Nefarious, part II by elfin
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Angst, Drama, Established Relationship, Hurt/Comfort
Rated: Adult
Warnings: None
Series: Nefarious
Summary: A new enemy means trauma for the team.

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Author's Chapter Notes:
VERY graphic violence. Intense situation of psychological torture, a lot of hurt/comfort.
"NO!"

But the deep, rough voice continued, anger showing through. "...or maybe you'd prefer it if we cut him? Right here? All the way down...."

The wicked tip of the knife's blade sliced a precise path from right nipple to left hip.

Daniel's scream of pain was drowned out by Jack's agonised cry of denial. "No! Don't...."

"Then tell us what we want to know!"

Oh, God.

Having been forced to his knees on the cold floor in front of the harsh metal chair, Daniel was now deliberately avoiding Jack's eyes as the streaks of blood ran over his chest and stomach.

"Don't tell them," he ground out through the white haze of agony searing through him.

"Danny...." Jack could hear his own desperation in his voice. He wasn't supposed to crack like this. He was trained, Special Ops, was supposed to be able to withstand any type of mental or physical torture.

But this went beyond anything he'd ever expected to be subjected to. His lover was before him, chained, being sliced open a little at a time, dying a slow and painful death. Because of him.

Summoning all his strength, Jack fought against his bonds, but they wouldn't give. He was cuffed to the chair by his ankles and wrists and no amount of struggling would break them.

"Any further thoughts?" the guy in black holding the knife at Daniel's throat asked Jack lightly. "Or do I continue with the blood letting?" He moved the tip of the blade across Daniel's collarbone, making a long, faint incision. The tension, the terror, was obvious in his victim's posture.

The blade tripped down over an exposed nipple, out to the open edges of his shirt and back across to the other nipple. Slicing it through.

Daniel's choked scream reverberated through the small cell. Jack swallowed back his cry of sympathy. It wouldn't do Daniel any good to show his own fear.

And he could feel his fear like a darkness around his mind. There was no way out of this and Daniel was going to die.

"Well? Colonel? You're willing to sacrifice one of your own?" When no response was forthcoming, the guy yanked Daniel's shirt down from his shoulders and slid it along his arms until it bunched at the cuffs on his wrists, the chain not allowing the material to be removed completely.

He stood, crossing to somewhere behind Jack, putting down the knife and picking up the glove. Returning to his victim, still kneeling on the floor, weakening from blood loss, he pulled the glove onto his right hand. Each knuckle ended in a short, sharp blade.

The teenage nightmare image of Freddie Krugar presented itself to Jack's mind as the smirking face asked him once more for the iris code, for the addresses of the Tok'ra bases, the Tollan and Asgard homeworlds, the Nox planet.

One by one the demands were listed. Still, Jack refused to speak.

The guy roared in anger, a sound that was barely human, and started into Daniel with the terrible weapon on his hand.

Each swipe made five deep wounds in Daniel's flesh. Each cut brought forth a more strangled sound from the victim until screams became grunts, grunts became gurgled pleas, and the pleas faded into silence.

Daniel collapsed onto his side, cracking his elbow, shoulder and finally his skull against the hard floor. He lay, still and silent as their angry captor continued to tear into him, shredding skin and flesh, scraping bone.

Each wound bled until Daniel's pale skin was coated in his own blood.

Breathing hard, free hand going roughly to his crotch, the madman stopped and rose, stepping back to admire his handy work.

Jack could barely think. His mind was a blank slate of red.

Daniel's flesh was a canvas of deep red cuts.

Jack knew that if he wasn't dead already, he would be soon. Blood loss and shock would kill him, and Jack hoped now that it would be quick.

How could he ever live with himself now? There was nothing else these guys could do to him anymore. The most important person in his life lay dead or dying before him. No more threats. They could kill him, it didn't matter.

The guy rubbed himself suggestively through his pants before removing the glove and tossing it to the ground next to his bleeding victim. Then he turned and left, slamming the hard door behind him, leaving Jack secured into the metal chair with his dead lover.

