"The worst way to miss someone is to be sitting right beside them knowing you can't have them," Daniel murmured to himself as he absently poked a stick into the dirt.
"What was that, Daniel?" Major Samantha Carter asked as she hunkered down beside the archaeologist.
"Sam?" Daniel said, startled. "Oh, nothing. Just something I read."
"Well, that narrows it down," she mused fondly, nudging his arm.
Daniel smiled. "It's not your shift yet, is it?"
"I'm afraid so," she said, stifling a yawn before reaching for the coffee that was guaranteed to be fresh. One good reason to spell Daniel.
"I'll have some more too, please," Daniel said, holding out his mug.
She smiled and poured a generous amount. Another good reason to spell Daniel. Guaranteed company for the first thirty minutes of your shift.
"Nice night," she observed, gazing up at the stars.
"Yes, it is," Daniel agreed, sipping his coffee thoughtfully.
Sam glanced sideways at her unusually quiet companion. He was staring at the flames, not the stars, a far-away look in his eyes. She furrowed her brow in concern. I wonder if he's thinking about Sha're?
After several minutes of silence she asked, "Read any good books lately?"
"What?" Daniel looked at her in surprise. "Oh," he said, and blushed. "Sorry. I guess I'm not very stimulating company, am I?"
"Are you okay, Daniel?"
"I'm fine," he assured. "Just tired."
"Well, go to bed then," she chided gently.
He glanced sideways at his tent. You don't understand, Sam. He's in there.
Daniel, Jack, and Teal'c had been taking turns lately sharing a tent, a sacrifice the latter two had been willing to make so that Daniel could bring more film, cameras, books, and whatever else an archaeologist and linguist deemed essential.
"I don't want to wake Jack," Daniel said lamely.
"Daniel, you need to sleep, and you know the colonel can sleep at the drop of a hat if he wants to. You won't disturb him. Even if you do, he'll be out like a light before you get into your own bed."
"You're right," Daniel conceded, standing up. I can't stay out here forever. "Have a good watch, Sam."
"Goodnight, Daniel. See you in the morning."
Daniel quietly entered the tent, careful not to wake Jack. He crept to his side of the tent, undressed, and slipped into his sleeping bag. He listened for Jack's breathing. He didn't hear anything. Jack was either wide-awake, or eerily quiet. Either way, it made him nervous.
"It's okay, I'm awake," Jack said, answering Daniel's silent question.
"Oh. I didn't wake you, did I?"
"Nah. Just can't sleep," Jack said, shifting around.
Daniel could see Jack's face in the gloom looking at him, and his stomach fluttered. He moaned and lay back. God, I want him so bad it hurts.
"Yeah?" he managed to say, resting his forearm across his eyes.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing, why?" Other than I think I'm in love with you.
"No, I didn't." Shit, did I do that out loud?
"Yes, you did."
"I may have groaned, but I didn't moan."
"No, that was a moan," Jack insisted.
"Jack, it was a groan. I'm tired; it's two in the morning," Daniel explained, thankful for the dark and the inane conversation.
“Sorry, I’m not buying it, and I want to hear you groan."
"You heard me. I want to hear you groan, and then I want to hear you moan."
"God, I don't believe this," Daniel said, unconsciously groaning.
"Okay, now that was a groan," Jack said triumphantly. "Now, let's have a moan."
Daniel closed his eyes. "Okay, you want a moan? Here," he said, punctuating his statement with a plaintive mewl.
"What the hell was that? You call that a moan?"
"Oh, and you can do better?" Daniel challenged, sitting up.
"Listen and learn, my friend. Ready?"
"Go for it."
"Okay, here it comes." Jack cleared his throat dramatically and then emitted a pained, mournful grunt.
"Well?" he asked, proud of his achievement.
Silence was his response. No, not silence. A giggle?
"Daniel, that better not be a giggle I hear," he warned.
The sound abruptly stopped, followed by a choking gasp, then a healthy burst of laughter.
"Oh, God, Jack," he gasped. "You sound...you sound like, oh, it hurts," Daniel wheezed, grasping his sides.
"I sound like what?" Jack asked dangerously, biting his tongue to prevent himself from laughing.
"Like you...like you're having...ow, ow, ow." Daniel collapsed onto his side.
"Like I'm having what?"
"An extremely difficult bowel movement, O'Neill," Teal'c's voice boomed helpfully from the next tent.
Daniel lost it and howled with laughter, curling into a ball to protect his ribs.
"Thank you, Teal'c," Jack said agreeably. "I think such a scenario definitely warrants a moan. Well, I think I've made my point, Daniel," he said smugly.
"What," Daniel gasped, “what was…what was your point?"
"How the hell should I know? It's two in the morning, for crying out loud."
