Hic Manebimus Optime
… here we’ll stay excellently …
Daniel could feel Teal’c’s presence behind him like a lure. He wanted to ask questions, to get rid of the nagging, dreadful curiosity, but Sam was in her dressing room and he didn’t want her to hear the answers. As he changed out of his uniform and into black t-shirt and jeans, he tried to distract himself with other thoughts and only one that worked–as usual–was the thought of seeing Jack.
He sat down on the bench in front of his locker and leaned over to grab his black boots, remembering Jack’s reaction when he’d bought them last year. He’d loved the boots, said they were a lot better than his old brown loafers, but his enjoyment had been tempered with a bit of jealousy. Daniel had bought them during a trip to the mall with Mitchell. He couldn’t blame Jack’s reaction. The man was feeling left out. They no longer spent as much time together as they used to and hanging out with Mitchell was bound to set off a few security alarms.
Secretly, Daniel liked the possessiveness Jack felt, he just hated the reason for it: separation anxiety. They both experienced it and it was sadly increasing. This latest event–the rewriting of time–only made him feel worse. And it was why he so badly wanted to ask Teal’c questions. Daniel didn’t like the idea that he could have possibly spent forty years with someone else. Granted, it would have been a “there’s no one else” void to fill, but still. He was Jack’s and Jack was his. They both knew it and accepted it. Possessive jealousy was fine as long as it didn’t go too far, and it was a kind of game–one of the few emotional mind games he didn’t mind playing. All others–especially of the Vala variety–boiled his blood and taxed his patience.
After pulling on his second boot, the sound of Teal’c’s locker closing brought him back to the here and now. He looked over his shoulder, caught a glance from Teal’c, and without checking himself, hastily looked away.
“You wish to know,” Teal’c said quietly.
“Yeah, sorry,” Daniel said automatically. He caught Sam in his peripheral vision as she exited the dressing room and sat down on her bench, putting on her own shoes. He looked over his shoulder again and was met with that soul-searching look Teal’c often had. With a sigh, he swiveled on his ass to face him, and inevitably, his gaze was drawn to that swatch of grey in his friend’s hair. It was still unnerving, a reminder that something had happened, and that he escaped because of Teal’c’s sacrifice. But the nagging question was still there despite Teal’c’s silence. Exactly what had happened between them on that ship?
“There is no need to apologize, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c answered after a stretch of silence. “I understand what is it that is troubling you.”
“And I understand why you won’t say,” Daniel admitted. “It would drive me insane, figuratively speaking, if you told me something I didn’t want to hear.”
Teal’c smiled gently. “Indeed.”
Daniel nodded and looked down, wishing he would just shut up and leave, but his curiosity was getting the better of him and he knew it wasn’t a good thing this time. If Teal’c did indeed tell him something he didn’t want to hear, he knew he would find logical reasons to explain it. Loneliness made people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Daniel wasn’t really afraid of finding out that he’d paired up with someone. He just didn’t want to know that person had been Vala.
Teal’c looked at his teammates, thinking their curiosity would drive him crazy if he didn’t tell them something, but he loathed the idea of harming them, even in the slightest, and doing that to Daniel was simply not something he could endure.
Fixing his attention on him, Teal’c pressed his lips together as he formulated the words that would give him answers but leave no harm. “Which would you hate knowing the most, Daniel Jackson. That you had a relationship with Vala? Or one with Colonels Carter or Mitchell?”
Daniel’s eyes widened. Two things ran through his brain. First, was Teal’c saying he had had a relationship with someone? And second, he hadn’t actually considered the possibility that he could have been with Sam or Mitchell. He looked over at Sam and their eyes locked, freezing the moment. They stared at each other, contemplating, imagining–then they both made a face at the same time and laughed uncomfortably.
“That’s just borderline incestuous,” Sam added with a mock-shudder.
Daniel nodded agreement. It was just not possible. Only mind-altering substances could make that happen.
“But you left out yourself, Teal’c,” Sam went on. “Was that on purpose? A hint?” Teal’c gave her a smile and bowed his head in his typical fashion. It neither agreed nor disagreed with her comment and Sam gave him a look of impatience as she clasped her hands over a jean-clad knee. “I admit, Teal’c, I have been wondering.”
“I promised you that I would not divulge what occurred,” Teal’c answered.
Sam shook her head. “Yeah, but here’s the thing. Did I tell you not to divulge anything?”
“You did not,” he said. Part of him wished she would be quiet, part of him wanted to tell them everything. He hated keeping this particular, unique knowledge to himself.
“If you revealed anything, it wouldn’t damage the time line.”
Teal’c grinned. “That is precisely what Vala Mal Doran said to me prior to this last mission.”
Sam’s eyes widened. “You didn’t tell… her… anything. Did you?”
“I did not.”
“C’mon, Teal’c,” she whispered conspiratorially, waving her hand in a circle. “You can tell us. Of all the things we’ve been through together, nothing you say or do could possibly cause a rift between us.”
“Except for a little Jaffa revenge,” Daniel said pointedly, referring not just to the incident with Arkon but the one with Tanith.
Sam winced. “Yeah, except that.”
Teal’c swallowed hard. “Indeed,” he said with deep emotion. “And while I do not apologize for what I felt I had to do in order to eliminate Arkon or Tanith, it pains me greatly that I caused you harm.”
A heavy silence filled the room, then Daniel said quietly, “Jack said you’re like a pit bull when it comes to honorable revenge.”
“I believe it is because he understands,” Teal’c replied, softening his expression with a slight smile.
“Well, so do we,” Sam answered with a touch of indignation. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for either of you, or General O’Neill.”
Daniel looked over at her, giving her an understanding smile. “Nothing.”
“Agreed,” Teal’c replied, “but there are things that should not be revealed.”
Sam tilted her head to one side. “Because they might harm us?”
“Would you wish me to tell you something about yourselves that you would find distasteful?”
Daniel looked down at his hands as he clasped them together. “Maybe, I don’t know.”
Sam shook her head. “Me, either, but I see your point. There might not be any damage to the time line, but telling us something we don’t want to know would make us uncomfortable around each other.” She looked over at Daniel. “For example, there’s General O’Neill. Would you tell him if you …?”
Daniel didn’t like the idea, but it wasn’t a hard decision to make, either. “Probably,” he said, then slowly shook his head as he sighed heavily. “I think,” he began, looking over at Teal’c, “that if I got together with you or Sam or Mitchell, I wouldn’t really have a problem with it.” Sam snorted and he grinned at her. “Okay, you and me, that’d be beyond weird.” Looking back at Teal’c, he added, “With you or Mitchell? Despite the fact that I know neither of you is interested in men, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be averse to the idea.” Teal’c raised his eyebrow at him. “No, seriously, you’re people I love and care about. And I think that loneliness can make us do things we wouldn’t ordinarily do under normal circumstances.”
“That is so,” Teal’c said softly.
Daniel cleared his throat, then closed his eyes as he sighed again. “That said, if I found out that I got together with Vala, then I hope it happened after years of being trapped on that ship.”
Teal’c lifted his chin, taking in Daniel’s expression of distaste, and when he looked at Sam, she looked practically mutinous at the idea that Daniel could have been with Vala. It was a sisterly protectiveness, something he’d come to recognize over the last ten years, and it always warmed him, knowing how much they looked out for each other. Thinking it over, he finally blew out a breath and decided. “There was no one.”
Daniel stared back, reading Teal’c’s face. “You’re sure? Because that’s … well, really, it’s kinda hard to believe.”
“Would you wish for another, less pleasant, answer?”
“No,” Daniel answered quickly, adding a half-smile. Teal’c was teasing him now. “I’ll take the one I got.”
“Does your answer include me?” Sam asked Teal’c.
