Summary: Post-The Curse
…it’s always something…
“Daniel?” Janet whispered gently.
Daniel didn’t answer. He couldn’t think and he couldn’t see. He’d been asleep but now, he was awake…and the pain was back in spades. He felt Janet pressing a large pill into his hand.
“Take it, Daniel. It’ll help.”
Without opening his eyes, Daniel took the glass she pressed against his other hand, tossed the pill into his mouth and drank it down with the water. Grimacing – the pill was huge – he drank all the water, then handed the glass back to her.
“Thanks. When do we land?”
“25 minutes or so.”
“At the hospital in Chicago. Stabilized and he’ll recover.”
“I assume they’re working on it.”
“Probably are.” Daniel winced as the plane bounced. “Fucking turbulence.”
“I know,” she said as she laid a damp, cool cloth over his eyes.
Daniel breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks. How’s Sam?”
“Fine. Taking a nap.”
“I’m fine, Daniel. Don’t worry about me.”
“I can’t help it.”
“I know that, too. The flight won’t be too much longer and then you can rest.”
“Yeah, but then there’s travel time to the mountain, all those security lights, the elevators, Hammond–“
“Shhhh,” she said, her voice becoming even quieter. Daniel didn’t know why she was trying to be quiet. The roar of the C-130’s engines nearly drowned her out. “I’m ordering you to your quarters when we get back.”
Daniel tried a grin. “Not going to strap me to one of your infirmary beds?”
“Not this time,” she grinned back, “though there’s a thought.”
Daniel did grin that time, but it was short-lived. “Jack know yet?”
“I haven’t spoken with the General, but I’m sure he does by now.”
Daniel grimaced, both about the pain in his head and the regret and guilt in his heart about leaving Jack home. “I should have taken him with me. I shouldn’t have made him stay home. I wish I had–“
“Shhhh,” Janet interrupted. “Just rest for now. Talk later.”
Daniel felt her leave the chair next to him. He tried to concentrate on the meditative techniques that Teal’c had taught him to refocus pain but Teal’c’s techniques never seemed to work on his migraines. Despite what he’d told Sam about getting used to ribbon devices, the fact was, their effects on him were getting worse. Daniel wondered if the effects were cumulative, having to do with his sarcophagus addiction.
He sighed, letting that thought go for now. Thinking about anything technical was just too much to deal with at the moment. Instead, Daniel tried to let his mind drift but there was one thought that wouldn’t leave him alone. Jack.
Daniel winced as he recalled his next-to-last conversation with Jack. After seeing the startling news in that magazine about his former professor, he’d quickly gone to Hammond. The General had given him leave to go to Chicago and attend the funeral, so Daniel had gone to his office to shut things down and lock up. Then Jack had come in, and Daniel had known that he’d been in to see Hammond. Jack had that ‘I’m so not happy with you’ look about him.
“Hammond says you’re going alone,” Jack had said.
Daniel had turned to Jack after he’d shut off his computer. “Jack, I need to.”
“Why?” Jack had drawled.
“Because I need to. I’d rather you didn’t go. It’ll be boring, tedious, you’ll be surrounded by scientists–“
“It’s an old girlfriend you don’t want me to meet, right?”
Daniel had begun to fidget. “Partly. Look, Jack, I don’t know that she’s still around, at the university, but she could very well be at the funeral…along with one other.”
Jack had also guessed Daniel’s tone correctly. “And this ‘one other’. You don’t want me to meet them, either? That doesn’t sound right, Daniel.”
Daniel had sighed. “I know, Jack. But…this is my past, and though I loved my work with Doctor Jordan, it’s the personal side of things, mostly, that I’m not particularly proud of having you see…or put up with. I can tell you about it all when I get back but the funeral’s in the morning and I’ve got a rather late flight to catch.”
“Daniel…I know some about your past. There’s nothing that would bother me.”
Daniel had been facing away from Jack, and he’d turned slowly to look at him. “I want you to come with me…but…”
“Daniel, it can’t be that bad, can it?”
“If Doctor Jordan had still been alive and I was going back for a visit, then I would love for you to meet him. But this is different. The other two…well…Sarah…”
“You’re kidding me? Sarah?”
Daniel’s cheek had twitched. “Yeah. Weird, I know.”
“You’re telling me.”
Jack had paused. Daniel had paused. Daniel hadn’t known what else to say and he’d fidgeted even more. As he’d expected, Jack’s intuition guessed the rest.
“The other one, Daniel? That’s the person you don’t want me to meet, isn’t it?”
“It’s not that I don’t want you to meet him, Jack.”
“Him? The other one is an old boyfriend?”
Daniel had known that there wouldn’t have been a problem telling Jack about Sarah, or Steven, but…
“Why don’t you want me to meet him?” Jack had sounded sarcastic…and not a little bit jealous.
“His name was…er, is…Steven and…look, I don’t know for sure that he’d be there at the funeral but it’s a good bet.”
“Daniel…” Jack had started, his face grimacing in impatience and irritation. “Hold on. Are you gonna tell me there’s something still between you?”
Daniel had shaken his head emphatically. “No, Jack. We didn’t part as friends. Look, he was, and probably still is, an asshole. He was rather ticked off at me long before I left and very likely still is. He’d be…difficult. I don’t want you to have to–“
“Daniel, I can handle an old boyfriend.”
“Yes, Jack, you could, but Steven’s…I don’t want you to. He knows how to push buttons, Jack and I’m not up to having him push them with you around to hear about it all.”
“Ah, one of those that likes to reopen old wounds, eh? Let me guess. He’d start off with your theories, then why you left, right?”
“Yeah, my theories started to put Doctor Jordan in a bad light, strictly by association. I had to leave. Hardest thing I ever did. The man was like a father to me.”
“I know, Daniel,” Jack had said. “I wish you’d talk to me about it. C’mon. Let me go with you.”
“Jack, he’d start something. And he’d also start it in front of you.”
“He would, would he?” Jack had asked. Daniel had seen the mistrust of Steven right then and knew immediately that Steven would get on Jack’s nerves in less than ten seconds.
“He’d pick a fight with you simply to embarrass me.”
Jack had grimaced in disgust. “An asshole, like you said.”
“Daniel. I can handle it.”
“Yes, but I don’t want you to have to handle it…and…I’d rather not deal with it. Not now.”
“You’d rather deal by yourself, is that it?” Jack had asked, his sarcasm increasing. Daniel had heard the hurt in his voice. “Just like always.”
“That’s not it…exactly.”
“Then what is it…exactly?”
“I’d like to be alone. I know that doesn’t make sense, Jack.”
“Yes it does, but I don’t have to go to the funeral. I can wait in the car or back at the hotel. Besides, I know Chicago, Daniel. At least, a little bit. I was born there. C’mon.”
