by lunch at least and didn’t annoy me with it for weeks.”

Daniel let the obvious cue go by. He wasn’t in the mood for one of those dances they did. Jack
was ticked off with him over something and Daniel didn’t have the energy for the usual pissing
contest it took to find out what the something was, let alone make it right between them. It was
strange, but they seemed to have reached a point in their friendship where words were
unnecessary; they just KNEW. They could tell a mood or a thought just by looking. It was all
very pleasant and mellow, and undeniably productive for the team, but Daniel found he was
missing the fire of the early days when he and Jack butted heads constantly over Jack’s
outrageous attempts to mother him round the galaxy.

All of Jack’s spark, his fire, was directed at Sam these days. Sam didn’t seem content any longer
to be the sum of her impeccable service record, and this crush she’d had on Jack, this perpetual
eagerness to please and have his respect had been eroded over time to the point where she
skirted the edge of contempt. It didn’t happen often, thank God, but it made Daniel
uncomfortable to see battle lines drawn and sides being taken, when so often it was the three of
them against Jack.

It was difficult for Daniel, more difficult than the times when he was the outsider. It didn’t feel
natural for the whole team to be at odds with Jack, not after everything they'd been through
together. Jack had led, but only because they had willingly followed. The fact he listened to
them, particularly Daniel, had a lot to do with that. Jack did his best for them as he always had,
but sometimes, lately, it seemed even Jack's best wasn't good enough for the rest of them. There
was a subtle wrongness in that.




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Daniel sighed. He cared about Jack, deeply, far more than he'd ever cared for any friend in his
life. He was closer to Jack than to anyone and he thought…he felt that for Jack it was the same.
He didn't let anyone in, not people he worked with. Only Daniel. He remembered a
conversation with Sam, long ago, when he was still trying to fit in at the SGC. He grinned. He
was still trying. Very trying, according to Jack. In those awkward first months as the SGC
found its feet and its focus, Jack had had his hands full with all of them, trying to build the
team, keep Teal'c safe from the NID and build common ground with him…He hadn't forgotten
Daniel, though. He'd helped Daniel apartment hunt with more patience than he'd imagined
Jack possessed. He'd trained Daniel, taught him to fire an MP5, a little hand to hand, HELD his
hand as he struggled to adjust his academic presentations to 'sell' the putative tactical
advantages to the general. Off duty, they hung out, Jack doing his damndest to fill the aching
void where Sha'uri and his family on Abydos had been with guy stuff and talking.

More than anything, they had talked, about any and everything. Jack had confided in Daniel,
not easily and not quickly, but they trusted and slowly Jack had opened up about Sara and
Charlie, his feelings. He'd invited Daniel's confidences in turn. Daniel had called him Jack
unthinkingly until he'd learned enough about military protocol to know that wasn't the norm.
His few fumbling attempts at 'colonel' had been rebuffed in Jack's inimitable style. He was just
Jack. They were friends, first and foremost. It worked for the team. Jack listened to Daniel
where he wouldn't listen to anyone else, took his advice, allowed Daniel to lead him to other
paths, other solutions. It wasn't how they were supposed to be, how the military expected them
to be, but Jack had needed to be close as much as Daniel. He just hadn't realised at first he was
the only one Jack allowed to get close to him, the only one who had all of Jack, the colonel and
the man. They WORKED at being friends, at understanding their differences.

It had hurt Daniel to hear Jack admitting that his best wasn't good enough after losing Teal'c on
Vorash, to see him struggle with the consequences of being too close to his team. His friends.
Jack couldn't shrug off their criticism; he respected them, and he'd let it get personal.

Maybe…maybe it was natural. Maybe with a leader who invested in his people the way Jack
did, they were supposed to…Daniel wasn’t sure how to phrase it, maybe to outgrow him. Sam,
anyway. She’d never get command if she was content to live in Jack’s shadow forever. Jack’s
own impatience with Sam, with the science that was so much a part of who she was…he didn’t
even attempt to disguise it anymore.

Daniel noticed Jack was watching him, frowning, and covered for his abstraction with a
lightning raid on the M&Ms.

"Hey!" Jack protested, smacking Daniel's hands away.

"I LIKE the blue ones."

"So do I!"




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Daniel produced the third and last Snickers bar and unwrapped it slowly. He took a slow,
provocative bite. Jack scowled, weighing up the advantages of blue M&Ms over Snickers,
which he LOVED. Daniel took another nibble, Jack staring at his mouth.

A ritual exchange of hostages took place.

Daniel was oddly regretful about the shifting team dynamic. Though he valued their
deepening friendship, and he was glad Jack turned to him more and more, he was sorry that
Jack had cause. Privately, and probably selfishly, he also had to admit there were no surprises
with a Jack who listened to him and was at odds with the others in his place. He found he
missed the way they fought over everything, missed the temper tantrums and the rush of
feeling. He hadn’t even realised he and Jack were…um…he…er…

With Jack sitting so close, sipping his coffee and savouring his Snickers, Daniel faltered on the
unexpressed thought, surprised how well it fit what he and Jack did, what they were. Their
relationship had always been personal, from the very beginning of it all. Each had seen
something in the other, had been drawn to it. Jack had seen a geek who wasn't the stereotypical
pacifist, and Daniel had seen an individualist in a uniform. Neither of them took the straight
path, the easy path. Neither was afraid to stand alone or to do what they believed to be right.
For two men seemingly so different on the surface, they were scarily alike in so many ways.

He guessed what he missed was that edge of uncertainty, not knowing which way Jack would
jump if he was pushed. Four years together had taught Daniel enough that Jack trusted him
implicitly as a soldier. Daniel felt as if he had changed and grown out of all recognition while
Jack had become entrenched, more recognisably himself as time went on. More obviously
cynical, if anything.

Jack had realised they weren't going to get into it. He looked long and hard at Daniel, once
again sitting silent and pensive. He had no idea what was going through Daniel's mind but
anything that had him staring at his shoes for five minutes was BEGGING for Jack to finesse it
right out of him. What were friends and frustrated wannabe lovers for? Daniel knew him. He
KNEW it was asking for trouble to have a problem anywhere near Jack. The only question was
how much digging Jack had to do until he got to the root of it all. In the meantime, he shrugged
philosophically, cut Daniel a little slack for the Snickers, picked up the phone and enjoyed
himself giving the clerk in personnel hell instead.

Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his seat and framed the thoughts tumbling through his head
with a Jackian name. Sparkage. That was what he and Jack had had, what Daniel…missed. If
he was being honest, and he tried to be so, even with himself, he found what he missed was that
subtle, pleasurable hint of intensely private recognition and attraction between two straight
men, who COULD, but didn’t. It was hint enough to give a sweet edge of expectation and
tension to every shared look, word and touch. He and Jack shared a private game of
brinkmanship played out right under the oblivious eyes of their friends, a game safe enough for
them to play because it wouldn’t go anywhere. Couldn’t. The playing of the game had become
habitual, maybe even instinctual, so much a part of them Daniel hadn’t put a name to it until
they’d lost it. Or moved on from it; he wasn’t sure.



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Daniel missed…well, if he was being honest here, why not go the whole hog? He missed
FLIRTING with Jack. The colonel and the doctor of archaeology didn’t have nearly as much
fun, while the colonel and the major weren’t flirting at all. They were just fighting, and their
skirmishes had an edge that cut if they weren’t careful.

Daniel didn't have a goddamn clue how he got Jack to start flirting with him again, not without
stirring up a lot of emotions in both of them that he at least wasn't prepared to deal with.
Wanting to and NOT was enough for him, but if he pushed it…he really didn’t know what
would happen if he pushed it.

He gave up the conundrum for now, wryly aware this was the last place he should be thinking
about it because Jack would just know. Somehow, he would. It was just THEM, knowing.
Daniel slouched in the chair as Jack's thankfully distracting tirade reached its climax and took
advantage of Jack being on the phone to blatantly steal another handful of M&Ms. He fished in
his pocket for the Pentagon epistle since Jack wasn’t likely to indulge him with any kind of
flirting any time soon.

When he opened it, he found another envelope inside, surprisingly forwarded from the
University of Chicago. Strange. The only person he still knew at the U was Steven Rayner and
no way would Steven be contacting him, not after George had him emphatically barred from
excavation at the Temple of Osiris. Curious now, Daniel opened the second envelope and
found a third inside, this one handwritten. The handwriting was in marked contrast to the
delicate floral envelope, addressed to Dr Daniel Jackson, care of the Oriental Institute. The
script was bold and strident, striking black over the pattern, overwhelming it. It struck a faint
chord with Daniel, as if he’d seen it some place before. He knew where when he flipped the
envelope and saw the return address.

Jack slammed the phone down abruptly when Daniel managed a fairly convincing impression
of a stranded guppy, as in a lot of wheezing without much actual breathing. “Daniel?” he
asked warningly, thinking he'd better DIG, as in right now. Daniel stared right through him,
wide-eyed and bewildered, didn’t even raise a token protest when Jack twitched the letter from
his grasp, which was unnerving enough in itself. It wasn’t even opened yet, so…what?

Jack cursorily inspected the address and flipped the envelope to see what had freaked Daniel
out. Annie Laidlaw? He looked at the handwriting again. Annie? Somehow he didn’t think
so. He flipped again. "Halcyon?" The postmark was West NY, but Jack had never heard of
Halcyon. Must be some one horse town up by Buffalo. “Daniel?” he prompted again, more
gently this time, instinctively protective, waving the envelope meaningfully. It wasn't that he
didn’t care; he did, passionately, and not just because he was in love with the infuriatingly
obtuse sonovabitch. They were friends, after all. He was also aware that Daniel found him
hard to resist when he was nice to him and unfortunately, he wasn't above using that.

“A blast from the past,” Daniel muttered reluctantly, reaching out to take the letter back from
Jack. “Annie – the Laidlaws were my last foster family before I was allowed to go to college,”
he said flatly. Jack seemed to be waiting for more, but he would wait in vain. No way was



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Daniel tripping down this memory lane with Jack in tow. Most of his childhood was like the
All-Humiliation Network. He really didn’t need to share the Laidlaws with the quintessentially
confident heterosexual male.

“Well, isn’t that special?” Jack drawled, realising Daniel was not about to spill. Daniel’s
scorching look bounced right off his own anger. Jack said being in love with Daniel was
inconvenient. Didn’t he say that? He was pretty sure he had, because it was. Goddamn
inconvenient. “Soo? Where’s Annie at?” he asked as Daniel opened the envelope, his neat,
precise movements not quite enough to control the tremor in his fingers. Jack fought down a
surge of useless, and with Daniel, unwelcome sympathy.

“The Hospice,” Daniel said coldly.

Jack winced. “She’s sick?”

Daniel found the words wavering on the page and had to fight for focus, for meaning. All he
could see was Will’s handwriting. Will fucking Laidlaw, the reason Daniel had bolted clear
across the country to UCLA and had to wait for his dream of the Oriental Institute because
there was no way in hell he was going to the University of Chicago and letting Will ‘take care’
of him, no fucking way he was sharing a room in the dorms with Will as Annie and his case
worker had wanted. Like they even knew Will. He'd been sick to his soul of being a problem to
solve, not a PERSON.

“Annie had a stroke,” Daniel slowly read out loud, the effort it took obvious. “And then a
second. The prognosis isn’t good. She’s…she’s asking for me.”

“Are you going?”

Daniel just looked up at Jack for long, silent moment.

“When do we leave?” Jack asked promptly, briskly reaching for the phone, already mapping
out just what he would say to Hammond. That Velona deal, the rest of the team got downtime
and Daniel didn’t; he had all this unused leave, and well out of Daniel’s hearing, sensitive,
distressed, closure, yadda yadda.

“WE don’t,” Daniel snapped, jumping up and booking without a backward glance.

“Oh, I think we do, Danny,” Jack muttered as the general finally picked up.

"Hammond."

“Sir, I need to speak to you about Daniel. Something’s come up, a personal matter. One of his
foster mothers has had a stroke and she’s asking for Daniel. He’s going to need some time,”
Jack explained fluently. He waited confidently through the slight pause, sure of what both men
would do.




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"I can spare you five minutes, Jack, before my next meeting. Come down."

“Yes, Sir,” Jack gloated respectfully.




“I hope you aren’t even going to suggest Dr Jackson is any kind of security risk,” Hammond
warned Jack without preamble as he strolled into the office.

Jack executed his start of surprise with élan. “No, Sir. Never crossed my mind. Let’s just say in
the current political climate, I’m wary about any of my kids wandering far from home.”

“How far?” Hammond asked, eyes gleaming.

Jack was prepared for anything the general might throw at him. He was trained for this crap
after all, and he was good at it. “Buffalo,” he told his boots, milking the reluctance.

“If it was Moscow, I might buy that line,” Hammond answered dryly. “Do we need to have
that talk again, Jack? The one about maintaining a proper distance from your subordinates?”

“No, Sir,” Jack denied, managing to look wounded. Given he wanted naked Jackson to go, and
so far wasn’t gettin' ANY, he considered he was ‘maintaining’ the whole damn time. And they
both knew Daniel technically wasn’t his subordinate at all. As a civilian consultant, his notional
rank was at least the equivalent of Jack’s. Jack was just waiting for the perfect time to share this
gem, and like making ecstatic monkey love with Daniel, it hadn’t happened yet. Jack was kinda
thinking one revelation would flow naturally from the other, a reward for bad behaviour. He
raised innocent eyes to his C.O. Pick up the cue, George. Hello? Buffalo? And in the
neighbourhood we haaaave…

“Or is this in the nature of a fortuitous coincidence?”

Jack was sure he saw a hint of a twinkle there, a slight softening. “Perfect honeymoon spot!” he
joked.

“I hear Lake Ontario is lovely this time of year,” Hammond observed apropos of fishing. “And
the Niagara River is wall to wall fins.”

Jack shrugged. Who? Me? Noooo!

“And Dr Jackson’s continued belief you think he’s about fifteen years old is…what?”
Hammond enquired gently.

“A bonus, Sir,” Jack said happily.


                                                   10
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“Jack,” Hammond sighed.

Jack beamed at him. “There’s a flight to Buffalo at 12:25, Sir. I’ll hustle Daniel right out of here
to pack and take him to Petersen Field myself.”

“No cuffs, Jack,” Hammond teased.

Jack didn’t even try the wide eyed innocent act. He settled for a slow, knowing smirk. “It
would help if the order came from you, Sir,” he coaxed.

“It would help you, certainly,” Hammond riposted pleasantly.

“That’s why we pay you the big bucks, Sir,” Jack admired. “Something along the lines of ‘use it
or lose it’ re the leave allocation, closure on the personal matter advisable in light of the overtly
covert interest in our personnel files, my presence purely coincidental…” he reeled off rapidly.

“I’ll allow a week to put this thing to bed,” Hammond interrupted the flow. “It hasn’t escaped
my attention that Dr Jackson’s workload is as heavy as ever. I think a little R&R is allowable in
the circumstances.”

Jack tried to drag his mind away from his own version of R&R, a vividly XXX-y ‘putting Daniel
to bed’ scenario, and decided to git while the gittin’ was good. “Thank you, Sir.”

“I’ll be sure to fully apprise Dr Jackson of the situation,” Hammond assured him.




“You prick!”

“Hel-lo,” Jack drawled as Daniel stalked into the departure lounge. He looked. Then he looked
again. And again. Could not in fact look away. Shiiiit. Daniel looked good. Daniel looked
GREAT. Totally fuckably hot, from the tips of his work boots all the way up to the stormy eyes
and the glints of gold in ruffled hair. Daniel looked good in a way that made the world fit
around him. Jack’s libido took the scenic route, dwelling on long, long denim clad legs and the
way the pale grey sweater clung and moved distractingly with Daniel’s body, the sleeves just
falling over slender wrists. He lingered on the sullen pout, his own mouth drying.

He lingered too long. WAY too long. Daniel shifted awkwardly and looked down, blushing.

“You’re late. Everyone else has boarded the flight. We’d better book,” Jack said brusquely to
cover his unwarranted scrutiny, turning on his heel to march over to the check-in desk.
“O’Neill and Jackson,” he tersely told the attendant. He was aware of Daniel slipping into his


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accustomed place behind his shoulder, standing as close as ever. Closer. He could feel the heat
from Daniel’s body. Daniel couldn’t have…he mustn’t have picked up on…Jack had to STOP
fucking looking! He couldn’t touch so he should not look.

Like he hadn’t been trying, he thought bitterly. It was way too late in the game for Daniel to
suddenly clue into the fact most of the tension between them was sexual; conscious or not, it lay
heavy and unacknowledged between them. It always had.

Jack waited impatiently while the woman futzed with her PC and finally cleared them to board.
He turned into the warmth of Daniel's strong body. He was standing so close Jack rocked him
on his feet, automatically reaching out to steady him. Daniel’s blush deepened as Jack’s hands
rested over his hips, but he didn’t back down, didn’t back away. Didn’t even look away.

Jack did. He swallowed hard, wondering how the hell he was supposed to take the oddly
expectant glow in Daniel’s eyes, the nervous, speculative wince of a smile. If Daniel knew what
was going through Jack’s mind, just what it was making the breath hitch in Jack’s throat and
tightening his balls right now, Daniel didn’t know what the hell to make of it, but being Daniel,
he had to push it anyway.

“I had dinner plans,” Daniel said more moderately as they boarded and the flight attendant led
them to their seats. “With Janet.” He noted Jack’s missed step and realised he wasn’t wrong,
that comprehensive once over in the terminal meant exactly what he thought it did. Jack
wanted him. Daniel was shocked, he truly was. It wasn’t that men had never shown an interest
in him, quite the opposite, but that it was JACK. They’d danced around each other for so long,
Daniel was convinced nothing would ever change between them. They’d settled into the same
easy relationship rut as a married couple without ever having had the passion. As big a shock
as it was, at least he knew now why Jack was so pissed at him. He thought something was
going on between Janet and Daniel. Jack was…he was jealous.

Daniel smiled and murmured his thanks to the flight attendant as they took their seats, Jack
settling for an ill-tempered grunt and a scowl that melted right off his face when Daniel smiled
at him. He’d never seen Jack so at a loss. Not that he was in any better case; his heart was
pounding and he had to swallow hard. Scared spitless, he thought with no amusement at all.

“Janet? You two seem close,” Jack observed with seeming casualness as he buckled up, hating
he HAD to ask but not able to stop himself.

“We had plans to attend a speculative lecture on the application of scientific method in field
exobiology at the U, Jack,” Daniel went on quietly. He'd like to think he and Jack were beyond
the kind of pettiness that milked jealousy. “Janet was coming along to translate the medical
stuff in lieu of a wild evening alone grouting her kitchen.”

He and Janet were friends, and she and Sam together accounted for most of Daniel’s equally
wild non-Jack social life. Daniel felt no particular urge to share with Jack his role as freely
exploited ‘El Cheapo’ translation service-cum-designated driver. He worked for burgers.
Daniel spent time with Teal’c too of course, but most of his life was lavished on the infuriatingly



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smug man relaxing visibly at his side, complacently flowing into every available space. Jack’s
apparent need to have his leg pressed against Daniel’s was allowable taking into consideration
Jack’s height and long legs versus the leg room they actually had. Of course, if that was really
the issue, Jack could just move one seat over and stretch out into the aisle.

They were several rows back from everyone else; the plane was at most a third full. Daniel
knew he was playing with fire, didn’t know why he was pushing it except that he didn’t have a
clue which way Jack would jump and he was loving it. God, he’d missed this. Mature and
pragmatic smooth sailing sucked. He wanted Jack furious and venting and passionate, getting
in his face like he used to. Daniel took a deep breath, looked around cautiously and let his
fingers trail onto Jack’s thigh as the plane accelerated and took off. Jack tensed, but as Daniel’s
hand splayed over the denim, curiously settling onto the warmth and hardness of the powerful
muscles, Jack’s hand closed over his strongly for a moment, then slid possessively onto his own
thigh.

Daniel sat frozen, staring desperately at the seatbelt sign as Jack rhythmically rubbed the heel of
his hand into his instinctively clenched thigh muscles. Stupidstupidstupid! Like the original
go-to guy WOULDN'T pick up a gauntlet he'd thrown down? He'd known Jack for HOW long?

This was…it was explicable - barely, almost deniable, but they both knew.

Daniel was scared shitless and exhilarated at the same time. Wasn't this exactly what he'd been
missing? Feeling ALIVE in the way he only felt when he was WITH Jack?




Jack figured he’d had some kind of blow to the head. He wasn’t in the main concourse of
Buffalo Airport waiting for a room – any room, any place – to be found by an increasingly
desperate booking clerk. He was in fact in a concussed heap in the infirmary, no other
explanation for it. There was no way this was real, no frickin’ way. Daniel ‘Do Not Touch Me’
Jackson had spent the entire five hour flight plastered so close to Jack he might as well have
climbed into the seat with him. Daniel was breathing down Jack’s neck right now. What was
going to happen when they finally got into the rental car was anyone’s guess. Maybe
spontaneous sexual combustion.

The plane had picked up enough passengers at the stopover at O’Hare to make Daniel uneasy.
The touching hadn’t been quite so overt; the merest brush of knuckles, or the stroke of a finger,
but it was there, as real and erotic as the exploratory skimming of Daniel’s hand over Jack’s
denim-clad leg. It was pretty goddamn obvious Jack’s was the only male thigh Daniel had ever
taken to stroking on impulse, so Jack in turn had taken it nice and easy when returning the
compliment, ruthlessly suppressing the urge to roam.




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Daniel was being daring and downright naughty, and Jack was in no mood to discourage his
endearingly inquisitive advances. Jack was goddamn certain Daniel knew how to touch, he just
needed some guidance on where. They had both had a lot of fun, totally ignoring the tactile by-
play as they talked as they usually did, arguing with every other breath. While Daniel was
refusing to divulge anything about the Laidlaws, his foot had slipped across and between
Jack’s, nothing but a tiny, knowing smile to indicate he was doing anything but stretching tired
legs. Jack’s attempts to persuade Daniel to surrender precious free time to fishing instead of
antiquing his way round the Big Apple yielded accusations of museum bigotry and Daniel’s
fingertips curled around his. Oh, so casual fleeting touches they refused to acknowledge.

Jack was undeniably turned on, while Daniel was nervous but flirty in a way Jack had only ever
seen him once. He'd been ready to put a bullet in the bitch before he even knew she was Linea.
Thinking a little more rationally than he had this morning, he recognised the difference in
Daniel's behaviour now from the way he had been with Janet. Jack had to wonder what the hell
had prompted Daniel to reach out and touch now of all times, and to reach out to him.

