Gifts for Your Gift

by The Grrrl

Title: Gifts for Your Gift

Author: The Grrrl

Author's email: thegrrrl2002@gmail.com

Author's URL: http://thegrrrl2002.slashcity.org/

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate SG-1

Pairing: Jack/Daniel

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Jack is falling into Daniel, piece by piece.

Notes: A big, heartfelt, sappy thank you to my betas, Qlara and Kylie, for all their help in pulling this together, and for listening to me when I couldn't figure out what the heck I was doing. And for listening to me whine in general. You ladies are the best. A special thank you goes to Reedfem, for her helpful discussion on military paperwork in general. I'm sure I mixed it all up, though.

Jack looked up from his newspaper to see Daniel standing in his living room, book in one hand, coffee cup dangling from other, a vague, distracted frown on his face.

"Is it time to go yet?" Daniel asked. "How long does it take to get to Janet's?"

"Not that long." Jack said, glancing at his watch.

It was the look on Daniel's face that did it. The pursed lips, eyes unfocused, the distant expression that said his mind was a million miles away, hell, maybe even a million light-years away. The look that made Jack want him, right now, made him want to bring Daniel right down to earth.

"Oh, okay," Daniel said, turning back toward the kitchen.

Jack glanced down at the newspaper in his hands. He'd completely lost interest in the sports page. It was filled with nothing but crap anyway. Throwing it aside and rising from the couch, he was behind Daniel in a moment, stopping him with a hand to his shoulder. "We have plenty of time," Jack said.

Daniel turned to face him. "Plenty of time for what?" he asked, wide-eyed and curious behind his glasses, looking for all the world as though he had just noticed Jack was in the room with him, as if he had no idea what he and Jack did in their spare time together.

Jack hesitated, not sure if Daniel was having him on or what. Then he plucked the book from Daniel's hand, tossing it on a nearby chair. The empty coffee cup received the same treatment. "I'm sure we could think of something to do. If we put our minds to it. Especially since you have, you know, that brilliant mind and all that."

Next thing Jack knew he was being yanked forward, his mouth crushed against Daniel's, while Daniel chuckled deep in his throat. Jack smiled against the kiss, laughing a little at himself for being taken in so easily. Then Daniel's arms were around him and Daniel's tongue was sneaking into his mouth.

It still amazed Jack, that this was what they were together now, that they could kiss like this. And more than just kiss. He could press up against Daniel's hips and find a hard cock there, ready and waiting, matching his own, he could slide his hands down the front of Daniel's hard body and unzip his jeans, just like that, and Daniel wouldn't mind. He wouldn't mind at all. As a matter of fact, Daniel would reach around and squeeze Jack's ass in response.

"Jack," Daniel breathed, his tongue seeking Jack's ear, his hands underneath Jack's shirt, rough and callused against the skin of his back. "This is so good, you know? Touching."

"Yeah," Jack agreed. "Touching. Lots of touching. Especially with the tongue. Reeeeal nice." He ground his hips against Daniel as he spoke, and Daniel's entire body shivered in response. "And rubbing. I like the rubbing, too."

Daniel's arms tightened around his waist. "So, you think we have time for some serious touching and rubbing?" Daniel asked.

"Does it have to be serious?"

Daniel laughed, then took Jack by the hand and led him to the bedroom.

That was another thing. Daniel's laughter. Maybe it was just his imagination, but Daniel was a bit different now, since they'd started doing the touching and rubbing stuff. He laughed more easily. Was that something that Jack did for him? He didn't know, but he liked it, liked that Daniel was freer, more open. Maybe even happy.

They sat on Jack's bed, kissing, Daniel's hands on him, stroking his arms, his shoulders, and then Daniel's hands found their way to his head. "I always wondered what it would feel like—your hair," Daniel said.

"My hair?" Jack asked. It was funny to find out about these sorts of things—the things Daniel thought about him. His hair. Who would have thought it?

"Yes, your hair," Daniel said, face thoughtful as he fingered the strands. "We'd be out on a mission, you'd be standing there in the sun, looking so—so good. I always wanted to touch your hair, to see if it would feel soft."

"Does it?"

Daniel smiled. "Very soft."

"I condition, you know?" Jack pushed Daniel down the bed, stretching out over his body. He brushed his lips along Daniel's ear. "So you were eyeing my hair while I was looking at your ass. Weird, Daniel."

"Oh, I was looking at your ass, too," Daniel said, lifting his hips as Jack tugged his pants down, and his hands were busy with Jack's own fly, unbuttoning, then slipping inside.

They got their hands on each other cocks, stroking and rubbing while they lay facing each other, nose to nose, kissing. Daniel's cock twitched in Jack's hand. Jack loved the heat of it, the heaviness of it, loved how one squeeze could make Daniel groan and writhe. He squeezed and stroked some more, and Daniel's kisses became wet and clumsy, until he just pressed his face against Jack's, mouth open and panting. Daniel's hand felt damn good on his cock, too, stroking him just right—such talented hands—but Jack decided it could wait, he just couldn't resist Daniel's cock. Because it was so hard and smooth and he knew how good it would feel in his mouth. With one last wet kiss he began sliding down the bed.

"Hey, scoot up, so I don't fall off," he warned.

It took Daniel a moment to react. "How about you bring yourself up this way, instead?" he suggested, making a twirling motion with his finger.

"Ah," Jack said. "My favorite number." He pivoted so that he was laying in the opposite direction now, face to face with Daniel's dick, red and swollen, right there in front of him, ready for his lips. He moved in closer, and now his whole world narrowed down to Daniel's dick, to the dark fluff of hair, the rolling sacs. He could see just a glimpse of Daniel's smooth thighs, that freckle just below his hip, and then white cotton briefs, peeking out from under the edge of his bunched-up jeans. He placed a hand on Daniel's hip and pressed his nose into the reddish curls at the base of Daniel's cock, breathing deeply. Daniel's cock jumped erratically at the touch of his cheek, but then Jack's own hips jerked as he felt the heat of Daniel's mouth engulfing him.

He moaned, open-mouthed, against the sudden pleasure, then closed his mouth around Daniel's dick, flicking his tongue around the broad head. He could hear Daniel's strangled moan, the pressure against his own dick increasing, cool fingers teasing his balls. Jack lifted his legs and the fingers glided further back, brushing against his opening. Jack hurried to return the favor, wetting his finger and reaching around to ease it inside Daniel. The cock in his mouth swelled, growing harder yet, while Daniel's finger pushed into him, and already Jack could feel his balls getting heavy and tight. It always got too crazy like this, too damn much going on. His control was slipping away as Jack tried but failed to suck and pant and moan all at the same time. Daniel's cock stabbed into his mouth in short, jerky thrusts. The constant heat and pressure sliding along his own cock sapped his coordination, made him clumsy with need. He accidentally scraped Daniel with his teeth, but Daniel only moaned and clung onto him even tighter. When Daniel's cock slipped out of his mouth altogether, Jack frantically slurped him back in, all the while pushing himself way too deep into Daniel's mouth, wondering how much Daniel could take before gagging.