"It's okay, Carter. Pour me a coffee; I'm coming out. And you," he said, throwing his pillow at Daniel, "get some sleep."
Daniel deftly caught the pillow, giggled, and said, "'night, Jack."
Daniel watched him leave, and then clutched Jack's pillow to his chest. He lowered his head and inhaled the scent that was Jack. There were no two ways about it; he was in love with Jack, and he
didn't know what to do. Sharing a tent with the man was torture. All he wanted to do was crawl into Jack's bed and feel the older man’s arms around him. Hold him. Love him. Be held. Be loved. He cried silently into the pillow. God, how do I stop this?
"Sir, what was that all about?" Sam asked, handing her CO a cup of coffee.
Jack looked at her incredulously. "You really want me to try to explain it?"
"No, I guess not," she smiled. "It was good to hear Daniel laugh. He seemed kind of down."
"Well, you know, introspective."
"Ah, introspective," Jack murmured. "Did he say anything?"
"No, but I think he might be missing Sha're. It has only been two years since she died, and tomorrow is Valentine's Day," she explained.
"I really don't think Daniel's a Valentine's kind of guy, Carter."
"I disagree, sir. I think he is. Remember the look on his face when Sha're kissed him in front of everyone?"
"How could I forget? She damned near swallowed his face."
"He looked so happy," Sam said wistfully. "He would have given her the universe if he could. I just wish I could see him that happy again. You know what I mean?" she asked, hugging her arms.
"Yeah, Carter, I do," he said quietly, looking back at the tent. "Daniel's gone through a lot. Too damn much."
They sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
"It's good you can make him laugh," Sam suddenly said. "You really have a way with him, sir."
"Carter, you make him sound like a dog or something, for crying out loud."
"No, I just mean that he opens up to you. The two of you have a history, and I think that's very important to him," she said sincerely.
"Look, Carter," he winced. "Guys don't talk about this sort of stuff, okay? And especially not at," he glanced at his watch, "two thirty in the morning."
"Sorry, sir," Sam said, turning her face away.
"I swear to God, Carter. If you start laughing, I'm throwing you in the lake," Jack warned.
Sam nodded, not trusting herself to speak or to make eye contact.
"All right," Jack said, getting to his feet, "I'm going back to bed now. I'll see you later."
Another hurried nod was his response.
You're gonna blow, Carter.
"Valentine's huh?” Jack murmured. “So, should I buy him some chocolates, or maybe…slinky boxers?"
Sam choked, her shoulders shaking.
Jack grinned. My work here is done.
"Relax, Major. You'd probably just drag me into the lake with you."
"Thank you, sir," Sam said in a rush, bubbles of laughter coming out of her.
"Must be something in the air," Jack muttered.
Jack thought about what Carter had said as he walked back to the tent. She was right: he and Daniel did have a history. She said she felt that he was important to Daniel. Jack hoped so because Daniel sure as hell was important to him. His friendship with Daniel was a strange one. Sometimes he couldn't think they could be more different, or more ill-suited to be friends, but most of the time he couldn't imagine his life without him. Jack didn't have many friends; he had a lot of acquaintances, but not many friends, and Daniel was right up there at the top. Jack could tell him things that he never dreamt he would divulge to anyone. He could talk about Charlie and Sara, even Iraq. Daniel never judged him, never turned him away. He was always willing to listen and to help. Daniel was a godsend in more ways than one. Jack genuinely enjoyed spending time with him, and he looked forward to their chess games and their frequent, impromptu 'Want to grab a bite to eat?' dinners. If Jack were honest with himself, he would have to admit that with Daniel he actually had a life. Sometimes, he would look at Daniel and feel a longing for an intimacy that he knew was wrong; wrong on so many levels. That was when he would push Daniel away. Those times when he and Daniel were at odds with each other were some of the worst times for Jack, but he’d finally learned to shut those emotions out and just be Daniel's friend, or so he had convinced himself.
Jack silently entered the tent. He listened for, and heard the gentle, deep breathing of his teammate. Good, he's asleep. A part of him wished that Daniel wasn't asleep; the part that got a kick out of hearing Daniel laugh; the part that felt all 'warm and fuzzy' when they connected. Hell, you'd think I was in love with the guy, he chastised himself absently as he crawled into his sleeping bag. Where the hell's my pillow? Oh, right.
Jack peered through the twilight, and there was his pillow, clutched tightly to Daniel's chest. The sight made him smile, and he felt a pleasant tightening in his stomach. He knew it was silly, but he felt honoured. He stretched out, hands behind his head, and thought some more about what Carter had said; the part about Daniel being 'down'. Jack hoped it wasn't Sha're. He couldn't fix that, but if it was something within his power to fix? Well, come hell or high water, he'd fix it. He owed Daniel that much.