Teal’c stared at her, the seconds stretching to one long, dreadful minute. At last, he swallowed again and said, “It does not.”
Sam stared back at him, then smiled, looked at her hands, then caught Daniel’s gaze. He jogged his brows at her, making her smile and look away. He’d had a feeling that sooner or later, something might happen between them if they relaxed enough.
“So, what about Mitchell?” he asked.
“What about him?” Teal’c asked.
“Did he and Vala … ?”
“No,” Teal’c said matter-of-factly.
“Has he asked you about it?” she asked.
Teal’c shook his head. “He has not.”
A few beats of silence filled the room, and all the while, Sam began to get a very wicked idea. “I know,” she said, giving Daniel that playful grin she periodically got. “Let’s make him think he did.”
“Sam,” Daniel said warningly, “what’re you thinking?”
“Well, if he ever asks, Teal’c, maybe you should tell him that he got together with Daniel.”
Teal’c grinned as Daniel coughed and exclaimed, “What?”
“Only for a few minutes, just to get him going,” she grinned.
Her eyes were bright, her lips bitten together, and the last time Daniel saw that expression was when Jack was teasing him about Colonel Edwards.
“You’re serious?” he said with quiet surprise.
“Sure, why not?”
Teal’c stared at her as his understanding brewed. “You are wishing to exact payback.”
Sam snorted. “Well, come on, Teal’c. He has it coming.”
Daniel snorted with agreement. “He does.” During their last mission, Mitchell had called Sam “Mary Poppins” again, only this time, Vala had been there to demand an explanation on the reference. “I get it, Sam, really, but telling Mitchell that? No, no, no, I don’t think so.”
“Oh, c’mon,” Sam pressed, grinning ear to ear. “It’d be fun, and he deserves getting his chain yanked big time.”
“At my expense?” he laughingly objected. It really didn’t bother him one way or the other. It was just the thought of Mitchell’s reaction. “Seriously, Sam, you can’t tell him that!” At the trail end of his words, Mitchell entered the locker room and Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c froze, staring at him.
Mitchell narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Okay, this can’t be good.” He walked over to his locker while keeping an eye on them peripherally.
Even though he knew he shouldn’t play along, Daniel was too curious to see what Mitchell would do. He turned away and cleared his throat as he began to fiddle with his laundry bag, shoving his dirty uniform inside.
Mitchell looked over at Teal’c and caught that familiar smirk. Suspicious, he looked over at Sam and found her doing the same thing as Daniel–making busy work, as Grandma Mitchell used to say. When he looked back at Daniel, he saw himnervously dropping socks on the floor and retrieving them.
“Okay,” Mitchell started, turning to face them all. “What’s goin’ on?”
“Nothing,” Sam said.
“Nope, nothing,” Daniel echoed.
Teal’c gave Mitchell a raised eyebrow as he lifted his chin imperiously. “They were asking me about things they should not know.”
It was Mitchell’s turn to freeze in place. Remembering Daniel’s words when he’d walked in, he pursed his lips. “Who’s the him you don’t want to tell?”
“Nobody,” Sam said.
“No one,” Daniel echoed.
“You, Colonel Mitchell,” Teal’c said.
Cued, Daniel turned swiftly around, eyes wide, as if he didn’t want Teal’c to tell Mitchell what they were talking about. He did wonder, however, why Sam would want to tease him with that kind of information. Wouldn’t the man freak? Or… would he? Was there something she wasn’t telling him about Mitchell? Daniel looked over at Sam with the expression, “He is *not* attracted to men(me), is he?” and she shrugged and turned away, biting her lips again. Daniel closed his eyes and groaned, turning back to his locker. He hated it when he couldn’t tell if she was pulling his leg.
“Will someone just tell me what the hell is going on?” Mitchell asked.
“I have just told you,” Teal’c answered.
“No, you skirted around the issue. You’ve all been playing this silent trip since I walked in so… what the hell is it you don’t want me to know about?”
“The subject was romantic pairings, Colonel Mitchell,” Teal’c answered. “Colonel Carter and Daniel Jackson did not wish me to tell you with whom you had been with.”
Daniel winced. “He’s better off not knowing, Teal’c.”
Mitchell scrutinized their faces and finally shook his head as he turned back to his locker. “Jackson’s right, Teal’c. I don’t wanna know.”
“You were not with Vala,” Teal’c said smugly as he figured out why Mitchell didn’t want to know. The man was just like Daniel sometimes.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Mitchell said as he opened his locker, then suddenly paused and stared back at him, puzzled. “Just hang on a sec. I thought you weren’t supposed to tell us anything, no matter what it was.” He turned to Sam, then Daniel. “And you guys asked him anyway?”
Daniel looked over his shoulder and quickly exchanged glances with Sam. “Um, yeah. But at the same time, I didn’t want to know if I got together with her, either.”
“You, uh, didn’t, did you?” Mitchell asked, his expression barely pretending bland interest.
“Uh, no,” Daniel grinned with relief. “Apparently, no one got together.”
“Huh,” Mitchell replied, puzzled. “No one?” he asked Teal’c. “We all just stayed in our rooms and…” He made the jerking off gesture and Sam sniggered.
“Well, with a few modifications,” she said, then burst out laughing at Mitchell’s look of confusion. When the light dawned on his face, he literally blushed and shaded his eyes with a hand.
“Okay, very funny. I really didn’t want that image in my head.”
“Honestly, Cam, you crack me up.”
Daniel was relieved that Sam had backed off, but he had to admit, he wouldn’t have minded seeing Mitchell’s face when told the lie. Looking over his shoulder, he threw Teal’c a smile and Teal’c nodded back. Silent agreement to let it go. Closing his locker, Daniel picked up his coat and started to leave.
“I’ll see you guys on Monday.”
“Wait, hang on,” Mitchell said. “Are you in a hurry? I thought you might wanna join me for Szechuan.”
Daniel paused and smiled. “Thanks, but I have plans.”
“Um, I have plans, too,” Sam said.
“As do I,” Teal’c put in.
Daniel narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Don’t you guys usually go there together?”
“Yeah. Except for you,” Mitchell said with a scowl. “Every damn time I ask you to go, you turn me down.”
Daniel was actually speechless for a few moments, feeling embarrassed. “Sorry. I don’t mean anything by it. It’s just rotten timing. Rain check next week? Promise?”
“I’ll hold you to it, you know,” Mitchell said, pointing at him.
Daniel grinned, waving as he pushed through the door and left. “If you need me, you know where I’ll be,” he called back.
Puzzled, Mitchell looked over at Sam. “Where’s he gonna be?”
“General O’Neill’s cabin,” she smirked.
Mitchell misread her expression. “Is it Jackson’s turn to be uncomfortable?”
“What?” Sam asked, momentarily confused.
“Spending the weekend with General Landry?”
Sam let out a laugh as she closed her locker and pulled on her jacket.. “Um, no. General Landry’s off to Vermont for some birding thing. General O’Neill will be at the cabin. They spend some time up there once in a while, catching up.”
“They do?” Mitchell asked.
“Yeah,” she said, surprised at Mitchell. “They’re friends, Cam, remember?”
Mitchell shook his head. “Sorry, I forgot. Maybe it’s because I’m not comfortable around my bosses, so it doesn’t compute when Jackson hangs out with one of them.” He paused, then asked, “Don’t they drive each other crazy?”
Teal’c smiled as he stood up. “They do indeed,” he said, looking at Sam, “but theirs is a friendship that endures nonetheless.”
Sam smiled back as she walked over and slipped her arm through his. “As ours does.”
“As ours does,” he answered as they walked to the door.
“See you on Monday, Cam,” Sam said over her shoulder.
