The Time Has Come


Summary:  After coming back from the dead, Daniel discovers that he’s actually bisexual.  Now what?
Note1: Quote is from the song, “Changes,” by Yes.
Note2: The timeline for the Stargate SG-1 universe has been advanced seven years to take advantage of phone tech.

****** Re-edited on 6-20-2018; there are minor changes where typos and missing words and sentence structures were corrected; if I didn’t get them all, let me know. ******

 


I’m moving through some changes
I’ll never be the same
Something you did touched me
There’s no one else to blame


 

 

Dream

 

Where men were concerned, he was a virgin, but he wasn’t an innocent.  He had read up on things and tried to be knowledgeable about other things, so he was fairly certain he wasn’t ignorant.  But where this particular experience was concerned, Daniel Jackson was a babe in the woods.

He sat at the kitchen table in his brand new apartment, staring at a web page filled with starter or beginner dildos, and felt a mixture of desire, curiosity, and fear.  The latter emotion was actually more astonishment than fear.  He was at a loss to explain where the hell this desire for men had come from.  For weeks, he’d told himself he didn’t need to examine what the dreams meant.  He could ignore them, like many other dreams.  He didn’t need to venture out past the comfortable range of knowledge.  He’d gotten along quite nicely without them.  Hadn’t he?  It was maddening.

What has happened to him?

It had begun with a fragment of a dream.  He’d fallen asleep, thinking of Shau’re, and how sad he was that she was gone, but with it came the guilt that he really wasn’t all that bothered.  It just felt like he should be bothered.  It was like he’d told Teal’c, as if reciting something he thought he should say: I loved her very much.  He had.  But hours into sleep, there’d been a fog of fleeting images in a dream that wasn’t really a dream.  It was as if his mind was flipping through a book of dream ideas.  He’d see something, feel something, move on.  Turn the page, like the Bob Seger song.

Then came the rush of heat between his legs, that had begun within his balls, sat at the base of his cock, then traveled down its length, filling it as it went.  He experienced the sense memory of a mouth swallowing the head and instinctively, his hips began to thrust.  He’d thought the mouth belonged to a woman, but the moment his dream mind thought that, he knew it didn’t.  And on the heels of that thought came the hunger, and his mouth had watered.  In reality, while sleeping through the madness of enlightenment, he had drooled.

Then his lips pursed, with his tongue sliding around.  He was in darkness, in a type of oppressiveness that he needed to be clear of, like being under a blanket.  And then, in the dream, he’d opened his eyes, and the blanket was gone.  It was still foggy and dark a foot past his vision, but right in front of him was a hard cock.  He’d taken it into his mouth with tentative movements, like a man afraid of having something taken away at the last second.

He swirled his tongue inside his mouth as he opened a bit, felt the velvet sponginess under the tactile sensation of his lips, and slowly, he surrounded the cockhead the same way one would surround a strawberry.  And that thought came to him, the memory of sweet tartness, and suddenly his mouth was watering even more and he swallowed the head, moaning as his tongue felt rigid heat and skin, with a musky taste he’d never experienced before.

It was at that point, he’d woken up, and groaned at both the feeling of frustration and the shock of bewilderment.  How in the hell could he have such a vivid, realistic dream like that when he’d never ever known what a cock had tasted like?  Was it some sort of genetic memory?

This had happened two weeks ago and he hadn’t been able to forget it.  Hadn’t allowed himself to forget it.  Most of the time, like with other dreams, he would just think of something else and the dream would fade into oblivion.  This time, the memory of that sensation of having the cock in his mouth had become an unfulfilled desire that wouldn’t leave him alone.  He wasn’t just incapable of forgetting it.  He didn’t want to.

Since then, other desires brought forth imagination, and now, he sat there, looking at a small purple dildo, and his body, his asshole, flexed.  He wanted to feel it.  He wanted to experiment.  He needed to know.  And then what?  Would he practice until he worked up the courage to go out to find the real thing?  Pessimism coupled with cynicism and he knew that whoever took his virginity wouldn’t measure up to the fantasy or the expectation of what his desires demanded of him.  There was, to his own astonishment, only one person he truly wanted, but that was not ever going to happen.  The man was straight.

Straight.

Like he thought he was, but instead, he was actually bisexual.  And despite his inner protestations, he could only assume that he’d been repressing his entire life.  He didn’t understand how.  It made no sense to suddenly awaken in mid-life, so he must’ve been repressing.  It didn’t seem possible.  He’d always been rather proud of how functional he was.  Had been.  He could face things others couldn’t and peer into them without fear.  Not this time.

He stared at the item page, then without allowing himself to think, he ordered it and closed his laptop with a  snap.  He sat there, staring, excitement at war with apprehension.  He hadn’t just made a mistake, no matter what the fear of the unknown told him.  It was a desire he had to … wanted to … examine.  If he didn’t do it, it would plague him until he did.  And that brought him to the next item on his Awakening list:  watch porn.  Gay porn.  He had to see how he felt watching it.  He opened his laptop and typed names of websites he’d heard off and on over the years.  There had never been a need to satisfy a curiosity because he hadn’t been curious.  Until now.

He went to the first website and the still images for videos made him feel warm and embarrassed, as if he was doing something he shouldn’t.  He had to nip that feeling in the bud, right now.  The embarrassment was due to unfamiliar feelings that he liked, so if he liked it, there was no reason to be embarrassed.  He paused, staring at one image that was clearly from a cam, and thought, “No, the embarrassment is on the same level as being naked in front of someone for the first time.”

And that’s exactly what it was.  He felt exposed.  And he passed the mouse over an image and was startled to discover that it was playing bits and pieces, giving him an inkling of what he’d find if he watched it all.  He moved over several video images that way until he finally clicked on one.  And so began the next hour of working himself into a frenzy of desire.  He didn’t want to be in the clichéd position of that guy at the computer jerking off to porn, so he took the laptop into the bedroom.  He thought it would change the atmosphere since he was on his bed, but to his embarrassment and frustration, it couldn’t work.  It was just as if he’d be jerking off in the regular way and this wasn’t regular.  This was new and revelatory.  And he needed that item that was on its way through the mail.

 


 

Camping

 

“Hey,” Jack said.

Daniel blinked as he was nudged in the ribs, and realized Jack had been talking to him.  He gave him a chagrined smile and got up to adjust the campfire.  “Sorry,” he said, his back to his team leader.  “What’d you say?”

Behind him, Jack said, “Where’s your mind at?  You’ve been distracted this entire mission?”

Daniel sighed as he crouched at the fire’s edge, poking it with a stick Jack had found earlier for just such a thing.  “I just have things on my mind, Jack.  This is a cake walk mission, so I let my guard down.”  He pivoted on a heel and looked over his shoulder.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll be on point when the need arises.  So what were you saying before?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to come over for barbecue on Saturday.  Hammond said we’re due for a few days’ downtime.  So if nothing happens and we’re not needed, we’ll get the weekend.”

“Sam and Teal’c coming over?” Daniel asked, nodding.

“Yeah.  Figured I’d invite a few other teams, too.  Have a Let-Go-of-Stress party, ya know?”

Again, Daniel nodded.  “I know.  And sure.  Just let me know what time.”  He turned back around and stared at the fire while his thoughts went to the weekend, rearranging a few plans.  Going to a bar would have to wait, and it was just as well.  Research and experimentation were probably better done beforehand and going to a bar was too risky in case someone … what?  Offered sex?  Could he really do that?  Have a one night stand at someone’s house or apartment?  It wouldn’t be safe, one way or another, and he was, if anything, a generally careful man.  So that decision was final.  He wouldn’t go.

Maybe.

“Wanna talk about anything?” Jack asked.

Again, Daniel blinked, this time in surprise, and when he turned on his heel to look back at him again, a frown knotted his brows.  “Who’re you and what’ve you done with Jack O’Neill?”

Jack snorted.  “You’re not the only one who’s gone through some life-altering changes, Daniel.”

Daniel didn’t know what he meant and it put a panicky feeling in his gut.  It was the same feeling you got when your stomach dropped when you drove over a hill too fast or when you were on one of those rides at a carnival.  “Right,” he said, unwilling to say anything else at the moment.  He turned back to the fire, knowing he hadn’t answered Jack’s question.

“So, no talking then,” Jack said.

Daniel shrugged.  “It’s really private, Jack.  It’s not something you want to hear.”  Or something he felt like sharing with a tight-lipped straight man.  Plus, talking about something sexual with the occasional object of your desire wasn’t a good plan.  He expected silence, as would have happened in the past.  He heard Jack get up from the large stone he’d been using as a seat.  The next expectation was to hear the flap of the canvas tent as he entered, or to hear his bootsteps fade as he went to take a leak.   Instead, he received another surprise when Jack crouched down next to him.  He glanced up, knowing that surprise was evident on his face, and he looked down immediately afterward, hoping Jack wouldn’t accurately read the panic there.

“Let me be the judge,” Jack said quietly.

He held his hands out, warming them.  They were covered with those fingerless gloves he’d adopted some years back and for some reason, they made his fingers look—Daniel cut off the thought as abruptly as slamming a door shut in order to keep the cold out.  It was dangerous, that thought.

“Sex stuff,” Daniel said, deliberately being both terse and blatant.  That should do the trick.  Jack would do what he had in the past when that subject came up: he’d dismiss it out of hand.  He didn’t like hearing about people’s sex lives.  He didn’t like dirty jokes.  He didn’t even want to know when Sam had her period.  He was kind of dysfunctional, if you got right down to it, but at the moment, Daniel was grateful instead of annoyed.

“Okay.  And?” Jack said.

Daniel’s mouth dropped open and he pivoted on his heel so fast that he damn near fell over.  Jack reached out to grab him and Daniel didn’t want him touching him.  Not at all.  So much so that he scrambled backward, raising Jack’s alarm bells—if that wide-eyed look was anything to go by—thereby doing exactly what he’d hoped to avoid: alert Jack that something was definitely wrong.  Well, not wrong wrong.

“For fuck’s sake, what’s the matter with you?” Jack asked, scowling now.  “You won’t talk.  Now you don’t want me helping you.  You’re acting squirrely.”

“It’s …”  Daniel got to his feet, swallowing hard.  This was going badly.  At that moment, Sam and Teal’c returned from the standard perimeter patrol and Daniel turned so fast, his eyes wide like a terrified deer’s, that he damn near fell over again.  Sam and Teal’c froze, staring at him, and he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  They weren’t there to embarrass him or make him talk.  In fact, they’d probably saved him from explaining anything to Jack.  Except … he had to come up with a story now.  A lie.  If he didn’t, they’d never leave him alone.

“What’s the matter?” came the expected question from Sam, and Jack then looked at him with a smug expression, as if he’d won some sort of contest Daniel didn’t know they’d been playing.

Thinking quickly, he said, “I, uh, uh, I mean, I, uh …”  He couldn’t think of a lie.  Nothing was coming to him.  He could lie to everyone else, but when it came to these three people…  “I can’t.”  His panic heightened and he rubbed his hands on his hips.  “I’m gonna take a walk.”  He snapped his weapon to his vest and took off.  Thankfully, no one stopped him, especially Jack.  Maybe he’d returned to form about “sex stuff”.

 

. .

 

Half an hour later, Daniel returned, and found Sam and Teal’c sitting at the fire.  Which meant Jack was in the tent.  The tent they shared.  Dammit.

“He hit the hay?” he asked them.  Sam nodded, then opened her mouth to ask him what was wrong—he could tell.  She had the look he’d learned over the years.  He held up a hand.  “I can’t, Sam.  It’s a private thing.  I haven’t even discussed it with Jack, so you two aren’t getting ignored.”

“Okay, but if you change your mind …”

He nodded and went into the tent.  The plan had been to strip off the field gear, his jacket, his shirt, and then lay down and get some sleep … somehow.  Jack would be snoring, and after all these years, it was mildly comforting.  But Jack wasn’t asleep.  The man was reading, for cryin’ out loud, so it smelled exactly like a set-up.  Daniel ordered himself not to appear to notice a change in the usual bedtime behavior, but there was a little hiccup in his step anyway and he cursed himself.  Again, Jack had that concern on his face.  But to Daniel’s immense relief, the man said nothing.  He just watched Daniel for a minute before going back to his book.  He didn’t even act as if he wanted Daniel to ask him what he was reading.  That used to be a thing.

Down to socks, trousers, and t-shirt, he adjusted the pad under his sleeping bag and lay down.  He set his glasses aside and folded his hands over his stomach.  He hoped to god that Jack would leave it—

“So.”

Daniel sighed.  He knew that ignoring him wouldn’t work and tried to think of answers to possible questions without actually saying anything.  Nothing came to mind because he’d have to lie.  He really, really hated doing that because lying just snowballed you into a deep, deep hole.  “Just leave it.”

“It’s obviously bothering you, whatever it is.  Why don’t you talk to me?”

Annoyance and irritation flooded Daniel’s brain and he pushed up on his elbows and stared at the man.  Gas lamp shadows caught the guy’s profile, making him look … better than he had any right to look, dammit.  “Why are you even interested?” Daniel asked, keeping his tone quiet and even.  “You never showed any inclination before I died.  Why in the world would you now?”

“Because you died,” Jack said simply.

Daniel blinked at him, frowning.  “I’m sorry, Jack, but that makes no sense.  We’ve never had that kind of friendship.  Why now?”

“What kind of friendship?” Jack asked.

He truly looked mystified, which, in turn, mystified Daniel.  “The kind where we’re best buds who share our feelings.  Telling you what’s on my mind kinda qualifies.”

“Oh,” Jack said, looking away, a thoughtful expression on his face.

Daniel’s frown deepened because the mystery did.  He couldn’t get a read on the man and it was exasperating.  He shook his head and lay back down, closing his eyes as he pinched the bridge of his nose.  And waited.  He then said a mantra in his head, like a prayer:  Don’t make me tell you I’m bi.  Don’t make me tell you I’m bi.

He suddenly realized that he desperately wanted to talk to someone about it, but to talk to Jack just didn’t seem like it would end well.  He wasn’t someone you shared your Deepest Darkest with.  He hadn’t been able to do it with Sara and it drove them apart after Charlie died.  So why did he now want Daniel to do it?  It didn’t add up.  So he died.  So what?