His mind was firmly in the gutter, or at least in the king sized bed of whatever B&B the tourist
information types were about to magically pull out of the hat for them, but he didn’t mistake
Daniel’s sudden and slightly confused receptivity for anything like permission to reach out and
get him naked.

Jack was sure if Daniel did tell him he was willing to get naked and sprawly, this would be the
exact point he woke up in the infirmary with a tube up his nose, a needle in his ass and Frais-
Janet 'ignoring' his hard-on.

The booking clerk slammed down the phone and sagged with unmistakeable relief. “Thanks to
my colleagues at Low Tonawanda, we've booked two rooms at Abe’s B&B, just five miles from
Halcyon,” she announced proudly. “Last two rooms in the county,” she admitted ruefully.

Two? Crap. It would be hard to leap on Daniel’s quivering, helpless body if he wasn’t even
there and so goddamn blatant to lure Daniel back to his room after dinner, given they weren’t
admitting anything was going on. Not that he could have crazed weasel sex with a virgin, even
an insatiably curious and pushy virgin like Daniel, but without the correct ambience – i.e.,
Daniel helplessly trapped in a big bed with him – he was going to have to ask him if he wanted
to come in and make out. Even the hokey old coffee invite wouldn’t work. Daniel would
definitely allow himself to be lured, but he’d expect the coffee. Good coffee.

The dearth of coital opportunities also made it just that more difficult for Jack to extract post-
coital Laidlaw Intel out of his annoyingly resistant linguist. Something had gone down in
Halcyon, something that had driven Daniel clear across the country to UCLA at the age of
sixteen. Jack needed to know what. He shouldn’t need to know what, he knew enough about
being a good guy to get that, but he wasn't a good guy and when it came to Daniel, he
ALWAYS needed to know.




                                                   14
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“It won’t work,” Daniel said pleasantly as they walked out of the concourse only an hour and a
half after they’d walked into it. Not bad timing to retrieve luggage, rent cars and book
unavailable rooms. “I have nothing to say about the Laidlaws.”

“Laidlaws plural?” Jack coolly prompted as they headed over to the Hertz lot. The car should
be easy to spot. He’d plumped for the Lexus. “I’ve only heard the name Laidlaw, singular, so
let’s start right there,” he persisted. “We have a short drive ahead of us, then we get to have a
nice dinner and a long conversation.”

“Interrogation,” Daniel corrected resentfully, trailing Jack over to their car. He was wondering
what happened after dinner and the long conversation. Surreal Fun With Jack And Daniel On
The Plane had segued into tension. Not the pleasant, anticipatory tension of the plane, but the
gut-clenching about to get painfully real kind of tension. The kind where Jack might reasonably
expect to get laid tonight after the way Daniel had been all over him, and Daniel not knowing
what the hell he would do if Jack did make a pass. He hadn’t fielded a serious pass from a guy
- in the all over him sense of pass - since he'd gotten the hell out of Halcyon.

“Daniel?” Jack asked gently as they were stowing the luggage, catching Daniel off-guard.

“They needed the money,” Daniel said involuntarily. He cringed at the killing look in Jack’s
eyes and covered it by twitching the keys from Jack’s slackened grip. Jack’s fingers closed over
his wrist and held him when he tried to pull away.

“They said that?” Jack demanded grimly. “To you?”

Will had said it. Gloated over it in fact. The money was for him and for college, not for Daniel.

“It was true,” Daniel defended Annie quietly. “Mr. Laidlaw died about eighteen months before
I was fostered and Annie lost the garage when the insurance ran out. She worked hard but
couldn’t afford to hire any help so…” He shrugged.

“Doesn’t that make her kind of suspect as a foster parent?” Jack snapped, allowing Daniel to
take to the keys. He felt like punching someone’s lights out so being behind the wheel wasn’t a
good idea.

“It was Annie or the Family Assistance Centre in Brooklyn,” Daniel muttered. “My case worker
thought Annie beat out getting beat up four times a day just for…” For being a stuck-up four-
eyed faggot. “Being me,” he finished uncommunicatively.

The someone Jack wanted to punch out was regrettably clear across the galaxy making nice
with the giant aliens. Maybe Jack could gate in. Teal’c would go for that. Carter too. In fact,
Carter would probably club good old Nick with his precious crystal skull if she got a look at
Daniel's shuttered face and RAW eyes.




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Daniel concentrated on getting them out of the airport and onto the I90 before he picked up the
thread again. “Annie was lovely," he admitted honestly enough. "She was disappointed in life
but not bitter," he added, trying to be fair. "I liked her. She was always honest with me.”

“Honest about stealing from you?” Jack asked pleasantly, not about to give an inch.

“I had everything I needed,” Daniel disagreed stiffly.

“Really? She used your money for your books?” Jack waited for a moment. “Asked and
answered,” he snapped when Daniel sat silent.

“It’s nice to know I can always rely on you not to be judgemental,” Daniel said sarcastically,
getting nothing but an angry shrug in return. This was exactly why he hadn’t wanted Jack here.
Little Dannyboy lost pushed every button Jack had and he tended to vent like Vesuvius over
everyone in the vicinity. “Annie taught me to play the piano,” he offered by way of damage
control. “That’s how she made her living. She gave lessons. I don’t play well, but I learned to
love it.” It took him out of himself, the way that reading did, made the world go away.

“You’ve got the hands for it,” Jack said admiringly, without thinking. He smiled suddenly as
the colour surged up Daniel’s face. Soooo…still not admitting it but still playing, huh? The
next few days looked like they were going to be interesting to say the least. “And the other
Laidlaws plural?”

“Will,” Daniel said uncommunicatively.

Jack turned to face him more fully, frowning. The Kenilworth exit loomed ahead of them,
giving Daniel a chance to busy himself while Jack tried to place the name. Daniel was confident
he would. Jack loved sport, all sport.

“The only Will Laidlaw I know is a climber,” Jack said at last. “He's taken Everest twice, and
K2. Fastest ascent of the Eiger. That Will Laidlaw?”

“That Will Laidlaw,” Daniel agreed. The great Will Laidlaw, ‘guy most likely to’.

They were about ten minutes from Halcyon. He was running on nerves, twitchy libido and
Snickers fumes. He needed to eat and sleep for a week and a half, not necessarily in that order.

Getting sweaty with Jack did not figure in his plans, so his libido could just stop with the
twitching. It was too damn late in the day – literally and figuratively – to notice just how
attractive Jack really was and to want to find out how much more attractive he could be without
all those clothes getting in the way.

That was way beyond the acceptable flirting entente they had going. That was a prelude to
serious sweat. Admitting he was attracted to his friend in no way prepared him for sweat.
Daniel had been with a guy exactly once, an occasion that deserved a Hallmark card, if
Hallmark did a disastrous ‘shoulda seen it coming’ first time cliché commiseration card, and he



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A Quiet Victory by Biblio

could live with wanting to and not, not ever again. He just didn’t know if Jack would get with
the programme.

“You’ll like Will,” Daniel said positively.

“No,” Jack said slowly. “No, I won’t.” Something made Daniel run and if it wasn’t Annie, it
had to be Will, man of the moment or not.

“Everyone liked Will,” Daniel corrected him serenely.

“Did you?”

“Oh, yes,” Daniel said disingenuously. At first. More than liked. Much more. Then it took
everything he had not to be afraid of him. “Make up your own mind.”

“I have,” Jack assured Daniel gently, watching the white knuckles on the steering wheel.




“Yes?”

“Abe?” Jack asked cautiously.

“Who’s asking?” Abe asked just as suspiciously, glaring up at him, one bare foot poised on the
porch step.

Jack wasn’t sure if that was fight or flight. “MasterCard,” he said solemnly.

“Da-amn,” Abe breathed, her face lighting up. “Customers?” she asked, disbelieving. “Paying
customers?” she added darkly.

Jack fished into his wallet and produced his MasterCard. He didn’t blame Abe for plucking it
from his fingers and making a run for the register. “Abe is strangely shorter than l expected,”
Jack called to Daniel as he loped up the path after parking the car. “And a girl. You can’t miss
her. Pigtails, freckles, snub nose, attitude…”

“And soon to be owner of groceries!” Abe hooted triumphantly as she shoved the door open for
them.

“Abigail?” Daniel asked.

“Numb-nuts name,” Abe complained bitterly, “even though I wound up living it.”



                                                  17
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“An Abigail was a lady's-maid,” Daniel explained to Jack, who wasn’t interested.

“I wanted to be six feet tall and a boy,” Abe sighed. “And I sincerely hope neither of you is the
kind to say I came up short or you’ll both be sleeping in the car." She glared at them. "And
cancellations on the day are non-refundable,” she added emphatically.

“I’m exactly that kind,” Jack confessed, “But I pay good, so suck it up.” He plucked the credit
card from Abe’s fingers. She seemed reluctant to let it go.

“You’re the only B&B in the county that had rooms available,” Daniel explained. He couldn’t
understand it. The B&B was picture-postcard perfect, a true American Gothic in a cottage
garden. It was charming, perfectly maintained, dripping flowers and antique ambience.

“I can’t imagine why,” Jack marvelled, staring at the reason as she grudgingly held the door for
them.

“I’ve got eight rooms, help yourself.” Abe eyed their luggage unenthusiastically. “Why don’t
you pick your room before I shift that lot?”

“Make like your name,” Jack ordered, nudging the bags forward with his foot.

“Room-S,” Daniel muttered, blushing as he fumbled for his wallet. “Two…rooms,” he added
awkwardly, acutely aware of Jack watching him interestedly, smirking over his gaucheness in a
way that made him want to smack him one.

Abe stretched up and snatched Daniel’s credit card from him. “Organic Colombian Roast, here
I come!” she gloated, dancing back into the house.

“That girl has no rhythm at all,” Jack said critically. “She dances like I sing. And what was she
singing?”

“’I want money’.”

“Shocker.” Jack was dying to say something to Daniel about the room-S, but decided it was a
little too early for the flirting to segue into foreplay. A nice dinner somewhere romantic would
relax them, and then he would bring Daniel back here and relax him a whole lot more. There
were lots of things they could do; gentle, non-threatening things that involved being close and
staying close, and if Jack did them right, Daniel wouldn’t know what was coming until he did.
“Ah!" He held up a warning finger as Daniel made like the perfect gentleman. "Don’t touch the
bags, Daniel! She’s trying to psyche you out. We just paid her a small fortune to do that for us.
Say it after me. Paying guest.” Jack tapped his chest, then Daniel’s. “The help,” Jack pointed at
Abe as they walked into the lobby. He obediently signed on the dotted line under Abe's
anxious eye and pointedly retrieved Daniel’s credit card. “The reason she is helping,” he
announced, waving the card meaningfully.




                                                  18
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Daniel signed too, then looked around. The lobby was filled with comfortable sofas and tables,
with polished wood and fresh paint everywhere he looked. The colour scheme was shades of
blue and lilac which went well with the oak, and if he had a criticism, it was…well…kind
of…chintzy. In Daniel’s experience, that suggested all the couches were extremely comfortable.
Chintz made men nervous, so if it was draped over a really comfortable chair, the chair tended
not to be used for e.g. ProAm channel hopping or games of Beerhunter. Chintz ensured the
comfy chair could be used for reading or long conversations with the like-minded about the
evils of ProAm channel hopping, without having the daily grind of beating the sullen,
uncommunicative lump aka your S.O., off of it first. Daniel shook his head. Abe had kind of
tipped her hand here. There were bound to be some sullen, uncommunicative lumps who
made the chintz-comfort connection and tried it out at home. Domestic violence was likely to
escalate among her client base.

Um…if she had a client-base.

“Welcome,” Abe beamed at them.

“Can you recommend somewhere for dinner?” Jack asked promptly.

“I’ve got a vat of lasagne if you want some,” Abe grinned.

“I want some,” Jack said softly, looking right at Daniel. It would be worth whatever Abe
charged them just to cut down on his commute time for the nookie.




“This place is FLUFFY,” Jack hissed accusingly. “The chintz is sapping the testosterone right
out of me.”

“It’s very…floral,” Daniel agreed cautiously. “And frilled.” Even the breakfast parlour was
floral; literally in this case, it had a flagstone floor, pale green walls and honeysuckle trained up
the walls in trellises and over the ceiling. With all the doors open into the garden, the air was
warm and deliciously scented.

“The food is good,” Jack admitted grudgingly. “And the bed is big.” He maintained the
innocent front as Daniel stiffened slightly. The ‘cosy’ tables all had Victorian style skirts so Jack
decided to take advantage, take a leaf out of Daniel’s air travel amusements book and play a
little footsie. He slid his leg forward until his knee was between Daniel's. “And extremely
comfortable,” he added blandly, blithely ignoring Daniel’s gasp and reproachful look in favour
of ploughing through his second helping of lasagne. He lazily stirred Daniel’s knee with his,
thoroughly enjoying the heat they were generating as Daniel surrendered, stretching out his
long legs either side of Jack’s.



                                                    19
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Jack’s urge to tease faded as he was caught by the sweet, intense look on Daniel’s face, Daniel
clinging now as Jack rubbed rhythmically between his thighs. He realised they’d skirmished
over the line on the plane, but the overt eroticism of this went way beyond it, and as far as he
could tell, he was turning Daniel on. Taking in the delicate flush and the hitches catching
Daniel’s breath, Jack would have to say he was in point of fact slowly driving Daniel out of his
mind.

Jack decided he’d had more than enough lasagne and Daniel wasn’t even pretending to eat his.
“Early night,” he muttered vaguely, eyes riveted to Daniel’s parted lips. “Bed.”

“Whose?” Daniel whispered before he could stop himself, blushing comprehensively. He
hoped to God Jack hadn’t heard that. He was pathetically glad of his long sweater, because
with all the blood in his body committed to a slow, relentless glide down, he might as well be
wearing a sandwich board that said ‘will put out for food’. He managed to make it to his feet
but had no real objections to letting Jack steer. The only problem, and it wasn’t a problem per
se, more an observation, was that Jack’s hand started out companionably across his shoulders,
and by the time they’d reached the top of the stairs, it was curved possessively round his waist.

Dazed, confused and déjà vu’d. That was how Daniel felt. He was fatalistic at this point; could
not in fact imagine a scenario where he and Jack didn’t end up in bed together. It wasn’t a
matter of time, or making a conscious decision or a rational choice, it was going to happen the
instant they hit his bedroom door, ‘cause his was nearer the stairs. He could only hope this
worked out better than his first time. Which had BEEN his first time and had put him off sex
for quite some time.

Daniel did hit his door, literally. Jack turned him and pushed him up against it, leaning in to
rest his forearms against the panelling either side of Daniel’s face. Daniel looked into Jack’s
glittering eyes and gulped. Yep. Getting that first time feeling all over again.

Jack sighed. “Are you going to invite me in for ‘coffee’?” he asked patiently.

“There isn’t any. I checked.”

Jack shook his head tragically. “Smooth, Daniel, really smooth,” he chuckled, turning the
handle so they fell in through the door, then kicking it shut behind him. Jack took Daniel’s face
between his hands, Daniel’s coming up to rest over his. They were both shaking.

“Jack, please…” Daniel whispered, the rest of his plea for sanity swallowed as Jack kissed him
anything but gently. Jack was kissing him like a man who had been waiting to do this for so
damned long NOTHING was going to stop him doing it now. Daniel realised he certainly
wasn’t. Jack’s lips were straight and strong, surprisingly soft and warm for all the insistent
pressure massaging against his own mouth. Daniel leaned gratefully into the kiss, his hands at
Jack’s waist because he didn’t know what to do with them. Jack wasn’t the kind of man you
stroked, so he was keeping his fingers out of Jack’s hair until he was sure that was…

Oh. Jack was quite definitely backing him towards the bed.



                                                  20
A Quiet Victory by Biblio



He knew it. He knew they were going to end up in bed together. Tumbling into a tangled heap
of limbs on top of the bed, still fully clothed was a small, temporary reprieve. Not much of a
reprieve. Daniel was mashed flat. Jack weighed a ton, and he was stronger, harder and more
aggressive than Daniel was prepared for. The last time he’d been under the man like this,
'Touched' Jack had been doing his Cro-Magnon impression, beating the shit out of him. Now
he was pinned flat by Jack, rocking insistently until he’d insinuated himself between his thighs,
gloating smugly as he ground his steely erection into Daniel. His hands were clamped to
Daniel’s ass, lifting him into the rhythmic rocking…”Jesus, Jack, could you make it any more
obvious you want to have sex with me?” Daniel complained, his heart hammering. He just
needed a breathing space. This was too…kissing was good, could they not just…

Jack moved so quickly Daniel didn’t even have time to yelp as his jeans were unzipped and
pulled off with ruthless efficiency. He managed to get out a couple of indignant ‘Jack’s’ as his
boots hit the floor and his jeans followed them, then Jack stretched out beside him, his huge,
callused hand firmly clasping Daniel’s now flaccid penis. All Daniel managed then was a
whimper of shock, which earned him another kiss as emphatic as the first.

Daniel lay flat on his back, his sweater pooled around his hips, legs sprawled, Jack’s hand on
him. He gazed speechlessly up at him, utterly transfixed by the inexpressible tenderness in his
warm brown eyes.

“What have we learned?” Jack asked thoughtfully, risking a slow, careful exploration of
Daniel’s dick, slowly swelling again and throbbing hot and heavy against the palm of his hand.
He felt guilty for letting the crazed weasel get the upper hand there, but Daniel’s face was
getting that sweet, intense stillness Jack was already looking for, his panicked breathing still
quick, but evening out. Fine tremors were still running through Daniel’s body but his own
steadily stroking hand was the cause of it. He just kept staring into Daniel’s dazed eyes and
smiling, both of which seemed to help. Daniel was in fact smiling tentatively back.

“You’re a man,” Daniel said intelligently.

“That’s…harsh,” Jack winced. “Deserved, but harsh. It won’t happen again.”

Daniel’s next comment was a soft moan he seemed embarrassed about, so Jack took that as
permission to get a tad more creative, brushing his thumb over and over the head of Daniel’s
dick as he rubbed gentle circles along the underside. Daniel shuddered from head to foot and
tried to curl up into a defensive ball. It wasn’t much of stretch to think Daniel really liked to be
touched just there, so Jack kept it up, relaxing as Daniel stretched himself out again and settled
for just letting his toes curl. Daniel was moaning continuously and he was embarrassed about
it, but he was also restlessly pushing up into Jack’s hand.

Daniel was going out of his mind, his head swimming as intense pangs of rich, almost forgotten
pleasure stabbed clean through him. He wanted to tell Jack he was an insensitive SHIT for just
lying there fully dressed; totally, blatantly getting off on expertly masturbating Daniel beyond




                                                   21
A Quiet Victory by Biblio

the power of speech, while Daniel was sprawled, writhing shamelessly, moaning helplessly and
arching into that maddening, perfect rhythm and he was STILL wearing his fucking sweater.

Despite himself, his mind kept dragging him back to the last time he'd been with someone out
of control like this…all over him. This - it FELT like last time, the aggression, his panic - but
this…this was JACK. He was SAFE with Jack. He knew that. Jack would NEVER…Daniel
could say no, he could say no and stop Jack COLD. Jack would never, could never hurt him.

Daniel took some deep, calming breaths. Jack was excited. Literally. He was aroused and
passionate and a GUY. He wouldn't be all over a woman like this, but with Daniel…maybe
Jack felt safe with HIM. Jack trusted Daniel to stop him, to say no if he went too far.

He was…He WAS in control here. There was no risk. Maybe…he could go with the flow. See
where it took them, knowing…sure it wouldn't be further than he WANTED it to take him. He
looked up at Jack's flushed face…if he got Jack to ease off a little…a natural break…soften the
mood. They could undress and get IN the bed. Take it easy.

“Clothes,” Daniel croaked. Two seconds later he was thumping into the mattress completely
naked and outraged while the greedy bastard was going mental over his nipples. Falling for
Jack O’Neill like a ton of bricks at the exact same time he discovered Jack was an irredeemable
pig was abso-friggin-lutely typical of his luck.

Daniel made a supreme effort and peeled Jack’s hand off him, which wasn’t easy; he was totally
disoriented by the inconceivable sight of Colonel O’Neill pouting, and the colonel was putting
up a fight. Daniel gave in and tugged sharply at Jack’s shirt. “Clothes!”

Jack glared at him and sullenly backed off to undress, which he did with no finesse at all,
balling his clothes and tossing them vengefully at the wall, grumbling bitterly about ‘0 for 2’.

Daniel glared at him. Tell me about it! He crawled shakily into the bed and pulled the quilt
pettishly up to his chin. “TMI,” he said flatly. He also wasn’t the one who was out of control
here. Mild recognition from Jack that he was going too far, too fast and way too aggressively
for someone who was shaky on the whole guy/guy thing to start with would be…

“I’m in love with you,” Jack said gruffly. “I…er…I NEED you,” he mumbled grudgingly at his
feet. He wanted to apologise for going mental on Daniel and couldn’t get the words out in case
he fucked up more than he already had. Daniel hadn’t even said it was okay for them to kiss
and he’d all but mauled him. Peeled him and mauled him. Shucked him like an ear of corn.
“Can I stay? Sleep with you?” he pushed his luck anyway.

Daniel lifted the quilt up in answer and Jack slid into the bed beside him. Jack was surprised
and touched when Daniel scooted into his arms and kissed him emphatically.

“Too much, Jack,” Daniel told him solemnly. “I think…I’m falling for you too, but you’re
moving way too fast for me. You have to give me a…a chance here. And try not to look so




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smug about it.” Daniel observed the impact of this reproof on Jack, which was apparently
squat. “I mean it, Jack. Try.”

“I AM trying!” Jack complained, wounded.

“You’re a pig.”




Jack lay comfortably on his side, Daniel contentedly curled up beside him, still drowsing
between sleep and waking. It was past dawn but the skies were leaden, the murmur of the rain
deadening every sound, the steady susurration keeping time with the beat of Daniel’s heart,
vibrating against his chest. Jack smiled slowly. And with the throb of a slowly swelling
erection, jutting aggressively now against Jack’s belly.