“Jack, I’d rather you just stayed here. Please?”
Jack hadn’t understood and Daniel had understood why. Jack had been very angry with him and after he’d left Daniel’s office without a word, Daniel hadn’t seen him since. He’d wanted Jack to drive him to the airport, but he couldn’t ask. Not after that difficult talk. Daniel had felt like shit about it, but he’d really wanted to be alone for a while. And Steven…Daniel knew he’d be difficult and he hadn’t been in any sort of mood to have Jack listen to Steven’s rhetoric…and the past he’d no doubt bring up. Daniel hadn’t thought about his own embarrassment. He knew, instead, that Steven would jump at the chance to goad Jack, just to get back at Daniel for embarrassing, and then leaving, Doctor Jordan. And him.
Steven had been okay at first, until Daniel had started to voice his theories out loud, and in public. Then Steven had felt his reputation threatened and he’d turned mean. He’d always been selfish. Daniel had wished several times since then that he’d never gotten involved with Steven, but…the man had been passionate, and quite good in bed. Probably the only time that Steven hadn’t ever been quite so selfish. And Sarah? She’d been only marginally better. But they, too, had ceased their relationship. And their friendship.
And now…Sarah wasn’t Sarah anymore. And he’d never once seen her. That Osiris had been very clever. Very clever.
Daniel sighed again, holding the cloth over his eyes, and pushed those thoughts from his mind. He refocused on Jack…and the last time he’d heard Jack’s voice. At the cabin.
“What?” Jack had yelled grumpily into the phone.
“Hey, Jack. Um, listen, I really need to talk to you but first, is Teal’c there?”
“Yes, Daniel. He’s right here. Please hold.”
That had been Jack’s “I’m so fucking pissed off with you” voice. It had hurt to hear it, but Daniel had understood. After talking with Teal’c, he’d wanted to talk to Jack, but Jack…he had been angrier than Daniel had thought.
“No, no, no, no, wait, Jack–“
The line had gone dead. Startled, Daniel had tried to call back but the special Sat line had informed him that the phone was out of order, so Daniel had called Hammond. Later on, he’d been informed that two members of the local police had been called to check on Jack and Teal’c. They had been fine. It had simply been because Jack had disconnected the phone. Daniel had gotten the message – leave Jack alone. But then…all hell had broken loose. He’d wanted Jack and Teal’c there with them, but Hammond had said there was no time. They’d needed to track down Steven first. Daniel still didn’t understand that reasoning. They could have waited for Jack and Teal’c…or they could have met them in Egypt…couldn’t they?
Daniel pushed those thoughts away, too. For now, they simply increased his headache. He knew, however, that after this pain subsided, another would begin out of his own anger. Anger at Jack for behaving like he had, at himself for feeling like such a coward, and anger that he should have had Jack with him.
Sighing, Daniel hoped that things could be fixed as soon as he was better. But judging from the pain slicing through his skull, this one would take a while. Maybe more than three days – like the last one, from Amaunet.
Jack and Teal’c, still in civilian clothes, walked into the infirmary, finding Janet going through a tray of blood samples.
“Doc!” Jack greeted.
“Doctor Fraiser,” Teal’c bowed. “How are you and Major Carter?”
She nodded at them. “We’re fine. Sam’s at home, though. Resting. I’ll be going home shortly. I’m just checking on some lab work.”
“And Doctor Jackson?”
Jack and Teal’c had asked together.
Janet sighed. “I’ll assume the two of you have already seen General Hammond?”
“Doctor Jackson?” Teal’c repeated.
“The effects of this ribbon device are worse than the last time. My guess is that their effects are cumulative. Instead of getting used to it, your system becomes increasingly damaged by it.”
“Is he okay, Doc?” Jack asked, enunciating his words slowly.
“He will be, Colonel. But he’s in a lot of pain, suffering what could be considering an acute migraine. I can’t turn out the lights in the infirmary, so I’ve ordered him to stay in his on-base quarters until he’s better. I need to monitor his vitals, and take one more MRI of his brain to make sure the ribbon device didn’t do any lasting damage, to the tissue or the skull. The next time he comes into contact with a ribbon device, it will be much, much worse.”
Jack winced. “How long have you been here? You look like you need the sleep yourself.”
Janet sighed. “I do, sir. I’m beat. And jet lag is setting in.”
“When did you get here?” Jack asked.
She looked at her watch. It read a little past three a.m. “Four hours ago.”
Jack wanted to ask her why he and Teal’c hadn’t been called home, but he knew the person to answer that question would be Hammond, not Janet. “I can see him, right?” he asked instead.
Janet shook her head. “If you do, Colonel, you can’t turn on any lights, but I’d rather you waited a while.”
Jack nodded, and Janet watched as they left her infirmary. She knew they wouldn’t wait to see Daniel. But if they valued their lives, they’d not turn on any lights.
Jack and Teal’c found that the lights in Daniel’s section of the corridor had been shut off. The SF down the hall nodded to Jack, confirming silently that the lights were out on purpose. Jack slid the card through the key port, then quickly, silently opened the door and stepped inside, Teal’c directly behind. They closed the door, then waited for their eyes to adjust. Teal’c made his way over to Daniel’s bed and looked down at him. He held his hand over Daniel’s forehead, not touching, and heard the man breathing deeply, asleep. He nodded to Jack, then moved back for the door.
Jack stood there, staring at the bed. Even in the dark, he could see the paleness of Daniel’s skin and remembered the pain Daniel had had to go through the last time. It hadn’t been enough that Daniel had lost his wife, but he’d had to go through the physical pain that matched his emotional state. Now, here was Daniel again, in pain, caused by another Goa’uld, this time inhabiting his ex-girlfriend. The guy couldn’t win for losing, could he?
Teal’c touched Jack’s shoulder and he grudgingly followed the Jaffa out of the room and closed the door quietly.
“He is running a fever, O’Neill.”
Teal’c stared at Jack, his jaw clenching over and over. Jack’s eyes narrowed.
“You think this is all my fault?”
Teal’c raised a brow slightly, his face as stern as ever. “I did not say that, O’Neill. But the situation might have been different had you not acted in a childish manner.” Jack stiffened, resenting the truth spoken out loud. “I do not blame you for the situation, O’Neill. However, neither of us is completely blameless. I allowed you to behave in such a manner, indulging you when I should not have. This will not happen again.”
Jack stared into his friend’s eyes, his own jaw clenching. He knew that Teal’c was angry with him and for good reason. “No, Teal’c. It won’t happen again. And…I apologize.”
Teal’c looked back at him and after a moment, his expression softened. “If you need me, I will be taking my kel-no-reem, then I shall visit Major Carter.”
“You need a ride, Teal’c, you come and get me.”
“That will not be necessary, O’Neill, but thank you for the offer.”