“You have a girlfriend?” Jack asked.

Daniel sighed again.  Heavily.  “No.  And I’m not looking for one.”  Leave it alone, Jack.  Please.

“Boyfriend?” Jack then asked, and his tone said he was joking.

This was the opening.  It would say it all.   Slowly, he said, “Not yet.”  The silence between them was deafening.  Seconds passed.  When they turned into a minute, Daniel sighed even louder.  “I wasn’t joking,” he said carefully, keeping the tightness in his body language out of his voice.  “And now you know why I’m not talking about it.  Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  He turned over, his back to the back.  “Goodnight, Jack.”

The man said, “’Night, Daniel.”  And his tone was puzzled.  It was a relief, and Daniel hated that it was.

 

 


 

Disappointment

 

Daniel was home, his mind distracted.  A certain man had been on his mind ever since lunch.  It wasn’t Jack.  Jack had been … well, Jack.  Things were okay.  He acted the same as before, though there were a few long looks, as if trying to figure out why he hadn’t seen it.

But this was about the leader of SG-5.  Lieutenant Colonel Grey Douglas.  He was about Daniel’s age.  He had black hair, brown eyes, was built and handsome as fuck.

And he’d given Daniel a look in the mess hall.

He’d been with Jack, Sam, and Teal’c.  Jack and Teal’c sat opposite, and he sat to Sam’s left.  His gaze had flicked from Jack to random people down the aisle.  It was an absent-minded thing to do.  But three tables down, he found a man looking at him and his eyes did a double-take.  It wasn’t a casual glance around as he had done.  The man was watching him.  It wasn’t a threatening look.  It wasn’t one of those disdainful looks.  It was a curious look that had some sort of message attached.  And the cherry tomato he had popped in his mouth suddenly exploded because he’d bitten down in response.

He didn’t think he was dullest tool in the shed, but there were some things he just hadn’t been a party to, and getting a look was one of them.  So when he had a moment to think it over, he wondered if he’d misconstrued.  It felt like he’d been sent a signal.  The silent question for connection.  He could’ve been wrong, but some part of him said he wasn’t.  Was this what people referred to when they talked about gaydar?  Was he sending out signals?  He wasn’t sure, but he was definitely certain that there’d been something inviting in those man’s dark eyes.

He hadn’t seen the man the rest of the day until he saw him talking to Jack in front of the locker room doors.  Just as he came close enough to hear what they were saying, the man had taken off toward the gym.  It didn’t look like he was in a hurry, but he wasn’t taking his time either.

“Who was that?” he asked Jack as they both went in to change.

“Leader of SG-5.  I invited his team to the barbecue.”

“Oh.”

A flutter went through his chest, and by the time Daniel got home, it took a back seat to a different kind of flutter as he found the box he’d been waiting for in the large drop for his mailbox.  He really missed having a house, where packages were left at his door.

Once inside, he opened it swiftly, and when it was out of the welded-on packaging, he hefted it in his hand.  It was six inches long and one inch in diameter, and much smaller than his own.  He suddenly had an image of Grey using the dildo on him, and then the real deal, and both images caused his cheeks to flame … and his cock to fill.  As he thought up plans, there came a sad, fleeting thought of Jack.

 

. .

 

After dinner and a shower, he relaxed on his bed and turned on some porn he’d downloaded.  It was the basic home cam stuff.  The “studio” stuff was so fake, he couldn’t stomach watching it.  It wasn’t anything he could see himself doing, which was the entire point.  The homemade videos had something to them, although there were a few things in a couple of them that he couldn’t see himself doing until he was in a trusting relationship.

One of them was rather rough, and it aroused him so much that he wondered if it was something he wanted to try, but when he imagined it, the desire wasn’t there.  It told him that he was simply interested in watching, not participating.  There were also two guys who were clearly into pain.  The top was apparently too large for the bottom, who was both hard as hell but protesting the size of him at the same time.  He didn’t know if he should delete it, because it was embarrassingly arousing.  Did he have something of a submissive streak in him that made him like that sort of thing?  He didn’t think that was it, but what if it was?  He set that issue aside to confront later.

The next video was of a guy screwing another guy while there was a party in the other room.  Daylight.  Wearing gym gear.  They kept their sneakers on, which Daniel thought was tacky, but their fucking was hot.  They were a bit too skinny for him, but at least they weren’t ugly.  Another video was one with a hidden cam, and the men in it were frenzied, in a hurry.  It was hot.  Then came the video that said a “married ‘str8’ guy was coming while getting fucked for the first time.”  The surprise in his voice when he came was hot as hell.  It was realistic, not staged, plus there was the hurried, astonished words of “Oh my god.”  He watched it several times.

Daniel kept twelve of the ones he’d downloaded, then deleted the rest.  He then watched these twelve about three times in a row, not including the straight guy.  That he saved for last, and he quit when he was wired and his cock was hard and full of need.  With his hand wrapped around his cock, he lay across the mattress and pumped for several minutes, fantasizing until his body was demanding he use his new toy.  Slowly, while he kept his right hand moving, he pushed the lubed, slender phallus into his body.  The first two inches weren’t much to write home about, and when all six were inside, all he felt was a slight burn and an odd fullness, neither of which were uncomfortable.  It wasn’t much of a stimulation until he moved the dildo back out, then in.  Slowly.  Then faster.

“Oh my god,” he whispered, and he wasn’t even aware he’d done it.

The need spiked so much that he rolled onto his stomach and began to hump the bed and his rapidly-moving right hand.  In his mind, there was Grey, who was eventually replaced with that slightly sadistic Top from the video, who reminded him of someone else from the base.  He thought of having that man grasping his hair, tweaking his nipples, and plowing into him.  It didn’t do much for him until he replaced the man with Jack.

Daniel bucked back and forth and went rigid, exploding with one of the best orgasms he’d ever had.  The keen pleasure swept through him as he came onto the comforter and all over his hand and his hips thrust slowly as he squeezed and pulled the release until he lay there, panting and spent.

The response his body and mind had had surprised the hell out of him.  And all he could think of was whether or not this could come true.  Saturday night.  Tomorrow.

 

. . .

 

It was a typical Unwind party at Jack’s, like he used to have during the first three years, then the parties had dried up for a bit because they had become somewhat stressful to plan and host, which defeated the purpose.  They now seemed to be back on track and Hammond appeared to be pleased about it.  Daniel heard him telling Jack that it was about time these get-togethers had come back, and he also knew that Jack didn’t like being backed into a corner, forced to promise to have more parties, so he’d simply said, “We’ll see how it goes.”

At present, Daniel leaned against the bearing post that held up the deck as he watched Jack and three other men play Driveway Hockey.  He held a full bottle of beer, and only made half-serious motions to drink it, but the bottle never made it to his lips.  He hated beer.  He wished he’d thought ahead and brought some wine.  Or at least Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

When he’d gotten up that morning, Daniel’s mind had completely changed where using the party as a hook-up possibility was concerned.  To his partial relief, and consternation that it was partial, that’s how the afternoon had gone.  There was a bit of disappointment lurking in his belly, creating that pit one felt when you were lonely and wishing you weren’t.  At least he had a few friends, and Jack hadn’t backed away from him after the Great Half-Reveal.

“Doctor Jackson,” greeted a man from behind him, and he came around to Daniel’s right, nearly into his personal space, but only close enough to make it look like they were sharing a secret or two.  Grey Douglas.

“Colonel Douglas,” Daniel said, saluting with his beer but not drinking.

“Grey,” the man said, holding up his own.

“Daniel,” was his own reply as they touched bottles.  Still, he didn’t drink, even when Grey did.

“Don’t care for the brew?” Grey asked.

“Don’t care for beer in general,” Daniel said.  “It’s just as well, since I have to drive home.”

Grey winced and said, “So does everyone else but they’re not letting that stop them.”

Daniel nodded once.  “But they’re behaving themselves, since Hammond is here.”

Grey nodded too, pointed his beer at the hockey game, then at the other end of the driveway, where Hammond was watching, leaning against a white truck.  “Didn’t Colonel O’Neill smash Hammond’s car window once by accident?”

Daniel felt his cheeks warm a little and couldn’t figure out why.  “Yeah.  Six years ago.  It wasn’t an accident.”  Grey’s brow arched in curiosity.  Daniel wished he hadn’t said anything.  “It’s because he thought I was dead.”

There was an odd darkening in Grey’s somber eyes.  “And then you really were.”

Daniel nodded.  “He didn’t break anything this time.”

Grey’s brows rose.  “He did, actually.”

Daniel’s brows shot up.  “He did?”

“Jonas,” Grey said, then snorted.  “That boy was a train wreck for a long time.  Jack rode him hard and put him away wet.”

Daniel coughed, then coughed again, and again.

“You alright?” Grey asked, frowning with concern.

Daniel shot him an evil look.  “Yeah,” he said, his voice harsh and gravelly.  “Thanks a lot for that imagery.”

Grey began to chuckle.  “Oh.  Yeah.  I guess that was a bit …”  He cleared his throat and looked a little embarrassed.  “So.  Um.”

Daniel met his gaze and their eyes locked.  There was a bit of excited panic that wasn’t altogether unpleasant.  He wanted to ask him things.  Pointed things.  But he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth.

“You going to hang around for a while?” Grey asked.

“I don’t know.  I don’t have plans.”  He tilted his head slightly, catching a very specific non-verbal signal.  Was there a bit of an invitation in Grey’s expression?  Unless he was imaging it.  “You asking, or rather, I mean, have something in mind?”

“It just feels like this party’s winding down a bit.  Maybe we can take it elsewhere?  We can grab some tacos or something, watch a movie.” Grey said it slowly, as if testing waters, and making it sound as if his invitation could mean some innocent.  Daniel hoped it didn’t.

“I have a new apartment about five minutes from here,” Daniel offered.  “Don’t have a TV yet.  I watch stuff on my laptop.”  His ears burned for a second, then was gone.

“Mind some company?” Grey asked.

“Not at all,” Daniel said, then suddenly added, “I’m surprised, if you don’t mind my saying.”

Grey frowned a bit, but it was a puzzled expression.  “Why?”

“Career Air Force,” Daniel said, pointing his bottle at Grey.  He then pointed it at himself.  “Civilian.”

“Who’s proven himself a hundred times over,” Grey said, looking genuinely surprised.  “Don’t you know that?”

Daniel’s cheeks burned this time.  “Not really, no.  I mean, I don’t mean to come off falsely modest.  I just think that there’re a lot of other people who can do my job—”

“There aren’t,” Grey said, shaking his head.  “Wow, Daniel.”

“What?” Daniel asked, and wondered if he’d said something to offend.

“Base scuttlebutt said you didn’t think much of yourself.  I thought that was just BS.”  Daniel didn’t know what to say until Grey inched closer and said loud enough for only him to hear, “Let me show you how much you’re appreciated.”

Daniel’s throat went dry while his mouth watered up.  He took a long swallow of beer and wished he hadn’t.  “Not sure how you’ll manage that,” he heard himself say.  “But you’re welcome to try.”

“Oh, I love a challenge.”

Daniel managed a smile.  “Okay.  Um.  How do you want to do this?  You wait for me at the end of the street, then follow me?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

As he made the rounds to tell people he was leaving, Daniel’s mind was dancing around like a madman while screaming, “I’m doing this!  I’m actually doing this!”

“Already?” Jack asked, catching up with him as he went to his car.

Daniel suddenly wished it was Jack following him home.  He sighed, ordering his mind to lock that thought away and throw away the key.  “Yeah, I’m expecting a phone call.”  And just like that, he lied.  It had just come out.  And Jack sensed it.

“Really?” he asked.  “A phone call.”

“I’m sorry, Jack,” he said, looking properly chagrined.  “Best I could come up with.  I … have plans.”

“Simple plans or complicated plans?” Jack asked, putting meaning in the adjectives.

Daniel stared at him, gobsmacked.  “You’re actually asking me that?”

Jack seemed to gather himself and he stepped back.  “Right.”  He stepped back further, then started for his front door.  “Well, have a good time.  See you Monday.”

“Thanks for the party,” Daniel said, nodding, but he frowned and went around to his car and got in.  What was that about?  Jack had abruptly changed his mind after being reminded about DADT.  He hadn’t considered it when he’d asked the question.  The man was acting odd.

As he’d suggested, when Daniel got to the end of the street, he saw a blue truck had pulled over.  He looked.  It was Grey.  He watched through his rearview mirror as the man followed him home.  There was anticipation and nervousness, and it built to a shaky neediness by the time he pulled into his covered parking spot.  He waited by his car for Grey to find a parking spot, and then felt a type of strange hyperawareness as the man followed him to his apartment.

Daniel looked at him as he unlocked his door, then stood aside as he pushed his door in, letting Grey enter first.  It was an unconscious defensive move and he realized it a few seconds later as he crossed the threshold and closed the door.  He stepped around him, making it obvious that he didn’t want any intimacy just yet, and gestured with a flick of his hand for the man to follow him into the kitchen.

“Wine?” he asked as he took down a glass.

“Sure.”

Daniel took down another and poured the Sauvignon while he sized up the man.  He was an inch taller, maybe twenty pounds heavier.  A lot of upper body musculature could be seen through the man’s white t-shirt.  He had a smaller waist, which was sort of weird.  And he seemed to be sizing Daniel up, too.

When Daniel handed him his glass, he clinked Grey’s and said, “To the evening.”

“The evening.”

They both took a long drink at the same time.

Then Daniel saw the pale, shiny skin that a ring makes on a finger when you’ve worn it awhile.  A long while.  This was the left ring finger.  And he could see the pale, shiny skin because the ring wasn’t there.

Daniel’s heart and mind plummeted.  “Shit.”  He set his wine glass down, then took Grey’s and did the same.

“What’s wrong?” Grey asked, clearly worried.

“Come on,” Daniel said, and his voice made it obvious that disappointment was the least of his emotions.  Grey followed him and then froze when Daniel opened the door to his apartment.

