Visits 3: Boys, Interrupted
Summary: Daniel’s downtime with Jason is interrupted by Jason’s sister and an emotional visit from Jack.
Note: Quote is from The Supremes.
Through the hollow of my tears
I see a dream that’s lost
From the hurt
That you have caused
Everywhere I turn
Seems like everything I see
Reflects the love that used to be
Entering the house, Jason headed for the kitchen while Daniel crossed the living room turn on the stereo. The radio came on and knowing Jason liked the song, he turned up the volume. Eric Clapton was currently playing his ‘unplugged’ version of “Layla.” They shared an interest in music, which Daniel found he appreciated. It was also something that was sort of spooky in a way, having similar tastes in a lot of things, as well as a similar outlook on life in general. He’d rarely bring it up to Jason, however, because whenever he got the man going on a spiritual discussion, he’d be listening to him for hours. Sometimes–only sometimes–Daniel could see Jack’s point about his long-winded archaeological briefings.
As Jason saw to the doggie bags, Daniel paused in front of the living room window, tapping his foot to the music, thinking of the last two days. He had a feeling Jason was watching him from the kitchen and when he looked over his shoulder, he caught him watching him through the open breakfast bar.
Jason smiled softly at him, then looked away, paying attention to the food as he put it in storage containers. He knew that Jack’s visit in the restaurant had rattled Daniel and the man had been silent on the drive home. It was probably because he was worrying about Jack’s interpretation of their having dinner together—even though he’d been right. It simply wasn’t any of Jack’s business, but Daniel very likely wanted to avoid questions. So, he worried at the event like a bruise. It was an unjustified worry, of course. Friends went out to dinner all the time, but because that time was special, Jason had a feeling that Daniel thought Jack could see it, too.
Jason took a deep breath, sighing wistfully. He knew Daniel loved Jack, loved him more than simple friendship, and if Jack ever pulled his head out of his ass, they might just get together finally. It was a day that Jason dreaded. He’d lose Daniel then. He knew that Daniel would never purposely hurt him, never string him along as second best. But once they reconciled, Jason expected their new relationship to end fairly soon after that. To go back to being ‘just friends.’
Just the thought of it hurt, but Jason had no intention of backing off or going away in order to make it easier for either of them. Or if Daniel didn’t push him away or end their relationship outright. The stubborn side of Jason refused to allow room for any kind of game-playing, so he had no choice but to force Daniel to think about his own feelings. Plus, he couldn’t allow himself to drag things out, and so force Daniel to be cruel. Still. Jason wasn’t looking forward to the day, if it ever came, where he’d be dumped. Could he stay Daniel’s friend after that? Yes. He loved him. He didn’t own him.
As he mulled things over, the radio changed songs and Stevie Nicks’ “Leather and Lace” came on. Jason smiled. In the past, he’d sung this song with his sister, Lysa, during karaoke or at cover band outlets when he could sit in. She’d always told him he had a voice like Don Henley’s, but Jason couldn’t ‘hear’ that in his own voice. But then, Lysa was biased, and frankly, full of shit. Perhaps he could get a second opinion? He could prove Lysa wrong. A favorite pastime. Jason headed into the living room and moved up behind Daniel, surrounding him with in arms, and sung just behind his ear.
“You in the moonlight, with your sleepy eyes, could you ever love a man like me? And you were right, when I walked into your house, I knew I’d never want to leave. Sometimes I’m a strong man, sometimes cold and scared, and sometimes I cry. But that time I saw you, I knew with you to light my nights, somehow I’d get by…”
He paused, feeling the goosebumps rise on both their arms. “The song is strangely appropriate, don’t you think?”
Daniel turned his head, a crooked smile on his face. “Maybe. And you know, the only people who’d ever sung to me were women?”
“Really?” Jason asked archly, feeling a twinge of jealousy.
Daniel nodded. “My mom and Shau’re.”
“Ah,” Jason answered, feeling some of his ardor leave at the mention of those names. He started to move away but Daniel grabbed his arms, holding him.
“That was a compliment, Jason,” he said, turning around in his arms.
Jason looked down, avoiding his eyes. “Right.”
“You don’t think so?”
Looking up without lifting his chin, Jason gave him a provocative look and said in a secretive voice, “The mention of mothers and old girlfriends or wives tends put a lock on the libido.”
Daniel cringed and tightened his arms around him. “Sorry,” he said, and it was his turn not to meet his gaze.