*

Daniel's shaking fingers touched the small, metal disk implanted into his temple.

"This will be a little uncomfortable," Jacob murmured softly as Janet hooked Daniel up to the various monitors around the infirmary bed on which he sat, cross-legged.

"I've done this before," he muttered, the pulse rate monitor clip on the end of his finger giving him something else to fiddle with. He was worried sick about Jack. Once, they'd said. They'd go through once... and Jack had been taken from them.

He would do anything to get his lover back.

Even remember.

The Tok'ra had taken advantage of that shamelessly. Hammond had called them on it, but even though they'd admitted to it, there was no choice.

Perching on the edge of the bed, Jacob pushed the intensity level on the activator right up.

"Ready?"

Daniel nodded.

"Okay." Holding the activator over the implant, Jacob flicked the small switch to 'on'.

*FLASH*

Shock of pain tearing down his spine. Convulsing once. Twice. Biting down hard on his tongue and tasting the blood.

Head being forced back, thick liquid pouring down his throat, choking. Nausea turning his stomach, moving to vomit. Head tipped back again, retching desperately. Darkness clawing, pushing, eating at his consciousness....

*FLASH*

"Oh, God...." Daniel gulped the air in the room, head spinning. He wasn't sure if the sickness he was feeling was a part of the fading memories or a reaction to remembering.

Janet was shining a light into his eyes and he moved back, batting her hand away.

"I'm okay, it's okay."

"Daniel, your pulse rate doubled in a second."

He shook his head, looking up at Jacob. "You need to go back further," he told him shakily.

"Daniel... you've been through a lot recently...."

"Just do it!" Tears touched his voice. "Please."

Jacob nodded, but as he moved the activator over the implant, he turned the intensity down slightly.

*FLASH*

Arms and legs being cuffed and chained. Skull smashing against the rocky ground. Sounds, voices maybe, all around him, chattering in a language he didn't -- couldn't -- understand. Trying to speak but something is pushed into his mouth, something too big, something he couldn't swallow around. Choking, being dragged to his feet, choking, desperately pulling air into his lungs, failing, being strangled, choked....

*FLASH*

Daniel suddenly reached for the oxygen mask over his face, meaning to tear it away, needing air, needing to breathe.

His hand was gently captured and moved away from the mask. A tender hand stroked over his hair, soothing him.

"Easy, Daniel, easy. Just breathe normally."

He was quickly manhandled onto his back so that he was lying down. He didn't fight them, letting them do whatever they felt was best, whatever would let him continue.

He reached out blindly and snagged Jacob's wrist. "Again."

Jacob frowned, and Janet shook her head. "I don't think...."

"Jack's life might depend on this!" Daniel calmed his anger. "Please, Jacob. I was almost there."

Again, the Tok'ra host adjusted the intensity on the activator before moving it over the implant.

*FLASH*

Sharp stones cutting into his back. Head banging against the ground. More noises, a sound like... engines. Doors opening, lifted and dropped. Chains pulling on bruised ankles and wrists. Door closing. Movement... forwards. Not up. Not taking off. Trundling along over bumpy ground. For so long... staying awake. Must stay awake.

Stopping. Finally. Quieting. Doors. Being dragged, lifted, carried. Dropped. Skull cracking on the cold floor.

Darkness spreading. Drowning. Lifting....

*FLASH*

Janet had insisted it was enough. Daniel's heart was racing dangerously. He was gasping for breath, making small, choking sounds.

But the moment he opened his eyes, he sat up.

"Tunnels!" he managed breathlessly. "There are tunnels, under the surface of that planet, the one I disappeared on. That's where I was."

Hammond, from his position at the end of the bed, ordered a 'go' for Teal'c and Sam, backed up by SG teams 2, 8 and 10.

Taking the oxygen mask from his person, Daniel swung his legs off the bed. Janet's firm hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"Where do you think you're going?"

"I have to go with them."

"Oh, no. I don't think so."