“Daniel, what’s—”

“I’m really, really sorry, but you have to go.”

“What?  Why?”

Daniel stared at the floor.  “I just …”  He forced himself to look into the man’s eyes.  Lovely brown eyes.  Like Jack’s.  He cursed himself a fool.  “I can’t.  I changed my mind.”

“Why?” Grey drawled.  “What happened?  What’d I do?”

“You didn’t …” Daniel began, but stopped himself.  Why in the hell was he letting this man off the hook?  He reached over and grabbed the man’s left hand and then firmly grabbed the ring finger.  Deflation covered Grey’s face and it told Daniel that the man had a great quality: he couldn’t lie worth a damn.  “Married.”  He dropped the man’s hand, then leaned against the door and crossed his arms.  “You need to get a divorce, and tell her why.”

Grey’s jaw worked.  “It’s not that simple, nor is it your place.”

“Maybe,” Daniel admitted.  “But if you want to be with men, be with them.  If you want to be with men and women, you can do that, too.  Same for me.  But I’m single.  You’re not.  And I’m not having …”  He made air quotes.  “… an affair with a married man.  Oaths mean something to me.”

Grey was obviously deeply disappointed and his shoulders sagged.  He picked up Daniel’s left hand, then turned it over and, to Daniel’s utter surprise, kissed his palm.  “If you ever change your mind.”

Daniel tried for a smile but managed only a slight upturn of his mouth.  “You’re really kind.  You should be pissed off, given that I should have noticed the ring mark back at Jack’s house and saved you the trouble.  But you’re not.”  He sighed heavily and closed his eyes for a few seconds.  “I really, really wish this had gone another way.”

Grey nodded.  “Me, too.  But there’s no hard feelings, Daniel.  I’d still like to be friends.”

Daniel gave him a thoughtful, and surprised, look.  “Thanks.  So would I.”  After closing his door, he went to the kitchen balcony and looked down at the covered parking lot.  From the fourth floor, it was rather high up and he wished he’d looked for a first-floor apartment, but he’d had to get out of that damn VIP room.  Privacy sucked.

He saw Grey walking toward the cars and he stepped back, not wanting to be seen.  He heard a truck start, or what he thought was a truck, and stepped forward, watching the entrance.  Grey’s blue truck appeared, then pulled out.  After watching him leave, he went back inside, closed the sliding glass door, then screamed, “Fuck!” and kicked the wall next to the door.

He then grabbed his wine glass and the bottle and went into the living room and proceeded to drink.  A lot.  When his third glass was mostly empty, his phone rang.  He groaned, “Go away.”  The phone rang a few times, then his answering machine picked up.  Five minutes later, it happened again.  Then again.  And a fourth time.  He scowled and got up, turning on the stereo finally, then checked the machine.  Four messages.  He pressed play.

“Daniel, it’s Jack.  Pick up. … Daniel … C’mon, buddy, pick up.”

Beep.

“Daniel, you there?  Pick up, dammit.”

Beep.

Twice more, the requests sounded urgent, but it was Jack’s curiosity, not a real emergency.  His phone would go off were that the case.  “It’s not gonna happen, Jack,” he said to the machine.  “Leave me alone.”

 


 

Shock Treatment

 

Two months went by, during which Daniel became very proficient in pleasuring himself, and he’d upgraded the dildo a few times.  But he wanted the real thing and he wanted it badly.  Problem was, he just wasn’t interested in a one-night stand and every single time a gay or bisexual man on the base gave him an interested look, Daniel’s gaze went from hopeful to disappointment the moment he spied the rings on their fingers or knew damn well that the man had a girlfriend.  While girlfriends were different than wives, they were still a formal commitment and there was no way he was going to be a party to cheating.

He tried a few bars, but in the end, went home alone because that road wouldn’t lead to anything good.  You simply did not meet a good partner in a bar.  He’d heard of exceptions, but they were just that.  Exceptions to the rule.  He began to wonder if he was being too choosy, but dismissed the idea almost at once.  There was no such thing as too choosy.  In his mind.

It was July now, and more specifically, the 8th.  His birthday.  He was single and alone.  And Forty.  At the moment, he couldn’t concentrate on the task at hand, which was the examination of the glyphs on a piece of alien tech.  No one knew what it did, and Sam was pretty sure it wasn’t a weapon.  Jack had been disappointed.

Jack.  The man he wanted.  The man he couldn’t have.  Typical.  He threw his pencil down and bent over, resting his forehead onto his arm.  He snapped back up in shock when a voice at the door said, “Tired?”

Jack.

Daniel leaned back in his chair and scrubbed his face with his hands.  “Sick and tired, more like.”  Jack grinned and took a few steps into his lab.  Daniel got up and stuffed his hands in his pockets as he walked around the room aimlessly.  Pointlessly.  He stopped and stared at Jack when the man simply watched him, an amused look on his face.  “You here for something or do you just enjoy watching me in a sour mood?”

“The former,” Jack said, and pointed his head at the door.  “Come on.  We’re leaving.”

“Where?” Daniel asked, hating that he sounded suspicious.

“It’s your birthday and Carter, Teal’c, and Fraiser have a surprise party waiting for you in the 26th Floor Rec Room.”

Daniel groaned and dropped onto a stool beside his lab desk.  “Goddammit.  Can’t I just bail?  I’m really, really not in the mood.”

Jack gestured again.  “Come on.  It won’t be that bad.  I’ll take you home afterward and fix you a steak.”

Daniel narrowed his eyes, wondering what the hell was going on with Jack.  “Who are you?”

 

. . .

 

Entering his kitchen, Jack behind him, Daniel got down a bottle of JackDaniel’s and two glasses.  He stared down at the crystal, his mind whirling a thousand miles an hour.  Jack hadn’t been acting like Jack.  Something was wrong.  He couldn’t ask at the party because he didn’t want to air his thoughts in front Sam, Teal’c, and Janet.  The three of them would beat to death whatever angle they chose to pursue and he simply wasn’t in the mood for it.  There was something he was in the mood for but that wasn’t happening either.  He turned suddenly and stared at Jack, who was taking his seat at the kitchen table.   Something was up.  Really up.  It was like waiting for that gag gift you just knew the asshole in question was going to spring on him.  And Jack wasn’t acting like an asshole—he rarely was these days.

When the man in question looked up after taking his seat and found Daniel staring, he froze.  “What?”

Again, like in the lab, Daniel narrowed his eyes, then snorted and poured two fingers into the glasses.  “Ice?” he asked, pausing.

“Sure.”

He got ice for them both, then handed Jack his glass.  “What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” Jack asked, taking a sip and grimacing a bit.

“Remember what I asked you in my lab just before we left?  The question you never answered?”

It was Jack’s turn to snort.  “Asking who I am?  I thought that was rhetorical.”

Daniel took a seat next to his right at the four-person table, thankful for the corner that separated them.  There were some things he simply couldn’t tolerate right now and one of them was the heat from Jack’s body.  He’d become hyper-sexualized about it and it was maddening.  Turning his thoughts to what Jack said, he considered whether what he’d asked had really been rhetorical.  No, it wasn’t.  It could’ve been though, so it wasn’t Jack’s fault he didn’t interpret the question correctly.  He rolled the glass back and forth in his hand, staring at the amber liquid.  He’d always liked the color of this whiskey, though not always a fan of the taste.  He held up the glass, staring at the liquid.

“You ever notice the different shades of whiskey?”  It wasn’t the question on his mind, but it had just come out, as if his subconscious fears had hijacked his mouth.

Jack’s brows lifted.  “No, not really.”

“In my first year of college …”  He paused, feeling a bit embarrassed.  “Did I ever tell you that I went to college early?”

Jack’s expression was the same, and his answer similar.  “No.”

“You ever wonder why?”  Jack shook his head.  “Because we’ve never had that type of friendship.  We were thrown together instead of picking each other as friends.”

Jack nodded shortly.  “Your point?”

“Suddenly you’re acting as if we’ve become the latter.”

“Is that bad?” Jack asked warily.

“No, of course not.  It’s just …”  He then realized that he had been the one to change the type and direction of their friendship when he’d told him that thing about not yet having a boyfriend.  But … Jack had forced him into it, so who was the one who really started it?

And for cryin’ out loud, did it matter?

No.  And yes.

“You’re a private person, Jack.  You rarely share anything you’re feeling or things about your life before the SGC.  And I’m not talking about Charlie.  That … was the exception.  And you know why.  But I’m talking about stuff in your past.  Sharing stuff.  Like me just mentioning college.  Or other things.  Little things.”

“Like?”

Jeez, the man wasn’t going to give an inch.  Daniel sighed.  “Like what kind of bike did you ride, or whether or not you got a snow cone from the popsicle man.  What your favorite flavor was.  What was your favorite game in elementary school?  What schools you went to.  I only know you grew up in Chicago because that’s what you told an alien in a moment of sarcasm.”  He paused, watching the man, who was looking a bit chagrined.  “You only know about the Oriental Institute because of Osiris.  That stuff I mentioned?  That’s the kind of thing you share with a friend.  You see what I mean?”

Jack sighed, staring at his glass as he fiddled with it.  “Yeah, I get it.”

And?” Daniel prompted.  When Jack looked confused, he realized that things would need to be explained or asked directly.  “Are we even friends like that?  Can I talk to you about personal feelings and get the same in return?  Or is it only going to be what you want to know?”  He paused, giving Jack a chance to answer, but when he didn’t, he added, “What are you doing here?  You had a party for me.  I know you’d have one for Sam, or Teal’c, if either of you could figure out an Earth date for his birthday … um, point is, if you want to have a close relationship, it seems to me that it should kinda go both ways.”

He suddenly downed the rest of the whiskey and got up to get another two fingers.  He paused as he stood up, waiting to see if Jack wanted more.  His teammate swallowed the last and handed him his glass, giving him a nod.  Daniel poured the refills in silence and when he returned, he once more sighed heavily as he sat down.  “So, all that said, what do you want to talk about?  I know you said you’d fix me a steak, but we didn’t stop by the store and I don’t have any.”  He gestured in the direction of the parking lot.  “And we’re gonna have to switch to coke or something, or you’re gonna have to leave now to go get it before you have any more whiskey.”

“Are you hungry?” Jack asked.

Daniel had to think about it.  “Not really.  I mean, I could eat a pizza if I ordered it.  Or Chinese food.  Or something else.”  Suddenly, a scene from his dreams popped into his head, where he’d been eating something else entirely, and he coughed a few times, then took a drink in order to distract his mind.  When he looked at Jack, the man was studying him.  “Well, are you hungry?”

“I could eat,” Jack said, nodding.  “Chinese?”

Daniel got up to grab the portable phone off the kitchen counter, surprising Jack because he didn’t use his smartphone.  “Where’s your cell?”

“In my pocket, but it doesn’t have the number to the Chinese restaurant I use.  This does.”  He called and ordered, then hung up.  “It’ll be about forty-five minutes,” he said, sitting back down.  After a nod from Jack, he asked his earlier question again.  “So what do you want to talk about?  Really.  You came here for a reason, Jack, and I don’t think it was just to shoot the shit because you don’t do that.”  He fidgeted, tapping his toe against the table leg.  “I’m not really in the mood for playing the guessing game.”  He looked off, staring at the floor and not seeing it.  He absently took a drink.  “I’m not in the mood for a lot of things these days.”

“I noticed,” Jack said, and a small grin spread over his face.  It stayed there when Daniel gave him a long-suffering look.  “Okay, okay.  Answers.  What’s on my mind?”  Daniel nodded.  “Okay, so I was just wondering if you’ve … have you …”  He took a long drink and cleared his throat.  “Have you found that boyfriend you sort of mentioned before?”  Two beats went by, then he quickly added, “It’s not my business but—”

“Hang on,” Daniel interrupted.  “If we’re actually friends, and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t think we were, which is weird, and why I gave those examples … uh …”  He had rambled, probably deflecting, so he gathered himself and cast about for the original answer.  “Yeah, it’s your business to ask.”  At Jack’s raised brows, he amended, “I’m making it your business.  Ask whatever you want.  I don’t care.”

His speech was getting faster, and it was something he did only when he was nervous and when he didn’t want to be interrupted.  This time, it was simply because Jack was in his apartment and he was horny as all get out.  He got up and began to pace until Jack got up and dragged him over to the table and made him sit down.

“I did ask a question,” he said.

Daniel nodded but didn’t answer.  He wanted to tell Jack how he felt about him and was afraid that if he opened his mouth right at that moment to say ‘no, I haven’t found a boyfriend’, what would actually fly out would be ‘no, because I want it to be you.’

“You’ve gotten into one hell of a mood.  Take a few breaths.”

Daniel did so, and more than a few.  “Okay.  So.”

Jack was silence for a minute, then said, “I’ll try to give you the same latitude, sharing stuff, but you know me …”

“Yeah,” Daniel nodded.  Jack eyed him, expectantly.  He swallowed.  “And to answer your question, no.”  He was relieved he’d held it together.

Jack was lost for a moment.  “No to …”

“Boyfriend,” Daniel replied, knowing damn well that Jack knew what he meant.  What was he playing at?  “I’ve … been looking.”

Jack’s brows went up again.  “You have?”

Again, Daniel nodded.  “Well, duh.  And I thought I’d found one but that didn’t happen.”

“Why not?”

“He was married.”

Jack cringed.  “Ouch.”

“Yeah,” Daniel sighed heavily.  “I was all set to …”  He stopped himself, coloring slightly.

“What?” Jack asked.

“Nothing,” he said quickly.

“Daniel,” Jack said chidingly.

Daniel cleared his throat several times.  “I was all set to … be … intimate.”  His face burned.  “I hadn’t even kissed him yet, and then I saw that pale stripe on his wedding finger.”  He grimaced angrily, the burn fading.  “It was so fucking …”

Jack’s grin turned sardonic.  “Frustrating?”

Again, Daniel colored.  “Yeah.”  Share, he told himself, and blushed even more.  If Jack started to laugh at him, he’d kick his ass out the door.  “I’m not experienced.  At all.”  He waited for a joke and was relieved when it didn’t come.  “I was so looking forward to changing that status, and then …pffft!”  Jack chuckled softly, but it wasn’t unkind.  “Shut up.  I don’t talk to people about this stuff, so I’m like you more than a little.”