Jason shrugged, and against his better judgment, he pulled from his embrace and stepped back, suddenly doing the very thing he’d told himself not to do. Back off. “Maybe it’s a sign.”
Daniel stared at him, brows knotting. “A sign of what? Jason, what the hell’s going on here?”
“Sorry?” Jason answered evasively, wishing he’d never said it. Maybe Daniel would let it go? Not likely.
“We’ve been best friends for a long time. I know you. And you’re sending me mixed signals. You love me, you want me, and now, you don’t want me, so–“
“Oh, I want you, Daniel,” Jason said, grabbing his hand and pulling Daniel toward him–as if he hadn’t been the one to back away. “I want you all the goddamn time.”
“Then what’s wrong?” Daniel asked, feeling annoyed. As he stared into Jason’s eyes, something occurred to him. “Was it because I mentioned Shau’re or because I mentioned women period?”
Jason winced slightly. “Maybe both.” Daniel started to answer but Jason covered his mouth with two fingers. “Let me finish,” he went on, pausing for a moment before continuing. “Maybe it’s my own insecurity, but I suddenly felt like I was intruding on her memory. Or competing with it. I don’t want to feel like that.”
Daniel’s frown deepened, and the annoyance was quickly turning to anger. “Okay, let me make this plain. This isn’t a competition. I mentioned her because she used to sing to me just like my mother did. When you sang to me, it made me feel good, and while I remembered them, your singing sent an entirely different sort of feeling through me. It has nothing whatsoever to do with comparisons. Do you understand, or do I need to spell it out further?”
That said, he cradled the back of Jason’s neck and reached down with his free hand to cup his groin. “Here is where I felt it, Jason,” he murmured, then pulled him in for a kiss that started light but ended with tongues dueling and bodies pressed firmly together.
As they kissed, Daniel felt the need to do something official. Breaking the kiss, he said, “We need to celebrate us.”
Jason snorted softly. “I think we’ve been doing that.”
Daniel shook his head and nuzzled Jason’s face, rubbing their noses. “No, something more. We need a ritual.”
Jason laughed, rolling his eyes. “Didn’t going out on a date apply?”
“Yeah,” Daniel said, eyes sparkling with mischief. “When’s your birthday? August 20th or 21st?”
“August 20th, 1962,” Jason answered with a confused frown. “A few months away, too. What happened to that brilliant memory of yours?”
Daniel twisted his mouth with a bit of embarrassment. “I think it was ambushed,” he said, then stepped away to tease Jason further, knowing from the man’s partial erection–as well as his own–that he wanted to do something other than talk.
“Where are you going?” Jason asked, stepping forward.
“Stepping away to think,” Daniel answered, continuing to move backward.
“What?” Jason asked, confused.
Daniel suddenly felt mischievous and horny. “Come get me,” he said, but he backed into the couch and fell back.
Jason cracked a crooked grin. “Seems like you’re making it easy,” he said, unbuckling and unzipping, dropping both around his ankles and kicking them off. “Take off your pants,” he said.
“What are you talking about?” Daniel asked, and in a voice that said he did.
Jason reached down and when Daniel tried to stop him, he slapped his hands away. “Want me to make this official? An orgasm is called for.”
Daniel laughed through his nose. “Oh, is it?” He let Jason open his jeans and take off his shoes, his jeans, his briefs. “Now what are you going to do?”
“Can’t you guess?” Jason asked as he took Daniel’s cock in hand and stroked him a few times.
“No,” Daniel said. “Show me.”
“Gladly,” Jason said. He pulled Daniel forward until his ass was well off the arm of the couch, then grabbed him by his thighs and pushed his cock into his ass without any lube.
“Oh god,” Daniel said tightly, his face flushing, his cock hard and red. “Jason.”
“Love you,” Jason said, and began thrusting.
“How … much?” Daniel asked.
“Shall I show you?”
Jason dropped one thigh and turned Daniel slightly. He rubbed took hold of his cock and jerked him off in time with his thrusts. After a few minutes, getting Daniel completely worked up and grunting on every thrust, he let go of his cock and rubbed his perineum, pushing just a little, then caressed his balls by rubbing his palm over them, rolling them back and forth. “Come for me, baby.”
Daniel did. “Oh god!” He spilled over his stomach while Jason kept thrusting, groaning at the tightness around his cock, and then he too came.
“Yes, Jason,” Daniel encouraged.
Jason jerked a few times and slowly kept thrusting until he slipped from Daniel’s body. “How was that?” he asked.
