Daniel was understandably out of sorts, Jack thought, as he watched his friend finish putting on his running outfit, gather his little man-purse with his ID and debit card, and leave the locker room without a word. He’d once told Jack that whenever he had too much emotional turmoil, he had two choices: fall apart or go running. He hated running, but it took up a lot of energy and forced him to focus on it.
On Level 18, a cargo bay had been repurposed as an indoor track, and when that turmoil happened, that’s where he’d go. He couldn’t stomach running outside where there were too many distractions, too many chances for interference. The indoor track had turned into the perfect solution for an imperfect mind. And he’d run, sometimes until he was exhausted, whereupon he’d face two other choices: come back to his office and fall asleep or go to the gym to beat the crap out of a punching bag. Jack didn’t think he’d do the sleep thing today. It was more likely he’d head to the gym, tape up his hands, and hit the bag.
Jack sighed. He could understand. He knew where the pent-up anger and frustration came from. Rage. And that’s why the running. Daniel wasn’t a person who was comfortable with anger, and he wasn’t someone who experienced the extreme form of it. It took something extraordinary to bring it out of him. For that to happen, Daniel didn’t just need to be pushed into it. He needed to be shoved into it, like tree limbs into a thresher.
It happened by seeing Sha’re pregnant. It meant that she’d been raped. She may not have been in control of her own body, but it had been rape all the same. Daniel had once told him that there were only two people in this world who’d deserve the sort of wrath that rage would bring out in him. Apophis was one. Hathor was the other. They both had payback coming. In spades. This rage was meant for Bad Guy Number One. All Daniel wanted to do was get a hold of Apophis and rip out his heart, probably with hands tipped with those nasty-looking finger claws. For a start.
It was a grief Jack really couldn’t comprehend happening to him. But he could imagine. If Charlie hadn’t died and had been taken by a snake like Skaara had … Jack swallowed hard, knowing that that kind of rage would turn him loose upon the world and nothing would end it but the perp’s own death. And Daniel couldn’t do that. He didn’t have the means. But if he did, Jack would help, no matter the cost.
Jack was at the elevator, waiting to go home, when he heard his name called. He turned to see Carter and Teal’c coming toward him. He raised an expectant brow.
“Sir,” Carter said, and she hesitated.
“Spit it out, Captain,” Jack said, irritation building. He tried to stifle it and only partially succeeded.
“We …” she began and looked at Teal’c.
Jack thought her expression looked like she’d needed Teal’c as a backup. Or a reprieve.
“We believe Daniel Jackson needs our friendship,” Teal’c said.
“Maybe,” Jack said slowly. “But he doesn’t want it. He’ll come to us when he’s ready. Right now, he isn’t. Trust me. You don’t want to be around him right now.” Except that Jack believed he could handle it. In fact, one way to expel dark energy was to box it out; give him the gloves and headgear and let Daniel use him as a punching bag. He’d actually offered but Daniel had refused. There was only one reason for that, Jack knew. Even unskilled, the man couldn’t stomach the idea that he might hurt his friend. Or his lover.
“There’s nothing?” Carter asked.
“Not right now. Just do your own thing and if he needs you, he’ll be in touch. So me, I’m heading home to get dinner and a book and a few days’ rest.” Carter and Teal’c weren’t happy with the answer, and to be honest, neither was he. But he’d have to do the same thing he’d told his teammates. Wait.
. . .
Utterly exhausted, Daniel sat down on the bench in front of his locker. Wiping at the sweat over his lip and forehead with the back of his arm, he stared in the direction of the showers, imagined being in there when others showed up, and nixed the idea. While they had cubicles with doors, he didn’t want to interact with anyone. Except maybe Jack.
Daniel told himself to go back to the car and go home, but he ignored the flight response and knocked on Jack’s front door. His nerves were singing, twitching, yelling at him to turn and run home. All he wanted to do was go to bed and sleep for a year, ignoring everything and everyone around him until his brain had time to process. On Abydos, he’d been in survival mode. Back home, with no enemies to fight, his mind had time to think, to analyze. The natural, or unnatural, emotions followed, and among them was the rage. He didn’t like it. Not one damn bit.
Jack opened the door just as Daniel’s attention was elsewhere. When he realized the door was open and his friend stood there with a sympathetic look in his eyes, Daniel blinked a few times, and … his face crumpled into a mask of grief and his limbs became weak and unsteady. He stumbled forward and collapsed into Jack’s arms.
Getting him inside quickly before too many surveillance eyes could see any more—Jack knew they were there after that goddamn fiasco in D.C.—he held Daniel tightly. He let him sob angrily for a minute, then continued holding him as he led him to the bedroom. He pushed him gently to sit, took off his shoes, his shirt, and his jeans, then tucked him into bed. Daniel’s eyes were glassy with tears, his brows knotted with anger and despair. He said nothing. Jack said nothing.
He kissed him on the forehead and drew the covers up. Daniel nodded, rolled onto his side away from him, and went to sleep. Jack took a deep breath, sighed slowly, and headed back to the kitchen to fix his grandma’s mac n’ cheese. The good ole comfort food that Daniel would need when he woke up. It didn’t fix problems, but it certainly soothed the body enough to view them with a calmer heart.
As Jack dozed on the couch, the sound of the shower starting up roused him awake. His brows rose slightly in surprise. It wasn’t because he was surprised that Daniel wanted a shower—to cleanse both body and spirit. It was because it was a lot sooner than he had expected it would come. Glancing at the clock, he found that it had only been six hours. Running his tongue over his teeth, he went to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water from the pitcher in the fridge. He then headed for the bathroom.
Stepping in, he closed the door. It creaked, then clicked audibly as the housings connected.
“Join me?” Daniel asked, his voice subdued. His back was facing him.
Surprised again, Jack said nothing as he undressed and opened the door. Goosebumps formed from the mix of cold-feeling air and hot water and as he closed the door, he made another mental self-congratulation for installing a large shower stall. Stepping into the spray, he wound his arms around Daniel and held his back to him while kissing him on the cheek.
“How’re you doing?”
“Lonely,” Daniel replied. He took one of Jack’s hands and led it down to his full erection. It had the intended effect and as Jack moved his hand expertly, his own genitalia quickly caught up. No more words were needed. Jack released him and with a quick coating from the shower lube, entered his lover’s body and slid both hands around to grasp his pectoral muscles.
He moved slow but deep, his thrusts easy, languorous, until Daniel pushed back against him and forced them away from the wall. Jack knew from past experience that what Daniel wanted now was the kind of sex that wouldn’t allow him to think about anything else but what was happening to him. He grabbed hold of his shoulders for leverage and obliged while Daniel braced the wall with his hands. It was hard, rough, and good, and when the climaxes came, they were nearly synced.
Afterward came slow bathing, rinsing, and drying. Jack met his eyes and still, there were no words. Daniel only nodded.
He would be okay.