Healing Touch



There were times when Jack O'Neill could fall into bed and drop into sleep as easy as if someone threw a switch. Then there were other times, when sleep was as elusive as winning the state lottery. Like tonight. Three a.m. and he was still wide awake. He was also hot and sticky, and aware of the not-very-pleasant odour rising from the sheets. Damn! Maybe he should have showered after all, but the debriefing had taken forever and he had been just too bone weary to bother.

Sighing, he rolled out of bed and dragged on his pants, stuffed his bare feet into a pair of sneakers. With luck he could get to the showers and back without anyone stopping him. Last thing he wanted was to get caught up in some long conversation. A quick, cool shower to make himself feel more comfortable and maybe then he could grab what was left of the night.

The hallways were empty and night-time quiet, the occasional guard acknowledging his passing with a silent nod. Reaching the locker room, he slipped inside, relieved to find himself alone. He stripped quickly, tossing his dirty clothes indiscriminately into the bottom of his locker and grabbing towel and soap. A quick shower then back to bed...

Passing the second row of lockers he glanced towards Daniel's locker, as he always did, his thoughts never far away from his young friend - finding to his surprise that the metal door stood slightly open. In addition, the bench was littered with discarded fatigues and underwear. Daniel's underwear. Which meant Daniel was probably...

His gaze shifted to the door of the shower room, and now he could hear the distant splash of water and above it the fractured words of a song carried on a softly familiar voice. Something went 'thump' inside his chest and suddenly his pulse was doing all sorts of crazy things, sending lightening bolts of energy through his veins. Damnit! Why now? he groaned, feeling his cock twitch. He wanted something that would lull him to sleep, not scramble his libido, as being close to Daniel Jackson in a communal shower always did. If only the guy wasn't so damn gorgeous, with that soft hair of his and those blue eyes. Shit! Those eyes...

His mind told him to turn around, go back to bed, but already his hand was pushing the door open and his feet were carrying him over the threshold, carrying him closer to Daniel, there, at the far end, all golden and wet, rivulets of soap cascading down his body as he raised his hands to work the shampoo through his hair, the foam following the line of corded muscles that flexed beneath the tanned skin, pooling above the slightly arched phallus for a moment before sliding on down his long, long legs.

Jack's own cock was straining against the towel looped around his hips and he was grateful for the concealment it afforded him. If he could just get to the other shower head and get under the cold spray, he might ... just...

"Hey Jack!"

The shock of the cheery greeting sapped the strength from Jack's legs and he grabbed at the control to stop himself from stumbling. "Hi Daniel," he responded, keeping his back to the younger man and acknowledging him over his shoulder.

"You can't sleep either, huh."

"Ah - no. No, it's too - ah - hot down - here."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. Guess the air conditioning's out again."

"Yeah, guess - guess it is." He could hear the hesitation in his own voice and realised he sounded more like Daniel at that moment than Daniel did himself, the uncertainty, the nervousness, the insecurity that Daniel always seemed to exude around him. How come the guy could be so at ease with everyone else, but when Jack tried to talk to him he always lost it?

Maybe for the same reason you're losing it now, teased the demon at his shoulder. Maybe he's having as much trouble with you being here as you are with him. Ever thought of that, Jack?

Yeah, he'd thought about it, wished for it, fantasised every night about having him, knowing all the while he never would. For one thing Daniel was still getting over Sha're, for another he was straight as a die. A walking wet dream, that was Daniel Jackson, a dichotomy of sensuality and innocence, who could be finely attuned to the slightest anomaly in some alien artefact yet totally oblivious to the reactions of those around him whenever he walked into the room. Sam Carter turned into a little puddle of longing every time Daniel smiled at her, Hammond could refuse him nothing, and even Teal'c was not immune, as Jack had discovered one day in these very showers when he caught the Jaffa casting lascivious sidelong glances at their naked friend.

As for Jack O'Neill... Unaware of it Daniel might be, but he had stolen Jack's heart the first time he sneezed and Jack had long ago given up trying to get it back. And it was driving Jack crazy.

"You thinking of taking a shower or just admiring the tiling?" Daniel giggled, and the delight in his voice made Jack turn around without thinking, forgetting....