Daniel awoke with the uneasy feeling he was being watched. Blinking the sleep out of his eyes he turned, and faced a bemused colonel.
"Um-morning," Daniel said warily. "What time is it?"
"Why didn't you wake me?" he asked, sitting up quickly and frowning as his legs entangled in something. "What the—". Daniel's face blanched, then blushed a deep crimson as he extricated Jack's pillow from between his legs.
Jack's eyebrow shot up. So that's where it got to.
"Uh-here's your, um, pillow. Sorry," Daniel mumbled as he handed the pillow to Jack.
"No problem," Jack said casually, as he gingerly accepted his pillow, holding it at arm's length by two fingers.
"Oh, come on, Jack. It's not like I humped it or anything," Daniel said, then blushing furiously. Oh, God. I can't believe I said that.
"Uh, Daniel?" Jack queried, indicating the distinct, white stains on the khaki pillowcase.
"They're tears for God's sake!" Daniel explained desperately. "Remember, I couldn't stop laughing?"
"Just checking," Jack said dryly. "Come on, Teal'c's cooking his special breakfast."
"Not the one that tastes like chicken?" Daniel asked fearfully.
"I can hardly wait," Daniel grumbled, sliding out of his sleeping bag.
Jack tossed his pillow down, mentally tallying the inordinate amount of tear stains. Crap, was Daniel crying on my pillow? Maybe Carter's right. Hell, Danny, what's wrong, and how can I help?
Daniel wordlessly dressed, a little unnerved by Jack's presence. Why is he just standing there? I wish he'd say something.
"Colonel! Daniel!" Sam called. "Breakfast is ready!"
Daniel saw Jack wince, and he smiled.
"You're stalling, aren't you?"
Jack shrugged. "Powdered eggs that taste like chicken? Can you blame me?"
Daniel, feeling more at ease, snickered and said, "What's really amazing is how he gets it that colour."
"I think the less we know about it, the better," Jack warned, handing Daniel his boots. "But whatever, eat lots. You're going to need your strength."
Daniel looked up curiously. "We're only two miles from the ruins, and the road is in good shape."
"Carter and Teal'c are taking the road. You and I are taking the scenic route," Jack added, an ominous twinkle in his eye. And maybe, I can find out what you’re introspecting about.
"The scenic route?"
"Fording rivers, scaling mountains, that sort of thing," Jack said, breathing in exultantly. "Just what the doctor ordered."
"Maybe for you, Jack, but Janet didn't say anything to me about vigorous outdoor pursuits."
"It'll be fun," Jack promised. "Think of it as a male bonding kind of thing."
God, Jack. Bonding with you is the only thing I've been thinking about, but not in the way you think.
"Teal'c thrives on that sort of thing. I'll go with Sam, and Teal'c can go with you," Daniel suggested hopefully.
"You're not objecting to my company, are you?"
"Of course not," Daniel said, flustered. "It's just that, well, if I go with Sam, I'll have more time at the ruins.” And less time agonizing over being so close to you.
"A couple of hours isn't going to make any difference," Jack insisted.
"No, I suppose not," Daniel conceded quietly, his shoulders slumped.
Jack frowned, puzzled by his friend's behavior. He'd seem pleased when Jack informed him of the sleeping arrangements, but now he was acting...peculiar.
"Listen, Daniel. If you'd really rather—"
"O'Neill! Daniel Jackson! If you do not act in due haste, I will not be held responsible for the condition of your morning repast!" Teal'c's voice boomed ominously.
Jack and Daniel looked at each in surprise, and then amusement.
"You heard the man," Jack said, sweeping his arm in an ‘after you’ gesture.
"Okay, kids," Jack said, inspecting the campsite's cleanliness before their departure. "Carter, you and Daniel take the main road. Teal'c and I are going to check out the more colorful aspects of the terrain."
Daniel's head jerked up in surprise.
"But I thought—" He shut his mouth, confused and embarrassed.
Jack's brow wrinkled in concern. What the hell's up with you, Daniel? You practically begged to go with Sam.
Daniel rummaged through his pack in the pretense of double-checking his contents. He felt as if everyone was watching him, trying to figure out what his problem was. His feelings for Jack were scaring the hell out of him. He couldn't function effectively; he was endangering SG-1. Daniel jumped when Jack's hand clamped down on his arm.
"Daniel, what the hell's the matter?"
"Nothing," Daniel said defensively. "I just-I just can't find my notebook." He turned away from Jack. "Sam, have you seen-." Sam and Teal'c were nowhere in sight.
"They're already gone, Daniel,” Jack said quietly.