After the way Jack had killed the mood last night, he’d had plenty of time to remember his
original plan of gentle and non-threatening. He tilted Daniel’s face up and kissed him
lingeringly, his gentle mouth opening naturally. Jack deepened the kiss, suckling at Daniel's
lips until he stirred and sleepily returned the pressure. He felt rather than saw Daniel’s smile,
touched the tips of their tongue together, sliding easily into Daniel's mouth. Jack kept the
pressure slow and tender, rubbing their tongues over and over one another gently, smiling in
turn when Daniel relaxed into him, his hand coming up to cup Jack's neck.

Daniel let Jack balance him on his side, gasping as Jack stroked shaking hands down his back
and onto his ass, holding him steady as Jack’s hips touched his and he felt that steely erection
again, slick and hot against his own. Jack held him close enough to push into him, rocking
Daniel slowly with him. Pleasure skittered through him with every subtle slide of his penis
over Jack's. Wrapping both his arms around Jack's neck, he sighed happily and leaned into the
deepening kiss, focusing on the warm, playfully aggressive tongue making free with his mouth,
roaming restlessly until he stroked back. The kiss was sweeter and more tender than he’d been
led to expect by anything Jack had done last night. The kiss was Jack delivering on that look
he’d given Daniel, the look that told him he was loved, this was real.

He slid his own hand onto Jack’s ass, curiously exploring the muscles as they clenched and
flexed beneath the hot, satiny skin. Jack’s body was exotically male, at once familiar and alien
to him, filled with negative spaces, all planes and angles. Nothing about him was soft, nothing
yielded to Daniel’s touch; he was met by a strength as great as his own, or greater.

“Oh, Christ. Yes. That feels good, Danny. Yeah, just there,” Jack groaned as teasing fingers
skimmed down his chest to flicker over his nipples. He tightened his grip on Daniel, pulling
him closer, going crazy as Daniel moved with him rather than against him when it could be so
good, so fucking good. Right now Daniel relaxing into his body and enjoying being this close



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had to be better than good. After last night, it was great. When Daniel needed more, Jack knew
now just how to bring him off.

They clung together, pushing into one another, passionately kissing and drowning in the
sensual pleasure of touch for a long time as Daniel gained confidence. Despite his good
intentions, Jack found himself leaning into Daniel, slowly forcing him onto his back, but the
catch in Daniel’s breath as his weight increased the friction encouraged Jack to roll him
carefully beneath him. Daniel’s legs parted at once, his feet planted against the bed as Jack
rocked easily against him. Daniel was smiling up at Jack as he pulled him back into the kiss, his
braced feet giving him leverage to rock up to meet Jack. Jack wanted those long, long legs
wrapped around his back and he couldn’t even stroke them; he was holding Daniel, coveting
fingers touching his face reassuringly, not just pinning him flat with his weight. The sweat was
beading Daniel’s pleasure-flushed skin, glistening and gliding down to pool where Jack could
lick it clear whenever they broke the kiss to breathe.

“Good?” Jack whispered as Daniel moaned softly.

“Oh, yes, Jack, yes.” Daniel couldn’t seem to open his eyes. He found making love this way
very satisfying now he was getting over the fact he was making love with Jack. They were
slipping and sliding over one another, already losing friction and rhythm to strain desperately.
It had been so long for both of them. So long. They seemed to have no self-control. Daniel’s
skin prickled as orgasm began to shiver through him, gradually intensifying into shudders that
wracked his whole body with sleek, sullen pleasure, pumping out of him as he came. Jack
convulsed calling his name, his penis jerking as he shot all over Daniel, the slick, hot semen
from them both pooling on Daniel’s skin.

“I knew it,” Daniel mumbled into Jack’s hot, sweaty shoulder.

“Hmm?”

“I knew we’d end up going to bed together. I just knew it.”

“Did you also know we’d end up going at it like crazed weasels in the shower together?” Jack
asked hopefully.




The sunlight was streaming now into the breakfast parlour, which made the room significantly
lighter than Daniel’s mood. Jack was in fact going very easy on Daniel, who was freaking
through the kind of full blown panic attack only getting naked and jiggy with his closest friend
and confidante the COLONEL could induce.




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Jack was also remembering Daniel’s restless tossing and turning of last night, which at the time
his ego had chalked up to first time nerves. Now Jack was certain Daniel was having reunion
nerves. He was trying to respect the occasion, trying not to smoulder too blatantly but not
succeeding very well if the way Daniel was blushing was anything to go by.

The problem was, Jack was totally distracted by Daniel in a sweater. There was something
intensely arousing about all that huggable soft wool with Daniel inside it that just dried the roof
of his mouth and made his palms clammy. He had a feeling this was now obvious to Daniel,
and would lead to some tricky questions later about various birthday and Christmas presents,
including the one Daniel was wearing. Another shade of grey, a colour Daniel bought for
himself in the mistaken belief it was practical and everyone else bought for him because it did
astonishing things for his eyes. This sweater was a chunky ribbed silver-grey turtleneck that
made Daniel’s creamy skin glow and made the blue…

“Jack!” Daniel hissed. “Can you not drool?”

“Excuse me?” Jack said indignantly, dabbing his mouth with the napkin. Strictly a
precautionary measure, not an admission of guilt. Not at all.

“You’ve been staring for five minutes,” Daniel accused. “I’m starting to feel like that stuff you
hurl off the back of the boat to tempt the sharks in.”

“It’s not just the sex,” Jack complained. He was rather pleased by Daniel's analogy, which he
guessed was the main reason Daniel thought he was a pig.

“Good,” Daniel said briskly. “So if I tell you this morning was a one shot deal and you will
never get me into bed again?”

“It’s not entirely about the sex,” Jack amended grudgingly. “How come my telling you I’m in
love with you doesn’t panic you but my looking at your ass and thinking I’d like to…”

“Jack!”

“I’ve been doing that for a while, you know,” Jack offered. “If that helps.” Daniel just looked at
him, mouth falling open. “Looking at you and really wanting to have sex with you. For a
while.” He ate a sausage thoughtfully. “Quite a while. I’m not bitter or anything,” he added.
“I’ve just been wanting to do that with you for quite a while.”

“Oh,” Daniel said inadequately.

“And just so you know, I’m going to be spending all day thinking up ways to get you into bed
again tonight.” Jack ate another sausage as Daniel mulled that over. “What’s your position on
that?”

“Oh, I…I really don’t know, Jack,” Daniel admitted in a rush. “We’ve only done that one
thing.”



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 “I do want to do other things to you,” Jack assured Daniel earnestly. “With, I meant with,” he
corrected himself hurriedly.

Daniel suppressed a sigh. They were on the outskirts of Halcyon, Jack was on a collision course
with Daniel’s life and the only thing that might get them through it was Jack’s unholy passion
for his ass. He had grasped the exact nature of Jack’s consuming interest in his rear, but he
didn’t care how quote ‘Sweeeet!’ he looked in these jeans, he was not about to let Jack fuck him,
not any time soon. Even if…or maybe because Jack was good at sex. Terribly talented. Daniel
was fairly certain being fucked by Jack O’Neill would be a life changing experience.

He was absolutely certain his commitment to the wildest ride of his life had been inevitable
from the moment he and Jack had rubbed each other up the right way under the dinner table
and that was enough of a life change right there. The rubbing thing. Jack got him into bed on
the strength of it, and had every intention of keeping him in bed on the strength of all the other
things he was so damn good at, none of which Daniel was likely to see coming before he did.

His first time had been baaaad sex and he definitely hadn’t seen that coming. The first time he
got drunk, the first time he'd gone to bed with anyone. Fifteen years old and he'd believed he
was in love until he'd realised Will was in lust. Fifteen wasn't old enough to realise how stupid
it was to gladly tumble into bed with his foster brother, but it was plenty old enough to realise
Will had used him, used his body to get off. He'd said no at some point in that hot, aching,
helpless confusion. He'd said no, and Will had stopped. He stopped, but he never forgave
Daniel the rejection, and he never stopped craving what he couldn't have.

With only that experience to compare, Daniel hadn't been prepared for Jack. Will came. Daniel
hadn't. It certainly hadn’t been high on Will's list of priorities. This morning had been enough
to show Daniel a focused individual could find an orgasm in the most surprising places, and
Jack was nothing if not focused. The difference was simple enough to cut, even after all this
time. The difference between Jack and Will was as simple as give…and take.

“Fishing!” Jack grasped at any activity that didn’t customarily include going to bed and having
weasel sex.

Jerked out of his reverie, Daniel shot him a scandalised look. “I’m not having sex in the river!”

O-kaay, not that one. “I just want to spend a week in bed in you,” Jack said plaintively. “Is that
too much to ask?”

“In me?” Daniel asked, dangerously calm.

“With, I meant with.”


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Daniel glared at his unrepentant whatever-it-was Jack was now. Oh, yes. Jack was nothing if
not focused. He just wasn't sure he'd survive the focus being on him.




Jack hung back to case the house as Daniel went ahead of him to ring the doorbell. He had to
figure Laidlaw was making money in endorsements, so the place was fixed up some. It was
painfully neat and tidy; the yard, the porch, the cream and blue paintwork, everything. Jack’s
garden grew where it wanted, he just nipped and tucked and kept the grass in check. This yard
was clipped within an inch of its life, like the flowers were polished or something. They didn’t
even grow in the ground, there were pots and fancy raised beds everywhere. The house itself
was a typical boxy two-bedroom suburban utility home. Nothing out of the ordinary.

There was nothing wrong with the place, he just couldn’t see Daniel in it.

Hell. He didn’t want to see Daniel in it. He didn’t like reminders that Daniel’s life was not his
own until he turned eighteen and actually got to make a choice for himself that some prick with
a clipboard didn’t have to sign off on first. He got angry when he had to think about what it
was like for Daniel, independent minded prick that he was.

Jack strolled up the path and joined Daniel just as the door was pulled open and they found
themselves face to face with THE Will Laidlaw. Jack’s immediate reaction was the guy was
much better looking in the flesh; tall and tanned, obviously built, brown haired and hazel-eyed
and very happy to see Daniel. Jack could tell without a word said Will was all alone in the
happy zone.

“Danny!” Will eagerly hailed Daniel, taking a hasty step forward, arms outstretched.

Oh, I don’t think so, pal. Stepping forward, Jack smoothly blocked Will's path, sticking out his
hand. “Jack,” he cranked up the ebullient O’Neill charm. “Colonel Jack O’Neill. A friend of
Daniel’s,” he emphasised the name subtly.

“Will Laidlaw,” Will shook firmly, his own smile warm and charming.

No. Jack didn’t like him. He sensed he was supposed to, and that alone was enough to ensure
he didn’t. Daniel sure as hell didn’t.

Daniel took the initiative, beating Will to the punch with his handshake. “Will,” he
acknowledged.

“It’s been a long time, Danny.”



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“Twenty years,” Daniel said easily, surprised at how calm he felt now Will was right in front of
him, no longer larger than life. Experience had finally given Daniel perspective. It was naïve to
assume Will would exert the power over him he once had. Maybe it was a little pop
psychology 101 of him to think this way, but Will had only the power Daniel allowed him, and
from this point on, he realised with a slight shock that would be none. Will was human and
fallible, like the rest of them, and he had to live with being Will Laidlaw. That should be
enough for anyone.

“How’s Annie doing?” he asked as Will stood back to let them into the house. It looked nothing
like he remembered it, different décor, new furniture. It was warm and comfortable though,
which was as much as Annie had ever wanted of a home. He waited for Will to speak, knowing
the answer wouldn't be good, if Annie was sick enough to call for him. Neither the letter nor
his phone call to Will had yielded specifics about Annie's condition and he'd had a long night
flooded with painful memories. Daniel didn't know what Annie needed from him, what he
could do for her, but he was going to try. "Will?"

“She died, Danny,” Will said softly. “Two days ago.”

“Excuse me?” Jack snapped coldly as Daniel floundered. “Am I mistaken in thinking Daniel
called here before we travelled? Odd you didn’t mention that fact to him.” That was a fucking
understatement. What the hell was Laidlaw playing at, making them come all this way
thinking Annie was sick and needing Daniel?

“Mother wanted Danny at her memorial service, and I wasn’t sure he’d come all this way just
for that,” Will told them calmly, as if that was some kind of explanation.

“You don’t know me too well,” Daniel responded as he took his seat on the couch, Jack joining
him as Will took Annie’s accustomed spot by the fire. “But then you never did,” he added
softly.

Will’s eyes lit with dark amusement. “Touché, Danny,” he acknowledged jovially.

“I prefer Daniel,” Daniel corrected him.

“Sure thing, Danny. Excuse me, Dan-yel,” Will corrected himself pointedly, making it obvious
he was 'indulging' Daniel's pathetic correction of something so unimportant.

Same old same old, Daniel thought, instantly recognising a tactic used against him so effectively
so often. That was then.

“So when’s the memorial, Billy?” Jack asked just as pointedly, smiling as Laidlaw’s face twisted.

“Tomorrow afternoon, two pm. The service will be held at the Wesleyan Chapel as Mother
requested.”




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“I bet if I said you don’t seem awfully cut up about losing your mother you’d say something
trite like everyone grieves in their own way, huh?” Jack observed mildly. He really did not like
this guy. Seriously.

“Mother was a great believer in stoicism,” Will smile reminiscently. “That’s why she liked
Daniel so much.”

“I guess she liked pettiness, too,” Jack smiled right back.

“You’re actually Daniel’s friend.” Will marvelled, shaking his head in amazement.

“One of many,” Jack agreed placidly.

“You do surprise me, Daniel,” Will smiled at him. “Quite a contrast from school. Not just stoic
but exclusive. How many people actually made it to the inner circle? Let me see…hmm…”

Daniel looked steadily back. It was amazing how the skill had never left him. Never escalate.
Get past if you can, focused on where you need to be, not what’s waiting for you. If you get in
it, maintain eye contact, keep your voice low and steady. Pleasant. Don’t smile. That’s
pathetic. That’s nervy. Don’t get scared. There’s never just one. If you lose it, they take you.
Don’t get mad. Mad escalates, mad lets the other get in your face; it gets stupid and hormonal
and you get hurt. Bored is bad. Comes off as superior. Stoic is all too easily seen as arrogant
by someone who thinks he has cause. Someone you dared to say no to when he deigned to
want you. You can’t get above yourself, because then they want to take you down, to the place
you’re supposed to fit. Don’t give the bastards any kind of reaction at all.

It’s hard to walk a gauntlet with your head up, but not too up, not drawing attention, just
walking, just want to get by. Hard to do it knowing they’re waiting for you to give them that
hook; hard when your heart is hammering, the blood pounding in your ears, so scared you can
feel it chill your skin and you taste it, salt and metallic in the back of your throat. Hard to walk
a gauntlet like that.

Hard to do it every single day, almost every class you had to walk into, everyone watching.
Waiting.

Harder still to come back to what Annie tried to make home and have to eat with that fear, sit
with it, sleep in the same fucking room with it. To never know a moment’s peace or privacy, a
single moment where he wasn’t on edge, wasn’t waiting for something to blow up in his face,
never the same trigger twice, no, too easy. Bullies weren’t always dumb and maintaining your
balance was dangerous. Getting good at defusing, deflecting, getting good at getting away with
it – that was bad. This bully wasn’t dumb; he was creative.

With Will and his friends, the pride of the school on his back each and every day of his life,
Daniel might as well have swung through the halls with ‘outcast’ tattooed across his forehead.
He had only one friend who had the balls to take his baggage. Rainey Witt, the Barbie hating
anti-cheerleader who played chess like a goddamn bastard – in her own words. Rainey was his



                                                   29
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friend, she stuck with him, gave Will and his friends crap because she was a girl and they were
big guys, crap that embarrassed them in front of their acolytes.

Will got creative. He knew the difference between barely fifteen and seventeen. He started
dating Rainey.

Daniel learned everything he knew about people from Will Laidlaw and the first time he didn’t
hear her voice urging Will to just PLEASE, quit it, Rainey Witt.

Daniel walked the gauntlet and came out the other end bound and fucking determined. You
did not do that to other people.

“No,” he agreed quietly, trying not to mind Jack’s focused, intent presence, Jack threat-
assessing his way into Daniel’s privacy. “No friends.”

“Mother died asking for you,” Will said gently.

What was it Sam had said to Jack? Sam, who didn’t have a CLUE. Oh, yes. He glanced
fleetingly to Jack, icily still and seething at his side. Welcome to MY life.




 “There’s not a single thing you can say that I will want to hear, is there?” Jack asked at last,
looking up at Daniel’s wintry face.

“Buy that man a clue!” Daniel toasted him ironically with his Pepsi.

Jack grimaced and turned to stare out at the river, just visible through the grove of trees he’d
parked them in out here at the ass end of secluded, which wasn’t doing him a damn bit of good,
what with his behind propped up against a tree and Daniel perched on the hood of the car.

They managed friends just fine. It took work from both of them, but they were fine. As for ‘I
think…I’m falling for you’, Daniel’s working definition so far was iffy on the physical and all
the way over there on the hood of the car with the emotional. Maybe he didn’t think Jack was
up to doing the relationship stuff. Jack had been married for almost twelve years. He was up to
almost anything. Or maybe it was Daniel who wasn’t up to the relationship stuff. Jack had no
idea how Daniel was with Sha’uri, apart from dazed. He knew this Daniel, not the boy he’d
been, not the man he was on Abydos. Stoic was expected in a teammate, admirable in a friend
and frickin’ impossible in your S.O.

If Daniel was his S.O.

It was looking like he was going to have to go over there, fetch his S.O. and explain this to him.


                                                    30
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Daniel looked up warily as Jack jumped gracefully to his feet and stalked over to the car.

“What part of ‘I love you’ don’t you get?” Jack snarled. “Get your ass down here!”

“Don’t be childish, Jack,” Daniel said wearily. “I know it might come as a shock, but this is not
about you.”

Jack tilted his head, looked at Daniel musingly for a long moment. Then he nodded and yanked
Daniel slithering down the hood of the Lexus to sprawl awkwardly against him.

“We can do this the way that gets me horny or the other way that get me horny, but either way,
your ass is in that grass,” Jack purred menacingly. "And mine is horny."

“I can’t think of any ways you can get me from here to there that would get anybody horny,”
Daniel said blankly, aware himself he was missing the point.

“You need to get out more,” Jack shook his head sadly. Then he dropped his shoulder and
pulled Daniel’s weight forward, the Pepsi arcing out over the grass as Daniel toppled over
Jack’s back, yelping.

“Put me down!” Daniel snarled as Jack swaggered across the clearing. He had a perfect if
distracting view of Jack’s ass swaying rhythmically almost before his eyes, and if this shirt
wasn’t in the way...

“Nope,” Jack refused pleasantly as Daniel’s entire body sulked. He curved his hand fondly
over Daniel’s ass. Completely loved this guy.

“Pervert,” Daniel said at once.

“You’re totally freaked by the fact I find you sexually attractive, aren’t you?” Jack asked wryly.

“Yes,” Daniel admitted. “I just can’t reconcile that with the fact I really like having sex with
you.”

“If you don’t whine about the relationship stuff now, I promise you’ll get laid when we get back
to the B&B,” Jack offered generously.

“We have to wait?” Daniel blurted. Then he blushed. “I…er…I…” He didn’t get a chance to
recover his composure or his balance. Jack dropped him to his feet at the base of the tree and
MOVED, and when Daniel caught his breath again, they were in a tangle of arms and legs on
the blanket they got to go with the tuna sandwiches from Adele’s Deli on the misnamed
Fortune Street. He had to admit there was something oddly soothing about having Jack’s
heartbeat steady beneath his cheek, even more so than Jack’s emphatic embrace. “You’re not
quitting on me. I get that,” Daniel admitted shyly, touched and tentatively touching, a worthy
endeavour Jack enthusiastically assisted him in.



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“Do you get that we’re in a relationship?” Jack asked bluntly, failing to resist the urge to stroke
Daniel’s hair, which felt as silky against his skin as it looked. “I’m not going to let you just use
me for hot sex.”

Daniel reached down slowly and cupped Jack’s crotch firmly. It took Jack moments to rise
magnificently to the occasion. “No?” he challenged in a low, sultry voice that surprised them
both and made Jack chuckle. Daniel sensed Jack was edging ahead on points and tried out a
gentle massage through the soon straining denim. Jack hissed viciously and arched
aggressively into him, metaphorically throwing in the towel. Daniel felt slightly smug. Mostly
scared he could DO this to Jack, but a little smug too. It wasn't a guy thing as such, more a Jack-
Daniel thing.

“Yes,” Jack caved categorically. “Look, are you going to make me embarrass myself and admit
to the unbelievable truth here?” he complained.

“Mm-hm,” Daniel agreed lazily, stretching up to kiss Jack’s throat now he seemed to have
gotten to grips with the massage. He had to admit it was a huge turn on to see Jack losing
control like this, thrusting demandingly into the pressure, his own hand hard over Daniel’s,
moving him to squeeze and knead and rub in turn.

“I don’t just want to have sex with you, I want to date you, now do me,” Jack harshly ordered.

“Taking me out to dinner type dating?” Daniel sought clarification, gentling his hand on Jack,
which drove Jack nuts.

“Yes. Do me!”

“Dinner and a movie? Walks in the park? Concerts? Games?”

“Yes. Dating. Is English not one of the languages you speak?” Jack asked with awful
politeness. “Do me. This is also not a difficult concept.”

“It’s idiomatic,” Daniel amended gently, easing the pressure to the barest brushing of his
fingertips. “Elaborate.”

“Engage in onanism with me and don’t ever challenge me to Strip Scrabble. You’ll lose.”

“I’ll see your onanism and raise you tribady, so we can buy Travel Scrabble on the way back to
the B&B, and I’m doing you right now, Jack.”

“I want your hand on me.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to touch you, Jack,” Daniel said quietly, “but this…” He caressed the
taut denim. “Is so erotic. Seeing you lose control like this – YOU.”




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“You’ve seen me lose control before. Hell, you’ve made me lose control before.”

“Not like this.” Daniel couldn’t explain it, he didn’t want to kill the mood, but there was no
anger in Jack now, only pleasure and need for something Daniel could give him. Daniel
realised they’d lost their way when they hadn’t acted on the attraction between them. At least
he had. He'd been lost since Sha'uri died and only when he too came close to death did he
realise how far he'd fallen down a path he would never have chosen to take. He'd fallen - he'd
been ready to JUMP, but Jack had been there. Jack had come for him when he had needed him
most and it was as if the distance between them had never existed. Jack hadn't apologised.
He'd just been there, as hard as he could. More than Daniel could take, some days. They were
closer than ever, each turning to the other to give and share reassurance, comfort, empathy.
Like an old married couple, Daniel thought again. Surrendering to his own need for sex with
Jack had given him that edge back, the one he’d missed so much, only now the passion would
be expressed and shared, not channelled. Or vented.