"Oh - ah - Oh my...." The sunkissed skin was rapidly turning a beautiful shade of dusky pink as Daniel's gaze slid, unconsciously, down Jack's body, coming to rest... right... there. "Sorry, I-I didn't..."

It took all of Jack's bravado to laugh lightly and shrug aside Daniel's embarrassment. "Forget it. Darn thing's got a will of its own sometimes." Turning away, he dialled the spray to cool and stepped beneath it, knowing that the sooner he got out of there the better. The soap smelled of lemons, the clean, sharp scent stinging his nostrils and making his skin tingle as he lathered up his hair and then began working down the length of his body, trying not to touch himself where he wanted so much to be touched, trying not to imagine what it would be like to feel Daniel's hands on him. Trying hardest of all not to imagine what it would be like to touch Daniel.

"Want me to get your back?" The soft question sent shivers dancing down his spine. That couldn't be Daniel's voice, not something so low and raw with seduction, a stranger's voice or a figment of his frustrated mind, but not Daniel - except he knew it was, heard the promise and ran from it.

"Nah, that's - - Ohhhh!" The protest died on his lips as the strong, capable hands closed over his shoulders and began a gentle massage, working the tension away with the ease of a professional masseur.

"Relax, Jack, I won't bite - "he laughed, and then sent Jack's brain into overload as he added coyly "'less you want me to..."

Oh god! Jack's mind snapped Did he just say what I think he said? But he was fast approaching past caring as Daniel's hands worked their way down his back, heading southward, towards his butt and driving his cock north once again. If Daniel kept this up Jack wouldn't be responsible for the outcome!

"Um, Daniel... " he tried to intervene, but the hands slipped over his hips and down the outside of his thighs, curling around until they cupped his ass, kneading the muscles there. Oh yeah... just like that... his mind begged, surrendering Touch me, he begged Please, please touch me... "DANIEL!!"

All movement stilled as his voice bounced off the ceramic walls, too loud in the small room. A moment later the hands quit their gentle ministrations and the warmth that had radiated from Daniel's body, close but not quite touching his, was gone.

"Sorry, Space Monkey," he said, using his pet name for Daniel to lighten the mood "but if you keep that up I'm gonna embarrass us both." A quick, noncommittal grin over his shoulder let him take in the look on Daniel's face. It wasn't one he expected to see and the force of it knocked him further off balance.

"What's the matter, Jack? Am I pushing too many buttons?" he murmured and, before Jack could move away, trailed one slick finger down Jack's spine, stopping only when he reached the top of the cleft. That was too much for Jack. Either they stopped this right now, or they played it out to the end and to hell with the consequences. He turned slowly, making no attempt now to hide the throbbing arc of flesh jutting from his body, and met Daniel's eyes with a challenge.

"No - you're pushing all of them, Danny... and if you touch me there again you'll have to fuck me."

"Yeah?" Fire flamed in Daniel's eyes and he ran the tip of his tongue provocatively across his bottom lip. "Had you figured for a top man, Jack."

Jack shrugged. "Top, bottom - who gives a damn if it feels good?"

For a moment Daniel's eyes closed and his chest, that beautifully formed expanse of muscle and golden flesh, swelled as he sighed a sigh of utter contentment. Taking advantage of the moment, Jack allowed his gaze to wander where it would, charting face, hair, the long sweep of neck, the broad shoulders, the fine down across his chest, bleached almost to white by a dozen different suns, the tiny pinpoints of gold bracketing the left nipple...

Gold?? His eyes widened as he leaned in to take a closer look. Well I'll be damned...

"See anything you like?" Daniel asked, as if finding the colonel peering at his chest was the most natural thing in the world.

Jack pulled back sharply, feeling himself redden. "Ah - I was just wondering - um- " Unable to vocalise, he waggled a finger noncommittally towards the object of his confused attention. "How long?"

Daniel looked down at himself, then back up at Jack, but if Jack expected some stumbling, embarrassed excuse, he was to be disappointed, for Daniel merely shrugged and said offhandedly "Oh about - ah - four? - months. Yeah, four."

"Four months?"

"Before I went to Abydos."

Jack gaped at him as he worked out the dates. Eighteen months in all. "I never - er - noticed it - before."