Jack snorted.  “Go figure, huh?”

“Right?” Daniel asked, surprised a bit.

“So when you say you’re not at all experienced, does that mean that …”

“That I’m a virgin?” Daniel asked derisively, and the blush spread.  “Yes, that’s what it means!” he said fiercely.  He suddenly got up and paced around the somewhat large kitchen, glass in hand.  “I mean, not where women are concerned, obviously, but with men …”  He leaned forward a bit and lowered his voice.  “I didn’t even know I was Bi until recently.  After I came back.”

“How’d you figure it out?” Jack asked, a truly curious expression on his face, and not the voyeuristic kind.

“Dreams.”  When Jack opened his mouth, he shook his head.  “No, I’m not talking about them.”  He was deliberately not looking at Jack and stared into his glass before downing the contents.  He went to the bottle and poured a finger, then opened the fridge and got out a can of Coke.  He added ice, then poured the Coke.

“So you haven’t even gone to clubs or anything?” Jack asked, clearing his throat before and after.

Daniel leaned against the counter, refusing to go back and sit down.  And be near him.  The gulf he created was obvious and he didn’t care.  Jack’s nearness was like being close to an oven.  Another short fantasy scene popped into his mind, and with it came a very real contraction of his anal muscles.  He closed his eyes for a moment, then stared into his glass for another few seconds.

“I did.”  He paused again, recalling it in his mind’s eye.  “But it’s not for me.”

“Because it’s a bar or …?”

“Why do people go to clubs, generally speaking?” Daniel abruptly asked.

“To get laid,” Jack said immediately and the light in his eyes as he looked away told Daniel that maybe he was recalling such times.  It made his crotch warm.

“Exactly,” he said, clearing his throat again.  “The only reason to go to a gay club, and I don’t mean a regular bar, is to hook up, and I don’t want to lose my virginity to a stranger I’ll never see again.  If I were experienced, it would be a different matter.  Maybe.  But …”

“Plus, it’s hard to find someone off base.  And there’s the secrecy matter.”

Daniel blinked, then grimaced.  “Shit.  I totally forgot about that.”  Jack grinned, and it was a little knowing and a little mischievous.  “Shut up.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“No, that smile did.”  He paused as the smile didn’t leave Jack’s face.  “Yes, Jack.  I forgot because I had my mind on sex.”

Jack jogged his brows.  “I remember.  You’re not exactly focused on that aspect until you see whether the relationship will last, and then it becomes an issue.”

Daniel sighed and returned to his seat, finding that he wasn’t in danger of getting aroused.  Much.  “How long did it take you with Sara?”  It sounded like he wanted details about their sex life and he most certainly did not.  “To get serious, I mean,” he amended.

Jack frowned, eyes unfocused, and obviously thinking.  “That didn’t take long.  Maybe two weeks.  I was on leave.”  He paused, and his expression looked something like regret.  “It was easy with her.  But then I wasn’t in a Special Ops team at that time.  When that happened, it got a bit difficult between us and we almost broke up.  But I think that after a while, she started to understand that my career meant a great deal to me.  She could either accept the secrecy or end our relationship.”

Daniel nodded absently, staring at a spot at the end of the table but not seeing it.

“That’s gonna be hard for you,” Jack went on.

Daniel lifted his eyes to his, surprised.  The tone Jack used was sympathetic, not judgmental or accusatory.  And why Daniel had expected to hear either of those two things made him feel guilty.  Did he think that little of Jack?  It was 2010, not 2000.  What a difference ten years made.  But the man was forty-five and you tended to be set in your ways by then.  Still, he was here, talking to him.  That said it all, didn’t it?

“It is,” Daniel finally said with another heavy sigh.  And he thought about how long it was going to be before he ever got laid.  He groaned and rested his head on crossed arms.  “This sucks,” he said, his voice muffled.  He then felt a hand on his shoulder.  More sympathy.  It was a shock, but it was also nice.  He lifted his head and sighed, staring at him.  “I’m gonna end up going for a one-night stand.”  Jack’s gaze flitted away, then returned, and flitted away again, making him frown.  Jack had an idea, it looked like, and it seemed to … embarrass him?  “What?”

“I …”

He closed his mouth and for the first time ever, Daniel saw him blush.  The sides of his face reddened, not just his cheeks, and it spread to his ears and throat.  It was fascinating.  And endearing.  Jack wanted to suggest something, didn’t he?  Isn’t that the reason for the blushing?  Did he … have someone in mind?  Hope warred with his own embarrassment.

“You have someone in mind, don’t you,” he stated, and it wasn’t a question.

“Maybe,” Jack said, clearing his throat.  “I’m gonna have to think about it.”

Daniel’s eyes narrowed in a frown.  “Okay,” he said, drawing out the word.  “Why?  Do you think he’d say no?  Or do you have reservations about him?”  And he too blushed when he noted that they were actually having this conversation.  Jack wanted to fix him up.  Aside from that being totally weird, it was a letdown.  If only …

Jack suddenly got to his feet.  “No and no.  So … let’s go watch a movie or something.”

“Hey!” Daniel said.  “You …”  He’d been about to upbraid Jack for changing the subject until he cast his mind back.  “Right.  You said you’d have to think about it.”  He gestured at the living room.  “I don’t have a TV.  We can watch a movie on my laptop, if you want.  It’s how I watch cable anyway.”  He put a hand on Jack’s shoulder.  “Sit back down.  I’ll be back in a sec.”

As Jack did so, and as Daniel left to get the computer, his hand felt hot because in touching him, he felt the warmth of his body.  Just through the shoulder.  It was going to give him fantasy ideas for weeks.  Thankfully the Chinese food arrived a few minutes later.  There was also a new movie was out, so he allowed his mind to be thoroughly sidetracked.  And made damn sure he didn’t touch him again.

 


 

Firsts

 

Five weeks went by and not a peep from Jack.  Daniel wondered if he’d changed his mind.  If so, why not tell him?  Why make him wait patiently, week after week?  The man was so goddamn exasperating.  At least he’d gotten his own mind back on track and could concentrate on his job without ever thinking about sex or Jack or … anything related to either.  Only when he had nothing to do did his mind wander, so he made sure that he had plenty of work to do, and he did it by pretending the unimportant finds were just as pertinent as the rest.

 

. . . .

 

Two more months passed.  Daniel figured it wasn’t going to happen, and he couldn’t confirm it.  Not on base.  And it took another week before they had an extended weekend of downtime.  He was wondering how to approach Jack with the question before they left the base, when Jack came to his lab, looking distracted.  Daniel misread.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, loading his personal backpack with CDs of things he needed to study and things he wanted to study.  He stood at his lab table and paused for a moment before continuing to pack.  “Did Janet not give you a pass to go home?”

“No, I’m good.  I was wondering if you wanted to come by for dinner?”

Daniel stopped packing as he felt both hope and anxiety, wondering if Jack was finally going to introduce him to someone.  “Sure.  What’re you fixing?”

There was a knowing grin.  “Steak.  Making up for the other time.”

Daniel snorted and resumed his business.  Folding over the flap, he said, “Which was three and a half months ago.”

Jack’s brows went up.  “It’s been that long?”

Daniel nodded.  “Yeah.  Guess you had other things on your mind.”

Jack brows turned down.  “Yeah, I did, actually.  But I was trying to make up my mind about something and it took longer than I thought it would.  And since we have a long weekend—”

“Four whole days,” Daniel grinned.

“Right.  So I figured it was now or never.”

That sounded odd to Daniel.  “Really?  ‘Cause it could be whenever you want it to be, couldn’t it?  There’s no hurry.”

“No,” Jack said, absently.  He then thumbed behind him.  “I’ve got some stuff to talk to Hammond about so I’ll see you at my place around seven?”

Daniel nodded, feeling butterflies dancing in his stomach.  “Seven.”

 

. .

 

He showed up in jeans and a white t-shirt, wanting to be as casual as possible.  He was rather self-conscious about the way he looked.  For once.  He’d built up his muscles enough that wearing a t-shirt made him look beefy, compared to what he’d looked like seven years ago.  Teal’c had even commented on it the other day as they had worked out in the gym, and Daniel thought it was rather remarkable, given that the man was extremely cut.

He didn’t see another vehicle in Jack’s driveway and wondered if the man he was fixing him up with was going to show up later.  He stood there with a bottle of JackDaniel’s, hand raised to knock.  His last foster father had said that you always showed up to an invitation to dinner with flowers and a gift.  Daniel had only done that once before, with Sarah.  As he stood there, it suddenly occurred to him that both he and Jack had had relationships with women with the same name, albeit spelled differently.  Wasn’t it odd that he’d never consciously acknowledged that before?

Before he could examine that distracting thought, he made to rap the heavy wooden door but it opened before he could.  He found Jack wearing jeans that weren’t baggy, and a short-sleeved beige button-down that barely covered his crotch.  Both were out of the norm.  Jack wore baggy trousers and jeans, overly long shirts, and both always seemed to be one size too big.  It was hard to know whether Jack liked those clothes or if he simply didn’t give a shit.  Either way, it always made him wonder if Jack had been the object of a stalker or something and he was overcompensating for having a nice ass.

Recovering his need for being in the Here and Now, Daniel dropped his hand and held out the bottle without comment.  Jack took it with a grin and stepped aside.  He, too, did so without comment, and Daniel followed him into the kitchen.  He sat on a stool by the butcher block and on the island’s surface lay thick, seasoned steaks and unpeeled sliced potatoes in a bowl of iced water.  “Fries?” he asked, gesturing at the latter.

Jack nodded as he took down two glasses and pointed at the deep fryer at one end of the counter.  He held up an empty glass.  “Ice?”

“Sure.”

“Coke?”

Daniel nodded.  “If I drink it straight, I’m practically screaming that I want to get drunk.  I’ll pass on that, so ice, coke, and whiskey.  Then I’ll just keep filling the glass with Coke.  I hope you have enough?”

“I do,” Jack said, absently nodding as he added ice, then retrieved a small bottle of Coke from the fridge and filled the glasses.  He handed Daniel his, took a sip of his own, then took a pair of tongs and set the steaks on the grill side of the stove.  The wrought iron sizzled mildly.  Next, he dried off the raw potatoes and set them in a large fryer basket, then twisted the dial of a timer.  Daniel watched him thoughtfully, and against his better judgment, his eyes dropped to the rear end fit of Jack’s jeans.

When worn correctly, why was it that jeans almost always made someone’s ass look nice.  Even when the person was overweight or underweight, it applied.  The only time Daniel had ever known jeans to fail was on a person with literally no ass to speak of.  An old friend, once upon a time, had called another friend, as a strange term of endearment, plywood ass.  He somehow remembered the man’s voice saying, “Hey, there goes plywood ass.”  Daniel couldn’t help the smile, his eyes unfocused on the floor.  And wouldn’t you know it, Jack had to ask.

“What’s funny?”

Daniel shook his head, not looking at him.  “Nothing.”  Jack made a growling sound, forcing Daniel to look up in surprise.

Not nothing.  You want me to talk, then you do shit like that.  That’s unfair.”

Daniel blinked at him a few times, and felt ashamed.  “You’re right.  I only said nothing because what I was thinking about might be awkward.  To you.  Maybe me, too.”

“I’m a grown-up.  Spill,” Jack said, taking another sip of whiskey and Coke.

Daniel sighed, then took a deep breath and braved the weather.  “Okay.  I was …”  He cleared his throat, then wished he hadn’t because it made him feel weak.  “I was looking at your ass.”  Jack’s brows shot up into his hairline.  “And I did partly because I was curious and partly because you’re wearing jeans that fit.”  He went on to explain the rest of his thoughts, about ass shapes and plywood, and by the time he was done, he had Jack laughing.

When the man calmed down, he said, “Okay, you’re forgiven.”

“For which part?” Daniel asked warily.  “For saying nothing or for looking at your ass.”

Jack smirked at him and took another sip before saying, “Anything, really, because you made me laugh.”

“Oh, well, thanks,” Daniel said dryly, jogging his brows as if he’d just escaped disaster.  Then, before he could stop himself, he began with, “You want to …”

His mind said, Stop talking!

“… return the favor?”

SHUT UP!

“… and have me turn around and show you mine?”  Jack’s eyes went round and Daniel blushed to his ears, his own eyes bugging out of his head.  “Okay, forget I just said that.  I have no idea where it came from.  My brain and mouth weren’t connected.”

Jack chuckled a bit as he turned around to remove the fryer basket.  He set it on a bunch of paper towels, then went to turn the steaks.  Returning to the fries, he dumped them out, patted them dry with a hand towel, then returned them to the basket and set it back into the fryer.

All that time, Daniel had the feeling that Jack was giving him an out by not commenting, and cooking as if nothing had happened.  Relieved, he took the offered cue.  “Aren’t those supposed to cool off first?” he asked.  “I read or heard that somewhere.  I don’t actually have first-hand experience.”

“Ah,” Jack said.  “Some people just fry once.  But me, no.  I cook them, first, then dry them off, wait a minute, then put them back in for the browning.  If these were ones from a bag of frozen fries, they’d have been done already since those are already cooked.  For these, though, they’ll be done maybe a minute or two before the steaks.  Providing you still take yours medium rare.”

“A little redder,” Daniel said.  “I think I’ve become more of a carnivore.”

“Yeah?” Jack asked, surprised.  “Cool.  So’ve I.”  With that, he poked the centers of the steaks with the tongs and nodded.  “Almost there.”

Daniel shook his head, mystified.  “I’ve never been able to do that.  With all these so-called smarts, I still can’t tell when a steak is cooked to my preference.”

“A lot depends on the heat,” Jack said.  “You can memorize what it feels like for doneness, but heat is a critical factor.  If they cook too hot, you’ll get it charred by the time it’s done to your liking.  If the heat’s too low, it’ll take forever to cook and the outside will become inedible because it sort of takes on the consistency of rubber.”  He shuddered.  “Takes a lot of trial and error and I have plenty of experience with that.”

