Pandora's Box

Pairing: Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson
 
Category: First Time, Romance, First Kiss, Angst, Pining, Season/Series 07
 
Rating: NC17
 
Summary: Daniel knows there's something he's forgotten, something very important

Daniel turned over in his bed for the hundredth time that night. Something was keeping him from a relaxing sleep. Whenever he *did* manage to fall asleep, he would wake a short time later, bathed in sweat.

He couldn't help wondering if this might be some of his memories that were haunting him, some of the memories he didn't technically have anymore. He rolled over again to look at the bedside clock. 2AM...

Closing his eyes for a moment, Daniel took a deep breath. Maybe he could blame it on his new home? Nah, he knew partly why he had trouble sleeping. Ever since Osiris had searched his mind for information on the Ancients, he'd been a mess. At least he'd been capable of hiding it from his friends. On the surface he was still Dr. Daniel Jackson, PhD. Beneath it... well, as long as he could work he could keep his mind from wandering, but at night...

It was as if some part of his memories were trying to tell him something. Nothing that had to do with Sarah -- even though he was glad that they had rescued her, had saved her from Osiris. For once he was really glad that the Tok'ra were their allies and had been capable of helping them.

Daniel groaned and rolled out of the bed, got to his feet and went to the kitchen. He fetched a bottle of water from the fridge and leaned back against the kitchen counter. Instead of opening the bottle he held it against his left temple, closing his eyes with a sigh as the cool condensed water trickled down the side of his head. It tickled against his skin, hung for a moment from his chin before it finally let go and dropped to his naked chest, causing him to shiver.

Twisting the lid off the bottle he tilted it back and swallowed half of its contents. With a wry grin he looked around his small kitchen. Everything had a fuzzy edge to it -- Oma Desala had sent him back without any effects from the radiation poisoning, but he still had his bad eyesight and the scar from the appendix. His grin widened. Maybe Jack still wanted to see it?

Nighttime humor... Daniel shook his head. It seemed his was more twisted than most. He had toyed with the idea of telling their CO that he was... interested, but every time he had worked up the nerve to do so, he'd talked himself out of it again. It just hadn't seemed worth it -- not once his memory had given him that much back -- that he and Jack were friends.
Daniel sipped more of the water. It *was* good to be flesh and blood again, having his memories back from before the ...accident. He couldn't disagree with that, but there were things he knew he'd left unresolved before his ascension... things that by no means had become easier with his disappearance.

Yawning he threw the plastic bottle into the recycle bin and went back to bed. Curling up on the bed he once again promised himself that he'd get a larger bed. He hadn't had time to shop for anything before moving in and Sam had had an extra bed stored away and he'd gladly accepted the offer... It was a nice bed -- it was the kind he liked very much -- only problem was the length and width of it -- it was just too small for his large frame. Not that he had to worry about sharing it with others... unfortunately, but he would still like to be able to roll over without worrying about ending up on the floor.

Daniel almost managed to sleep for the length of half an hour before he woke again, his body covered in a light sheen of sweat. He sat up, abruptly. "Jack!"

For a moment all Daniel could hear was his own heartbeat. The house was as still as it had been before he had gone to bed. Why had he woken up calling for Jack? Sure, it wasn't the first time, but all the other times the dreams had been... of a different kind. Not that Daniel remembered this one, but there was a certain feel of urgency in its wake.

Before he could stop himself, Daniel was halfway out of bed again -- heading for the bathroom. He didn't even stop for a moment to wonder what the hell he was doing. There was no way he was getting any sleep tonight. At least it was Saturday tomorrow -- and they actually had the weekend off for once.

For a moment he watched his own tired image in the mirror above the sink. Maybe he should go check on Jack? Make sure that the other man was okay? See for himself that there was nothing to be worried about? Rolling his eyes and yawning again, Daniel turned on the shower and pushed his boxers down, kicking them to the side before stepping into the shower stall.

The water felt good against his heated skin as he washed the sticky sweat away and kept wondering about his dreams. Closing his eyes, Daniel frowned and tried to concentrate on the images he sensed were drifting somewhere in his mind -- like debris from his dream.

It was as if he was supposed to remember something... something that had happened while he'd been ascended... something that somehow involved Jack. For a moment he wondered if it might have been something involving Jack's time in Baal's fortress... but then again -- the urgency that was to it wasn't that of danger. It was far more like... like remembering that there was something he had promised to do, but now he couldn't remember what it was... And it felt as if it was important.