Another shrug accompanied the birth of a mischievous grin: either it didn't occur to him to question that Jack had been watching him that closely - or he didn't object. "Well it's hard to see under my uniform, and I usually take it off when I shower here. They gave me a medical before I went to Abydos and the doc suggested it might not be a good idea to - ah - flaunt it"

Suddenly all Jack's preconceptions about the scientist were being turned upside-down. The Daniel Jackson he knew - or at least thought he knew - was surely too naive, too innocent to indulge in something as extreme as this. "I don't understand," he confessed. "Why?"

"It was something I'd wanted to try, then a guy I was dating told me - "

Jack didn't hear the rest. "A guy you were dating?" he repeated, not sure if he was surprised or angry or relieved, or maybe a little of each. Daniel dated men? "Are you telling me you're gay? Since when?"

Daniel laughed softly, shaking his head, his bottom lip caught between his teeth. "You didn't know."

"No!" Jack responded immediately. "I mean - No!. You never said anything, you never even gave me a hint. Gay? - Jeeez - Why the hell didn't you tell me? I thought we were friends."

The smile dropped abruptly from Daniel's face and he reached for his towel, winding it around his hips. "And if I had told you? Would we still be friends then, Jack?" He stepped away, towards the door, then stopped to look back, shaking his head despondently, as if something very precious had been lost. "I never figured you as a hypocrite, Colonel."

"What the f-- ? Hypocrite?" Fear crawled over Jack's skin, fear of the impending loss of privacy almost as acute as his fear of losing Daniel's respect.

A short, sharp laugh, almost a sneer, slipped from the younger man's lips and there was a flash of anger in his eyes. "Well you're not going to try to tell me you weren't fucking Kawalsky?" he spat. Then before Jack could answer, spun on his heel and strode from the room, leaving Jack staring after him, his whole life falling into tatters at his feet.

Daniel knew about Kawalsky.

The pain was as acute now as it had ever been, worse - god help him - than it had even been after the death of his son. The tragedy of both was equal, but at least with his son it had been quick and the boy had known little about it. Charlie Kawalsky had known everything that was happening to him, everything that was being done to him in the vain hope of saving him, all the time watching the minutes of his life tick away towards a terrifying and painful end. He had known also that to some factions of the military he was no better than a guinea pig. They wanted the Goa'uld lava and they would do whatever was necessary to get it, even if it meant leaving the man without the use of his limbs for the rest of his life. Jack had been there with him through it all, watching his one-time lover fight for his life, knowing deep down that the fight had been lost the moment they returned through the stargate. But still he had stayed, seen it through, fought for him - buried him.

Jack slumped to the floor of the shower stall as a wave of memories washed over him, images of Kawalsky alive and whole, laughing at some crazy joke, charging headlong into a fire fight with his gun blazing - or naked and writhing in the throes of passion as Jack thrust into him. Kawalsky had never been a romantic lover and they had never spoken of feelings, but the intensity of their relationship had been all-consuming, live for the day and to hell with the future. But that was when they both thought they had a future. Only when his body had been invaded by the Goa'uld lava, making death a certainty, had he finally told Jack the truth.

The night before the operation to remove the Goa'uld had been the hardest of Jack's life. Alone with Kawalsky in the infirmary he had held his lover for the last time, careless of the risk, the possibility that the lava might evade removal by slipping unnoticed into his body. Back propped against the wall, arms around shoulders that shook incessantly from the effort to fight the pain, Jack had given what comfort he could, whispering words he had never expected to say to a man as he pressed gentle, soothing kisses to the dark hair. Words that he wasn't sure, even now, that he had meant, but at the time they were what Kawalsky had needed, and in the end was it so bad to let him die thinking his love was returned in kind?

{{You're the reason I never married, you know that?}} The honesty of the confession had cut through Jack like a knife through butter. {{Always thought it'd be like - betraying you. Just wish you coulda loved me the same, Jack.}} And Jack had looked down into those frightened brown eyes and for a moment it had felt as if his heart would break all over again, and so he had lied, for himself as much as Kawalsky. {{What makes you think I don't, huh? Just because I never said it..}} {{Yeah? You really mean that?} {{Yeah, I really mean it. I love you, Charlie}} and then, to compound the lie further and so blacken his own soul beyond hope, added {{Always will, babe.}}

A tear slid silently down Jack's cheek. The words had been so much more than a lie, they had been his own betrayal of the feelings already growing inside him for Daniel and it was for that reason he had tried so hard to hide his past. If Daniel, good natured and trusting soul that he was, ever found out about Kawalsky he would assume that he and Jack had been lovers in the fullest sense of the word, because to Daniel there was no such thing as sex without love. And once that assumption had been made, how would he ever convince Daniel otherwise.