But Daniel didn't gag. He just grunted and hung on to Jack's hips, his mouth working Jack's cock in a way that surely should be illegal. When his hips started to tremble, muscles clenching around Jack's finger, Jack knew he was close. He pushed his finger in deeper, sucked Daniel in almost to the back of his throat, and with a high-pitched keen, Daniel jerked again, cock straining before it pulsed and filled Jack's mouth with sticky fluid. Jack thought that it was all just too fucking amazing that his mouth was full of Daniel's bitter come, and he had to come too, his climax harsh and sweet. He felt it right down to his toes.

"Jeeze, Daniel," he panted after he had finished shaking. He rested his head on his arm, watching Daniel's dick soften. He petted Daniel's hip, then slid a hand up under Daniel's shirt, finding his hard, tight nipples. "Jeeze." He felt as though his brain had short-circuited. He leaned forward to nuzzle Daniel's smooth stomach, still needing to taste him, to stay connected with him. To keep a part of Daniel with him, always. He wished he could put it into words, to explain what Daniel was to him, wishing, maybe, that he knew himself. But Daniel reached down and stroked his head gently, and he thought that maybe Daniel already knew.

Daniel sighed, his hand stilled, his body relaxed. "Hey, don't go to sleep," Jack warned a few minutes later. "Barbecue, remember?"

"Ungh. Yeah." Daniel rolled over, and sat, up hair ruffled, expression dazed. "I suppose we have to go."

"Yup." Jack lay on his back, just as reluctant to leave the messy bed, filled with the warm smell of sweat and sex. They were going to a barbecue, but really, what they were going to do was go out in public, pretend to go back to what they had been before they had touched, pretend to be just good friends, rather than this crazy thing they were to each other now.

Daniel was staring down at him with an odd little smile. Jack thought maybe he looked a little sad, but before he could say anything, Daniel bent down and touched his lips to Jack's in lingering kiss. Daniel's eyes were closed and he sighed in a way that made Jack feel as though he were something to be savored. He liked that. When Daniel finally pulled back and opened his eyes, he touched a hand to Jack's cheek. "You really are so beautiful," he said at last.

Jack felt his face grow warm. "Right," was all he could think of saying. He pulled Daniel back down and kissed him.

As they finally roused themselves enough to fix their clothing, Jack sat up, looking down at his sticky cock and asked, "Do I stink? Think we should shower real quick?"

Daniel pressed his nose into Jack's neck, inhaling sharply. "No, you smell good." He nipped Jack's neck. "Good enough to eat. Again."

"Daniel—"

"You smell fine," Daniel answered. "And anyway, while we're sitting around with everyone tonight, eating burgers and drinking beer," he leaned against Jack, lips against his ear, "I want you to have my spit all over your cock."

"Really?" Jack asked, startled. His tired cock suddenly became less tired.

Daniel's lip's quirked as he went back to getting dressed, tucking his shirt into his pants. "Really."

"Okay. Whatever dusts your broom." Jack was half-tempted to blow off the barbecue. He could roll around in the sheets with Daniel some more. Because he could. Because Daniel looked so damn good, in his T-shirt and jeans, because Daniel was kind of dirty and nasty, in a way he had never expected. And because he wanted Daniel's spit all over his body.

"Hey, why don't we take my car over there," Daniel said. "That way you could relax, have a couple of beers, and not worry about driving home."

As Jack zipped his pants, he noted a few wet spots on his shirt. Time for a clean one. "Huh? Sure. What, you trying to get me drunk?" he teased as he dug through his drawers.

"I don't have to get you drunk, Jack, to take advantage of you," Daniel said. "It's just—you know, you don't always have to be the responsible one."

"Moi? Responsible?" Jack joked, pulling on a fresh shirt.

Daniel came up behind Jack, wrapping his arms around Jack's waist. "Yes, you."

"Mmm." Jack leaned back, and Daniel didn't budge, just took his weight and held him even tighter. It felt good to be able to relax up against someone—someone strong. He didn't think anyone had ever held him like this before.

"Jack," Daniel sighed, and Jack was pretty sure his name had never sounded so good. Daniel squeezed him tight, then dropped his arms. "Should we get going?" he asked.

"Yeah, I suppose." "Am I driving?"

Jack shrugged. "Sure, what the hell. You drive."

***

Jack trudged along on heavy legs. He could barely make out the Gate in the distance, through the swirling snow. It seemed so close—just a quick little stroll across the plain and they'd be there. But Jack knew better. Distances were deceiving. There was no sense of perspective in the snow. And they were growing tired, the wind fighting them every step of the way. He was getting cold, too, despite the exertion. As he watched, Carter stumbled through a drift. Daniel immediately reached out to steady her. Daniel was dragging his ass, too, the slump of his shoulders apparent to Jack even under all those layers of insulation. Teal'c, of course, was Teal'c, marching along at his side, steady as always, as if it were a fine summer day.

He wiped his goggles, then patted Teal'c shoulder, drawing his attention. Teal'c reached out to Daniel and Carter, halting them. Jack patted his pack, then motioned with his hands. There was no sense yelling over the wind; it would be a waste of breath, and he didn't feel like fumbling with the radio.

Daniel gestured back at him, gloved hands moving wildly. Jack shrugged impatiently. Sometimes he was pretty sure Daniel was just wising off at him with the gesture thing. But this time Daniel came up to him and leaned into his hood.

"But we're so close—can't we just keep at it?" Daniel shouted.

Jack shook his head. "Not that close," he yelled. "And we're all beat." Even with Daniel's face hidden behind the neoprene mask, he could image the expression, annoyed, impatient. He knew Daniel just wanted out of there, and off the planet. Hell, they all did.

Daniel folded his arms, looking to Carter for support. Carter, to her credit, shook her head, and shouted something that sounded suspiciously like "I'm beat, too."

"That settles it." Jack reached over and unlatched Daniel's pack. He felt, rather than heard, it fall onto the snow with a gentle thud. "We're makin' camp here."

They all busied themselves with the familiar routine of setting up the tents, made more than little challenging by the constant wind and snow. Jack wasn't sure if it was actually still snowing or if the damn stuff was just blowing up from the ground. Either way, it was pissing him off. The damn stuff wasn't even any good for making snowballs—it was too cold. It just sifted through his fingers like sand.

Finally the tents were set up. As Daniel was crawling into theirs, he patted Daniel's back. "Be right back."

He walked off a short distance, wary of the whiteout conditions. Christ, he hated peeing in this kind of weather—although, he imagined, Carter had it worse. By time he finished, he was thoroughly chilled and just wanted his sleeping bag and something warm to eat. First things first, though. He trudged over to Teal'c and Carter's tent.