Daniel held out his hand and Jason backed up and pulled him to his feet. He then wrapped his arms around him and kissed him deeply.
As the afterglow began to abate, Daniel couldn’t help but think about the difference in his feelings compared to days before. He’d had a weight on his shoulders for such a long time and now, it was gone. Jason was aptly named, for his name meant ‘healer.’ Perhaps it was just a lovely coincidence, but these days, Daniel rarely believed in coincidences.
“What are you thinking about?” Jason asked as he pulled from one of their kisses.
Daniel grinned. He had a feeling Jason would notice. When he thought of something other than what he was doing, he tended to let Jason take over. “The meaning of your name.”
Jason threw him a confused look. “Where’d that come from?”
“Your name means healer, Jason, and for the last two days, that’s what you’ve done to me.” Jason stared at him, speechless. “I know it’s a rather sappy thing to say, but you’ve made me feel so much better since…” He paused, then drew up another crooked smile, “Since you ambushed me in the shower.”
“Complaints?” Jason teased back.
“None. But you make me want more.”
“You’ll have it,” Jason grinned as he started to stand, pulling Daniel up with him. “Just give me a while to rebound.”
Daniel chuckled softly. “I think we can wait till later, Jason. No sense wearing each other out.”
“Be a fun way to get sore though, don’t you think?”
Daniel jogged his brows as he buttoned himself up. “Sore isn’t the problem. Getting it up all the time is. We’re not as young as we used to be.”
“There’s always Viagra,” Jason said as he closed his jeans.
“Jason,” Daniel snorted, moving to the kitchen.
“Yeah, well,” Jason followed, “it was just a thought, even if it wasn’t really a serious one.”
“Neither of us has a problem getting it up. We just recharge slower, that’s all.”
“Pain in the ass,” Jason muttered as grabbed a nectarine from the fruit bowl on the table. As he bit into it, the quiet was interrupted by the sound of his beeper going off. Jason went to the bureau where he’d set his keys and looked at the screen.
“It’s Leece. You mind if I call her back?”
“Of course not. Jason, you don’t have to ask, just call her,” Daniel said.
Jason smiled. “Thanks.” He picked up Daniel’s phone in the kitchen and dialed. “Hey, it’s me, what’s … Okay … What? Well where the fuck is … okay, okay, I’m sorry, calm down, but you know …” He paused and sighed with a hard measure of impatience. “Yeah, I know where … okay … see ya in a few. Bye.”
“She havin’ her baby now?” Daniel asked.
Jason snorted. “She thinks it’s way past due even though she’s technically three days early. I think she’s going by our mom, who always delivered early.” He paused, giving Daniel a knowing look. “Worse came to worse, you could deliver the baby, given you’ve done it before.”
Daniel frowned. “Once, Jason. Once. S you read that mission report?”
Jason suddenly sobered and cleared his throat. “Um, that one and Shau’re’s. Plus, I saw your file and found you’d done it a few times out in the field, on digs.”
Daniel stared at him, not understanding. “Why’d you read my file?”
Jason grinned. “For the same reason you read mine. To know who you were working with back at the beginning.”
Daniel jogged his brows again, realizing that Jason was right. He really didn’t have any reason to be suspicious or annoyed with him and Daniel tried to keep from being a hypocrite whenever possible. “Yeah, okay. Busted. But I read it because I wanted to get to know you. I don’t read everyone’s report. Yours was… interesting to say the least.”
Jason cocked a brow. “In what way?”
“Pre-SGC? Your record has blanks.”
Jason grimaced. “Yeah. That’s where Colonel O’Neill and I are the same. We’ve been on covert missions, so those areas of our records have been secured until later.”
Daniel snorted. “Considering what we do every day, couldn’t you tell me?”
Jason thought about it, then shook his head. “Yeah, on the QT. But I don’t really like to talk about that shit, Daniel. Most of it wasn’t nice.”
Daniel suddenly saw Jason as another version of Jack, dressed in covert ops gear, camouflage paint on his face. For reasons he didn’t examine, the image aroused him. He walked over and slid his arms around him, then abruptly kissed him, hard, one hand traveling down over Jason’s ass. Jason did the same and they suddenly pulled apart, panting.
“I wasn’t,” Daniel said. “Just a lovely reminder.”
Jason nodded. “Where’d this idea come from anyway?” Jason asked as he smoothed his thumb over Daniel’s reddened lips.
“Thinking of you as a member of Special Investigations, dressed in camouflage, paint on your face.”
