Hell Hath no Fury
(like an Archaeologist Scorned...)

Pairing: Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson
 
Category: Humor, First Kiss, Developing Relationship, Courtship, Anger, Reconciliation, Denial, Awkwardness, Romance
 
Rating: PG
 
Summary: Pride isn't worth losing the one you love
 
Series: The Courtship of Daniel Jackson 1/2
 
Notes: Ever wake up with strange things drifting in your mind? I woke up one morning with a complete Jack/Daniel conversation... ::shakes head:: I know, I'm a damned basketcase...
 
Thank you to Ningyouhime/Amy for the thorough beta ^_^

Jack's breath puffed against his lips. "Daniel, you've got your hands on my ass..." he growled in a low and deceptively calm voice.

"And?" Daniel was a little annoyed, and Jack stating the obvious wasn't making it any better. Sure, he had his hands on Jack's ass... Nice ass, too. With a burst of annoyance he squeezed said ass.

Jack yelped and pressed forward, effectively pinning Daniel to the ancient wall behind him, accompanied by a piercing stare. "You got *your* hands on *my* ass and will you *stop* squeezing it."

Jack hadn't told him to remove his hands... just to not squeeze. "You *kissed* me!" Daniel accused. Hah! He hadn't been the one to start it all, he thought with a surge of righteousness.

"And?" Jack sneered, as confusion was replaced by anger.

Oh, that was a really mature way of handling it. Why did these disagreements always make the two of them sound like a couple of first graders? Daniel rolled his eyes and licked his lips. It had been surprising but definitely not bad... not bad at all. "Who said you could stop?" he mumbled as his eyes drifted from Jack's glare to his mouth. Every nerve in his body seemed to be singing a chorus of *more*.

Jack looked at him, eyes wide, his body posed somewhere between fight and flight. Daniel let out a sigh of mixed relief and disappointment when Jack pushed away from him, dislodging Daniel's grip on Jack's ass.

Without another word, Jack stomped out through the partly crumbled entrance of the ruin. Daniel winced as he heard the muttered 'fuckfuckfuckfuck' as it the dull *thumpthump* indicated that Jack was taking his anger out on the outside wall.

Daniel closed his eyes and slid down the wall. So much for all his fantasies... A lot of them *had* involved Colonel 'insensitive' O'Neill slamming him up against the wall and kissing the shit out of him, but none of them had taken this turn into the Denial Zone afterward.

Leaning his head forward, he rested it against his knees. What the hell was wrong with them? Sure, Daniel had felt this way for a long time, but it had been his dirty little secret, and he was sure that he'd never let anything slip. So why? One moment they had had one of their infamous yelling contests, gotten in each other's faces, and suddenly Jack had kissed him. Hard.

Daniel wrapped his arms around his knees. This was life gone, what did they call it? FUBAR... right. Well, if he was lucky Jack would do his repressing thing and would continue the way he was, ignoring it had ever happened. Daniel just wasn't sure he could do that. Maybe he should consider retiring? Getting out of the program... or at least moving to another team? Oh yeah -- running away...

He had no idea how long he sat like that, but he looked up as Jack stomped back into the room.

"This never happened," Jack ground out. His voice was cool and level and his face was all hard angles. His dark eyes were narrowed into a steely, unemotional stare.

Daniel made to get up, but a gesture from Jack stopped him. He wondered just what Jack would come up with now. He'd been right... Jack *was* going to deny it. Biting his lower lip, Daniel readied himself for whatever Jack could throw at him, but he'd be damned if he was going to let Jack have the advantage of height. So he stood, letting his own simmering anger straighten his back.

"Not *one* word, Daniel. Got it?"

Daniel took a deep breath and opened his mouth to retort. Just who the hell did Jack think he was?

"I mean it," Jack said, his glare suddenly losing its anger, and his voice was low and emotionless. "This. Never. Happened."

"Fine!" Daniel ground out, almost biting his tongue as he clamped his mouth shut again. As Jack turned to leave he muttered, more than loudly enough for Jack to hear. "Be as repressed as you want, Colonel Ass. Just don't come crying to me."

Jack didn't react as if he'd heard, but Daniel was sure that for a moment he saw Jack's shoulders tense even more. Then he was alone in the chamber.

"Fuck," he muttered to himself. Well, at least he could kill all his dreams now. All he had to do was think about Jack's reaction. A little voice in the back of his mind tried to ask why Jack had kissed him in the first place, but Daniel made sure it met with a swift, but painful, death.


Jack nearly ran down the ramp and out of the gateroom. 'Don't look back,' he told himself sternly. 'Nothing happened, nothing at all.' He ran two fingers over his lips before stopping himself and staring angrily ahead of him, scaring two SFs who scurried to get out of his way.

He walked at a fast pace down the hall, wanting to get the medical check-up over with as quickly as possible. Then the debriefing, where, unfortunately, Dani... He could do it, he kept telling himself. He really could...

And that was exactly what Jack kept telling himself. All through the check-up, the quick shower... and he was lucky. He more or less made it in and out without having to be in the same room as ...Daniel for too long. He even managed to get through his shower before Teal'c and Daniel came in.

He gave the both of them a quick nod but couldn't get himself to meet Daniel's eyes. He didn't need to add accusations to his own feelings of guilt.

"O'Neill."

Teal'c's deep voice stopped him for a moment, halfway out the door. Jack turned around and was relieved that Daniel hadn't stopped as well.

"Yeah?" Jack said warily. As much as his big friend might come across stony and simple to some, he most certainly wasn't. Jack could think of few who were as observant as Teal'c.

"Is something troubling you, my friend?" Teal'c cocked his head to the side, watching him with his serious, dark eyes.

"No... everything's... okay." Jack shook his head and dredged up a small smile.

Teal'c's eyebrow did its characteristic climb upward.

"Really... nothing's wrong..." Jack knew he was beginning to sweat under the continuous scrutiny. "See you in debrief," Jack hurriedly said, before backing out of the door.

Jack relaxed a little as he made his way toward the elevator. Yep... deep shit, that was what he was in. What the hell had possessed him to do that? How had he gone from one moment yelling at the man to the next where he had been trying to suck the air out of Daniel's lungs...?

As he waited for the elevator, Jack heard footsteps behind him and as he turned he looked at his very worried 2IC.

"Everything all right, sir?" Carter asked.

Jack waved her off. "Nothing's wrong, Carter, nothing at all."

For a moment it seemed as if she were torn between digging a little deeper and her military learning i.e. not bothering her CO. Thankfully it seemed that the latter won.

"I'll see you at the debriefing then," she said, hesitantly, before she continued toward the showers.

"Sure," Jack said as he fled to the sanctity of the elevator, ignoring the look on Carter's face. She might not believe him, but at least she was a good little soldier and knew when to back off. And what was this, all of a sudden? First Teal'c then Carter -- asking him if he were okay. Did he have a sign on his back that read: 'I just swapped spit with my very *male* archaeologist'?

The briefing room was empty, and Jack sat down with a sigh. Now he'd really done it. He'd screwed up a friendship, screwed up the team... What the hell kind of CO was he? Obviously a gay CO. Sure, he'd been attracted to men before, but it had never been quite like this. Appreciation from *afar*, sure. This was a little too physically close for his taste. Couldn't have been much closer without losing some clothes...

'Who are you kidding, Jack? Admit it. You liked it. You liked slamming him up against the wall, and you fucking liked the iron-grip he had on your ass.' Jack ignored the voice as much as he could and sat back to wait for the rest of the team -- and General Hammond.

At least he could use the time to do some thinking... He had some serious damage control to do. He might even let that little annoying voice in on the negotiations.


Daniel threw his keys on the kitchen counter, still seething with anger. Just who the hell did the man think he was? With a sigh he leaned against the kitchen counter and buried his face in his hands.