Daniel grinned.  Jack’s infrequent barbecues were proof, though it was mostly because he’d been sidetracked with other things and the outdoor grill always seemed to cook things too fast.  Thinking of the word barbecue, he asked, “You ever thought about getting a smoker?  I saw a show once that had a contest where people were competing over who had the best barbecued meat.”

Jack snorted.  “You must’ve been bored and channel surfing.”  He frowned.  “When was this, anyway?”

“Um,” Daniel began, thinking.  “Maybe five years ago or so.  I had one of those small flatscreens that cost too much.  Now, they’re practically cheap.”

Jack nodded.  “Always best to wait a year after rollout.  Prices go down after that, though I think that’s partly because …”  He grimaced.  “Never mind.  Why haven’t you—”

“What were you going to say?” Daniel asked, frowning.

“Something political, and I’m not going there tonight, if you don’t mind.”

“Okay,” Daniel shrugged.  “Why haven’t I what?”

“Why haven’t you gotten a TV?”

Again, Daniel shrugged.  “I haven’t made the time because it isn’t all that important.  I have my laptop and if I ever want to watch movies on Bluray, I’ll buy an external DVD player for it.”

“And what if company comes over?” Jack asked.

“I never have company.”  Jack arched a brow.  “Seriously.  There are short visits by you, Sam, and Teal’c, and sometimes Janet, but we always come here.  I don’t see the point in getting a TV I’ll rarely use.”

Jack bobbed his head from side to side, conceding the point.  He checked the potatoes, then scowled at the timer because he’d forgotten to set it.  Daniel grinned.  “It’s been four minutes.”  He glanced over Jack’s head at the wall clock over the cupboards, near the ceiling.  “I’d noticed the time.”

“You watching the clock for any particular reason?” Jack asked.

Daniel thought he looked a little worried.  Maybe he was afraid he’d leave?  Interesting, if that was what it was.  “No, I’m not planning to leave.”  He looked up at it again.  It was an analog clock face, but it had old-fashioned ornate hands which pointed to Roman numerals.  It was made of brass and wrought iron.  “I like the clock.  It’s unusual.  So I tend to stare at it once in a while.”

“Yeah?” Jack asked, as if it both pleased and surprised him.  He looked up at it, then back down at the fries and lifted the basket out and dumped them in the bowl he’d set aside on the butcher island.  “Salt those, will ya?”  He then went to check on the steaks.

As Daniel found the salt shaker on the kitchen table and dusted the fries, he asked, “Besides, can’t you just tell the fries are done by their color?”

Jack shrugged as he placed the steaks on plates, which he transferred to the table.  “Habit, that’s all,” he said as he retrieved tartar sauce from the fridge for the fries.  He never served them with ketchup and a few years back, Daniel had decided he liked fries that way.

They settled down to eat, and over the course of dinner, Jack went on to talk about how to test steaks, and then the pros and cons of getting a smoker.  It turned out that he’d learned a great deal without ever having owned one because his dad had had one.  It had been the first time Daniel had heard Jack mention his dad without then changing the subject.  He didn’t push by asking other questions about his family.  Daniel had the feeling that it was just as touchy a subject as it was for him.  Damn shame, really.

Daniel chose to talk about the different kinds of unusual clocks he’d come across, from the antique to the modern humorous ones.

“Humorous?” Jack asked.

“Yeah.  For example, one had the 12 and the 3, but the rest of the numbers had fallen into a pile at 6 o’clock.”

Jack snorted.  The conversation branched out into the astronomical clock in Prague, and the one on Big Ben.  Daniel told him about the other clocks he’d seen, in the strangest of places.  Like the Taj Mahal, which was, as Jack put it, just a really, really fancy mausoleum.

After dinner, they did the dishes in silence, then retired to the living room to watch TV.  In silence.  He hadn’t really said all that much during dinner, and he wasn’t inclined to say much now, which was a bit hypocritical, as Jack had commented earlier.  But he just wasn’t the chatter box he’d been five years before, and as he stared at the tube, his mind turned introspective.  He wasn’t as talkative now as in the past because of that Tollan-Asgard sting operation.  Jack had said a particularly nasty thing while acting out a role as a disgruntled Colonel and even knowing that, Daniel had never really forgotten it.  It had soured their work friendship, and what was there to say after that?  They’d drifted apart, and largely due to Jack stepping back and excluding him from his life, so it wasn’t entirely Daniel’s decision.

Then came dying.  And ascending.  Then descending.  It sort of shifted ones priorities about what was important and what simply wasn’t.  The sting operation acting job was the latter.  As were many parts of his old life, Daniel found.  In his new life, he could still be chatty, and do his rapid-speech communication—mostly so he wouldn’t get interrupted—but he just wasn’t all that interested in … chatter.  So why in the world would he expect Jack to be what he had been?  There wasn’t a good reason for him to change.

For himself, he’d changed in many ways, and the latest, and most important, was his new-found attraction to men.  He still hadn’t discovered an answer to ‘why’.  There wasn’t a reason, he decided.  Or as the saying went, It is what it is.  The only real question he had about his bisexuality was ‘Is it something he’d eventually have realized had he not died?’  Setting that aside, the Big Looming Question hovering in the air was wondering when Jack was going to spring this would-be boyfriend on him?

“Hey,” Jack said, and nudged Daniel’s foot with his own.

They were reclining on the couch, sitting a foot apart with their feet on the coffee table.  On TV was an astronomy program Jack had stopped on.  Daniel knew it already and so he’d let his mind wander.  When he turned his attention to Jack, he realized that he’d slumped down.  So had Jack.  Their shoulders were touching.  Maintaining composure as he ordered his mind not to delve into fantasy territory, he pushed up, hoping he was appearing to do it without thinking.  Jack then surprised him by backhanding his leg, forcing him to lift them up as he pulled the coffee table closer.

“I need to get some ottomans,” Jack remarked as he sat back.

Daniel didn’t respond because there really was no need.  He looked at the tube, musing that Jack needed to upgrade his TV.  It was still the rounded-corner type.  He probably didn’t see the point, given how often they were able to spend time at home.  From his peripheral vision, he saw Jack’s face turned to him.  Was he staring?  “What?”

“You usually comment on these programs but you’ve been silent for a while.  Your mind elsewhere?”

“Yeah, it is, actually.  Where’s this guy you’re going to fix me up with?  I’m getting a little sleepy.  Steak and whiskey.  Bad combo.”

Jack grinned.  “I get it.  You can stay here tonight, ya know.  I have a spare bedroom.  Driving home might not be a good idea.”

“I wasn’t planning on leaving in the next hour or so,” Daniel said, brows rising.  He sensed that Jack just wanted the company for longer.  “But okay, I’ll stay over.  I just don’t have a toothbrush.”

“I do.  I always buy extra.”

“You do?”

Jack shrugged.  “A habit I got into a long time ago.  I sometimes needed the extra toothbrush to use on my boots.”

Daniel snorted, making the man smile.  “So.  The guy?”

“Ah.”

“And?” Daniel prodded when Jack went quiet.

Jack made a face.  “I haven’t found someone else.”

“Oh.”  He then realized Jack had said, someone else.  It implied he’d already found someone but rejected him.  “Hang on—”

“What were you thinking about instead of watching the program?”

Daniel sighed.  It probably wasn’t important why Jack had said what he said.  It was just conversation, and the way he spoke.  Plus, it was kinda obvious that Jack wasn’t up to answering questions.  He was all about asking them.  And for some reason, Daniel found that he wasn’t bothered.  Had his opinion changed or was it just the situation?  Probably the latter.

“Alright.  No explaining what ‘someone else’ meant?”  Jack blinked.  “Fine.  I was thinking about my bisexuality.  Was I always this way or did being an ascended being change me?  I don’t know the answer.  I just have more questions.”

“Huh,” Jack said, looking thoughtful as he stared at the TV.  “I guess it’s natural to wonder.”

“Was I always going to ‘wake up’ or was it only because I descended?  And then the big question: why?”

“You might as well as ask why a person’s straight, Daniel.  There’s no proper answer other than you are who you are.  It’s not bad, and it’s not meant for a ‘what if’.”

The comment was so insightful that Daniel found he was very surprised.  He then felt guilty for being surprised.  Why shouldn’t Jack be insightful?  That was like asking why the sky was blue.  He just was.  Although Daniel could tell anyone exactly why the sky was blue.  But that wasn’t the point, and anyway—

“You’re fading again,” Jack said, catching his attention.

Daniel frowned.  “I’ve been doing that a lot this evening.  I’m sorry.  It’s rude.”

“It’s not,” Jack said, slapping Daniel’s thigh with the back of his hand.  “It is what it is.”  Daniel snorted, making Jack grin.  “And wondering about your bisexuality is something worth wondering.  It’s new, ya know?  Startling, maybe, when you didn’t know you were.”

Daniel nodded.  “And then there’s the companionship angle.”  Something else occurred to him.  “And it’s weird.  If I weren’t bisexual, I wouldn’t be out looking.”

“You wouldn’t?”

Daniel shook his head.

Jack nodded, then frowned a little and looked like he wanted to ask another question but seemed hesitant.

“It’s my turn to ask what you are wondering about.”

“Are you …”  Jack grimaced.  “It’s a bit TMI, maybe.  Asking something that’s maybe not my business.”

Daniel gave him a long-suffering look.  This was Jackspeak for asking permission to ask a delicate question.  It was probably going to make him blush.  Make both of them blush.  “Ask,” he prodded, returning the backhanded tap.

“Are you … have you considered … which way you’re going to …”  Jack abruptly cleared his throat several times, blushing along with it.

“Top or bottom?” Daniel asked, ordering himself not to blush and failing just a little.

Jack again cleared his throat.  “Yeah.”

“I’m … open.  But my inclination is …”  He frowned.  “I really hate the terms Top and Bottom.  It implies a hierarchy that supposes that one person in the relationship has more power than the other, and I’m into equal relationships.”  Jack’s brows went up thoughtfully.  “So my answer is …”  He made air quotes.  “To be on the receiving end.”  Jack nodded, but Daniel sensed it wasn’t in agreement.  It was more an acknowledgement of the answer.  “What makes you curious?”  He had to know.

For a few long minutes, Jack didn’t answer.  He then suddenly sat up straight and drew a foot up on the couch.  It created a kind of safe space between them that Daniel didn’t realize they needed … but apparently did.  Jack was going defensive.

“Jack?”

“I … uh …”  He swallowed so hard, Daniel heard it.

“Just spit it out.  We’re friends, remember?  I won’t get mad or disgusted with whatever opinion you have.”  He was sort of lying.  He didn’t want Jack to judge him for wanting to bottom.  It had so many negative connotations in the world of the ignorant.  Not that Jack was, but some views were hard to break until you forced yourself to do it.

“I’ve been thinking about you having a boyfriend.”

“Yeah, I know,” Daniel said.  He’d kept his tone level and matter-of-fact, but he was surprised at the way Jack had just simply thrown it out there.

“And I … was wondering.  You, uh, said that you haven’t been able to find anyone to be with.”

Daniel stared at him, focusing on the beginning of that statement, not the last sentence.  The part where he course-corrected.  He was wondering … what?  “Didn’t we just cover that?  You said you were still thinking it over about who to fix me up with.  So go back to the earlier part of that comment.  You were wondering …?”

There was another long minute of silence.

Then …

“I was wondering … if … you’d like to be … friends with benefits.”  The last three words came out in a slow cadence.

At first, Daniel didn’t understand what he meant.  “With who?”  Jack’s mouth dropped open and he looked stunned.  It then hit Daniel what he meant.  He meant himself.  Which meant that Jack wanted to have sex with him.  Not out of some sort of bizarre pity.  It had to be because the man was bisexual.  And he hadn’t told him.

And all this … fucking … time …

Anger rose like a lightning strike and Daniel punched him in chest.  It wasn’t hard, but it was enough to move him.  “You asshole!”  Jack winced.  Daniel punched him again.  “Why couldn’t you just fucking tell me?”  He punched him again, but this time Jack grabbed his fist before he could do it a fourth time.

“I tried,” Jack said, returning the anger.  “But I just couldn’t say it.  I didn’t know how.  I didn’t have the goddamn guts.  It just sat there at the back of my throat and I couldn’t get it out!

Daniel stared at him and his hand relaxed in Jack’s as he forced his anger down.  He couldn’t be mad and not look like a hypocritical asshole for refusing to listen.  He turned his hand over, offering it for Jack to take the normal way.  “You had over three months, ever since I told you.”

“I know.  It’s just … I don’t know why I couldn’t say it,” Jack said.  He looked guilty.

“You know why,” Daniel countered with a sigh.

Jack winced.  “Yeah, I know why.”

“What a pair we are,” Daniel said derisively as he took his hand back.  Or tried to.  Jack firmed his grip and held onto him.  In fact, he placed his hand back on his chest and pressed it there.  Daniel felt his heart beating rapidly.  Jack was … scared?  Excited?  Both?  He licked his lips and swallowed, finding his throat dry.  “So … you’re asking all those questions.  Why?  Were you laughing at me?”

“Do I look like I’m laughing?  I’m in the same boat, Daniel.”

Daniel blinked.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean, inexperienced.”  He made a face.  “Almost inexperienced.”

Daniel swallowed.  “What’s that mean exactly.  What have you done?”

“All of it, just once.  Except I topped.”

“All of it,” Daniel echoed, feeling his throat go dryer while at the same time, his nipples and crotch went warm.  “You mean, going down and getting … getting it back and … and … all that?”

“You’re stuttering,” Jack said, half-smiling.

“Shut up.  Answer the question.”

“That’s a double negative,” Jack joked.

“I’m being serious!” Daniel said harshly and yanked his hand away.  “If you can’t be …”  He gave him a look of disbelief.  “Fuck it.”  He got up and blood rushed to his head and he wavered.  Jack rose and steadied him and though Daniel wanted to shove him away, he didn’t want to fall over either.  “Damn whiskey.”  Jack’s hands were on his arms.  “Let me go.”

“Where’re you going?”