"Hey, how you kids doing?" he shouted.

Carter unzipped the flap mere inches. "Fine, Sir," she yelled. "A little chilly," she added, flinching as snow blew into her face.

He bent down, peering into the tent, blocking the wind as best he could. "Good. Listen, I think we can safely cancel watch for tonight. Aside from any abominable snowmen, or snowwomen, I think we'll be fine." The wind gusted sharply, nearly knocking him over. "We just need to sit this thing out and get some rest."

"I'm all for that, sir."

Just beyond Sam, Jack could see Teal'c nodding in agreement. "That works for you, big guy?"

Sam leaned back, listening to Teal'c, then reported to Jack, "He says, Indeed.'"

"All right. Stay warm," Jack told them, nodding. "Not frosty."

"Be careful getting home," Sam warned. "It's a little snowy out there. The roads might be slippery."

Real funny, Jack thought as he headed back to the tent. He slipped inside, trying to keep the amount of snow he brought into a minimum. Daniel, he noticed to his annoyance, had gone as far as rolling out the sleeping bags, but was now staring at the back of the digital camera, reviewing the images from the caves.

"Daniel," he said in greeting, unlacing his boots.

"Jack, I really do think these are very similar to the Vallon-Pont d'Arc paintings in France—you see, this image here, it's hard to make out, but could be a hand print—"

"Daniel," Jack repeated, more harshly this time.

Daniel looked up. "Oh. You don't really care, do you?" he asked.

"I would care more if you had, maybe, started heating up some water for dinner?" He was starving, and he knew Daniel must be hungry, too. While Daniel's single-mindedness could be very appealing at times, Jack was finding it irritating at the moment. He was cold, he was tired, and he could do with a little help around the house.

"Right. Food." Daniel turned and began rummaging through the packs. "Why don't I get the water boiling?"

"Hell of an idea. I'll take the beef stew."

As Daniel got busy with the stove, Jack drank some water, then shed his outer garments, relieved to be out of the wind. They ate their dinners quietly and methodically, wrapped in their sleeping bags, making idle conversation. Jack listened to Daniel's thoughts on the cave paintings, which, much to his surprise, he actually did think were kind of cool. He'd never admit it, but he found missions like this, with nothing to shoot at, and nothing shooting at them, a welcome respite. And Daniel, well, Daniel was happy, he had found some nifty cave paintings, and that was just fine with Jack.

By the time they finished, Daniel's eyelids were drooping, and Jack himself was more than ready for sleep. Daniel shifted about, shimmying out of his bag to shed another layer of clothing. He sat back as he tried to pull of the insulated wind pants, jostling against Jack as he did.

"Whoa," Jack said, reaching out to steady him, hands on Daniel's back. He caught a whiff of pure Daniel, stinky, sweaty, and disturbingly erotic.

"Sorry," Daniel murmured. He paused halfway into his sleeping bag, pulled his knit cap off and scratched his head furiously. "Hate these things."

"Hats? You hate hats?" Jack asked, distracted by the sight of Daniel's hair, damp and spiked up in all directions. Looking like that, with his eyes half-closed, glasses off—shit, Jack thought he looked for all the world like a sleepy, satisfied, postcoital Daniel. With an effort, Jack pushed away the remembered sensation of Daniel's hot body sprawled against him.

Daniel was talking to him. "Yes, Jack. Hats. They make my head itch."

"Well, just keep your cooties to yourself," Jack answered. "And go to sleep."

He spoke a little too sharply, and could feel Daniel's eyes on him as he switched off the light and settled into his sleeping bag. He curled up, facing away from Daniel, listening to the wind blow. He was tired, his exhaustion making his body heavy and leaden.

But when he closed his eyes he couldn't shake off the thoughts of Daniel—Daniel coming, mouth open, head flung back. Jack tried to sleep, tried to relax and let his mind drift, but treacherously, his memories returned again and again to Daniel's body, all that hard, solid muscle pressing up against him, Daniel's bristly chin scratching Jack's skin. The last person Jack had really snuggled with had been Sara. She had been soft, sweet-smelling, all curves and silky skin. He turned to face Daniel, watching as Daniel twitched in his sleep, then wrinkled his nose in a sniff.

Daniel wasn't soft, Daniel wasn't sweet-smelling, and Jack just wanted to roll up against him and touch him.

He never wanted a man for that before. Before he was married, he'd had relationships with men, all right. No, maybe not exactly relationships. He'd had sex with men. Rough, satisfying, athletic sex. But this—hell, he wasn't even horny, he was too tired for that. He just wanted, maybe even needed, to be touching Daniel.

But he couldn't, because of who he was, even though they were on a world millions of miles from Earth, surrounded by a blizzard, wind roaring all around them, the spatter of snow hitting the tent. It was just the two of them, lying there in the small tent, face to face, in their separate sleeping bags, warm and safe. He could even be content, if it weren't for the nearly overwhelming urge to touch Daniel.

Daniel grunted, and opened his eyes. He didn't seem at all started to find Jack's face inches from his. He just stared for a moment and asked sleepily, "You okay?"

Jack nodded. "Yeah." It was all he could think of saying. He was too tired to find the words that might explain why he was just lying there longing for Daniel, wondering why he needed his touch so badly. It wasn't the time to start a discussion like that.

"Huh." Daniel was clearly unconvinced. He untucked his arm, reached out, and patted Jack's shoulder, then squeezed it.

Jack's body stiffened, then relaxed. Patting was a casual thing, he knew, especially on the shoulder through layers of clothing and down. He'd patted all of them at some time or another, even Carter. Still, none of it explained why it felt like such a relief to have Daniel's hand on his shoulder, to have Daniel's face so close to his, close enough to feel Daniel's breath on his skin. Slowly, without really wanting to, yet needing to, he slipped his arm out from under his head and placed his hand on top of Daniel's. Patting. It wasn't even as if their skin was touching, since they were both wearing gloves. But then Daniel sort of smiled at him, not really moving his lips, just a twitch of his face, a slight narrowing of his eyes, and Jack found himself moving in closer and kissing Daniel's forehead.

It was only a minor blip on the grand scheme of things they shouldn't ever do on a mission, Jack thought as his dry, chapped lips lingered on Daniel's skin. The way Daniel's hair tickled his nose was oddly soothing. And the way Daniel lifted his chin, his lips seeking and finding Jack's—okay, that was wrong, Jack thought, stepping over the line completely. Daniel shouldn't have kissed him, and he shouldn't be kissing Daniel back, and he certainly shouldn't be licking Daniel's lips like that.

He pulled back, and saw that Daniel's eyes were closed again. He wondered if Daniel would even remember this in the morning. Jack knew, though, that he would, that he wouldn't be able to forget it.