Jason grinned slowly. “Seriously? That image turn you on?”
Daniel nodded, staring at him, hoping Jason wouldn’t make fun.
“Then I have an idea,” Jason said, biting at his lip.
“What?” Daniel asked, caught between wariness and excitement.
“Later, this weekend, why don’t we have a little fantasy? Ever role play?”
“A few times, but not completely,” Daniel answered, feeling his dick twitch. He wasn’t about to get hard soon, but the rest of him was interested.
Jason cleared his throat. “Well, it’s something I love to do in order to make sure things don’t get stale.”
“Jason, we just started.”
“Yeah, and this also applies. Getting to know each other’s likes and dislikes. And now, I gotta run.”
Daniel nodded. “Then you’d better go, though I doubt if you’ll be in the room…” and at the look on Jason’s face, Daniel’s brows shot up. “Are you going to be in the room?”
“I promised to help coach her if that rat bastard husband wasn’t going to be there. Looks like that’s the case.”
“So that’s the reason you lost your temper on the phone?”
Jason made a face. “Most of the time, the man’s okay, but he works at NORAD, not the SGC. He could have made himself available. We have a damn good reason when we can’t make it, but he has no excuse. So yeah, I’m a bit mad at him right now.”
Daniel sighed deeply. “Calm down before you get there, Jace, or you’ll be useless to her.” Jason took a deep breath and Daniel noticed he was shaking slightly. “Come here,” he said, then drew him into another passionate kiss, pressing himself as close as possible against Jason.
“Dammit,” Jason said, touching his forehead to Daniel’s. “Didn’t work. You wound me up inside.”
“Sorry,” Daniel said–with a grin.
“You’re not. Thanks for trying to distract me. I promise I’ll make you see it through when I return.”
Daniel’s face spread into a great big grin. “That’s no threat.”
“No, it’s a promise,” Jason answered, then blew out a slow, exasperated breath and went for the door. “I gotta go.”
“Call me, regardless of the time.”
Jason nodded. “You got my pager number?” Daniel nodded back. “Good. If you need me for any reason, call. You won’t disturb me in the hospital. I’ll turn the thing on ‘vibrate’.”
“In that case, I might call just to give you a thrill.”
Jason snorted, thrusting a little bit of hip into Daniel. “You just had to say that.”
Daniel felt no guilt whatsoever, then separated from him. “See, you’re calming down.”
“You handling me?” Jason said in mock-irritation.
“You like it,” Daniel said with a mischievous grin.
Jason pushed at him. “In many ways,” Jason replied. “And thanks. This is Leece’s first so the labor’s bound to be long, according to family history.”
“Doesn’t always tell though,” Daniel added with encouragement.
Jason laughed softly. “Hopefully.”
“How about one more for the road,” Daniel said, then grabbed Jason and kissed him hard, driving his tongue deep into his mouth.
“I’ll see you later,” Jason whispered against his neck.
Daniel laughed quietly and pulled away. “I’ll be here.”
Jason sighed heavily as he released him. “I can’t get over how natural this feels. You know, us. Doesn’t that feel weird to you?”
“What?” Daniel frowned. “No!”
“No, sorry, I meant how natural it is. As if we were always meant to be here.”
“Oh,” Daniel said. “Sort of.” When Jason’s expression looked odd, Daniel thumped him in the chest. “Don’t do the insecure thing again or I’ll give you another lecture.” He paused, then pointedly added, “After the fantasy.” Jason grinned at him and said nothing as Daniel opened the door.
. . .
Jack pulled up into Daniel’s driveway, noticing the extra vehicle and recognized it as Coburn’s. Walking up the front path, he started to pass the living room window, glancing through it, when he saw Daniel and Jason standing next to each other near the front door. He was going to tap on the window, but stopped, frozen in mid-movement, when Daniel reached out, pulled Jason against him, and planted a lip lock on him that rivaled the last one he’d seen planted on Daniel. By Shau’re.
Jack felt his heart in his throat, and when Daniel’s hand moved down and grabbed his friends’ ass, his jaw dropped with the realization that they were lovers. That they’d probably been fucking. Daniel was fucking Coburn. And more to the point, Coburn was fucking Daniel. Without hesitation, Jack stepped forward out of the way, so he wouldn’t get caught peeking in, and he forced himself to breathe slowly, evenly, despite what his pounding heart was telling him to do. His face was hot from embarrassment and jealousy and it got worse when he suddenly heard Daniel, through the door, laugh in a way he’d never known. A very seductive, playful laugh. The sound sent a shiver down his spine, reaching very specifically for his groin.
