If a Tree Falls

by The Grrrl

Title: If a Tree Falls

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

Summary: Public vs. private lives.

Notes: Much thanks to Destina and Kylie Lee for the great beta'ing.

"No sign of him here, either." Daniel crouched down behind the bushes, thumbing his radio off as the three Jaffa soldiers marched past. Gripping his 'zat tightly, he waited as the soldiers, staring straight ahead, passed his location.

Nearly six hours of playing cat and mouse with a handful of Jaffa, and Jack was still missing. Or captured. Or worse. Daniel stayed calm, refusing to panic. Jack was fine. Jack was always fine. And Daniel couldn't afford to let his imagination run wild, not when there was a job to do. He focused instead on the task ahead—circling around past Jack's last known location—and ignored the images in his mind of Jack lying crumpled in the deep grass, discarded like a piece of trash on the side of the road.

When he was sure the soldiers were out of earshot, he turned his radio back on. "Sam?"

"Daniel—we're just over the rise. You've got two more Jaffa at three o'clock. Get out of there."

"Sam—" Daniel protested.

"Daniel, fall back. Now. We'll head to the Gate and get help."

Reluctant, Daniel took off toward the hill, running easily through the trees, alert for any movement. "Coming your way," he said into the radio. It was less than a kilometer to Sam and Teal'c. He passed through low trees and clumps of bushes, alert, listening for any sounds of Jaffa, eyes continuously scanning for a sign that Jack had been through, anything—a radio, a hat, a glove, a power bar wrapper.

It had started out as a simple reconnaissance of the Jaffa base camp, but a surprise attack had separated them. In his last transmission, Jack reported he was circling around the stand of pines to meet them on the other side of the stream. Daniel reached the area first. Jack was nowhere to be seen, and none of them could raise him by radio. Daniel told himself that Jack was simply out of range, but as more and more time passed he began to fear the worst—that Jack had been captured or killed.

At the sound of a staff weapon firing, Daniel spun around, seeking the enemy with his 'zat aimed and ready. Another shot, and he realized the firefight was directly head of him. He doubled his speed. As he got closer, the smell of scorched flesh was apparent and he focused on getting there as quickly as possible. His feet pounded on the dirt path as he crested the rise. He stumbled on loose stones, feet slipping out from under him, but he caught his balance and raced on. At the edge of the clearing he skidded to a halt behind a tree and took in the scene—Teal'c, Sam to his left, both crouched on the ground, weapons out; a Jaffa lying prone on the grass to his right. And a few yards from the Jaffa, Jack, thank god, Jack, standing on the other side of the clearing, alive, clothes streaked with dirt, activated staff weapon in his hands.

"Jack," Daniel called out, breathless. He stepped out from behind the tree, relief washing over his body.

"Oh, hi Daniel," Jack said, as if they had just bumped into each other on the street. Their eyes met for the briefest moment. Then Jack turned away. He deactivated the staff weapon and stepped into the clearing.

"Sir!" Carter said in surprise, head swinging around to Jack. Daniel could hear the relief in her voice. She slung her gun over her shoulder as she scrambled up. "Thank god. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine—just in the wrong place at the wrong time." He jerked his chin toward Teal'c, who was now leaning over the apparently dead Jaffa. "Recognize him, T?"

Teal'c shook his head. "No, I do not, O'Neill."

"One of Ba'als?" Daniel asked, still unable to take his eyes off Jack.

"Oh yeah. Wanted to take me back home with him."

Don't we all, thought Daniel. He almost said it out loud, as a joke. In the past, he would have, but now it was laden with too much meaning. He was afraid it would sound out all wrong. "Huh," he said instead.

"So, kids, ready to head home now?" Jack shouldered the staff weapon. "I know I am."

***

Daniel sat on the bed across from Jack, awaiting his turn for the doctor's examination. He tried not to stare at the way Jack was sitting, head down, shoulders slumped, left arm cradling his ribs. Daniel let Sam ask the question again.

"Are you sure you're all right, Colonel?"

Jack's head jerked up. "I'm fine," he protested, a note of defiance in his voice this time.

"Maybe next time you can trying running away from the Jaffa instead of right into them?" Daniel asked.

"Hey, now, there's an idea." Jack raised his brows and Daniel wanted grab hold of him and push him down on the bed, hard. He wanted to claim that smart-assed mouth as his, wanted to taste the dirt on his neck.

"You know," Sam added, "it might work, sir."

"Oh, not you too." He made a face at the both of them.

Daniel went on, "Maybe we can have that written up in a manual of sorts, you know, how not to get captured by the Gou'ald." He nudged Sam with his knee. "What do you think?" Daniel knew he might be pushing it over the line, but he couldn't help himself. It was the frustration of an itch he wasn't allowed to scratch that kept him going on about it, of not being able to shake Jack and explain to him in no uncertain terms that he was never, ever allowed to get killed on duty.

Sam nodded. "You know, Daniel, the colonel's not the only one who could benefit by it."

"Yes, Daniel. The lady knows of what she speaks," Jack said smoothly.

