The Space Within

by The Grrrl

Title: The Space Within

Author: The Grrrl

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Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate SG-1

Pairing: Jack/Daniel

Summary: Jack, a fishing trip, memories, and Daniel.

Notes: Written for Greensilver's Jack/Daniel ficathon. I received jacklemmon's request for a first-time fic, that wasn't "overly angsty." A big thank you goes out to Kylie, who beta'd above and beyond the call of duty for this one.

The body of water rippling in the moonlight was the same as ever. For some reason, that surprised Jack, maybe because he had changed so much. It had been forty some-odd years since he had first come to the lake, and some days, he felt every single one of those years weighing heavily on his soul.

He thought back to that first day, of being inside the cabin, staring in fascination at the old-fashioned coffeepot in the little rustic kitchen. Coffee splashed up into the clear glass top as it perked, and it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. It had amused the hell out of his father and grandfather. "Plenty more to look at. There's a whole damn lake out there, Jonny," his grandfather had informed him. "Go take a look."

Fuck. He was about as old as his grandfather had been on that day.

He had obeyed his grandfather and looked, standing on his tiptoes, peering out the window. His grandfather was right. There was a lake out there—a big, blue lake, filled with bass and crappie and splashing sunfish. They spent the following days rowing on it, fishing in it, swimming in it—he even peed in it once, but don't tell your mother, his father admonished. Jack had been proud to use those very same words with Charlie.

Now they were gone. It was incomprehensible that all of them—his grandfather, his father, even his own son—were dead and gone, had been gone for years, now. Time had passed too quickly, leaving only echoes of all the visits, all the good times he had with them. There were so many things he wished he had said, so many things he wished they had done together. So many lost opportunities. Even worse, he felt as though each one of them took a piece of him when they left, leaving behind an empty space, a gap in what he was, a space he couldn't help reaching into, time and again, searching for a shred of what he had lost.

Sometimes he wondered if he had anything left inside of him at all.

The sound of the screen door swinging open intruded on his thoughts. "Hey, Jack," a questioning voice called out. "You okay?"

Jack could barely make out Daniel watching him from the shadows, wrapped in a dark blanket. No, Jack wanted to say. I'm old. People keep slipping away from me. Don't ever leave me again.

"Yeah, I'm fine," he said instead. He cleared his throat. "Just taking a look around."

"Do you, uh, want company?"

So earnest, so respectful of Jack's personal space, when all Jack wanted was for Daniel to invade it. "Okay, sure," Jack said, with deliberate casualness. "Having trouble sleeping? Admit it, that sofa bed is pretty uncomfortable."

Daniel stepped onto the dock, the wood creaking. "It's fine. I've slept on worse," he said with a small smile. He sat beside Jack, his bare feet poking out from under the blanket

"Right. That's not saying much, you know."

Daniel peered out over the lake, then tilted his head back, squinting up at the moon. He wasn't wearing his glasses, and his face seemed naked and exposed. And beautiful. Daniel always looked beautiful to Jack, but here, on his dock in the moonlight, he thought Daniel might even be breathtaking.

"Nice," Daniel said. "It really is pretty out here at night, isn't it?"

"You think?"

"Yeah. I like it here."

"Good. I'm glad. I just wanted you to see—to see the lake and everything." Inviting Daniel had made him uneasy. He didn't know if Daniel would enjoy the experience, but Jack wanted very much to share it with him. It was a part of who he was, the part of him that sometimes got lost in the person he had become. He wanted Daniel to understand what the cabin meant to him, wanted him to appreciate it.

Daniel did seem to be enjoying himself, even though they were far away from everything familiar to him—his work, his books, his office. Here at the cabin there was no network for his computer, although he had surprised Jack by not bringing it along. He hadn't even brought a book. So far, he seemed perfectly happy to fish all day, slouched in the lounge chair next to Jack, hat pulled down, mimicking Jack's posture perfectly.

"Is that Venus?" Daniel was asking, his arm slinking out of the blanket to point to the east.

Jack nodded. "And there, that one is Mars, and back over that way," he twisted and pointed to the west, "is Jupiter."

"Really? Which—?" Daniel leaned against him, bulky blanket rubbing against Jack's shoulder.

"There—you see, two stars together, then that third one, down, in between—" Jack stretched his arm out, pointing, nudging Daniel's body to correct his line of vision. Daniel was disturbingly close, close enough that his hair tickled Jack's nose. It smelled like the lake water. "Wait, can you even see the stars without your glasses?"

"Sort of," Daniel answered.

Jack laughed, shaking his head. "Right."

"I was just checking to see if you knew where the planets were."

"They're out in space," Jack said promptly.