Jack’s reaction surprised him, especially in its intensity. He thought he’d quelled this part of himself, but judging from the way he was now feeling, he was quite wrong. He schooled his features quickly, knowing that at any moment, the door would open. If he turned around to leave, it wouldn’t have been fast enough to leave unseen, so best to pretend he hadn’t seen anything.
He thought up the words for the lie, but it was going to be difficult to say them without betraying his tone. The images of that kiss and of Daniel’s hand grabbing ass were burning into his brain, his memory seared with the sound of that particular laugh. And further, there came the unbidden, conjured images of Coburn sucking Daniel, fucking Daniel, of Daniel’s face in ecstasy as he came…
Growling at himself with disgust, Jack finally got himself under control just as the front door opened.
. . .
Daniel opened the door and both he and Jason were shocked by the surprised presence of Jack O’Neill standing there. Recovering first, Jason cleared his throat and turned to privately wink at Daniel, then stepped over the threshold and onto the porch. Daniel irrationally wanted to hit him for leaving him alone with Jack.
“Colonel,” Jason greeted as he passed him.
“Major,” Jack said, pleased that he sounded normal.
“I’ll give you a call as soon as there’s news,” Jason said to Daniel as he walked away.
“Okay,” Daniel replied, giving Jason a short wave goodbye. Daniel didn’t say anything to Jack yet and instead, he stepped outside to watch Jason as he got into his truck and pulled out of the drive. After Jason drove away, he finally turned around to give Jack his attention.
“Jack,” he said, moving into the doorway, blocking the way, and making it clear that he hadn’t invited him inside. He was annoyed with Jack for interrupting and didn’t care if he showed it.
“What’re you doing here?”
“On my way home, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen your place in a long time, and so, here I am.”
“Yes, here you are,” Daniel said, making no effort to move. “Nice excuse. What’re you really doing here?”
“Are you going to invite me in?”
No. He told himself to say it. Send Jack on his way. Just say ‘no’ and step in and close the door. That’s all it would take. But instead, Daniel stood there looking at him before he sighed, angry at himself, and stepped aside. He gestured and made sure it looked sarcastic. Or rather, that the expression on his face made it that way. Jack hesitated, then walked in, and Daniel followed, closing the door behind him. He wanted to stand there in the foyer, cross his arms, and wait for the answer to his question.
Jack was sometimes like a Southern gentleman and needed to be sweet-talked before getting down to business. Fuck it. Just this once. “Well, here it is,” he said with continued sarcasm. “I suppose you want something to drink?”
“Driving,” Jack said as he followed him, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
Daniel didn’t offer him anything else. He was running out of Coke. And besides, he still hated the man. Okay, maybe not hated. “Fine. Now, what do you really want? I’m not asking again.” He considered that Jack had seen them kissing. But that wasn’t why he was here.
Jack, meanwhile, was considering what to say next and knew he had to say something. He’d seen the Guinness beer in the door of the fridge and wondered about it. It had to be Coburn’s, which meant the man was over here all the time. But as what? A friend or a lover?
“I, uh, noticed the beer,” he finally said, pointing his Coke at the fridge. “I thought you didn’t drink it.”
“It’s Jason’s. The stuff I kept when we used to be friends got too old.”
“Beer never gets old, Daniel.”
“I threw it out,” Daniel sighed. “Answer? Or Door. Pick.”
Jack somehow refrained from wincing. It was his fault after all. Their distancing. “Oh,” he said, jogging his brows. “So, you and Jason… hang out then?”
Daniel frowned. “You’re here to ask me that?”
“Is it serious, you and Coburn?”
Daniel never expected Jack to ask outright, but then on the other hand, he was nosy. Perversely, Daniel decided to purposely misread him. “He’s my best friend. Can’t get more serious than that.”
“What I…” Jack started to say, then swallowed. Hard. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have come.”
He left the kitchen and Daniel’s anger rose quickly. “That’s getting to be a nasty habit,” he said between his teeth. “Maybe you should see Janet or McKenzie about that.” He couldn’t see Jack anymore, but when the man reappeared, Daniel knew he’d hit a nerve.
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“Why’d you even come here?” Daniel snapped. “You wanted to talk, and then suddenly, you throw the walls up, clam up, pretend only your feelings count.” Daniel took a heavy breath and walked past him. “Fine, run away. You know where the door is–” Jack grabbed him by the arm and startled by the strength of it, Daniel stared at him till Jack let him go.