Daniel was trying to figure out how things got so turned around when a nurse appeared before them. "Colonel, you're next," he announced, waving Jack in past the curtains. Jack slid from the bed, his hand not-so-accidentally brushing Daniel's knee as he walked past, limping slightly.

It was all Daniel could do to keep from following him.

***

The debriefing was mercifully quick. Small Jaffa outpost, Jack captured, Jack smacked around, Jack escaped. Then Jack ran into team on his way back to the rendezvous point, and Jack took out the Jaffa who'd pinned down Sam and Teal'c. It was spoken of by all as if it were no big deal, just another day on the job, even though Daniel felt as though he had been ripped apart and put back together the wrong way.

Just another day on the job for him, too.

Jack lingered in the briefing room as everyone filed out. Daniel made a show of gathering his notes, rearranging them in his folder, placing his pen carefully in his pocket, and sipping his water before he rose from his chair.

"So," Jack said, leaning against the door frame as Daniel approached, the very definition of cool and casual. "Any plans for downtime? Three whole days, you know."

"Yeah, well, I certainly have a few ideas," Daniel said. He paused as he walked past, taking in the scent of soap and shampoo, taking in Jack, in a fresh black T-shirt, clean shaven, his hair combed smooth.

"Ah, ideas. Those are always good. And I'll bet you're full of them." Jack fell into step beside him as they strode down the corridor. "Heading out?"

"Not just yet," Daniel said with regret. He was tired, his muscles ached, and all he wanted to do was press his body up against Jack's and breathe him in. "I've got to finish up a report for SG-13. They're heading out to PX-3011 tomorrow morning."

Jack nodded a greeting to the group of airmen walking past. "So, PX-3011, huh?" he asked, turning back to Daniel.

"Yup."

"That shouldn't take too long, right?"

"Few hours, maybe." Daniel stole a glance at Jack, but his expression gave nothing away. He admired Jack's cool, perfectly offhand comments, especially since he felt as though everything he said was just a shade too earnest, and all too full of longing.

Jack continued, "Me, I'm just going to go home, hang out, sit on the couch and drink beer. The usual stuff."

They reached the bank of elevators. Two techs waited there already, precluding any kind of private conversation, much to Daniel's disappointment. "Well, uh, yeah. Have a good one," he said. He wasn't good at this kind of subterfuge. He was certain that his need was written all over his face.

An elevator door opened, and a line of airmen exited. Before Daniel could step inside, he felt a hand on his shoulder. "I can wait." Jack's voice was soft in Daniel's ear.

"No, no, really, go on home," Daniel told him. As much as he didn't want to let Jack out of his sight after the day's incident, truth was, the last thing he needed while trying to work on the report was Jack poking around in his office, interrupting him. Being his usual annoying and distractingly appealing self. "Relax, get some rest."

Jack nodded. "Later," he said, with a casual wave of his hand, but this time Daniel could see the flash of warmth in Jack's eyes, an unspoken acknowledgment.

A wave of anticipation washed over him. He'd go straight to Jack's after he finished working, and Jack would be waiting for him, those big rough hands touching his body, pulling at his clothes. In the press of flesh on flesh, forget how close he came to losing him. And he'd forget how much he hated having to hold it all in.

***

The process of translation soothed him. Searching for matching patterns, jotting down words, putting together phrases—the basic rote mental exercise smoothed out the sharp edges of his emotions and focused his energy. The story chiseled into the stone wall unfolded, revealed itself to him piece by piece. A common man who became a great and powerful king and who married a woman of stunning beauty. Daniel picked up speed, the language coming easier now, the patterns clearer. The battles, the betrayals—a grand saga, interspersed with intriguing visits by a being who dispensed words of wisdom. An Ancient? The Asgard? Gou'ald? There were clues hidden away, for him to find, clues that were crucial to directing SG-13's exploration.

He had begun the final summarization when out of the corner of his eye he noticed a figure standing in his doorway. His heart beat faster, but when he glanced up, a smile on his lips, he saw that it was only Sam. Disappointment was quickly replaced by guilt for the disappointment.

"Hey, Sam," he said before turning back to the computer screen to do a quick save. "Come on in."

"Hi, Daniel."

Daniel turned to see Sam settle into a chair in front of his desk. Her expression was odd—somewhat hesitant, a little excited. "What's up?" he asked, curious.

"Nothing. Well, no, you're busy. I don't want to disturb you." Sam stood up again.

Now that wasn't Sam-like at all. Curious, and a bit concerned, Daniel spun his chair around and squinted at her. "Nope. Not busy. Now sit." He pointed.

She smiled, that shy smile that always surprised him with its sweetness, and sat back down. "I just stopped in to say goodbye. I'm, uh, taking off for a few days."

Daniel found himself grinning back at her. "Pete. You're going to Denver, aren't you?"

She ducked her head, her smile broadening. "Yes, I am. But if you need me for anything, just give me a call—"

"Don't be crazy, Sam. There's nothing going on. Don't even think about us—just have a great time." He wanted to reassure her, because she seemed so uncomfortable, although he didn't understand why.