“I’m … I don’t know.  I was planning on leaving in a huff, throwing a tantrum, but it seems kinda childish.”

“You’re mad.  I don’t blame you.  It’s kinda hard to talk about, Daniel.”

“I know that,” Daniel sighed.  “But …”  He just stared at him, realizing that he was nearly in Jack’s arms.  He couldn’t move, and his traitorous mind pictured Jack between his legs.  Then the impact of what Jack had offered began to sink in.  “You want to,” he said carefully.  “With me.”

Jack’s fingers flexed and a blush crept up on his cheeks.  “Only if you want to … I thought maybe … if you wanted to experiment or … until you found a boyfriend, you and I could … fool around.”

Daniel stared hard at him as his stomach began to knot.  “You’re suggesting … using each other until someone better comes along?”

“No,” Jack said, scowling back.  “Not in the way you’re saying it.”  His expression softened.  “What I mean is that, if you want, I could be there for you.”

The words sounded slightly better but it still … friends with benefits wasn’t exactly what he would have liked to hear.  It was an offer of something casual and he just wasn’t a casual sort of guy.  But then, it was Jack.

He was offering.

He stared at the man who still held him by the arms, studying the way his eyes were darkening.  He then studied his lips, wondering how it would be to kiss them.  He hadn’t allowed it before, but fuck it.  He’d just pictured Jack between his legs.  His focus on his mouth was so sharp that he wasn’t altogether aware that Jack was closing the distance between them until his hands moved to his back and pulled him forward.

“Okay,” Daniel said, his breathing increasing.  “You want to kiss.”

Jack grinned a little, his own eyes on Daniel’s lips.  “I’d like to see if we’d like it.  What do you say?”

“But haven’t you kissed a guy before?” Daniel asked, leaning away from him.

“Yeah, a long time ago, but it’s like kissing period.  It’s always different.”

“Oh, right,” Daniel said, frowning as he dropped his gaze.  “Yeah.  I guess it is.”  He lifted his eyes, once more looking at the man’s lips.  “Okay, um …”  He licked his own, then swallowed.  Jack was closer, then closer still.  He could smell the steak and whiskey on his breath.  “Oh … wow.”

“What?” Jack asked, but he pressed their lips together, then parted his own.

Daniel parted his, then sighed when Jack’s tongue ventured forth to probe between them.  He opened wider as his hands went up to frame Jack’s head.  Then Jack crushed his body to his as he thrust his tongue into his mouth and … that was all it took.  Daniel thrust back and wrapped his arms around his neck.  It was shocking, the way his cock went from slightly waking to full attention.  He moaned and swallowed at the same time, and just hearing himself moan that way with Jack in his arms, kissing him …

It was happening.  The fantasy he dared not have.  And all he wanted at that moment was to get naked and have him inside him.  And the thought of that suddenly shot a few seconds of apprehension through him and he broke the kiss and pushed out of their embrace.  He held his arm out between them, creating distance.  Jack brushed his thumb over his own lips and the look he gave Daniel was … well, smoldering.  But it quickly changed to wariness.

“I’m not rejecting you,” Daniel said quickly.  “I, uh, just … my body is reacting to you in such a way that all I want to do now is fuck and … maybe we’re, uh, going a bit too fast.”

“Are we?” Jack asked.  He held out his hand, keeping it there until Daniel took it.  “Come on.  Let’s go to the bedroom and explore.  See how it goes.”

Daniel swallowed hard.  “Are you sure we should do that?”

“You’re backing out now?” Jack asked, frowning in puzzlement.  “You wanted to find someone, but you don’t want a one-night stand.  You’re also a virgin.  You don’t know what you like and what you don’t.  So why don’t we experiment?”

“But you’ve only done it once,” Daniel countered as he allowed Jack to lead him out of the living room.  “Done it all once, you said.”

“I did,” Jack nodded.  “One night.  But it wasn’t all at once.  It wasn’t a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am thing.  So I learned what I liked and didn’t like.  And unfortunately, I was never able to have that again.”  He turned and backed his way down the hall, still holding Daniel’s hand.  “Until now.”  When they got to the bedroom door, he said, “Do you want to?”

“Yes,” Daniel said, and blushed to high heaven out of arousal.  “All of it.”

“Then …”

Jack led him into the bedroom, toeing off his shoes.  Daniel copied him, and he began to strip off his t-shirt until Jack stopped him and took hold of the shirt hem instead.  As his hands touched Daniel’s skin, goosebumps ran over his entire body and he shivered as the sensation reached his scalp.

“When it comes to penetration,” Jack began as the shirt landed on the floor.

Daniel was unbuttoning his shirt when he cracked a half-smile.  “I know how it feels.”

Jack’s brows furrowed.  “I thought you’d never done it.”

“I haven’t.”

The brows then went cross in bewilderment until Jack’s mouth dropped open in a knowing expression.  “Ah.  Toys?”

Daniel nodded.  “I’ve been prepping myself for a long time so that when the time came, it wouldn’t be harsh or hurt.  The only part that I don’t really have a feeling for is the sensation of the real deal, which will be different.”  He coughed, then added, “Uh, providing you’re not a whole lot bigger than …”  He abruptly blushed hotly and closed his eyes.  “I really hate being so …”

“Innocent?” Jack asked as he threw off his own shirt, pulling it over his head impatiently.

Daniel stared at his jeans button.  “Yeah.”

Jack stepped back and unbuttoned, then unzipped.  He paused, and Daniel did the same.  “Together,” he suggested.

Daniel nodded, and both of them pushed down briefs and jeans and stepped out of them.  They stood before the other, staring at each other’s erect cock.  Daniel touched himself, feeling embarrassed at the way his cock jutted upward, bobbing like a lure.  Maybe it was.  He was more concerned with Jack’s anyway.  And it’s size.  It seemed to be the size of his own, and maybe just a bit rounder or wider in girth than the dildo he currently used.

Jack stepped forward, his gaze flitting back and forth between Daniel’s eyes and his cock.  “Come here.”  He took Daniel’s hand and placed it on his cock and Daniel did the same, then hissed and moaned, biting his bottom lip.

“The first time a man’s touched me,” he whispered.  “The first time I’ve touched a man’s.”

Jack cracked a crooked smile, though it was laced with an intensity Daniel could only interpret as lust.  “First time’s are good.”

“For you, certainly, being the recipient.  And you can always claim to be the one who took—”

“Shhh,” Jack said, putting fingers to Daniel’s lips.  “Let’s just put that description aside, okay?”

Daniel frowned.  “Why?  It’s accurate enough.”

“Yes, but it’s also impersonal and sounds too much like trophy taking.  It kinda kills the mood for me.”

Daniel was taken by surprise.  “It does?  Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Jack said, then took Daniel’s hand again and led him to the bed.  He crawled onto it and Daniel went with him, both of them lying on their sides, facing each other.  “Now,” Jack said, and he leaned in for a kiss, which Daniel readily gave, and as they became engrossed in tongue, he placed Daniel’s hand back on his cock, then took his in turn.  “Let’s caress for a while, and you can get used to me.  Both my dick and my hand.”

“And your mouth,” Daniel said, opening to him.  “And I’ll let you lead from here on out, okay?”  His words were mere whispers against his lips.

“You sure?” Jack asked.

To Daniel’s satisfaction, his lover’s voice was thready.  “Yes.”  He let Jack push him onto his back as they stroked each other for a while, exchanging long kisses, until Jack broke off to kiss and tongue his way over his body, from his nipples, to his navel.  Then Jack looked up as he held Daniel’s cock in his hand.

“Here we go,” he said as he maneuvered between Daniel’s legs.  “I haven’t done this in a long, long time.”

Daniel swallowed as he pushed himself up on his elbows.  “I’ve never … and it’s been a long, long time.  But …”

“But?” Jack asked as he slowly re-wrapped his fingers around his shaft.

“Uh,” Daniel said, his brain losing power.  “Whatever you’re comfortable with.”  What’d you say that for?

Jack smiled devilishly.  “Liar.  I know you want this.”

Daniel’s brows curved.  “Yes, but you’re not supposed to say that.”

“Honesty, remember?”

“It’s not being honest,” Daniel scolded, keeping his tone fond.  “It’s teasing.”

“Want me to stop teasing?”

Daniel didn’t reply and Jack smiled at him, then abruptly took the head of his cock into his mouth while keeping their eyes locked.  Daniel’s mouth dropped open in shock and he tight-fisted the bed.  “Oh god,” he gasped softly, hips jerking.  Jack moved off and slid his lips and tongue down the shaft and over the vein.  Daniel twitched from the acute sensitivity and tiny pin-pricks of electricity travelled over his buttocks.  It was an odd but glorious sensation.  “Jack,” he moaned, breathily.

Jack closed his eyes and went to work, tonguing, sucking, and when his middle finger rubbed across Daniel’s perineum, Daniel reach down and grabbed his hand.  He could have come right there and then.  Trembling from the effort of holding back, he sat up, pulling himself away from that mouth.  “I damn near …”  He swallowed.  “I don’t want to.  Not yet.”

“I think I can manage to get a few of them out of you,” Jack said, but he moved up beside him.  Daniel raised his leg as Jack played, caressing his balls, then back to fingering his perineum.  He slowly slid his middle finger over Daniel’s anus, earning a gasp.  “You know about your prostate, don’t you?”

Daniel giggled.  He couldn’t help it.  “Yes, Jack.  I know about my own prostate.”  He wrinkled his brow in thought.  “I’ve just never been able to hit it, I don’t think.  Kinda hard since most dildos aren’t made that way and I just wasn’t interested in buying the curved ones that—”

“Dildos?  Plural?” Jack interrupted, staring in surprise.

Daniel gave him a knowing look.  “Yes, plural.  I had to graduate in size.”  He gave him a smirk.  “How else was I going to learn what it felt like to get filled?  Besides, there was need.”  There was look of curiosity on Jack’s face that made his thoughts clear.  “I’ll show them to you another time.”  There was an intensity to Jack’s gaze that Daniel found he couldn’t read.

“The drawer to your right.”

Daniel looked over, then reached for the drawer, but he had to push Jack off and roll over.  In doing so, he exposed his ass and inhaled sharply when Jack literally kissed a cheek.  He giggled again, pausing to look over his shoulder.  “Will you stop that while I’m trying to do something please?”

Jack chuckled.  “It was too inviting a target.”

“Ah huh,” Daniel said with a broad smile, and he opened the drawer.  He reached in and felt a medium-sized bottle.  He pulled it out.  Lube.  “This?” he asked, handing it over.

“Yeah.  And there’s something else there.”

Jack blushed a bit and Daniel found it endearing.  He turned back and reached back in, feeling around.  Then his fingertips hit dry rubber.  He coaxed it with his fingers, rolling it over in order to take it in his hand.  It was oddly-shaped and as he pulled it out, he stared at it.  It was an anal probe of some kind, with a curved angle and wide girth at the tip meant for stimulating the prostate.  He handed it over with a surprised look on his face.  “So … how long have you been stimulating your prostate with this?”

“A while,” Jack said, and didn’t seem to be inclined to elaborate.

“We won’t need it, you know.”

Jack grinned, with a touch of embarrassment coloring his features.  “I just wanted you to know I had it, in case you ever want to play around.”  With that, he made Daniel laugh as he tossed it over his shoulder.

“I could’ve put it back, you know.”

“Yeah,” Jack said, but he was distracted, or maybe hurried, as he flicked the lube bottle’s cap open and squeezed a bit onto his right middle and index fingers.  Daniel was slightly on his side with his ass still facing Jack, and he hissed when the cool lube was spread over his hole at the same time as Jack licked a wet stripe up the shaft of his cock.

When a finger slid inside, Daniel dropped back, arching his neck and closing his eyes.  He clutched at Jack’s shoulder, torn between caressing him and wanting to stop his actions.  He knew what Jack was intent on doing and he abruptly stopped him by pushing with his hands and moving his body away from him.  The loss of his finger was disappointing, but Daniel wanted only one thing and it was a lot bigger than a digit.

“Daniel?” Jack asked, frowning with worry.  “What’s wrong?”

Daniel sat up and grabbed the lube.  He paused for a second, then his movements seemed robotic because all he could think was, this is really happening!  Looking up, he stared at him intently.  “I want my first orgasm to be with you inside me.”

Jack nodded, then thrust his chin at the still-open drawer.  “Condom.”

Daniel didn’t want to use one, but it was necessary.  He grabbed something small and square, and when he looked at it, the label said thin and for a large cock.  His brow went up as he handed it to him while staring at the real deal.  Jack was already a decent size so how could he get bigger?  “You’ll fit this?” he asked.  Jack nodded mutely as he slid the sheath over his cock, adjusting the tip a little.

As Jack coated himself with lube, he took Daniel’s right hand and set the fingers around his shaft.  With his gaze on his own member, and on Daniel’s hand, he encouraged him to stroke.  Daniel readily complied, and while he jerked him off, Jack spilled a lot of lube over the head.  He thickened a bit more and Daniel wondered how he was going to handle it.  A second after thinking that, he dismissed it because the only thing he was sure about was needing to feel him inside.

He started to turn over but Jack shook his head as he knelt between Daniel’s legs.  “It’ll be better this way.  It may be tighter for you, maybe not.  But I can get to your gland this way.  And …”  He swallowed.  “First times should be face-to-face, yes?”

Daniel swallowed and nodded, then Jack placed lube-sticky fingers on Daniel’s knees and pushed them apart, and his brows went up when Daniel raised them and spread them wide.  Daniel gave him a kind of timid smile, but it evaporated when Jack spread lube over his hole, then squirted a lot more lube directly over his puckered entrance before he slipped a finger inside, twisting it around.  Then came a second finger, and he moved them both slowly in and out.

“Damn, you really have prepped.”

Daniel said nothing because he was too busy holding his breath while Jack was busy driving him crazy with his fingers.  He kept thinking, Jack’s fingers are inside me.  And he’s going to fuck me.  His cock jumped considerably at the thought and Jack couldn’t help but notice.  He raised an inquiring brow, but all Daniel could do was half-close his eyes and moan.  Suddenly, he grabbed his lover’s hand and began to hump his fingers because something amazing was happening.