Daniel pushed passed her, and Jacob stopped the ensuing argument. "We might need him," he told her calmly. "He's the only one who knows anything about the tunnels and the enemy."

"He isn't strong enough to do this."

"He is." Jacob held her stare until she finally nodded.

"All right. But try to keep him off the front line?" Steadying Daniel, Jacob gave her a reassuring smile. He'd adopted the men of SG1 as his surrogate kids. After all, they were responsible for saving his life, and the lives of everyone on Earth, many times.

They were ready to go in less than ten minutes, and the gate dialled out.

Despite Jacob's promise to Janet, he and Daniel were out in front as they stepped away from the gate and out onto the planet. Leaving SG8 guarding their only means of escape, the group started out.

During the mission that had cost Daniel three weeks of his life and a hell of a lot of pain, he had been behind for the final, desperate run to the gate. The ground had erupted under his feet as he'd been running and he'd gone down. He'd bitten back on his call to Jack and the others. He wouldn't put them in danger. Instead, he'd clambered to his feet and concentrated on the gate. He'd seen the unstable vortex shoot out from the circle and just aimed for it. And then the ground had completely given out beneath his feet and he'd fallen.

He led them to that point. There was no hole, no collapsed ground.

"It must have been a trap," Daniel said to the planet in general. He stepped around where he was sure the weak ground was. Then he jogged out a little bit and turned. Before anyone could ask, he ran toward them.

"Daniel!" The ground gave way. The others watched as he vanished from in front of them. Rushing forward, they crowded around the deep, dark hole. "Daniel?"

A moment later they heard a groan.

Teal'c handed his staff weapon to Sam. "DanielJackson, I am coming down. I suggest you move to one side if you can."

They waited for a second and heard what may or may not have been an acknowledgement. Then Teal'c lowered himself into the hole.

As soon as his feet hit the ground, at what he estimated to be about twenty feet down, he called to Sam to drop his staff and a torch.

"DanielJackson...." Teal'c knelt by his friend, placing the torch on the ground and helping Daniel to sit up. Daniel's hand went to his forehead and came away sticky with his own blood.

"Shit," he muttered, steadying his head as his vision tilted. "Janet's going to kill me."

"It is more likely that she will blame us for your injury." Teal'c allowed a twitch of his lips at the humour. "Are you otherwise uninjured?"

"Yeah." With Teal'c's assistance, Daniel clambered to his feet. "You can come on down, guys," he called up, "just be careful how you jump."

One by one, they joined Daniel and Teal'c. From where they'd landed, they could make out what looked like rail tracks going off down a narrow passage into blackness. Jacob shone his torch down the passage, finding the light eaten by the darkness.

"You sure, Daniel?" he asked worriedly.

"They dragged me into something, some sort of transport. But it travelled somewhere and that's the only exit from here."

He was right. There were no other visible passages or ways out.

"Okay. Let's just hope they don't try to use the transport while we're in the tunnel."

With only ten or so feet visible in front of them at any one time, they moved slowly and cautiously as a group, keeping Daniel in the middle of them all.

After it had felt like they'd been walking for hours, they reached a circular clearing, easily fifteen feet across. In the centre was what looked like a small transport pod. Low, long and narrow.

"This might have been what they brought you here in," Sam told Daniel quietly. The rails ended, and off the circular wall of rock were seven further passages, all as dark as the one they'd come down.

"We need to know."

Jacob glanced at his daughter, then at Daniel, who nodded.

"Okay. But sit down, I can't be responsible for you injuring yourself any more." Off Daniel's sarcastic smirk, he pulled the activator from his pocket. "I'm going to up the level to the highest intensity. Try to concentrate on the journey between your fall and your imprisonment."

Daniel nodded, closing his eyes as the implant in his temple was activated.

*FLASH*

Everything slowing to a halt, the world stilling. Something warm and wet touching his hands. Turned onto his front, breathing hard, gulping heated air.

Opening his eyes, seeing... demons! Devils! Panic settling, panic gripping.

Dragged around, seeing the transport that had moved him. Being dragged to the front and further, into darkness, into choking blackness.