Mitchell watched them leave together, his brows knotted with bewilderment. “Yeah, see you,” he mumbled, mostly to himself as his mind struggled with what was just inferred. Finally, he shook his head, laughing at himself. “Don’t go there, Mitchell. You know damn well they were playing you again.” At that moment, Vala walked in, preoccupied, looking over her shoulder. “Vala, your locker is down the hall.”
“I know, but…” She thumbed behind her. “Did you see that?”
“See what?” he asked as he took off his other boot.
“Sam and Teal’c were walking together.”
“People walk together. So?”
“No,” she drawled, walking closer and holding up two crossed fingers. “They were to-geth-er. You know.”
Mitchell rolled his eyes. “Vala, on this planet, friends do that.” He hoped that was this end of it and she’d go away, but he knew he couldn’t be that lucky.
She frowned, thinking back. “Friends. So when Daniel took me out on a date–“
“It was dinner, Vala. Just dinner.”
She threw him a distrustful look, then with a sigh and a forced smile, she said, “Speaking of Daniel, where is he?”
“Gone,” he said, taking off his fatigue jacket. “Just left.”
“Damn,” she said, deflated, then perked back up and asked, “Home, right?”
“Forget it, Vala. He’s gone fishing.”
“What?” she laughed. “Since when does he fish?”
“Since when do you know what he does and does not do?” he snapped, then realized how he’d just sounded.
“My, aren’t we in a snippy mood.”
“Just tired, Vala. Sorry.”
She lifted her chin, considering his words. “No problem. And anyway, I think I know a bit about Daniel. He’s confided in me, you know.”
“Well you didn’t know that,” Mitchell told her.
“I think I know more than you think I know,” Vala said, forming a not-so-disguised secretive smile.
Mitchell could guess what was coming and felt he owed it to Jackson to bring her down a peg. Enough was enough. Didn’t she ever tire of taunting Jackson with that incessant innuendo? He toyed with the idea of telling her that Daniel was going up to the cabin to spend time with General O’Neill, but the moment he thought it, he knew it’d be the wrong thing to say. Vala would make something out of it, and it would be a seriously whacked idea. Jackson and O’Neill? Never in a million years would that work, even if the General swung that way.
Thinking quickly, Mitchell purposely said, “Vala, he’s seeing someone.” It sounded weird as hell, saying that, though he’d figure out why later.
She stared at him. “I… I’m sorry?”
“He’s taken. Off the market. On the ball and chain gang.”
“Wh-what? Since when? He’s never mentioned anyone! He was always going on about that woman he was married to. Shau’re.”
“Well, sorry to burst your bubble there, but…”
“No way. It makes no sense.”
“Why?” he asked, throwing a scowl at her. “As far as I know, he’s been without someone for a long damn time. I’d say it’s high time he was.”
Vala immediately crossed her arms. “Okay, so who is it?” she asked, clearly not believing him.
“Can’t tell you.”
“Do I know her?”
Mitchell caught the mischievous look in her eyes and sighed heavily. He wanted to smack her–well, a little–and get any idea of sabotage out of her head. He suddenly thought of a wickedly nasty idea and hoped it would take the wind out of her sails. “I never said it was a woman.”
Vala’s mouth dropped open and she turned toward Daniel’s locker as if Daniel had just been standing there. Looking back at Mitchell, she lowered her voice.
“Nope, and face it, that’s not a subject to joke about around here.”
She smirked at him and slapped his arm. “You’re just pulling my rope.”
“Yanking your chain,” Mitchell answered, smirking at her substitution, “and no, I’m not.” He turned away from her, hiding the smile that now lit up his face.
“But he kissed me,” she glared, pointing a finger at Daniel’s locker.
“Two years ago when you stole the Prometheus!” he said, laughing. “You were fighting and you kissed him, so that hardly qualifies.”
“He told you about that?” she asked, momentarily deflated.
“After I asked him what he didn’t put in that report, yeah.”
“Why did you think he left something out?”
“Because there’s always something we leave out of the reports. Hello?” he said, brows raised.
“Well,” she said, clearly annoyed, “did he tell you he kissed me back?”
“I’d react if you kissed me, too, Vala, but it doesn’t mean anything.”
“But we went on a date! He got dressed up and took me out to dinner!”
“I already told you, that wasn’t a date,” Mitchell said as turned to her, his t-shirt half pulled off. “That was dinner with a co-worker. He did that because that’s who he is. He’s a nice guy that way.” He removed his shirt completely and tossed it in his laundry bag. “The man keeps his personal feelings close to the vest, like we all do. Don’t take it so literally.”
She narrowed her eyes and pointed her finger at him smugly. “I know what’s going on here.”
Mitchell fought off the urge to groan. “Nothing is going on here.”
“You’re sweet on him,” she said, smiling broadly.
Mitchell coughed as he turned to her, eyes wide. “Excuse me?”
“Yep, definitely got a thing.”
“Out,” he said firmly, pointing at the door. When she didn’t move and kept smiling like a cat with the canary, he took her by the arm and led her toward the door. “C’mon, we’re done. I gotta take a shower and head out.”
“You’re meeting him, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Nope, bye-bye, Vala,” he said and the moment she was through the door, he locked it.
“Don’t think I can’t see what you’re up to!” she shouted.
Mitchell quickly unlocked the door and opened it. “Keep your voice down,” he growled at her. “And I’m not up to anything. I’m going out with friends.”
She stared at him, assessing, then smiled hopefully. “Can I come along?”
“Nope, sorry, guys night out,” he said as he closed the door and, after a second’s hesitation, locked it again.
“I’ll just bet it is,” he heard her say, and thankfully in a lowered voice. But Mitchell knew he was in deep shit. “Me and my big mouth,” he said as he hurried back to his locker and dug out his cell phone. “Jackson’s gonna kill me.”
“What?” Daniel asked as he quickly pulled to the side of the road. He was just minutes from the freeway. Any later and Mitchell would have missed him. “Mitchell, how the hell could you say that to her?”
“I’m sorry, okay? Really, kick my ass later, if you want. I’ll let you. But I knew she had it in her head to track you down so I had to think of something that would discourage her.”
Daniel sighed and dropped his head back on the seat. The damage was done, and really, it wasn’t too bad. No names had been mentioned, and frankly, he could tolerate the taunts from her about his sexuality–as he had been doing from day one. Unfortunately, now she’d plague him with questions.
“Jackson, you still there?” Mitchell asked.
Daniel heard the worry and closed his eyes, dismissing the problem for now. He focused on what he felt was the real reason for Mitchell’s call. “What else happened?”
Mitchell cleared his throat. “Whaddya mean?”
“Something else happened or you wouldn’t have called to warn me. Seriously, she thinks I’m gay anyway, so there’s something else.”
“Going by the way she reacted, I’d say she really had no clue. Which means she was just yanking your chain and–“
“What else did you say?” Daniel asked, slowly drawing out each word.
“It wasn’t anything I said. It was, um, something she assumed.”
“Mitchell,” Daniel warned. If this had anything to do with Jack, heads would roll.
“I, um, said something nice about you. About how you’re a nice guy who takes his co-workers out for dinner. So she now thinks… that I’m sweet on you.”
Daniel groaned and shook his head. “You know what this means, right?”
“She’ll be on us like a terrier with a rat,” Mitchell sighed. “I’m sorry, Jackson. I should’ve just kept my mouth shut, but sometimes, she just…”
“So whaddya wanna do?”
Daniel pursed his lips, thinking. And eventually came to the only conclusion. “Well, much as I’d love to lead her on for a while, the end result would get you in trouble.”
“Probably,” Mitchell said regretfully. “I could always go to Landry and tell him what’s going on beforehand.”
“Would he put a stop to it before rumors start spreading?”
“You think she’ll go that far?”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “You didn’t just say that.”
“Right, sorry, forgot who we were talking about.”