First Teal'c had asked him if something was wrong, right after ...Jack had brushed past them, obviously in a hurry to get out and get away from Daniel. Daniel had assured Teal'c that everything was okay, hoping that the Jaffa would let it lie. Luckily he had, though Daniel had the suspicion that Teal'c hadn't believed him.

Then, as they went to the briefing room, Sam had asked him as well. Did he have it tattooed on his forehead or something? Something like 'Yes, my life is fucked up'? God, how he hated this.

And he'd feared the debriefing. Jack had simply sat there, all business, every inch the good little soldier. Too bad no one else knew that the good, little, *straight* soldier had kissed his archaeologist. Bastard.

Damned poster-boy for the All-American Hero. Daniel took off his glasses and put them on the counter before rubbing his eyes. He'd been perfectly contented with his little fantasy world right until Colonel Jackass had struck.

For a moment, just for a short, heart-stopping moment, it had been so far beyond his fantasies that it had been almost painful. Without conviction, he considered finding someone else for his lewd fantasies, because his only reaction to Jack, be it fantasy version or the real deal, was nothing but red-hot anger. Daniel studiously ignored any nagging little voices chorusing *Liar, liar, pants on fire*. He would rather live without those damned fantasies than changing the star of those.

At least he wasn't going to be forced to work with the man for the next three weeks. Just out of the blue, Jack had asked for three weeks of leave, starting from Monday, which the General had granted. Hammond had offered the rest of the team the same... Three weeks. The man probably figured the tension was simple stress and that they would come back all acting like they normally did. It would explain why Hammond had agreed so easily. It wasn't normal procedure to grant leave on such short notice.

Daniel shook his head, trying to clear it. He wasn't sure that leave was what he needed, though he'd agreed to two weeks. He'd work his way through this week, get everything in order at the base... and then spend the two weeks of leave thinking things through very carefully. He still wasn't sure if he wanted to leave the program or just switch teams. Either way, he'd have to give Hammond a really good explanation. Sure thing was, he couldn't work with Jack anymore -- and Jack probably didn't want to work with him anyway.

All in all, he was most definitely not going to stay on the team with the man. Not that Jack would take it out on him; oh no, worse, he'd probably get the silent treatment.

So the his to-do list would be: Tidy up his workload at the SGC, make sure everything was fine in case he decided to run. Hey, he wasn't too proud to admit it, unlike, it seemed, Jack, who'd simply run without any explanation. Sure, he'd given the General some comment about needing the rest, the team needing it. Bastard.

Daniel bit his lower lip. Well, whatever Colonel Coward was going to do, Daniel would think his options through *very* carefully, maybe even use the two weeks of leave to look into possible jobs. Far away from ...the SGC


Jack paced the floor of his living room. It was ...pristine. So was the bathroom... and the bedroom... Actually, the entire house looked completely spotless.

Three days into his leave and he was going crazy.

Something to concentrate on... Jack looked at the stack of already done crossword puzzles. Damn.

Jack stopped in his tracks. The guestroom. He still had to clean up the guestroom.

Five minutes later, he realized just how much of a mistake that had been. Sitting on the bed, he looked at the bedside table. That wasn't his book... Jack picked up the offending item and sighed. Nope, this was definitely Daniel's. Tilting it a bit, he squinted to make out the title. For a second he thought it said 'Geek Homosexuality' then he realized it was Greek, not Geek...

Feeling as if he were intruding, Jack stood and was about to put the book back down. He took a look around the room. There was... a certain resonance of Daniel here, and it... it hurt a little.

'You've only got yourself to blame, old man,' he admitted to himself. His eyes strayed to a chair by the wall. Over the back of it hung a sweatshirt. Not his either. Jack had picked it up before he could stop himself. It had been what? A couple of weeks since Daniel stayed over? And if Jack remembered it right, Daniel had been sleeping in this...

As if in a trance, Jack sat back down on the bed, book in one hand and shirt in the other. It had been so easy back then. They'd had a team night... and Carter had driven Teal'c back to the base... Daniel hadn't been that drunk, but as always, as a silent agreement, he'd stayed in Jack's guestroom.

Jack curled up on top of the comforter and folded the shirt under his head, rubbing his face against it. Before he knew it he'd opened the book and started reading.


The week had been... different. Daniel closed his locker. Okay, it had been downright boring. He'd spent every day, from morning till late in the evening in his office, finishing up this and that translation or analysis of an artifact. And there had been no Jack to run interference. He'd seen Sam once or twice during the first couple of days. Like him, she'd decided to get some work done while they weren't going off-world. Though her reasons were so far from Daniel's that it made him wince.

Sam loved her job, just the way Daniel had used to. He'd never really given it much thought that Jack swinging by his lab occasionally made such a difference. Well, at least he'd managed to get most of the backlogged work out of the way.

Fortunately Teal'c had only checked in on him once and then only to say his goodbyes. The Jaffa was going off-world to meet with Bra'tac and Rya'c. Daniel sighed. Good thing too, because as much as he could fool Sam while she was preoccupied, Teal'c was something completely different. He was so observant sometimes that it scared Daniel. Sometimes he wondered if Teal'c kept a mental book on his teammates and their behavioral patterns -- probably interesting reading.

'Paranoid? Who? Me?' Daniel thought to himself. 'Nah...'

Two weeks. Two weeks to think things through. Two weeks to make sure he made the right choice. Daniel checked his bag. He'd packed as many books as he could from the lab. He'd go stir-crazy if he didn't have anything to do.

As he exited topside, the warm night air greeted him. It had been a long week, and as much as he needed the time to think, he wasn't really looking forward to spending two weeks on his own.

During the drive home he tried hard not to think about Jack. It was almost surreal, like a dream. And if it hadn't been because his mind most vividly supplied him with the memory of being pressed up against a wall and kissed, it might all simply have been that ...a dream.

Stopping at a red light, Daniel shifted uneasily in his seat. Amazing that with the anger he still felt toward Jack, the mere memory of one little... though, agreed, very *hot* kiss, was enough to make him painfully hard. Damn it! Before this, he'd kept his crazy fantasies to the bedroom or shower of his own apartment. Now? He couldn't even think about Jack without some damned Pavlovian response. Or maybe Freudian? Who the hell cared anyway?

Daniel pulled into his parking spot, got out and locked the car. The bag with the books was fairly heavy, but at least the elevator was working, so he didn't have to drag it up the stairs.

"Home, sweet home," Daniel muttered as he closed the door behind him, wincing as the silence of the apartment greeted him. He sat the bag down by the wall and continued into his home. His sanctuary.

"We need to talk." The voice startled Daniel and made him freeze for a moment. Hell no... just... no.


Jack took a deep breath, wondering for the umpteenth time what he was getting himself into.

"Jack?" Daniel's voice was deceptively calm.

"I figured it was high time to talk," Jack tried. Not that he wanted to, but he knew Daniel well enough to not just blunder on. Doing this would be like navigating a damned minefield.

"Don't you think it's a little late?" Daniel asked.

Jack tried to read his friend's expression, but even though Daniel normally sucked at poker, he had a mask firmly in place this time. And he was fairly sure that Daniel wasn't talking about late in the day... With a little surge of fear, Jack *knew* what Daniel meant.

"I had to think things through," Jack began.

Daniel shook his head. "How did you get in here?"

Jack frowned. "The spare key you gave me ages ago."

Daniel held out a hand. "I'd like it back, if you don't mind."

Jack drew in his breath -- hard. This wasn't exactly what he'd pictured might happen. Not that he'd expected Daniel to fall into his arms, but back there, in that chamber on another planet, the man hadn't exactly fought him off. Jack had thought ever since that Daniel was interested. Could he have been wrong?

"Look, I know you're upset," Jack tried to calm Daniel down.

Daniel shook his head. "The key," he repeated.

