“I cannot believe that you
Are far away
For I can
Never forget you
And thus your face
Is always before me.” -- Tale of Ise
Daniel hurried through the dark streets, internally counting off the time it took to get from the platform to the hotel. As it came into view ahead of him, he checked his watch, smiled slightly. Four minutes, almost half the time the concierge had told him. Apparently off-world ass-hauling paid off. He paused, used his extra time to stretch slightly, to ease away the kink of day spent in the offices and archives of Tokyo University's Hongo campus. In some ways, it wasn't that much different than holing up in his office under the mountain, except that here he got to talk with people who actually had a *clue* what he was saying, whereas under the mountain ... well, Sam got it, mostly, and Teal'c caught a fair bit. And Jack ... Jack understood a hell of a lot more than he let on.
Daniel had seen past the "just a soldier, nothing to see here" routine on the first mission to Abydos. Jack was a bright man, just not an anthropologist, nor with any interest in being one. Jack knew exactly what he needed to know to get his job done, and there was a wisdom to that which Daniel had come to appreciate over the last year.
Still, it was nice to play in his own sandbox for a while, even if it was gathering background information for the diplomatic envoy SG-Command was sending through to deal with the complex society of the Kami. The nice thing about the culture was they expected foreigners to act like idiots. Still, the complexities of the language and social structure needed to be observed if they wanted this alliance to work.
The lobby of the Yaesu Fujiya Hotel was pretty damned impressive, all wood and wide spaces in a city where space was at a premium. He retrieved his card key from the discreetly smiling man at the desk, asked for and received a bowl of ice for the bag of fresh fruit he was carrying, and made his way up to his room.
He had chosen one of the Japanese-style rooms, partially because it appealed to him to be steeped in the culture he was studying, and partially because he wanted to see how far Hammond and the U.S. Air Force would let him run up an expense account. It was petty, perhaps, but it was amusing, too. He grinned, shifted the bowl around, stole a grape from the cloth sack Professor Onoe had insisted on giving him to take back to the hotel. It was a nice gesture, and one he appreciated after the cloying heat of Tokyo in the summer. The sun had set an hour ago and it still had to be over 77 degrees out there. Thank God for mod cons.
The elevator slid silently into place on his floor, the doors slipping open with only the faintest whisper and the hum of the motor. Daniel wondered if the little curl of foreknowing in his belly would play out. He never expected; that was ... against the rules? But he found himself, against reason and better judgement, hoping. Something cool and not wholly unpleasant shivered along his spine as he rounded the corner.
The "Do Not Disturb" sign was on the door. The frisson melted into heat, and he felt his body harden and ache in response. His fingers were surprisingly steady as they slipped the keycard through the locking mechanism, completely at odds with the way his nerve endings jangled and sang. He very carefully did not look up as he entered the room, simply set the bowl on the low, laquered table and began layering in the grapes and kiwi that Onoe had gifted him with. The subtle scent of incense, Bikou Kobunboku, he thought, lingered in the air.
He understood that. Defining sacred space. Marking the transition from one world to another.
When the fruit was arranged to his satisfaction he looked up, saw Jack resting comfortably in the bedding laid out upon the tatami behind the paper screen that he had left closed that morning. A book, one of his, rested against Jack's chest and his dark eyes were bright, a bit mischievous in his serious face. "Hello, dear. How was your day at the office?"
Daniel didn't ask any questions. He didn't ask about the trip here, or how Jack had managed the leave and the travel arrangements, or even how Jack had bypassed the layers of hotel security. Asking, like expecting, would be against the rules. It violated the sacred space, it brought the world in and thus drove them out. He merely plucked a grape from the bowl, walked over to Jack and finger-fed him the chilled sweetness. "It was a day," he said.
He had thought the first time was an aberration, an adrenaline reaction to a mission gone horribly, almost irretrievably wrong. Jack had offered him a ride home since he was still foggy from the pain meds Janet had given him. Sometime while Daniel had dozed Jack had driven them into the space between cities, into the far corner of the parking lot of the grotty motel that squatted squalid and ugly beside the interstate. Still half asleep he'd waited patiently around the corner while Jack had paid for the key, then followed when Jack had dragged him into the thin-walled room and pressed him against the door and kissed him like a drowning man fighting for breath.
It had been only a few weeks after Jack had taken the crystalline "Charlie" back, had opened all his half-healed wounds with Sara. Only a few months after Sha'uri had been taken. He had thought it was grief and need and anger, had thought to compartmentalize it and rationalize it and make it ... somehow clean and neat.
But Jack's mouth on him in the aftermath, tracing each bruise, each abrasion -- that had been too soft, too delicate to rrationalize or explain away. The sweetness of it had unmade him to the point he'd had to bite back tears, excuse himself. When he'd gotten up to shower, he'd felt Jack's gaze on his back, soft and gentle as the kisses had been. When he's started sobbing in the shower, Jack had followed him in and held him until the water turned cold.
Hours later, at the door, Jack had rested his hand over his on the knob, made him pause before leaving. The older man's expression had been quiet and serious, but without any hint of shame. "Outside of this room, this does not exist," he'd said softly, firmly, and Daniel had found himself nodding.
And so it hadn't.
Until the next time.
And now this was the sixth time, the two of them in a room with the door closed and the lights low and this ... need between them, this thing that might have been love in another place, another time. Another world. One where Jack could smile at him, lick grape juice from his fingers, wear black silk boxers and a cotton Yukata and read Daniel's books in bed.