"Oh, okay, thanks for clearing that up." Daniel gave him a sideways glance with half-closed eyes, the moonlight accentuating the dark fringe of lashes.

"This is where it all started, you know," Jack said. "I looked through my first telescope out here, with my dad and my grandpa."

"Really? How long ago was that?"

"Bah." Jack waved a hand. "A million years ago. When dinosaurs roamed the earth. They showed me Saturn's rings. It looked so—so perfect in the viewer, bright and clear, just hanging there, in the darkness. It was about the coolest thing I had ever seen." His memory was vivid: his grandfather stood on one side, his father on the other, admonishing him not to touch the telescope, just to look through the viewer with one eye. He could remember the surprise and delight he'd felt on that long-ago summer night. He still missed them both—their humor, their wisdom, and their comforting presence. He missed the little boy who stared in awe through the viewer, too.

Daniel was watching him expectantly, waiting for more. Finally Jack said, "I wish he could have known. My father loved the stars, and he never knew that I was out there, walking among them. What a kick it would have been to be able to tell him that."

Daniel laid a hand on Jack's knee. "Maybe he does know."

Jack shook his head, staring down at Daniel's hand. "Yeah. Right." The afterlife. After everything he'd seen, he didn't know what he believed in anymore. "Unless there's something you're not telling me, from when you were—" Jack waved his hand at the stars. "You know. Out there."

"No, just my personal feeling, Jack." Daniel looked back out over the water. "There's just so much we don't understand. About living. About existing. I don't remember much from when I was ascended, but I think that's a good thing, because I believe it's far more grand than a person's brain can handle."

Jack wanted to believe him. "Even your brain?"

"Yup, even mine."

They sat quietly together for what seemed to Jack like a long time. A breeze started up, sighing in the aspens, slow ripples moving along the surface of the lake. Jack stole a glance at Daniel. It had been almost six months since they had found him wandering on Vis Uban. Jack still felt a quiet joy deep within each time he looked at Daniel—whether it was seeing him geared up in the gate room, sitting at his desk surrounded by huge, dusty books, or stretched out on the cabin's sofa bed, sound asleep. These normal, everyday things had taken on a whole new meaning. Life.

A quiet splash caught their attention, ripples spreading out toward them.

"There he goes, Daniel. He's taunting you."

Daniel craned his neck, examining the shoreline. "The one that got away today? The one that tugged on my line?" he asked.

Jack nodded. "Yup."

"Huh. I think I just saw him give me the finger."

"I taught him that, you know."

Daniel nodded, lips pursed. "I thought so."

At that moment, Daniel was being so Daniel that Jack's chest ached. "I'm glad you came," Jack said. He was embarrassed by the gruffness of his voice, but he couldn't help himself. "Having you here is—"

Daniel tilted his head. "Is what, Jack?" he prompted gently.

Jack hesitated. "Is—nice." So many lost opportunities, he thought helplessly. He was too old for this, too old to change. Too old to take a chance.

"I'm glad," Daniel said. His smile was sweet, and it was all for Jack.

Jack thought that maybe he said something right after all, if he made Daniel smile like that. "Me too."

"You're kind of different here, you know?"

"What do you mean? I'm just me. Same old, same old, emphasis on 'old.'"

Daniel gazed at him thoughtfully, brows furrowed, and Jack could almost hear the wheels turning as Daniel sought for the perfect phrase, the perfect word. "There's a stillness about you," he said at last.

"A stillness?"

"Wait, listen," Daniel rocked forward, warming to his subject. "Back home you're always fidgeting, touching things, doodling on a pad, moving around. Restless. Up here, you just sit quietly, like today, while we were fishing. You just—sat."

"Oh." Jack was surprised. "Well, I was fishing."

"But it's like—like you're content. You really do love it here, don't you?"

"Maybe," Jack said, gathering up his courage, "it's the company."

Daniel stilled, his brows climbing, and Jack was suddenly afraid that he had said too much.

"Really? Oh, Jack," Daniel said, and he sounded pleased, much to Jack's relief. Daniel ducked his head briefly, smiling, before sidling closer. He reached an arm over Jack's shoulders, giving him a squeeze. Even better, he didn't remove his arm, but left it draped over Jack's shoulder, the blanket wrapped around both of them now.

"Yeah, well," Jack murmured, distracted by the touching, by the warm pool of Daniel-scented air rising from under the blanket. He put a hand on Daniel's back, only to find naked skin. Oh. Daniel was shirtless. He hadn't realized that, not with the way Daniel had been wrapped in that blanket. He casually slid his hand down Daniel's broad back, coming to rest on Daniel's waist. He was both relieved and disappointed to come into contact with Daniel's boxers. Even so, Daniel's skin was smooth and warm, and Jack wanted to touch all of it, especially when Daniel sighed happily and scooted even closer, the entire side of his body pressed against Jack's in a way that might be considered a little more than friendly.