The cold of the tiles was beginning to seep into his legs and he could feel the muscles starting to cramp. Rolling to his knees, he stood up and reached for his towel. At least Daniel would be gone by now and he could slink back to his quarters like the slime he felt himself to be. With luck, by morning, he could find the strength to face Daniel again.

Question was, how lucky did he feel?


His watch showed three forty-five. Odd, it seemed much longer since he'd set out to have a shower. He waved a hand distractedly at the guard as he passed the elevator and for an instant thought about going up top for some air. It was an even bet that after the scene with Daniel he wouldn't be getting any more sleep that night.

Bottom line, he hated himself. He hated himself for not turning back when he heard Daniel in the shower, and for letting his desire get the better of him, and for never having the courage to tell Daniel about Kawalsky. Most of all, he hated himself for putting his friendship with Daniel at risk, when all his instincts had warned him that he was playing a very dangerous game.

He paused as he passed Daniel's room. Maybe he should knock and get it over with now, then hope that a week apart would give them time to put it all into perspective. He raised his hand to rap on the door - then something stopped him and instead he flattened his palm against the cold metal surface. No, he couldn't face Daniel yet. The wounds were too raw, his feelings too close to the surface for him to deal with Daniel's anger right now.

Slowly, regretfully, he trailed his hand down the anonymous barrier and turned away, heading for his own chamber of nightly horrors. He wasn't even looking as he pushed open the door and stepped inside, wasn't aware that anyone was there - until he hurled the damp towel towards the bed and a ragged voice said "Nice shot."

"Daniel?" He couldn't keep the instant delight from his voice as he turned and saw Daniel seated on his bed, but it faded quickly as reality intruded. If Daniel had come here it had to mean he wanted answers, and Jack wasn't sure he wanted to hear those particular questions.

"I was heading for my room," Daniel told him, his voice so low that Jack had to strain to hear it, "but my feet just - ah - kept going." He finished the sentence on one of those hesitant, insecure shrugs that Jack knew so well, the kind of look that told him his friend was feeling out of his depth. Turning away from him, because the alternative would probably wreck everything forever, Jack picked up the towel and crossed the room to drop it in his laundry bag.

"Look, Daniel, it's kinda late. Can we - " he waved a hand between them, searching for the right words " - do this tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow? Um - No. I'd rather not - wait..."

Jack pulled a shirt from the back of the chair and began to fold it carefully before stuffing it into the bag, all the while feeling the blue eyes like lasers on the back of his neck. The he found a pair of socks and folded them together, searching around for things to do - anything that would give him an excuse not to look at Daniel.

In the stillness of the room, he heard Daniel draw a long, slow breath, enough to fill his lungs and swell the incredible chest, with that intriguing little golden stud...

"Okay, that's enough!" The words, barked out, were as forcible as any order Hammond himself had ever given. "Jack come here."

"Daniel - " by comparison his own voice sounded almost - cowed, submissive.

"Come here," Daniel repeated and, just as it had in those last hours with Kawalsky, something in Jack gave way. He re-crossed the room to stop beside Daniel, one hand hanging loose at his side while the other scraped through his greying hair and came to rest at the base of his skull, fingertips working ineffectually at the tension knotted there. He was tired of the games, tired of wanting and never having - tired of everything. So tired that for a moment he didn't notice the hand slipping into his.

"I came to apologise, Jack," Daniel murmured.

"Apologise?" He looked down then, falling helplessly into those twinned pools of blue, the beauty of which rivalled the stargate's incandescence.

"Yes. I had no right to say that about you and Kawalsky. It was a cheap shot, and I'm really, really sorry."

There was no question that he was sincere and as he heard him out, Jack's hand tightened around the trembling fingers. I'm holding his hand! His mind suddenly registered the fact and his pulse began to race alarmingly. He's sitting on my bed and I'm actually holding his hand..

It was the opening of a door he had believed barred to him forever and instead of walking away he found himself stepping over the threshold, ready to face whatever lay beyond. "I - should have told you," he confessed " but I - I didn't know how. What happened with Charlie and me..."