There had been nothing else in any of the reports that hinted at Daniel interacting with his friends -- well, Teal'c had mentioned that Daniel had helped him during the attack in which both he and Bra'tac had been wounded. And then there was the trouble with the Eye of Ra and the loss of Abydos... But nothing else. Unless... unless he *had* talked to Jack again... but Jack hadn't reported it?

What if he had already talked to Jack about... about 'things'? And what if Jack remembered? What if...?

Daniel groaned and leaned his head against the cool tiles, letting the water pound down over his shoulders. Either way he had to talk to Jack, had to figure out if anything had happened... and if the answer was yes, then what?

Daniel quickly finished his shower and got out, rubbing his skin briskly with the towel why running over his options. He could keep going like this... though he wasn't sure who he was trying to kid? He wasn't sleeping right at night, he was running more and more on steam and determination -- he needed to put his mind at peace -- to get past all this. Problem was to do so without damaging what he *had* -- namely Jack's friendship. Though...

They'd known each other for years, seen each other at their worst... hell, Daniel had died more than once. Surely it could stand a small inquiry or two? He was dressed and halfway out the door, car keys in one hand when doubt began creeping in through every crack.

Daniel slowly closed the door behind him and locked it. What if he damaged their friendship with this? All for some fuzzy memories he wasn't entirely sure *were* memories. If anything *had* happened while he had been ascended, then why hadn't Jack mentioned it?

Leaning back against the door, he closed his eyes for a moment. No matter what it might lead to, he had a certain responsibility to himself. He needed to get this out of his mind or he might never be able to sleep right again. As it was now he should probably have called a taxi. He felt tired, but something kept him going, like a buzz of energy right below his skin. Actually, it had started the moment he'd decided to confront Jack with his 'problem'. He felt... wired.

Taking a deep breath of the warm night air, Daniel decided that he couldn't just stand around all night and with determination he went to his car, got in and turned the key in the ignition. The car started immediately, the hum of the engine vibrating almost synchronously with whatever it was that made his skin tingle. Anticipation mixed with dread, want, need... and a little fear.

"I know Jack," he told himself in a low whisper. "I know Jack and Jack knows me..." Daniel frowned for a moment. He shouldn't be afraid of Jack, shouldn't fear the outcome. If he did this right he could figure it out without actually letting Jack know what it was about.

Daniel put the car in gear, released the handbrake, and pulled out from the parking spot. Even though he hadn't lived in this house for that long, he knew the way to Jack's place by heart. Even if he hadn't, it was as if some kind of thread was tugging at his chest, pulling him towards his destination.

"Daniel, you old fool," he scolded himself as he stopped for a red light. "All your romantic notions are a fool's errand." He pushed the speeder as the light switched back to green. The streets were almost completely empty, the darkness only broken by the streetlights and occasionally other cars.

"And now you're talking to yourself," he snorted as he took another turn to the left. "Getting old and senile? Not much of a catch even *if* Jack's interested." He pulled into the very familiar street. The few hundred yards that would take him to Jack's house seemed like miles.

Finally Daniel pulled into the driveway. The house was very dark. "What am I doing?" he asked himself for the umpteenth time since he'd left home. "Jack'll have my ass for waking him up at..." he checked his watch, "0230AM." Closing his eyes, Daniel leaned his forehead against the steering wheel. "And not in a good way," he muttered.

Daniel had no idea for how long he sat like that, but he was startled back to the present by a sharp knock against the window. Turning his head he groaned, but he nevertheless rolled the window down.

"Wanna tell me what you're doing out here?" asked Jack, leaning against the side of Daniel's car, watching him with an amused expression.

Daniel sighed as he shot the other man a hard look. Why did he have to look this good even in the middle of the night? Bed hair, greyish white... and he was wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and an old ratty t-shirt. A quick glance down revealed that Jack hadn't bothered putting anything on his feet.

"Closure," Daniel found himself answering.

Jack raised an eyebrow.

"Answers..." Daniel tried. How was he supposed to do this?

Jack yawned, rolled his eyes and rubbed the back of his neck. With a shrug he gestured towards the open front door. "I take it this is a coffee moment?"

Daniel bit his lower lip. In for a penny in for a pound? To his own surprise he nodded and got out of the car. Daniel followed the shadowed outline of his friend and the one person who might hold, if not all the answers, then at least some of them.

"Go on up to the platform," Jack said over his shoulder as he went into the kitchen. "It's too damned hot anywhere else."

"Thought you had air-conditioning?" Daniel asked as he walked through the hot living room, pausing at the french doors that lead outside into Jack's garden and the stairs that led to the platform.