"I will, believe me. I've been looking forward to this. It's just that—"

"Just that what?" Daniel prodded.

She hesitated, running her fingers along the edge of his desk. Finally she sighed. "Okay. It's just that I hate feeling like I'm leaving you behind. All of you." Sam ran her fingers through her hair, slumping back in her seat. "We used to always be here together when we had down time, working on our projects, meeting at the commissary for a midnight snack, and now?"

"Oh, Sam." Daniel reached across the desk, awkwardly grabbing her hands. They were warm, her palms damp, and he squeezed them tightly. "Sam, please. Don't feel guilty. You deserve this. You deserve to have a life outside of the SGC. I really love seeing you so happy."

"I am happy. Pete's—well, he's wonderful."

"I suspected as much," he teased. She looked almost giddy. She was a girl in love, and Daniel smiled, despite his envy. She was allowed to be with Pete, allowed to be in love with him. Everyone was happy for her, and he was, too.

"I just wish—I wish you could have someone, like I do."

And just like that, the pain was back. "Sam," he started, but he didn't know what to say.

Sam let go of his hands. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories. I just hate the thought of you being stuck here, in the mountain, while I'm out, well, you know."

Daniel wanted to say "getting laid," but he couldn't do that to her. She had a modest streak a mile wide, and he found it enormously endearing. "Don't worry about me, Sam, please."

"You know, what about the new archeologist on SG-12? She's single, I heard. And pretty. Very pretty."

He held a hand up at her. "Sam, please don't. I'm fine." He spoke sharply, more so than he intended to.

"Okay, okay. Sorry, Daniel." She sat up straight in her chair, cocking her head to one side. "Just promise me you won't spend the entire time working."

"I won't," he said, trying to soothe her. "I've got a, you know, hot date with Jack tomorrow." He made it sound like a joke, but his face grew warm as he thought of Jack touching him, kissing him—little kisses along his neck, Jack's teeth on his chest.

Sam laughed. "A date with Jack? You poor thing."

He laughed with her, but at that moment, more than anything he wanted to tell her that it was the truth, that he wasn't joking, that he wasn't alone. He wanted to tell her that he loved and was loved with a fierceness he had thought he would never experience again, not after losing Sha'ure. He wanted her to stop feeling guilty and to be as happy for him as he was for her. But instead he merely said, "Sam. Go. Get out of here," and pointed toward the door. "And tell Pete I said hi."

She did go, but not before leaning over his desk and kissing his cheek. "Take care, Daniel."

He watched her leave, then turned back to his work.

***

The light in the hall was on. The house was silent—no flickering images from the TV, no music playing.

"Jack?" he said, keeping his voice low as he hung his coat. It was well after midnight. The report had taken him longer than he expected. Sam's visit had broken his concentration, knocked him out of his groove. It was his own fault. He had allowed himself to get agitated again by the day's mission, running it through his mind again and again. He couldn't stop thinking of how Jack looked when he found him by the clearing, dirty and tired and squinting in the bright sun, of Jack fidgeting during the briefing, of how Jack's hands were going to feel on his naked skin. It seemed to take forever to finish the report, but at last, it was over and done with, distributed to the in boxes of Hammond and the team members for their early-morning debriefing. And tomorrow, he and Jack could rejoice in that rare luxury of sleeping in. He looked forward to their three days together—a rare event.

His plans hit a minor snag when he found Jack in the bedroom, the lamp on, an open book under his outstretched arm, sound asleep. His face was half-hidden by the pillow, the dark red blanket pulled up to his hips, leaving exposed the long stretch of his back, right down to the gentle curve of his ass.

Still, it was as if he had come to the end of a long journey. Daniel felt quietly elated as he surveyed the cluttered bedroom—jeans draped over the chair, a handful of change scattered on the chest of drawers, a towel hanging off the edge of the closet door. The curtains were drawn tight, and Jack's displayed medals glinted in the lamplight. And there was Jack himself, alive and well, sprawled across the bed. Everything was as it should be.

Daniel quietly stripped off his clothes, adding them to the pile on the floor. Carefully sliding the book out from under Jack's arm, he closed it, bookmark in place, and laid it on the floor.

Jack twitched, his eyes fluttering open. "Huh. I'm awake," he mumbled, rolling onto his back.

"Go back to sleep," Daniel said, smiling because of the way Jack was blinking at him. Jack had a hint of a smile on his lips despite his grogginess.

Jack reached an arm out. "Come here."

Daniel went to him, tossing his glasses aside as he climbed onto the bed. "Sorry I'm so late."

Jack didn't answer. He just pulled Daniel's head down to his and kissed him with lax, sleepy lips, his tenderness making Daniel's heart ache. When Daniel raised his head Jack's eyes stayed closed, his mouth partly open. Daniel hesitated, because there was always the morning, and Jack was tired and worn down by the mission. But they had so little time together as it was.