***

"Hey," Jack called out. "How goes the budget?" He stood in the doorway of the office, watching Daniel at his desk, scowling at the document in his hand.

"Jack," Daniel said, without looking up. "This is insane. I don't see how I can do this."

Jack could hear the bewilderment in his voice. "Calm down, Daniel, it's just a budget." Jack strolled and pulled up a chair, sitting next to him. The familiar dusty smell of dirt, chalk, and stale coffee surrounded him.

"Budget? It's a budget with billets. And 'Unit Tasks.' And it—it refers to a Manning Document. I don't have any Manning Document." He turned to Jack. "What the hell language is this?"

"UMD. Unit Manning Document—"

"Why do I have to do this shit? I never had to do one of these budgets before. Jack, are you sure this isn't some sort of mistake? Because I have translations to do, you know, important stuff." Daniel threw the document down on his desk.

"Welcome to the wonderful world of military paperwork. And yes, you have to do this. Since the number of you science-type folks has grown, the general decided to treat the group as a separate unit, as least financially." He didn't mention to Daniel that he was the one who suggested it to Hammond. That was strictly on a need-to-know basis.

Daniel's expression softened at the mention of the general. Jack went in for the kill. "Hammond needs this information, Daniel," Jack added, with just a hint of reprimand in his voice.

Now Daniel's eyes narrowed. "This is your doing, isn't it?" he accused.

Damn it. He'd overdone it. Changing tactics, Jack said, "You're the only one who really knows what this department needs."

"Nice try, Jack." But Daniel picked up the notice again. "I can't begin to image what we are going to need next year. Or who." He sighed. "What we do isn't exactly predictable."

Predictable, Jack thought. Like anything in his life was. "Listen, I know this is a pain in the ass. But someone's got to do it, and you're really the only one with a clue here. Just base it on what you know from last year's data."

Daniel slumped back in his chair, drumming his fingers on the desk, coming around, as Jack knew he would. "Well, it says here there are some forms on the network."

Jack took pity on him. "Wait, no, those forms are crap. Really. Let me show you something." He reached for the mouse, his arm bumping up against Daniel's chest. The man was so damn solid, all muscle and bone. He clicked on his file server, shooing Daniel aside so he could log on with his own password.

"Here, this spreadsheet—" He dragged the file entitled "SCfinals.xls" onto Daniel's desktop.

"What's that?" Daniel rolled his chair forward, pressing his chest against Jack's arm. "Where was that file? What is it?" As if Jack had pulled a rabbit out of his hat.

"You'll see in a sec. Jeeze, Daniel, how much coffee have you had today?" Jack couldn't help asking. "Here." He opened the file.

Daniel sat up straight in his chair, instantly alert. "What's all that?"

"I have these columns set up here, for unit tasks, and here—here you list the personnel according to category. Then you are prompted for a salary here, and equipment for each—are you paying attention?"

Daniel wasn't looking at the screen, he was staring at Jack. He couldn't have looked more astonished if Jack's eyes had suddenly glowed. "Jack?"

"Daniel?"

"You put this together?" Daniel asked.

Jack nodded. "Yes, Daniel. I did."

"I had no idea you were so—that you could do, you know, the computer thing." Daniel waved a hand at the screen.

"You weren't supposed to know," Jack said. "Giving away a big secret here."

"Oh." Daniel nodded. "Okay." He licked his lips, then stared down at Jack's arm, still stretched out in front of him, resting on the mouse. "Okay," he repeated.

Jack shook his head, wondering where the hell Daniel's mind was wandering off to now. "As I was saying, if you enter the proper code here," he continued, scrolling across the screen, "the correct information will automatically pop up in these columns right here, so that you can—Daniel, what are you—can you pay attention here?"

Daniel was touching Jack's forearm, just with his fingertips, rubbing lightly in small circles. "Huh?"

"Daniel, what are you doing?" he asked again, slowly, pointedly this time. He didn't move his arm—hell, their backs were to the security camera, they were safe for the moment. "I, um," Daniel moved his chair closer. "I don't know, this is a side of you I've never seen before," Daniel said, with sideways glance, a small smile on his lips. "Its kind of hot."

"Are you telling me my prowess with a spreadsheet is turning you on?" Jack wasn't sure if he should be flattered or weirded out. Daniel looked down at his own lap and Jack's eyes followed. Oh, yeah, Daniel was definitely turned on. Definitely weird.

"Focus, Daniel. On the, uh, budget." Jack decided it was weird in a good way.

Daniel squirmed in his chair, tugging at his pants. "I think I need a new light for my lamp." He pointed to the lamp on his desk, whose bulb, Jack could clearly see was shining bright and not in any way in need of replacement.

"Huh?" Sometimes, being with Daniel made him feel a little like Alice in Wonderland. "What?"

"I need to go down to the stockroom for a new bulb. That one is getting dim. I'm sure you need one for your, ah, lamp too." Daniel said, nudging Jack's leg with his. "From the stockroom."

The stockroom? Surely Daniel was teasing. They were on duty. They'd never—not on base. It wasn't even an option. Bad enough Daniel made Jack kiss him in a tent offworld, in the middle of a snowstorm. This—this was going a little too far. No way in hell would Jack even consider it. Even though his heart began beating faster. "No, I don't. My lamp is just fine, for cryin' out loud." Actually his lamp was beginning to need some attention, but he'd be damned if he'd admit it.

"Are you sure about that? You don't want me to have to do it all by myself, do you?"

That was a mental image Jack did not need. He gripped the mouse tighter. He could feel the heat of Daniel's body against his arm, and now Daniel was brushing the knuckles of his right hand against Jack's thigh. "What I need, Daniel, are some budget numbers from you."

Daniel's fingers curled around Jack's wrist. "But I really won't be able to focus on the budget until I get hold of that light bulb," he said.

Jack couldn't take his eyes off of that bulge in Daniel's pants, because he knew what the thick, hard cock lurking beneath would look like. It would be such an easy thing to do; no one would know. They'd hide behind the boxes of printer paper, and he'd get down on his knees for a quick, nasty suck. He knew what Daniel would taste like, knew how his breath would come in little hitches, how his hips would thrust.

He had come in here to nudge Daniel into getting the damn budget done, and now he was contemplating doing Daniel. He scrubbed his face with his hands. "Daniel," he said, wearily. "You're kidding, right?"

"I'm not the one who started it," Daniel told him. "And I really do want that light bulb."

"Listen, the sooner you get working on this budget, the sooner we can get home," Jack said quietly, "and then you can get your light bulb screwed any way you like, okay?"

Daniel's brows flicked up as he thought over Jack's words. "Promise me you'll," Daniel paused, then finished with, "blow my fuse?"

"As many times as you want," Jack assured him. As if that ever was an issue.