“I’m not running away,” Jack said tightly. “I just suddenly remembered it wasn’t my place to comment on what’s no longer any of my business.”
“That didn’t stop you five minutes ago,” Daniel said sarcastically.
Jack stared at him, fighting the anger he was feeling. “I didn’t come here to argue.”
Daniel scowled at him. “That’s funny, because that’s all we do anymore. By your choice, I might add. You came here to interrogate me, knowing damn well that we’d argue. So fine, that’s what we’re doing. Now, tell me what the hell we’re arguing about.“
Jack looked at him for a long moment, considering the matter. If he wanted their friendship back, he’d have to admit some things–it was why he’d come over. Protectively, he stuffed his hands in his pockets again for fear he’d reach out and touch him again. And he didn’t trust himself as how he’d touch him.
“I came to say that I’d like us to, well, make up and be friends again.”
“You’ll first have to explain to me why we were no longer friends. I have no clue why you started being an asshole to me. Caring too much for Sam wasn’t the reason.”
“No, that wasn’t the reason.”
“What precisely happened? Did I do something wrong?” Daniel was sorely tempted to say, “I know I didn’t, but you sure act like I did.”
Jack suddenly reached for him, then pulled back his hand. “Nothing. It was me.” He was thankful that Daniel didn’t add anything or throw him a sarcastic comment. He was silent for a moment as he fidgeted with pockets, distracting himself momentarily with the things in Daniel’s living room. Finally, he started to explain, but kept his eyes averted.
“If you tell me you’re dying, I’m going to shoot you,” Daniel said, suddenly wondering if that was the reason and hating that he was feeling panicky over it.
“No, that would be easy to say compared to this,” Jack replied, wincing. “Our friendship was getting too close.”
“Too close? How the hell can our friendship get too close?” Daniel asked. He didn’t dare try to guess what Jack meant.
“Every time you got hurt,” Jack said, deliberately not looking at him, “I wanted to kill whoever did it.” He shook his head. “I knew that if I let myself care like that, especially in the field, I could make decisions that would end up getting you or the whole team killed.” He took a deep breath and finally looked at Daniel, but the feelings that came with it when he looked at him forced him to look away. “I knew what a colossal ass I’d been to you, especially after we lost Elliot, but when Jacob told me what you’d done, tried to do …”
Daniel swallowed, still confused but a little more relieved. ‘Close‘ meant Jack didn’t like him risking his life. “Why didn’t you just talk to me about it?”
Jack shook his head and wandered over to the front window. “I thought I was just reacting to the stress of the battle, so I let it go.”
Daniel scowled. “That was six months ago. What happened two years ago? That’s when the distancing started. So?”
Jack cleared his throat. “It was … when we were trapped, on an island. We gated to an island, from Thor’s ship. DHD broke down and Carter couldn’t fix it. But there was a homing beacon on Thor’s life pod so we just had to wait for help to show up. And during that time, I kinda … panicked.”
“Panicked?” Daniel asked. “About what?”
“Asking you to the cabin. I knew you couldn’t go, but I asked. And I realized that I … just couldn’t be that close to you.”
“That … doesn’t explain shit. And I’m not guessing what you mean.” Jack suddenly turned and walked toward him, slowly, and Daniel resisted the impulse to retreat.
Jack stared hard at him and took another deep breath. “I didn’t know then. I didn’t know yesterday. Or maybe my head didn’t want to. But I had an epiphany today, seeing you and Coburn together…” He paused, then added, “And not just at the restaurant.”
Daniel lifted his chin. “I figured.”
Jack misread the words, for they sounded too cavalier. “You have to be careful, Daniel. What if I’d been someone else, like Hammond?”
Daniel nodded quickly. “Saved for future reference. Please continue.”
“Because of what I saw, it’s only fair I tell you something.”
Daniel jumped to the wrong conclusion. “You can’t be a homophobe, Jack. Don’t tell me you’ve–“
Daniel blinked several times, feeling like the rug had just been pulled out from underneath him. He felt lightheaded and his heart was beating very fast. “What?” he asked softly, but inside, he couldn’t help but ask, why couldn’t you have said this last week? And then he felt guilty because that meant he’d have refused Jason. Dear god, what was the matter with him?