Daniel loosened the button on Jack’s jeans, easing the zipper down carefully over the bulging
erection. Jack’s boy scout instincts had led him to dispense with underwear so Daniel couldn’t
think of another excuse to delay. He nudged the jeans over Jack’s hips and got a good handful
of hot, throbbing flesh, flushed an angry red; heavy and thumping in his palm as Jack arched
lazily into him, catlike, groaning his pleasure. Daniel sat absolutely still. “No,” he told Jack
emphatically. “No.” Not his ass. No way.

Jack’s eyes were dangerous above a predatory, knowing smile. “Yes,” he drawled, savouring
the word. “Yes.”

“I’m never going to want that,” Daniel denied firmly.

“You will, Danny, believe me. There’s nothing quite like giving it up to another guy,” Jack said
deliberately. "It's been a while, but I'm up for it. Just say the word." He grinned as Daniel
started, conscientiously retrieving Jack’s dick after dropping it. Having Daniel’s hand on him
was wonderful, but maybe he should have been a tad more explicit and offered Danny some
doing words. Like, move it around. Stroke it. Lick it. Swallow it whole. Whatever.
Something.

Try to look like you know what to do with it, Danny. It’s just context. You took it out of my
pants instead of yours. Take a minute. It’ll come to you. And then it better come to me.

“You’ve been with a guy?” Daniel asked weakly.

“I grew up in Minnesota. As a wise woman once said, it’s the country. We do things
differently there, and we do them more often.” Jack looked at his enthralled, slightly appalled
audience. “I gave guys up to get my wings, Daniel. I liked guys. I liked girls. I liked SEX.
Unfortunately, along the way I grew the hell up, life got complicated, I stopped having sex and
started making love.”




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“Oh. In that case, I’ve never had sex.” Will got off with Daniel’s dazed and hazy Chianti-
fuelled assistance. Daniel hadn’t, but then Will hadn’t been interested in what Daniel got out of
it at first, and by the time he was, Daniel resolutely wasn’t, and had booted him, so that didn’t
count. It couldn’t count. You couldn’t have sex and not lose your virginity, and Daniel quite
definitely hadn’t lost his virginity. That was baaaad sex. He glared at Jack, his ‘0 for 2’. “I
almost had sex last night, you inconsiderate shit.”

“Yell more, that feels greeeaat,” Jack groaned. “That little shimmy, just, yeah, just there. And
feel free to pout.”

“Pout?” Daniel asked, puzzled.

Jack clenched his fingers over Daniel’s and urged him to forget about respectful and considerate
and just ring his bells, for cryin’ out loud. Jack looked up at the pout in question. “Never
mind,” he brushed it off. Daniel had the poutiest, most kissable mouth on the planet and a
bizarre yet totally him line in polite masturbation. As long as he kept his hand MOVING, who
was Jack to mess with his self-image?

“Do I have to deal with some kind of lip fetish now?” Daniel persisted, slightly alarmed. He
was holding Jack’s penis in a strong clasp, obediently gliding his hand up and down, gripping
tightly all the way. Jack was definitely enjoying it, even if he wanted it rougher and Daniel
thought this was too rough. He wanted to caress and linger, and Jack wanted to howl and bite
chunks out of the tree trunk. Or Daniel’s ass; he couldn’t decide. They were going to have to
find a way to compromise. Maybe after Jack wrestled him to the ground for round two or three
they could try this Daniel’s way.

Jack seemed happy with his way; in fact he was positively abandoned, rocking wantonly into
Daniel’s hand, groaning happily, a sleek, greedy pleasure sound Daniel recognised from this
morning, when ‘0’ segued into ‘Ooooh God’. Jack wasn’t worried at all about letting himself go
in front of Daniel, which was maybe why Jack hadn’t realised Daniel had a big problem with
Jack just wrestling him to the bed like that. Not a case of intent on Jack’s part, just a
miscommunication. It hadn’t occurred to Jack that the last time Daniel had gone to bed with
anyone had been with his wife on Abydos, and that was four years and what felt like a lifetime
away.

“You’ve never had sex?” Jack rallied his few fugitive functioning brain cells. “That bitch
Shyla?”

That was all hazy, but no, Daniel was sure on that one. “Royalty,” he said repressively. That
tended to go hand in hand with grave concern over stuff like succession and dowries, and
verifiable virginity. Shyla wasn’t about to give him anything before the ring slid through his
nose. “Please don’t start on Ke’ra again,” he asked wearily. A little consensual kissing and
mutual comfort was also not a biggie, even if it was with the Destroyer of Worlds. They had
both been too conscious of the fact she really could have a husband out there she’d have to face
in a couple of days, and he was RAW. Daniel’s passion had been about the injustice of Jack’s
selfish determination to erase the consequences of his own error of judgement. Jack had



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wanted Linea dead and buried, clean and simple in his mind, but he didn’t see Ke’ra at all.
Daniel straightened up, his hand stilling. Jack glared at him and wriggled pointedly. “Were
you jealous…”

“There’s nothing I can say you’ll want to hear,” Jack said matter-of-factly. “Except maybe,
what’s your position on oral sex?”

“Not in public!”

“Pfffft. In bed.”

“Oh.”

“That ‘oh’ sounds promising. Sounds like a bad desire to me. Spill,” Jack ordered, smirking as
Daniel blushed and looked at him apologetically. Daniel mumbled something about Jack’s
dress blues. “I do have some respect for the uniform,” Jack tried for dignified disapproval.

“I thought you signed up for fast jets and big guns with lots of bullets?” Daniel rallied.

“If you reciprocate in that suit, I’ll throw in the shades,” Jack offered generously. “The hot
one.” That sleek, black, sex in a suit look…woo momma!

“I have a hot suit?” Daniel brightened a little. He knew the one. It was his favourite too. If Jack
thought Daniel looked hot in it…he'd never considered tweed sexy, but for Jack…

“You have a hot everything,” Jack gloated offensively. Daniel’s hand was moving quicker,
more confidently; clever, sensitive fingers seeking out hot spots, pulling the pleasure out of
him, lazy ripples focusing, quickening, intensifying. SLAMMING. Jack convulsed, snorting
over Daniel’s bemusement as his dick jerked, the slick semen slowly pulsing out over his hand.
Jack closed his eyes for the freefall…

“It’s different without the Chianti,” Daniel muttered distractedly.

Huh?




Jack had made it clear to Daniel he wasn’t going to let him be, which meant Daniel now had his
back against the tree-trunk and Jack’s head in his lap. He was doing the martyred S.O. act so
well, Jack was seriously thinking about going down on him right here in retaliation.

“I don’t do this. Alfresco sex. I just don’t,” Daniel admitted, bewildered. “A couple of times in
tombs, but…”


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“I’m irresistible,” Jack observed complacently, making himself a smidgeon more comfortable.
Tombs? Hmm. That was doable. That was quite definitely doable. Hot and hard off-world
quickie tomb sex beckoned.

“Do you want me to give you the sweater?” Daniel asked politely as Jack snuggled, smirked
and fondled. “In fact, do you have a thing for sheep you’re not telling me about? Because I’m
telling you; I don’t baa for anyone.”

“I can’t tell you what images that brings to mind,” Jack snorted. “In case it scares you off.
You’ve got a choice here, cara mia; stay up there and talk or get down here and expand your
repertoire of kinky sex acts.”

“No sex,” Daniel refused emphatically. “You’ll scare the hikers.” He had to admit getting
down and dirty with Jack sounded good, but he settled for just getting down. “No fondling,”
he warned as he stretched out cautiously next to Jack. “Or groping or any synonym thereof.
And confine your oral activities to speech.”

“Why the hell did we buy the blanket if it wasn’t for nasty sticky alfresco sex?” Jack
complained, plucking off Daniel’s glasses and blithely ignoring the negative in favour of
accentuating the positive, confining his oral activities to speaking in tongues; a slow, deep kiss
that had Daniel wrapped around him and clinging sixty seconds in. And counting.

Jack kept his eyes open so he could look his fill. Daniel was just impossible, unforgivably
unattainable and not because he was the wunderkind; he’d never made Jack feel like he was too
stupid to live. He was impossible because he was Jack’s friend and friends – men - weren’t
supposed to be this beautiful, not this way. Jack had been bewildered for a long time over the
way Daniel’s face dimmed Carter’s to pretty, and when he finally understood why, it was too
late for him. He’d realised what he felt for Daniel when he saw in Carter’s eyes what she felt for
him, what she couldn’t hide from him, trapped on the other side of that force field. He’d
recognised that same IMPOSSIBLE need and desire in himself and he went a little crazy over it
because he never wanted to look at Daniel that way; not his friend. He hadn't had the balls to
face that, no more ready to face likely rejection than he was to risk what they had as friends.
He'd channelled all that WANT into being Daniel's friend. He'd done a helluva job, too. Daniel
hadn't had a CLUE he was in love until he'd blurted it out like a horny , okay, okay, love-struck
teenager.

Having the unattainable land in his lap was something he suspected he was going to be
adjusting to forever. Daniel was far from the perfect package. Beauty didn’t always go with
innate sexual confidence, and beauty in this case required a lover who wasn’t alarmed by plaid
or by excited, erudite exposition triggered by God alone knew what next. Preferably one who
could also keep a lid on all the crap in his own psyche once they walked off the mountain
because his S.O. WORRIED about him.

Jack had to laugh when Daniel broke his own rule on groping and insinuated a thigh between
Jack’s, rubbing hypnotically against his dick as the kiss deepened. Daniel was totally,



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innocently impossible and Jack was way too old and weighed down by responsibility to be this
hormonal. It took him a few seconds to sort out the logistics of two tall guys, both of whom
were mostly leg, but they curled up again with his thigh rubbing Daniel’s dick too. Daniel
seemed content to get tangled up and turned on, but he was uncomfortable with the idea of
making love in the great outdoors so Jack settled for his hands on Daniel’s bare skin beneath the
sweater and didn’t push the rest. Daniel rubbing and writhing against him, sweetly sighing his
pleasure into the kiss was pretty great in fact.

Daniel found it hard to think with Jack’s tongue in his mouth and his hands on Jack’s warm
skin, stretched tight over his ribs. He wasn’t prepared for the question when it came, not the
way Jack was feasting on his throat and stroking his nipples in a way that shocked straight
down to his groin. “Yes,” Daniel groaned, nipping at Jack’s throat in turn.

“Why?”

“Whaa-what?” Daniel pulled himself together and as far away as Jack let him get.

“Why did Laidlaw hit you?” Jack asked patiently. “And how often?”

“He didn’t,” Daniel said automatically. “I could usually…I mean…”

“I always wondered about you, Daniel. You’ve never been weedy, never been weak. That’s
what you showed everybody because it’s easier to have people think you can’t instead of you
won’t, huh? I thought, and I knew when Kawalsky knocked you on your ass and you just went
down. I knew you were a man who understood violence and that gave us one thing in
common,” Jack said quietly. “Just that one damn thing.”

Daniel took a steadying breath. “The same way I know why you blamed yourself for Charlie,”
he said carefully, ready for Jack to freeze him out. “You never let him play with guns,” he went
on respectfully when Jack seemed to be listening. “And doing what you do, you made them
glamorous to him. You didn’t want him to see the reality of what you did, so you never taught
him to respect.”

“People get as far as it being my gun that killed him, and that’s all the blame they can stand.
Even Sara couldn’t see past that.” Jack was touched when Daniel rubbed his cheek caressingly
against Jack’s.

“Can’t you let it go, Jack?” Daniel asked softly, hurting for him.

“No. I can’t, Daniel, I truly can’t. Every fucking Happy Meal I missed, Sara was talking Charlie
up a storm about how Dad loved him, how Dad was sorry he couldn’t be there because Dad
was off saving the world,” Jack said bitterly. “Again. It would have been easier if I’d just let
him hate me for not being there. I didn’t have to be the fucking hero.” He’d killed his son
because he couldn’t bear to disappoint him. Big cosmic fucking joke there, huh? The kind you
don’t get over, not ever.




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“I didn’t have to be the fucking victim,” Daniel riposted. “It just keeps turning out that way.”

“I know.” Jack returned the convulsive hug. “God damn you for daring to be different,
anyway,” he said ironically. “I wasn’t different. I was typical. You could throw a stone down
the hallway of my school and hit twenty more just like me. I was pretty good at sports, but not
the best, not the star. Pretty good in class. I had to be, unfortunately, or I could have kissed the
Air Force goodbye. I put in the minimum amount of effort required for everything and
absolutely nothing interesting happened to me at school. I was the original common
denominator. Whereas you?” he prompted, stirring Daniel.

“I hated school,” Daniel confessed. “I loved to learn but had to endure school. Teachers don’t
like over-achievers. They don't like you reading outside the prescribed curriculum and they
don’t like a lot of questions, especially questions they can’t answer. They don’t mind bright,
bright makes them look good, but they like quiet kids who give them no problems.”

“I’m in total shock here. You weren’t quiet? Strange. You were pretty damned quiet when I
met you,” Jack said lightly.

“I got to be that way.” Daniel untangled himself and rolled over on the blanket, chin propped
on his hands as Jack stretched out alongside him. “I asked too many questions, I asked the
wrong questions and I had the temerity to disagree with the answers I was given. I never had
an inspirational teacher until I went to college. I didn’t BREATHE until I went to college,” he
mused. “I dreamed of it, Jack. I dreamed of freedom and people who thought like I did, felt
like I did,” he mumbled into his hands, embarrassed.

Had the same kind of passion he did, Jack thought. “You were too smart for them, too.” He
was certain of that, didn’t need the quick betraying flush to know. Daniel was smarter than
Carter and Carter knew it too. Daniel had said Rothman was also a smart guy but Jack had
never seen much evidence of it apart from the doctor in front of his name. “If it’s any
consolation, I graduated top of my flight class so I know how that goes. I liked jet planes like I
liked sex.”

“I’m saying nothing about your skill at either,” Daniel said primly, ignoring Jack’s pantomime
hurt look.

“I was Top Gun so I’ll draw my own conclusions about the sex,” Jack gloated. He propped
himself on his elbow, stroking Daniel’s tense back. “How hard a time did you have at school?”
he asked soberly. Daniel looked up at him bleakly. “That good, huh?” He kept up the petting
and soothing. Jack had found school a distraction, no more, no less. “From kids like me?” he
asked, hoping not.

“Some,” Daniel admitted in a stifled voice, determinedly looking away from Jack. “It isn’t easy
to skip grades, to be the youngest and the smartest. To be different. Losing my parents was
difference enough, I didn’t need everything else on top of that.”

“Did you hate Nick?”



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“Sometimes.” Daniel turned his face towards Jack. “Do you know how hard it is not to let
yourself want things you know you can’t have? The kind of discipline that takes?”

“I know exactly what kind of discipline that takes. I’ve wanted you long enough,” Jack
answered dryly. Daniel reached out to cup his face, smiling a little.

“Did you have that discipline when you were nine, Jack?" Daniel asked. He felt guilty for the
way Jack's face twisted, his quiet sorrow for something he couldn't fix. "It’s easier to have the
perverse pride of saying I don’t want than facing I can’t have, and it’s hard to break that habit,"
he awkwardly tried to explain. "I’d never owned anything except my books until I started
working for the SGC. My apartment was rented furnished. When I lost that, I lost everything
except my books. Almost the last cent I had went on putting them into storage.” He grinned at
Jack suddenly. “I was still a student when we met. The ink wasn’t dry on my second doctorate
when my work was debunked and my ass was on the pavement next to Catherine’s limousine.
The wet pavement. All that stuff you were teasing me about in my journal? About not getting
paid? You have no idea. Seriously. Research fellows are paid peanuts. You have to have killer
instincts to get tenure, but I…”

“Asked questions, asked the wrong questions, had the temerity to disagree with the answers
you were given?”

“I thought the work would be enough,” Daniel sighed. “I learned about people, but I’ve never
learned that lesson.”

“You love people,” Jack was surprised.

“I know people,” Daniel corrected him. “You want to know the fundamental difference
between Sam and me? It’s empathy. You have to experience something before you can
empathise with others. Sam is rigid because she hasn’t had much experience, Jack. She left
school and joined the Air Force, and she’s had the protection of the Air Force and a hierarchical
command structure her whole adult life. Where Sam has personal experience to draw on, she
can reach out. Where she doesn’t…” Daniel shrugged.

“I had two choices," he went on. "I could let people like Will ruin me, or I could…I could be
true to myself. You really have to know how something hurts to understand it, and how you
respond to that kind of pain is your choice. You can lash out in return at the time, which might
feel good, but then how are you any different from the one who hurt you? Or you can learn
from it. I chose to learn.” Daniel let Jack pull him back into a hug, grateful for the warmth, and
Jack's solid comforting support. “I can’t hurt other people, Jack, not intentionally. I’ve been on
the receiving end too often to let myself do that. The only thing I hate is a bully. I know
what…” he looked up at Jack helplessly. “I know…”

He knew about fear and the constant bewilderment and of wondering just what he’d done that
was so bad, so wrong it brought people like Will down on him. Why could you not be your
own person, make your own way and just be left alone? He didn't hurt anyone, didn't get in



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their way. What difference did he make to their lives? He knew what a difference they made to
his, though. He was still living with it. He knew how hard it had been to see himself clear, to
not hate in himself the differences that made him a target. Being victimised did not make him a
victim. He’d fought back against the shame of it, every day, every way he could. He’d used
everything, all the feelings, all the lessons in pettiness and power and it drove him on.

It still did. Trust was Sha’uri’s gift to him, the ability to put his faith in another person, to open
himself up again to the possibility of disappointment or betrayal. The Abydonians had given
him the first true home he’d know since his parents died, celebrating the differences between
them, learning from him as he learned from them, accepting.

Daniel had lowered his guard and it had brought him here, to this man. Jack had been part of it
too, connecting with himself again and making his choice to live in that brief moment of
oneness they’d had on Abydos, and it was for Jack’s sake Daniel had unburied the gate. He
wouldn’t have done it for anyone but Jack, he trusted Jack. In the end they’d both been
choiceless. Jack couldn’t let them die to protect a lie and Daniel couldn’t leave that gate buried
when Jack sent through the message. He’d wanted Jack, wanted him with an intensity that
surprised him and alarmed Sha’uri. The irony was, he would have lost Sha’uri either way, to
the bomb or to the unburying of the gate.

Strange that both Jack and the general accepted blame for that and wouldn’t let him share it. In
George’s mind it was his order and it was that simple. Jack had admitted in a drunken,
hugging stupor after Daniel’s run in with Nem that he’d missed Daniel too. He felt guilty for
sending the tissue box, for knowing just what would it would take to get Daniel to drop his
guard. He felt more guilty for being happy to have Daniel back. To take Daniel back. He
hadn’t thought about Sha’uri at all until she was right in front of him in the gateroom on
Abydos. In fact…

“Just how long have you been wanting to have sex with me anyway?” Daniel asked
suspiciously.

“That’s a loaded question,” Jack replied carefully. Daniel looked like he had Intel Jack didn’t.
“A while,” he said evasively.

“Jack?”

“On and off, just these odd…twinges…now and again,” Jack muttered.

“How long?” Daniel prodded Jack in the ribs.

“A few years,” Jack snarled.

“Twinges?” That wasn’t exactly flattering. Was Daniel like an itch that couldn’t be scratched?

“You know,” Jack said sullenly.




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“I don’t know,” Daniel denied emphatically. He’d thought Jack was hot for just under twenty-
four hours.

“Twinges like noticing you’re hot when you’re wet and…er…sprawling. Twinges like ‘My
God, look at the ass on that!’” Jack quoted, glaring at him. “Occasionally, ‘Back off bitch, he’s
mine’,” he admitted in as dignified a manner as possible, not feeling any burning desire to
mention that twinge included Carter from time to time. “Typical guy stuff,” he insisted
defiantly.

“That’s…that’s…” Daniel stuttered.

“Different without the Chianti?” Jack snapped.




 “I’m not drinking that,” Daniel said coldly, glaring accusingly at the bottle. “And I’m not
talking. I didn’t mean to talk this afternoon, but it’s hard to refuse a man with his hand on
your…your…oh, Jack, oh, God, oh…”

“Good?” Jack took another swig of Chianti and just kept rubbing. Daniel was right, it was very
erotic to just keep on gently massaging another guy’s dick through his pants.

It was only three in the afternoon but they’d agreed an early night was exactly what they
needed.

He thoroughly approved of these thin navy sweats Daniel had changed into when they got back
to the B&B, and the old grey T-shirt was too short and too tight. Jack had an eyeful of golden
skin and the gentle swell of muscle focusing his eye right on Daniel’s navel. He had to nudge
the pants down to just bare Daniel’s hips, but less was definitely more when Daniel was
moaning and quivering like this, his hand tight over Jack’s, deepening the maddeningly
deliberate pressure.

Jack stretched out at Daniel’s side, leaning in to kiss him, a sweet Chianti flavoured kiss. He
chuckled when both Daniel’s hands gripped his and Daniel began to rock up into his palm, the
thin fabric soaking through now.

“Chianti?” Jack whispered, nibbling Daniel’s ear.

“Bastard.”

Jack slowed his massage. Daniel snarled at him wordlessly. He drizzled some of the Chianti
across Daniel’s belly and scooted down to nuzzle at it, swiping his tongue over the warm,
trembling silken skin. “I want to fuck you,” he groaned.


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“Too soon, Jack,” Daniel gasped as Jack’s tongue delved into his navel. “S-sorry.”

“Hey! Don’t be,” Jack said at once. “Me wanting to doesn’t mean you having to. 'The
relationship isn’t consummated until we fuck' thing is bull. The relationship was pretty much a
done deal when I shoved you through the bedroom door and kissed you.”

Daniel thought his spine was melting. He was totally embarrassed by the goofy smile plastered
all over his face, but Jack brightened visibly and headed back up for a kiss. Daniel strongly
suspected Jack liked using his strength and weight to pin him flat. He was slightly annoyed
with himself because he liked it too. In fact…he thrust up a hint Jack could get a lot more pro-
active about this. He was so aroused he couldn’t see straight. Literally. He was giddy with
pleasure. “I really like the massage,” he asked hopefully. “Mmmm,” he moaned, arching up
wantonly as Jack obliged him and indulged in a little podalic massage too, toes caressing the
arch of his foot. Daniel’s own toes were curling.