"Daniel, I'm sorry for what I said back then, I'm..." Jack halted for a moment. He sucked at this, he really did. Come *on*. Daniel normally forgave people for the worst things. He reached out for Daniel without thinking and it hurt when Daniel flinched and shrank away from him.

"It's too little, too late, Jack." Daniel shook his head, his mouth a thin line. "Key?"

"I..."

"Key!" Daniel snapped his fingers and held his hand out.

"There's nothing I can say that will make you listen to me, is there?" Jack asked, fearing he knew the answer already.

Daniel merely raised an eyebrow, which Jack wondered if he'd learned from watching Teal'c over the years. Jack realized that he'd lost this round, but he did by no means consider himself out of the game.

Wordlessly he took out his keys, unsnapped the one he'd used to get into Daniel's apartment and handed it over.

"Now get out," Daniel said flatly.

Jack opened his mouth, unsure what he was going to say. Then... "I'll see you in two weeks..." he managed to grind out.

"Maybe..." Daniel said calmly. "Please, Jack, leave..." There was a certain ...weariness to the voice.

Keeping his head high, Jack turned without another word, walked to the front door and stepped outside into the cold and empty hallway. He didn't look back; he didn't change his pace until he reached the elevator.

Down. The damned thing was of course in the basement at the moment. So he could either march on and take the stairs or stand in the hallway, waiting for it to return.

Jack bit his lower lip and headed for the stairs. No way was he standing up there, letting Daniel, or anyone else for that matter, see his defeat. He kept up his facade as he went down the stairs, through the main entrance and out, around the corner, to his truck.

Pulling out from the curb, he didn't allow himself to react to what had happened. 'Not yet, not yet', he chanted to himself. Though instead of heading home, he drove out of town and up a few narrow mountain roads, until he stopped the truck at a small lookout spot above the town.

Jack leaned his head against the steering wheel, ignoring the burn behind his eyes. He hadn't planned things like this. Hadn't expected Daniel to react as coolly as he had.

And what had the man meant by 'maybe'? He'd checked. Jack himself had his two weeks left and Daniel had just started his two. Unless...

"Jack O'Neill... you're insane, Daniel loves his job, wouldn't leave it for all in the world, wouldn't, of all things, let you scare him out of it." Jack shook his head as he whispered those words to himself. No way... Daniel was as stubborn as Jack was... Not that it mattered, because either way, Jack had amends to make if he expected to be able to work with Daniel later... and he owed Daniel as much.

"Face it, Jack. You were a complete bastard that day," he mumbled as he lifted his head and stared unseeingly out the front window.

"Think, O'Neill. There's gotta be *some* way of making this right..."


Daniel couldn't remember having felt that tired in a very long time. Normally he could do with a few hours of sleep, but Saturday he woke up well past noon.

'Huh,' he thought blearily as he squinted at the alarm clock. 'Twelve *hours*?' He must have been more tired than he'd thought. Then the memory hit him, and he buried his face in the pillow, and most of the previous day's tension returned.

"I don't know who's the bigger idiot, Mr. 'I've got three PhDs', you or Jack, but staying in bed won't solve it," he mumbled into the pillow.

He'd been so surprised and angry when Jack had turned up like that, letting himself into Daniel's apartment. Then again, why was he surprised? This was Jack, after all... Even after a week without Jack, Daniel didn't feel ready to handle the man, to meet him eye to eye and act logically. Not even if Jack *had* been there to actually *talk*. What a concept. A Jack O'Neill who was ready to talk... What *was* the world coming to?

Rolling over, Daniel stared unseeingly up at the ceiling. Was he really prepared to leave the program? 'Maybe you should ask yourself if you're prepared to leave your friends and ...Jack behind.'

He finally crawled out of bed and went to the kitchen, not bothering to add anything clothes-like to the boxers in which he'd been sleeping. It wasn't as if anyone could see him and the apartment was more than warm enough, the sun shining through the living room windows lending its hazy light to Daniel's own fuzzy eyesight.

Glasses? Where were his...? Ah, they'd be on the bedside table of course. Daniel didn't bother to go get them. He could do his morning routine with his eyes closed. Come to think of it, it was the way he mostly did it.

Yawning loudly, Daniel rubbed his eyes and pulled the coffee down from the cupboard. A moment later the smell of dark roast filled the kitchen, and he finally managed a smile. Shower first, *then* he could start thinking about his situation.

The warm water, pounding down over his tense shoulders, made Daniel sigh. Maybe he should have let Jack talk... say what had been on his mind? It was just so damned hard after a week of wondering how they could patch things up to have the man intrude the way he had. Now if he'd called instead...

Daniel grinned to himself. 'Right, you'd have hung up immediately. Admit it.' Then what? Give Jack a second chance? Two weeks, that was the leave Jack had left and that Daniel had just started. Now, if Jack really wanted to make things work, or at least get their friendship back on track, Daniel wasn't going to stop him. -- At least not if Jack *really* put his back into it.

Finishing up, Daniel quickly dried off. He'd give Jack these two weeks to at least make an effort... If he failed? Daniel bit his lower lip as he went to his bedroom, pulling out sweats and a t-shirt. With a small, mirthless smile he put on the clothes. If that was the case...

The doorbell tore him out of his contemplations, and Daniel grabbed his glasses and ran a hand through his hair as he made his way the front door. For a moment he hoped it might be Jack, but maybe the man wasn't as stubborn as Daniel thought him to be?

Opening the door, he found no one on the outside. Daniel looked both left and right, but the hallway was completely empty. Frowning, he pulled back and was about to close the door when he looked down. On the doorstep was a plain, white envelope.

Daniel simply stared at it for a moment. Stooping down, he finally picked it up. No name, no address, no sender on it. Nothing to clue him in on, from where it had come. Well, unless... Daniel closed the door behind him, locked it and went into the kitchen. He put the envelope on the kitchen counter and went to pour a cup of coffee.

Could it be from Jack? Come to think of it... Daniel groaned. He'd only remembered to demand the key for the apartment back. The key to the front door downstairs wasn't the same and Jack still had the spare for that one.

Daniel looked at the envelope as if it were entirely its fault. "What are you up to now, Jack?" he asked out loud. His curiosity finally got the best of him, and he picked the white envelope up again. He pushed the flap up and peeked inside. Just two narrow slips of thick paper. Daniel pulled them out and raised an eyebrow. Tickets?

Reading what they said, he realized they were two tickets for the museum, for an Egyptian exhibit. Daniel began smiling until he noticed the smaller print underneath the dates of the exhibit. Groaning, he dropped the tickets down on the table.

"Are you doing this to simply annoy me, Jack?" he asked. Shaking his head, Daniel took a sip of his coffee. The exhibit was largely based on Wallace Budge. No way was he going to go see this exhibit, because he knew the glaring errors would make it impossible to enjoy it.

Maybe Jack was being deliberately dense? It wouldn't be the first time, but then again... Daniel shook his head. No... Picking up the tickets he gave them another annoyed look. He wasn't looking for this kind of ...stuff. All he needed was probably what Jack had offered the night before and what Daniel had been too angry to accept. Talk...

"I hope I can rely on the O'Neill stubbornness," he mumbled to himself. With a groan he sat the cup down. What was it with him? He'd been determined to spend two weeks working out how to leave the program and not one day into his leave, Jack managed to screw it all up.

'What am I going to do about you, Jack?' Daniel asked himself with a sigh as he threw the tickets into a drawer.


Jack leaned against the windowsill, looking out into his garden. The sun was shining; it was a beautiful day... 'yadda yadda yadda,' he thought to himself. Normally he'd have loved to spend the day on garden work, but not today... It was late in the afternoon and he was sure that Daniel had found the little gift by now...

Looking over his shoulder, Jack checked the answering machine for the fifth time in as many minutes. Nothing... "Give it up," he mumbled to himself. It wasn't as if he'd gone deaf or something and couldn't hear the phone. "Face it, old man, he's not gonna call ya."