Jack stared resolutely out over the lake, hand on Daniel's naked back, Daniel's warm, solid body leaning against his. It definitely felt like an invitation, all this touching and leaning, but Jack didn't know for sure. He wanted it to be, but he was afraid of how much he wanted it to be. He didn't know anything anymore. Too much of his world had turned upside down over the years. All he knew was he had missed Daniel so damn much that the pain still reverberated in his heart. So much pain that now, the promise that Daniel's touch implied—could imply—made it hard to breathe.

When he felt like he could look at Daniel without everything being there on his face, he turned to study Daniel's profile. This newly returned Daniel didn't seem to be afraid. Being ascended had changed him, Jack realized. Or maybe dying had. It had certainly changed Jack, had nearly broken him. Failing to save Daniel, the nightmare of having to say goodbye to him. He'd tried to put his feelings into words, tried but yet failed miserably at that, too. His little stint with Baal hadn't helped, with that damn sarcophagus scrambling his brain. Daniel had been there, only he had been a little different, or maybe Jack had been. And just when Jack had put himself back together one more time, there Daniel was again, human this time, and it was all Jack could do to hold himself together when the pain of loss turned into the pain of Daniel's return.

Daniel turned to him, watching him as he had in Baal's prison, with that same sober expression, only this time his face was so close that Jack could feel the puff of breath on his cheek, and his body was solid as a damn rock. Daniel scrutinized his face, as if it were a text he couldn't quite translate. When he reached out, fingertips brushing Jack's cheek, Jack stopped breathing altogether. "Please," Daniel said, so quietly that Jack had to strain to hear his voice over the lapping of the water. "Let me."

Jack leaned into his touch, his heart pounding. Daniel knew. Somehow, he knew, he understood. Jack didn't know what to say. He was afraid that he'd say something wrong but his throat was so tight he was unable to speak and all he could do was nod, mutely, trying to encourage Daniel to do what he himself was incapable of.

The blanket fell away as Daniel moved his hand from Jack's shoulder to stroke the side of Jack's neck. His touch was light on Jack's bare skin, and Jack thought he felt a slight tremble. Exposed chest gleaming almost white in the moonlight, Daniel leaned forward, holding Jack's head in both his hands. He pressed his lips against Jack's, a single, swift kiss. "Just let me do this, please. If you want to. Because I want to. I think you do—I think this is why you brought me here."

Without waiting for an answer, Daniel kissed him again. His lips, as warm and soft as Jack had imagined them to be, moved across Jack's lips in little, nibbling kisses, so gentle that they almost broke him apart all over again. He pulled Daniel into his arms, his hand moving through Daniel's soft hair. He touched Daniel everywhere, because he could not comprehend it was really happening, that his hands were on Daniel's smooth shoulders, sliding flat over his chest, feeling the shape of his body, the curve of his muscles, the beat of his heart. When his fingers brushed across Daniel's nipples, Daniel moaned, a small sound but it was wildly erotic and sweet and all at once Jack was hard and wanting and needing. He and was alive, just like Daniel was alive and in his arms. It was all real, it was actually happening, and just like that, he wasn't so old anymore, not worn down by his years of living, not now, when Daniel was touching him like this.

Daniel pushed against him, hands on his chest, still kissing, his tongue sliding past Jack's lips. Jack lay back on the hard wood of the dock, realizing that it wasn't complicated after all. It wasn't scary, either. It was just good and hot and a little crazy, in a good way. Daniel's wet mouth was on his chest, his shirt pushed up under his chin as Daniel found his nipple and sucked hard, just the way he liked it.

"Oh god, yeah," he blurted out. "Oh, Daniel."

"This is okay?" Daniel asked.

"What the hell do you think?" Jack asked, pushing his hard cock against Daniel's hip.

He thought maybe he should have said something a little more romantic, but Daniel just laughed and said, "Then take your damn clothes off, Jack," as he pulled his own boxers off. Which was romantic enough for Jack, too.

Jack sat up and stripped off his clothes in quick, precise movements, never taking his eyes off Daniel in all his naked glory. He had thought Daniel was beautiful earlier, wrapped in his blanket with the moonlight catching his face, but now, Daniel was beyond words as he spread the blanket and stretched out naked beside him, all glowing skin, broad shoulders, slim hips, cock poking out stiff and hard from a dark bush of hair. "Look at you," Jack said, with a wave of his hand. "You're all—naked."

"I'd rather look at you." Daniel clasped Jack's forearm. There was a note in Daniel's voice that made Jack shiver in a way that had nothing to do with the cool night air on his skin. "I'd rather touch you."