Teal’c then turned and walked away from him. Jack sighed and turned down the hall, going for the elevators. Teal’c had made two very valid points. One, he had acted in a childish manner. Two, it would not happen again.
Closing the door to his own quarters, Jack walked over to his bed and sat down. He wasn’t happy with himself, nor was he happy with Hammond. Even if the man had been right, and there hadn’t been enough time to have himself and Teal’c recalled, they still should have been waiting for word at the SGC – not sitting at his cabin.
Jack understood the reason for Daniel, Sam, and Janet needing to leave right away, but they should have had back up. Of some kind. Jack passed a hand over his face. What a mess.
They should have been called the moment that damned Goa’uld had been discovered in the jar Daniel had brought back to the SGC. Jack should have been there; should have gone with Daniel to Egypt.
A lot of ‘should have’s’. Too many. If blame needed to be placed, there was plenty to go around.
But none of it excused his own behavior and Jack knew that he’d let his own emotions get out of hand. He’d felt angry and resentful, hurt and left out. Daniel had wanted to be alone and Jack could only see some of the reasons why. But he’d let his imagination run rampant. He didn’t think that Daniel had wanted to be alone with an old boyfriend, but the fact that Daniel didn’t think Jack could handle…
No, that wasn’t it. Daniel had said, had explained, though just not enough for Jack’s satisfaction. He knew Jack could handle it. It was himself that Daniel wasn’t sure of. He’d lost someone else that meant a great deal to him and he hadn’t wanted the extra stress. Jack got that. But…he only got that now, after it was all over.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” he asked himself. He lay down on the bed, staring at the ceiling. Eventually, his eyes closed and he was able to sleep.
. . .
Jack was running in the desert, lost. He looked around and around, finding nothing, and he ran, not knowing where he was going. Then he rounded a small dune and tripped over something solid. As he fell to the ground, he came face to face with Daniel, staring at him. Blood trickled from Daniel’s nose and mouth and his eyes watered in pain.
“I called out to you but you wouldn’t hear me. Now it’s too late. Too late.” Daniel’s eyes then glazed over and Jack panicked, grabbing him.
“Don’t you leave me, dammit. Don’t you leave me!”
“It’s much too late for him,” said a resonating voice and Jack whirled, looking into the glowing eyes of a beautiful woman. “Just as it is for you.” The ribbon device turned on, scorching Jack’s brow.
. . .
His clothes a bit rumpled and his hair only slightly combed, Jack made his way to Daniel’s quarters. His heart was still pounding from the nightmare, and though he knew it hadn’t been real, and that Daniel was alive, he had to see for himself.
He passed his card through the key port, then opened the door and slipped quietly inside. Waiting again for his eyes to adjust, he made his way to the bed and sat down. Daniel was on his side, facing away from him, and when the bed dipped, he moved slightly.
“Janet?” he asked groggily.
“No,” Jack replied softly, a bit disappointed that Daniel hadn’t thought it could be him.
Daniel turned then, rolling onto to his back. Jack saw a cloth over his eyes and when Daniel went to move it away, Jack reached out and kept it there, covering the cloth, and a few of Daniel’s fingers, with his hand.
“No, don’t remove it.”
“Jack,” Daniel whispered, his throat sounding clogged. He cleared it. “Jack,” he repeated, the word clearer but no less soft.
Daniel didn’t say anything else. He simply moved his hand from under Jack’s, then covered it and squeezed.
“I’m sorry,” Jack said then.
Daniel wanted to shake his head, but he didn’t. The movement would be too painful. “I’m sorry, too. I’m glad you’re here.”
“Try to go back to sleep.”
“The pain?” He heard Daniel swallow.
“Yes,” Daniel said thickly.
“Will a massage help?”
“I don’t know. You never tried one before.”
“I know. Should have.”
Jack turned, bringing his leg up to rest along to Daniel’s side. “If this hurts at all, tell me.”
“What time is it?”
“10 a.m. Are you expecting Janet?”
“No, she was here a little while ago, but I don’t know what time. I need to take my pills.”
Jack’s eyes adjusted enough to see the shape of the pill bottles and the pitcher of water on the night stand. He poured water into the cup, then opened the bottles.
“Two round, one long.”
Jack smiled and Daniel seemed to sense it. “Don’t say it.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Jack whispered as he retrieved the pills…which were huge. “Damn these are big pills.”
“A relaxant and one of those pain…” and he stopped talking, grimacing as the sound of his voice in his head hurt him. “Can’t talk,” he whispered.
“Here,” Jack answered, gently holding Daniel’s head up as he brought the pills to his mouth. The cup soon followed and Daniel held on long enough to take the bitter-tasting things down his throat. He coughed, then drank the rest of the water down. Jack let him down just as gently as he’d lifted him, then after returning the cup to the night stand, brought his fingers to Daniel’s neck and temples.
He started to massage the overly warm skin softly, caressing in light circles. Underneath his fingertips, he felt Daniel shift and relax, bit by bit. Jack didn’t talk and Daniel didn’t either. He simply focused on making Daniel feel better. After several minutes, he heard Daniel’s breathing slow and deepen. He lightened his touch, then drew his hands away. He wanted more than anything to lean down and kiss him, but he couldn’t disturb him more than he had. He eased off the bed, then moved back to the door. After one last look, he left.
Jack’s single nightmare had him sleeping lightly in his quarters, then sitting in his office…waiting. And waiting. And waiting. He went to Daniel’s quarters again at 2 p.m., finding Daniel asleep. He stayed for about an hour, sitting in a chair by the wall, watching. Thinking. Sorting.
After all their hurts and pains suffered since their involvement, his love for Daniel had only increased and Jack couldn’t help but wonder: what business did he have loving Daniel? Had he only hurt him, brought him pain?
“Stop that,” came Daniel’s whispered voice, breaking his maudlin thoughts.
“You’re supposed to be sleeping,” Jack replied.
“You’re teeth’re grinding. Stop thinking. Not your fault.”
Jack wanted to argue, but he didn’t. That would come later. Jack had a feeling that Daniel wouldn’t blame him, and from what he’d just heard, he knew he was right. He also knew Daniel well enough to know that he’d blame himself instead. How typical.
A knock came on Jack’s office door.
Janet walked in. “Sir?”
Jack stood up. “How is he?”
“Well, the worst of it is over, I think. He was able to withstand an MRI. He’s now back in his quarters and–“
“Why didn’t someone come get me?”
Janet saw the protective posture and assumed her own. “He doesn’t need you to babysit him, Colonel.”
Jack frowned. “I know that, Doc.”
“May I continue?” she asked, raising her brow expectantly.
Jack gestured with his hand. “Let’s have it.”