He pressed his lips to Jack's shoulder, then kissed his way across Jack's chest, tasting the warm skin with his tongue before gently mouthing a nipple. With a sudden deep breath Jack moved, his chest arching up against Daniel's mouth as his hand went into Daniel's hair. Daniel went back to the nipple, licking and sucking, until Jack was making small, quiet sounds while he twisted against the mattress.

"Sure you don't want to go back to sleep?" Daniel asked, lips brushing against Jack's skin as he spoke.

"I wasn't asleep."

"No?" Daniel pulled the bedcovers away, exposing Jack's naked body. He frowned at the nascent bruise forming on his left side. This was his Jack, the Jack with the bruises and scars and bad knees, the all-too-fragile flesh and bones in contrast with the geared-up commander. But he would never bring that up here, not in bed. That was a subject belonging to another world, one that was far, far away. "Looked as if you were asleep to me," he said, tracing the edge of the bruise with his finger.

"Nah." Jack pulled one leg up, and slid it back down on the opposite side of Daniel's body. "I was reading. And waiting for you." He stretched, then spread his legs wide.

"With your eyes closed?" Daniel watched Jack's half-hard cock twitch. He ran his hand down Jack's thigh, then stroked up toward his groin.

"Uh," Jack grunted.

Daniel cocked his head. "Sorry, I didn't quite catch that." He cupped Jack's balls, wrinkled and hairy, holding them in the palm of his hand.

"What?"

"What?" Daniel echoed.

"Daniel," Jack said, a warning in his voice, but he slid his hips closer to Daniel as he spoke.

Daniel wrapped his fingers around Jack's cock and squeezed. It grew hard in his hand, awake and alive. He grew excited in return, his own cock swelling and aching to be touched. "Okay, yeah," he said, distracted, all teasing forgotten. "Can you grab the—thank you."

He took the lube and bent down over Jack's outstretched body, kissing and licking as he rubbed Jack's cock. It thickened even further, growing smooth and hot in his hand, the skin stretching tight until it felt like satin. He pushed Jack's legs even further apart so that he could slide his tongue along the crease where leg met hip, Jack's balls soft against his cheek. Pushing Jack's legs up, he sought the area behind Jack's balls, then licked upward, sucking each sac into his mouth. He heard the low sound from deep within Jack's throat, the one that sent shivers down his spine and straight to his cock. He loved it when Jack, so open and vulnerable, took such pleasure in his touch. This was his Jack, the one no else could have.

With a little lube, he was able to slide his forefinger inside Jack, and a moment later, a second finger could slip into the tight space. It was a real charge to watch his fingers disappear as he moved them in and out, touching Jack intimately, making him moan and twist his hips. Daniel wrapped an arm around Jack's thigh, holding him steady before he licked the length of his now-hard red cock. Jack murmured encouragement, as if Daniel needed any, and Daniel sucked the shaft into his mouth.

"Oh, yeah, that's it." Jack's hips surged up off the bed, then pushed back down onto Daniel's fingers.

Daniel smiled around the shaft. He knew this was just what Jack liked, to be penetrated, to be sucked, to have everything at once. He liked it too—the feel of the hard cock sliding along his lips, his fingers tucked up into Jack's ass, where he could feel every muscle twitch.

Jack's breath quickened, his movements growing more frantic. Daniel let the cock slide out of his mouth, and worked with just his fingers. He wanted to take his time and make this good, really good. He knew just where to reach deep inside to make Jack gasp out loud, to make Jack dig his heels into the bed. He moved up over Jack's body, sucking on a nipple before stretching over Jack's body to find his mouth. His fingers still stroked inside as they kissed, his tongue pushing inside Jack's mouth in time with his fingers. Jack clutched at his shoulder and groaned into his mouth.

"Oh, jeeze, Daniel," he panted, biting at Daniel's chin.

"You like this," Daniel said.

"Fuck yeah. I needed this—" He kissed Daniel's neck, wet, open-mouthed kisses. Daniel could feel the heat coming off his body as it moved beneath him. "Finish me off," Jack pleaded, hooking a leg around Daniel's waist. "Please, Daniel, do it."

Daniel kissed him one more time, then scooted back down to Jack's cock. Despite Jack's plea, he couldn't resist one more tease, a soft kiss to the broad head, a few gentle licks, playing with him, using a light touch because he knew how to play Jack just right, how to make Jack mutter curses and grumble. But Daniel's fingers were growing numb from being squeezed by the tight muscle, so he gave in and sucked hard, keeping a steady pace until Jack shouted, filling his mouth with the sharp taste of his come. Jack came hard, muscles straining as he let loose with little breathless gasps of pleasure. When Jack came, he never failed to sound surprised and delighted, almost as if he hadn't known it could be so good. It was sweet, it was incredibly erotic, and Daniel always wanted to do it all over again once he finished.

He withdrew his fingers, kissed Jack's spent cock, and stretching out along side Jack. His own cock was ready and waiting, especially at the sight of Jack lying there, chest heaving, arms spread wide, eyes half-open, his hair sticking out in tufts. Spent, and as smug as could be.