Jack took in the look on his face and grinned.  “Yeah.  Feels good, doesn’t it?”

“Oh my god,” Daniel said in a rush as Jack’s fingers pushed harder and curled inside him.  There was a warm zinging sensation that spread heat and an insane need throughout his groin and his eyes went wide as his mouth dropped open.  “Ohmygodohmygod.”

With an evil smile, Jack withdrew his fingers, earning a frown.  “You’ll come too soon.  Thought you didn’t want that?”

Then they went quiet, their bodies stilled for a moment before Jack leaned on his left hand, positioned by Daniel’s chest, and pressed the head of his cock against Daniel’s anus.  Daniel met his gaze, amazed at the amber bits in his eyes, as if there was a fire being set behind them.  Maybe there was.  He nodded, then breathed a bit harshly through his nose as Jack pushed a bit, then backed off.  He repeated this a few times before he leaned over him as he pushed harder.

Jack was big.  And hot.  Not in the sexy way, which was obvious, but in the temperature way.  Dildos were cold until your body warmed them up, so Jack felt like a pleasurable fire.  He looked down, his breathing hitching repeatedly, as he watched while he was stretched and filled.  He’d expected a burn but it didn’t come.

He thought, Jack is inside me.  He dropped back and closed his eyes.  Oh my god, I finally have a cock inside me.  He couldn’t speak.  He was too busy indulging in the feeling, moaning with lust and need.  Jack sat back a little and lay his hands against his inner thighs, watching him.  Daniel met his gaze and set his hands on Jack’s arms.  “Jack.”

“Daniel.”

He pushed harder and Daniel moaned loudly, then let out a gasp as Jack moved his hips a little.

“You okay?” Jack asked, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat.  He stroked once and Daniel’s eyes went wide and unfocused.

“God yes,” he breathed.  Another stroke.  Then another, and another.  He kept going.  It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t slow, either.  “Oh god, Jack.”  Daniel’s ability to speak was cut off as Jack leaned over and captured his mouth in a searing kiss.  At the same time, he took Daniel’s legs in the crooks of his arms and held him tightly as he began to move.

It was fucking glorious.

Gasps and hard moans escaped through his nose before Jack broke the kiss and spread his own knees while grabbing hold of Daniel’s hips.  He moved rhythmically, undulating like a wave.  “Time to find that prostate,” he said in a raspy voice.

Daniel grabbed his biceps, clutching tightly, meeting the smoldering gaze.  His skin was flushed and there was an ache in him, all over, because what he’d desired for several months was actually happening, and with the man he knew he was in love with.  His body was being rocked as Jack moved and then …

That pleasure he’d felt earlier increased a thousand-fold as an acute pleasure zing radiated from behind his balls and near the base of his cock.  His eyes widened as the zing happened again, more intensely, and remained ever present.  He couldn’t help but buck, hips moving to meet the thrusts.  “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!”

“That’s it,” Jack said, smiling evilly.  “How’s that feel?”

“Oh god, keep going,” Daniel panted as the pleasure spike kept increasing.

“Oh, I intend to,” Jack said, chuckling just a bit.

However, there was a focus in his features that belied the amusement.  It was as if he was intent on doing something insane, but that wasn’t quite it.  Jack abruptly ground against him, moving in circles, and each time he came around to push against his perineum, there was a maddening zing of pleasure that shot through his body and zipped up his spine.  Strangely, his fingers ached as a tingling sensation spread through them intermittently.  He was moaning constantly, unable to keep silent.  Not wanting to.  Then the pleasure was spiking higher and a massive wave of heat spread over his cock and balls.  He was going to come.  “Oh god, I’m gonna come,” he gasped.  “No, no, no,” he whined.  “Not yet, dammit.”  He was going to tell Jack to do something else, but he didn’t know what.  It didn’t matter anyway.

“Want me to stop?” Jack asked, eyes bright.

“I’ll kill you if you do.”

“What do you want me to do then?”

“Give it to me,” Daniel said, the words barely a whisper.

Jack grabbed his thighs and lifted Daniel’s ass off the bed as he thrust hard and fast.  That intensity was back and it made his eyes glitter and the pupils dilate even wider.  The hard motion of back and forth and the continuous slapping made Daniel curl his toes while he clutched the bed sheet in hands that eventually curled into fists.  “Jack.  Oh god.  Oh god.”  He raised his head, chin almost on his chest.  “Fuck me!” he demanded harshly.

“Oh, you like that, don’t you,” Jack cajoled.

“Yes, god yes.  Please.”

“Please what?” Jack asked tightly.

“Fuck me!”

“I am.”

“Make me come!”

“Here it comes,” Jack said.  “Come for me, baby.  Come for me.”

“Oh please, please, please,” Daniel panted as he arched and threw his head back.  He tried to pull his knees up but Jack held onto them as he began slamming into him.  His cheeks flushed as Jack’s hip flew, slapping hard, and he couldn’t keep himself from crying out, spilling words of need.  “That’s it!  Oh god!  Oh god!  Yes, yes, yes, yes!”  His body began to buck wildly, then he bowed and froze in place as his orgasm hit him.  He wanted to spread himself wide but he couldn’t move.  His hips began to thrust uncontrollably and his mouth dropped open as he spilled and spilled all over his abdomen.  He tried to talk but couldn’t, then Jack was on top of him, kissing him, hard, passionately, and his body was tightening until he too froze in a rictus of pleasure as he came.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god,” Jack said against his mouth.  “Jesus fucking Christ.”

Daniel wrapped his legs around Jack’s waist and gripped him hard against his body as he put his arms around his neck and kissed him back for all he was worth.  His lips were cool, his tongue warm, and the sweat that made their bodies slick was salty and heady and good.  With a sudden inspiration, he shocked Jack by turning them over while they kissed.  Jack smiled against his lips, forcing Daniel to gasp when he thrust upward.

“Oh god,” Daniel said, closing his eyes.

Jack took his head in his hands, framing his face, and kissed him more slowly, easing down to small kisses without tongue, then turned them both until they were back on their sides and in the position they’d started in.  When he slid from his body, Daniel groaned with disappointment at the loss and he felt abruptly empty.  Still, the afterglow helped mitigate the feeling somewhat.  He had his eyes closed, so when he opened them, he found Jack looking at him.  There was a peaceful, curious look in his regard.

“Hey,” Daniel said, smiling a little.

“Hey,” Jack said back.

He made Daniel laugh by rubbing the tips of their noses together.  Eventually, Jack fell onto his back and put his arm across his lover’s shoulders and pulled him in.  Daniel sighed, his heart still pounding a bit, and he slid his arm across Jack’s upper body, below his pecs.  He snuggled against him.

“This is nice.”

And he felt Jack’s body stiffen.

What he’d just said was somehow wrong.  He didn’t like him saying it?  Acknowledging it?  What the hell?

And suddenly, instead of facing it, confronting it, Daniel did what he rarely ever did: he fled.  He pushed away and sat up, looking down at the floor for his clothes.  They were by the foot of the bed.  “Wanna hear something weird?” he asked as a pit appeared in his stomach.  He pushed off the bed and went for his briefs.

“Sure,” Jack said, frowning and sitting up.

“I’m hungry,” Daniel said.

Jack grinned and moved off the bed and into the bathroom.  “Let’s go find something to snack on.”

Daniel sat on the foot of the bed, jeans in hand.  “We could order something,” he suggested, mind racing.

“We could,” Jack said.

Daniel wondered why his ass wasn’t sore, given the pounding it took.  Maybe it would come later.  His cock didn’t even twitch at the recall, thanks to the fluttery feeling in his belly.  He sighed and slid on his jeans.  “Chinese?  Teriyaki?  Pizza?”

“I don’t know.  What’re you in the mood for?”

Daniel appeared at the bathroom threshold and leaned against the door jamb.  “Meat.  I think.”

Jack gave him a long-suffering look.  “You’re supposed to say one of the choices you mentioned.”

“Steak,” Daniel said as his grin widened.

“That isn’t one of them.”

Daniel sighed and traded places with him to relieve himself.  “Actually, I’ve got a hankering for tacos.”

Jack frowned as he left the bathroom.  “I don’t think they deliver.”

“No.  I think a trip to Taco Bell is in my immediate future.”

Jack appeared in the doorway, slipping on his briefs.  “Seriously?  You wanna take off?  After all that?” he asked, gesturing at the bed.  “Aren’t you even a little worn out?”

Daniel grinned, but it didn’t last.  What he really wanted to do was go home.  Now.  Because either Jack wasn’t into snuggling, wasn’t into snuggling with men, or he wasn’t into snuggling with him.  It was immature, and he knew it.  For once, he didn’t fight it.

Friends with benefits, Jack had suggested.  That’s all.

Casual.  But did that mean he had to be cold afterward?

Daniel cursed himself for a fool, falling in love with a man who wasn’t going to do the same.  He just wanted to use him for sex.  Finding his shoes, he picked up his phone that had fallen to the floor along with his keys and headed out.  He was gone twenty minutes, and all during that time, he replayed that body stiffening in his head, trying to see if he’d overreacted.  But he hadn’t.  He knew he hadn’t.  Jack just didn’t like him saying how nice it was to snuggle.  And if he, Daniel, was being immature about running away, what did that say about Jack’s frozen reaction?

He got two orders, on purpose, and when he came back, he handed Jack his bag, then went for the door.

“Hey, where’re you going?” Jack asked as he looked at the bag.  “You’re not eating?”

“I have mine,” Daniel said, forcing a bland, matter-of-fact look on his face as he put his hand on the doorknob.  “It’s in the car.”

“What …” Jack began, frowning.  “What just happened?”

Daniel took a deep breath, ordering himself to be mature and calm.  Too late.  “Well … um, I take it that Friends With Benefits means casual, no-strings sex.  Which means you’re not into snuggling.  You’re not into intimacy past sex.  So, since I’m not supposed to hang around and act like a boyfriend, I’m leaving.”  He then opened the door and left, forcing himself to close it normally.  When he got home, that’s when he did the door slamming.

And it hurt, because Jack didn’t call.  Despite having been very close, aside from the sex, talking as if they were supposed to be lovers, not just friends with benefits, he didn’t call the next day.  Or the one after that.  In fact, when they met up at work on Tuesday, the man acted as if nothing at all had happened.  Fine.  Two could play that stupid game.

 


 

No Compromises

 

For two weeks, they had constant missions with no time to go home.  And Daniel didn’t mind.  He tried to, but he couldn’t muster the disappointment.  He hadn’t noticed any change in Jack’s attitude, either.  After one more mission, they finally had two days downtime, and Daniel would spend it sleeping.  He just wanted to disappear in dreams and unconsciousness.  Since their lovemaking, or maybe it was just sex, he’d been so distracted that he hadn’t taken any work home, as he had done for seven years.

Instead, he brooded.  He couldn’t get over the no-cuddling thing, and added to it was how Jack behaved as if nothing had happened between them.  There weren’t any smiles from him.  There wasn’t a friendlier attitude.  In fact, Jack was behaving the same way he had been just before he’d died and ascended.  Which called for brooding.  It resulted in a realization and a decision.

 

. .

 

It was raining, and even though it was warm and humid, he sat out on the covered balcony, wrapped in a blanket throw, and watched it come down.  A thunderhead was rolling in and he sighed.  Thunder here was loud compared to other parts of the country.  The world.  He got up and went to the utility drawer in the kitchen to fetch the orange earplugs.  He was about to go back out when his cellphone rang.  He’d left it on the table and he looked down.  It said Jack O’Neill.  There had been an accompanying picture, but he’d deleted it.

“Yeah,” he answered as he stood in front of the open sliding glass door.

“Hey,” Jack said, and his tone had an edge to it.  “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Daniel lied.  “What’s up?”

“Not nothing.  You’re lying.  What’s wrong?”

Daniel sighed.  He wanted to say, “Oh now you’re talking to me?  Acting concerned?  Being a human being?  Well, fuck you, Jack, I’m not in the mood.”

Instead, he just said,  “I’m not really in the mood to chat.  Why’d you call?”

tick

Daniel stared at his phone.  A long time ago, tick used to sound like a click.  That was the problems with cellphones.  You just had a faint sound that was sort of like a tick, then dead air.  In any case, Jack had just hung up on him.  He snorted derisively and went back out to the balcony, earplugs in.

As he sat down, a heavy hole opened up inside.  While Jack had done that stiffening thing, which was a passive-aggressive way of distancing, Daniel was going to go a lot further:  He’d decided to never be with him again.  It wasn’t exactly fair because they hadn’t talked about it.  But he just couldn’t be with him the way Jack wanted.

He’d discovered that the reason he’d been hurt by the no-cuddling thing was because he didn’t want to be Friends With Benefits.  He wanted a boyfriend.  He wanted a relationship.  He didn’t do casual.  He just couldn’t be, as they used to call it, the Buddy Fuck.  And given how Jack had been behaving, maybe he sensed it.  And maybe it had made him angry, and retaliatory.  Daniel would have liked to believe that Jack was above such nastiness, but he wasn’t.  At least, that’s how it looked on the outside, but since Jack wasn’t talking to him, he could only go by what he saw.

The rain suddenly came down hard and thirty seconds later, he felt distant rumbling.  He wouldn’t have been able to hear it, thanks to the earplugs.  Abruptly, out of sheer contrariness, he threw aside the blanket, got up, and stepped away from the overhang to let the rain drench him.  Mist rose from the hot cement floor, and he felt a slight clamminess that mingled with the way his shirt clung to warm skin.  He toed off his flip-flops and sighed at the warm surface under his feet.  His jeans began to weigh heavy as they soaked in the water, primarily on the front of his thighs and below the knees.  Pools of water gathered in the folds over his feet.

He tipped his head back a little and closed his eyes, concentrating on the rain hitting his face and told himself not to think of Jack.  But in so doing, he thought of him.  He wondered if he would come over and yell at him, but then dismissed the notion, believing that Jack really wasn’t that kind of guy.  He’d wait.  And stew.  Rather like himself, which was aggravating.