"Okay," Daniel nodded, then sighed. "I suppose, then I can forgive you for giving me this ridiculous budget thing. So tell me again about these columns?"

As Jack reached for the mouse again, Daniel leaned forward to study the computer screen, ready to work. That change in focus—Jack could read it in the set of Daniel's jaw, the tilt of his head, and he couldn't quite quell the disappointment mixed with relief that Daniel dropped the stockroom issue. If Daniel had pushed it, if Daniel had insisted, if Daniel had gotten up from his chair and left—

Jack shook his head and went on with his lesson.

***

Fuck. Jack fell on his bed, naked. He'd shower in a minute, he promised himself. He was tired, but not the bone weariness that came with a long physical slog, no that wasn't it at all. The mission was a success, despite the surprise Jaffa attack. The SGC forced a retreat and took no casualties in return. The Jaffa had pretty much been routed. For a change.

But Jack could still smell the distinctive tang of the staff blasts in the air; he could still hear the clanking of the enemies' armor. He could still see the faces of the Jaffa soldiers, young men—way too young. Cannon fodder, happy to die for their god. They were young and ignorant, robbed of the chance to become a little older, maybe, and a little wiser. Jack tried to summon up a feeling of success, but he knew that next time out, there would be just as many deluded young men to shoot down.

Jack sighed and decided he'd rest a while. He cradled his head in his arms, face against the sheets, listening to the birds sing in the trees, feeling the summer breeze on his skin. If he had any energy at all, he'd get up and change the sheets. And shower. And maybe think about dinner. He was sure he had some steaks left in the freezer. He should probably fire up the grill. Daniel was probably already on his way. But right now, laying on the bed was all he could manage.

Minutes later he heard the sound of the front door opening.

"Jack?"

Jack raised his head, but otherwise didn't move. "Yo, Daniel. In here."

He heard soft footfalls. A figure stood by his side. "Hey."

"Hey," Jack answered. He turned his head, staring at Daniel's knees. Daniel bent down and Jack could see his face, comfortingly familiar, with his lovely, wide eyes and restless brows.

"Heard things went well on PX4-421B," Daniel said. He'd been offworld when it started, busy with some diplomatic shindig. "Sorry I missed out on the fun."

Jack wasn't. He closed his eyes. "Yeah, it was a real blast."

"Huh." The bed dipped. Jack felt Daniel climbing over him, straddling his body, demin-covered thighs pressing on either side of his hips. "Tough day at the office, dear?" Daniel asked.

Jack played along. "Same old, same old." He shivered at the touch of Daniel's hands, sliding down his back, cupping his ass. The mattress moved with a shift in weight, and he felt a warm, soft touch on the back of his neck.

Daniel's voice was low and dark in his ear. "I was worried about you." He kissed Jack's cheek.

Jack had nothing to say to that. There was nothing he could say, and he was sure Daniel didn't expect anything, because it was a given with their jobs, that constant worry, and accepted as a fact of life. Just like the unspoken acknowledgement that some day, what he and Daniel did together in his bed might be found out, and everything Jack knew, everything Jack was, would be taken away from him. But Jack couldn't dwell on it, the crazy risks they were taking, not with Daniel nuzzling the back of his neck like that. "Heard, uh, heard you made nice with those natives. Got the treaty signed and all."

"Uh-huh. Same old, same old," Daniel said, his voice distracted. He was moving again, stretching out on top of Jack, his clothes pressing against Jack's naked skin. Jack grunted. "Am I squishing you?"

"No, no, it's fine."

It was more than fine. Daniel was heavy, pushing him into the bed, but conversely, Jack felt lighter. He liked the scratch of Daniel's sweater against his back, the way Daniel's hips were grinding into his ass, the seam on the fly of Daniel's pants sliding down between his cheeks, the way Daniel's weight pushed his thickening cock into the mattress, the pressure squeezing his balls. He wasn't quite so tired anymore. Jack pushed himself up with his arms, just a little.

Daniel settled in on him even more heavily, hands gripping his shoulders, sliding down his arms, strong fingers digging into his biceps. There was something right about this, to have Daniel holding him down, keeping him in place, keeping the weight off of him. Stretching his arms out so that he was lying flat again, Jack pressed his palms against the headboard. He felt Daniel's lips on his shoulders, kissing him, licking his skin.

"Mmm. You haven't showered yet, have you?" Daniel asked, his breath cooling the wet trail of saliva on Jack's skin.

"No," Jack answered. "Well, earlier, before the debriefing." His heart was beginning to pound because he heard something in Daniel's voice that he liked, something proprietary, something else to hold him in place.

"Good."

Daniel sounded pleased, and something about that made Jack's dick stir. He didn't want to think about why that was, he just wanted more of Daniel's weight on him. "Daniel—" he started but had to stop, because his voice sounded strange to his ears, low and needy.

Daniel was running his hands down Jack's sides, finding and holding Jack's hips as he thrust against Jack's ass. "I'm going to do you just like this, okay?" Daniel asked, rubbing his cheek against Jack's back.

His cheek was sleek and smooth, and Jack realized Daniel must have shaved just before coming over. It was a small thing, but he was touched by it, all the same. "Yeah, okay, you know, just do it, Daniel," he said, his hands still braced against the headboard, the hard, sleek wood cool to the touch.

Daniel slithered off him, and Jack felt a pang of regret, the heaviness returning. He listened to Daniel opening the drawer, unsnapping the lid of the lubricant. Daniel was back a second later, kneeling on the bed. Jack spread his legs unthinkingly, licking his lips, his mouth dry with anticipation.

"Oh, hey, I like that. The way you spread your legs for me." Daniel told him.

Again, that tone of voice. Jack turned his head, but he couldn't see Daniel's face. Daniel already moved to kneel between his legs. He heard two thuds he couldn't identify right away: Daniel kicking his shoes off. But Daniel stopped there, spreading Jack's cheeks, exposing him, dripping cool liquid onto his hot skin. Jack, startled, breathed in sharply at the sensation. His hips twitched, rubbing his cock against the sheets. Daniel's finger traced the sensitive tissue.

"I wish you could see what you look like—how you look to me," Daniel said. "You probably have no idea." He touched Jack's balls, cupping them gently, and Jack felt warm lips on his back.

When Daniel's fingers finally slid inside of him, Jack cried out, just a small gasping sound, because Daniel was pressing in all the right places, with his fingers and with his knees, pushing against Jack's thighs, opening him up wider. He wondered vaguely what he did look like to Daniel. Hairy ass, balls, a slick channel waiting to be used. This was something different, a strange sensation, to be offering up his body this way, for Daniel to use.

"I love doing this to you." Daniel's fingers plunged sharply into Jack. "You love it too, don't you?"