"God damn, you're good at that," Jack said.

"My pleasure," Daniel said. He nuzzled Jack's cheek. "And what do I get in return?" He poked Jack's hip with his cock.

"My undying gratitude?"

"That's not exactly what I had in mind."

"Awe and admiration?"

"I already have that," Daniel told him. Impatient, he pushed Jack's hips, rolling him over onto his side, ignoring Jack's indignant response.

"Hey, hey, don't I even get a moment to bask here?"

"No," Daniel said. "Not until I do." He tucked in behind Jack, grabbing the lube, applied it liberally, then pushed inside of Jack, moaning as he slid deep inside the slick space. Jack bore down on him, pushing back. Soon Daniel was snug up against his ass, his knees pushed up behind Jack's knees, chest pressed against Jack's back. He wrapped an arm around Jack's waist and held on, because Jack was hot and tight and it was good, so damn good, to finally be here, to finally be close enough.

He heard Jack yawn. "Don't—don't let me keep you up," Daniel whispered with a smile, his cheek against Jack's back.

"Just waiting for you to get started. Feel free to, any time. Oh—wait, are you already in there?" He wriggled his ass, sending a shiver of pleasure through Daniel's body. "I couldn't tell—"

"Oh, fuck, Jack," Daniel gasped. "You wise-ass." Daniel slapped Jack's hip, but Jack's laughter was contagious, because he was happy, because everything was so damn good. He pushed himself up on an elbow and thrust into Jack's body, still shaking with laughter. He thought maybe he should be gentle, but he couldn't help himself, not after wanting so badly. Not after losing Jack on some other world, even if for only a few hours.

Jack seemed to understand. He brought his knees up, and reached behind to press his hand against Daniel's ass, encouraging him, sliding a finger down between sweaty cheeks. Daniel thrust into him with quick, jerky movements, fingers clutching Jack's hip. He sucked the side of Jack's neck, mouthing his jaw, biting his shoulder until it was wet and slick. "Oh god," he whispered, holding Jack tighter. So amazing that Jack would let him do this, he loved Jack so much, and he was going to come, he was so close, so full of love, and he couldn't get deep enough no matter how hard he pushed. "Oh god, Jack, oh god, please—"

It was always like this with Jack—a wild, desperate moment just before he came, when he thought his heart might shatter from the beauty of it all.

***

Daniel woke to the sound of footsteps and the acrid smell of strong, fresh coffee. "Jack," he mumbled, without opening his eyes. He stretched, feeling sleepy, still languid from the pleasure of the night before, wanting it to last. He wasn't yet ready to face the day, not yet.

But there was coffee.

"Wake up, lazy bones." Jack sounded all too chipper.

"Mmm. In a bit." Schedules totally out of sync, Daniel thought. He felt something large and heavy bounce onto the mattress, and then his covers vanished. He opened his eyes to see Jack staring at his exposed groin.

"Oh, yeah," Jack said. "Rise up and shine."

"Jack," Daniel complained. He could tell from the gray light outside that it was ridiculously early. He shivered, trying to tug the blanket back over his body. He was thwarted by Jack, wearing only a bathrobe and a cheery smile as he straddled his naked body. "Coffee?" Daniel asked, trying for a demanding tone, but managing only to achieve plaintive. He could see the two steaming mugs sitting on the shelf, but Jack had him pinned to the bed. If Jack was going to wake him up at such an ungodly hour, the least he could do was let him drink some coffee, not just tease him with it.

"All in good time." Jack settled in, wriggling his bony ass into Daniel's hips. "All in good time."

Something hard and blunt pushed into Daniel's stomach, and Daniel realized just how awake Jack was. "But—coffee first," Daniel begged, pointing toward the mugs.

"Uh-uh. This first," Jack said, his fingers caressing Daniel's morning hard-on.

Daniel furrowed his brow with as fierce a scowl as he could muster while having his cock petted, but Jack remained unimpressed. "You're a cruel man," Daniel said, but his cock jerked in Jack's hand. He found himself becoming very interested by the way Jack was untying his bathrobe, exposing his bare chest, rough hair swirling every which way, the slightly rounded stomach, and dark shadowy navel. By the time Jack reached to touch himself, Daniel was fascinated, arranging the pillow under his head so he could watch Jack slip a rough, warm hand under his own cock, pushing the two together, smearing them with lube until they were both shiny and slippery. The touch of Jack's hand made him shudder, and suddenly he couldn't remember why he was complaining in the first place. This was exactly what he wanted—Jack's hands on him, Jack's weight pinning him down, Jack's cock hard and red and full. He wanted to contribute to the fun, but when he reached for Jack's cock, Jack brushed his hand away.

"Nope. I'm driving," Jack informed him.

"Oh. Okay. That's good, too." Daniel instead settled for stroking Jack's knobby knees. The robe fell from Jack's shoulders, remaining draped over his forearms as his hands squeezed in all the right places, the kind of places that made Daniel gasp and moan out loud. Jack started up some slow, steady stroking, and Daniel couldn't speed it up, no matter how hard he tried to thrust.