Not that Jack had really been expecting Daniel to come around that quickly. Not after Jack himself had screwed up so royally. So if Daniel wasn't going to fall at Jack's first attempt, he'd simply have to keep going.

Jack couldn't really blame Daniel for acting the way he was. The only one here Jack felt remarkably like kicking was himself. Well, it wasn't as if he hadn't been making a battle plan, and he'd be damned if he was going to give up. Daniel hadn't fought him off during the kiss, and Jack kept telling himself that it had been more than a simple impulse to Daniel. Well, it *had* been sudden, but it had felt *right*... at least now that Jack was being honest with himself.

Jack snorted at the thought. Honest with himself. It seemed he'd been anything *but* lately. Maybe if Daniel had fought him off, told him that there was nothing whatsoever between them... then maybe. But Jack knew quite well that he'd been the one to walk out. And he'd made things so much worse with his attempted damage control.

'Just how old are you, Jack?' His behavior had been worse than a kid's. And as much as he occasionally acted as one, he couldn't really use that as an excuse.

'Well, time for the second step of the plan,' Jack grinned to himself. He hadn't really expected Daniel to give in so early... nope, not this man. Then again -- he hadn't asked for a submissive pretty-boy. Because that image would never ever fit Daniel, that was for sure -- except from the fact that he *was* good looking.

With a widening grin, Jack went to his bedroom. He could do with a run, get rid of some excess energy. Changing his clothes, he pulled on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and went in search of the running shoes. Perfect day for it, too.


With a sigh, Daniel dropped the book he'd been reading. He stretched out his legs on the couch and stared at nothing particular, just a non-existent spot between his shelves and the window.

What was it they said about pink elephants? The moment you tried to *not* think about them, they tended to dance in circles around you. Seemed the same thing went for exhibit tickets. It wasn't as if he was interested in going... really, it was more that he could understand why...

Daniel growled and got to his feet. Coffee... he needed some coffee. This wasn't how he'd pictured his two weeks off. Today was Monday, and he'd wasted his entire weekend thinking about Jack. Or rather, trying to *not* think about him. And no, he didn't want to go that damned exhibit, and he killed off the voice in the back of his mind that kept telling him that Jack had meant well...

The doorbell rang and Daniel went over to open it. Outside he found a delivery man who held out a clipboard and pen in one hand and was balancing a box in the other.

"Daniel Jackson?" the man asked, doing a good job of multitasking as he seemed capable of checking the box, the clipboard and looking at Daniel at the same time. Kind of made Daniel feel a little dizzy.

"Eh... yeah, that'd be me," Daniel finally got out, feeling in the pit of his stomach something that he couldn't quite put a name on.

"Please sign here, Mr. Jackson," the man requested with a smile, and Daniel automatically answered with one of his own as he took the clipboard and put his signature next to his name.

"There you go." The man handed over the box at the same time as he took the clipboard back. "Have a nice day," he said as he backed up and started for the elevator.

Daniel simply stood there in his doorway, wondering if maybe he should have asked the man who the sender was; because it didn't say on the box. Actually, Daniel had no idea for how long he stood there, but he was brought back to the present as the door to the apartment next to his opened and old Mrs. Grendel... Grezinky, Daniel corrected himself absentmindedly, stepped out into the hallway. Damn Jack for getting into his Bjowulf saga and use that name on Daniel's neighbor... just because she'd ripped Jack a new one a night where the man had brought home a very drunk Daniel.

Wasn't his fault that she had borne down on Jack like a falcon on a piece of prey. She'd always been most pleasant to Daniel.

"Ah, good morning, Dr. Jackson," the old woman greeted him on her way past his door, heading for the elevator.

"Mornin' Mrs. Grezinsky," he replied, though still staring at the box. Tearing himself away from it he looked up and gave the old lady a small smile. He gave her a nod and retreated into his apartment. The woman was way too curious for her own good, and she was a predator when it came to things that you really didn't want to share with anyone.

Daniel put the box on the kitchen counter and stood there, staring at it for a long time. Maybe it was a bomb? Daniel poked it with one finger. It wasn't overly heavy, but there was definitely something in it. He stopped himself from stooping down to put his ear against it.

Maybe it was from Jack?

"Come on, stupid... it's not a bomb," he told himself out loud, a little startled by his voice ringing through the silent apartment. He leaned against the counter, eyeing the thing as if he were expecting it to either open on its own or for him to develop x-ray vision... As if either thing were going to happen, he scolded himself.

Taking a deep breath, he went around the counter, keeping an eye on the box while he dug into the second drawer and fished out a small hobby knife. Carefully he cut the tape holding the flaps in place. He put the knife down next to the box and slowly pulled the flaps apart to look into the thing.

He removed the scrunched up paper at the top of the box and frowned. Okay, not a bomb, but... With a frown he pulled out two bags of... Daniel started laughing.

'You're getting warmer, Jack, a *lot* warmer.' Daniel looked up and located his cell phone, hit the second button on speed dial and waited for the connection.

//This is Jack O'Neill. I'm not here at the moment. Please leave a message after the annoying beep, and I'll get back to ya as soon as I can.//

Daniel frowned. Well, okay -- somehow this *was* easier. "Jack? You're getting warmer, you know." Daniel grinned evilly. So what? He was caving big time, but no way in hell was he going to make it easy for the other man. "Keep this up, and we'll have to have a talk eventually." Daniel hung up and found he was still grinning widely.

"You're pathetic Dr. Jackson," he grinned. And somewhere his inner voice was flipping him the bird.

He was allowed an opinion -- and the right to change his mind every once in a while... right? Right. With that he set about opening the first bag of coffee that had been in the box. How could he ignore a man who really *was* trying to make amends? Well, making amends the O'Neill way, at least. And Daniel had been the one to send him away -- not that he'd fully forgiven Jack for his actions but... Pride just wasn't worth not having Jack... because if he let himself hope, that seemed to be the final prize for holding on. Didn't mean he had to make it easy for him. No way was Daniel going to let Jack take him for granted.


Jack hit the repeat button for the tenth time. He wondered for a moment if maybe he'd taken a left turn into the Twilight Zone at some point, because here it was. On his damned answering machine.

He'd know approximately when the delivery would be made and he'd made sure to be out the house. Jack hadn't been sure he could face actually talking to Daniel without blurting out something that most definitely wouldn't suit his age... Come to think of it, at the moment Jack *was* acting like a hormone driven teenager... Couldn't even handle the thought of a telephone call. He just had to trust that Daniel wouldn't call him on the cell phone... that was, if he *did* call at all.

'He did!' sang the voice in the back of Jack's mind. Sure, he hadn't mentioned what had been the turning thing, but somehow Jack got the feeling that it might have been the coffee more than the tickets.

Daniel had said he was getting warmer, right? Good, time to check up on the next surprise for Dr. Jackson. Damn, he hadn't felt this giddy since in high school. Okay, Tuesday was a present-less day. No need to overdo it or Daniel might start wondering where Jack was hiding the pod.

"Oh fer cryin' out loud," he exclaimed. He was no good at this. With women he knew what to do. Wine and dine and send flowers. Though he'd planned for the wining and dining, he wasn't so dumb he would send Daniel flowers. First of all it was a tad bit too girly and second, with their luck, Daniel was probably allergic to whatever Jack could send him.

All was set for Wednesday night. Now to make sure that Dr. Jackson got an invitation he couldn't turn down.


Daniel unlocked his front door and slipped inside, balancing the paper bags with groceries. With a sigh of relief, he put them down on the kitchen counter. It wasn't that they were that heavy, but it was an act of balance no matter how he packed the groceries into them. And he'd even managed to make a stop at the mail box to dump mail into one of the bags.