“I’ll have the results of the MRI in a little while. They shouldn’t show anything wrong. His vitals are fine and his migraine is now down to a bad headache.” She hesitated, then went on. “Colonel, I’m putting Daniel on medical stand-down for at least another week. Just to be cautious.”
Jack nodded in agreement. “This one was worse than the others.”
“Yes, it was.”
“When can he go home, sleep in his own bed?”
“When his headache is completely gone. Even though he no longer has a migraine, it can be triggered again. Right now, his on-base quarters are the best place for him. In a normal bedroom, light still filters in and there is noise outside. Here, he doesn’t have that.”
Jack nodded again. “You’re right. So, how much longer do you think?”
“If he’s lucky, another six hours, Colonel.”
“Daniel’s always lucky,” Jack replied as looked down at his watch. It was after six in the evening.
“How do you figure, Colonel?”
“He should be dead, and he’s not.”
“He’s not because he saved himself, Colonel. Neither Sam nor I were in any position to help him.”
Jack eyed her. She still looked tired. “Have you been home at all? I saw Daniel at ten last night and he said you had just seen him.”
Janet nodded. “I’ve been home and back again, Colonel. Maybe you should do the same?”
“I’m fine, Doc.”
“Forgive me, sir, but you don’t look fine.”
Jack gave her a stern look of warning. “Don’t start, Doc. When Daniel’s feeling better, I’ll take him home, then go home and get some rest. Promise.”
Janet eyed him dubiously, then nodded.
For the fourth time in thirty-six or so hours, Jack made his way to Daniel’s quarters. As before, he entered the darkened room quietly and shut the door behind him. This time, he locked it, though he wasn’t sure why. He suddenly needed to be alone with Daniel, to make sure he wasn’t disturbed. Jack made his way over to the bed and sat down, taking care that the dipping of the bed didn’t disturb his lover too much.
He had hoped that Daniel would be awake, but he heard the sounds of soft breathing, indicating that Daniel was asleep. As his eyes adjusted, he could make out Daniel’s face. The reddened marks on Daniel’s forehead looked almost like shadows. They made Daniel’s face look angry. Jack thought it appropriate. Daniel really should be angry with him, but he wasn’t.
Jack frowned deeply as his anger at himself returned. “I’m sorry, Daniel,” he suddenly whispered – the sound just barely disturbing the silence of the room. He heard Daniel’s breathing change. It altered, then Daniel rolled onto his right side, facing him. He was still asleep, judging from what Jack could see. He pressed a hand on the bed to push himself off, intending to leave, but Daniel suddenly spoke.
“No,” he moaned, almost like a long breath.
“Daniel?” Jack whispered.
Jack realized that Daniel was mumbling in his sleep. He started to get up once more but Daniel’s words again stopped him.
“Can’t…Steven…” Daniel rolled onto his back, turning his face away from Jack. “No…not…you…” Jack barely heard. “No…”
Jack reached out to soothe but froze when he then heard, “Jack…Steven…no…don’t…”
“Daniel?” Jack whispered, reaching out to stroke Daniel’s hair, petting. “Shhhh,” he whispered, trying to be as quiet as he could. Daniel’s head turned and Jack’s hand now covered his face. Daniel’s lips moved against the palm of his hand.
Jack moved his hand and cupped Daniel’s face, keeping the contact light. “Don’t be sorry. I’m sorry.”
“No…” Daniel whispered. He rolled away from Jack then, continuing to mumble. He also brought Jack’s hand and arm with him. Jack had to get up, to follow him across the bed, and ended up sitting directly behind him. Daniel was moaning now. “No, no.” He repeated it a few times and Jack reached up with his free hand, rubbing Daniel’s back.
“Shhh,” he whispered. “It’s okay, Daniel. You’re just having a nightmare.”
There were more mumbled words of ‘no’ but Daniel’s tense body seemed to relax. Jack started to move away but Daniel turned toward him, his left hand reaching up and taking hold of Jack’s sleeve.
“Daniel?” Jack asked cautiously. The dark blotches where Daniel’s eyes were didn’t tell him if they were open.
“Jack,” Daniel whispered.
Jack breathed a sigh of relief. “You sound better. How’s your headache?”
“Still have one, but it’s not bad now.” His voice was hushed, but normal. It didn’t crack nor sound thick, except with sleep.
“Lie back,” Jack said gently as he moved his hands to Daniel’s chest, pushing against the white cotton shirt. Daniel moved back, allowing Jack’s hands to slide upward, toward his neck. As before, Jack began to move his fingers, caressing, soothing, massaging Daniel’s neck, his temples.
This time, Daniel made a soft moan in his throat as his body relaxed. Jack smiled down at him, glad that he could do something. Then Daniel’s hands were sliding up over his chest, stopping at his collar.
“I’d pull you down and kiss you but I haven’t brushed my teeth in…a long while. My mouth tastes gross.”
“So does mine, actually.”
Daniel tugged on Jack’s collar. “Jack,” he drawled in a scold.
“Don’t tell me you’ve been up since…”
“No, Daniel. Janet would have my hide. It’s just that I can’t sleep, can’t eat, don’t feel like doing squat…you know.”
Daniel knew. “Thirty-six hours? Shit,” Daniel mumbled.
“You’re still tired, Daniel, and need your rest. Go to sleep.”
“I can’t…yet,” Daniel said, trying to push up.
“I have to take a leak.”
“Don’t just sit there. Help me up.”
Jack grinned to himself as he moved and helped Daniel move off the bed. Daniel was sounding more like himself, which meant that he was definitely getting better. The relief in Jack’s body and mind was palpable. Daniel felt it.
“You sound back to normal,” Jack told him, then added, “relatively speaking.”
Daniel snorted a soft sound, then once he was on his feet, he placed a hand against Jack’s chest. “Okay, I got it. Just…stay there.”
“You don’t need any help?” Jack asked, his grin widening.
“Jack,” Daniel admonished. He made his way to the bathroom, smiling to himself. He knew they had to talk, but at least when they did, neither of them would be angry or upset. He supposed that was the only thing good about him being incapacitated just after a fight. It turned Jack into a mother hen.
When Daniel returned to the bed, he felt Jack’s hands around him, helping him as he lay back down. He felt his body reacting in response to those hands he’d missed and he groaned deep in his throat.
“Daniel?” Jack asked worriedly.
“Nothing bad, Jack. It’s nothing bad.”
“Ah huh,” Jack said, not believing him. As Daniel settled onto his back once more, Jack reached up and resumed his light massage. After a time, Daniel’s breathing slowed and deepened once more and Jack could tell that Daniel had once again fallen back to sleep. It took great effort and will for him not to lie down next to Daniel and join him.