"Broke down earlier tonight," Jack answered as he came to stand in the doorway to the kitchen. "That's why I'm not asleep at the moment -- too damned hot in here."

"It's Saturday tomorrow -- anyone coming to fix it?" Daniel asked, feeling it almost surreal to have this conversation with Jack at something close to 3 in the morning.

Jack shrugged. "I hope so -- or I'll be sleeping up on the platform or camping out in the garden for the rest of the weekend." He made a shooing motion. "Go on up there, Daniel, I'll be right there."

Daniel nodded, tearing his eyes from the temptation. As he slowly climbed the steps to the observation platform he wondered if he might be mentally damaged after his return to flesh and blood after all. There had been very little light inside the house, but enough to show Jack off as all lines, hard angles, enticingly covered in shadowed planes.

"You came here to learn a few things," he whispered to himself. "Not ogle your CO."

The platform was quite large and up this high there was even a small breeze, making the heat a little more bearable. Daniel noticed with a smile the sleeping bag splayed out in the wooden floor. However, the smile faltered as his imagination supplied him with suggestions for using that location... and non of them had anything to do with sleeping.

Daniel shook his head to clear it and a few minutes later, he heard Jack coming up the steps. Stepping over to the side, he tested the railing that seemed sturdy enough and leaned against it, waiting for Jack to join him.

A moment later Jack stood on the platform, a small smile on his face and his arms full of a lot more than coffee. Daniel shook his head as he took a few of the things. There was an extra blanket, a thermo he assumed held coffee, two cups and two bottles of water. Daniel put it all down on the deck.

"I won't stay here *that* long," Daniel tried to explain, wincing as he heard just how weak his voice sounded. He wanted to, but he really did need to think straight if he was to get to the bottom of it all.

Jack grinned and pushed the sleeping bag into the middle of the deck, bent to open it up before sitting on it. He patted the spot next to him, waiting for Daniel to join him.

With a deep breath, Daniel nodded and sat down, Indian style, next to his friend, wondering just how far he would get with all this. Though even if he didn't get anywhere, he could enjoy this... togetherness for a little while.

Daniel opened his mouth to begin, but Jack held up a hand, not uttering a word as he stretched to get the thermo and the cups. Daniel watched dry mouthed as the t-shirt Jack was wearing rode up and revealed a flat stomach, hardly softened by the years.

More light might have been good, but Daniel was fairly sure the dim light from the street lamps added an extra little something to the image. He quickly lowered his eyes to his own hands, folded in his lap as Jack straightened back into a sitting position, handing Daniel a cup.

Daniel waited with a certain amount of dread as Jack poured them both coffee. This was all just in-between. He'd eventually have to explain what the hell he was doing at Jack's in the middle of the night. Still, they sat in silence for a few minutes, sipping the hot coffee. It really was too warm for it, but the caffeine helped clear some of Daniel's mind.

"So..." Jack began, cocking his head to the side, expression unreadable, even to Daniel who probably knew the man better than most.

Grinning a little, Daniel nodded. "You want to know what a crazy guy like me is doing in a nice place like this at such an insane hour?" he asked.

"Actually, I'd have said something along the lines of 'what's a kid like you doing at an old guy's place like this?" Jack's voice was soft, but the mirth was fairly easily heard.

Daniel snorted. "Stop that," he said, trying hard not to smile.

"Stop what?" Jack asked innocently, pulling his own legs up so his knee bumped against Daniel's.

"You always pull the 'I'm an old man' card," Daniel accused. It felt odd, but strangely right to be sitting like this, on top of Jack's house, in the middle of the night, exchanging their normal banter. Well, what passed for normal for them anyway.

"I am," Jack argued, this time his voice dropping a little, some of the amusement leaving it.

Daniel turned his head to look at him and he felt a pang of *something* as he met the dark eyes. Even though there was little light, he knew exactly what shade of brown they were.

"Thinking about retiring... again?" Daniel asked. 'Thinking about leaving me behind?' he almost added. 'Like I left you?'

"Yeah, figured I'd try to set a record that wouldn't be so easily broken." Jack's voice was low but there was more than simple amusement in it. "That and ...other things that have been on my mind."

"Oh... Jack O'Neill contemplating... scary concept," Daniel grinned, feeling a little more at ease. How odd that with everyone else he felt more at ease talking seriously, but with Jack the banter did what nothing else could.

"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up," Jack said with a wry smile. "Seriously, Daniel... it's partly because of you."

Daniel found himself holding his breath for a moment, before slowly letting it out. Jack hadn't meant it *that* way.