*FLASH*

Sam caught Daniel as he fell back, eyes flying open, a sharp cry escaping him. Blinking back the remnants of the vivid memories, Daniel pointed shakily to the passage running away from them in front of the transport.

"That one."

Jacob glanced at it, at the other openings. "Sure?"

"Don't think I'm reliving this hell for kicks, Jacob," Daniel muttered as he used Sam's hand to pull himself to his feet.

Jacob apologised and took point. "Looks like it's hands and knees," he muttered to the rest of the troops. This passageway was narrower and lower than the one they'd come from.

"Whoever these aliens are, they're short," Sam murmured to herself. Daniel heard her, and a flash from what he'd remembered burnt itself into his mind. He stopped suddenly, causing Teal'c to collide with his ass.

"Are you well, DanielJackson?"

"I... they're red! I can remember them!" His could hear his own voice trembling and a moment later felt Teal'c's hand on his back.

"Take it easy, DanielJackson," he crooned softly. "Dr Fraiser said that you should remain calm."

Daniel took a deep breath and continued crawling forward. After a second or so, he explained what he could see plainly in his mind's eye. "I know what they look like! They were... small and red. Like... demons. Sharp, pointy teeth and big black eyes. But then...." His brain nastily supplied him with the memory of Jack's death at the hands of his captors. "When they killed... they were human."

"It's okay, Daniel," Sam's voice soothed from the darkness up ahead. He cursed himself for the seemingly direct connection between his voice and his state of mind.

"That must have been the implant!" He said it before he could stop himself. "It must... make them look human...." He trailed off, silently berating himself for getting carried away.

Teal'c surprised him by proving he'd actually been listening. "It would be very difficult for them to appear so threatening if they are, in reality, four feet shorter than their prisoners. The visual deception must aid them in taking power from their victims."

"Absolutely." Daniel smiled to himself. "Thank you."

"It was nothing, DanielJackson."

The crawled onwards along the passage, and after quarter of an hour, Jacob began to wonder if the heat he was feeling was his own body heat or from an external source.

"Is it hot in here or is it me?"

"It's hot," Sam reassured him. "It's been getting hotter little by little for a few minutes."

"I remember it being much hotter," Daniel told them quietly.

"Maybe the implant did that too?"

"They hadn't put it in yet." He faltered, and pushing away the memories that were starting to crowd him, he concentrated on his aching knees and throbbing palms.

Finally, the passage opened out into a second clearing, this one well lit by glass covered lights in the sandy floor.

There was a door to their left, and no other visible exits. Jacob split them either side of the door and in perfect military style, he opened it quietly.

There was no one in the bright corridor, and they stepped through, lining up against the stone wall.

"Daniel?"

Taking a deep breath, steadying himself, he brought the seeping memories back to the fore. "Right, along here for... a couple of painful bumps in the ground. And I think the cells are on the left."

Nodding, Jacob led them along the corridor, following Daniel's directions.

Daniel saw him first.

Jack was secured what might easily have been the same chair they'd had Daniel strapped to for longer than he ever wanted to remember.

Splitting from the group to the hushed protests of the others, Daniel ran along the bars of the cell in which his lover was being kept. At the door, he hoped his instincts were correct, and simply pushed on it. It opened.

"Jack?" Daniel holstered his side arm and crouched in front of the colonel. He was slouched forward, no visible injuries, but unconscious. Carefully pushing his fingers into Jack's short hair at the back of his neck, Daniel found the same implant Jack had discovered on him weeks before.

"Jack!"

Teal'c stepped into the cell, assessing the situation and immediately crossing to the chair to use his strength on the metal cuffs keeping Jack prisoner.

Daniel gripped his lover's shoulders, shaking him carefully. "Jack!"

"NO!" Brown eyes, suddenly alert and scared, flew open to stare at him. "Danny.... It can't be you, you're...."

Jack glanced down to the floor, to where Daniel lay, covered in his own blood, cold and dead.