As the rain tapered off, Daniel caught the sound of someone knocking.  For a second, the rain made it sound as if it was coming below him, but that would’ve meant that someone was knocking on the sliding glass door in the apartment directly below.  He turned his head and found that it was coming from his own apartment door.  Frowning, he padded through the kitchen, trailing water behind him, and it soaked into the carpet as he crossed the short hallway before he got to the tiled foyer.  Dripping pretty well, he swiped at his nose with the back of his hand just as he opened the door mid-knock.

Jack.  He stared, fist raised, and took in Daniel’s wet hair, face, and body.  His expression would have been comical had Daniel been in a different mood.  He sighed and stepped aside, waving Jack in.  The man crossed in front of him, stepping sideways, his eyes never leaving Daniel as he took him in.

“You were either out in this rain or you took a shower with your clothes on.”

“Brilliant theories,” Daniel quipped, turning around and heading into the kitchen.  “S’pose you wanna beer?”

“Um, better wait on that,” Jack said from behind him.

Daniel came to a halt in front of the fridge and turned around.  He made a lift and fall of his hands.  “Fine.  What’s on your mind?”

“Us,” Jack said, stuffing his hands into the pockets of … baggy jeans.

Daniel did an internal sigh as he met Jack’s gaze.  “There’s isn’t an us, so could you explain what you mean?”

“I thought we had an arrangement, but then you up and ignored me,” Jack said quietly.

Daniel could tell he was making an effort not to snap so he returned the favor.  “First, you didn’t call me either.  But debating who didn’t and all that is pointless.  The point is that I wasn’t ignoring you.  I was reacting by the way you reacted to me.”  He waved a hand when Jack started to speak.  “I know, I know.  It’s both our fault.  The other point, the more relevant one, is that you wanted a friends-with-benefits arrangement, and … I realized I didn’t.”

“You could’ve just said you didn’t want to be with me again,” Jack said, a scowl forming.

“That would’ve been a lie.  I did want to.  I do want to.  Problem is, I don’t want that arrangement.”  He paused and let out a heavy sigh.  “I wanted to accommodate you, Jack.  I really did.  But that night, afterward, when you didn’t want to lay in bed, holding each other, I—”

“I never said that,” Jack said, and he looked truly puzzled.

“No,” Daniel drawled.  “Your body stiffened when I said I liked holding each other in the afterglow.  I didn’t imagine it.”

He wanted to keep explaining, but he waited for Jack to argue that it wasn’t what he was thinking.  Sadly, when the man said nothing, it cemented everything in Daniel’s mind.  And widened the gulf in his stomach.

“I was let down, extremely disappointed.  At the time, I really didn’t know how much.  Whatever, I had to leave.  Over the weekend, when you didn’t call, and then over the last few weeks when you never once offered a private smile or any inkling of what happened between us, I figured you just weren’t interested.  In fact, you began to revert to the behavior you exhibited toward me just before I died.  I didn’t, and still don’t, know what to make of that.  It looked like one of those clichéd episodes of the guy who popped the girl’s cherry, then ignored her.”

“That’s not—”

“I’m not interested in a Buddy Fuck relationship.”

Jack’s scowl was deepening.  “I never said—”

“Friends with benefits amounts to the same thing, only I don’t want to have that arrangement.  There’s a reason I don’t go to the clubs.  I don’t do casual.  Friends with Benefits is casual.  I tried to believe it wasn’t, that I could do it, but it feels wrong.  For me.  And mainly, aside from me not liking casual, because …”  Daniel took a deep breath.  “I have feelings for you.  It appears you don’t feel the same way.  So …”  Daniel held up his hands, palms up.  “I’ve just made some big assumptions … and you’re scowling at me.  What about all that have I gotten wrong?”

“I’ll take that beer,” Jack said, and he pulled out a chair and sat down, frowning at the wetness on the floor.  “Why are you all wet?”

Daniel retrieved the beer and handed it to him.  He didn’t sit down, and instead walked around the table and went back out on the balcony.  He held his hands out as he turned around to face Jack.

Jack took a pull from the bottle, frowning as he eyed Daniel at the same time.  “Why?”

“Because I want to be,” Daniel replied.  “Hell, I think I need to be.”  It was still raining, but it felt colder because he was already wet, and the water on his body was warmer than the stuff coming from the sky.  He leaned against the railing, secure in the knowledge that it would hold because the damn thing was double-barred and bolted securely.  There was also a small safety net that hung around the balcony, originally meant to catch errant pets but it might catch a person too if they weren’t intent on jumping past it.  Daniel was abruptly reminded of the time he’d tried to commit suicide.  The same thought seemed to be on Jack’s mind because he looked nervous.  Another bout of contrariness hit Daniel and he refused to budge.

“Come back inside,” Jack said, standing.

“I’m not suicidal,” Daniel said in a long-suffering tone.

“That’s good to know.  But you’re out there and I’m in here.”

“I’m creating distance, is that what you mean?” Daniel asked.

“In so many words.”

Daniel’s contrariness ramped up.  “Then come out here with me.”

Jack shook his head as he went to the open doorway and leaned against the door jamb.  “One, I don’t want to get wet.  Two, I don’t want the conversation to be heard by everyone else.  Shit travels in the rain.”

“Shit gets drowned in the rain,” Daniel countered, and as if on cue, the rain increased again.  And the lightning and thunder was just a bit closer.  The rain ran over his face, and he had to blink repeatedly as it gathered on his lashes.  For a reason he didn’t bother to examine, he said, “I’m not coming in.  I want you to get wet with me.”  He was being inviting and for no reason.  Jack hadn’t said he wanted him.  In a relationship.

“Why?” Jack asked, crossing his arms unbudgingly.

Daniel found the reason and lost his patience.  “Why are you here?”

“Because we need to talk about us, as I said.”

“And you heard my response to that, then asked for a beer when I handed the ball over.  Maybe it’s easier for you to get wet than talk to me.”

“That makes no sense,” Jack said, frowning in confusion.

“Yeah, I can see how you’d think that,” Daniel said, sighing.  He was about to tell Jack that if he didn’t want to talk, he should leave, when the man stepped out onto the balcony.  He stopped under the overhang.  If Daniel was being charitable, it meant he should meet him halfway.  Uncharitably, it meant Jack was trying to make it easier for Daniel to do things his way.  No.  Daniel didn’t move.  He crossed his arms and refused to take his gaze from Jack’s, watery as it was.

Then suddenly, Jack came forward, yanked Daniel’s arms apart, pulled him forward by his waist, and bent his head to kiss him.  Daniel reared back but Jack refused to let him go, so he squirmed and tried a little more forcefully.  Jack tightened his grip.  Daniel stopped moving, but he still shied away, refusing to let Jack kiss him.

“What are you doing?” he asked angrily.  He then hastily added, “People will see.”  He could care less, but Jack might.  The Job and all that.

Jack gripped his arms and spun them around, pinning Daniel against the sliding glass door.  His fingers dug into his biceps as if daring Daniel to try and break free.  “I thought friends with benefits would be a good start and we could go on from there.  But you left.  And I got mad.”  He paused.  His eyes were intense, filled with emotion.  He said slowly, “I care, Daniel.  But it scares me.  And that’s why I froze.”

A hot blush rose in Daniel’s cheeks, spreading down his neck, and it continued until it reached his groin and filled his cock.  At that moment, all he wanted was for them to be naked and for Jack to fuck him against the glass.  But given the state of the man’s knees, it couldn’t happen.  And then his more rational mind made him think about how to answer.

“Why couldn’t you just tell me that?” he asked.

“Because I thought …” Jack began, staring at his lips, then into his eyes.  “I thought we had sex because you agreed with my proposal.”

Daniel blinked.  “That has nothing to do with what you just said.  You just said caring about me scared you.”

Jack ground his jaw.  “I didn’t know how to say it.”

Daniel tried for a smile and failed.  “But you just did.”

“Because I’ve had time to think about it.  At the time, I couldn’t have said it unless you went first.  And then it all went sideways.”

Daniel was tempted to call him a chicken shit, but that would only lead to a fight, and he had to learn not to goad Jack into them.  He was too contrary for his own good and he forced himself to relax under the man’s grip.

“Let’s recap,” he said softly, removing the edge he’d had in his tone since Jack had arrived.  “I care.  You care.  Now what?”  Jack’s fingers relaxed and he tried to kiss him again.  This time, Daniel raised his chin and let him.  There were a few raindrops on his lips and they somehow tasted sweet.  The ones on Daniel’s lips seemed to have turned Jack on because the moment their lips slid a little, Jack put a hand behind his neck and mashed their lips open for a deeply passionate kiss, with his tongue seeking Daniel’s for a proper hello.

Daniel’s cock filled a lot more and he grabbed Jack’s ass and yanked him against him for a grinding that would send the message loud and clear.  He forgave him.  And … and … they’d have sex without settling this?

No.  He relaxed his grip on his ass, then slid his hands between them to rest on Jack’s chest.  He pushed a bit, trying to tell Jack they needed to stop, but his tongue wasn’t with the program and it contradicted his brain.  Grudgingly, he put his desire on hold.  “Jack,” he said, and the man was still kissing him.  “Jack.  Now what?” he managed, against his lips and around tongue.

“Sex?” Jack asked.

Daniel barked out a little laugh, which did the trick and separated them.  “I don’t think so.”

Jack gave him a much more serious look.  “What do you want?”

“A relationship,” Daniel said promptly.  “Don’t you?  It makes sense.”

Jack nodded as he pulled them both out into the rain, leaning against the railing.  “There are hazards.”

Daniel nodded back.  “It’ll mean more when one of us is in trouble or injured.”

Jack blinked.  “Well, yeah, that goes without saying.  I’m talking about risk to our careers.”  Daniel opened his mouth but Jack cut him off with a finger over his lips.  “Yes, DADT is over and the other rule eliminations are pending, but the frat regs still apply and always will.  No getting around that.”

“Does it apply to you and me, since I’m a civilian?”

“It applies because you’re under my direct command, and while you’re not in the military chain of command, it falls under color of authority.”

Daniel winced.  “I forgot about that.”

Jack smirked at him.  “Shame on you.”

Daniel eyed him.  “I was distracted.”

Jack looked surprised and arched a brow.  “You don’t get distracted.”

“I was,” Daniel replied sheepishly.  “I have been, for months.  First, my discovery.  Second, my feelings for you.  Third, having sex.  It all mattered way too much to me.”

Jack pulled him into his arms again.  “So, how about we seal this with a bit of—”

His back pocket began ringing.  And Daniel’s phone on the kitchen table began ringing.  They looked at each other and groaned as Jack answered his.  “O’Neill.”

“Jack,” said Hammond, which was a surprise.  “I need SG-1 to go on a rescue op.  SG-11 is having some trouble.”

“Aren’t they on a mining planet?” Jack asked.  “If it collapsed, isn’t that SG-12’s bailiwick—”

“No, nothing like that.  There’s some local wildlife that may have been involved.”

Jack grimaced.  “Sir, can’t—”

“Colonel O’Neill,” Hammond said firmly.

“Yes, sir.”

 


 

Epilogue

 

Jack said hazards.  And then his arm was broken during a fight with some Unas.  Daniel’s professionalism was put to the test.  His heart had been pounding, worried about Jack, even though Janet had taken good care of him in the infirmary.  He had been a little hard on Colonel Edwards, but the man had deserved it.  As for being a pain in the ass, he made that description Jack gave to Edwards mean exactly what he’d meant … as he drove Jack home.  It drove him nuts because they were in Jack’s truck.  And Daniel had to take him to work the next day.  Which would beg the question: how was Daniel getting home?

“Shoulda let the duty sergeant drive me home,” Jack said as they settled in bed that night.

Daniel sighed as he snuggled against him.  It was going to be a while before they could do anything, never mind cuddle appropriately.  “I know, but I just up and offered and it would’ve looked weird if I’d then changed my mind for no reason.”

“You would’ve had a reason: how were you going to get your car?”

“By using your truck to drive you to work the next day and arranging to take you home in my car.”

Jack grinned sleepily and Daniel noted the dilated pupils, thanks to the pain pills.  “That’s not what I meant.”

Again, Daniel sighed.  “Then you’d be getting rides home from the duty sergeant for the remainder of your light duty.  Isn’t it better to get them from your teammate?  Isn’t it rather expected of me or Sam?”

Jack just grunted, closing his eyes.  “Nice work, by the way.  With Chaka and the others.”

“Thanks.  It was easy.”  Jack snorted.  “It was.  It was a little hairy in places—”  Again, Jack snorted.  “Okay, wrong phrase, but I had it handled.  I trust Chaka.  He trusts me.  And now, Colonel Edwards does.”

“To a point,” Jack grinned.

“To a point,” Daniel conceded.  He slid a hand over Jack’s stomach and got a slap.  “I’m not doing anything.”

“Doesn’t matter.  Your hands are hot.  And feel hot.”

Daniel snorted.  “I think those pills are making you silly.”

Jack groaned and turned over to give Daniel a light kiss.  “No, that’s all me.”  He yawned.  “You’re not the only one who’s frustrated.”

Daniel nestled against his arm as Jack returned to his back.  “Your fingers are sexy.”  Jack started laughing and Daniel just smiled.  “This is the other hazard of being together.  You get to laugh at the dumbass shit I say.”

Jack’s laughter faded and he sighed and made a show of snuggling, even though he couldn’t.  “You’re alive.  You’re here with me.  I’ll take it.”

Daniel leaned over and kissed him.  “Me, too.”  It was a few days before he could kiss him elsewhere.

As he lay in bed one night, he decided that it was time to throw out the dildos he’d collected.  They had served their purpose.  He had the real thing now, and the best partner in the world to give it to him.  Jack had forced him to reveal himself, scary as that had been for both of them.  And now, they were just like everyone else in a healthy relationship.  Trials, successes, and the boring day-to-day.  And holy goddamn, Jack could fuck.

But if, somehow, something were to happen and he was no longer able to be in the catcher’s position, it would be okay.  Jack was just fine with having the tables turned.  And He Felt Great.

 

~

The End

 

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