"I don't need to hear the details, Jack."

"No... But I do need to explain." Giving Daniel's hand a gentle squeeze, he sat down beside him, absently smoothing the long fingers with is own as he spoke. "I didn't love him. Well, I did, but only as a friend. I was never in love with him. It was - twenty years ago, we were young, we were wild. One day it just - I dunno, it was like - tossing a match into a box of firecrackers. We'd both fooled around before, but I guess we just - trusted each other enough to let it go further. Maybe, if we'd had more time, it would have turned into something else."

Daniel nodded slowly, listening, working it through. "When did it end?" he asked at last. Jack smiled at the memory.

"When I met Sara. He stuck around long enough to see me safely married, then he took a transfer. Next time I saw him was here, when they brought me in to lead the first Abydos mission." He frowned suddenly, remembering something Kawalsky had said to him not long after they had been reunited, after the first Goa'uld attack on Earth. "We got so out of touch, he never even knew I had a son."

"Did you name him after Kawalsky?"

Daniel's insight startled him. "Ye-ahh," he replied slowly. "Well actually, that was Sara's idea, but I wasn't gonna argue. I think they would have liked each other - Kawalsky and my Charlie, I mean." He had a sudden image of the three of them, himself, Charlie and Kawalsky, playing ball in the sunshine. "Now they're both gone," he whispered and the tears filled his eyes again and made his throat so tight he couldn't speak, even when he felt Daniel release his hand and slide it instead across his shoulders. It was crazy, but he just couldn't stop the tears, or the hollow, terrible sobs that tore up from his chest, burning his throat on the way out. He had lost his son, his wife, his marriage, his best friend- all in less than two years. How could he be so arrogant as to hope for another chance when he had thrown so many away?

Curling forward around the pain in his gut, he felt Daniel's other arm wrap around him, felt himself gathered against the younger man's chest, heard the gentle, soothing noises from Daniel's lips that dusted warm breath across the side of his face. Giving in to the bittersweet comfort, he slid his arms beneath Daniel's arms and around his waist, holding on as if his life depended on it, because that was all he had the strength to do, hold on and let the months of pent-up grief and anger go. It was something he should have done when his son had been taken from him, but instead he had kept the pain hidden - from his family and friends and from himself - and crawled into a bottle to forget. It was something he should have done when Kawalsky had died, but rank and protocol demanded he give no outward sign of his loss. It was what men like him did, suck it up, keep everything hidden away and never let on how much you're hurting, because you don't want to upset other people. He had to stay calm and in control, when what he really wanted to do was to cry and throw things and demand that someone tell him why. So the grief had turned inwards, festering like some foul disease, destroying him from the inside out, destroying his marriage, and through it all his only salvation was his growing love for a young anthropologist named Daniel Jackson.

Inch by inch the darkness receded and he climbed back towards the light, and to the feel of Daniel's hair brushing his cheek, and a warm dampness against his skin, and the sound of someone else softly crying. Daniel, crying with him. Crying for Sha're. But it was more than that. Having torn down Jack's barriers, he was casting aside his own, sharing his own pain with Jack. Trusting him with his innermost self and at the same time teaching Jack to trust him.

It seemed an age before they finally drew apart, enough to take a long hard look at each other while still holding on, almost as if both were afraid to let go. Daniel's eyes were red and swollen, their blue the deepest Jack had ever seen it, his bottom lip crimson where he had no doubt bitten it in an attempt to keep his own emotions in check. He looked exhausted, wrung out, but when at last he risked a smile his whole face lit up with it in a way Jack had only ever seen once before, and that when Jack had first returned to Abydos to find him.

"God, I needed that," he heard himself confess, and Daniel laughed a ragged, tear-washed laugh.

"I think we both did." He sniffed and ran a hand beneath his nose. Shaking his head, Jack pulled a handful of tissues from the box and shared them out. "You look terrible," he said at last.

"Yeah? Well you don't look so hot yourself, Doc." He ran a hand over his face, then up to his head, scrubbing roughly at his scalp, laughing brokenly. "Shit! I haven't done that since I was a kid."