Putting the mail aside for later, he went about putting the groceries away. With the milk in the fridge, that was about it. He measured up the beans for a nice round of coffee... Yeah, had to hand it to Jack -- he knew better than anyone what Daniel liked. Not that Daniel was a coffee snob, but when at home, he really did prefer something with a bit more taste to it.

While the apartment started to fill with the delicious smell of Columbian dark roast, he pulled the mail closer and started riffling through it. Bills. Bills. Bills. Junk mail. Junk mail. Junk... Hang on a second, what was that?

A plain white envelope was staring up at him from the counter. Well, it had his name and address on it and no sender. Could it be Jack again?

Daniel bit his lower lip, wondering just why he'd lost his anger against Jack. It was something about the man. Something... well, endearing? Even when they were facing trouble off-world, Jack seemed to have the ability to completely defuse the tension, whether Daniel considered it appropriate or not. But still, endearing, though he'd never let Jack know that.

Daniel opened the envelope and pulled out a folded piece of paper. Letting out a breath he hadn't even been aware of holding back, he unfolded it.

//Wednesday night, 1900, dress formally. I'll pick you up?//

Daniel stared at the question mark that ended the line and before he knew it, he was across the apartment, picking up the phone. Right. The damned answering machine again...

"It's me, Jack... yes... just don't expect too much, okay?" He paused for a moment. "I'll... see you then." With that he hung up and closed his eyes. Okay, so much for playing hard to get.

Well, there was playing hard to get and playing the fool. He'd just have to be very careful. He'd burned his fingers on Jack O'Neill once... Aw, hell. Jack probably didn't know any better than Daniel what they were doing and what they were going to do...

Daniel groaned. Seemed his mind had a few suggestions, though. But it wasn't going to happen. Not tomorrow night, at least. Formally... the note said to dress formally. He could do that.

Somehow the note and what had happened should have nagged him more than it did. Oddly enough he managed to get a lot done during the afternoon. He even managed to catch up on the reading he'd tried to do the previous day where he'd completely failed to do so.

As he went to bed that night he leaned back against the headboard. He couldn't help wondering what he was getting himself into... or rather, even deeper into. It seemed that his friendship with Jack had never been easy, yet compared to many of those Daniel had had, it *was* easy.

Daniel was all too aware of how he tended to get lost in his work and his interests, completely forgetting the world around him. The few close, real friends he'd had over the years had mostly been within academia... they understood it. To him it had always taken a lot of work to be friends with people who had an entirely different idea of fun.

Like Jack.

Rubbing his eyes tiredly as he turned out the bedside light and lay down to sleep, Daniel wondered how he'd managed to feel so at ease around Jack. They were polar opposites. Yet instead of accepting that Daniel might want to get lost in his work, the man insisted on nagging, annoying Daniel until things went the O'Neill way. Rather endearingly, though he wasn't going to tell Jack that. It would only give Jack too many advantages. Giving him this much ammunition would be pure suicide.

Daniel sighed deeply as sleep seemed to elude him. And to think he'd been so angry with Jack after the incident. He still was, but he was more than willing to listen to Jack. Because talk they would -- Daniel wasn't so dumb that he didn't recognize that they both had a serious case of misplaced pride.

Well, if Jack could swallow his and try to make amends, so could Daniel. He shifted a little under the covers. Okay, so he was a bit transparent. That kiss had nearly blown him away and he couldn't claim to never having entertained the idea of a physical relationship with a man. Nor could he say that he had failed to notice what Jack looked like. Sure, there were younger men at base who might even be more approachable, who'd even offered, but of course he wanted what he'd figured he couldn't have.

A safe bet?

Well, not so safe after all.


Jack refused to check his looks in the mirror again. It was good. It was fine... Fer cryin' out loud! He leaned against the door to the bedroom, resisting the temptation of looking for something else to wear. Well, he might as well leave now. He wanted plenty of time so he could swing by the gas station. No fun if the truck ran dry on his... date.

Okay, so he might as well admit it. He had a date... actually the first one in ages, and it wasn't with some good looking woman. Nope, it was with a hot guy whose ass Jack coveted. Not that he was entirely sure *what* he'd do with said ass if he ever got it within reach, but that didn't stop him from wanting it.

He was quite sure that Daniel could be creative -- and Jack did trust him.

Heck, he coveted more than the ass. Somehow it had to be the whole Jackson-package or it just wouldn't be right.

'Okay, plenty of time,' Jack thought to himself as he locked up the house and went to the truck.

The drive to the gas station seemed to take forever, as did the filling of the tank. Though, of course, when Jack checked his watch, he still had plenty of time. Shouldn't take him more than ten minutes to get to Daniel's place... Which meant he would be way too early.

Jack rubbed his eyes and checked to see that the tank was finally near full. Finishing up, he went inside to pay for the gas and to check what else he might need. He didn't want to sit in the truck by Daniel's apartment block, waiting for the seconds to drag by. Didn't want to seem so eager that he'd be there at least fifteen minutes too early.

So Jack browsed the shelves, not really looking at anything. Still, he realized with a little embarrassment that he'd ended up in the more personal items as his attention returned and he found himself staring at a wide variety of condoms. Oops... 'That would be making assumptions, O'Neill...' he thought to himself. 'And it'll probably make things look *really* bad to Daniel if you come around for your first date expecting him to put out.'

Another fruitless round of the shelves and Jack checked his watch again. Good -- he still had time, but at least he'd only be around five minutes early if he left now.

Jack went to the counter to pay for the gas. As he stepped up behind a guy who was paying for some goods, his eyes fell on the stuff on the counter. A wide grin spread on his face as he noticed the candy. He almost laughed when he reached out and took down the one thing that was screaming 'Daniel' at him.

The clerk, a young girl who looked as if she were bored out of her mind, punched in his purchase along with the gas, and Jack paid, still with a small smile on his face.

"You wouldn't happen to have a small gift bag, would you?" he asked her.

She shot him a strange look, then looked down at the candy. Her otherwise blank look was broken for a moment by a small quirk of a smile. "For this?" she asked, pointing at it.

Jack shrugged. "It's for a ...friend," Jack admitted.

The girl cocked her head to the side and gave him a searching look. Jack simply took a leaf out of Teal'c's book and raised an eyebrow.

"Cool," she said with a grin. "Just a moment -- I think I might have something." Jack waited patiently while she rooted through the shelves under the counter and he was glad that no one was waiting in line behind him.

The girl popped back up, waving a dark green envelope. "This okay?" she asked.

Jack nodded. "Yeah, thanks." He couldn't help grinning while she quickly put his purchase in the envelope and sealed it.

"Sorry I haven't got a bow for it," she said with a grin.

"That's okay," Jack answered with a smile. "He's not that kind of guy." Jack could have kicked himself. And he was supposed to be the bad-ass former Spec. Ops. soldier? Puh-lease.

The girl's eyes glittered with mirth, but she didn't call him on his choice of words. "Well, have a nice day, then," she said as he beat a hasty retreat.

Jack didn't even violate any speed limits, and yet he found himself sitting in his truck, parked next to the apartment building. With nearly eight minutes to spare.

So... what was he expecting of the night? To his own surprise he found the answer easily as he finally undid the seatbelt and got out of the truck, locking it. Nothing. Well, of course he was hoping, but basically any time with Daniel was more than enough to make him smile at the moment. And maybe that would help him... help the both of them see beyond what an idiot Jack knew he'd been. For once he was perfectly aware that he was the one who had to do the mending... He couldn't blame anyone else and simply turn away.