"Hey," Jack said softly. "The eyes. Open them."

Daniel's eyes flew open—he didn't know he had closed them. Jack was watching him with that odd, lopsided smile on his face. Daniel bit his lip, his face growing hot at the realization that Jack wanted to watch his reaction, wanted to watch him come. Daniel was used to trying so hard not to let it show, not to give away what was in his heart. But here it was safe, and Jack wanted to see—

"Jack," he whispered, and Jack's smile grew. Oh god, Jack loved him—loved him so much. It was like Jack was reaching in and cradling his heart in his hand.

He couldn't take his eyes off Jack's face. Jack's dark eyes were burning him, so much that Daniel just stared and gasped and moaned, his fingers twisting the edge of Jack's fallen bathrobe. Jack's hands were making him crazy, pulling the pleasure up out of his body. He was going to come, and he wanted to tell Jack, but he couldn't speak, he couldn't breathe, and then he was there, the rush surging up through his body, his cock pulsing as he pulled on handfuls of Jack's robe and whimpered helplessly.

Jack's expression was triumphant. "Oh, yeah, Daniel. That's it." His hands moved faster as he jerked himself off. Daniel lay back, breathing hard, his body heavy and boneless. He admired the sight of Jack's thick, hard cock slipping through his fingers. The show got even better when Jack threw his head back, whispered "oh, god, oh god," and came, so joyful, so naked. So stunned.

When it was all over he smiled at Daniel, a small, almost shy smile.

"Good morning," Daniel said.

"Gooood morning." Jack was still grinning as he leaned down for a kiss. He shrugged off his robe and wiped them both clean. "Mmm," he sighed, and kissed Daniel again, stretching out to lie alongside him, his head resting on Daniel's chest.

Daniel sighed, feeling good, feeling lazy and sated and loved. His favorite way to start off the day. Then he remembered something. "Jack?"

Jack raised his head. "Oh, yeah. Can you grab the coffee, Daniel?"

Daniel blinked at him. "Can I what?"

"You know, the coffee," Jack clarified with a lazy wave of his hand. As Daniel blinked again, Jack nodded. "Right. I got it."

Daniel suppressed a smile as Jack retrieved the two mugs, coffee hot but no longer steaming, and returned to the bed. Propped up with pillows, they leaned against each other and sipped. Daniel sighed in contentment. He listened to the birds sing and decided morning wasn't so bad after all.

"So, what are your plans for today? Jack asked.

Daniel thought for a moment. "Hmmm. I don't know. Lounging in your bed, drinking coffee?"

"All day?"

"Do you have a better idea?"

Jack frowned. "No, actually I don't." He nestled in closer, jostling Daniel's coffee. "I could live with this. Even though you're spilling coffee on my sheets. But don't forget that tonight, I'm going out."

Jack's old AF colleagues were in town, part of some sort of planning SGC committee. "Actually, I did forget," Daniel admitted.

"Hey, like I said, you can come along—"

"Oh, and listen to hairy-chested war stories? No thank you. I get enough of that kind of thing already."

"Funny, Daniel, real funny. So what are you going to do? Go into the mountain and futz around in your dusty old office?"

"Nope, promised Sam I wouldn't." At Jack's questioning look, he added, "She's visiting Pete this weekend, and she felt guilty about it. So I told her I wouldn't work either."

"Huh. Our little girl, all grown up." Jack sighed dramatically.

Daniel eyed Jack over his cup as he sipped. "She also tried to get me to go out with Lynn, the archeologist with SG-12."

"Maybe you should consider it."

"What? Jack, you're joking, right?" he asked, even though from Jack's solemn expression, it was clear his suggestion was serious.

"As a smokescreen. It might keep people from asking questions, you know?"

"No," Daniel said. "I can't do it—pretending to be interested when I'm not. I can't lie to someone like that." I can't be like you, he almost said. Because it had been so easy for Jack to lie to him about leaving the program back when Jack went undercover. So easy for Jack to tell him their friendship "had no foundation." That had all happened many years ago, but Daniel was still disturbed by it. Even though it was all part of the job.

"Hey, it was just a suggestion. You'd be lousy at it, anyway."

"Thank you. So let's not talk about it, okay?" It jarred, just thinking about it, here in Jack's bedroom, when they were in bed and naked, his head leaning on Jack's shoulder, Jack's leg draped over his. This was their world, and he resented the intrusion.

He put down his empty cup and got out of bed, the magic of the morning gone. "I'm going to go and shower." At the door, he hesitated as Jack, still lying against pillows, spoke.

"Daniel, you know I'm only trying to keep this thing between us safe, don't you? You never know when someone's going to start noticing things and asking questions."

"I know. I just—I wish—you know."

"Yeah, I do know Daniel. But we can't change the way it is."

Daniel appreciated that Jack was being pragmatic. It was something he didn't want to think about. There was so much he wanted to change, but couldn't.