Daniel stared at the deserted campsite. How could they leave without me knowing? He glanced down at Jack's hand; the strong, calloused fingers burning through his thin layer of clothing, scorching his skin, and inflaming his desire. Oh, God, he thought, wrenching away from the one thing he desired more than anything else in the universe.
"Damn it, Daniel. What's going on with you?" Jack demanded.
"Nothing. I'm fine, Jack. Just…just let it go," Daniel said raggedly.
"Daniel, I can't ignore this. God, look at you. You're practically jumping out of your own skin."
Daniel's panicked, almost feral expression invoked memories that Jack would rather forget. Memories of a dark storeroom, and of a white, padded cell.
"Christ, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were strung out."
Daniel gave a short, hollow laugh. "Drugs wouldn't help me," he muttered, shrugging into his pack.
"Then what will?" Jack demanded.
Daniel winced. God, did I say that out loud?
"We better go," Daniel said dismissively.
"Nice try, Daniel," Jack said, grabbing the younger man’s arm. "Listen, we're not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on with you."
Daniel wanted to tell him; he wanted to end his agony.
"I can't tell you, Jack," he said wearily. "Not…not here." Daniel looked down at the hand clamped once again onto his arm. He glanced up into the dark, brown eyes that haunted his dreams. He shook his head sadly. "Please, Jack."
Jack gazed into the tortured, blue eyes. He was powerless against that look. Always had been; always would be. Reluctantly, Jack released his hand.
"Okay, Daniel, but we are going to talk when we get home."
Daniel diverted his gaze to the ground. He knew he couldn't go on this way. He was a liability to himself, and to his team.
"Do we have a deal?" Jack asked.
Solemn, blue eyes flicked up. "Yes."
"Okay. That's all I need to hear," Jack said, turning to grab his gear. "Let's go."
Jack set an easy pace, but Daniel still kept a few paces behind.
The unnatural silence of the archaeologist was disturbing, but it provided Jack with the opportunity to contemplate Daniel's recent behavior, which was disturbing enough in itself. He and Daniel had recently gone through a 'bad patch', one that Jack knew was largely his responsibility. However, thanks to Daniel's infinite patience and damn good nature, they were 'back on track'. Or, so Jack thought. Now, he didn't know what to think. Is Daniel pushing me away? Have I done something to make him uncomfortable? Are we spending too much time together? Crap, am I forcing myself on him? That stuff Carter said. Why the hell did she say that?
"Jack, would you stop!"
"What?" Jack said, vaguely irritated at the interruption.
"Look, if you want to ignore me, that's fine, but-"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Jack asked in genuine puzzlement.
"I called you three times," Daniel explained, concern replacing his frustration.
"Yes, Jack. I did."
"O-kay," Jack said slowly. Crap, I'm losing it. "Well, what do you want?"
"Well, we seem to be following in Sam and Teal'c's footsteps. I thought we were going to take the scenic route," Daniel said, with a hesitant smile.
Aw, Jeez, Danny. What's with the smile? You're messing me all up here.
"I changed my mind,” Jack said simply. “With the way you were acting, I figured you'd probably break your neck." Seems I'm the one who's out of it though.
"Jack, you don't have to worry about me," Daniel sighed.
"But I do, Daniel, and not because I don't think you can handle it, whatever 'it' is. I worry because I care about you," Jack said sincerely.
Daniel blinked in surprise, unprepared for such an open admission from Jack.
"What I mean is," Jack said, suddenly flustered. Crap. What the hell do I mean? Sure, I care about him. Maybe more than I should. Now, doesn't that sound familiar? Shit, Daniel, don't look at me like that.
"What I mean is, you're a civilian, and —" Oh, for crying out loud. Now, you've done it. That's not what I mean at all.
"Daniel, wait!" Jack called, hurrying after his less than impressed teammate. "That's not what I meant."
Daniel stopped and turned.
"Then what do you mean, Jack?"
Jack stared at the flashing blue eyes, the tensed muscles, the firm jaw, and his knees went to jelly. Oh, god. I want to kiss you, Daniel.
Daniel's stomach flip-flopped. Did he see desire in Jack's eyes, or was it just his twisted imagination, coupled with an insatiable need for Jack's affection?
Jack's radio crackled, and the moment was gone.
"Colonel, do you copy?"
Daniel turned, hiding his confusion and disappointment, and missed the look of regret in Jack's eyes.
"Yeah, Carter, I copy. What's up?" Jack asked wearily.
Jack listened half-heartedly to her description of some unusual geologic formations while he watched Daniel. The latter was doing his best to appear 'fine'.
"Wait for us, Carter. We'll be there in about fifteen minutes."
Jack stood silently, unsure of what to do, or what to say. What the hell can I say? Hey, Danny, I want to kiss you and I just may be in love with you? Crap, how did this happen?