Well, he could, but the outcome was far too easy to guess. Maybe he'd be able to convince Daniel to stay as a friend, but as much as everyone else seemed to see Dr. Jackson as a sweet man, Jack knew as well as the rest of their close friends that Daniel had a temper that at times equaled Jack's own. Which was probably why they'd gotten along as well as they had... Until now. Neither man ever really backed down. Wow... Jack froze in his steps for a moment. Talk about foreplay -- it sure explained why he got a rise out of pissing Daniel off. Thinking back to the 'incident' in the ruin, he realized with a flushed feeling that the part about the 'rise' was closer to the truth than he'd let himself think.

Jack considered unlocking the front door himself... He'd only given Daniel the key to the apartment back, but something stopped him. It just wasn't right. He checked his watch. 'Right, three minutes early isn't too bad,' he thought to himself as he hit the button to let Daniel know he was there.

The tinny voice coming out of the loudspeaker hardly did its owner justice, but it was still more than recognizable.

"It's me," Jack answered calmly, pushing the sudden explosion of butterflies in his stomach out of his mind.

"I'll be right down," Daniel said without hesitation, before the *click* announced that he'd closed the connection.

Jack rubbed the back of his neck. Amazing that at his age he could still feel as giddy and nervous as a schoolboy. 'Come on, O'Neill. This isn't some sweet lady you're taking out for the night -- it's your best friend through several years...'

Swallowing hard, Jack realized that it made things that more difficult as Daniel swung open the door and entered the street, stopping right in front of Jack. Oh... Jack had been so used to BDUs that he'd completely forgotten how Daniel looked in formal wear. Charcoal suit and a dark blue shirt. Oh wow.


Daniel tried to not show how nervous he was as he stood in front of Jack, hoping against his own better judgment that Jack liked what he saw. With a slight smile he realized that he shouldn't have worried. The gleam that he saw in those dark eyes pretty much said it all.

He tried to keep from staring too much at Jack who looked like he'd stepped out of the glossy pages of a magazine. Sure, it wasn't the dress-blues, but Jack sure cleaned up nicely when he put on a suit and the thin turtleneck underneath... only seemed to add length and grace to his neck. Still, somehow he managed to look like a little boy in a candy store. Daniel swallowed hard. Right... one guess as to who was considered the candy here.

'What the hell are you getting yourself into, Daniel,' he thought to himself.

"Hi." Jack sounded a little breathless and Daniel wondered why. Man, he was way out of his league here, but somehow it was the same thing that made him answer Jack's wide smile with one of his own.

"Hi," he answered, wondering why he sounded a little breathless himself. 'Oy, just *how* old are you?' He took a deep breath and tried to make his smile a little less ...doting... drooling, whatever. "So... where are we going?"

"You'll see," Jack said with a grin. Then he too seemed to sober a little. "Don't worry, you'll like it, I promise."

Daniel nodded. As much as he knew they really did need to talk, he wasn't going to stop Jack from offering a pleasant evening. Even if it all seemed slightly surreal and close to Twilight Zone material.

Jack gestured towards his parked truck, and Daniel followed him, getting into the passenger side. At least Jack hadn't tried to hold the door for him. That might have been a little too much.

Neither man said anything as Jack started the truck and pulled out into the light evening traffic. Daniel was a little surprised to find that their silence was companionable as always... not awkward as he'd expected. He couldn't help wondering what was going on and how they were going to go on from here. What had happened had happened, and going back... Going back to merely being friends sounded ...wrong. Still, the idea of taking those steps forward to ...to what?

Daniel looked out the corner of his eye, then quickly turned his eyes back to the street outside. If anyone had ever told him that he'd see such softness and shyness in a man like Jack, he probably wouldn't have believed them. But even a quick look had shown him that and he could feel Jack stealing little glances to at him. He was fairly sure that if he looked again, he'd catch that shy little smile again. The one that he'd never seen before ...the one that left him a little breathless and made him smile, too.

Daniel shook himself mentally. 'Get a grip!' This man next to him was a friend through many years... and a *man*... not that that bothered Daniel, but still... He'd never been with a man like that... He wondered exactly what 'that' would entail...

Rolling his eyes, Daniel squashed a smile threatening to get a little too wide. Jack really didn't need the encouragement, did he? Did Daniel *want* to encourage him? Something rolled through him and Daniel ran a hand through his hair, trying to ignore that it was shaking a little.

"Everything okay, Daniel?" Jack's question broke through Daniel's reverie.

Turning his head, Daniel forced himself to look at Jack. He found Jack shooting him a questioning glance, and it hit him just how worried Jack looked at that moment, however much he tried to cover it with casualness.

Daniel gave him a quick smile. "Everything's fine," he said, amazed that his voice was as steady as it seemed to be. Had he really been considering leaving everything behind? Sure, he was still a little annoyed with Jack fleeing from the problem instead of dealing with it, but Jack was probably as new to it as Daniel was... and just because Daniel tended to talk his way out of problems, he knew very well that it was rarely, if ever, Jack's MO.

'Nope,' Daniel thought to himself as he watched Jack's profile and saw the worried expression give way to a small smile. The one that had one corner of those thin lips curving up ever so slightly. Jack was definitely a man of action, not words. Daniel took a deep breath and ignored any ideas his own imagination might supply as to just what kind of action Jack might come up with.

It was almost like a ...fever of some kind. Daniel wondered idly if perhaps he should call the base and ask Janet to give him a check-up. Maybe it was alien influence? Daniel couldn't help smiling at his own foolishness. No... just your average, though in no way ordinary, O'Neill-Jackson interaction. Sure made the Twilight Zone seem like absolute pure scientific logic.

The next time he surfaced from his thoughts, he looked up as Jack pulled the truck into a parking spot, the clear evening outside nearing sundown, painting the city in all shades of shadows and red and orange hues.

"So..." Jack said, not meeting his eyes.

"Yeah..." Daniel said, letting out a deep breath. Then he grinned and shook his head. "Jack?" Well, someone had to deal with this.

"Uh-huh?" Jack still stared unseeingly out the windshield.

"Just how old are we?" Daniel asked, pursing his lips and finally allowing himself to take in the sight of his friend sitting there next to him, gripping the steering wheel as if it were the only thing keeping him above water.

For a moment, Daniel thought Jack might not have understood his choice of words; then a snort of surprised laughter told him differently. "I don't know about you, Daniel," Jack said in a low voice. "But oddly enough I'm kinda feeling a little like a teenager on the first date here..."

"Well, technically, I guess you could call this our first..." Daniel bit his tongue to keep himself from making any stupid comments. They'd gone out so many times in the past -- yet after what had happened, Daniel knew it wouldn't be like that again. He wasn't even sure he should hope for it being better than it had been...

Jack cleared his throat and Daniel wasn't entirely sure, but maybe, just maybe, Jack was actually blushing a little. And he realized it boosted his own ego a bit. So he wasn't the only one feeling a little out of his league at the moment.

"We're here," Jack said as he finally unbuckled his seatbelt. Daniel recognized the place and wondered what exactly Jack was up to...


Jack nervously wondered if he should get out of the truck and rush to the passenger side to open the door for Daniel... The choice was taken from him a moment later when Daniel opened his own door but didn't get out. He simply turned and gave Jack an unreadable glance.

"Wha'?" Jack asked, surprised that his voice actually sounded fairly normal. Not squeaky or anything.

Daniel's expression softened a little, and a small smile teased his lips. "You don't do things halfway, do you ...Jack?" he asked, his voice low and warm.

Jack found himself grinning in reply. "Nope," he agreed. He'd managed to get Daniel to go out with him... and that was quite something after the screw up he'd managed -- he figured he was entitled to show off his ...friend in public. The best place just happened to be one of the better restaurants in the Springs.

Daniel pursed his lips and made to get out. One foot out the door, he turned his head and shot Jack a sideways glance. "You do know this place is mostly for ...couples, right?"