Not long after midnight, Daniel’s MRI was read and his lab work given the final check. Janet had stayed long after she’d needed to in order to be certain that he was okay. Finally, she cleared him and sent him home. As she’d informed Jack, she put Daniel on medical stand down for a week, in case his migraine returned. What had surprised both Jack and Janet was that Daniel hadn’t argued. He’d simply accepted Janet’s orders without question. Jack decided to take advantage of that – for Daniel’s own good.
As he made his way out of the elevator, Daniel found himself steered toward Jack’s truck and not his own Jeep. Rolling his eyes, he stopped.
“Jack, I can drive home.”
Jack stared at him, giving him a tolerant look. “Yes, I understand that, Daniel, but you shouldn’t.”
Daniel tilted his head sideways, giving Jack his own look of tolerance. “As Janet said, Jack, my leftover headache is now because I need food.”
“Yes, which means your blood sugar is low, yadda yadda. All the more reason why you shouldn’t drive. C’mon. We can pick up your Jeep tomorrow.”
“Okay, but I need to go shopping,” he said tiredly even as he let Jack steer him once more toward his truck.
“We’ll do that tomorrow. Right now, Daniel, you’re gonna stay overnight at my place. I’ll cook something up. We can watch a movie or something.”
Daniel simply nodded. He knew that if he’d objected, Jack would argue, so he let it go.
As he hung up his jacket next to Jack’s and watched his lover move into the kitchen, Daniel hovered. He looked down the hallway and at the bathroom door. He was hungry, but he also needed to shower. Badly. Jack peeked around the kitchen, staring at him.
Daniel ran his hand over his stubble. “I need a shower.”
Jack grinned and gestured in the direction of the bathroom. “You know where it is, Daniel. Mi casa est su casa.”
Daniel grinned back and made his way to the bathroom, stripping off his shirt before getting there. He left his clothes, badly in need of a wash themselves, on the floor, and turned on the water. The moment the hot water spilled over his head and down his tense neck and shoulders, his body started to relax further and his remaining headache eased slightly. He leaned against the wall, letting the water fall over him, thinking about events over the past four days.
Steven he could forget about. That was done. However the Air Force wanted to handle him, Daniel would gladly let them. He had no use for Steven and his mind games. The man may have apologized to him, but he was still…Steven. In the archaeological field for fame and glory and nothing else.
Sarah on the other hand…
Daniel sighed with sadness. They’d never been close, even during their relationship, but they had cared about each other. To see her gone, to realize that the Goa’uld had pretended to be her…it hurt. He vowed to himself that no matter what he had to do, he’d find a way to get her back…and to make those snake bastards pay.
Grabbing Jack’s body soap, the scent of it brought his thoughts to Jack. He knew that he should have brought Jack with him and if there was ever a next time when his past would bite him on the ass, he would. He’d been wrong and Jack’s behavior had been his own doing. He knew he hadn’t forced Jack to act the way he had, but he’d pushed Jack in that direction. Daniel had hurt him and Jack had retaliated. Their relationship was filled with these emotional storms, it seemed. This time, he had been the one in the wrong, though he was quite sure that Jack would see it differently.
Daniel remembered telling Jack how he’d needed to be alone, and when Daniel had arrived at the hotel in Chicago, he thought he had. But after he’d entered the Oriental Institute…the memories came flooding back and all Daniel had wanted to do was retreat. He’d wanted to call Jack, to ask him to come meet him, but his stubbornness hadn’t let him. He could do this alone, he’d told himself. Yes, he could, and he had…mostly. But he had needed Jack there anyway.
He rinsed the soap off his skin and went to the shampoo next, sighing as he felt the oil and dirt leave him. After rinsing, he didn’t bother with the conditioner, and shut off the water and stepped out of the shower. He reached into the medicine cabinet and found the toothbrush – his toothbrush. He quickly brushed, then brushed again. As he rinsed his mouth, he started to feel just a touch better, but there was one more thing. He grabbed the razor and shaving cream, then set to work.
Once finished, he washed his face again, then used the moisturizer Jack had kept for him. As he looked at his reflection, he fingered the red marks on his forehead, frowning, then moved his hand away. He stared at his reflection for a few long moments, losing himself again in the memories of the past few days…and then the memories of Jack, hovering in his quarters, silent, waiting, comforting. Jack always surprised him. It wasn’t that he was surprised by Jack’s caring nature. He knew Jack cared, but he kept expecting Jack to walk…and he didn’t know why. It was probably that damned fear of abandonment creeping in on him again. With what had happened lately, he shouldn’t be surprised.
Daniel forced the thoughts from his mind, then wrapping the towel about his waist, he padded toward Jack’s spare room. When he smelled the coffee, his stomach growled, then growled louder when his nose picked up the aroma of teriyaki sauce. Daniel then wondered when Jack had bought the stir fry fixings. They couldn’t be that fresh…then he remembered the teriyaki restaurant about a mile away. Jack must’ve gone back out because Daniel knew they didn’t deliver. The smell of the sauce, and the thought of the rice, vegetables and chicken made his stomach knot tighter with hunger.
He’d been planning on grabbing spare clothes, but screw it. They could wait. He padded out to the kitchen and saw Jack at the sink, washing dishes, his back to him. He made his way toward him, but paused when he caught sight of his coffee mug on the counter – the mug that had Archaeologists do it in the Dirt printed across it. He picked it up and took a sip, then walked up behind Jack, slipped his arm around his waist and kissed him on the top of his shoulder.
Jack stiffened, startled, then started to turn, but Daniel moved away and sat down at the kitchen table. He took a few more sips of his coffee before his eyes spotted the large styrofoam containers on top of the stove. He looked over at Jack and caught him smirking.
“Nice attire, Daniel. Suppose somebody comes over.” Jack found himself having to restrain his urges once more. All he wanted to do right at that moment was walk over, rip that towel off, run his hands over Daniel’s warm – and probably still damp – skin, then drop to his knees for a bit of an appetizer.
“Jack, it’s after midnight. Who’s coming over? Which reminds me, I didn’t know that teriyaki place stayed open this late.”
“It’s Saturday night, Daniel,” Jack replied, clearing his throat as he turned away, the vivid image of Daniel in his mouth still with him. He closed his eyes, licked his lips and swallowed. Not now, he told himself. Not now.
Daniel stilled in the act of sipping his coffee, then mumbled, “Oh right. I forgot.”
Jack dried his hands, then set the styrofoam containers on two plates and handed one to Daniel before sitting down. Daniel opened the styrofoam dish, eyeing Jack with a smirk.
Jack eyed him back. “What?”
“Silverware?” Daniel asked cheekily as Jack opened his container.
Jack made a noise of disgust as he got up and Daniel quirked a smile. Opening the drawer, Jack removed two sets and returned, handing Daniel one of them.
“Thank you, though I’m hungry enough to have eaten it with my hands.”