"Come on, they're waiting for us," he finally said, taking the coward's way out.
Daniel's heart sank, but he wasn't surprised. Backing Jack into a corner was generally not a good idea. Wordlessly, he shrugged past the older man.
Daniel stopped, but he didn't turn around.
"Later," Jack said. "Okay?"
Daniel nodded, not quite sure what he was acknowledging to. "Later," he agreed.
They walked quickly and silently to the rendezvous point. Once there, Jack immediately split up his team.
"Teal'c, you and Daniel check out that hill over there. See if you can find anymore of these rocks. Carter and I'll continue with this one."
Jack didn't miss the look of relief on Daniel's face, but it was relief tinged with something else. Jack struggled to identify it as he and Carter set out. Resignation? Disappointment?
"I've been thinking about what you said about Daniel. About him being…out of sorts?"
"Has he said anything to you?" Sam asked anxiously.
"No, not really," Jack said, uncomfortable with this whole conversation. "Tell me your impressions again."
"Well," she said frowning in thought, "he was muttering to himself."
"And that's unusual?"
"No," Sam smiled, "but he seemed…I don't know, sad, or something. I think he was talking about love or missing someone."
"So, that's why you thought he might be missing Sha're?"
"I don't know anyone else he loves or misses."
"Right," Jack said. Rub a little salt in the wound there, Carter.
"There is something else, sir," she admitted hesitantly.
"Well, I may be totally out to lunch on this," she hedged.
"Spit it out, Major," Jack ordered.
"Well, sir…I got the impression that Daniel didn't want to return to his tent."
"So? He wasn't tired. This is Daniel we're talking about."
Sam felt the heat rise in her cheeks. "No, sir. What I meant was, Daniel didn't want to return to, um, your tent. But then that's ridiculous. He never would have laughed like that if he…"
"If he what?" Jack asked gravely.
"If he, you know, was uncomfortable."
"For crying out loud, Carter. What the hell are you trying to say? That Daniel doesn't want to share a tent with me? I make him uncomfortable or something?"
"Well, when you put it like that, sir," she said blushing, "it does sound pretty far-fetched."
"I'll say,"Jack concurred. Oh, crap. Have I been sending signals to Daniel? God, he's probably afraid I'm going to rape him. Was he crying because he's afraid of me? Afraid that he's lost a friend?
"Colonel, I think we should take samples of these rocks here," Sam said, anxious to put an end to the current line of questioning.
"Fill your boots, Major," Jack agreed, only too willing to make his escape from this conversation. "I'll be over there."
Jack climbed to the top of a small hill. Looking back, he could see Carter dutifully collecting samples. Looking down, he could see Teal'c and Daniel. Jack watched Daniel until he felt the ache in his groin.
"Crap," he muttered. Shit, I'm sorry, Daniel. I really thought I had a handle on this.
Daniel felt a strange tingling on the back of his neck. He turned and looked up just in time to see Jack walk out of sight. A heavy sense of longing and loss settled over him. He sighed and resumed his scratching in the dirt.
Teal'c observed his friend from several feet away. He had been aware of O'Neill's presence long before Daniel Jackson. He saw the effect his presence, or absence, had on his young friend, and he was concerned.
"Are you ill, Daniel Jackson?"
"No," Daniel answered, puzzled. "Um, why do you ask?"
"You appear to be…disturbed. I thought perhaps you were not feeling well."
"No, Teal'c," Daniel smiled. "I'm fine." Just sick at heart, that's all.
"Very well, I will trouble you no further," Teal'c stated, bowing slightly.
"No, Teal'c," Daniel said, scrambling to his feet. "Your concern doesn't trouble me. I'm-I'm grateful for it. It's just…it's not necessary."
"I understand." However, I will keep my eye on both you and Colonel O'Neill, Daniel Jackson.
"Good," Daniel said, a little unnerved by the look on Teal'c's face. He's not buying it for a second.
Okay, Carter. Pack it in," Jack said, looking off into the distance.
Jack gestured to the horizon.
Sam looked up and saw the approaching storm clouds.
"Right, sir. I'm pretty well finished anyways."
Jack pulled his radio towards his mouth. "Daniel? Teal'c? Do you copy?"
"Yes, Jack," Daniel responded.
Jack smiled sadly. At least you're still talking to me, Danny. "Listen up. We've got a nasty-looking storm heading our way. Get back to camp, pronto."
"I don't see any…oh, right. We're on our way."
Jack shook his head fondly and turned to help Carter gather up their samples.