“Can’t I?” he asked, stroking his hand over Jack’s stomach. It seemed only polite to share the
toe-curling.

“I’ve got ten years on the clock and more hormones than I know what to do with right now,”
Jack snorted. “I’m good. I’m better than good. I’m totally getting off on seeing you like this.”

“Horny?” Daniel suggested, grinning as Jack leered at him. Well, what could it hurt? He
trusted Jack, and this had happened so long ago…”I kind of had sex with a guy," he confided as
Jack touched him just right. "Kind of as in, he did and I…kind of…didn’t.”

“What?” Jack stiffened. “When?” he asked slowly.

“In school.”

“That gives us a window of about fifteen years!” Jack’s hand stilled. Daniel’s started it moving
again. “Was it that Rayner guy? I never liked him. He…”

“No. Steven?” Daniel mumbled, frowning.

“Never mind,” Jack said instantly as Daniel opened drowsy, bewildered eyes. He decided he
needed a proportional response to way TMI here, didn’t want Daniel realising he was the
jealous type or anything; slipped his hand into the sweats and found the sweet spot on the
underside of Daniel’s dick that had him curling reflexively into a ball of orgasmic goo, his
breath catching as he gamely tried to investigate further. “Who?” Jack decided hypnotically
caressing a guy’s sweet spot worked just as well as that hokey look into my eyes thing. “Who?”
he crooned.

“Will,” Daniel sighed, closing his eyes as his mind began to spin along with the room.




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Jack had to fight not to freeze, to keep the mood for Daniel's sake, drowsy, vulnerable and
trusting him completely here. Will? School as in high school? Bastard Laidlaw!

Jack brushed his thumb over the head of Daniel’s penis, let the groan fade to whimpers and
leaned in to kiss Daniel’s ear. “When?” he asked gently.

“Christmas.”

“I’ll bet it was,” Jack snarled. Ah, Danny.

“It was baaaad,” Daniel groaned. “More, please.”

“This?” Jack pressed in with his thumb and Daniel whimpered.

“Gooood.”

“He didn’t, er…that’s not why you’re…” he asked awkwardly. “You went a little…er…” What
was a tactful way to say panicked? “Nuts. Last night,” he added helpfully. “When I…when
we got into bed.”

“Last time you had me flat on my back…more, please, Jack, just…God, more…”

Jack gave him more and cleared his throat meaningfully. He gave up as Daniel started
shuddering from head to foot, his dick pulsing steadily in Jack’s hand as he came and came.
Jack held on until Daniel stilled, then undressed him completely, shucked his own jeans and
pulled the covers over them both, Daniel gravitating towards his arms, single-mindedly
squirming and wriggling until he got comfortable, sighing contentedly. Jack got a passionate
thank you kiss that made it as far as his collarbone. “Last time I had you flat on your back I…?”
he prompted as Daniel’s breathing slowed, just catching him, guy-like, on the cusp of sleep.

“You beat the shit out of meeee.”




 “Whale, W-H-A-L-E,” Jack spelled out, every consonant dripping ‘marine mammal’ and no
other connotation whatsoever. He stared at his opponent, who had chosen now of all times to
decide he was perfectly comfortable naked and sprawly in bed with Jack. Given Daniel was
naked and sprawly against Jack’s chest, with the game on a tea tray Abe had rustled up for a
very reasonable by the hour rental fee after insisting that as Jack's clothes were in the other
room they could go right on paying for it, secrecy was being maintained by hands over eyes.
More or less. Both of them were kind of aiming low. About two feet low, plus some very
distracting wriggling from Daniel.



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“Verberate, V-E-R-B-E-R-A-T-the E from ‘whale’,” Daniel spelled rapidly.

“And that means…” Jack prompted.

“Same thing as whale,” Daniel admitted reluctantly.

“After hammer, knout, maul, punch, strike and vapulate, I have to say I’m sensing a pattern
here,” Jack observed mildly.

“Coincidence,” Daniel denied crisply. “It was years ago,” he added reassuringly.

“What was years ago?” Jack pounced.

“Nothing,” Daniel said feebly.

“Boy, you really know how to hold a grudge, don’t you, Jackson?” Jack complained bitterly.

Daniel reached out one careful finger and tapped the board precisely.

“Ah, yes,” Jack said brightly. “I forgot stoned.”

“Hungry,” Daniel announced, scrambling off the bed to make for the food that originally came
with the tray, before Abe had scented a potential market and redeployed it as a mobile
entertainment centre. “If I’d known you were going to sulk, I would have stuck with ‘Snakes &
Ladders’,” he grumbled.

“If I’d know you were going to sublimate, I would’ve…”

“Scones!”

“Scones?” Jack queried. “We’ve got English food?”

“Cherry scones!” Daniel held up a heaped plate for inspection. “With what appear to be Abe-
made cherry preserves and fresh cream.”

Jack saw potential in all the named food groups and graciously made room for Daniel to sprawl
across the bed beside him, the tray in reach on the floor below. This meant he had both Daniel
and the goodies within licking distance. “Biscuits are better,” Jack bitched unconvincingly.
“Scones are un-American.”

“I’ve been to England. In fact I’ve been to Wales too, and trust me, I know a scone when I see
one,” Daniel gloated. He spooned on preserves and cream, took a cautious bite and chewed
beatifically as Jack watched him anxiously.

“The cream looks funny.”




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“Oh, dear God,” Daniel moaned ecstatically. “It doesn’t just look like clotted cream. It is
clotted cream.”

“Don’t rush! Savour. This shit is probably going to set us back more than the room-S,” Jack
warned. When Daniel tried to catch a fugitive splash of cream with his tongue, Jack lent an
assist. “Whoa.”

“Wow,” Daniel agreed happily.

“It looks like shit but it tastes like…Mmm,” Jack sighed as he got to share a sweet, exuberant
mouthful of cherry preserve, cream and tongue. “You are what you eat,” he sniggered, rolling
onto his back, arms held wide. Daniel looked up at him hesitantly, then obviously decided he
really did mean it was teatime, and politely spooned preserves onto his chest. Jack sensed he
was going to have to make Daniel stop with the Martha Stewart stuff during sex. Sex was
supposed to be gloriously sticky and stupid and fun. Daniel had it in him to be all of these
things, so it was up to Jack to bring them out of him.

Daniel found himself tongue to nipple with the Jack a la Crème Interactive Experience. He’d
certainly eaten clotted cream before but the passionate ass groping was new. He settled down
to some serious suckling, conscientiously nudging the cream over with his tongue just in case
he…not that Jack seemed to mind…in fact…

“Baaaa.”

“Jack!”

“Baaaaaaaa.”

Daniel groaned. How could a baad sheep impression sound so damned smutty?

“Daniel?” Jack asked with exquisite politeness.

“Jack?” Daniel asked suspiciously.

“I wanna be baaaaaaaa-d," Jack murmured dulcetly, clasping Daniel fondly to his bosom just as
Daniel spooned on more preserves. And cream. Sticky. Messy. Fun.

"Ewww," Daniel whined, making a desperate, doomed bid for freedom. Jack let him get just far
enough away to use the leverage to tumble him onto his back and rub enthusiastically all over
him. Jack also seemed to enjoy mashing him flat as he strained to reach scone Shangri-la, which
took twice as long as it would have to get off of Daniel and go fetch it.

Not that that was the point. Daniel looked up at Jack's virgin scone. He looked at
the…mess…all over them both. "That's disgusting," he protested for the record as Jack
chuckled malevolently, closing in to molest him with the scone regardless. "I was just thinking




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how mature you were too," Daniel sighed as Jack scooped, licked, slurped, nibbled and
nuzzled, six-two of solid gloat, grazing happily.

"Mmmphure?"

"I thought you'd go ape over Will," Daniel confided, blaming a momentary lapse in his survival
instinct for the long dreamy kiss he pulled Jack into. He didn't want to offer anything that
could be construed as encouragement for Jack to use him as a dessert, but he was in the mood.
Jack did say he was saving his hormones for later, and this was later and…Daniel pushed up
and Jack obligingly rolled onto his back, smiling up at him in a way that made him giddy and a
little breathless. And flushed. He really had to stop with the blushing. He was thirty six, not
sixteen. And he was in the mood.

Jack looked up cautiously as Daniel settled down to a thorough exploration of his body,
seemingly fascinated by stuff like hair and biceps. The guy stuff. Jack sighed. Daniel was
absolutely convinced he and Jack were on the same page in the mature acceptance book. Daniel
couldn't be more wrong, but he didn't know that. "So? How'd it happen?" Jack asked casually,
stroking over Daniel's shoulders as he cruised down to count ribs or something. "With
Laidlaw?" Jack kept his tone light and natural. "It was Christmas, and what? Alcohol passed
your lips for the first time?"

"I tried the beer and didn't like it," Daniel muttered distractedly. Jesus, Jack was big. Positively
abundant. "So we switched to Chianti Will filched from the kitchen."

"Where was Annie?"

"At a party with the neighbours." Jack's navel was niiiiice. In fact all those muscles
were…"Mmm." Warm and sleek, moving beneath his questing mouth. "Mmmmmm."

"Mmm backatcha. Laidlaw?" Jack gently persisted. They were definitely getting into it, so the
interrogation was on the clock. "Why Laidlaw?"

"Mmmmmm," Daniel sighed. "He was just lousy at…I hadn't even done it before and I was
drunk and I still knew he was lousy. He hadn't seemed to grasp there were two people." He
looked up, abruptly leaving off the tongue bath he was lavishing on Jack's navel. Jack went
from sighing to snarling in about a nanosecond.

"That's a talented mouth. Lick and talk at the same time," Jack ordered briskly, urging Daniel's
head back down to where it should be. Daniel bit him playfully and sat right back up.

"I decided I didn't really like guys on the strength of it. Not that I wasn't open, I just never met
one who did anything for me. I liked women."

"Me too," Jack grinned, biting back the urge to shake Daniel 'til he turned blue and spilled for
Chrissake. He seemed to have Daniel completely fooled for now about the mature acceptance
thing and every instinct was screaming at him to keep it reined in and beat the ever-loving fuck



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out of Laidlaw first chance he got. In private. Daniel said 'baaaad' and Jack's gut told him that
meant bad.

"I like sex," Daniel admitted, chuckling. He'd never gotten a whole lot of it; a year or so with
Sarah in a relationship that was ultimately about control issues, and his time with Sha'uri,
warm, wonderful and over so quickly it still cut him to the bone when he least expected. If you
wanted to talk about halcyon, then that was his life on Abydos, the first time after his parents
died that he fit. Daniel straddled Jack, waiting for Jack's hands to skim over his thighs. He was
struck all over again by the incongruity of seeing his penis swelling slowly against Jack's skin,
feeling the heat and pressure of Jack's own erection rubbing against his ass as Jack moved lazily
beneath him.

Thinking about it, Daniel realised he fit with SG-1 both professionally and personally, the only
time in his life he'd accomplished that, been fulfilled in every way. Sarah had been challenging,
always pushing him to be something he wasn't, both professionally and in their personal lives.
She'd never just let him be. On Abydos, he'd had the family he'd longed for, but his frustration
at not being able to share his discoveries, of his work being unimportant in the endeavour to
simply survive, had prevented him from being truly happy.

Daniel…fit with Jack. With Jack, he had everything. Friendship, respect, countless
opportunities to learn, share and make a difference, something he admitted to himself he was
becoming addicted to. And Jack loved him. More, was in love with him. That was something
Daniel had never looked for, never imagined was possible. Open or not, he'd never thought
Jack would see him this way. In fact, he's been so sure Jack wouldn't, he'd never let himself
entertain the possibility. Now he had Jack, he was sure of him, and he wasn't about to let him
go.

It didn't look like Jack was about to let go of him any time soon either. In fact, Jack had him
pretty firmly in hand. "I thought you said I had a talented mouth?" Daniel drawled
meaningfully. He'd never done this before but he liked to think he was open too. Jack's penis
jerked against his ass, which had them both laughing. Daniel was aware his face was burning.
"I'll take that as a 'yes' then," he teased, slithering down again to…er…go down on Jack.

"Just do what you feel comfortable doing," Jack warned. "We're not out to win any kind of
sexual gymnastics medals. This is supposed to be fun. If it's not…" he shrugged. "Do I need to
say stop? Oh, and don't mistake passiveness on my part for lack of interest," he added wryly.
"The thought of having your mouth on me is ringing every bell I've got, believe me. A few too
many, if you catch my drift." Daniel was looking gravely at him. "Oh, and another…"

"Shut up, Jack," Daniel ordered him fondly. "I've been hearing that tone of voice since you
loaned me your pants that first night back. There seems to be some confusion over whether you
owned the pants or my ass, because you've never stopped ordering me around since. 'No,
Daniel, brace it against your shoulder, remember the recoil'," Daniel quoted in a 'patient' voice.
"'Don't sit there counting; pick your target, pull the pin and throw it'." What else? "Oh, this one
is…"




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"Ah, blow me!" Jack hooted. "I was professional, not possessive." He avoided Daniel's eyes,
knowing perfectly well he was on shaky ground with this one. He was also on shaky ground
with jealous, but Daniel was confiding in Jack in the serene conviction it was perfectly safe to do
so. Jack wasn't about to disappoint him with the truth, so he was going to keep right on lying
with a smile on his face and, from time to time, probably murder in his heart. Jack propped
himself up on the pillows to watch as Daniel checked out the lay of the land, decided he could
definitely do this and just launched right in.

It was totally fucking amazing; Daniel's sensitive fingers, warm and restlessly curved over his
parted thighs, the sunlight glinting off Daniel's hair as he leaned in, nervously glancing up to
Jack, testing, tasting and teasing as he flickered the tip of his tongue over the head of Jack's dick.

"Licking is good," Jack called instantly. "Keep licking!" Assertive was good. Licking was better.
Way better. "Aww, craaaap," he groaned as Daniel took heart and took him at his word and
licked everything. Jack had to fight himself to stillness as that warm, wet tongue lapped
delicately over his bursting erection. He really had to fight because it felt incredible, because
Daniel's generosity was incredible and because Daniel was nervous, so nervous he flinched
back every time Jack's hips moved beneath him. "Danny? Why don't you rest yourself across
my legs?" he suggested gently. The extra weight would help keep his ass flat on the mattress
where it belonged, and maybe with a little more control, Daniel would relax. And suck.
Sucking was good. "That…" Jack swallowed as Daniel cautiously took his dick into his mouth
and sucked gently, looking up to see if that was good. Jack gave him a thumbs up and a groan
that boiled up from the tips of his toes. "Oy!"

Daniel felt a lot better about his amateurish performance as Jack finally lay back, moaning
encouragingly. He was definitely not going to win any medals for technique, not any time
soon. He was annoyed with himself for freezing when Jack's fingers tangled in his hair, but
relaxed. Jack wasn't holding him, just idly stroking his hair.

Daniel was sucking slowly, taking Jack's advice to heart that he should worry about what felt
good to him. Having Jack in his mouth did feel good, surprisingly good. The tactile sensations
of heat and hardness, the throb and pulse of the blood, hot against his swiping tongue, even the
tiny tremors and twitches as he gave Jack pleasure. Jack's constant murmur of reassurance
and…well…praise was soothing white noise. Daniel knew he wasn't going to be able to bring
Jack to orgasm this way. Jack was as 'ebullient' here as he was elsewhere; basically the man was
just big all over. Daniel's mouth was filled to the point of discomfort with just this little…Sarah
had always been able to take all of him in and now he didn't have a goddamn clue how she'd
managed that. She'd obviously had more practice than it had ever crossed his mind to expect
was necessary.

He wasn't ready for the bitter liquid oozing into his throat but swallowed, happy he was doing
something right. Which was kind of a shame, because having worked out what felt good for
Jack, he was really going to have to stop now because his jaw was locking.

"Sorry," he winced, pulling away, embarrassed and not sure what to do for Jack now.




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"For what, exactly?" Jack smiled back at him, eyes glittering. "Get up here."

He held out his hands and Daniel allowed himself to be drawn up and into a kiss, Jack opening
to him eagerly. Daniel got a subtle clue what he could do for Jack when he bit down on
Daniel's tongue, snorting with laughter, and wrapped those incredibly long, muscular legs
around Daniel's back.

"Let's rock and roll," Jack ordered, arching up lazily as Daniel thrust into him. He wrapped his
arms tight around Daniel's strong, smooth, supple body, so different than his own. Jack was
aware he was spreading. As hard as they all worked, he was getting old. He sagged, here and
there. Daniel was…Daniel was blushing. "What?"

"I was just thinking…"

"Don't!" Jack called dramatically. "Just don't. No thinking during sex. Just fun."

"I wish I'd known all this was under that uniform," Daniel grinned at him.

"All this?" Jack asked sadly.

"I've always thought you were attractive, and technically I do have a picture of you in my
locker…"

"You do?" Jack beamed at him. "That's encouragingly sappy and perverted."

"It's the one you gave us as a visual aid to help the newly formed team pick you out of a crowd,
you being the shy, retiring type," Daniel solemnly announced. "You remember? I said at the
time all we needed to do was look for the smug bastard with the big gun."

"Oh."

"I'm not saying the hat…"

"Cap."

"Isn't great, but if you'd given me a shot where you were butt naked apart from the hat we
could have been having sex a lot sooner."

"You want naked colonel pictures in your locker?"

"I want the naked colonel in my bed," Daniel corrected primly. He was astonished when Jack
flushed, snatching a kiss that got away from them as Jack held onto him. He had the rhythm of
it now, his rocking rough and steady, rolling his hips to pound into Jack's over and over.
Daniel loved the way his skin slid over Jack's, the sweat making them both slippery, the crisp,
coarse hair chafing at him as they moved against one another. He was watching Jack, intent
and focused on giving him pleasure, taking his own in what he saw in the beet-red face, the



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tight grimace as Jack's control slipped and he bucked and heaved up into Daniel, trying to take
control, to have his way. Daniel grabbed his wrists and slammed them back down to the
pillows, scowling.

Jack laughed up at him and strained up to snatch another kiss. "Typical guy," he complained.
"Only concerned with your own selfish pleasure."

Yes. Oh, yes. For once, Daniel intended to have his way. He lost his smoothness, lost his
rhythm and slammed into Jack's waiting, willing body when he put a name to the whatever-
this-was between them.

Lovers.

He and Jack were lovers.

Daniel threw back his head and came.




"You're trying to stake your claim," Daniel brooded darkly as Jack enthusiastically washed his
back. Butt. Back. It changed from moment to moment and seemed to be taking forever. Jack
was lingering blatantly. "Fucking me, I mean," he elaborated.

"Is that an invitation?" Jack whispered throatily, crowding against Daniel to lick the nape of his
neck. "I love to fuck in the morning."

"No," Daniel said weakly, treacherous curiosity shivering through him. He'd come more often
in the past two days than he could remember coming in his life. He'd been all over Jack for
most of the evening and Jack had been all over him for most of the night. After a hearty
breakfast to recoup his strength, Jack was happily getting all over him again and it was looking
like that was never going to change. Not that Daniel was complaining. He considered he was
trading up, giving up sleep for sex this good.

Jack's tongue was taking long, sensuous swipes easing gradually down his spine. Daniel went
with the flow as Jack dropped to his knees behind him, licking over his buttocks. "Mmmm-
Jack!" he yelped in shock as his cheeks were parted and Jack's tongue swiped over the sensitive
skin of his anus. "Jack!" Daniel's whole body quivered; he leaned hard against the tile as the
desire took him a beat before Jack's tongue did, swirling teasingly, maddeningly, probing the
tight opening.

"Ja-ack," he whimpered incredulously as moist, limber heat pushed delicately inside him,
touching and tasting; slowly, God, soooo slowly and sweetly stroking him. Daniel had
never…he'd…"Oh, God." He was shaking, having to brace himself against the slick wall of the


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shower as his knees just went when Jack moaned greedily, as needing and lost as Daniel in this
extraordinary, erotic intimacy. His body hummed with exhilarated pleasure.

Dizzying arousal slammed into him, making him sway as Jack's hands left his hips to stroke
possessively down his penis. Daniel thrust hard into Jack's rough, perfect grasp, unable to catch
his breath or his senses as Jack's tongue tenderly thrust inside him, the warm water cascading
over them both. The intense stimulation was indescribably sensual, ecstasy surging through
him, overwhelming him…he was lifted and tossed and tumbled hard for Jack…

Jack was waiting as Daniel slithered down into a boneless heap. "Even better with this," he
promised, placing Daniel's hand on his penis.

For the first time, Daniel believed him.




"Shopping for funeral outfits. Oh, joy," Jack grumbled as Daniel trailed reluctantly after him.
"Mall bigot," he accused, grinning.

"I'm not buying a suit," Daniel said flatly. "Annie hated suits. She had two years of polite men
with suits, clipboards and excuses. The insurance company. The bank. Debt counsellors.
Social services," he added quietly, glancing self-consciously at Jack.

Jack smiled steadily back at Daniel. Yep. Mature. He could do it. Even with murder in his
heart. He had his reward in a sweet, slightly surprised smile. "Black?" he prompted.

"Oh, yes," Daniel agreed. "Anything else wouldn't be respect. Not for Annie."

"So, black and cool then," Jack suggested cheerfully, looking forward to assisting Daniel
through the ordeal of a prolonged search for the perfect ensemble. The location left a lot to be
desired though. He looked unenthusiastically around at the mall, all tiles, cascading plants,
tinkling water that annoyed the crap out of him and made him want to pee every two minutes
and light that hurt his eyes. "Jesus," he said grimly. "This could be Boulder as easily as it could
be Buffalo. It all looks the same."

"With the same stores selling the same clothes you wouldn't buy and wear in the Springs,"
Daniel agreed glumly. "I hate malls."

"Ditto. Let's go consume conspicuously. Get this over with soon as, so we can book back to
sanity." Jack led the way to the mall directory, noted the location of the men's clothing stores in
the various coloured zones, then checked the lay of the land against 'you are here' on the map.
He snorted. "They lie like rugs. We're actually here," he pointed to a slightly different place on
the map then winked when Daniel stared at him wide-eyed.


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He had to pull Daniel away from the list of bookstores he was surreptitiously trying to place in
relation to the clothing stores. He was still snarling when Jack shoved him into the glass
elevator and they went up a level to look for some store that just screamed the 'eek' in 'Sonic'.
Jack suspected funky and expensive behind that 'eek'. He'd probably find something hot to
bully Daniel into buying.