“I never planned to say anything. But when I saw you and Coburn by the door … I felt kicked in the stomach, like I had just seen what I could have had if I …”
Daniel’s mouth dropped open and the blood was rushing through his ears so hard it was difficult to think. It wasn’t just shock but the new understanding that Jack had taken their friendship away because he was attracted to him. It was as simple as that. Anger rose in him then because none of that mattered. Jack’s actions did.
“What a load of shit.” Jack gaped at him. “You ‘could have had’? Are you insane? Just fucking tell me how you feel, and then maybe ask if I feel the same way! You are such a presumptuous, arrogant shit.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “I didn’t actually examine why I was coming here and I didn’t bother to question why I wasn’t ignoring my feelings like I usually do. Then I saw you … heard you.”
“So the fuck what!” He frowned. “Heard me?”
“Laughing. A laugh I’ve never heard before.”
Daniel shook his head. “Whatever. I don’t give a shit. You’re here because … what? You wanted to say what? That you’re bi? Not my business.”
Jack sighed, wishing he’d just kept driving. But it was too late, he was committed to this damn path and he’d just better suck it up and risk the embarrassment. “I’m here to ask if we could start over, pick up our friendship again. I’ve noticed what’s been happening, what you’ve been doing, and–“
“Doing?” Daniel interrupted.
“Cutting yourself off, even from Coburn,” Jack said, and Daniel looked mollified. Then before he could stop himself, Jack asked, “How long’s that been going on anyway? Can’t have been long or he’s doing something wrong.”
“Apologize.” Daniel’s anger rose.
Jack blinked. “Apolo …” He sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I pushed you away.”
Daniel’s anger began to abate. “And you did that why?”
Jack ground his back teeth. “Because I was getting too close to you. It scared me.”
Daniel rolled his eyes.
“I planned only to come here and mend fences, and honestly, that’s all that was on my mind. But seeing you and Coburn–“
“Jason,” Daniel corrected as he poured himself a glass of red wine. “If we’re gonna talk about him in a very personal discussion, then call him Jason.”
Jack conceded that. “Fine. Jason. Seeing you two, I felt …”
“Jealous?” Daniel challenged.
Jack ground his jaw again, not wanting to admit it. “Reminded,” he compromised, not wanting to outright lie. “I saw what I could have had and—”
Daniel let out a loud groan of anger. “You are unbelievable! Again! What in hell makes you think that we’d have ended up together?”
Jack stared at him, running all the possible acidic answers round in his head. “Fuck it. Could I have that beer?”
Daniel retrieved the beer and handed to him. “Well?”
Jack took a long drink first, grimacing at the bite, then leveled Daniel with a heavy look. “First of all, I wasn’t talking about sex, but you seem to be, so just who wants who here?” He paused and realized Daniel was right. He wanted him.
“Out,” Daniel said, walking past him.
“Wait, Daniel,” Jack said, grabbing his arm.
“Don’t touch me,” Daniel said, yanking his arm back.
Jack lost his temper and he slammed the beer bottle onto the counter and went toward him, knowing he shouldn’t, every fiber of his being telling him to stop. He grabbed him again and Daniel shoved him in chest. Hard. Jack didn’t let go and he stumbled backward, pulling Daniel with him. They fell to the floor.
“Goddamn it, Jack!” Daniel shouted as he pushed off and sat up. “I thought you wanted to mend things, not pick a fight! Get out.”
Sitting up, Jack reached out again, but this time, he took Daniel’s face in both hands. “Do you have any idea what it costs me to have feelings I shouldn’t have for a member of my team? To have feelings for someone I may have to order to their death someday? Do you?”
Daniel stared at him, the words penetrating his brain along with the fierce look in Jack’s eyes. He completely bypassed Jack’s excuse about ordering people to their deaths because it was a lame argument. The real issue? Feelings. He has feelings for me, he thought. He stared at Jack, taking in the fear and anxiety. It was a wall. An excuse. He … loved him. Possibly.
“No?” Jack asked, frowning.
“No. Every time we walk through the gate, we could be killed. And if you didn’t want to risk ordering friends to their deaths, you should have quit and retired. No. You care about me. More than you’re supposed to.” He purposely used the words Jack had said about Sam during that Zatarc fuck-up. “So what? You care about Sam, too. And Teal’c. But if you care about me a little more than you care about them, you have a really fucked up way of showing me.”
Jack took a deep breath and let Daniel go. Looking away, he pushed off the floor, then held out his hand. Daniel took it and got to his feet. “It’s just hard,” Jack continued, “knowing the feelings aren’t returned. But in many ways, it’s a blessing.”