"Shit, Daniel, hell yeah—" Maybe more than just body parts, then. Daniel's fingers worked him, and Jack moaned again. "Please, sonofabitch, Daniel, please—"

"Oh, god," Daniel said. "Oh, god, Jack—" Jack heard the sound of frantic unzipping, more movement behind him, between his legs. Daniel's fingers were gone, and all that wonderful, soul-saving pressure vanished. He began to rise onto his knees, to their usual position for this, but Daniel pushed him back down roughly, with a hand to his ass, nearly slapping him. Jack thudded back down, the sensation of the mattress against his cock an exquisite pleasure. It was good—it was all good. Jack wanted Daniel to do it again.

"No, like we were before." Daniel's voice was harsh. Before Jack could move, Daniel scrambled on top of him, pushing him flat again, his slick cock nestling between Jack's cheeks. "Like this. Can we do it like this?"

"Oh yeah," Jack gasped. "I just thought—"

"Well, stop it. Thinking's overrated."

Jack snorted—such a thing coming from Daniel, of all people. Then Daniel eased into him, his large, blunt cock penetrating Jack's body, stretching him wide open, and Jack stopped thinking. He squirmed under Daniel's body, Daniel's sweater chafing the damp skin of his back. "This is good," he panted.

"Works for you, huh?" Daniel asked, his voice strained.

Daniel thrust against him, and fuck, it was better than good, it was great, and Jack just wanted Daniel to flatten him into the bed, to hold him down and pound into him, hard and fast. "Daniel—" Jack pushed up from the bed again, and Daniel grabbed his wrists and pulled his arms flat, and Jack felt a rush of exhilaration. He looked at Daniel's hands, covered in fine, gold hairs, the cuffs of his worn sweater. "Hold me," he whispered, rubbing his cheek against Daniel's arm, his beard catching on the sleeve of Daniel's sweater. Thank god Daniel understood. He put his hands on Jack's shoulders, using his weight to hold Jack down while he jerked his hips against Jack's ass, thrusting into him with strong, hard strokes.

Mouth open, face buried in the mattress, Jack moaned, trying to push his ass up to meet Daniel's thrusts, stabs of pleasure creating a whiteout inside his mind. He didn't want to think about why this felt so good. Daniel's cock filled him. Daniel's knees levered against the inside of his, painfully, but somehow it was right, and the way the zipper of Daniel's pants scraped against his ass was right too. Daniel pushed his cock into Jack's ass again and again, and Jack had to lie there and take it with his legs spread wide, and it made him feel lighter than air, like maybe his molecules didn't quite get reassembled right when he came back through the Gate with the stink of scorched flesh on his clothes.

Daniel picked up the pace, his ragged breathing quickening. The bed began creaking beneath him, and Jack arched his back against the teeth on his skin, the pain sharp and good. "Daniel," Jack moaned. "Tell me—"

Daniel shifted position, sliding, clothes scraping against Jack's hypersensitive skin. Now Daniel's cock was reaching deeper into him, and Jack got that shivery sensation rising up from his balls, his whole world narrowing down to that thrusting cock, Daniel's cock, reaching deep inside of him. "Tell me."

"Tell you—what?" Daniel gasped, fingers digging into Jack's shoulders. "That you're mine? That I love you?"

Jack pulled his arms in, trying to lift up again, to push against Daniel, straining. Daniel yanked his arms apart. "Stop it," Daniel snapped. Daniel's hand went to the back of his head, pushing his face back into the mattress. Jack gave it up, gave up everything. It was like flying, being under Daniel, Daniel's breath against his cheek as he whispered to Jack. Jack's body buzzed with pure delight, his breath catching in sobs in his throat. There was nothing else right now, only Daniel.

Somehow Daniel got a hand underneath him, closing it around his dick. Jack howled as his climax ripped through him, his body shaking. It was fucking fabulous, the way Daniel had to work even harder to hold him down, until at last his body finally stopped falling apart. He lay there, limp, his mind numb, heart pounding while Daniel still grunted and thrashed, both hands holding onto Jack's hips.

Daniel strained against him, silently, and Jack could feel his cock pulsing inside of him as he came, heard the long, deep moan of satisfaction as he finished. Afterward Daniel slumped down on top of him.

After a while Daniel slid out of Jack, carefully, rolled off him, and flopped down on the bed next to him. Jack eased onto his side to face him, disoriented by the loss of Daniel's weight. He felt shaky, hot, and cold all at once. He took in Daniel's sweaty, contented face, rumpled sweater, softened, wet cock half hidden behind the flap of his pants. Heat was pouring off Daniel's body. He slipped a hand under Daniel's sweater, touching the slick, satiny skin of his stomach.

Daniel opened his eyes and rubbed his face, staring at the ceiling. "Whoa. God, oh Jack, that—that was amazing. I never—we never—I liked it." He turned to Jack, pulling him close and kissing him, big, wet sloppy kisses as if he were trying to devour him—as if he hadn't already. "Did you like that?" Daniel asked between kisses. "I think you did. You sounded as if you liked it."

That didn't even begin to cover it. Scared the hell out of him was more like it. But he merely said, "Yeah, you think?" Jack stopped, unable to find the words, because he was surprised, he hadn't known it could be like this, and he couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not. He buried his face in Daniel's neck, licking at the sweat pooling at his throat. "Thank you, Daniel," he whispered at last, because he hadn't known.

With a little laugh, Daniel said, "You're welcome. Anytime." He kissed the top of Jack's head, then pulled back, gazing at Jack's face speculatively. "As a matter of fact, do you think you'd might want to do something like that again, but, uh, with you tied up?" He finished in a rush.

Jack's stomach lurched as if he had just stepped out of a wormhole.

"If you don't want to, that's okay too," Daniel added quickly.

"Maybe. Shit. I don't know." He hadn't realized he could want something like that, but he could imagine now what it would be like—to be restrained and at Daniel's mercy. Hell, yeah, he wanted to. "We'll see."

That was apparently enough for Daniel, because he slipped out of his clothes, bouncing on the bed as he did, before pulling Jack into a hug. Jack clung to Daniel's hard, sweaty body, his head resting on that broad chest, listening to his heartbeat. His breathing grew steady, and after while Jack thought that Daniel had fallen asleep, but then Daniel said, "I didn't know about the attack until after I got back. I didn't know you were off fighting." His voice was matter-of-fact, as if he were commenting on the weather. "I hate that. I hate not knowing."

Jack pressed a kiss to Daniel's warm chest. "I know," he said, petting his body. "I know."

***

Jack woke with a start. "Daniel," he mumbled, realizing the man was still next to him, sound asleep. The light was still on, but it was dark out, and quiet, very quiet. He knew it was late, and a look at the clock confirmed it. One a.m. He sat up, rubbing his face. Daniel stirred, pulling the blankets back up.

"Daniel, c'mon, you have to go," Jack said, his voice raspy with sleep. He patted Daniel's shoulders and ruffled Daniel's hair. He hated this, hated rousing Daniel, warm and sleepy and contented, to send him out into the cool night. They should have gone to Daniel's apartment instead, it would have been easier on Daniel that way.