"Trust me," Jack ordered crisply as Daniel emerged from the elevator and immediately oriented
himself bookstore-wards. "You won't have time to read." Especially as a lot of Daniel's
resistance to fucking had melted away in the shower along with his spine and most of his
inhibitions. Jack still wasn't pushing, but all the shy, speculative looks being cast his way
suggested the linguist had something on his mind. Jack had to smile. Daniel was pushy.
Insatiably curious and pushy.

Despite the blush, Daniel sniffed haughtily. One of the many things Jack loved about the man
was he was contradictory. Or was that just plain contrary? He wouldn’t budge on the big stuff,
the important meaning of life stuff, but he was toast on little things, on plain old living his life,
caving on huggable hot sweaters, Bolognese pizza and The Simpsons. Basically, he caved on
Jack. Who was going to use whatever Svengali-like pull he had to get Daniel into some sexy
little black number if it killed him.

He wanted it to kill Laidlaw. He wanted Daniel looking totally beautiful and fuckable while
being as untouchable and unattainable as only he could be. Another of the contradictions that
killed Jack on a daily basis. And it probably went without saying, gave him reasons for living.

They made their way through the near empty mall, populated by industrious cleaning staff
polishing the floors to a treacherous slick shine, and the elderly, killing time. It was too early
for the moms to have made it back from the school run and into retail therapy. Jack looked at a
red shutter and realised it was too early for 'Sonic' too. He shrugged philosophically and
mentally plotted a course to 'Aphrodite', which didn't sound a likely source of guy-anything.

He realised he was wrong when they wandered into a little themed Mediterranean area that
had an intensely blue ceiling, cobbles underfoot, unlikely olive trees, a taverna, and a huge
fountain in the centre. A song was blasting out of a cream and glass fronted shop that had a
rakish looking temple above the door and a cute guy perched on top of a ladder, fiddling with a
speaker and cursing life, the universe and everything. They drew level with the shop entrance
and were greeted by a blast of music that had the cute guy howling triumphantly before he slid
athletically down the ladder and trotted inside.

Jack sauntered into the store, dragging a reluctant Daniel, who seemed distressed by what
they'd done to the temple, to the strains of someone huskily singing 'Sexy Boy'.

"Oh, yeah," Jack crowed, peering around happily. "We've found the promised land." He and
the clerk were definitely in the majority on this one, though the silent minority maintained his
attitude of freezing disapproval. Jack grinned. Daniel was made for clothes like this and he




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knew it. He guessed it was pretty tough for a guy who loved tweed to take, which was why
Daniel avoided designer outlets like the plague.

The cute blond clerk blatantly - and appreciatively - eyed Jack up while offering to help him in
any way in a voice as husky and filled with erotic promise as the singer's.

Daniel stepped in front of him, scowling. "You can help ME," he snapped.

"Sir?" the cute clerk asked with a marked lack of enthusiasm, trying to smoulder right past him.

Daniel seemed to expand to fill every available space with protective pissiness and what could
only be described as pride of ownership. His entire body was fairly emphatic about the whole
'he's mine!' thing.

Jack was enchanted. "They'll go with my jacket," he interjected, nodding at some black leather
pants. The clerk brightened, stepping out from around the counter to breeze past Daniel, whose
scowl deepened exponentially as the clerk TOUCHED Jack.

"He means for me," Daniel said coldly, not about to let this horny little prick paw Jack right in
front of him. He prowled over and coolly accepted the proffered pants without breaking eye
contact with the clerk who couldn't seem to take a hint his attentions weren't wanted.

Jack did mean for Daniel and he was ready to take full advantage of Daniel stupidly hurling
himself into the path of what he was flatteringly assuming was temptation. Jack was
philosophical. Mature had its limits, and those included leather pants. Daniel + leather of any
description called for tactics. "And that shirt," Jack suggested hesitantly, making a 'random'
gesture at the exact figure-hugging slinky black shirt he'd noticed the instant they'd walked
through the door. Jack had his leather jacket with him and all he needed were black chinos and
a grey shirt, which he could pick up in Lord & Taylor's. There was a Lord & Taylor's in Buffalo.
There was always a Lord & Taylor's. He was happy to lie about that until he'd got Daniel into
something designery and sexy.

He smouldered a little back at the clerk, then tried to act like it wasn't his fault when Daniel
noticed and innocently cranked up the hostility on cue. If it got him into the changing
room…"Don't forget the shirt," Jack called anxiously as Daniel stalked off to the changing room,
the clerk firmly in tow, and casting flirty looks back at Jack. Daniel's own look was killing as he
snatched up a shirt from the rack almost at random.

God. COMPLETELY loved this man!

Jack waited and browsed and waited some more. He was fondling a heather coloured cable-
knit sweater when Daniel sidled hesitantly out of the changing room, looking edible and
anxious. The clerk appeared to be a fickle creature if the way his glazed eyes were riveted to
Daniel's ass was anything to go by. Jack looked the ensemble over carefully, taking in such key
points as the way the pants appeared to have been sprayed on and the slinky shirt skimmed
and clung sexily to every sweet curve. "We'll take two!"



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The clerk appeared to have telepathy in his job description. He had Daniel's old clothes bagged
and Jack's MasterCard through the till before Daniel had stopped sputtering.

Jack kept a good grip on the snooty branded bag and a better one on Daniel, who balked at the
door. "Now I've got you into them, I can't wait to take you somewhere private and get you
right back out of them," he informed Daniel conversationally.

"Oh," Daniel commented intelligently.

Jack eased him resistless out the door, waving cheerily at the crestfallen clerk. "I need a shirt."

"Me too," Daniel sighed, tugging ineffectually at the sleek, subtly shimmering fabric of the shirt
he'd apparently just let Jack snow him right into. He was still taken aback at the sullen flare of
possessiveness which had suspended his critical faculties for a brief but tactically vital moment.
He couldn't even think about what the pants were doing to his behind. Everything back there
seemed to be swaying. Jack was thoroughly enjoying the show, but then so were the cleaners.
At least, Daniel highly doubted it was the nun who'd just wolf-whistled loud and long as they'd
skirted the greenery to head into the yellow zone of the mall. "How much do I owe you for
the…" Adequate words failed him.

Jack leered dreadfully and sneakily patted his ass.

Oh. "I'm going to get you for this, Jack," Daniel promised faithfully.

"You're gonna get me but good," Jack promised unrepentantly. "We'd better head to a
department store. I need pants, too."

Daniel glanced involuntarily down at himself.

"Annie wouldn't like it?" Jack asked, making a token gesture at playing fair. It was a memorial
service after all. He didn’t want to make Daniel uncomfortable. Not really.

Daniel thought about Annie's gamine, roguish spirit, grinning reminiscently. "She'd like it just
fine," he admitted softly. "Annie always threatened to wear a red dress at your funeral when
she was really mad."

"Cool!" Jack gloated.

Daniel couldn't seem to get past his self-consciousness over the way Jack felt free to sexualise
him. He could cope with it when they were together, making love, but while they were doing
something as mundane as shopping for a shirt on a Thursday morning…Intellectually he knew
there was no difference, they were TOGETHER. He knew that. Jack was his lover now and it
was only natural he found Daniel desirable and sexy and wanted him the whole damn
time…Daniel was happy he turned Jack on, he just didn't want to turn him on in the middle of
the food hall of a mall.



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It wasn't the nun who wolf-whistled, right?

Right.

Pretty sure it wasn't, even if she was the really outgoing type.

He was losing it. Which, after a moment's reflection, Daniel realised was the crux of the matter.
Jack wanted to be inside him. Inside him! The last time Daniel had to face that, he had issued a
clear, emphatic 'No!' that got him tortured every goddamn day until he got the hell out and far,
far away from Halcyon. He was freaking over having to sit at Annie's memorial service
between two men who wanted to fuck him, like each of them would somehow know. If Daniel
felt as if he could touch his own skin and taste Jack, how hard would it be for Will to see that in
him? In both of them. He was magnetically attracted to Jack, drawn so close to his side he was
almost tripping him before apologising and stepping awkwardly away.

Jack was getting anxious over Daniel's evident confusion, his response to another stammered
apology simply to take Daniel's hand in his and keep him at his side. Who the fuck knew them
in Buffalo? He smiled reassuringly every time Daniel's eyes met his, relieved when some of the
tension eased in him and he held himself less tightly. Jack knew the rhythms of Daniel's body
almost as well as his own and now he knew what it was to have Daniel wanting, moving with
him…

"Sorry," Daniel said one last time. He grinned mischievously at Jack. "Keep that one on the
slate. I'm sure I'll need it later."

Jack relaxed, grinning back. He failed to let go of Daniel's hand though, even when he tugged
indignantly.

"Let go!"

"No."

"Jack!"

"No."

"You shit. You wouldn't hold MURRAY'S hand. He TOLD me," Daniel accused. "He said you
put him mind of Ry'ac."

"I don't like holding hands," Jack said equably, slipping his fingers through Daniel's, who just
gaped at him and held up their joined hands in mute contradiction.

"Except mine," Daniel said darkly. "You've done it before. Don't think I haven't noticed."




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"I get a hard-on every time I see your ass. Did you notice that?" Jack asked interestedly. Daniel
went seven shades of red, including his ears, which went pink. "I'll take that as a no."

As he had a thousand times or more, Daniel realised the futility of planning how he would feel,
how he would react. He didn't have a goddamn clue. Shit just happened. Like holding hands
with an Air Force colonel in a mall. He supposed he should be grateful Jack wasn't skipping or
something.

He was an idealist - often a frustrated one - who tried to be a realist, and far too often wound up
living a life that really needed him to be a fatalist. What was that crazy line? Forget about
forgiving and just accept. He and Jack were going to make love. It was going to happen
between them; the wanting was shivering through him with Jack's fingers twined through his.
It was the hardest thing for Daniel to do, but he was going to try to go easy on himself, to not tie
himself into knots with expectation. For once, he would just let it be.

Jack started to hum.

"How the hell did I wind up with Colonel Bluebird On My Shoulder?" Daniel asked the
universe bitterly.

"I make you tweet in bed."




Daniel smiled as he walked into the little sunlit chapel to find every woman in the small
congregation in a red dress and not a solitary suit in sight. Annie had had her way.

Jack's timing was perfect. He'd spun out the shopping, making a game of finding the perfect
chinos, much to the confusion of the staff in several department stores who kept insisting chinos
were chinos, and finally allowed Daniel and two anxious clerks in Lord & Taylor's to coax him
into tight black jeans and a deep grey shirt.

In lieu of lunch and lingering over a lot of unpleasant memories, Daniel had shared a huge tub
of Ben & Jerry's 'The Full Ver-Monty' and a vat of popcorn with Jack over 'The Matrix', which
seemed a bizarre choice even to Jack for the Directors Special in the mall multiplex. Jack
laughed at the action scenes and Daniel choked over the plot which didn't so much suspend
disbelief as hang it by the neck until dead, and they both had a blast. Jack seemed firmly of the
opinion that Daniel looked better in black than Carrie Anne Moss, which was scary to say the
least. They'd been all alone with the wide screen and the digital surround sound and there had
been some molestation, for which Daniel was still refusing to apologise.

He'd arrived for the service in pretty good shape but his mood evaporated as Will came
forward to greet them and used the cover of stares and soft whispers to hug Daniel. He took it


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stoically, trying not let his discomfort show. Old habits died hard. He wouldn't - couldn't give
Will any hook he could use. He'd been through too damn much to stand here hugging himself,
trying to make himself smaller, unnoticeable. Fat chance. Daniel had never got past that
instinctual response to distress, so ingrained was it, and Will had always noticed him.

Will was noticing now. Blood rushed and Daniel realised he held as much...as much power
over Will as he ever had. Will had bullied him to make him submit, Daniel knew that at fifteen.
What he hadn't understood until now was how much Will had needed him to submit, or why.
The bullying wasn't about Daniel, it had never been. It was about Will lashing out because he'd
made himself vulnerable. He'd given Daniel power over him simply by needing him even
though Daniel had rejected him and kept right on holding himself apart. He must have driven
Will insane. That was no excuse for what Will had done to him, but maybe it was cause for
pity.

Daniel kept it together, leaving Will as baffled and frustrated as he'd ever been. He glanced
across to Jack to see calm approval and a distinct gleam of humour that warmed him right
through as Will led them to the pew at the front of the chapel. He smiled involuntarily and Jack
smiled right back.

Jack relaxed infinitesimally as Daniel quietly took his place. He thought it was a little obvious
to plant himself between Laidlaw and Daniel, especially when Laidlaw was acutely aware - and
resentful - of Jack's presence as it was. Obvious tactics rarely succeeded. Daniel took comfort in
Jack's nearness, their intimacy apparent to even the most casual observer. Not that any of the
people avidly staring at Daniel were casual. One young-ish woman in particular couldn't tear
her eyes away. Jack was sympathetic. It was the pants. Daniel and leather. What could he
say? Apart from he's MINE.

The woman looked about Daniel's age, lovely brown eyes and glossy brunette curls tumbling
over her shoulders. She was wearing red like the other women, something that made Annie go
up a tad in Jack's estimation, but her red was floaty and tied dyed and came with socks and
workboots.

Daniel was too polite to stare at the people staring at him, but Jack made up for it. If he was
called on it, he'd claim what he always claimed and blame the training. Lady in red here knew
who Daniel was, but he'd looked right past her and she didn't seem happy about it. Jack
wondered who she was. Daniel hadn't mentioned a girl, just Laidlaw and Annie. Jack looked
at his lover, full attention focused as the service began. Daniel hadn't said much of anything.
When it came to Daniel's welfare, Jack needed to know. And no, he couldn't blame the training.
This was their lives.

Jack deliberately turned and made eye contact with lady in red. He nodded, slow enough for
her to get it was deliberate, and figured she'd come to him. It would look better when Daniel
finally placed her. Whoever she was.

He let the service wash over him like so much background noise, choosing instead to watch
Daniel. He'd spent more time watching Daniel and thinking about him than he'd spent over



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anyone with the sole exception of his son. Daniel was a little pale, but still doing okay. He
seemed to approve the choice of prayers, and stood to sing in his clear, carrying voice the hymn
Annie had chosen in place of the traditional 'she coulda been a contender' memorials. 'In the
deep midwinter'. The slow, melancholy hymn fit the mood. Annie was missed. At the
conclusion, Daniel's quiet comments to Laidlaw about it being a good service were sincere and
seemed to be taken as such.

The congregation drifted out of the chapel. He and Daniel were expected back at Annie's
house, but it looked as if the majority were coming with. All the better to ogle Danny up close
and personal, Jack thought cynically. He was half expecting lady in red to waylay Daniel at
some point, but was surprised when she barrelled right up to him on the chapel steps. The
three of them made an interesting tableau; Laidlaw smirking, lady in red hurt and not caring
who saw it, and Daniel, who seemed to blink and then get it. Get her.

"Rainey?" Daniel asked hesitantly.

Jack gritted his teeth. Fuck. Someone else Daniel was as happy to see as Laidlaw. He didn't
give a shit about appearances or these people. They'd stay long enough for Daniel to pay his
respects then they were gone. Daniel's past life wasn't so much staring him in the face as
kneeing him in the balls. Jack could see that as everyone crowded around to fuss over him,
driving lady in red away. There were a few smiles, a few reproaches and more of that avid
interest. Dinner table fodder, that's all they were to these people. A cheap thrill over the meat
loaf. 'You'll never guess who breezed into town!'

Fuck the lot of 'em.




"You didn't recognise me, did you?" Rainey asked.

Daniel leaned back against the sink, wondering how come he always wound up in the kitchen
at these awkward 'occasions'. He never felt comfortable with people up close and personal,
crowding his space. He could do it for his work, that was different, his choice, and he put up a
hell of an act. Years of practice. In private, he tended to shut down, back off. Dropped his
head and folded in on himself like he felt the need to apologise for his very existence. That too
was ingrained, an instinctual response he had long since ceased to beat himself up over. He
was who he was and had learned to live with it.

"No," he said simply. It felt like a cop out to mention she was wearing contacts, not glasses, and
her hair was long now. Her face was still recognisable beneath those superficial differences,
still soft. He simply hadn't seen her. He remembered the impact Rainey had on him more
clearly than he remembered her.



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"I expected you to," she went on. "I thought you'd know me as soon as you saw me. We were
so…"

"We weren't," Daniel contradicted, more sharply than he'd intended. Sam was the closest
woman friend he'd ever had and even in her pampered youth she would have marched the
gauntlet with him, head held high and hating them for him. Sam would have fought at his side,
no question. She was family. Robert had been the first real friend Daniel had, his loss still a
quiet ache of regret and pain for himself and Jack. So few friends he'd had, but they each loved
him in a way uniquely their own. Rainey had never loved him. He'd been a cause or a project,
something to help Rainey feel good about herself until Will had made her feel better.

"That's harsh," Will said from the kitchen doorway, provoking outright hostility from Rainey,
who glared at him.

Daniel was surprised he'd got away from Jack, who loomed up with unmistakable menace
every time Will took a step in his direction. Jack was either eating or he had to pee. He kept
complaining about the goddamn fountains in the mall. Or maybe it was because of all the Pepsi
he'd guzzled during the movie.

"Sorry," Daniel answered pleasantly. "I haven't given either of you a thought for years." He'd
shed the specifics of his past because he'd wanted to do more than function. He'd wanted to
live and feel free to be himself outside the limits of his own imagination or the leaves of a book.
It had taken time - years, but eventually he'd opened himself up as much as he could. Some
things he'd never change, but he accepted. He could be with people, and he learned. "I guess I
mean more to both of you than you do to me," he realised, a little surprised. "You made my life
a misery for no good reason and if you're looking for closure here..." he hesitated, and decided
he would say what he felt unequivocally for once to these people who seemed to have lost their
power to wound him. "You won't get it from me. I can't absolve you of your sins and free you
from whatever guilt you may feel. You worked hard for it."

Rainey grimaced oddly, her eyes bright with unshed tears.

Daniel was sympathetic, but what could he do for her? He'd done it all by and for himself. He
was sorry that Rainey didn't realise the only forgiveness she needed was her own.

"Congratulations," Will drawled offensively, his eyes raking Daniel up and down insolently.
"When'd you learn to fight back?"

"Fuck off and die, Will," Daniel said lightly. "I fought back every day in school and I won. Get
over it. I did," he tossed over his shoulder as he walked out. Jack was waiting for him.

"Please," Jack asked, staring past him into the kitchen.

Daniel smiled a little and shook his head.

"Please."



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Daniel's smile widened. "It's not morning," he said inconsequentially, wondering if Jack
would…yes. Jack got it. His eyes glittered above a wolfish smile.

"Promises," he drawled softly.

"Something like that."

Jack turned to walk him out, ignoring these people neither of them knew.

"Well, that was anti-climactic," Daniel complained as they ambled down the porch steps.

"What did Laidlaw say?" Jack demanded.

"I told him to fuck off and die," Daniel impishly deflected the question.

Jack chuckled. "Good for you," he praised warmly, not bothering to mention the entire
gathering had heard. Hey, the two of them put on a good enough show. He'd schmoozed the
room and done some digging, Daniel had a fight in the kitchen and the locals would still be
talking about them over dessert. Their work here was done.




Daniel stretched out on the hood of the car, Jack's hand resting easily on his thigh. They stared
at the high fence surrounding Halcyon High.

"I hated this fucking place," Daniel whispered. "You have no idea."

"No."

Something in Jack's voice made Daniel turn to look at him. "Not you," he said positively as he
saw Jack's troubled doubt. He literally couldn't imagine Jack as a bully. It was inconceivable.
"You're not typical anything, Jack. I doubt you ever were." He smiled gently and rested his
hand over Jack's as he flushed and scowled ferociously to hide his pleasure - and
embarrassment - at the compliment. "You're cute when you blush," he confided, blowing Jack a
little kiss when he tossed a hateful look Daniel's way. "I denied the battle," he offered.

"Refused to engage," Jack nodded, eyes gleaming. "You must have killed that bastard every
day."

Daniel looked at him, puzzled.

"He couldn't fucking touch you."


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"No," Daniel agreed soberly. "I've just now realised it cost him far more than it cost me."

"Maybe," Jack said brusquely, not meeting Daniel's eyes in a way that meant no.

"No maybe about it, Jack," Daniel earnestly assured him. "I won here, it just took me a while to
get it. After twenty years, Will still doesn't get it."

Jack thought about this gentle man he'd fallen in love with and everything he had to offer,
everything he kept locked down tight until you were in, you were part of him, and there was
nothing he couldn't give you then except his pain, his need. Daniel had to be giving like he had
to be breathing. It was wonderful, it was Daniel, and it scared Jack and Carter and the others
shitless because it was expensive. Daniel spent himself like a blue cross special for other people
and wouldn't take the time of day. Getting Daniel to face that, to drop those defences that
wouldn't let him ask, need, depend…maybe it was more than even Jack could do.

He guessed coming here was a quiet victory. Laidlaw had tried to manipulate Daniel, not
realising the man would call him on it because he didn't know Daniel and never had. Jack
knew what it took to survive in an Iraqi prison and he sensed it wasn't any more than it took to
walk down a school hallway every goddamn day, hated for just being you.

Maybe Daniel…no. No, he was right about experience being needed for empathy. Jack could
see that well enough. Daniel didn't get that empathy cost more than hate because it wasn't just
your own weight you carried. Jack would never accept that Daniel got off light here. If his
empathy was the sum of his experiences, then Jack didn't want to know what he'd been
through, because he saw that empathy every day. Daniel wasn't a gilded saint, far from it, but
there were things he couldn't do, small, mundane defences he just didn't have. He knew. That
was all it was. He just…knew.

Jack didn't have a fucking clue how hard that was to carry but it brought out the worst in him,
made him lash out though he knew Daniel wouldn't thank him for protection he didn't want
and didn't believe he needed.

They were never going to agree on this one, but somehow, as with so many issues in their lives,
they made it work regardless.

"School's out," Jack said casually, apropos of breaking and entering.

Daniel froze and gaped him. "No!" he bleated. "Jack! Just…no, okay? No."

Jack grinned. Maybe they made it work because they knew each other inside out.




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Jack looked at his plate. Then he looked up at Abe. "What IS this?"

"Moroccan lamb," Abe scowled.

"It's supposed to be made with mutton," Daniel muttered disapprovingly.

"Sorry," Abe gushed. "I only had these hideously expensive, perfectly lean lamb chops instead,"
she apologised with awful sarcasm.

"I'll have to re-mortgage," Jack groaned.