The other Daniel was still touching him, speaking to him. "It's me, Jack. You're gonna be okay, whatever you're seeing, it's not real. I'm here, we're all here, we're all fine."

The left cuff finally gave way under the strain Teal'c was putting on it and bent upwards. Jack pulled his arm free and reached out to wrap it fiercely around Daniel's neck. Moving closer, Daniel returned the hug slightly more gently.

"Okay, it's okay," he squeaked as Jack unintentionally strangled him. He pressed a kiss to Jack's forehead. "I'm here." Pulling back slightly, he saw that Jack's gaze kept flicking down to the floor to his right. "What? What are you seeing?"

Jack's mouth opened once and closed again.

Daniel was suddenly not sure he wanted to know. "It's not real. There's nothing there. They've got one of those implants in the back of your head. I'm here, I'm real."

Teal'c got the right cuff freed and Jack yanked his other arm away from the chair, reaching up to touch the implant so prominent on Daniel's temple, then back to find the one on his own scalp.

"Oh, God.... Danny." The relief that swamped him was indescribable. For a moment he hugged his lover with both arms before leaning down to help Teal'c free his ankles.

"Hey, Jack."

Looking up, they saw Sam and Jacob standing in the doorway. "We've secured the corridor, Sir." Sam told him, automatically transferring herself back under the colonel's command. She hated it when her Dad took official charge. She felt all of eight again. Her eyes assessed his condition. He looked pale, worn and tired, but okay apart from that.

Finally released from the hold of the chair, Jack launched himself at Daniel, holding him tight for just a moment, one arm around him, the other hand held over his chest where his heart was hammering.

"Let's get out of here," Jacob determined.

Convinced, Jack released Daniel. "No arguments from me."

Sam handed him her P-90 and took out her side arm. Sandwiching Jack and Daniel between Sam and Teal'c, they headed out, back into the main corridor where the SG teams were standing guard.

Jack tried to smile his heartfelt thanks at each one of them.

A few feet from the first door, they started to hear sounds; scrabbling and squeaking. Sharp, shrill cries reached them from both ends of the corridor.

Seconds later, the creatures were everywhere.

Everyone saw the small, short red demons as they were. Jack saw them as he had his whole time here. As human men, around six feet tall. Some of his rescuers that had been protecting their escape route did notice that as the space around them filled with creatures and gunfire, Jack was firing four feet higher than everyone else.

Second later, their attention was drawn by a distressed cry of Jack's name.

Across the corridor from them, Daniel was half-lying, half-sitting, his back against the opposite wall. Two of the little red creatures had him. One was standing against his shoulder, the other was sitting on his head.

For an almost hysterical moment, Sam had visions of Fraggle Rock. And then she realised that Daniel wasn't throwing the little monsters off him.

The main reason was that the one standing at his shoulder had three razor-sharp claws buried in his throat. He'd tried to move once and they'd torn his flesh a little. Now he lay very, very still.

Blood was starting to trickle down over the collar of his jacket and T-shirt.

The second creature had what looked like an activation device for the Tok'ra memory implant in Daniel's head. It was laughing, its whole body shaking with the cruel sound. And then it touched the device to the implant and shifted the intensity level up as high as it would go.

In that instant, Jack reached out, touched Daniel's neck where he could see sharply-nailed fingers buried deep in his lover's skin.

As the implant activated, Jack made contact and an arc of energy leapt between them.

Jack's eyes widened then rolled back in his head as a surge from his own implant flooded his synapses.

*FLASH*

Screams all around him as the deep sounds of falling stone faded leaving his life shattered.

*FLASH*

Throwing an old, battered rucksack over his shoulder once more as he left yet another foster family who had given up on him.

*FLASH*

Staring at the scrapbook that had once belonged to his Mom, losing himself in the past, the legacy his parents had left him, the only place he could go where there was no pain.

*FLASH*

The escape of school, where even the bullies wouldn't bother with him since he broke Craig Taylor's nose. Favourite classes of History and the languages. Pride because he'd found something he was good at.