SG-1 arrived at their base camp with ample time to 'batten down the hatches'. Satisfied that everything was secure, Jack decided a good hot meal was in order. Politely refusing Teal'c's offer to prepare the meal, Jack took on the duty himself. While he was engaged thusly, Sam catalogued their samples, Daniel wrote in his journal, and Teal'c observed.
"Do you require assistance, O'Neill?"
"What? No, it's not like there's any actual cooking involved," jack grinned, holding up two 'boil-in-the-bag' dinners.
"Very well. I will assist Major Carter."
"Okay," Jack said, creasing his brow. You're acting weird, Teal'c. I don't like it when you act weird.
Daniel felt a presence loom over him and he looked up.
"Teal'c? Is there something I can do for you?"
"No, but I believe Colonel O'Neill could use some assistance,” Teal’c stated.
"Jack?" Daniel queried, looking at the older man hunched over a pot of water.
"Um, he looks like he's got everything under control, Teal'c."
"Looks can be deceiving, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c observed solemnly before taking his leave.
Daniel watched open-mouthed as Teal'c walked away. What's with him? God, he doesn't suspect, does he?
Daniel looked back at Jack. He'd been watching Jack closely over the years and was familiar with every nuance of his behavior. Jack clearly had something on his mind and it was weighing heavily. Daniel looked down at his journal, but he couldn't concentrate. He closed his book with a sigh. Something was troubling Jack, and he could no more ignore that than he could stop the sun from rising. He just hoped it was something other than himself that was bothering Jack.
"Need a hand?"
Jack looked up, surprised, but pleased to see Daniel, even if the latter's arms were wrapped around himself.
"Sure, do you want to make the coffee?"
"My specialty," Daniel smiled.
Jack reached for the coffee pot at the same time as Daniel. Their fingers brushed together, sending a faint shiver up both their arms. Daniel pulled back quickly, an act that hurt Jack deeper than he would have imagined.
"Sorry," he mumbled, grasping the pot and holding it out to Daniel.
Daniel accepted the pot, unable to look Jack in the eyes.
They silently went about their tasks. The silence was strained, and oppressive. Jack couldn't stand it any longer.
The younger man glanced over, but said nothing.
"I think…I think we need to talk," Jack said, feeling his armpits sweat. I really, really hate this stuff.
"So talk," Daniel said, and returned to his task. Oh, you're cool, Jackson. God, you're such a fake.
"For crying out loud," Jack muttered. "Daniel."
Daniel feigned deafness.
"Daniel," Jack said a little more forcefully, clasping his hand around his friend's forearm. Jack felt the immediate tension and released Daniel’s arm.
"Sorry, I know you don't like me to —" Oh, crap. I can't do this.
"Don't like you to what?" Daniel asked.
Jack stared at his friend and sighed. Shit, or get off the pot, O'Neill.
"Touching you," Jack mumbled, looking away and wishing he was doing anything else but this.
"Why do you say that?" Daniel whispered after a lengthy pause.
Jack's eyebrow rose in surprise. "Well, it's just…a feeling I've been getting…lately."
"Well, you're wrong," Daniel said, measuring out the coffee grounds. "I like it," he added, not looking at Jack.
Jack felt totally out of his league. "Oh, well that's okay then." Okay hell. This isn't solving anything.
Daniel emitted a small, self-deprecating laugh.
"No, it isn't. I said I liked it," he repeated.
Jack, thoroughly confused, threw his hands up. "And I said that's okay."
"Jack," Daniel said despondently, "you're not listening." He turned sorrowful, blue eyes to the older man. "I said 'I like it'. I like it when you…when you touch me. Do you understand?"
Jack stared, not daring to believe the wild conclusions his brain was jumping to.
"Forget it," Daniel said, shaking his head. "You wouldn't understand."
"You're wrong, Daniel," he said quietly. "I do understand." I just don't fucking believe it.
Daniel smiled sadly. "I guess you'll want my resignation then."
"Colonel, I think you should look at these," Sam called urgently. Damn it, Carter. You're timing sucks.
"I'll be right there."
Jack looked over at Daniel, and asked casually, "Can you watch this and make sure it doesn't boil over?"
"I think I can manage that," Daniel responded hollowly.
Jack grimaced at the tone. He knew he should say something or do something, but he didn't have a clue where, or how to begin.
"Thanks," he said lamely.
Daniel felt and heard Jack leave. He stopped his aimless tinkering with coffee and pinched the bridge of his nose. This was not the way he fantasized revealing his feelings to Jack. Not by a long shot. What did he mean, he understands? Did he have any idea what I was talking about?
"I will take first watch, O'Neill," Teal'c offered.
"No, Teal'c. That's okay, I'll do it. Then Daniel, Carter, and you." Crap, I hope I'm reading Daniel right.
"Very well. I believe the evening will be a wet one."
Jack looked sharply at Teal'c.