“Could have been interesting,” Jack said as he stabbed a piece of chicken.
Daniel’s mouth twitched as he scooped up some rice and began to eat. For a few minutes, they ate in semi-comfortable silence, each of them wondering who’d start the awkward conversation they both knew they had to have. As the meal settled Daniel’s stomach and he started to feel better, he cleared his throat, then took a drink of the iced water Jack had poured him.
“Feel a bit better?” Jack asked as he did the same.
Daniel nodded. “A bit, yeah. Thanks.” He was going to say more, but instead, he ate. He really was hungry and maybe now was the time to figure out what to say other than an apology. Unfortunately, their silence was getting on his nerves. They usually talked while they ate.
Jack, too, continued to eat, wondering what to say. There really was nothing to say other than what he already had. He didn’t have a clue other than jealousy and–
“Why aren’t we talking?”
Jack shrugged. “Hungry, I guess.”
Daniel shrugged. “I guess.” A few more bites, then, “Listen, this is stupid. We always talk when we eat, so fuck it. Let’s get it out of the way.” He only had a few bites left, so he quickly ate them, then pushed his plate aside.
Jack swallowed the food in his mouth, then sipped at his coffee. With a sigh, he sat back and regarded Daniel for a moment. “Daniel, I have no idea what the hell to say other than I’m sorry.”
Daniel blinked, then took a sip from his coffee mug. “You’re not the only one. I should have taken you with me and I’m more sorry than I can ever say.” He hesitated a moment, then got up to throw away the container. He went to the sink and began to wash his utensils and plate, though the plate was still clean. Jack watched him, and though he still had food left, he wasn’t hungry anymore. He closed the container and set it in the fridge, then reached around Daniel to set his things in sink.
Daniel locked his eyes with Jack, then suddenly dropped the sink brush and the silverware. “This is fucking stupid. C’mere,” he said and he grabbed Jack’s head with his wet hands and kissed him. He drew him against him, wrapping his arms around him to deepen their kiss. He moaned when Jack’s tongue met his and Jack returned the sound.
Jack slid his hands around him, holding him tight. The smell of Daniel, the touch of his skin, and the reminder that Daniel stood against him wrapped only in a towel made Jack extremely hard. He wanted him. Wanted everything. Right there. But Jack needed the air cleared too, and their emotions cleansed. Not a normal state for Jack. He’d rather let the sex and closeness do the talking for him, but Daniel’s personality must be rubbing off on him, in more ways than one, and Jack let him go, stepping away.
He breathed out slowly, staring into Daniel’s eyes, then his gaze looked up and at the angry red marks on his lover’s forehead. Daniel stared back, a frown beginning, and Jack reached up to smooth the frown away with his thumb, then passed his fingertips over the marks left by Osiris.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry for being such an asshole.”
Jack couldn’t help it and his mouth twitched in amusement.
Daniel blinked. “I mean, I’m sorry I made you act that way. I should have–“
“You didn’t make me do anything, Daniel. That was all on me.”
Daniel blinked again, though more slowly. He cupped Jack’s face with one hand. “I should have taken you with me. I was the one who behaved like an ass. A timid, scared, embarrassed ass.”
Jack shook his head, then as he took a step to the side, the motion rubbed against Daniel’s towel and it dropped to the floor. Jack bent down, looking at Daniel’s ass and hip as he stood back up. He handed the towel back. “But what a fine ass it is.”
Daniel’s mouth twitched as Jack’s had. “That’s what I’m always thinking about you. What a damned fine ass.”
Jack took the hand that held the towel. “Talk here, the living room, or…” and he gestured with a tilt of his head in the direction of the bedroom.
Daniel grinned. “The living room would probably be better. I’ll just…” and he let go of Jack’s hand, pulling away gently, “go get those sweats on. If they’re still in the spare dresser?” He paused at the threshold to the hallway.
Daniel nodded. “Be right back.”
Jack walked back to the table and when he reached for his coffee mug, he found his hand shaking slightly. Frowning in confusion and then with anger at himself for allowing that much loss of control, he made a tight fist several times, then shook his hand. He sighed, then went to the cupboard and took out the bottle of JackDaniel’s. He refilled his coffee, then added a little bit of the whiskey to the brew. He glanced over at Daniel’s mug, then did the same for him after first fixing Daniel’s coffee with the cream and sugar. He tasted it, grimaced, and was once again reminded how he couldn’t understand how Daniel could stand sugar and cream in his coffee. Jack preferred his plain.
He smirked at himself for getting lost in such a mundane thing as coffee preferences. He took both mugs and went down into the living room. Just as he sat down, Daniel came in, having switched the towel for the grey sweat pants and, to Jack’s disappointment, covering his chest with one of the old dark grey t-shirts. As he sat down next to Jack on the sofa, Jack handed him the mug.
Daniel took it and started to sip just as Jack warned, “I added a kick to it.”
Daniel had already taken a sip and coughed. “Yeah,” he said harshly. “So I see.”
Danielspeak for, “Think we need it?”
Or so Jack saw translated through Daniel’s eyes. Without a word, Jack slowly raised his free hand as he drank from his mug, showing Daniel. His hand wasn’t as bad as a few minutes earlier, but it still shook. Daniel frowned and set his mug down, then took Jack’s from him and set that down.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, his eyes searching Jack’s. The only thing that Daniel could think of was that Jack was still mad. “Are you angry?”
Jack gave him that look that said, “Don’t be silly.” He reached up and again touched Daniel’s forehead. “Seeing this…then seeing you having to experience that skull-cracking migraine…” He shook his head and placed his hand on his knee. “I can’t help but feel–“
“Don’t you dare, Jack. This,” and he gestured at the red marks, “isn’t your fault.”
“Or yours,” Jack said, eyeing Daniel sternly.
With a bit of reluctance, Daniel nodded. “Or mine. Even if it feels like it.”
Jack turned fully, facing him, and brought his leg up on the couch, his knee pushing against the back cushion. “From what I heard from Fraiser and Carter, though I talked to Carter on the phone, you saved yourself, and them.”
Daniel shook his head. “But I couldn’t stop Osiris. He, she, it, whatever, is now gone. Another Goa’uld on the loose. God knows what damage they’ll do because I couldn’t–“
“Daniel!” Jack said loudly, getting Daniel to blink at him in surprise. “That’s not your fault, dammit. Why do you do that? Why do you think you have to be some sort of super hero? You’re just a man, Daniel. A gifted one, granted, but just a man. No one, and I mean, no one, expects you to beat someone like that on your own. All you can do is your best. You’re not expected to save the world. Don’t you get that?”
Daniel frowned, feeling a bit complimented, but more than that, arguing internally that he should have been able to do more. Angry at himself that he wasn’t able to do more – and therefore, laying blame where there was no need. Again, he nodded reluctantly without saying anything.