***

Daniel was in bed, staring at the ceiling, when he heard the door slam. He held his breath, listening carefully. He wasn't expecting Jack, but the soft "oops" he heard immediately afterward was a dead giveaway. It was Jack. At—he squinted at the clock—3:25 a.m.

Puzzled and more than a little concerned, Daniel made his way into the kitchen, flipped the light on, and blinked at the sudden brightness. The first thing he saw was Jack, looking quite nice in a leather coat and khakis, standing in the middle of his kitchen.

"Daniel! Hi. Sorry about that—the door slipped." Jack waved his fingers, "I was trying to be quiet, but you know, I wasn't." He shrugged off his jacket and tossed it vaguely in the direction of a kitchen chair. It landed on the floor. "Oops."

"Jack, not that I'm not happy to see you, but what—what are you doing here?" Daniel picked up the jacket and draped it over the back of the chair. "I thought you'd be sleeping at home tonight. Or," he looked up at the clock, "last night. It's not last night any more, is it? It's the next morning."

Jack's face took on the perplexed look Daniel knew all too well. "Huh?"

Daniel tried again. "Hi, Jack. What's up?"

"Hi, Daniel. I was just in the neighborhood, and thought I'd stop by." Jack swayed gently to one side, then backed up until he was leaning against the counter. "I can go if you want."

"No, I—" Daniel stopped short. Jack was drunk, he realized. Jack was being careful, but Daniel suspected he might even be very drunk. "How did you get here? You didn't drive, did you?"

Jack shook his head. "No, no, no. No. Didn't drive." He turned away from Daniel and began opening the cabinets above the counter.

"But—" Daniel wondered whether he was still sleeping, whether this was a dream, because nothing was really making sense. "What are you looking for?" Jack was swinging open the doors and leaving them that way, just in the right position to smack into his forehead should he turn around.

"I could use a drink. I know you got something in here somewhere." Jack spoke over his shoulder. "Like booze. Something like that."

"Hold it, hold it, I do—wait—" Daniel closed each cabinet as he approached, then winced as Jack began pushing aside the water glasses, seeing a disaster in the making. "Here, not in there." He nudged Jack aside in order to reach into the far cabinet.

"Oh, hello." Jack looked surprised at seeing Daniel so close. A second later, Daniel's mouth was covered with a sloppy kiss, bitter with the taste of smoke and whiskey. Jack leaned into him, and Daniel stumbled backward under his weight until he came up against the refrigerator. Jack kept right on leaning, his belt scraping against Daniel's stomach. Daniel became acutely aware that he was wearing only his boxers. There was something just right about the rub of Jack's clothes against his bare skin, something kind of dirty and sexy and hot. His brain skittered to a halt just as Jack broke off the kiss.

"Ah," Jack said, with a knowing nod. He stepped back, looking Daniel's body over as he trailed a hand down his chest, fingering a nipple. "Yeah. A drink. I could really use a drink. Whatcha got?" He turned back to the cabinet and peered inside.

Daniel pushed his glasses up and rubbed his eyes, dazed. He wanted Jack to kiss him again. "Scotch, I think. There should be scotch in there. But I think you've had—"

"Ah ha! You're right. Scotch." Jack produced a half-empty bottle with a broad grin. "A manly drink. For a manly man. Who likes to be with other manly men." He winked at Daniel. "Pretty, manly men."

Something was definitely off-kilter with Jack, Daniel thought. He wondered if something had happened at the bar with his manly buddies. Jack showed no signs of having been in a fight, but that didn't necessarily mean anything.

Jack put the bottle down with a thump. "Where are those glasses? Not those glasses," he said, pointing to the ones on Daniel's face. "I like those, you know that? They're so you."

"Wait, Jack. Just go sit down, and I'll pour you a drink, okay?"

"Okay." Jack didn't sit down, but he backed out of Daniel's way, much to Daniel's relief.

"So, you went out with Robbie and those guys tonight, right?" Daniel retrieved two small glasses from the cabinet, then poked around the freezer, hoping for a stray ice cube.

"Oh yeah. Had fun with the guys."

"Yeah?" Daniel peered at Jack over his glasses. "And?"

"And what?" Jack shrugged. "After Robbie dropped me off, I decided the house was too quiet, and decided to go for a walk. Ended up here."

"You walked?" Daniel was incredulous. Not because of the distance; they easily did twice that on missions. But right now, for Jack, it would have been more like staggering than walking. "I'm surprised you made it here."

"And why is that?"

"You're a little…tipsy," Daniel said. He picked up one ice cube tray, which contained only a thin coating of frost. The second tray yielded one small, sickly cube, which he popped into Jack's glass.

"Only a little. Tipsy, that is." He was in Daniel's way again, grabbing at the glass. "You going to pour something into these or what?" But his hand was stroking Daniel's back, warm and heavy.

Daniel splashed a generous amount into both glasses, then followed him out of the kitchen and onto the couch in the dark living room. Jack grew quiet and thoughtful, leaning forward as he sat with his elbows on his knees, face lit only by the diffuse light filtering in from the kitchen.