Jack's grin widened. "Yup... I know." He tried not to let doubt seep in. Well, he'd made the reservations; he knew very well what kind of place it was. It would be a bit of a test as to how far Daniel was willing to go. Sure, they could just write it off as a dinner between friends... and as far as anyone else knew, that was just what it was. Still, Jack didn't kid himself about it. He knew and more importantly, Daniel knew, what had gone before...

He wondered for a moment if either of them had any clue what would happen after it. Well, he wasn't going to get his hopes up too far. Still, the least he *had* to do was get their friendship back online. If he couldn't do that... Jack squashed the thought. It just wasn't an option.

They walked in companionable silence to the front entrance of the restaurant, and Jack was pleased to see the flash of surprise crossing Daniel's face as he held the door for the man. He hid his own smile as he noticed that Daniel quickly ducked inside, obviously not willing to let Jack see just how surprised he was.

'Laugh it up, Daniel,' he thought to himself. 'I can be a gentleman too.'

Jack gave his name to the waiter who met them at the entrance, and a moment later they were rid of their coats and were seated by a small table, intimately placed almost in the corner. Exactly what Jack had asked for. He wanted them to have a little privacy, although he wasn't going to try anything foolish while in public. It wasn't that he expected anyone to recognize them, but he figured Daniel wouldn't be too thrilled with any discussions of a too personal nature. At least not yet... and most definitely not in public.

To Jack's pleasant surprise, they both managed to make the evening quite wonderful. It was amazing how they fit into their usual easy conversation. Much to his amusement, Daniel had seen through Jack's reason for choosing a Spanish restaurant. Well, shame on Jack, really. He should have known that Daniel would see right through him.

'So sue me,' Jack thought happily as he placed their orders... in Spanish. It may be a bit rusty, but he still had it. He smiled at the waiter as the man left them with a court nod of his head.

"Show-off," Daniel accused in a low voice, a smile gracing his face, making his eyes twinkle in the candlelight.

"Who, me?" Jack asked, trying to act as innocent as possible.

"You chose Spanish because you're a show-off," Daniel elaborated, the smile widening into something else... something laced with mischief and... Jack shook his head a little. 'Meh, wishful thinking, O'Neill,' he berated himself.

"What?" Jack tried not to laugh. "You think I'd move in on your turf, Dr. Jackson?"

Daniel chuckled. "Nah, no more than I could move in on yours, Colonel." For a little while they sat in silence; though thankfully it was the easy kind of silence, both men simply enjoying the company.

The food came, and Jack dug into his with relish, as did, he noticed, Daniel. For a few minutes they ate, exchanging stolen looks that made Jack smile inwardly.

Daniel finally sat back, taking a sip of his wine. "Spanish is a passionate language," Daniel said with fake seriousness.

"What can I say," Jack grinned. "I'm a passionate man."

Daniel raised an eyebrow, mischief making him smile. And Jack felt a shiver dance up and down his spine. That smile... It wasn't that often that Daniel smiled, but the kind of smiles Jack was used to were those of amusement, contentment... he couldn't remember ever having seen this one before, that was for sure. And maybe it was good that Daniel had never given him this before, because if he had, off-world -- he would have been capable of getting Jack to do literally *anything*.

"La lengua del fuego," Jack grinned, hiding his reaction to the damned smile. Right, that was going to haunt him for a *very* long time.

If the smile had been a 3.5 on the Richter scale, then the next one, casually thrown his way, would have easily registered at 9.9... Slightly lowered eyelids, pursed lips and an attitude that fairly screamed 'indecent in all the right ways' had Jack drawing in his breath... *hard*.

"Lengua also meaning..." Daniel's eyes flickered closed for a moment, his tongue flickering out to wet his lips.

Jack was sure he hadn't whimpered... absolutely sure... but he was close to doing so. Yeah, so his Spanish was a bit rusty, but he knew perfectly well that it also meant... tongue... And mesmerized he watched Daniel's glistening lips. This night had been Jack's own idea... and it would quite probably be his death... however a blissful one...

Narrowing his eyes, Jack glared at him, trying to get a hold of his own rampaging libido. Damn, but the guy was beyond good. Jack knew he should just settle for second place here, because he wasn't going to be able to outdo Daniel in any way.

"Daniel, behave yourself," he said with as much authority as he could muster, which wasn't much. And no matter how much he could dredge up, with Daniel, it would never be nearly enough.

"Spoilsport," Daniel said with a chuckle, but he did behave himself for the rest of the evening, obviously choosing topics that they could agree upon, topics that didn't mean watching every word they said.

It was, in Jack's less than humble opinion, over far too quickly. Hours had passed when they ventured out into the warm night, and a quick check told Jack that it was nearing midnight. 'Wonder if Cinderella wants to go home right away?' He chuckled at that, wondering what Daniel might look like dressed up in a satin gown. 'Okay, stop that, O'Neill,' he scolded himself. That was so far beyond weird that his mind shouldn't ever go there.

"Are you sure you're good to drive?" Daniel's soft voice broke the evening silence as Jack unlocked the truck. He looked at Daniel when they had both buckled up.

"Yeah, I drank water most of the evening..." Taking a deep breath he turned the key in the ignition, feeling the truck come to life around them. "Home or...?" Jack left the question hanging.

"Just..." Daniel trailed off. "It's been a good night, Jack. But I still think we should take it slow." There was a trace of a smile in the voice.

"Yeah... it's been a good night," Jack agreed. It wasn't as if he were offering to go straight home to get naked here... Jack was kinda glad that Daniel wanted to take it slowly... At least that way he didn't have to be the one to put a brake on things... he wasn't even all that sure that he would have been capable of it.

The drive to Daniel's apartment was pleasant, if quiet. Jack wondered if Daniel was going over the evening, bit by bit, as Jack was that very moment. It saddened him a little when he pulled up next to Daniel's apartment building -- far too soon for his taste.

"I guess this is good night then," Daniel said, his face unreadable in the darkness.

A spur-of-the-moment decision and Jack found himself saying: "Let me walk you up."

Daniel didn't answer him immediately, and Jack wondered if maybe he'd been too fast on that one.

"Sure," Daniel agreed, startling Jack out of his worries.

"Sweet," Jack said, and the chuckle from the other side of the truck made him smile as they both got out and Jack locked the truck.

As they got into the elevator, Jack leaned back against the metal wall, watching his friend with a soft smile. Damn... How could he ever have screwed up so royally? Dam his Neanderthal brain sometimes. He shouldn't have pushed Daniel away like that... shouldn't have tried to avoid him.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Daniel said, interrupting Jack's contemplations.

"They're not worth that much," Jack answered with a grin.

Daniel opened his mouth as if to say something, as the elevator pinged and the door slid open. With a soft smile he stepped out, waiting for Jack to join him. And Jack did... it was as if Daniel had him on a leash, and right at that moment, Jack really didn't care. If Daniel wanted him to follow him to Hell and back, he would. Come to think of it, hadn't they done that already? The Hell thing?

They stopped in front of Daniel's door, and Jack leaned against the wall as Daniel pulled out his keys and unlocked the door. He opened it a little, then turned to look at Jack.

"I want to invite you in, but I'm not sure that's such a brilliant idea at the moment," he said, color rising in his cheeks.

Jack swallowed hard and nodded. He had to agree. It definitely wouldn't be a good idea.

"So, I... eh..." Daniel trailed off, standing in his doorway, watching Jack with a strange look on his face.

"Mmm?" Jack zoned a little, watching with interest as Daniel began chewing on his lower lip.

With a small laugh, Daniel shrugged. "I don't really know what to do about this..." He gestured back and forth between himself and Jack.

"Can I..." Jack trailed off. How the heck did two men do this? Kiss goodnight? Hug? Wave goodbye?

"Yeah?" Daniel looked up, giving Jack a shy smile that turned his spine and knees to Jell-o.

Jack took a deep breath and stepped closer, bringing himself up close and personal with his friend.

"Jack?" Daniel sounded more than a little breathless.