Daniel thought he should feel guilty for even acknowledging the possibility of such a world, but he didn't. Instead he leaned in, kissed Jack's mouth, tasted ice and grapes, let his tongue trace over to the crease of the older man's jaw. There it was salt, a hint of sandalwood. He pulled back, smiled down into the pleasure-slitted gaze. "I'm going to have a shower," he said, and Jack nodded, returning to the book he'd laid aside. McCullough's translation of "The Tales of Ise." He smiled a little wider, shrugged off the dress shirt, the sweat creased slacks, let them drop to the ground. Knew Jack was watching him, not the book, as he sauntered naked to the sliding panel that obscured the bathroom.
The soap smelled a little like the incense; the shower smelled like Jack. He washed carefully, rinsing away the day, the week, the months between the last time and this time. He dried himself with thick, white towels, shrugged into the black silk short robe Jack had left for him after stealing the Yukata. It was, if he remembered correctly, a souvenir from Vietnam. He wore it unsashed, enjoying how its heavy drape brushed his body, how it barely covered the tops of his thighs. Jack was taller, but Daniel was broader and that, it seemed, made a difference. He didn't bother to put on anything underneath.
The lights were all dimmed now, save for a single, red shaded lamp in the corner. Jack was still propped up in the bedding, sipping one of the Japanese beers from the minibar, eating the grapes. "Bushido," Jack said, looking up at him over the rims of reading glasses Daniel had never seen before. Daniel lay down beside him, propped his chin up on his shoulder, read the passage Jack's thumb marked. "Soldiering in the Greek style?"
"Something like that," Daniel replied, kissing Jack's shoulder through the body-warmed cotton. "An older, more experienced warrior, ah, mentors a youth through to the age of majority, the age of manhood. It was a relationship of lovers, but more than that and less than that, too. They weren't equal, couldn't be until the boy was no longer a boy ... and then they couldn't be lovers. It was a very ... complex, yet rather elegantly simple system."
"But it always ended," Jack said, closing the book, setting it aside.
"It had to," Daniel said softly. "For the younger man to come into his own ... place, his own role, the dynamic of the relationship had to change." He pulled the glasses off, kissed Jack's eyes closed. "That's true pretty much everywhere, though, isn't it?" he whispered softly. "Different rules for different times?" It was as close as he dared come, but Jack understood. He gathered up handfuls of the robe, pulled Daniel over him, kissed him wetly, his mouth cold and hot at the same time, making Daniel shiver.
Jack's mouth, Daniel has always loved Jack's mouth, right from the first time. It was utterly unlike Sha'uri's, wide and mobile and fiercer than she had ever been. The wildness of Jack's hunger (his hunger for *him*, Daniel was finally beginning to understand) bordered on violence, left him bruised and aching; Jack's need sated something in Daniel other than the appetites his wife had understood.
It was neither more nor less, but simply different.
That, too, was something Daniel was beginning to understand: that there could be two, mutually incompatible truths that nevertheless were both true. He wanted Sha'uri, safe and whole and free of Ammonet, he wanted their life on Abydos, he wanted everything as it had been. He loved her fiercely, every morning, every night, every breath in between.
But he could want this, too, love Jack with an equal fierceness. Neither more nor less, but simply different.
He thought, perhaps, that he should somehow be ashamed to love Jack as well as Sha'uri, but it didn't make him feel ashamed. It made him wistful. A little sad. But he was learning that this -- friendship, love, passion -- was a gift, and not one to be scorned.
So he helped Jack pull their robes off, sighed and moaned as Jack licked the curve of his ribs, bit the dark circles of his nipples until they ached, left his own marks in turn. He loved the smell and taste of Jack, the feel of his short, spiky hair as it tickled the curve of his belly when Jack swallowed his cock, sucked him hard and hungry to completion. He memorized the tight, strained curve of the older man's mouth as he sank down onto Jack, took him deep inside and rocked him slowly and steadily towards orgasm. He made himself see everything, see how beautiful Jack was as he sweated and gasped and clutched so hard that Daniel knew his hips would bear the bruises for days.
He made it last, made it stretch into a forever that he could hold onto. Everything changes, that was the one constant. He held Jack within his body, within his heart, leaned forward and kissed a hokku against the side of Jack's neck, whispered the opening to a renga into the sweat-salty creases...which Jack completed with a gasp, a cry, a harsh string of consonants. Daniel made sure their eyes met and held in the last instant before Jack's body arched, bowed up and shot.
And then he shifted slowly off, pressed soft kisses to the gentle curve of Jack's belly, whispered stories of a love between warriors that lived one even yet, though the men themselves were dust.
Later, closer to morning and half-asleep, Jack kissed his mouth, sloppy and tender as the first kisses six months ago had been. "This will all change," he sighed, breaking all their rules to hell, but it was the truth. Daniel knew his days as a beardless boy were drawing to a close, that the dynamic of the relationship must shift and change. If not when (if, heaven help him, he'd started to think "if") Sha'uri returned, then some other way. He was not the man he'd been two years ago, or even six months ago.
But love, he thought. Love endures. Sha'uri in his heart, Skaara too. They lived there, undiminished. Love lived on, if one accepted that change was a part of that.
In the morning, he thought, drifting into sleep, he would kiss Jack good-bye, return to the university to finish gathering what they needed to complete their diplomatic mission to Kami.
But he would kiss him good-bye on the other side of the door.
|Genres:||Established Relationship, Vignette|
|Summary:||Everything changes. But you must decide *how* it changes.|