"I made dessert. Rice pudding."

"It's the rice on my plate I have a problem with," Jack grouched.

"If you don't eat the rice on your plate I'm eating the rice in the pudding," Abe informed them
coldly.

"It's minty." Jack scooped up a forkful and let it tumble accusingly onto his plate. "Who eats
minty rice?"

"You and about sixty million Turks!"

"Actually, the population of..."

"Shut up!" two voices chimed in unison.

"That was rude," Daniel complained. "Which means we eat free."

"Right!" Jack vigorously agreed. "And we get the rice pudding even if we don't eat the stinky,
minty rice. Right?"

Abe snarled.

Right.

Daniel looked at him quizzically as Abe stormed away, slamming the parlour door.

"What?"

"You HATE rice pudding."

~~~*~~~




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So. Here they were again. In Daniel's room. In Daniel's bed. There was nudity. There was
clasping. There was a fair amount of kissing and some sappy holding of hands.

Oh, and a little residual rice pudding, which Jack had managed fairly well when accompanied
by sweet, icy peaches, served on Daniel's skin.

Which meant there was stickiness.

There was also Kevin.

And Samuel.

Or was that Samuel L.?

Whatever.

It was a shit hot movie regardless.

"I knew it!" Daniel hollered at the screen as the shivering cop was freed. "I knew it."

"I know," Jack agreed solemnly. "I know you knew that. We've watched this movie four times
and you forget every single time that cop isn't dead, then you try to act like you know what's
coming. You have to agree that would be far more impressive if you didn't know what was
coming."

Daniel considered this.

"I'm not fucking off and I'm not dying," Jack grinned. "And I don't care what you say. I'd be a
very happy man if you looked at me like you look at Kevin."

Daniel considered that. "Soo…you and Sam? That's purely platonic, huh?"

"I'm only interested on an intellectual level!" Jack gasped, mock-shocked. "And that's MR
Jackson to you."

Daniel looked at Jack. He found he was looking at Jack more and more and the movie less and
less. He got up restlessly, not quite willing to surrender to the mood, and switched off the TV
before walking over slowly to open the curtains. It was still light, the sky streaking now with
brilliant colour, a myriad shades of lilac, peach, pink and gold as the sun set. "Are we going
to?" he asked quietly, not turning around, fingers clenched on the window sill.

"If you want to."

"I think I do," Daniel said slowly, hearing the smile in Jack's voice. He walked back over, not
quite reluctant, but close. He was nervous. He probably looked nervous if the careful, kind
look on Jack's face was anything to go by. Jack didn't say a word to reassure him, but then, they



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knew one another so well he didn't have to. This wasn't a small thing he wanted to share.
Making love, taking Daniel's body…in some ways, the ultimate expression of the intimacy they
shared, of the trust that existed between them.

In this case, Daniel wasn't trusting Jack to be able to stop; rather, Jack was trusting him to make
his own decision. If it was the right decision, there'd be no need to stop. Daniel straddled Jack's
hips, settling his weight easily as Jack sat up, held him close, eyes tender. "I don't want to
think," Daniel confessed.

"So kiss me," Jack invited, smoothing the hair back from Daniel's brow. "It works for me."

Daniel caught his hand and kissed the callused palm, the skin rough and rasping; perfect, so
perfect when Jack held him, touched him…he'd never known how good it could be to be
touched that way. It was frighteningly easy to feel he'd never been touched before when Jack's
body electrified him so. He thought about taking Jack this way and shivered around a rich
pang of predatory anticipation. Soon. He wanted Jack every way he could have him.

He teased Jack's mouth with a flicker of his tongue, Jack following. Of course. The king of the
three days in the tree stakeout couldn't wait a nanosecond if there was a kiss at the end of it.
They kissed gently, comfortably, arms tight around one another as the golden light streamed
into the room, gilding their skin. Daniel took Jack's hands in his, lowering him to the bed, still
easy, still flowing, kisses tumbling and blurring, soft and biting.

This he could do. He and Jack had lost themselves in the pleasure of touch every moment
they'd been alone. Last night he'd woken Jack from the little sleep they'd managed, rolled on
top of him and held both their erections in his hand, pumping them both as they'd moved
together…God. The feel of Jack in his hand, strong, stubborn, sappy sonovabitch that he was.
The memory tightened his gut now. He pushed impatiently and Jack yielded, opened to him.
He made Jack happy when he asserted his own needs. It wasn't a problem. He was a guy; give
it to me meant give it to me FIRST.

"I love when you get that look," Jack said softly, smiling up at Daniel's needing, sexy, aching do
me do me face. He stilled the instinctively inquisitive tilt of Daniel's head with both hands and
the question he knew was coming with his mouth.

He spread out and made Daniel at home, pulling here, pushing there, rolling until they tangled
and settled. He was in no rush, his only concern to make this as good for Daniel as his first time
could be. Jack had no doubt of the pleasure he'd take. Daniel's ass was so sweet and so tight it
made his body sing with need. For now, they were kissing, with the single minded passion
Daniel brought to everything. There were no half-measures with the man. Jack's control was
pushed in every way when Daniel just opened to him, wanting, needing everything, NOW.

He was in so deep so quick, he never wanted to surface.

Jack was free to touch, and did so, rolling to topple Daniel onto his side, his lips lush and
swollen from the long, slow kiss he plunged back into at once. Guy-like, he wanted his way.



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Wanted Jack's mouth. Took it. Side by side, they were both free to stroke and rub, Daniel's
fingertips brushing over his balls, something he knew made Jack crazy. He wrenched away
from the kiss, cursing, then laughing reluctantly at Daniel's slow, knowing smile and wicked
eyes. "Shit," he said fondly, the word a caress.

Daniel's hand curved around his head and pulled him back to kiss again, a slow, sweet slide of
tongue over tongue. Jack fumbled in the bed behind Daniel and came up with the lube, shakily
prepared himself and coaxed Daniel over to balance on his hip, one leg a little raised to give
him access. He noted the frown, the slight tension, but the habit of trusting Daniel's judgement
was too ingrained for him to stop now. Daniel would say no if he went too far.

For a brief, giddy moment he wondered how far Laidlaw got before Daniel said no, how hard it
was for Daniel to stop him, and found he hated the thought. There was no doubt in his mind
Daniel had got out of that bed shouldering the blame. He kissed Daniel's hot skin, burying his
face to inhale ecstatically. "Christ, you smell good," he sighed gratefully.

"I stink," Daniel chuckled.

"What I said." When Jack brushed his finger tip over Daniel's anus, he flinched back, clenching
involuntarily against Jack.

"It's okay to be nervous," Daniel assured him.

Jack snorted. "Isn't that supposed to be my line?"

"You know what I mean," Daniel snapped, annoyed, making a conscious effort to relax.

"I know," Jack said gently. His touch became a stroke, and the stroke became a push, then
Daniel was groaning, panting into Jack's shoulder, and Jack was in. Daniel meant he wasn't
expecting anything but to get through it. No pressure, no expectations of unbridled ecstasy. He
just needed Jack to get him through it.

Daniel bit down the urge to tell Jack having his trigger finger pushing into his ass felt as
romantic as a physical and he wasn't nearly as good at this as Janet because this hurt and then
he just bit, hard, as long fingers stroked deep into him. He clung and shook pitifully as Jack
held him tight, guilty for the coppery blood he tasted in his mouth. "S-sorry," he gasped,
kissing the skin he'd broken on Jack's shoulder. Jack kissed him hard and took advantage of his
stupefaction to rub inside him. Daniel felt feverish, hot and cold at once, his skin tight and
prickling as his ass contracted around Jack's slowly thrusting finger, the shock of greedy
pressure so deep inside quivering through his body.

"How do you feel?" Jack crooned into his hair.

"Weird," Daniel said honestly.

Jack chuckled and slowly withdrew.



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Daniel was conscious of disappointment and relief, but he was ready when Jack pushed
inexorably back into his body again. Despite the lubricant and Jack's care, Daniel was
uncomfortable, with twinges of pain as his over-stretched muscles protested. He didn't find
anything hot or sexy about this part, though Jack did. Jack definitely did. Jack was GONE.
This struck Daniel as pragmatism, not foreplay; the…mechanics…lacking context. He was sure
that would change when he grew accustomed, when he wasn't so focused on the physicality of
the act itself. "Jack?"

Jack leaned back, took a good look at Daniel's pale, impatient face and grinned fiendishly.
"Allow me," he offered grandly, angling his fingers to brush Daniel's prostate. Daniel went
absolutely still, his eyes widening. Then he bit his lip and nodded. Jack massaged the sweet
spot very gently, making Daniel quiver. Jack was encouraged enough to work three fingers
inside him, his preparation slow and thorough. Daniel was sweating and shaking when Jack
eased him onto his back and lavishly applied the lube to his dick.

So they'd be close, Jack knelt between Daniel's parted thighs, settling Daniel's butt comfortably
on his own thighs before lifting those long elegant legs he so admired to hook over his
shoulders. Daniel lay before him, wantonly sprawled among the heap of pillows, still pale but
soaked with sweat, everything he felt in his eyes.

"Love you," Jack mouthed, holding Daniel's hips steady as he pushed.

Daniel felt the hot, slick nudge and shivered all over as Jack penetrated him achingly slowly. It
was more than a twinge of pain now; that steady, deliberately deepening pressure stretched
him taut and burning, and Jack was hard; hard and hurting him. Daniel lay still, trusting Jack's
control, surrendering to the slow, incremental slide of skin inside him. He did what he always
did when he was hurting and took the necessary step back. He was sorry he had to think his
way through this part, but it was his first time, and he wanted to believe in the pleasure they'd
just shared. It was close. His body just needed to adjust and he would have it again.

He would. Right now, he was getting through this by focusing on how Jack felt. In fact, he was
astonished at just how much he could feel. Not just the heat, but the pulse of blood that made
Jack's penis throb. His muscles fit around Jack exactly. He didn't need to look at the ecstasy on
Jack's face to know how good that felt for him.

Jack wasn't sure what the quiet, listening expression on Daniel's face meant, but he seemed to
be unclenching muscle by muscle so Jack took a deep, steadying breath against the desire to
throw back his head and howl at how sweet this was, and dared to thrust a little deeper. Daniel
felt incredible, just taking him in like this; his strong, supple body surrendering to each slow,
steady stroke, Jack sinking into silken, gripping heat that made him SHAKE. One last thrust
and he felt satin skin against his balls. He rested now, soothingly stroking his hands down over
Daniel's trembling thighs, hot and heavy against his chest, the soft hair chafing his nipples.

"I'm okay," Daniel assured him.




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"Yes?" Jack didn't really think so. "It does get better."

Daniel smiled a little, winced a little more around the strange sensation of fullness. "I'm sure,"
he agreed quietly, stretching up his hand to draw Jack down to him.

Jack leaned forward slowly, carefully, Daniel gasping as he shifted inside, but still reaching for
him, still wanting to kiss. It was quick and hard, over too soon but Jack was too deep and he
needed to move too much to be still. He hooked Daniel's leg back over his shoulder, held him,
and began to rock his hips slowly. The friction was too good, the tight channel gripping him as
he moved, every tiny contraction flowing into the next until it felt as if Daniel was rippling
around him. Jack groaned at the sensation and deepened his thrusts.

Daniel was held spellbound by the strong, sleek slide of skin inside him. Jack…inside him; his
life changing. He'd known it would, and as with every other change in a life that had never
been still, he adjusted. The initial burn in his ass gradually eased to a sullen ache. Jack's
passion was exhausting him, he just wasn't used to this, but his body slowly yielded to warmth.
He had…time. Jack was gentle and generous, fucking Daniel long and slow, moving easily. He
was in deep; deep enough for Daniel to see his wasn't the only life to change.

He lay quietly, still, the soft percale sheet beneath him chafing his skin as Jack's thrusts jolted
his body. Daniel watched Jack's face, effortful and strangely softened by his passion,
instinctively sliding his hands down to press into the quivering muscles of his abdomen,
needing to feel, to know what Jack was feeling. His Jack, a little afraid, feeling so much he was
cradling Daniel's thighs to him, his restlessly nuzzling cheek warm against Daniel's skin, biting
at his lip as he moved so tenderly, so surely inside Daniel.

Jack opened his eyes to receive a blinding smile as Daniel's fingers ghosted over his cheek. He
turned his head to hungrily kiss the palm, then looked down at Daniel, so beautiful smiling at
him this way, with such quiet, dignified content. Sweat was pooling deliciously on his belly,
and at Daniel's nod, Jack reached down to softly stroke his dick, his fingers seeking out the big
vein on the underside, the one that made Daniel shudder all over when he rubbed it, and
Christ, it felt so good when he did that. Good for both of them.

Daniel rested his free hand over Jack's as he stroked patiently, slowly, wanting this to be good
for Daniel. He was learning how to touch, his fingers caressing gently, patiently as Daniel
slowly swelled in his hand, his breath hitching, belly heaving as he arched his neck from the
bed, clenching so hard around him Jack nearly came on the spot. "Danny!"

"Jack. Jaa-aack," Daniel moaned as Jack pumped him earnest, his grasp rough and right, the
sensations intensified as his body was driven by Jack's quickening thrusts, sweet aching
pleasure shivering through him constantly. With one hand still clenched over Jack's as he
stroked him, Daniel fumbled with his other to take Jack's free hand from his hip. He twined
their fingers together, clasping clammy palms fiercely, his breath caught on the intense throb of
orgasm spiralling as Jack quickened, his thrusts deep, sharp jabs in counterpoint to his hand
moving on Daniel.




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Jack didn't get a chance to angle for Daniel's prostate; Daniel came with a soft cry, his pleasure
contractions squeezing Jack. The intensity of sensation was unbearable. He lunged and came
hard, the orgasm milked from him in long, powerful spasms.

Daniel groaned as heat surged inside him. He'd never felt anything like it, nor the way Jack's
penis pumped into him. The intimacy was incredible. Jack had gone deep, deeper into him
than he'd realised was possible, and the physical was merely a part of it.

He wanted - needed more.

When Daniel's shaking finally stilled, Jack kissed his hands once more as he eased slowly free of
his body, horrified to see a few beads of blood. Only a little but…"Daniel?" he asked sharply.

"I'm fine," Daniel assured him, smiling tiredly.

Jack slid off the bed and carefully pulled Daniel to his feet. "Let me take care of you," he asked
as Daniel stumbled. Daniel slipped his arm around Jack's waist and he felt a little better. They
walked slowly to the shower and he set it to heat while Daniel cleaned himself some.

"Clear," Daniel called reassuringly, nothing but grateful when Jack pulled him into a hot shower
and held him tight. His body ached. "I'm glad," he said quietly, kissing the bite he'd inflicted
earlier. Jack shifted restlessly. Daniel tilted back his head. "I am glad, Jack," he insisted.

Jack nodded gravely and just hung onto him as he lowered his head and rested.

They stood that way, letting the water pound into them until all the tension had seeped out of
them both. Daniel patiently endured Jack's anxiety, but felt better once he was dried and there
was no blood spotting the towel. He was sore and worn out but he'd survive. Now, he wanted
to crawl into bed with Jack and sleep for a week, so he took him by the hand and led him there.

Jack lay on his back and pulled Daniel into his arms, stroking the ruffled, still damp hair
tickling his chin. "Do me, next time," he ordered tersely, not doing too good of a job concealing
his worry. Or his regret. He shoved his useless sympathy down hard as Daniel carefully laid a
long leg over his and cuddled in affectionately.

"Planned to," Daniel chuckled sleepily, tightening his grip.

"Are you going to sleep?" Jack huffed mock-indignantly.

"Sure," Daniel smirked. "I got laid. Now I sleep. It's a guy thing."

"Thanks," Jack said witheringly, feeling a lot better. He could play this game. Years of practice.

"I love you," Daniel blurted, surprising himself.

Jack shot him a complacent look. "I see," he drawled.



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"What?"

Jack kissed his hair.

Daniel punched him in the shoulder. "What?"

"You get laid, you get off, you get sappy," Jack crowed.

"I get sappy?" Daniel choked. "If you told me you loved me BEFORE you got laid, what does
that make you?"




Daniel lay quietly, lulled by the heat of Jack's body tight against his back, idly stroking Jack's
fingers. A soft kiss at the nape of his neck made him smile.

"Mmm," Jack sighed happily, nuzzling into Daniel's hairline as he hugged him tightly. He
ghosted his hand down Daniel's side to gently stroke his ass.

"You're insatiable," Daniel groaned theatrically.

Jack chuckled, and loosened his arms enough for Daniel to turn in them to face him. They lay
close, kissing lazily, interested but neither pushing it, both uncertain after the intensity of their
lovemaking last night. Daniel held himself a little stiffly this morning and that was enough for
Jack. He frowned.

"I'm okay," Daniel said at once. "A little sore but…" He shrugged philosophically.

"We're not doing that again any time soon," Jack muttered.

"We are," Daniel serenely corrected him, stroking his collar bone. "If I have anything to say
about it."

"You know you do," Jack reassured him with a rough shake, a little annoyed as well as
regretful. He'd been too passionate, too forceful. Too much need and not enough control.
Whatever Daniel said, his first time hadn't been very good and they both knew it.

For Daniel, Jack's guilty, tender face melted into the effortful softness of last night. He'd lain
there, Jack's thighs warm beneath his butt, watching Jack. He'd spent so much time watching
Jack in the years they'd been together and yet he'd rarely seen as much of his friend as Jack had
given him while they made love. Daniel was greedy. "I want you," he whispered against Jack's
mouth. It was the truth. He wanted Jack to go deep, to make him lose control. He wanted Jack


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to love him and not be able to hide what he felt, how much he felt for Daniel. Being needed,
seeing himself through Jack's eyes was going to his head like wine. "I love you and I want you."

Jack leaned back and looked at him hard. Then he grinned impudently. "I hope that means
want as in WANT," he asked roguishly, hitching up to wiggle his ass suggestively.

"You're right at the top of my to do list." Daniel caressed his cheek against Jack's and
surrendered to the urge to slide his fingers into Jack's hair. It seemed he'd been wrong about
Jack not being the kind of man you could stroke. Jack loved it when he touched him, moving at
once into his hand, smiling. It had never crossed Daniel's mind before that Jack could be
insecure, but the uncertainty was there nonetheless. It was a small thing to reassure Jack that he
turned Daniel on, that he was attractive and the sex was good, soooo good; the truth was easy
to give in this case.

"Right after putting Laidlaw to rest," Jack said casually as he kissed Daniel's shoulder. He
sniggered at Daniel's rueful look.

"It's that obvious, huh?"

"Shocker," Jack agreed solemnly.

"Everything is different than I thought it would be," Daniel admitted with difficulty, hating to
have to talk through this stuff but not able to refuse Jack's quiet support. "I saw his letter and it
was like the last twenty years had never happened. I was…I was here." He bit his lip and
rested his cheek against Jack's throat. "You know?"

"The stuff you want to bury deepest is like your oldest friend at three am." Jack knew. Daniel
just had to read his damned distasteful service record and he wouldn't have to ask how well
Jack knew.

"I felt so…so worthless," Daniel whispered.

Daniel made a sudden move, like he needed to be away, but Jack held on. He could survive
Daniel angry, but Daniel hurt tore him up inside. "Hard to hold on to any idea of the value you
have if you mean nothing to other people."

"Hard to hold on to yourself," Daniel said in a rush.

"You wouldn't let him fuck you." Jack didn't need the jerky nod against his throat to know that
was how it went down. "Did he hurt you?" he asked neutrally, hardly daring to breathe. The
nod was less definite this time and Jack swallowed rage as useless as his sympathy at the soft,
unwilling mumble of 'not physically'; what the fuck did that mean? Jack saw Daniel's agitation
and let him roll away to lie face down in the tumbled pillows and calm himself. He propped
himself up on his elbow, watching and waiting, exerting what little patience he could muster,
his hand spread on the small of Daniel's back, stroking soothingly.




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"He stopped," Daniel said at last. He lifted his head and looked anxiously at Jack. "He did
stop…before…he stopped," he faltered helplessly. "I was in love with him." Another quick
look reassured him Jack didn't need to be told that either. "I thought I was. At fifteen, you
think a lot of things…I'd never even kissed anyone, and we wound up in bed and if he'd given
me anything…ANYTHING…I would have let him fuck me," Daniel whispered achingly. "I
can't believe I was so fucking needy."

"One Sunday morning, Joey Henner took me out back of his barn to see the bike he was
working on, stuck his tongue down my throat, put his hand on my crotch and I came right there
in my pants," Jack told him solemnly. "Fifteen is needy." He hesitated, knowing Daniel hated
having to face over and over that something in him drew the predators. He didn't think it
would help Daniel any to tell him it was exactly the qualities that had long since hooked Jack,
all those contradictions that meant Daniel wasn't EASY. "Laidlaw was needy, Daniel, not you,"
he suggested carefully.

"I realise that now," Daniel said impatiently. "After twenty years." He rolled onto his back,
Jack's hand moving with him, and lay looking up at the ceiling, idly tracing the pattern of the
cornice, too rounded and feminine for the striking modernity of the pale mauve and grey colour
scheme of the room. It was hard to ignore Jack's demanding silence. Like always, which was
how Jack got past his 'I'm fine' every damn time.

"He couldn't leave me alone," Daniel surrendered. "Every time I turned round, Will was there.
At school. In the park. The kitchen porch, where I liked to read…it got sun all day and I…" he
trailed off, taking a shaky breath before he admitted the worst of it. "The bed next to mine."
Jerking off every chance he got, walking around naked when Annie was out of the house,
stealing Daniel's privacy. He never laid a finger on Daniel again but he didn’t have to. Daniel
was all used up fighting the fear, trying to hang in every time someone laughed after he'd
passed them in the hallway or he was tripped in class or his books taken and tossed. Or he was
called a name to his face. Or got a smack. More than a smack, sometimes. It never let up. The
pressure was there, on him, the whole time. It had changed him. Good or bad, it had changed
him.

He turned convulsively, allowing himself at last to take the comfort Jack so wanted to give him,
the big, rough hands gentle in his hair, against his clammy skin.

"I love you," Jack sighed. "I can't think of a goddamn helpful thing to say apart from that."

"Good enough for me." Daniel breathed Jack in, the tang of his woodsy soap and sweat from the
way they'd tangled in their sleep, the musk of morning arousal, deliciously ripe and male.

"Sweet talker," Jack teased, grinning when Daniel stirred and emerged from his embrace pale
but more composed. "You wanna go see him? Bury this for good?"