“Not that I think she’d do it maliciously, but sometimes, she just can’t keep her mouth shut.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Monday, tell Landry what’s going on so he can put a stop to it. Right now, I’m going to chill out and forget about it and I suggest you do the same.”
“So Sam said you’re heading up to the General’s cabin.”
“Yep,” Daniel answered. “You have my number, right?”
Daniel looked at his watch. “I’ll be there in about… eight hours, if I time things right. Then I’ll veg out and read for two peaceful days.”
Mitchell snorted. “Somehow I doubt General O’Neill will let you do that all weekend.”
“Maybe,” Daniel grinned. “Have a good weekend.” After hanging up, he snickered as he pulled back onto the road. “Yeah, somehow, I doubt very much that I’ll get much reading done.”
After parking his Jeep next to Jack’s rented truck, Daniel hauled out his small overnight duffle and headed for the porch stairs, stopping just short of them. The door was wide open and Daniel paused, on alert. There didn’t appear to be movement inside but that meant nothing. He slowly stepped over the threshold and quietly set his bag on the floor, and before he could look around, he caught movement to the right, through the kitchen window. A thunking sound followed and Daniel tensed, muscles readying for attack, but a second later, he realized what it had been. The sound of wooden logs being thrown.
Letting out a sigh of relief, Daniel mumbled, “I really need a vacation,” as he went to the toilet to relieve himself, then walked back through the front door and turned left. He headed toward the shed Jack kept, an outbuilding crafted like the cabin. Stopping at the end of the porch, he carefully scanned the space between the buildings, trying to look around the covered cord of wood that had been delivered a few months back. Jack had to have heard his Jeep. Nevertheless, Daniel had to be careful because Jack’s fight or flight response was more unpredictable than his own.
Suddenly Jack appeared from behind the shed, carrying a few pieces of dried wood. His white tank top undershirt was just a bit dirty, so he must’ve been splitting logs for a while. Daniel was going to say something, get his attention, but he kept quiet for the moment, preferring to watch. Just laying eyes on Jack sent a peace throughout his mind and body, a kind of belonging that he’d come to depend on. He let his gaze wander over Jack’s jean-clad legs and then stopped to stare at his tanned, bare arms and deftly skilled hands. The peace Daniel had been feeling was now changing to a more visceral, sexual response.
When Jack walked around the wood pile, he finally looked up and saw him. He stopped; it was a quick and tense response but Daniel easily recognized the look in his eyes. Yes, he’d heard him alright. He’d just expected him to be inside the cabin. He seemed to struggle for something to say, given their time apart, but inevitably went for diffident.
Looking at his empty wrist, he said, “It’s almost dark.”
Daniel grinned back at him as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I had no choice but to drive. There were no flights available that would take less than seventeen hours, commercial or HOP.”
Jack sighed, his brows furrowing. “Meaning you’ll have to leave Sunday afternoon.”
“I’m not due in till Monday afternoon. Landry sympathized.”
“That was nice of him.”
“Yeah,” Daniel answered, getting sidetracked by how Jack looked. “You, uh …” he began to say, then stopped, suddenly at a loss. When Jack lifted his brows in curiosity, Daniel shook his head, deciding to save the flattery for later. “I’ve missed you.”
Jack’s brown eyes darkened with an intensity Daniel was familiar with. “Me, too,” he said, coming toward him. “This is the last load.”
Daniel stepped aside and followed him into the cabin, all the while wondering what to do or say first. “Sky’s getting pretty black,” he said for lack of anything better. When in doubt, talk about the weather. Although in their case, it wasn’t all that off-topic. A storm was coming.
“Saw that, did ya?”
“So what’s the forecast?”
“Rain, thunder, lightning, power outage, washed out road,” Jack rattled off as he walked inside and headed for the fireplace. Dumping his armload of wood to the right of the hearth, he brushed off his hands and threw Daniel a cursory inspection–though like Daniel, he said nothing about his assessment. “You may not be back by Monday if it’s bad.”
“I wouldn’t mind,” Daniel shrugged.
They paused, staring at each other with nothing to say. It felt awkward to Daniel, and for a moment, Jack’s hesitance caused him to feel a rise of panic, thinking maybe he had some bad news. But the look in his eyes said different; assessment of a kind, he decided.
“Nothing,” Jack replied, then looked down, eyes focused on Daniel’s lips, then his chest. “C’mere,” he said, his hand already reaching out and grabbing Daniel’s bicep, pulling him into a hug. He nuzzled against his cheek, then kissed him lightly. “I’ve missed you, too.”
“You said that already,” Daniel grinned.
“Right, but how about a hello instead,” Daniel offered as he framed Jack’s head in his hands and kissed him more fully, opening his mouth to get a taste. Jack tightened his arms about him and kissed him back with a lot more feeling. The sensation of it sent signals to Daniel’s groin, awakening every nerve ending. When they broke apart, it was as if the air had changed. There was no panic, no awkwardness, but there was a definite tension in the air; sexual frustration mixed with loneliness.
“I spoke with Teal’c on the phone,” Jack said, clearing his throat as he pulled from the embrace and gingerly bent to one knee to add a log on the established fire.
Daniel nodded automatically, used to Jack wanting to get other things out of the way first. He stuffed his hands back in his pockets and turned back toward the front of the cabin, looking outside, checking the sky. “I’d been wondering if you were going to stop by before coming up here.”
“I thought I’d do that Monday,” Jack answered, heading for the kitchen.
“Monday’s fine,” Daniel said as he followed, pausing at the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the pantry. “But you need to be warned about something.”
Jack retrieved a beer from the fridge and pointed the bottle at the cupboard by Daniel’s head.
“I finally stocked some wine.”
Daniel shook his head as he turned and opened the cupboard. “Got anything stronger?”
Jack opened a far cupboard and withdrew a bottle of bourbon. “That sounds ominous.”
“Not really. Just need a bit more to relax. Especially after the drive up here.”
Jack nodded. “Gotcha.” It wasn’t exactly a quick drive from Minneapolis, either, but at least it hadn’t taken him over eight hours. “Soda’s in the fridge,” he added, “unless you want it neat or with Coke.”
“Soda would be good,” Daniel answered, and retrieved the bottle of Club Soda as Jack got him a glass. Getting some ice, he couldn’t help but grin at Jack’s silence. “You waiting for me to finish?”
Jack leaned against the small butcher’s table and crossed his arms, holding his beer between two fingers. “If you need to warn me, that means something happened today. May as well get it over with.”
“It happened after I left,” Daniel said, pouring the bourbon.
“And?” Jack prompted impatiently.
Daniel really didn’t want to tell him, but he’d find out sooner or later, and not having it come from him would piss Jack off. “Vala,” he finally said, then explained his phone conversation with Mitchell while he fixed his drink. Jack didn’t say a word and Daniel looked over his shoulder to find him staring at the floor. “Jack?”
“She might be useful,” he said, shaking his head, “but that woman is sometimes more trouble than she’s worth. Case in point: that damn father of hers.”
Daniel made a face. “I’m thinking I’ll get an unofficial reprimand.”
Jack looked up, startled. “For what?”
“It was my job to keep her in line.”
Jack winced. “He did say she was your responsibility, but that probationary period of hers is over. It’s been a year, Daniel.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Jack, where Vala’s concerned, a normal probationary period doesn’t apply.”
They both sighed and sipped at their drinks, then Daniel decided to leave the subject alone. He really didn’t want to talk about Vala. “So. Teal’c?” he prodded.
Jack flinched, a bit of sadness behind it in his eyes. “He’s older than Bra’tac now. How’s he look?”
“He didn’t tell you?” Daniel asked.
“You know Teal’c. Downplay the obvious.”