*FLASH*

The long-awaited, harshly disappointing years at college. Quietly making friends in those who were like him, making enemies in those who would eventually discredit him.

*FLASH*

Cruel laughter aimed at him. Lecture halls emptying. Rain soaking through his scruffy clothing to his pale skin. Despair finally cutting him to the heart. Close... so close to giving up.

*FLASH*

Catherine. Jack. The Stargate. Abydos.

*FLASH*

Loving. Losing.

*FLASH*

A warm fire and a cold beer. Home.

*FLASH*

Pain like fire through his nerves.

*FLASH*

Pain like numbing electricity through his brain, down his spine.

*FLASH*

"Daniel, you know that... meaning of life stuff? I think we're going to be okay."

*FLASH*

'They left... they think I'm dead....'

*FLASH*

'What is this... why don't they know me? That look in Jack's eyes....'

*FLASH*

Fire tearing into his shoulder. Grief tearing his heart when Jack left.... Warmth and joy at the tight hug, the obvious relief... "Spacemonkey...."

*FLASH*

Air being squeezed from him, blackness drowning him.

*FLASH*

Poison in his bloodstream, ripping him apart inside out, forcing the gun on the man he loved.

*FLASH*

"I can't leave him, and I won't."

*FLASH*

Trapped in a dying body, death so close.

*FLASH*

Voices in his mind, madness eating his senses....

*FLASH*

More loss. More pain. Sha're....

*FLASH*

A prison. Scorching heat. Painful torture. Jack... so close....

*FLASH*

Waking from a nightmare, hanging in an alien embrace. Jack's touch, reassuring, soothing, releasing him.

*FLASH*

Jack... lost on that planet. No hope....

*FLASH*

Jack... leaving them. Betraying him... telling him it wasn't real. They weren't real.

*FLASH*

Watching his friends -- watching Jack -- hurt one by one because of him.

*FLASH*

Love. Warmth. Kisses and a desire so fierce, so hot.... His beloved Jack finally in his arms, finally a part of him.

*FLASH*

Jack being taken from him, torn from him by the Asgard, taken to his own certain death.

*FLASH*

Jack back in his arms, breath on his neck, lips on his throat....

*FLASH*

Fear. Suffocation.

*FLASH*

Kidnap. Rescue.

*FLASH*

Flash, snippets of memory in the burning heat....

*FLASH*

Seeing Jack, starved of Oxygen, seconds from death. His lover launched back into his arms, clinging to him....

*FLASH*

Light. Depression.

*FLASH*

Pain. Death. Jack dying in front of him, because of him.

*FLASH*

Jack was expecting the half-gurgled scream from his tortured lover. He wasn't expecting the sudden and vicious counterattack.

Daniel grabbed the creature at his side, wrenching its claws from his throat and smashing its grinning head into the stone floor.

Its victim's sudden movements and the sudden, gruesome death of its companion obviously surprised the second creature.

It jumped down from Daniel's head and tried to make a run for it, but Daniel caught it, yelling madly as he bashed it against the ground over and over again, killing it swiftly but continuing to pound the ground with the corpse.

"Danny!" Jack touched his lover's arm, stopping him. "It's okay, I think he's dead."

Daniel let go of it at once, pushing away the darkness at the edges of his mind and the nausea in his stomach. For a moment, he caught Jack's haunted stare, and he knew that his lover had seen everything....

Daniel nodded quickly and following Jack as they made a run for the door, making sure everyone was through before slamming it shut behind them.

The crawl along the first passage and the run along the second one passed in a blur for Jack. SG8 were waiting for them on the planet's surface. Throwing down ropes, they got each member of the rescue mission out of the hole before they headed as a group back to the Stargate.

This time, Jack kept his promise to himself. Shaking, hurting everywhere, he turned to Daniel as the gate dialled. And took his lover's hand.

The wormhole engaged, and in twos they stepped through the gate.

Both Jack and Daniel made it through the gate, made it out onto the metal ramp. And collapsed at General Hammond's feet.