Daniel sipped his drink. He stared at Jack, then took another swallow, a bigger one. It tasted like Jack—smoky. "So?" he finally prompted.

"So?"

"Jack, what the hell is going on with you? I've never seen you drunk, not like this."

"What, can't a guy go out and have a good time? It was great seeing the guys." Jack leaned back and kicked off his shoes. "We talked about the old days. You know, Robbie, he's still married, he showed me pictures of his kids. The oldest just graduated college, god damn it. I remember when she was born. Frank, he got divorced a while back, but now he's remarried, married this gorgeous redhead, she's real—" Jack outlined a curve with his hand, "you know. He showed me pictures, too."

"Oh." Daniel downed the rest of his drink in one gulp, the trail of fire burning straight down to his stomach and spreading to his limbs. Jack had been married for years. It should not be a surprise that thinking of his past would renew old longings. "Okay," Daniel said, staring into his empty glass. "I get it."

"But I couldn't show any pictures of you," Jack continued.

"You—what?"

"I mean, I've got a sweet young thing of mine own—well," Jack paused as a choked noise escaped Daniel's throat. "Well, younger and sweeter than me, okay?"

"Whatever you say, Jack." Daniel was surprised that Jack thought of him like that, as someone he wanted to show off to others. That Jack wanted to carry a picture of him in his wallet.

"I couldn't share any of it with them. I just had to sit quietly, pretending I was single and all alone, that no one stole my covers during the night, or kept me up with their snoring. Or woke me up just to make love."

"Oh, Jack, that's so—" Daniel patted Jack's leg, because his words escaped him. "I know, believe me, I know. I wish it didn't have to be like this, too." All at once he was ashamed because he had thought he was the only one struggling with all the sneaking around, the subterfuge. He had thought it came easily to Jack, the pragmatic one. He had assumed that he was just another one of the many secrets Jack had to keep.

"It made it almost like…" Jack set his drink down and turned to face Daniel, eyes soft and pleading. "Almost like you didn't exist anymore, that I really was going to go back to an empty house. And that my life, that part of my life was empty. Like you were gone. I hated it when you were gone, even though that was before we were us."

"Oh Jack," Daniel touched Jack's face, tracing Jack's cheek with his fingertips. His heart ached at the pain in Jack's voice. "I'm real, Jack. We're real," he whispered, touching his forehead to Jack's.

Jack kissed his cheek, his hand cupping Daniel's neck, pulling him close. "If two people love each other, and no one knows about it…" he said, his voice trailing off.

"I know we're making a sound, Jack."

"We are?"

"Yeah. Trust me." The only other thing Daniel could think of to convince Jack was to kiss him, and so he did. Jack responded by sighing into his mouth, making a small noise before opening his mouth and letting Daniel in. They kissed, slow and intent, and Daniel could feel Jack relax against his arms. Jack's lips moved from his mouth to his cheek, kissing his jaw, then nuzzling into his neck before sliding down his chest. With a final sigh Jack rested his in head Daniel's lap, face tucked into Daniel's stomach, an arm wrapped around Daniel's waist.

Daniel gazed down, his fingers in Jack's hair. He had been mistaken—foolish, even, to think that Jack didn't want the same things he did. He stroked Jack's head, toying with the short strands of hair, and Jack's breathing steadied. He sipped his scotch, his fingers gently, tenderly rubbing Jack's head. He thought Jack had fallen asleep until he stirred and opened his eyes.

"You know, one of these days I'm going to retire," Jack said. He rubbed his cheek against Daniel's stomach. His face was bristly—he needed a shave—but Daniel didn't complain.

"You don't say," Daniel teased, but there were times when he doubted either of them would live to see that day.

"Really. And then we can live together. We'll buy a new place, and decorate it just the way we want it. I'll stay home and plant rosebushes." His words were beginning to slur.

"You've got it all planned out, don't you?" Daniel asked. Jack retired, taking it easy. Right. Lazing about really wasn't Jack's strong suit.

"Yup. Been thinking about this. I'll spend the days writing my memoirs. I always wanted to do that. You'll be in them. It will be the greatest love story ever told." He tightened his arm around Daniel's waist, kissing his stomach.

Daniel knew it could never happen, any of it. "Ah. I see. It's going to be a bestseller. Action, adventure, romance—it will have it all."

"Yup. Everyone's going to want me on their talk show, but I'll just say no. Because I'll just want to be at home with you. We'll go grocery shopping together, and take turns cooking dinner. That kind of stuff." He looked up at Daniel, eyes bleary. "That's what we're going to do."

Daniel nodded. "Can we throw dinner parties, too?" he asked, encouraging Jack's flight of fancy.

"You bet. We'll throw fabulous dinner parties. We'll be the talk of the town."

Daniel couldn't hold back anymore. He burst out laughing. It was either that or cry. Because as ludicrous as it sounded, he wanted it all, wanted that life with Jack at his side. No more lurking in the shadows. No more pretending. No more wondering if each mission was going to be their last.

He leaned over, raised Jack's head to his and kissed him. "It's a date," he said.

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