Daniel nodded, then lifted his hand to his hair. “He’s got some grey patches and a few more lines on his face. I think he’ll age a lot more gracefully than Bra’tac has.”
“For someone who’s over 140,” Jack replied, “Bra’tac’s not looking that bad.”
“No, but compared to Teal’c, who’s pushing 150 or so, he looks thirty years older.”
“Has Bra’tac come to see him yet?”
Daniel nodded slowly. “He’s been at the SGC ever since that Arkon revenge thing.”
“I thought he was fine?” Jack asked, frowning. When Daniel nodded, he was relieved, but the frown was still present. “What’s he hanging around for? Not all the Jaffa worlds have been taken over.”
Daniel shrugged. “I think he’s mourning, needing time to regroup and plan.” Jack didn’t answer and there really wasn’t any need. Again, Daniel changed the subject. “Sam and Teal’c left the base together.” Jack’s brows rose in surprise as they stared at each other. “Mitchell probably thinks they were pulling his leg but I know they weren’t.” He paused, thinking about it. “There was real affection there, Jack. I think they’ve finally decided they’re good for each other.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “It’s about time. Took them long enough.”
“I mean that I think that Teal’c’s finally changing his attitude about being involved with someone he works with. And maybe Tau’ri women in general. Then there’s the fact that Ishta is out of the picture now.”
“I figured as much. Teal’c’s stopped referring to her whenever we talk. And I know better than to ask.”
Daniel grinned sadly. “I asked.”
“Seems she’s leading a quiet rebellion on one of the planets taken over by the Ori. And since she and Teal’c live different lives, he said he had to let her go so she could find someone else.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, looking down. “I’d be sorry about that, but I’m glad for Carter, you know?”
Daniel nodded with agreement. “Rya’c and his wife are with Ishta so it’s hard for Teal’c not to want to go there, but at least it’s no longer because of her.”
“Please don’t let him get any ideas in his head. Arkon was bad enough.”
“I know what you mean, but in the end, Teal’c and Bra’tac were right about Arkon.”
“Yeah, well, that bastard didn’t fool us, either,” Jack said as he moved to the oven, turning it off. Daniel sniffed and finally realized there’d been the smell of roasted chicken filling the air. His attention had been on Jack, but now his stomach rumbled demandingly.
“Hungry?” Jack smirked, turning around. Daniel gave him a nod and Jack pulled the pan from the oven. “Was keeping this warm but I have to turn it off now. The power will be going out some time tonight. Want anything to eat with it, because now’s the time?”
“I think the chicken’s fine for now.”
Jack waved his bottle at the fridge. “Well, just in case, there’s potato salad. Generator will keep that running, if we need it to.”
Daniel’s stomach rumbled again and Jack grinned at him as he retrieved a carving fork and knife. As soon as he pulled a drumstick free, Daniel was getting the other one. Grinning at each other, they stood at the butcher’s island and ate standing up, picking at the meat straight out of the pan.
Fingers covered in chicken grease, Daniel had to carefully hold his bourbon glass as he drank, and in the end, he downed it and set it in the sink before he dropped it.
“Water’s all stocked,” Jack said when Daniel went to the fridge to grab a bottle.
“I see that,” Daniel said, returning to the table to eat. Sighing at how delicious it was, he said. “You know, you should give the Mess Hall a few lessons.”
“Their chicken isn’t that bad,” Jack said, then grinned at the look Daniel gave him. “Cooking for a couple of hundred people is a hard job, Daniel.”
“Buffet restaurants manage,” Daniel shot back.
“You know as well as I do that unless it’s a barbecue slathered with sauce, that the food is going to be dry after sitting under those lamps for hours on end.”
Daniel couldn’t help it. The thought came to him unbidden, making him smile.
“What?” Jack asked.
“I just …” Daniel started, then paused to lick his fingers. “You mentioned barbecue sauce and slathered in the same sentence and for some reason …”
Jack reached over, his fingers slick from juice and grease, and caught Daniel’s hand. “I’ve said that word before, Daniel, without your mind going into the gutter.”
“Yeah, and I’ve spent so much time in the gutter lately,” Daniel said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. A second later, he sucked in a breath when Jack lifted his hand to his lips and sucked his thumb into his mouth. “However …” Daniel swallowed.
Just then, a brilliant light flashed outside. They both looked at the ceiling, waiting on the count. 3 … 4 … 5. Then the roll of thunder came.
“It’s close,” Daniel said, and looked back when Jack didn’t let go. His dick twitched with appreciation as his lover made his way through his fingers, licking off juice. When he let Daniel’s hand go, staring at his mouth instead, Daniel added, “You’ve got that look.”
“Hunger,” Daniel said, staring back. “Except I’m not chicken.”
Jack grinned widely, and without warning, began to chuckle.
“What?” Daniel asked, wondering what was so funny. There was really no telling what set Jack off these days. The man had the strangest sense of humor. Last time, it had been Daniel’s foray as a kidnapper and terrorist.
“You just reminded me of a time ten years ago, when we were guinea pigs for the Mess Hall’s version of Mystery Meals.”
Daniel grinned with astonishment. “You’re thinking of that?”
“Sure, why not,” Jack said in that way he had. As if the strangest things could make sense if he said it right. Half the time, they did.
“That mac ‘n cheese was so not edible. I’m glad the real MREs didn’t have that.”
“The MREs were definitely better, but not by much.”
“A lot better, though we had to wait four more years for those.”
Jack chuckled again. “I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
Daniel lifted his chin and threw the taunt right back. “No, you don’t. You’re too busy being the worrier instead of the one who’s worried about.”
“Alright smart ass, don’t rub it in.”
Daniel grinned mischievously. “I’ve gotten pretty good at giving it back over the years. You should know better by now.” Jack’s expression suddenly changed, turning serious. “What now?”
“A long time ago, I said, ‘You never cease to amaze me.’ And I think that these last few years have kinda …”
“Kinda what?” Daniel dared to ask.
“Been an understatement,” Jack said.
“You sure you’re not confusing ‘amaze’ with ‘amuse’?”
Jack reached up to run his fingers through Daniel’s hair, then thought of the chicken grease and cupped Daniel’s shoulder knot instead. It was a touch Daniel had gotten used to on a regular basis and found he missed it so much, it ached.
“I mean ‘amaze.’ I’m trying to work out how the hell you’re still sane,” Jack said, swallowing hard after. “Seriously, Daniel. How many times has your mind and body been messed with, yet you’re still here?”
Daniel stared back at him. “I could say the same. And the only answer I can come up with is we were damn lucky.”
Jack gave him a sarcastic grin. “I thought you said some higher power was looking after us.”
“Yeah, well,” Daniel answered, jogging his brows. “That was before I clued the Ori into our galaxy.” Jack’s hand tightened and he shook Daniel once, surprising him.
“Don’t do that.”
Daniel stared back at him, seeing the quick anger rise. Jack hated it when he blamed himself, but damn, it was hard not to. “It’s my–“
“No it isn’t. It could have just as easily been Carter and Mitchell, as the higher ranking members of the team. But they let you go for one reason. Do you know what that was?”
Daniel just barely kept from rolling his eyes–mostly because he didn’t want to anger Jack any further by defying him outright. “Because it was presumed to be an Ancients’ communication device and I was the only one proficient in speaking Ancient.” It was practically rote by now. He knew the reasons. “While we were on Celestis, even Vala said I wasn’t to blame. So did Sam, Mitchell, Teal’c, even Landry.”
Jack snorted. “Why won’t you listen to us? You’re pulling a Shau’re all over again.”
At the sound of her name, Daniel sighed and closed his eyes, then suddenly found himself in Jack’s arms, being hugged tightly. He slid his hands up his lover’s back, relishing the firm warmth of his muscles.