* * *

Daniel opened his eyes and groaned lightly as his head revealed the migraine that was waiting behind his eyelids, jumping up and down on his optic nerve.

But the sight of Jack asleep in the next bed along made him forget it for just a moment.

Janet caught him staring and stepped to his side.

"He's going to be fine, Daniel," she whispered to him, reassuring as she checked his vitals on the monitors. "You both are."

"The implant...."

"We've removed his and yours. Jack was dehydrated and you're both suffering from severe neural shock. You need to take it very easy for a couple of days, absolutely no stress." She smiled at his expression. "I'll send you both home once he's awake and I'm convinced he's otherwise okay. But I'm ordering you both to rest. And I'll give you something for your headache, before you ask."

Daniel smiled his thanks and while she went to fetch the medication, he reached out and touched the tips of his fingers to Jack's hand where it lay on the edge of the mattress.

'Severe neural shock' Janet had said. He knew what that meant. Before this, Jack had seen more of him than anyone ever had. It wasn't like he had a problem with sharing himself with his lover.

But there were things he knew Jack wouldn't have ever wanted to know about him. The implants fusing together for a couple of seconds had somehow shown him things Daniel would otherwise have kept a secret.

The first thing he knew about the medication was Janet warning him that she was about to bare his ass to the infirmary in general. A couple of seconds later, his right buttock was stinging but at least he knew he wouldn't have to put up with his headache for too much longer.

Closing his eyes, leaving his arm crossing the gap between the two beds, he drifted for a time.

"Danny?" Again, he opened his eyes and smiled as his hand was taken into cool fingers and warm lips were pressed into his palm. "Are we okay?" Daniel nodded, telling Jack what Janet had told him. "I thought... they killed you in front of me."

Knowing how real it had been, how much Jack had felt as he'd watched his 'lover' die, Daniel kicked off the sheets and swung his legs off the bed. Wobbling over to Jack, wearing only the medical gown someone had seen fit to change him into while he'd been unconscious, Daniel settled into the space Jack had made for him in the narrow bed.

Lying on their sides, facing one another, they worked their arms around one another and Daniel settled his head against Jack's shoulder.

At least if they were found, this position could be explained away by Jack's usual, overtly physical comfort when it came to Daniel.

"I'm real," Daniel whispered softly. "This is real."

He felt Jack nod against his head. "I know. Just... just stay here for a while, okay?"

"Okay, Jack."

*

For a long time, Jack just watched Daniel clean out his fish tank. He'd seen so much of his lover's life when the implants had arced, some of which he'd known, some he'd guessed. The bits that had taken him completely by surprise had cut to his heart.

He'd never felt for anyone the love and adoration he felt for Daniel. Sometimes the power of his feelings scared him. And still he could remember watching this man die in front of him, sliced up like a piece of meat....

Jack shivered slightly. What if had been real? How would he have ever gone on?

"Danny?"

The tone of the low voice made Daniel turn. Putting the lid back onto the tank, switching the light back on, he crossed to where Jack was sitting on the couch, and dropped down next to him.

"You okay?" Daniel reached out, touching Jack's greying hair. "You're thinking about resigning again."

"I have resigned, Danny. The only reason we went through that gate again is the Tok'ra's desperate need for intel on those... guys that got to us."

Daniel smiled softly. "They're actually little creatures, about two foot high, red with big heads and sharp teeth."

Jack stared. "You're kidding, right?"

Shaking his head, Daniel moved his palm to Jack's temple. "Sam thinks the implants the Nefari use only work within their... base. And Teal'c took a guess that they're more of a threat to us if we see them as equals. Whereas you could actually stamp on one without too much trouble."

Jack laughed despite himself, but it soon faded. "They've given me nightmares to last the rest of my days."

Leaning in, Daniel touched his forehead to Jack's. "Me too. But we're both here, both alive." Leaning down to pull off his socks, Daniel lifted one leg and shuffled his bare foot under Jack's thigh. "So, you are thinking of leaving the SGC?"