Daniel considered that, then he shoved Jack flat, propped himself up on Jack's chest and
considered it some more. It was difficult to consider anything seriously while Jack was playing
with his hair, but he did try. "No," he said at last. "What good would that possibly do me, Jack?



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He can't apologise, he can't explain, he can't tell me anything I want to hear, and I worked out
for myself everything I needed to. I'm not going to make it easy on him," he insisted, refusing
to feel guilty for what felt right. "If he thought about me every day for the rest of his life, it still
wouldn't equal what he took away from me, living in that fear…" He looked up determinedly.
"I didn't come here to clear his conscience for him. I came for Annie."

"So let's go see her," Jack murmured, leaning in to kiss Daniel's brow. There was more to it than
this, much more, but he figured Daniel had bared his soul enough for one day.

They tumbled out of bed, washed, brushed and tossed on clothes. Jack went with his usual
jeans and a loose grey-green shirt, and leaned against the window sill to admire the view as
Daniel smoothed down the cream cable knit sweater - Jack's favourite - over his own jeans and
white tee. From battered workboots to rumpled hair he was sex on legs. "Woo momma," Jack
smacked his lips appreciatively, blithely ignoring Daniel's forbidding scowl as he stalked over
to the door. He admired the rear view too. "Haughty is a good look on you," he observed
blandly as he locked the door.

"You’re incorrigible," Daniel accused him.

Jack beamed. "Thank you. I do try."

Abe trotted out to greet them as they came down the stairs. "Breakfast?" she called up to them.

"Depends," Jack said suspiciously.

"Eggs Benedict," Abe tempted. "Brioche and preserves. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Freshly
ground premium Colombian Coffee…For two?" she beamed as Daniel caved over the java.




"Oh, God. I'm stuffed," Jack groaned. He stiffened as Daniel looked at him incredulously.
"What?"

"N-nothing," Daniel stammered.

"Are you trying in your usual ham-fisted way to imply that I am greedy?" Jack asked,
dangerously calm.

Daniel looked steadily back at him. "Yes," he said defiantly. "Or Abe wouldn't have asked if
you were eating for two."

"She asked if you were drinking for three," Jack riposted.



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"It was excellent coffee," Daniel said defensively.

"'I could give it up anytime'," Jack quoted solemnly, "Just keep telling yourself that," he hooted
derisively.

"Like ginger buns," Daniel snidely informed the scenery flashing by the car windows. "In fact,
you had three of everything except the buns."

"Shut up."

"You had six of them."

"I can add."

"Not as well as you can subtract," Daniel said unkindly.

Jack took his eyes off the road for a second as he slowed for a stop sign on the outskirts of town,
grinned at his pissy lover, all crossed arms and hostile sniffing, belatedly realising he wasn't the
only one who REALLY liked ginger buns. "If you're a good boy in town I'll buy you an ice
cream," he promised patronisingly. "There has to be a soda fountain somewhere."

"Notrianni's. I went there sometimes with Annie. She loved ice cream," Daniel said stiffly.

"No Laidlaw?" Jack asked.

Daniel's grin quirked. "He didn't frequent the town library. Annie loved Barbara Cartland.
Except the last few pages of course. She used to say when you'd read one virgin transported to
heaven by the ecstatic power of love, you'd read them all."

Jack shuddered. "Jesus. Sara used to read that shit. No wonder she never left a book anywhere
I could find it."

"A few hours escapism never hurt anyone," Daniel made excuse. "Light fiction is no different
than the blockbuster movie or The Simpsons."

"I can tell you with absolute confidence that Homer never transported anyone to heaven on the
ecstasy of anything!"

"His loss."

Jack ignored the snarkiness in favour of looking out for a florist and a bakery so they could
stock up goodies for lunch. He found the florist first, tucked into the somewhat optimistically
themed 'Halcyon Homes' on Fortune Street. With Buffalo a spit up the road, and New York
doable in a day, Jack was amazed anyone would even bother.




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Privately, he had to admit flowers always made him nervous. He'd never been known to buy
Sara a perfume she hadn't specifically asked for, and he never brought her flowers - he'd
grasped every woman had a signature flower and it was never the one the guy bought - and if it
was a floral apology, she'd be just as likely to thank him and say she preferred her flowers in
the ground. As for chocolate, she'd either been on a diet or took the chocolates as some sort of
reverse psychology from Jack implying she needed to go on a diet so…He'd once been with her
when she tried on an evening dress and made the terrible mistake of saying it was nice when
asked. Sara had just…looked at him. Nice. Jesus. Still, she did get to whine about how he
never brought her presents any more.

Jack felt self-conscious, thinking about Sara when he was with Daniel. It was force of habit,
they'd been together so long and through so much. He doubted he could stop loving and
missing his wife, as much as he doubted Daniel would want him to. It wasn't like they'd never
talked about her before. It was just different now Daniel was his lover.

He locked the Lexus and distractedly followed Daniel into the…Jeez, references to the lion's den
were so hokey.

When faced with an actual florist in the flesh, Jack either emerged with one of everything in the
store or daisies. No middle ground. He was amazed and impressed as Daniel chattered easily
with the blushing sales assistant, confidently discussing colour schemes. Mesmerised, Jack
trailed around the shop behind Daniel, who sneezed in an absurdly cute manner before
deciding on carnations as choice of bloom, with pinks and creams for the colour scheme. Pink
in this case seeming to run the spectrum from a deep wine colour to a barely there blush on the
petals.

Daniel noticed Jack's stupefaction as the bouquet was being tastefully arranged in the wicker
basket he'd chosen. "Fluent Latin is incredibly useful when dealing with florists, musicians and
doctors, and for annoying lawyers."

"Uh-huh."

Daniel waited but apparently that was all Jack had to say on the matter. He handed over the
sixty bucks in cash - Halcyon Homes wouldn't entertain credit cards and personal cheques - and
gently steered Jack and the basket towards the exit.

"Would you buy a woman chocolate?" Jack asked out of the blue.

Daniel was horrified. "Are you nuts?" he gasped.

Jack looked gloomy. "Would you buy me chocolate?"

Daniel blushed a little and nudged him with his elbow. "Those Belgian seashells? I know you
love biting the heads off the little seahorses."




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Jack sighed heart-rendingly. Jesus. Could Daniel be any more perfect? Only he could get away
with saying Jack was fat, greedy and strange, but it was okay, he loved him for it.

Jack unlocked the car so Daniel could slide the basket into the back seat. He had to lean over to
arrange the seat belt just right and was startled when Jack hollered "Buns!" He straightened up
with a jerk and glared. "Not here," he hissed, looking edgily up and down the street, which was
as rushed as the hour ever got in Halcyon.

"No-o," Jack drawled, looking at him strangely. "There." He pointed to a bakers shop on the
corner.

Daniel bit his lip in embarrassment. Gawd, he was starting to believe his own publicity. "Um,
don't buy too much," he warned a little limply. "Abe made us traditional Cornish pasties." Rich
beef in gravy on one side of the pasty and raspberry jelly on the other, all encased in crisp
golden pastry.

Jack waited until Daniel was sidling into the passenger's seat and leaned down. "No-o, not
here," he drawled softly. "That's why I packed the blanket." Then he swaggered off before
Daniel's open mouth made it here. Daniel was too easy. How could Jack possibly resist teasing
him until he snapped? Talk about win win.

When Jack emerged triumphantly from the bakers, Daniel was still trying to work out quite
what Jack wanted to try out on the blanket and how hard to get he was going to be. Not very,
he thought. Jack just had to look at him like…like this and his knees went.

He meekly accepted the box and took a quick peek inside to find two huge wedges of rich, dark
coffee walnut cake, oozing what looked like vanilla fudge in place of cream. Daniel smiled
fondly at Jack, glad he'd taken his warnings to heart and gone easy on the dessert.

"And I got you your damned ginger bun, so no whining."




Like all graveyards everywhere, it was manicured, bright with flowers and all the more scary
because of it. Jack had his arm around Daniel's waist, and Daniel's around his, and didn't give a
shit who saw them. They'd both buried too many friends and too few memories. Plus, even
though he hadn't been a boyfriend for about twenty years, and he was completely embarrassed
about being one now, Jack distinctly remembered he had certain rights, like getting his S.O. to
lean on him when necessary.

"How's your knee?" Daniel asked anxiously. Jack really should have stayed in the car and
rested, but naturally the stubborn sonovabitch had been ready to walk barefoot over hot coals
the instant Daniel had suggested it. He rebalanced the basket, which was damned awkward to


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carry because of its size. He had to carry it at arms length, which made him lean heavily into
Jack. It couldn't be doing his knee any good to be carrying Daniel's weight - which was a sore
point as it was, it seemed - as well as…Daniel turned a murderous look on Jack. "You!" he
seethed, unable to come up with anything that adequately described what Jack was.

"Bite me," Jack retorted with cool precision, hugging him rather closer.

"You told me you hurt your knee while we were…we…I…you!" Words failed Daniel.

"I briefly referenced the weight of your ass," Jack supplied helpfully. "While we…" He leered
suggestively as he fondled Daniel's ass, smirking. "You know…"

"You...you!"

"You're hot when you're speechless," Jack observed happily. "You should try it more often."

"Being HOT?" Daniel fired at him.

Jack looked surprised. "Speechless."

"Alter kocker!"

Jack threw up his hands in mockingly abject surrender and tried out his most charming smile.
He was glad the flowers were expensive. Daniel looked like he wanted to hit him with them. "I
love you too," he carolled in an atrocious falsetto.

Daniel stamped on his foot, leaving him hopping madly on the spot in excruciating pain, and
marched off, muttering darkly under his breath.

Jack grinned. Given the choice between Daniel arriving at Annie's graveside already dodging
landmines down memory lane or pissed off at Jack and nicely distracted, well, what choice was
there? He hobbled off in Daniel's wake to find him setting the basket down carefully in a sea of
flowers. Annie was buried in a shady spot beneath a nice old oak tree. Jack sat himself down
against it and patted the pristine turf invitingly. Daniel lingered for a moment, reading the
small headstone, then came to sit beside him.

"Loving. Loved," Daniel said quietly.

"Hmm?"

"That's what it says," he nodded towards the grave. "I didn't miss her," he added abruptly.

Jack hoped he knew when to keep his yap shut. He leaned in close, resting his chin on Daniel's
shoulder, feeling the slight tremor that ran through his slim frame as he dropped his head,
focused on nothing. Or maybe focused on the past. There was nothing Jack could do for Daniel




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except show him he was with him, so he reached around, gently took Daniel's hand in his, and
listened to the quiet, dreamy voice, all the more eloquent for what wasn't said.

"I was so glad to be away from Halcyon, from Will and Rainey…I lost her," Daniel confessed. "I
couldn't remember anything good. Wouldn't allow myself to. Annie…" his voice caught a little
and he cleared his throat self-consciously. "Annie was good to me, Jack. I know you don't
believe it, but she gave me everything she could. I had time with her and that was worth more
to both of us than a cheque for services rendered the state."

They sat quietly, the breeze cooling them and ruffling Daniel's hair. He sighed and cut right to
the heart of it, why he'd been shocked rigid at the summons.

He'd never wanted to face this place again, these people. If Annie really had only wanted the
money, he wouldn't feel so guilty about cutting her off. Only now when it was far too late
could he remember hours at the piano, Annie patiently correcting his fingers on the keys each
time he struck a wrong note, more excited with passion than precision. Annie making chicken
cacciatore for him with a recipe she claimed was handed down from seven cookbooks and all
the terrible why did the chicken? jokes. Bullying the librarian into ordering book after book for
him from other libraries. Tearing a strip off his history teacher for giving him detention because
he'd disagreed with the reasons stated in the textbook for…God, he couldn't remember which
textbook, but he remembered Annie's wine coloured beret and the silky fur cuffs she'd sewn to
the sleeves of her coat to hide them when they wore threadbare.

Annie had asked for him, when she was ill. She hadn't forgotten Daniel but he…

"I buried Annie years ago."




Jack was curled up with Daniel in bed, wondering why nothing with Daniel was ever easy.
You'd think after five years, he'd have realised the futility of making assumptions. He still
didn't know if Daniel had snowed him all along about why he was so damned upset, or if
Daniel hadn't realised it himself until they stood at Annie's graveside, but after that stark
pronouncement, Daniel had withdrawn. Jack hadn't been able to get another word out of him
so he'd regretfully canned the picnic and brought Daniel back to Abe's.

Daniel was quiet. Too quiet, in Jack's not particularly humble opinion, and though he was
wrapped around Jack and clinging, he was also a little shivery. Guilt, Jack suspected, deserved
or not.

Jack still thought not. When it came to how good a 'mother' Annie had been, Jack had one acid
test. Had Daniel ever set foot in Notrianni's on his own? Jack highly doubted it. Charlie had



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never been afraid to go anywhere or been in any trouble he couldn't come to them about. His
son had never been alone.

He doubted Daniel had ever voluntarily gone out looking for trouble, but then he hadn't had to.
He'd lived with it and Annie either hadn’t seen a goddamn thing or had, and all the things
she'd done with Danny were a way to make sure he didn't bring trouble of his own to her door.
If Daniel had complained to his caseworker his foster brother was bullying him and had
sexually abused him, he'd have been yanked away from the old homestead and the precious
college money with him.

None of which he could say to Daniel without hurting him. Instead, Jack kissed him gently and
rhythmically rubbed his back. Sometimes it was easier to let Daniel carry a load than it was to
relieve him of it. He'd get past this guilt quicker than he'd get past what was most likely
Annie's betrayal or knowing just how Jack's mind really worked. Christ, he gave Daniel
enough to worry over as it was. More than enough.

Daniel sighed heavily and unclenched a little, shifting position until he and Jack were both
comfortably tangled. "Thanks," he said simply.

"De nada," Jack proudly displayed his own linguistic versatility. "Better?"

Daniel lingeringly kissed the bruise on Jack's shoulder.

"It was the cake," Jack observed, returning the kiss. Daniel had sexy shoulders. Sexy
everything really. The small of his back was wonderful. The nape…oy. "That helped."

Daniel looked guilelessly back and licked his lips slowly and deliberately. Jack assisted him.

"I bet that really helped. Nothing like scarfing down someone else's snacks to get over the
worst of a trauma," Jack persisted.

"Not that you're bitter or anything."

"No." Jack stroked his finger over Daniel's smooth chest.

Daniel just snuggled right back into his arms, like frosting wouldn't melt.

"We could have comfort sex," Jack offered bravely.

"I'm fine," Daniel whispered, lifting Jack's hand to kiss his fingers.

"I meant for me," Jack corrected him with cold dignity. "You ate both pieces. And the bun."

"Well, in that case…" Daniel rolled onto his back and did his best to look sultry and inviting.
Jack amazed him by finding his toes the most sultry thing on offer. "What the hell are you
doing?" he asked incredulously. There were, like, other things Jack could suck. Especially if he



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needed the calories. A few seconds later he was thumping into the mattress, pinned flat by
what felt like a ton of aroused, outraged Jack.

Daniel was annoyed - and self-conscious - about just how much he liked this. He was slightly
more annoyed by how much Jack liked this, especially as Jack hooked Daniel's legs around his
waist. "I'm not going to just lie here," Daniel complained. While you…you…Actually, that's a
good point. What do they call this?"

"What? That?"

"Yes! Ohgodohgodohgod, yes! That!"

"Payback."

Daniel decided having his legs wrapped around Jack's back was fine. Better than fine. Not that
Jack really needed encouragement, but this was spurring him on to new heights of exertion.
Daniel moaned and arched his back as he clung to Jack's shoulders. Friction. Who knew?
Jack's penis was grinding into his as he pounded frantically into Daniel's body, driving them
both relentlessly up the bed in a tangle of sweat-soaked sheets and hot skin and aching.

"Oh, Jack!" Daniel buried his face against Jack's shoulder as pleasure spiked through him.

"No biting!" Jack called, visibly alarmed.

"Wuss," Daniel sneered, dragging Jack's head down to kiss him fiercely, plundering his mouth,
ravaging Jack as he wracked Daniel's body with pleasure. His thrusts became stabs into the
soft, moist heat as the kiss deepened. He and Jack strained together, slippery with sweat and
losing any semblance of control. They were soooo close…Daniel bit down on Jack's tongue and
Jack came hard against him, the shock of heat splashing over his groin driving him over the
edge…

Jack collapsed onto Daniel's chest, wheezing, slick heat cooling between their bodies to sticky
mess. Daniel hugged him close and kissed his face tenderly.

"Mmmm," Jack groaned. Gooood sex. The best. "What does alter kocker mean?" he muttered
as he lifted his head to stare at Daniel's red face and damp hair.

"Old fart."




Daniel closed the curtains on the setting sun and slipped back into bed. "I'm not sorry I came,"
he told Jack, smiling a little


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"Damned with faint praise," Jack said tragically, flinging himself into the pillows for emphasis.

"Shut up, Jack," Daniel tried - and failed - to snap. He was horrified to find himself
feeling…well, indulgent towards Jack. Okay, more indulgent. If only Jack wasn't so good at
everything they did in bed - everything - Daniel might stand a chance. Every time he looked at
Jack he just wanted that beautiful, talented mouth on his body. Anywhere. Everywhere. He
was doomed. He wanted to crawl into Jack's lap and kiss. He was sure they could work the
egg salad into the scenario somehow. They were both resourceful.

"Tell me about Rainey," Jack invited softly, wishing he'd realised sooner Daniel was a total egg
salad slut, especially warm, finely chopped egg salad oozing juicy tomatoes. It was messy. It
was sticky. It might be enough to get him past the Martha Stewart sex stuff and into the fun.
His lover was pretty damn near perfect, unfortunately still including his bedside manners.

"She helped me understand a lot about what makes people tick," Daniel answered readily
enough. "She was my friend."

Jack had difficulty making lady in red and Daniel fit together after the way Daniel had blanked
on who she was at the chapel.

"Until Will started dating her," Daniel went on placidly.

"Clever bastard," Jack shook his head, reluctantly admiring Laidlaw's tactics. Divide and
conquer, huh? Not that it had worked on Daniel.

"I suppose he was deliberately trying to deprive me of my support system," Daniel mused.
"Make me turn to him."

"What did the fuck did he hope to accomplish?" Jack snapped. He hesitated, slid his plate to
safety and put his arm around Daniel. "Look, I know you haven't told me the details, but…" he
began earnestly. "If you want…you can tell me anything, Daniel. Anything," he offered
pointedly, practically daring Daniel to refuse him.

Daniel flushed, then paled. "I know," he said awkwardly. "I do know. It's just so…He was nice
to me, Jack. Far kinder than I'd expected, at least at first. And he was so…"

"Hot?" Jack asked with leaden irony.

Daniel sighed, shamefaced.

"You had a crush." It wasn't a question.

"He would stand so close. I…he knew how attracted to him I was." Daniel looked at Jack. "I
didn't exactly hide it. The first couple of months here I was just in a daze of happiness."




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"Christmas? He set out to seduce you. Got you drunk," Jack grimly joined the dots.

"It started before then. He would kiss me…I kissed him back. Willingly. He kissed me that
night too, not just once, but…We wound up on the couch. We were both drinking. I remember
that. He wanted to go to bed with me. He asked." Daniel looked earnestly at Jack. "He did ask
and I did agree."

"You can't hold your drink for shit," Jack reminded him wearily.

Daniel was too tired to argue that Will hadn't known that. It was splitting too fine a hair for
Jack because Will had got Daniel drunk to get him into bed. "He got me out of my clothes so
fast…it was obvious he'd been with people."

"I bet it was obvious you hadn't and don't tell me it wasn't a huge turn-on you were a virgin,"
Jack snarled.

"You tell me, Jack," Daniel invited softly. Jack dropped his head. "Will wasn't a rapist, Jack, if
that's what you're thinking. He was just selfish and needy and he went crazy for me. We were
naked and rolling around, kissing, and he put my hand on his penis. I got it. I wasn't that
naïve. I masturbated him - clumsily - and he came and that was it. He crashed. He didn't think
about me at all. He just needed to get off."

"And then he needed to fuck you."

Daniel shrugged. "He was too late. I had too long to think, to realise he was using me because
he was desperate and I'd be right there in the next bed, a good fuck whenever he needed it. A
tight, grateful virgin," he said bitterly. "I said no. I said no and I meant it and once he realised I
did mean it, he stopped." The look on Jack's face made him grimace. "He didn't hurt me and he
did stop. I was humiliated but he didn't hit me and he didn't force me."

"Laidlaw was humiliated," Jack corrected. "So he started bullying you? Because you dared to
say no? I bet Rainey didn't know her boyfriend started all this because he wanted to fuck you,
not her."

"I imagine not." Daniel hoped she never knew. He had no idea how Will lived his life now, if
he was straight, gay or bi. He'd never known if he was the only boy Will had gone for. He
hadn't wanted to know, and still didn't. Rainey had too much to reproach herself with as it was
if she had cared for Daniel at all.

"I think you underestimate how much he wanted you, Daniel," Jack said tightly. "Seriously.
Like you said to him, he hasn't got past this. You did. He might have been a selfish, horny little
bastard, but he kept pushing, kept coming back to you. Wounded pride doesn't cover that. It
doesn't come close."

"I think that's what I finally worked out when I saw him again," Daniel offered. "That hold he
had - whatever it was - I didn't feel anything for him. I wasn't afraid. I wasn't…I didn't care."



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"You got yourself through it," Jack praised him caressingly, laughing a little as Daniel blushed
and glared at him unconvincingly. "Was the bullying bad?" he asked abruptly.

Daniel jerked away from him instinctively, all the answer Jack needed.

He took a deep, difficult breath, looking away, giving Daniel that much of an out. "Maybe I can
tell you about Iraq some day," he asked hesitantly. "I think…maybe you'd get it. Maybe. The
psychiatrist…" His fists clenched involuntarily. "Nobody fucking gets it!" he said angrily,
flinching as Daniel's fingers cupped his chin and turned his face. He caught at Daniel's hair
clumsily when he rested his temple against Jack's.

"I'm here for you," Daniel promised. "Whatever you need."

"Old news."

"Smug bastard."

"What I need is this," Jack went on determinedly. "I need you to let me in, let me listen. Talk.
Help, if I can. That's all." He looked right into Daniel's eyes and saw recognition. Acceptance.
More, so much more his heart skipped a beat.

"Whatever you need," Daniel promised again, smiling a little.

Maybe they hadn't saved the world, but this, the two of them just being together, that was a
victory of sorts.




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