"Then I'd say it was long overdue." Daniel's shirt was patched with dark where Jack's tears had soaked into it. Shrugging, he yanked it off and dropped it on the floor, meeting Jack's quizzical expression with a shy smile. "Needed a clean one anyway."

Jack nodded and bent to pick it up. Folding it carefully, he added it to his own pile and to hell with what the people in the laundry thought. That done, he returned to the bed, sitting with his back propped against the wall and one leg hooked beneath him. His hands were still shaking and he found himself reaching into the drawer and pulling out a battered pack of stale cigarettes and a book of matches. As he slipped one between his lips and struck a match, he heard Daniel sigh.

"I forgot you smoke."

"I don't," he replied, and saw Daniel lift a sceptical eyebrow. "Yeah well... every recovering addict is allowed one lapse. Humour me, huh?" He drew on the cigarette and blew a plume of smoke towards the ceiling.

"What made you stop?" Daniel asked, and Jack felt the heat gather around his neck.

"You did."


He nodded. "First time on Abydos. I could see you didn't approve, then when I got back I realised you were right, so I quit." He sucked on the tobacco again and felt the nicotine burn his already raw throat. For a moment he stared accusingly at the cigarette, then shrugged and dropped it on the floor, grinding it out with his sneakered foot. "When you're right, you're right," he grinned, pulling his legs up and wrapping his arms around his knees.

After the storm came the calm, a gentle, soothing silence unravelling between them. Daniel scooted sideways on the bed, leaning against the rail at the bottom, his long legs stretched out towards Jack's pillow, feet inches from Jack's hip.

"Daniel," he said at last, "About what happened -"

"Forget it."

"I can't. I just want to say thanks."

Daniel watched him a moment, head tilting slightly, his eyes crinkling as he tried to focus just beyond his limited field of vision. There was the tiniest trace of a smile at the corners of his mouth and his lips were slightly parted, giving Jack a glimpse of his tongue caught between his teeth. He was, without doubt, the most beautiful thing Jack had ever seen.

"You're welcome," he murmured at last. "I'm glad I could help."

"I'm glad you were there to help." He sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb. "Maybe if I'd had someone like you around when Charlie died I wouldn't be in the mess I am now."

Daniel nudged him with his foot and said gently "You're not in a mess."

"Ya think? Daniel..." He puffed out his cheeks and gave a heavy sigh, the whole 'tell the truth' thing really getting to him. "Listen, I know this isn't easy for you to hear, but you gotta realise that every time we gate out, there's still a part of me that hopes I'll never make it back. That was the whole reason I got into this in the first place. I made myself expendable because there was nothing left, nothing in my life that mattered enough for me to go on living it."

He expected Daniel to contradict him, but he was fast learning that when it came to Daniel Jackson, he didn't have a clue, the man was so - unpredictable. Watching Daniel nod, almost to himself, he knew he would never again have any secrets from this man.

"Which was why," Daniel mused "you were willing to stay behind on Abydos to trigger the bomb."

"Yeah. Expendable."

"You selfish bastard." There was no anger in the words, and maybe they were the more shocking because of that. Jack stared at him, unable to speak, waiting for some explanation. When it came, it turned his whole world inside-out. "What about Sara, or Kawalsky? Come to that, what about me?"


"Yeah, me, Jack." He shook his head again, but there was still no malice in the gesture. "I wonder which one of us you think less of, me - or yourself."

To his amazement, Jack found that he was actually enjoying the banter popping back and forth between them. It reminded him of similar conversations he'd had with Kawalsky, years ago, assassinating each other's character, winding each other up until - bam! That was when the sex had been at its best, fuelled by the thread of anger, driving them to take each other forcefully. God, how he'd loved getting fucked when Kawalsky was pissed.

Leaning his head on one hand, he waved the other for Daniel to continue. "You wanna explain that to me? I think I missed the first reel."

"Well either you didn't think I was worth it, or you didn't think I'd be interested."

"Wait a minute, wait a minute... Are we forgetting Sha're? Interested or not, soon as you saw her I was invisible." Without realising it, his hand dropped to his side, coming to rest over Daniel's bare ankle, his thumb gliding lightly back and forth across the warm skin.