“Her, too, I mean it,” Jack said, his voice muffled against his neck.
Jack let him go and stepped back, looking into his eyes. “No one’s to blame, Daniel, except the Goa’uld.”
Daniel wanted to argue, but knew better. “So says the voice of reason, Jack, but my feelings aren’t reasonable.”
“Or rational,” Jack said, and grinned when Daniel’s gaze hardened slightly.
The sound of thunder loomed closer and the flashes of lightning lit up the interior of the cabin, projecting sharp shadows everywhere. The electricity flickered for a moment, but stayed on. It seemed to break the solemn moment and Daniel gave in, gladly. If it weren’t for Jack, he’d probably be a lot more bitter than he was.
“Thanks,” he said, resurrecting a grin.
“Anytime,” Jack replied.
Daniel looked over his shoulder as another flash illuminated the grounds outside and when he caught sight of his Jeep, he swore under his breath.
“I left my cell phone in the Jeep.”
Jack sighed. “I’d say leave it but …”
Daniel nodded, wishing he could just turn it off for a while. “Probably should go get it before the rain comes down in sheets.”
Jack snorted. “It already is.”
Daniel sighed with agreement as he started for the door, then paused in the threshold, staring out at the rain. He suddenly had a wicked idea and looked back over his shoulder. “You know the one thing we’ve never done in the ten years we’ve been together?”
“What’s that?” Jack asked.
Daniel was glad it was still warm outside as he abruptly pulled his t-shirt off, grinning at the look on Jack’s face.
“You’re not serious,” Jack laughed incredulously.
“C’mon, Jack. Let’s go for it.”
“Daniel, it’s outside.”
“And it’s at night, out in the woods, and no one’s going to be out in this storm.”
A lightning flash put an exclamation point on his words.
“For good reason,” Jack argued, but he wasn’t looking all that disagreeable. Daniel could tell he was considering the idea.
He stepped backward, going out the door. “C’mon, Jack.” Without waiting for him to agree, he pulled off his boots and tossed them inside, then opened his jeans and pushed those off, too, kicking them into a ball that landed just inside the door. His socks came next, and all the time, Jack watched as he slowly picked up his clothing and tossed them in the living room. Daniel hoped they landed on the couch but he didn’t really care.
Feeling strangely invigorated by his sudden decision, never mind his nakedness, Daniel rubbed his left ass cheek and started down the steps. “Bring the lube,” he said, then headed for the Jeep.
“Daniel, goddamn it,” Jack called, but he didn’t bother going after him. Daniel would be back inside. There was, after all, no bloody place to have sex out in front of the cabin, unless Daniel wanted to mud wrestle–an activity he’d have to do alone, Jack smirked to himself.
Outside, Daniel shivered as the shock of the rain pelted his skin, quickly covering him. By the time he reached his Jeep not ten yards away, he was nearly soaked. The sensation of it was sensual, especially when the rain hit him in strategic areas. His dick twitched from the hot and cold gamut as he opened the vehicle door and grabbed his cell off the seat. When he slammed the door shut and turned back to the cabin, Jack was standing there in the doorway. Still clothed.
Daniel grinned as he walked back, blinking back the rain drops running into his eyes. On the stairs, he sing-songed, “You’re not undressed, Jack.”
“And you’re not sane, Daniel,” Jack replied, though he was obviously amused.
Daniel gave a snort as he inched around him, careful not to touch, and walked inside. He felt giddy now. Before, there had been a slightly desperate need to do something outrageous–like walk outside naked during a thunderstorm–but now, Daniel felt as if it was almost necessary.
He tossed his phone onto the couch, smirking at his clothes on the floor behind it, and headed toward the hallway. He checked over his shoulder, finding Jack watching. “No, I’m not going to the spare room, I’m going out back.” When he reached the end of the hallway and turned right, he looked back to see that Jack had gone. Probably gone down the other hallway that joined with this one, leading directly to the main bedroom and the back door that opened onto the patio deck.
Daniel stopped at the juncture, looking through the windowed door. The rain was bouncing off the treated wood and the kidney-shaped pond just beyond. He couldn’t suppress a grin as to the “conspiracy” reasons behind the sudden appearance of fish. In reality, it hadn’t had anything to with a time-line change. It was all thanks to the good ol’ folks at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Jack cleared his throat, getting Daniel to look over his shoulder. He was halfway down the hall, moving toward him cautiously. He looked indecisive and Daniel couldn’t blame him. Jack didn’t really like storms and was hardly the type to do something this spontaneous.
“You’re not acting like yourself, ya know,” Jack said as he approached, looking very pointedly into his eyes and nowhere else.
“I know, but if I can’t be spontaneous with you, then we’re in trouble.” Jack grinned sarcastically. “More to the point, we may not get a chance like this for another ten years.”
Jack absently rubbed the back of his neck. “Granted,” he conceded. “But this kind of spontaneity isn’t like you.”
“I’m not feeling much like myself lately.” Jack froze and Daniel quickly waved a hand at him. “No, I don’t mean that way, but you know that feeling we get when we’re on the edge of a storm, or in the eye of one?”
Jack lifted his chin and grinned. “You mean that restlessness you feel when you’ve just left the house and realize you left the candles burning and the oven on?”
Daniel chuckled. “Something like that.”
“No, I have no idea what you mean,” Jack grinned back.
With a snort, Daniel grabbed the patio doorknob with one hand and caressed his chest with the other, deliberately being provocative. “If you’re coming out with me, bring the lube.”
“And if I’m not?” Jack challenged as he drew closer.
Daniel could sense that he wanted to let go, wanted to do something crazy like this–although seriously, it was less crazy and far less risky than taking a few hours at a club in Colorado Springs.
“If you don’t join me, then I’ll look a little silly standing out here, naked and wet and hard, by myself.” With a sly grin on his face, he opened the door and walked outside, threading through the furniture as he headed for the far railing. He didn’t turn around to see if Jack was following. He only hoped that he would.
A jagged bolt of lightning struck across the sky a few miles away, and a few seconds later, the loud rumble of a thunderclap followed, reverberating everywhere, making Daniel’s skin pebble. His body tingled from the electricity in the air, with the excitement of anticipation, and with the sensation of being watched. He swallowed and closed his eyes as he reached for his half-hard cock, his heart beating faster with every passing minute.
He was pretty sure he felt Jack’s presence and when he opened his eyes, there was surprise mixed with relief as Jack’s arm came into view, setting the bottle of lube onto the wet deck rail.
Daniel didn’t move, wondering what he’d do, and when Jack grabbed hold of his upper arms and pressed his body against him, the sudden heat made him shiver with desire. He turned his head and lifted his chin to meet Jack’s gaze and when he opened his mouth to say something, Jack cut him off with a kiss. Soft and warm and sensuous, it was calming at first, but then Jack dove deeper with his tongue, intensifying the passion. The feel of it, along with his cock against his ass, forced a moan from Daniel’s throat.
Jack grinned against his lips and began to slide his slick hands over his chest, caressing nipples stiff from the cool rain. Needing to feel him in return, Daniel turned in his arms, hands framing his head, and kissed Jack more deeply as he rubbed his groin against him. Jack pulled back, staring at him with reddened cheeks and dilated eyes, and when he shivered, Daniel’s eyes widened.
“You’re not cold are you?”
“No,” Jack replied with an amused smile.
“Oh,” Daniel replied, his own smile self-deprecating as he felt rather silly for misreading him. After all this time, Jack could still fool him.
“There’s only one problem,” Jack said, nuzzling his face while his hands slipped down to cup his ass.
“What’s that?” Daniel asked, staring at the way the rain hit Jack’s chest and how the hairs guided the drops.