"A wet one?"
"Indeed. The clouds are very thick," Teal'c observed calmly.
"Oh, right. The clouds," Jack said, glancing over his shoulder at the approaching storm. Crap, get your mind out of the gutter, O'Neill.
"Does the term, 'wet one' have a connotation I am unfamiliar with, O'Neill?"
"Uh, well, there are these little wipe things for babies' bottoms, or something."
"There are no babies here, O'Neill," Teal'c said, cocking his eyebrow.
"Yeah, I noticed that, Teal'c."
"Then why would you believe I was referring to such a product?"
"I wasn't. I didn't. It was just an example for crying out loud," Jack said, flustered.
"I see. Very well, I shall retire to my tent and meditate."
"You do that, Teal'c," Jack said, relieved.
"Carter! Daniel!" Jack called.
"I'm taking first watch, then you, Daniel. Carter, you're next, and Teal'c's taking last watch. Anyone got a problem with that?"
"I'm fine," Daniel replied.
The hell you are, Daniel. "Good. Well, you should all try to get some sleep. It might get a little noisy tonight," Jack commented, looking up at the dark sky.
"'night, Carter. I'll see you in a couple of hours, Daniel."
Daniel nodded. "Goodnight, Jack."
Jack knew there was no way in hell Daniel was going to get any sleep. He was wound tighter than a clock. He looked back up at the sky. "Just hold off for a couple of hours," he murmured.
Daniel was reading when Jack entered the tent.
"Is it my watch already?"
"'fraid so. You better bundle up. I think the storm's about to break."
"I haven't experienced a good storm in a long time," Daniel commented as he shrugged into his jacket. "Might be nice."
"Enjoy," Jack said as Daniel left the tent.
Jack crawled into his sleeping bag and waited. One hour went by and no storm.
Crap, come on, will ya? Rain for god's sake.
Jack felt himself drift when the first flash of lightning and roll of thunder hit. He bolted upright, and heard the unmistakable sound of water hitting the tent. A lot of water.
"Yes," he whispered gleefully.
He peeked outside to see Daniel huddled around the fire.
"Only thirty more minutes, Danny," he murmured. I owe Carter big time for this, he thought guiltily as the rain pelted down.
Daniel shook out his poncho as best he could before hanging it up inside the tent. He was only too glad to let Sam take his place. He was wet, cold, and tired. He quickly stripped down to his T-shirt and boxers, all too aware of the man sharing his tent, but he was too tired to think about all that now. He started to shiver and slipped into his sleeping bag.
"Shit!" he whispered harshly, sucking in a breath and jumping back out.
"Chirst, Daniel," Jack mumbled sleepily, "what'd you do?"
"I didn't do anything," Daniel muttered, patting down his bed. "It's-it's all wet."
"What's all wet?"
"My sleeping bag. The damn tent must be leaking," he said looking up.
"Well, it's not leaking over here," Jack said helpfully.
"I'm happy for you, Jack," he grumbled.
"Quit your belly-aching and get over here," Jack muttered, shifting back in his sleeping bag. "There's plenty of room." Come on, Daniel. Don't think about it, just do it.
"What? In your sleeping bag?" Daniel asked doubtfully.
"Would you just hurry up, for crying out loud. All the cold air's getting in."
"Actually, it's not that bad," Daniel said, checking his bed again. "If I, shit, it's like a goddamn pool here."
"Daniel, don't make me get out of my warm bed and drag your ass over here," Jack threatened.
Daniel's mind was racing in a million different directions. That Jack would even offer to share his sleeping bag after what he'd confessed was unbelievable. The only explanation was the Jack had misunderstood. Go for the cheap thrill, Daniel. At least you haven't lost a friend.
Jack smiled triumphantly as Daniel hesitantly made his way over to Jack's side of the tent.
"Um, you're sure about this? I'm a bit wet. I could sleep in Sam's tent, and then Teal'c's. Yeah, I think I should —"
Daniel yelped as Jack snagged his ankle.
"Get into the damn bag."
"Okay, okay, I'm getting in."
Daniel carefully slipped into the bed, the sudden warmth bringing tears to his eyes. He rolled to his side, painfully careful not to touch Jack.
Jack shook his head. Not good enough, Danny.
"Were you born in a barn?" he asked calmly.
Daniel froze. "What?"
"Zip up the bag. Come on, it's freezing."
"Um, I don't think there's room."
"There is if you'd actually get in the bag. Come here," Jack said softly, and wrapped his left arm around Daniel's chest and pulled the startled man in. "See? Plenty of room. Now, zip up, clam up, and go to sleep."