Jack shifted until Daniel's foot was under his ass, being pressed into the sofa cushion. "Love you, Danny. The rest of it... it's just a job when it comes down to it." He leaned into press lips to his lover's mouth. "You're my life."

Daniel captured Jack's lips in a long, searing kiss. "What would you do?" he whispered.

"Fish. Make love to you. Fish."

With a happy glint in his eyes, Daniel lay a trail of kisses the length of Jack's long neck. "So you'd fish first?"

"Well, I'd have to wait for you to wake up in the mornings."

Daniel chuckled. "Why? You don't usually."

Jack tried his best to look hurt. "Do you know how what it's like waking up with your ass nestled against my morning erection?"

Daniel thought that one through. "I think I do." He stole another kiss.

"Danny... I don't want to lose that. Not until you and I are both so old we can't get it up."

"Speaking of getting it up...."

Jack was amazed. It wasn't very often that Daniel was the one to direct a 'serious talk' into sex. He obviously had a hidden agenda.

But Daniel's lips were massaging Jack's, his lithe tongue teasing its way into the hot mouth. Jack moaned, putting one arm around Daniel's waist and moving them both so that he could lie on his back and pull Daniel down on top of him.

Daniel moulded himself to his lover's body, wrapping one leg over Jack's right thigh, insinuating the other one between Jack's legs.

"Get naked, Jack," he groaned roughly into his lover's ear.

Jack kissed him again, hard. "God, I love it when you get all masterful."

*

Daniel peeled himself from Jack's back, easing himself from his lover's body with infinite care. Kneeling up on the cushions between

Jack's feet, Daniel touched a kiss to Jack's tailbone.

"Are you all right?"

Jack turned his head slightly, sated, smug smile plastered on his face. "Oh yeah."

"Good." With a thwack on Jack's ass, Daniel got up, padding through to the toilet to clean up, and then back into the lounge to grab his jeans.

Jack watched happily as his glorious lover pulled his jeans on, leaving them unfastened and hanging low on his hips. Jack licked his lips. "I could eat you alive."

Daniel smiled almost shyly. "I was actually thinking of cooking something."

"Cool. Can I watch?"

Sitting up on the work surface, jeans hugging his legs, shirt on but open, Jack could feel the dim throb of arousal strumming his nerves despite the fact that Daniel had really wrung him out only ten minutes ago.

Daniel put the same energy into cooking as he did into everything in his life. And he looked so damn sexy doing it. Each time he moved, Jack caught a glimpse of the swell of his favourite ass.

"Daniel?"

It made him look around. Jack called him 'Danny' in private. Unless it was something serious. "Jack."

"All that... everything we shared yesterday, when the implants...." Daniel nodded, he hated to leave Jack hunting around for the technical terms. "I just want you to know... I won't... it's between you and me, you know? Private."

Daniel stared at the wooden spoon he was using to stir the sauce on the hob. "Thanks."

But Jack wasn't finished. "And in case you think...." He tried again. "There's nothing about you I don't want to get to know. I love you, and that means loving all of you; past, present and future, whatever the hell that brings."

Dropping the spoon into the pan, Daniel crossed to Jack and reached his arms up around his lover's neck. "You saw so much...."

"Everything about you is beautiful."

They kissed slowly, before Daniel pulled away from Jack and sauntered back to the stove. "Maybe we just need some time away from it all."

The idea planted itself in Jack's mind, and the image of them both sitting on the edge of a private lake somewhere just fishing and listening to the sounds of nature. Enjoying a warm log fire and a large bed at night....

"If you mention fishing, I'll leave you."

Jack's eyes widened guiltily. "Then where?"

"I was thinking... skiing? There's this gorgeous little place in Canada -- Whistler. Plenty of intimate chalets and lots of snow."

Jack frowned. No fish then. "Log fires?"

"Of course."

"Large beds?"

"Kingsize."

"Sounds perfect."

Daniel smiled over at him.

Time to take for themselves. Later, they could decide whether they were ready to save the earth yet again, or whether the cost was becoming too high.
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