"Yeah, yeah." Daniel's reply was muttered into the pillow. "I'm awake." He threw the blankets off, then sat up, dazed and blinking.

Jack wanted to pull him back down under the covers and kiss him. "It's late," he said instead.

"All right," Daniel said sharply. "I'm awake, let me just find my clothes, okay?"

He stood, searching the room for his glasses, finding them on the dresser. Jack watched as Daniel dressed, clumsily, his mouth set in a firm line, his movements, his entire body radiating displeasure. They shouldn't have given in and fallen asleep at all, Jack knew, but Daniel was exhausted, and so was he. This moment became harder and harder each time, and he hated the way it made him feel.

"Daniel," Jack said, frustrated. "You know—"

"I know, okay Jack? I know. But that doesn't mean I have to like it."

And somehow that made Jack angry. "I didn't fucking make the rules, all I do is try and play by them, okay?" He swung his legs over the bed and pulled on a pair of sweats.

"Did it ever occur to you, Jack, that no matter how careful we are, if someone really wanted to dig up the dirt on you, we'd be caught? I mean, what the hell difference would it make whether I went home at eleven at night, at one a.m., or noon the next day?" Daniel stood before him, shirt in hand, shaking his head. "I don't see the point in leaving, but hey, that's just me."

"You don't have to see the point. You just have to do it."

Daniel paused as he pulled the shirt over his head, then when he finished, he glared at Jack, eyes cold and hard.

All Jack could think was, Christ, he made it sound like a command, which wasn't how it meant it, he didn't mean to, but he just did. "Sorry," he said, "sorry. That didn't come out—shit. I don't like it either, okay?"

Daniel's expression thawed, just a bit, then he closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose as if he had a headache. "Yeah, I know. I can't help it, though. We—we spend nights together off world all the time, sleeping inches away from each other, and we can't touch. Then here, at home, we can touch, we can steal time together, but—" He threw his hands up in disgust, turning away. "I'd better just go."

Jack pulled on his robe, but Daniel was already out of the room, striding down the hall. Jack followed, wishing there was something more he could say, something that would make this better, when Daniel spun around and came back toward him. "Daniel?" Jack asked, worried, but Daniel only grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed him with grim determination.

"I just want to have everything with you. I can't help it," Daniel told him. And then he was gone, closing the door quietly behind him.

Jack sat on the couch, staring at the wall, more exhausted than ever. Everything, Daniel had said. He felt as though Daniel already had everything he could give, and then some. And when Daniel left, Jack's house felt so damn empty, his bed was empty, and there was that hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach that he refused to think about.

***

"I'll go and sample the river outwash, sir. About half a kilometer south of here." Carter hitched up her vest and lifted the box of sample containers.

Jack stared off in the direction she had indicated. Gentle rolling hills, green, pretty, quiet. "Right. Take Teal'c with you."

Same old routine. Comforting. He knew how to do this, he thought, watching them walk off, Teal'c's head tilted as he listened to something Sam was saying. "Have fun, kids, and don't stay out to late, it's a school night, you know," he called after them. He got a vague little wave from Carter in response. Yeah. His team, and he was proud of them. They were like a family now—easy, familiar, comfortable.

Maybe too comfortable. He turned to watch Daniel, kneeling on the ground next to a broken piece of a stone wall, brushing dirt off with quick little precise flicks of his wrist. As he watched, Daniel stopped, pushing his glasses up, staring at the revealed carvings. He was sitting so still it made Jack restless just to see it. He strolled in a circle around Daniel and his ruins, seeing nothing but trees, blue sky, the occasional bird flying high overhead. There were no clear or obvious threats, other than the one sitting quietly before a stone wall, writing furiously in a small, spiral-bound notebook.

Daniel placed the notebook on the ground, and sat back, hands in his lap, fiddling with his pencil. Jack watched his fingers, long and nimble. Fingers that had been up his ass, wrapped around his cock, holding onto his wrists—every touch making him cry out in delight. He spun around and continued patrolling the area, not wanting to think about it, but still looking forward to when they'd be back home again.

"Jack."

Jack spun around at the sound of his name, spoken so quietly. "Yo."

Daniel had the camera in his hand, recording images the wall's surface. "I want to return with SG-12 and continue investigating the site. I think there are some clues here to the early movements of the system lords." Daniel touched the stone with his finger, then looked up at Jack, squinting in the sun.

Jack sat down on a nearby stone, contemplating crappy, dull as dirt days or maybe weeks with Daniel gone, offworld. "Yeah? You asking me or telling me?"

"Asking, of course."

Jack nodded. "Right. I'm going to start looking for the pod now."

Daniel gave him an odd little smile. "Is that what you want, Jack? A pod person? Instead of me?"

"It was a joke, Daniel."

"Oh," Daniel said carefully. "I didn't realize it. Usually, you see, jokes are funny."

"Let's see, that's sarcasm, right?" Jack asked, scuffing at some moss with his heel, revealing the dark, rich dirt underneath. "Nice. You're very good at it." "It's this guy I work with. I picked it up from him," Daniel said as he examined the camera. He took another picture of the wall. His tone was light, but Jack thought it sounded a little forced.

"Is that who I am?" Jack asked. "A guy you work with?" Daniel put the camera down on his pack. "Jeeze, Jack, what is up with you?"

"What do you mean—"

"Cut it out, Jack. Something's been bugging you. What the hell is going on?" Daniel demanded. "Would you just fucking talk to me?"

Jack stared at Daniel, who was demanding to know what was going on inside his head. As if it weren't enough that Daniel made Jack kiss him offworld, that Daniel held him down and fucked him and he liked it, that made Jack want to sneak off into stockrooms with him, made Jack want to wake up next to him. Now Daniel wanted Jack to talk to him, to explain to him something that he couldn't explain to himself.

"Jack?"

Finally Jack answered, "I don't know, Daniel. I just don't know."

"Don't know about what? About us?" Daniel began to look more than just annoyed, he looked worried—genuinely worried and maybe even just a little scared.

"No, listen, Daniel, it's not that, not like that at all. You know I—I love you." Christ, here he was babbling like an idiot, about love now.

Daniel nodded slowly, but didn't look any less scared. Dammit, Jack thought, he was screwing this up.

"I love you but it just scares the hell out of me, okay? It's—" Jack searched his mind frantically. "It was never like this before, with Sara. That—being husband, a father, that I was stuff I knew."

Daniel was silent for a moment, frowning, his face so thoughtful for a moment Jack thought he might switch back into scholar mode, picking up his pad and writing notes. But then he merely shrugged. "I've never known anything like that. I'm always winging it with each relationship, Jack. Whether with Nick, foster parents, or Shau're. Or you. I'm starting from scratch each time."