"Can I kiss you goodnight?" Jack asked, the words almost falling over each other as he rushed out the question.

Daniel stared at him for a moment, the nodded quickly, cheeks flushing again.

Jack wasn't sure he was doing much better, because it felt as if he were more than a little on fire himself. He wondered for a moment if they might set off the smoke alarms, then even that was forgotten as they both leaned forward at the same time, budding noses, smiling shyly and apologetically at each other.

Shaking his head, Jack cupped Daniel's face and tilted it a little to the side, then pressed his lips, chastely against Daniel's. Even that was enough to send sparks through his body.

"Oh..." Daniel mumbled against Jack's lips before his eyes slid shut.

Jack would have said the same if he'd had the air for it. It just wasn't an option a moment later when Daniel's hands crept up to latch onto Jack's coat, pulling him closer. The second kiss was all Daniel's doing and chaste...? It was most definitely not.

Groaning deep in his throat, Jack opened up, more than willingly, letting Daniel's tongue dip inside. The quick flicks nearly drove him crazy, and he couldn't care less about what kind of noises he was making. It was amazing to feel Daniel plastered against him like that, and before Jack knew it, his own hands had crept down to happily attach themselves to Daniel's ass.

The heat between them was almost scorching, and much to Jack's surprise, he felt his body reacting to it almost instantly. It would probably have been embarrassing as hell if Daniel's own reaction hadn't been rubbing against Jack's.

Still, it was amazing that his survival instincts kicked in a moment later when the neighboring door creaked open. Unraveling himself from Daniel didn't seem an option, but he managed to break the kiss and turn his head. 'Oh, just great,' he thought as he recognized the sour face of Mrs... Grez... Gret... aw, heck, Grendel, peeking out, sniffing in contempt.

Jack tried to ignore Daniel's lips sliding over his exposed neck, making him shake and shiver. He cleared his throat and tried to ignore the intruder. "Daniel," he hissed.

"Damn," Daniel muttered against Jack's skin, sending rivulets of electricity down over his chest. The heat from his embarrassment wasn't lost on Jack either.

"It's for the best," Jack said, trying to convince himself as well.

"I know," came the muffled reply. With a huge sigh, Daniel drew back, though he kept his hands on Jack's chest, seemingly not willing to let go just yet.

Jack leaned his forehead against Daniel's with a low moan. Taking it slowly wasn't as easy as he'd thought it would be. He let go of Daniel and dug his fingers into his coat pockets, trying to keep from grabbing Daniel again. He almost frowned when his fingers closed around something. Oh... right. Now if he could just...

"I better go," Jack mumbled, locking his eyes with Daniel's.

"Yeah, it's for the best," Daniel agree, though he didn't sound too convinced.

Jack pulled his hands out of the pockets and pulled Daniel into a loose hug, slipping the gift into Daniel's pocket.

Grendel muttered something, but Jack chose to ignore it as he finally stood back. "Good night, Daniel." He was surprised at how calm he sounded. In reality he wanted to spread out his arms and let everyone know how happy he was, preferably at the top of his lungs. Still, the hallway in an apartment building at 0030 probably wasn't a good idea. Grendel disliked him enough as it was.

Daniel leaned heavily against the door frame, a smile still in place as he lifted his hand and gave Jack a small wave. "Night Jack... drive safely."

Jack grinned as he backed toward the elevator. "I will," he said. As he turned to leave he shot Grendel a huge smile. Nothing was going to ruin this night, that was for sure. "Good night to you too, Mrs. Grezinky," he called out. He didn't hear clearly what she muttered under her breath, but she slammed the door shot with a lot of force for an old lady.

The last thing Jack saw before he slipped into the elevator was Daniel shaking his head at him, the silly little smile still plastered on his face. Well, Jack didn't mind, he doubted his own smile was any better. With a happy little sigh he punched the down-button and finally allowed himself to adjust his erection. Damn, it had definitely been a while since he'd been able to react this quickly from a kiss alone. And what a kiss...

The ride home was ...strange. Jack hadn't felt that easy in a long time and he kept licking his lips every few minutes, remembering how good it had felt, how wonderful the warm lips had been, alive, moist. With a groan he concentrated on the road ahead, thankful that there was very little traffic.

As he turned off the truck inside his garage, he took a moment to get a grip on himself, wondering if he would get any sleep tonight.

He got ready for bed and for a moment he stopped in front of the telephone. With a grin, he picked up the cordless extension and went to his bedroom, carefully putting it down on the bedside table.

He hadn't even turned off the lights when the phone rang and with a gleeful smile he picked it up.

"O'Neill," he said, keeping his voice as even as possible.

"Don't you think I'm a little too old for Pez?"

"You're never too old for Pez," Jack said as he lay back on the bed.

"Jack, buying me Pez is one thing. Buying me a me a Pez dispenser is another. A *monkey*, Jack... you do know you're gonna pay for this, right?"

Jack grinned even wider. Daniel sounded as if he were trying very hard not to laugh. "I'm looking forward to that," he said, not even trying to sound contrite.

Daniel snorted and for a moment, neither said anything.

"You in bed yet? he asked.

"Mmmm, yeah," Jack answered as he snuggled even deeper down under the sheets. He reached up and turned off the bedside lamp, curling up with the phone cradled to his ear. "And you?"

"Uh-huh, I'm in bed too..." Jack could almost hear the grin hidden behind the words.

There was another round of silence, and Jack settled for listening to Daniel breathing... slow and easy.

"Thanks, Jack."

Jack drew a deep breath. "No, thank *you*, Daniel. For giving me a second chance."

Daniel was silent for a little while. "Jack, I..." His voice was no longer as light as it had been a moment ago.

"I'm sorry that I hurt you," Jack forced out. "I'm sorry for not recognizing something good when it kicks me in the ass."

Daniel chuckled. "I think we can find a better use for your ass than kicking it," he answered, the mischief clearly back in his voice.

Jack felt heat flush his body and he almost coughed as he pulled in a little too much air, a little too fast. It didn't help that he could hear Daniel trying to hide his laughter at the other end.

"You're gonna be quite a handful, aren't you?" he grumbled.

"You tell me," Daniel laughed. "You had *your* hands on *my* ass tonight."

Jack's blood seemed to rush south for a moment, leaving him dizzy. Oh yeah... he had, hadn't he? "I don't know..." Jack began. "I think I need to double-check... can we try that again?"

Daniel's laughter rang clearly through the connection. "You're a dirty old man, Jack."

"Mmmm, bet you love that," Jack grinned.

A deep, contented sigh flowed into Jack's ear, making him shiver and his body throb with pleasant tension. 'Guess that answered my question with a resounding *yes*' he thought to himself.

Wanna come over for lunch tomorrow?" Daniel asked sweetly.

"Not for breakfast?" Jack asked teasingly.

"We're on leave, Jack," Daniel grumbled. "You may want to get up before the break of dawn, but I'm sleeping in... and don't you *dare* come wake me up."

"Or you'll what?" Jack laughed.

"Just imagine what I *won't* do *with* you," Daniel whispered huskily, sending shivers up and down Jack's spine, causing the small hairs in the back of his neck to stand on end.

"Lunch," Jack hurriedly agreed.

"Good man," Daniel grinned, yawning into the receiver. "I've always known you're not as dumb as you let others think."

"Strategic advantage," Jack answered, yawning himself. "Don't ruin it by telling anyone."

"Your secret's safe with me..."

"Night Daniel... see you tomorrow." Jack nuzzled into his pillow. Tonight had definitely been a good night...

"Night, Jack..."

Jack smiled as he heard Daniel's breathing deepen. He should hang up... in a moment or two... Closing his eyes he concentrated on Daniel's breathing and the lingering touch of warm lips against his own...

The End of part 1

If at first you don't succeed? (Try, try, bloody try again...)

The End