Jack gave his hips a yank, gently slapping their groins together. “I want to watch you, see your face,” he said, then raised his brows with irony as he looked around. “But given where we are, and what my damn knees will allow…”
Daniel inhaled slowly and whispered, “In bed, later.”
“So out here, it’s… ?” Jack needlessly asked, grinning with impudence.
Daniel brushed his fingers over Jack’s lips, his chin, then down his throat and chest. Leaning down, he brought his lips to his nipples, flicking at them teasingly before he followed the line of hair down. On his knees, he kissed and sucked at the hair above his pubes, and smiled as the head of Jack’s now hard cock hit his chin.
“I think something wants attention,” he said, then looked up to catch Jack jogging his brows. Ya think? it said. Daniel grinned as he firmly grasped the shaft and lowered his mouth. He kissed the heavy, dark head, breathing hot air over its sensitive skin. “I want a fuck to match the storm,” he said, then sucked the cockhead into his mouth, moaning at the taste and at the touch of Jack’s fingers threading through his hair. “Hard, pounding, and loud,” he added before saying nothing at all for a while.
Jack guided him with his hands as Daniel moved between his cock and his balls, sucking hungrily, getting him very, very hard. He delighted in the way he could made him shake with the effort of standing, and when Jack hissed and pulled back, Daniel knew it was time. Even if Jack could drop down to his knees, he didn’t want Jack’s mouth on him just yet. He wanted it later. For now, he needed to feel him inside.
Slowly standing, Daniel grabbed the lube off the rail and placed it in Jack’s hand as he wrapped his arms around him and kissed him hard, winding him up further. When he stopped and stepped back to breathe, smirking at the puffiness of their lips, he was rewarded with a gruff moan from Jack as he suddenly, swiftly, turned him round. Biting his lip in pleasure, Daniel leaned forward and grabbed the railing, closing his eyes and spreading his legs, lifting his ass in preparation. He heard the cap flick up and when the lube hit his ass, he was surprised by the warmth of it in comparison with the heavy rain that assaulted his skin.
Jack’s fingers caressed his anus, circling over the puckered muscle, teasing him briefly before pushing inside. Daniel couldn’t hold in the moans of want as Jack prepared him, when his fingertips brushed his gland.
“Jack,” he said, tightening his grip on the rail as he dropped his head between his shoulders. He opened his eyes, staring fuzzily at the reeds and the flashes of light that reflected off the surface of the pond. He felt small rivers of water running over his sides, his ass, down his legs, over his shoulders. When he looked down, between his feet, he knew the same was happening with Jack. “Jack,” he urged.
Abruptly, Jack’s fingers left him, and a second later, the fat, engorged head of his cock was rubbing at his hole, pushing past the barriers. Daniel gasped with pleasure as he was filled, slowly, wonderfully, and Jack’s hands clamped down onto his shoulders.
“This what you want?” Jack asked, circling his hips as he slid in deep and ground against his ass.
“You know I do,” Daniel panted. When Jack pulled back for his first thrust, he gasped, “Yes!” and silently screamed for more.
With deliberate slowness, Jack eased in and out in a lazy rhythm designed to get him loose, to tease him, tantalize him with what was to come–pun intended. Daniel wanted him to hurry up, to fuck him harder, faster, but he knew that if he asked, Jack would drive him crazy by not obliging. So he waited it out, periodically grabbing hold of his dick, his balls, touching himself to both satisfy his desire and ease off the approaching climax.
Minute after minute passed, the slapping sound of their fucking barely masked by the deafening sound of the downpour. At times, it was almost as if nature joined in the cadence. Finally, Jack picked up the pace when lightning flashed with intense brightness and was immediately met by loud claps of thunder, one right after the other. The storm was on top of them.
Daniel yelled, “Now, please, Jack!”
The first hard thrust made him lose his grip as his hands slid over the slippery rail, and quickly grabbing for purchase, Daniel spread his feet wider and dropped his head back down between his shoulders. “Fuck me,” he called out. “Jack, just…” He inhaled then as Jack nailed his gland, then did it again and again. Daniel’s balls began to tighten and he white-knuckled the railing with one hand as he took hold of his cock with the other. He squeezed his eyes shut, riding the spike of pleasure as his orgasm approached. He could barely hear the slaps of Jack’s hips against his ass, but he could definitely feel them. Harder, and harder still.
It happened quickly, and yet, too soon. Jack grabbed his hips and drilled him with rapid, nearly brutal strokes, and Daniel opened his eyes and cried out, pumping his cock with frenzied desperation. “Yes!” he cried, as his orgasm erupted with nearly painful, blessed intensity. He began to spurt over the railing, jerking with hard tension while his ass muscles flexed and twitched, clutching around Jack’s cock with encouragement. He waited him out, stroke after stroke, and when his lover came, the grip on his hips became bruising as he groaned through each long, thick release.
His climax easing off, Jack reached around and pulled Daniel up, hugging him against him as their afterglow spread. Their bodies thrummed with the sensation of it, but they couldn’t linger. It was getting dangerous and there was no telling what would happen if lightning hit the pond. With a groan, Jack kissed Daniel’s temple as he carefully withdrew. “Let’s get inside.”
“Hang on,” Daniel said, retrieving the lube from the deck floor. “Can’t leave this.”
Jack said nothing; he only smiled and laced his fingers with Daniel’s as he led him into to the main bedroom’s bathroom. He started up the shower and the moment the hot water began to fill the air, Daniel became acutely aware just how cold he’d gotten in the rain.
“Next time,” Jack said as he guided him beside him and placed the nozzle in a wide spray, “we do that in a tropical setting.”
Daniel smiled as he put his arms around his neck and kissed him lightly. “I love you, but I’m not moving to Malibu.”
“Who said Malibu?” Jack said, pretending to be offended. “I was talking about D.C.”
“I don’t love you that much, either,” Daniel teased.
“Smithsonian,” Jack taunted. “Library of Congress.”
Daniel growled, “I hate you,” as he dropped his forehead to Jack’s shoulder.
“I know,” Jack grinned, caressing his back.
Jack scraped the leftovers from dinner into the garbage, eyeing Daniel as he started to wash the cleaned-off dishes. “I was serious, you know.”
When Daniel looked over, he did a double-take as soon as he saw that Jack meant it. He dropped his mouth open and Jack couldn’t help but grin at his expression. Every damn time Daniel did that, he looked like a little kid. It was no wonder he was still thought of as young.
“Jack,” Daniel said, puzzled, and not quite sure what to say. “Of what possible use could I be in D.C.?”
“I don’t know,” Jack amended, then quickly added, “but you used to suggest the things that SG-1 should do. Why couldn’t you do the same in D.C.?”
“Because it’s D.C.,” Daniel said as he rinsed a plate and set it in the dish rack. “What I suggested was for off-world missions that I would be going on. That wouldn’t happen in D.C. And after all’s said and done, I’d rather be anywhere else than D.C. when it comes to having a job. Smithsonian’s a nice place to visit but I don’t want to work there. And I’m not a librarian.”
Jack grinned and sighed, knowing that’d be his answer. He shouldn’t have asked, but he needed it confirmed anyway. “I guess.”
Halfway through washing another plate, Daniel paused at the tone in Jack’s voice and turned to look at him. “Where’s this coming from?”
Jack cleared his throat. “Out of a need of not wanting your ass shot off by some psycho. I’ve been putting up with this for ten years. I’m kinda tired of it.”
Daniel paused, staring at the water, knowing that Jack was airing his fears and that he did not do it very often. “I know, and you have no idea how much I need to hear that. Technically speaking, however, the psycho could be on Earth or on another planet and it won’t matter which if I’m dead.”
“Now see, that’s my whole point.”
Daniel shook his head as he had a feeling what this was all about. “No, I think your whole point is to distract me and keep me from wanting to go to Atlantis when this bullshit with the Ori is all over.”