Jack sighed. “Jesus, Daniel.” He reached out, under Daniel’s arms, hooking his hands behind, and pulled Daniel toward him as he laid back. Daniel went with the motion, allowing Jack to pull him over him, then rolling slightly so that Daniel felt himself wedged between Jack and the back of the couch. Jack wrapped a leg over Daniel’s, squeezing, just as his arms wrapped around his back. He then nuzzled the side of Daniel’s face, giving him a few feather-light kisses along his cheek, his temple. Daniel had no choice but to return Jack’s embrace, and he felt…safe. As if nothing could go wrong here. Nothing.
“I know you feel responsible, Daniel, but please don’t. It’s not your fault.”
Daniel sighed. “She, Sarah, was never even there, Jack. She was…gone.” The last word was a whisper, choked.
Jack knew Daniel felt like crying for her, so he let Daniel bury his face in the crook of his neck and shed tears for the woman he had cared about. They were silent tears and only the fact that Daniel’s body shook slightly – and the wetness that he felt on his skin – let Jack know that Daniel shed any tears at all.
Then suddenly, there were more, and the sound of sobbing now. It startled Jack and he held Daniel ever tighter.
“It’s okay. Let it out,” Jack whispered. So Daniel did, and not just for Sarah. The long held grief, anger, and sorrow released itself. Grief for Sarah; for his old professor; the anger and frustration at Steven; the refreshed sorrow for Shau’re; the pain and anguish over that long ago invasion that Jack had had to endure…all of it was once again cried over.
Jack sensed that there was more to Daniel’s release than just Sarah and he couldn’t help but be affected. He ended up crying with him. Just as he always hurt with him.
When the tears abated, and Daniel simply lay there, his face pressed against Jack’s neck, he suddenly winced.
Jack felt it. “What’s the matter?” he asked in alarm, pulling his head back and lifting Daniel’s chin so he could look in his eyes. Daniel winced again. “Is it coming back?”
Daniel shook his head as he looked down, not meeting Jack’s eyes. “No, just that sort of stress headache one gets after crying.”
Jack lifted his chin again, forcing Daniel to look at him. “You needed to let it out, Daniel.”
“I know.” They lay silently for a while, then Jack asked, “Wanna tell me what happened now?”
Daniel took a deep breath, then nodded. He told Jack everything, from the point where Steven glared at him during the eulogy to the time that he fell to the floor of the Egyptian room. He then added how they’d had Steven flown to Chicago, how the Air Force was taking care of the security issues – and very likely removing all evidence before Steven could go back and find it.
“That’s a good bet,” Jack said quietly, still feeling bad when Daniel recited the part they both knew about – the phone call. But now, Jack felt worse. He now understood why Daniel had been calling and all his anger at himself increased. “I’m sorry about the–“
“Jack, don’t,” Daniel said as he covered Jack’s lips with two fingers. “It’s over and done with, and you had a right to be mad. You had no idea what was going on.”
Jack shook his head. “I know, but it doesn’t excuse the behavior, Daniel. And…” he said, staring into the bright blue eyes of his lover, “it won’t happen again.”
“I know, Jack. And I won’t do anything like that again, either.” They searched each other’s eyes and found forgiveness staring back.
Daniel suddenly smiled softly.
“I was just thinking…”
Jack didn’t say it and Daniel’s grin became slightly sarcastic.
“I may not ever exclude you again, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever piss you off again. I’m fairly certain that that is highly likely.”
The right side of Jack’s mouth turned upward, wrinkling his cheek. “Probably mutual, Daniel.”
“Probably,” Daniel replied. He was suddenly reminded of the heat and weight coming from Jack’s body. His eyes darkened slightly as he gazed back into Jack’s dark eyes. Jack smiled, noticing the change and he moved his hand downward to cup possessively, arousingly, over an asscheek.
As he leaned in and kissed his lover, pushing Daniel into the cushions, his hand moved up, then slid back down inside the sweats, cupping the warm, beguiling skin and muscle. Daniel moved his hand between them as their kiss continued and opened Jack’s jeans. Unable to open them completely, he moved his hand over Jack’s covered erection, eliciting a moan from his lover. He squeezed slightly, between two fingers, sliding them up and down the very obvious outline. Jack moaned again.
“Lube still under the cushion?” Daniel whispered needily over Jack’s lips.
“Yes,” Jack breathed back, then quickly reached behind Daniel and dove his hand down in between the cushions. He found the tube and retrieved it, placing it in Daniel’s other hand, not wanting to stop Daniel’s caresses. The meaning was implicit and Daniel got the message. He smiled against Jack’s lips and pushed forward as their kiss deepened. Jack rolled and adjusted, forcing his pants down past his ass, then worked on Daniel’s. Daniel’s passionate kiss sped up his movements and with the passing seconds, Jack’s need to have Daniel inside him increased a thousand-fold.
The moment Jack heard the cap of the lube pop open, he kissed Daniel hard, then broke away, biting down his throat. “I need you,” he whispered as Daniel arched back. “I want you.”
“Yes,” was all Daniel could think to say as all blood flow now seemed to throb and course through his cock. Jack crossed his arms and in a second, his shirt was off. His hands were soon over Daniel’s shirt, lifting it over his head and not waiting for it to be off before he leaned down to latch onto a nipple. Daniel took care of the rest, tossing his shirt on top of Jack’s, hissing when Jack teased and pulled his left nipple between his teeth. His hands combed through Jack’s hair, tightening, telling Jack he wanted more. He wanted it to hurt. Jack understood. It was that need to feel.
Their pants were quickly shoved further down, then kicked off the couch. Jack started to turn around, but Daniel stopped him, kissing him hard as his fingers curled around Jack’s cock and pumped.
Jack broke their kiss, gasping. “Daniel…” he warned.
Daniel smiled, then assumed a more wicked grin. “Turn over, Jack, and move up.”
With a confused look on his face, Jack complied, wondering what Daniel was thinking. He rolled onto his stomach, then grabbed the overstuffed arm of the couch and pulled up. He then gasped as he felt Daniel hover over him and run his warm, wet tongue over the base of his spine and down between the crack of his ass. Now…he understood. “Yes, Daniel,” he whispered, spreading his legs. One dropped off the couch, his knee just hovering over the carpet. His body tensed and shuddered, his fingers clamping down madly into the leather cushion as Daniel circled and teased his opening, spreading his buttocks with his hands. Then Daniel thrust his tongue inside him, fucking him immediately, plunging and withdrawing.
“God yes, Daniel,” he breathed and dropped his forehead over his clutching fingers. His body writhed, then bowed, lifting upward, backward, wanting more. He lifted his head and breathed out a gasp, one of disappointment and demand, as Daniel withdrew his tongue and moved way. His eyes widened then nearly closed with need as he felt Daniel lying over him, letting Jack take half of his weight.