“You need a brush-up course on how to read people, Colonel O’Neill,” Daniel said with light sarcasm. “I wouldn’t have been so hurt if I didn’t love you.”
Jack stared at him, eyes widening. “What?” He started to reach for him again but Daniel stepped back, holding up a hand.
“Hold up, right there. If you wanna start over, then we start over. You have to earn back my trust.” He swallowed. “I’m sorry, Jack, but I don’t trust you to treat me with respect, never mind love.”
Jack grabbed his hand. “We can at least hug, can’t we?”
Slowly, Daniel surrounded Jack in his arms, but he kept his hold light. “Yeah, we do that.” It was very hard not to tighten his grip though. At that moment, his traitorous mind told him to kiss the man. He pulled away. “This doesn’t change my relationship with Jason. And you’d better not mess with it, either.”
Jack scowled at him. “I’m an asshole, not a poacher.”
“Don’t be either.”
“You give me too much credit,” Jack said with a smirk.
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Apparently. And one more thing. You need to stop doing something.”
Jack lifted his chin. “What’s that?”
“Acting dumb. All it does is insult me and everyone else who knows you. Besides, I think you’ll agree it reflects badly on the SGC and the US Air Force.” Jack smiled then and Daniel wanted to smack him. He was so goddamned gorgeous when he smiled. “What the hell are you smiling about?”
“I guess some military protocol rubbed off on you after five years.”
“Oh, ha, ha,” Daniel said. “I’m serious.”
“So am I,” Jack said, then held up a hand when Daniel scowled at him. “I promise. And I promise, no problems with Jason.”
“Thank you,” he said sarcastically. “He’s my friend. Jason. And you need to know something. I love him, Jack. Really, I do, first as a friend, second as a boyfriend. Don’t fuck with it or make fun of it. If we end up not working out, I don’t want it to be anyone else’s fault but our own. Got it?”
Daniel sighed again, feeling a lot better. “Now, do me a favor and go. I need to be alone for a while to process,” and he made a polite gesture for the door.
“Process what?” Jack asked, confused.
“That you love me,” Daniel said, making sure that the tone he used demonstrated that he was stating the obvious.
“Oh. Right.” Jack couldn’t help the feeling of relief. “Sure, okay.” Heading for the door, he stopped as he pulled it open. “This really does mean a lot to me. Don’t think it doesn’t just because …” and he waved his hand at him. “You’re being you and maybe because I hadn’t said it before. Don’t need you making more assumptions.”
Daniel allowed a small smile. It was mainly sad. “That makes no sense.”
“Then why are you smiling?”
Daniel frowned then because Jack didn’t see it. They had drifted so far apart that he no longer recognized when a smile wasn’t a smile. “I wasn’t. I was experiencing nostalgia.”
Jack frowned back. “I don’t get ya.”
“You and I used to read each other like a book. And unfortunately, that’s no longer the case, and hasn’t been the case for a very long time. I was smiling because what you said made no sense, and it reminded me of a time when we got along, when I used to say to you, ‘Jack, that makes no sense.’ And then you’d try to explain, but then you’d give up and just say something else—which was just another way of explaining. You used to do the same with me. But now, you have zero patience. If I don’t solve something within some arbitrary time frame, you get mad and threaten me with some drastic measure.”
“Like what?” Jack asked, puzzled.
“Well, when we were at that Ziggurat with the Russians. I was taking my time, so I wouldn’t do something wrong and bring the building down on us. But you thought I took too long and threatened to blow the door open with C4, which, by the way, would have brought that entrance down on top of us. But I didn’t tell you that then because you wouldn’t have believed me. So, I went ahead and pressed the tiles, regardless of the fact that I was fairly sure that what I was doing was a fifty-fifty thing. Basically, Jack? We got lucky.”
Jack stood there, staring at him. He felt awkward and for the second time, he wished he’d never come by. He knew he was avoiding, running. He just wanted Daniel to forgive and forget, without having to deal with what went wrong. But that wasn’t going to happen. And even with all that, he really wanted to grab Daniel and kiss him. He swallowed. “Okay. I hear you.” He did. He just didn’t like it.
“I’ll talk to you later, okay?” Daniel said, trying to hide how desperately he wanted Jack to leave.
“You know where I am.” He gave Daniel a long look, then left.
Daniel closed the door and leaned against it. He took a deep breath, wishing his heart would slow down. “Jason, hurry up and get your ass back here. I need you.”