Jack took a deep breath. “I could kidnap you.”
“You could try,” Daniel teased back.
When Jack said nothing and refused to look at him, Daniel set the dish back in the sink and shut off the water. Jack looked up as he was drying his hands on the hand towel.
“Let’s have it.”
“What?” Jack asked.
“What’s on your mind?”
Jack shook his head and pushed away from the counter, heading for the bedroom. “Nothing, never mind.”
“No, you’re not gonna do that,” Daniel said, going after him. In the bedroom, he closed the door and stared at Jack as he crossed the room and stared out of the window. “Tell me.”
“You really want to go to Atlantis?”
“I’d like to, yeah.”
“For how long, Daniel?” Jack asked. He turned to him and there was a serious look in his eyes that Daniel hadn’t seen for a very long time. “Do you realize that except for that little Oma Desala vacation you took, we’ve been together for ten years?”
“Yeah, and?” Daniel answered slowly, wondering where Jack was going with it.
“But now you want it to be over, just like that. No discussion, just over.”
“What?” Daniel exclaimed. “I never said that.”
“It’s implied though, isn’t it? Those people left behind their partners, wives, and husbands in order to be part of that expedition-slash-mission. And as far as I can tell, they’re never coming home. Atlantis is now their home. Relationships have broken off because of it and those people knew it would happen. Weir has all but cut off her relationship and she’s one of the most dedicated there.” He paused. “Like you would be. So, is that what’s going to happen to you when you leave?”
Daniel could almost hear ‘when you leave me‘ attached at the end of the question. He sighed, feeling like a heel for not checking with how Jack really felt about this. “Um, I never considered actually living there for good, Jack. I figured a few weeks to a month, then I’d come home for a while, then go back to Atlantis. It’s not just the fact that there’s really no post for me there, but it’s because I don’t want to live there. Sam’s said she’d like to go when the Ori business is all over with. Teal’c will want to be with Bra’tac. Although now that they’re together, that may change. I think Mitchell said he’d like to be training pilots at Area 51, providing he can’t convince us to stay. In his mind, it’s SG-1 or he’s out of there.”
“You’re getting off point, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not,” Daniel said as he skirted the bed and stopped a few feet away from Jack. Folding his arms defensively, he said, “You think I want to leave you? It’s the last thing I want. Question is, what do you want?”
Jack clenched his jaw, silently berating himself for walking into this emotional trap. He should have known that Daniel would have turned this back on him. “I want you happy, I want me happy.”
“And we would be. This job would be no different.”
Jack shook his head. “You have a tendency to bury yourself in your work, Daniel. Admit it.”
“Don’t do that. You’re already writing me off, making my decision for me.”
“No, I’m not, I’m just saying–“
“You’re not listening, is what you’re doing. Put the shoe on the foot and answer the question I just answered.”
“What?” Jack asked, slightly confused.
“Turn the situation around,” Daniel said.
Jack shook his head. “There’s no way to–“
“Yes there is. Elizabeth is thinking about taking some time off from her job there. What if the IOA or the President offered you her job like they did at the SGC?”
“What?” Jack asked, taken off-guard. “How come I don’t know about that?”
“I don’t know. Answer the question. What if you were offered command of Atlantis?” When Jack didn’t answer right away, Daniel felt absurdly justified. “What makes you think that it’s okay for you to leave me behind, but it’s not okay for me to–“
“I’d take you with me,” Jack said, cutting him off.
Daniel stared. “What?”
“I’d take you with me.”
It was Daniel’s turn to be taken by surprise, but for a different reason. “That’s not fair. And it’s not the same thing. I wouldn’t have the authority to take you with me.”
Jack gave him a wan smile, hating it when Daniel’s point was better than his own. “Okay, fair enough.”
“That still doesn’t explain why you assumed I’d leave you.”
Jack went toward him and pushed Daniel backward till he hit the bed.
“Jack,” Daniel said with annoyance, nearly unbalancing.
Jack shoved him again and when Daniel was on his back, he crawled over him and settled down on top of him.
“And you’re doing this because?” Daniel asked.
Jack smiled wistfully and said, “Because I need your full attention.”
“You already have it,” Daniel scowled.
“No, I don’t think so. But now I do. Listen to me. Why would I assume you’d leave? Because you get tunnel-visioned when it comes to your work, Daniel. You go off half-cocked and think there’s nothing more important. I’ve learned to put my work aside when it’s necessary, but you haven’t learned that. I don’t want to go another ten years waiting for you to learn how.”
“So what are you asking?”
“Nothing,” Jack replied, staring hard at him. “I’m just saying.”
Daniel reached up and caressed his handsome face, staring at the age lines and silvering hair, the dark worry in his eyes. “I’m sorry for making you worry about us. About me.”
“And I think you need reminding. I’ve already learned that particular lesson with Shau’re. I’m obsessive-compulsive. It’s my biggest flaw. I don’t stop and smell the roses for myself, just for other people.”
Jack grinned at him lovingly. “Like me, I’ll assume. Say yes.”
Daniel smiled back. “Yes.” He suddenly looked guilty and gave Jack an apologetic smile. “I have a confession to make.”
“Uh oh,” Jack said, not liking the sound.
“I never really thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me.” When Jack’s brows furrowed with anger, Daniel quickly added, “I know you love me, but I also know that you love your job–well, you love when you’ve got something to challenge you. You’re no longer thinking of retirement. You’re enthusiastic about work, for the most part, and it’s all about the good you can do.” He paused, then added, “And knowing that, I thought that maybe you’d end our relationship one day before someone tries to use me as ammunition against you.”
Jack stared at him for the longest time, knowing he was making Daniel nervous by doing so. Eventually he said, “You’re obsessive-compulsive. I’m just obsessive. We’re two pretty screwed-up people, you know that?”
Daniel smirked back. “Do we make one whole person together?”
“I’d say so,” Jack replied as he lowered his head and kissed him lightly.
“Then it seems we’re stuck with each other for the rest of our lives,” Daniel said carefully as he cradled the back of Jack’s head and pressed their foreheads together.
“I’m all for that,” Jack replied, and was abruptly distracted by the return of certain bodily functions. It was surprising, though he certainly appreciated the timing. “Daniel,” he whispered over his lover’s lips.
“What’s for dessert?”
Daniel started to chuckle. “Whatever you want, Jack. Whatever you want.”
“Unfortunately, I want cheesecake,” Jack teased.
Daniel growled and turned them over, straddling Jack’s hips. As he opened his lover’s jeans, he leaned down and said, “I’ll give you cheesecake,” before he went to work to do just that.
End of the Series
(There are no Intervals chapters for “Ark of Truth” and “Continuum” because I felt that they were stupid. While Ark of Truth was a standard wrap-up-all-threads story, it didn’t do it to my personal satisfaction. And Continuum was one giant clusterf–k excuse made for Mitchell.)
I started this series at the beginning of season 7, and quickly realized I’d written myself into a corner when things dramatically changed starting with Heroes. Like Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fraiser’s death wasn’t just stupid, it was mean. IMO, the PTB (powers that be) had to accommodate RDA’s desire to leave the show, which knocked off a good percentage of fans. Next, Hammond was booted to make room for Beau Bridges, whom the British, for their own reasons, don’t like, so half their audience in the UK was lost. Next, they brought in Claudia Black and Ben Browder, forever renaming the series, “Fargate” by the fandom en masse. Seasons 9 and 10 were horrible. IMO, the series should have ended with Threads.
There are several episodes I skipped over in this series, so I’m making up for them in the new series, Intervals Betwixt. There are 5 episodes, out of airing order. Once I have written more, the ones that are out of order will get renumbered (stories written for Lost City and Atlantis’ Rising premiere, for example).