“Yes, Daniel,” Jack said, groaning with need as Daniel rubbed the head of his lubed cock over his entrance. Daniel pushed a little, pulled away, all the while rubbing himself against Jack’s opening. He kept doing this and it drove Jack mad with need. “Daniel, don’t tea–” Jack started, but gasped as Daniel pushed inside suddenly. He closed his eyes, his mouth hanging open as he concentrated on opening himself to his lover. Daniel’s hands slid underneath him, pinching his nipples, moving over his cock, his balls. Daniel sheathed his cock further and further and when he was buried balls-deep, he ground his hips against Jack, moving them in small, tight circles. In so doing, Jack felt his gland hit, nudged, caressed. He dropped his head to the arm of the couch again, his fingers clutching spasmodically.
Daniel spread his own legs, lining them up behind Jack’s – with one leg off the couch and his foot planted securely on the rug. He used it for leverage as he slowly, achingly, began to thrust.
“So fine,” Daniel whispered fervently against the back of Jack’s neck. “Such a fine, hot ass.” He knew Jack loved to hear him talk that way, but he also meant every word. Jack’s body held him, surrounded him, moved with him. Wherever he moved, Jack was with him, and it felt divine. The shudders of pleasure coursed through his body as he moved his cock slowly in and out, feeling Jack tighten and move with him. The powerful body that lay under him never failed to turn him on and as he looked at the muscles rippling over Jack’s back and down his arms, his legs, Daniel wanted to make Jack feel it more. He clamped his hands over Jack’s shoulders and held firmly as he pulled his hips back, withdrawing slowly. He then slammed home, burying himself completely.
Jack cried out with pleasure and hearing the encouraging sound, Daniel did it again. And again. He circled his hips as he withdrew then suddenly felt his balls tightening. “Oh no…too good…too good…”
“Do it, Daniel,” Jack ordered harshly as he felt a trickle of sweat roll down the side of his face. As Daniel plunged into him, thrusting rapidly, Jack was now aware of the slickened state of their skin, sliding together, almost sticky if they stayed still too long. Daniel dropped more of his weight onto Jack, and Jack loved it, pushing up with his forearms to take up the slack, and give Daniel the access he needed.
Daniel curled his fingers snugly around Jack’s cock and began to stroke, matching the fast rhythm his body now required. “Oh fuck,” he gasped as his orgasm surprised him, both in quickness and in intensity. “Jack!” he whispered hoarsely as his body tensed and shook, spilling his release into his lover.
Jack turned his head, then lifted up, his body tensing as Daniel’s hand and body edged him toward completion.
“Now…Daniel,” he whispered and Daniel thrust in short, rapid strokes as his semen pulsed over Jack’s gland. Jack’s eyes widened and he arched his head back, his body tensing as he came, shooting thickly over his own and Daniel’s fingers, then spilling onto the couch. Their bodies continued to spasm and to Jack, it felt as though the release would never end – and he didn’t want it to – for either of them. Jack knew it was just a minute or less, but it seemed more like ten. He suddenly dropped down, his strength gone. Daniel lay on top of him for a moment, then pushed his weight off. Jack groaned. He’d wanted the weight there. Though Daniel was getting heavier as time went by, bulking up his muscle, Jack loved that feeling of weight.
Daniel kissed over the damp skin of Jack’s left shoulder, then up his neck, and over his face. He licked the salty sweat from his lips and kissed again. “I love you,” he whispered.
Jack turned his head, though he couldn’t see his lover. “Backatcha.”
After cleaning up, they lay together in Jack’s bed; Jack spooned behind Daniel, his face resting against Daniel’s hair.
“You okay?” he asked.
“But still sad.”
“Wish I could make that better.”
“I know. Me, too.”
They were silent for a few moments longer. “Were the two of you close?” Jack finally asked.
“No, it’s not the question, Jack,” Daniel said, turning in his arms to face him. He looked down at his fingers combing through Jack’s chest hair; it helped him focus. “We…our relationship was one of friendship and we fucked it up with sex. We had it for the wrong reasons.”
“Was it because of…?”
Daniel nodded slowly. “Yes. Steven and I broke up because – well, because he was Steven. Anyway, she started getting clingy and I drifted away because I’d felt guilty. She was that clichéd rebound thing, you know?” Jack nodded. “So, we internalized everything and we each lashed out. Steven wasn’t of any help, either. He knew we’d been together and took every opportunity to dig the knife in deeper. Sarah ignored him, but Steven was good at baiting people and wore her down. Then I told her my theories, and Steven didn’t fail to get a dig in, and she got mad at me. I knew she was just worried about me; didn’t want me ostracized, which is what ended up happening. When I left, she said…or rather, Osiris said…that she thought it was her fault. I don’t know if that’s true but it did sound like something that Sarah would say. She would blame herself…or at least, partly. I’ll never find out the truth though.”
Daniel took a deep breath, then looked up into Jack’s eyes, searching them, as if for answers.
“And Steven?” Jack asked.
Daniel saw the spark of jealousy, but more than that, Jack’s protectiveness. “Steven…he’s only in it for fame and glory, Jack. He’s got an ego bigger than the Pacific Trench.” Jack snorted. “He got mad at me for souring our relationship – as he saw it. So, I told him to fuck off and die, and he got mean and nasty whenever I was around anyone, including or especially Sarah. But he didn’t dare be that way around Doctor Jordan. No way. Mister Suck-Up wouldn’t dare piss off his idol…and meal ticket.” Daniel paused, then took a deep breath. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want you there simply because he was my ex,” Daniel told him, trying again to somehow explain his feelings.
“After what you told me before you left, and then about what he’d said to the police,” Jack said, “I can see how big an asshole he is, Daniel. If he’s not above having you arrested, he’s obviously not above making you look bad in front of the current S.O.”
Daniel shook his head with sad disgust. “He’d started the fights between Sarah and me, pitting us against one another and she fell for it every time.” He took another deep breath. “I know you’re better than that, Jack. I know. But…I just didn’t want to deal with that. With all the other crap…Doctor Jordan…” Daniel shook his head, running out of words.
Jack nodded, understanding, and though he still thought he should have gone, he realized it was a good idea that he’d stayed home. “Daniel, don’t worry about that anymore. You were right, if for no other reason than to keep me out of jail.”
“I’d have been the one to have sent him to the hospital instead of that Goa’uld,” Jack explained with a wry expression.
Daniel knew he shouldn’t be smiling about that. He really shouldn’t. He also shouldn’t be laughing about it, either. But he was. And that was okay. He knew Jack had said it all on purpose. He’d meant for him to smile, to laugh. It was just a coincidence that Jack was telling the truth.