"Really?" The thought had never occurred to Jack, that their relationship might be as strange and new to Daniel as it was to him. "And here I thought you knew what you were doing."

"No. I just sort of do what feels right," Daniel said, smiling a little. Jack could see the warmth in his eyes, the love—for him, of all people. "You should try it sometime. It's not so scary."

Scary. If anyone should be scared, it should be Daniel, he thought. Daniel had lost so much, and yet, he was still willing to try again, to take that risk. To open his heart to Jack, even if Jack sometimes felt as though he couldn't find his own heart.

That look in Daniel's eyes drew Jack to leave his rock, and sit down in the warm dirt beside him. "You make me feel like—like I want to just hand myself over to you," Jack said. "That's what scares me."

"Would that be so bad?" Daniel asked. "I wouldn't take anything from you, you know that. You'd be safe."

It occurred to Jack that he trusted Daniel, trusted him more than anyone in the world. Hell, in the universe. "I should know that already, shouldn't I." Jack picked up a small stone, playing it with, turning it around in his fingers.

Daniel put his hand over Jack's. They were warm, large, capable hands, capable of holding him. "Jack," Daniel said.

"Yeah?"

"That's, um, I need that." Daniel plucked the stone from Jack's fingers. "It's part of the wall here." He turned it over, and Jack saw the carvings on it.

"Oh." Jack looked up to see Daniel smiling at him, a dazzling smile, and Jack had to smile back at him.

"For what it's worth, I like the way you love me," Daniel told him. "I think—I think we're doing this right."

"Really?" Jack asked. "You do?" He noticed that Daniel was looking at his hair now, and remembered what Daniel had told him, that he had always wanted to touch Jack's hair. Another one of the many things he hadn't known, just like he hadn't known that he was doing this right. Yet Daniel seemed so sure, and that—that was really something, Jack realized. If Daniel could be so certain, then maybe he could be, too.

"Yes, I do. Trust me," Daniel said. "I'm smart and all that, remember?"

Before Jack could answer, his radio crackled. "Colonel?"

Without taking his eyes off Daniel, Jack answered, "Yeah, Carter? How goes the testing?"

"A big zero, sir. We're heading back."

"Gotcha." Jack click off his radio, and stood up. "C'mon, Daniel, we're heading back." He patted Daniel's shoulder, then let his fingers glide over the back of Daniel's neck, tickling the small hairs there. "You can finish with the wall when you come back with SG-12."

***

Jack hated how the damn wire basket handles dug into his hand.

He squinted in the bright fluorescent light of the Safeway supermarket, basket in hand, wondering where the hell Daniel had disappeared to. The insistently mellow piped-in music was getting on his nerves. It was all just so damn weird, jarring his senses—it was so fucking normal, to be standing there in the supermarket, a quart of milk and a loaf of bread in his little plastic basket, after a day of zipping through wormholes and visiting other worlds.

He had sent Daniel off in search of toilet paper, but Jack wouldn't have been surprised if Daniel got distracted in his journey. He was probably somewhere translating the back of a cereal box. Maybe he was excavating in the frozen foods. He tried the next aisle.

"Pop-Tarts? No, honey, you are not buying strawberry Pop-Tarts. How old are you again?"

Jack watched a woman shake her head as she reached around the cart to pluck the box of Pop-Tarts out of a man's hand. She was laughing. In the full shopping cart between them was a baby, big brown eyes staring in wonder at it all. The baby spotted Jack, and his eyes grew even wider.

"Hey—my momma fed me Pop-Tarts for breakfast," the man exclaimed, with wounded dignity.

"Yeah, as I can tell," the woman, patting the man's slightly rounded stomach. She was a pretty young thing, dark haired, dark eyed, in contrast to her blonde husband. The baby clearly took after his mother.

"Pop-Tarts are good for you." The man noticed Jack watching them. "Right?" he asked.

"Absolutely," Jack assured him. "The chocolate ones, especially. With the frosting."

The man's face lit up. "Heeey, right," he said, even as his wife nudged him with the cart, rolling her eyes. He grabbed another box off the shelf and handed it to the baby. "Hold this, Joey, and don't let your mother see."

Jack turned away quickly, nodding in response to the man's thank you and his wife's laughter. He could see it all in his mind, again, those lazy Sunday morning breakfasts with Sara and Charlie, the sizzle of bacon, the rustle of newspaper, the smell of French toast and maple syrup—real maple syrup, because Sara always insisted, and he'd decided she was right.

It felt like a lifetime ago. Squeezing his eyes shut, he took a deep breath, but all he felt was a gentle sadness, heartfelt, but bearable. It was the ache of an old scar, never fully healed.

When he opened his eyes again, Daniel was standing right in front of him, a four pack of bathroom tissue in one hand and a jar of peanut butter in the other. He looked beautiful, although exquisitely out of place, like some strange exotic bird who lost his way. Jack suddenly pictured him in the Abydonian robes he had seen him wearing, all those years ago, surrounded by sand and desert and stone walls of the pyramid, Shau're at his side.

"Jack? Pretty tired, huh?" Daniel was asking him.

Jack shrugged. "Nah, I'm fine."

"Right. Let's get you out of here." Daniel tucked the peanut butter under his arm, and took Jack by the elbow and tried to tug him along, but Jack resisted.

"Wait, we're not done. What about breakfast?" he asked. "What do you say, French toast maybe?"

Daniel stopped, his grip on Jack's arm tightening. "French toast?" he asked, blinking at Jack.

Yup, Jack loved that look. "Yes, Daniel, French toast," he said, as if speaking to a very young child. "You know, breakfast?"

"Breakfast?" Daniel echoed.

Jack nodded. "Breakfast."

Daniel peered over his glasses. "Jack," he said, moving in closer. He hesitated, waiting for another shopper to pass, then continued, "I thought we didn't, ah, do breakfast."

"It's the most important meal of the day," Jack informed him. "Or so I've heard." He watched Daniel's face, pleased by the sight of the slow smile growing on his lips.

"Breakfast," Daniel said again, but this time he made it sound like something dirty, something that would make the other shoppers blush if they knew what how he meant it.

"Yup. Breakfast. French toast, and sausage. Got to have sausage with French toast." Jack didn't keep his voice down. "Big, honkin' sausages."

Daniel shook his head, and Jack's heart flip-flopped. But Daniel only said. "Bacon. The kind that's cut real thick."

"Mighty full of yourself, aren't you?"

Daniel took the basket from his hand, slipping the peanut butter and rolls of toilet tissue into it. "C'mon, let's get both. Do you think we'll need a cart instead? I hate these damn baskets."

And Daniel was off, striding down the aisle, and Jack followed, with a strange flutter deep in his gut, the kind that said that while maybe his life was crazy, it was, most certainly, damn good.

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