Daniel snorted indignantly. "You saying you would have turned her down?" He scraped a hand through his hair - and Jack's fingers twitched, longing to feel those silky strands wrapped around them. "Jack, they married her off to me before I even knew her name," he said softly, his voice full of regret. "Once I learned how to communicate with them I explained to Kasuf that I couldn't accept her as my wife, but he told me if I didn't she'd be outcast. They wouldn't believe I hadn't already - ah - that we didn't -"

"I get the picture," Jack interrupted, to save them both embarrassment. "Is that why you stayed behind?"

"That, and the chance to study a world frozen in time." He shrugged. "Once a geek, always a geek."

"You're not a geek," Jack said quietly, his fingers slipping beneath the edge of Daniel's pants leg, rubbing the warm skin. "You just love what you do, and you do it very well."

Daniel caught his breath and for a moment his eyes were hidden by the thick silky lashes as he ducked his head. When he looked up again the mood between them had shifted radically. "You do that very well," he said, nodding towards Jack's hand, now buried to the wrist in the green cotton.

"Want me to stop?"

"Only if you want to." The shyest, sweetest smile curved his lips. "I guess you figured - I want you."

"I did - kinda get the idea," Jack admitted, feeling his face start to burn. He had never been very good at this, not even with Sara. Doing it was one thing, talking about it was always - difficult.

"So? Do I have a chance?"

"Maybe." Somewhere deep within the mountain an alarm bell sounded. "But not here," he added with a sigh.


"Uh huh." He glanced at his watch. "D'you realise it's oh-five-hundred?"

Now it was Daniel's turn to sigh, shifting slightly to disengage Jack's hand from his leg. "Guess I should be going."

Jack had a heartbeat to make the decision, another to act upon it. "Do you want to?" he heard himself ask.

Daniel shook his head. "No."

"Then don't."

Blue eyes opened wide in disbelief. "Jack we can't, not here," he gasped, making Jack laugh.

"Relax, Jackson," he sniggered "I'm not planning on jumping your bones. Not ths time anyhow." He folded his arms atop his knees and peered at Daniel over them, coyly, dark eyes guileless. "But - I would like to sleep with you. There's room, if we - spoon up." Pause, while he let Daniel consider it, but not long enough for him to take fright. "Whaddayathink?" He could see the rapid rise and fall of Daniel's chest beneath the black tee, could see the barely contained hunger in his eyes and the hesitation on his lips. He gave him a moment more, then held out his hand and whispered "Come to bed, Daniel. Please."

The long callused fingers wrapped warmly around his own as Daniel allowed himself to be drawn back to the bed. Jack could feel his own heart pounding and the first delicious tingling of arousal in his groin, but he forced himself to ignore the sensations. Tonight - what was left of it - was for more than just raw sex.

Pushing away, he stripped off his shirt, stood and toed out of the ragged sneakers, then he lay down again, stretched out on his side this time, scooting back to make room for Daniel. The anthropologist looked at him long and hard, then turned abruptly away and crossed the room, locking the door and turning out the light. A moment later Jack's senses were filled with the essence of Daniel Jackson as he lay down, his back towards Jack, his body curling to fit itself into the older man's contours as if they had been made to fit together in just this way. Jack, smiling, took it as a sign from the heavens that maybe this time he was on the right track. Without waiting for an invitation he wrapped his arm across Daniel's chest, drawing up his knees until that delightful ass pressed into his groin.

"You okay?" he asked, and Daniel nodded, rolling back a little to further increase the contact with Jack's body, accepting his presence and its significance, the promise of things to come.

Feeling utterly content, Jack dipped his head and touched a kiss to the black-clad shoulder. As he did so, his hand splayed across Daniel's chest and his little finger brushed the hardness of the gold stud hidden there. Grinning into the darkness, he pushed at it with his thumb, feeling the shock of it send a shudder through Daniel's body from his head to the tips of his toes. That good huh? he registered, realising he'd never actually gotten an answer to his question, 'Why?'. He was about to repeat the movement when Daniel caught his hand and pulled it gently away.

"Not here," he whispered, lifting Jack's hand and kissing the bony knuckles.

Jack nodded. "Okay... I can wait - if I know it's worth waiting for."

Daniel's answer was a rich, rumbling laugh, deep in his chest.

More at peace than he had felt in a long time, Jack snuggled closer, burying his face in the incredibly soft hair and closing his eyes....

When he opened them again another three hours had passed - and Daniel was gone.

The End....