Daniel pulled him down, getting rough now, his silky skin and hard muscle pushing Jack onto the blanket. His body was hot, and his mouth, even hotter. His tongue pushed into Jack's mouth, his cock shoved against Jack's hip, his hands moved restlessly over Jack's body, trailing down his side, gripping his ass, clutching at Jack's thighs.

Jack's brain was buzzing. It all came down to this, the feel of Daniel's body, the ache in his balls, the need growing in the pit of his stomach. Everywhere he reached, he found Daniel. The smell of him, the taste of his skin, the feel of hard flesh against the palm of his hand.

Daniel rolled on top of him, pushing him flat on his back. "Oh, yesyesyes, Jack, please, I need—I need to come," Daniel whispered, and Jack thought it was the most amazing thing he had ever heard Daniel say. He wanted to keep hearing it, wanted Daniel to say it over and over again.

"Tell me," Jack said, gripping Daniel's cock, stroking the length of it firmly. He was rewarded by Daniel's gasp, and somehow Daniel got his hand around Jack's own cock. It was awkward and without finesse, Daniel's knuckles digging into his stomach but hell, he didn't care, because it was god damn good, the way their hips rocked together, and the way Daniel's body was warm and sweaty and real between his thighs. "Tell me," Jack demanded, squeezing Daniel's cock.

"Make me come, okay? Okay? Do it, Jack—I want, I want—I need." Daniel's mouth moved against Jack's neck, and then Jack felt teeth on his skin. Daniel's hips moved, fast and jerky, his cock sliding through Jack's fist, growing impossibly harder, his moans vibrating against Jack's chest before he shuddered and came. It was pretty wild, the way Jack's hand got all wet with Daniel's come, the way it oozed between their bodies. Daniel's wet cock in his hand, Daniel shaking and moaning in his ear—life just didn't get any better.

"Oh, fuck," Daniel gasped in a low voice, his hand tightening around Jack's cock.

It struck Jack as sort of funny, because they weren't fucking, but the thought that they might—Daniel might push him down and slide his cock up his ass and wouldn't that be good. "Oh, yeah," Jack moaned, grabbing Daniel's hips. Daniel's hand moved on his cock, swift and sure, and then he couldn't think anymore; he could only feel his balls tighten, the heat growing in his gut until it was just a whiteout in his brain and he was coming, finally coming and god damn it was good. "God yeah," Jack moaned loudly, back arched, fingers digging into Daniel's back. He had forgotten how good sex could be. "Yeeeeah," he repeated lavishly, making sure the stars heard this time. He slumped flat on the dock when it was over, Daniel limp and heavy on his chest, but he didn't mind, not one bit.

"I think the fish heard that one," Daniel said.

"Mmmm," Jack said, utterly content as he nuzzled the top of Daniel's head. "And I wasn't even talking to them." He felt Daniel chuckle, right through his body.

Then Daniel sighed, moving to kiss Jack's neck, their slick chests sliding together. "This was so good."

"This was very good," Jack agreed. He stroked Daniel's back, and when he felt Daniel shiver in the breeze, he reached for the edge of the blanket and pulled it over him.

"Yeah." Daniel's voice sounded odd, and he still had his face in Jack's neck. "Think we could do it again sometime?"

"Give me an hour or so, and I'll be good to go."

"Jack, that's not—that's not what I mean. When we leave here, when we're back at work—"

Realization dawned. "Daniel," Jack tugged on Daniel's shoulders, until Daniel raised his head. Despite the shadows, Jack could make out his expression, so anxious and worried. "Daniel? What are you, freakin' nuts? Did you think I just brought you here for that? I'm too old for a brief moonlight fling. I need more. And you know what? Sitting out on this dock by myself really sucks." Jack was gratified to see a smile form, then grow broader. Now that he had found the words, he couldn't stop, because this wasn't going to be one of those lost opportunities. Not this time. "You were right, you know. I wanted this. I've always wanted this. I wanted it here, I wanted it at home, I wanted it everywhere. But I was scared, and then it was too late and you died and I was all alone, sitting out here by myself looking for you in the stars, wanting to see you in that silly-assed white sweater again. Even though I couldn't touch you, I wanted to see you every day. But now you're not dead anymore. You're not some white floaty thing either, and I can touch you, and I plan to keep right on touching you, feeling you, because I love you so damn much—"

He was pretty sure there was more that he needed to say, but he couldn't speak anymore, because Daniel was kissing him and didn't seem like he was going to stop anytime soon, which was just fine with him. It was probably just fine with the moon and the stars and even the lake, too. In his own clumsy way, he had reached for Daniel at last, and Daniel had been right there with him, way ahead of him actually, reaching out with stronger, braver arms than his own.

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