Daniel tried to move as little as possible in order to obey Jack's instructions. The slightest movement stirred up the enticing scent of Jack. He tried not to think about the body pressed up behind him. Tried not to think about the arm wrapped snugly around him. Tried not to think about the ass pressed up against… Oh, God. What am I doing? He didn't have a hope in hell of succeeding. I can't do this. Tears of shame and longing stung his eyes as he felt his cock harden. God, no. Not now.
Jack felt Daniel stiffen and pull away from him. He had a pretty good idea what was happening to Daniel because the same thing was happening to him; the heat in his groin was building up nicely. God help me if I'm wrong.
"It's okay, Daniel," Jack whispered.
The soft words caressed Daniel's neck, and he stifled a sob as Jack pulled him back gently.
"No, Jack. You don't understand," he said miserably.
"I think I do," Jack replied softly.
Daniel felt the hardness of Jack press up against him, and his throat went dry.
"Hmm?" Jack responded, pushing gently against Daniel while his hand slipped down to caress Daniel's erection.
Daniel's body went rigid, and Jack hugged him tight.
"Did I misunderstand?" he whispered.
Daniel's continued silence worried Jack.
"Daniel, I'm really okay with this. I'm much more than okay with this," he assured, softly kissing the nape of the young man's neck. Oh, God, this feels so good.
Daniel shivered at the touch and dared to believe. He tentatively grasped the arm encircling him and accepted the offered warmth and affection.
"We'll talk when we get home, okay?" Jack offered.
"Okay," Daniel whispered.
Jack felt the rigid body in his arms relax, and meld into his. His eyes stung with tears as he felt Daniel's trust envelop him.
"It's still raining."
"Well, if the tent is leaking, and it's still raining, why can't I hear any raindrops on my sleeping bag?"
"You ask too many questions, Daniel. Go to sleep."
"Okay," Daniel smiled, snuggling back into Jack's warmth.
The two men reveled in each other's company, neither one really believing it was happening.
"You know those, um, stains on my pillow?"
"Those were tears, right?"
Daniel snickered softly. "I'm pretty sure."
"Pretty sure?" Jack asked warily.
"Well, I don't really know what I do in my sleep, Jack."
"Guess I'll be able to tell you that," Jack replied, kissing Daniel softly behind the ear.
Daniel snuggled in even tighter. "If it's really bothering you, we can use my pillow. It's a bit wet though."
"No, it isn't. I didn't touch…" Crap.
Daniel chuckled, "It's okay, Jack.," he said rolling over so he could see the older man's face. "I forgive you."
Jack looked into the handsome, expressive face inches from his own, and he couldn't believe his good fortune. He closed his eyes and leaned forward. The touch of Daniel's mouth on his own sent his brain into orbit. His lips parted of their own volition and Daniel's tongue slipped in. Jack moaned, deep in his throat. He felt Daniel grin, and he pulled back.
"What? Am I that bad?"
"No," Daniel assured with a smile. "Now, that's what I call a moan," he said before slipping his tongue back into Jack's warm mouth and exploring it thoroughly.
"Wow," Jack gasped when they pulled apart.
Jack rubbed his hand over Daniel's groin, eliciting a small moan of his own.
Daniel arched into the welcome hand, and whispered, "You know that Sam's right outside, and that Teal'c has the hearing of a dog?"
Jack groaned, and dropped his head back to the pillow.
"And that's a groan," Daniel chuckled.
"Bite me," Jack grumbled.
"Later," he said wickedly.
Jack grunted, and gave Daniel's erection a friendly nudge. "You better put that puppy to sleep."
Daniels blushed and ducked his head. When he looked up, his face was serious. He gazed into the dark eyes, wishing it were daylight so he could see every facet of the older man's face.
"Jack, are you sure?"
In response, Jack softly kissed both anxious blue eyes, and then his mouth.
Daniel smiled blissfully in return, and tucked his head under the older man's chin.
Jack sighed contentedly as he inhaled the warm, sexy aroma of his friend. He had to consciously will his erection to go to sleep, promising it that there would be 'time enough for that' later. He smiled at his resurrected libido. It had been a long time since Jack had felt any real passion for another. That the object of his ardor was Daniel really didn't surprise him when he thought about it. In fact, it seemed inevitable, and oh, so right. A small twitch from the man in his arms brought Jack out of his musings. He checked his watch, and smiled.
"Happy Valentine's Day."
|Genres:||Angst, Friendship, Holiday, Hurt/Comfort, Pre-Slash|
|Summary:||Jack tries to figure out what's troubling Daniel.|
Author's Chapter Notes:
This was originally written in response to a challenge on a private list, and then was kindly accepted by Ashton Press and published in Pretense #2. The challenge was to write a story starting with the opening line: The worst way to miss someone is to be sitting right beside them knowing you can't have them.