"How many times have we lost you over the years?" Jack's question was a whisper and the mirth had fully left his voice.

"Wondering about second and third chances?" asked Daniel, telling his heart to slow down. "Not willing to risk your life anymore?"

"Not willing to risk that of... others anymore," Jack admitted as he took another sip of his coffee.

"We never leave anyone behind," Daniel said, his own voice barely audible. That was the crucial point, wasn't it?

Jack sighed deeply and Daniel looked up at him again. "That's just it, Daniel." Jack shook his head. "That's what we say, but every time you died we left you behind..."

"Jack..." Daniel frowned. There was something familiar about this.

"No, please listen..." Jack held up a hand, leaned towards Daniel, pinning him with an intense stare. "We go out there, almost every day and we never know if we're coming back... and the core of this is..."

"You're not talking about retirement," Daniel broke in, his eyes wide. This was like some sort of ...deja vu.

"Daniel..."

"No... listen Jack..." Daniel paused for a moment, his thoughts a jumble of odd bits and pieces. "Jack, are you sure we haven't had this discussion before?"

Jack's hand landed on his arm and the fingers were like steel bands, digging into his flesh. "Daniel, all I'm saying here is, that I can't keep leading the team, bringing you guys into all sorts of..."

Daniel shook his head. "No, wait a minute, Jack. That's not how it goes."

"This is *my* talk, Daniel, I damned well know how this goes," Jack said, acid sneaking into his voice and the fingers tightening impossibly harder around Daniel's arm.

Daniel winced, but he held Jack's eyes. "You think... Damn it, Jack..." Daniel bit his lower lip. There was something 'off' about this conversation. It was familiar but somehow... wrong?

Putting down his cup, Daniel placed his hand loosely on top of Jack's, feeling the bones and sinews tighten under his touch. The bits and pieces were falling into place in his mind, but it was as if any jarring would shake them loose again, like he needed some kind of glue to put them together to make sure he could look at them without losing them.

In other words, he needed a moment to think.

"Just be quiet for a moment, Jack. And listen..." Daniel took a deep breath -- somewhere beyond the observation deck, the nocturnal sounds... For a moment it felt as if his puzzle disappeared, then re-appeared, almost put together, but definitely sturdy enough for him to see. The sounds of the night only helped him to see the flashes in his mind. Those were memories from... from when he'd been ascended.

It was a little like what he'd experienced when he'd remembered about the Jaffa slave camp, though this...

"Daniel?" Jack's voice was still low, but there was no malice, annoyance in it anymore. On the contrary, the man sounded worried and curious.

"Just a moment, Jack." Daniel squeezed the hand under his, but didn't let go of it.

They *had* had this conversation before, with a little difference...

"Jack, last time we had this conversation you talked about other things than fear of losing soldiers and friends... you talked about how you felt..." Daniel trailed off as he watched fear and dread cross Jack's face, then for a moment a flash of surprise and disbelief chased across the expressive features.

"No..." Jack shook his head, the shook his hand, dislodging it from Daniel's arm and pulling it out from under Daniel's hand.

"Jack...?" Daniel bit his lower lip.

"It never happened... It was all..." Jack trailed off, then pulled back, got to his feet and went to stand at the railing, looking into the night, his back to Daniel.

Daniel forced himself to stay where he was. Jack wasn't the only one seemingly confused. Daniel kept seeing fleeting images of mountains, water, grass, forests... and Jack. A scruffy looking Jack, hollow eyes and stubbled cheek.

"You were just a figment of my imagination," Jack said, his voice but a whisper in the warm night air. "I was under the influence... it was before I realized what those plants did to us..." There was another moment of silence. "You're supposed to let me go without any questions..."

"Like you let go without anything but 'I admire you'?" asked Daniel, closing his eyes and leaning back on his hands. This night wasn't just surreal, it was quickly moving into Twilight Zone material. There was a slight change in the air next to him as Jack sat down on the blanket again.

"It wasn't my right to ask you to stay."

"You could have said something other than the bit about admiring me," Daniel shot in.

"But I do... admire you," Jack shot back.

"Why didn't you tell me that you'd spoken to me on other occasions than the ones mentioned in your reports?" Daniel wondered why he always had to get into such strange situations.

"I thought... when I was marooned on that moon..." Jack's voice trailed off.

"We had the same talk back then," Daniel put in. He still kept his eyes closed, trying to coax his memories out, but it was still nothing but hints and tidbits.

"Yeah... but when I got back, I figured it'd been a hallucination... from the plants that I'd eaten." Jack moved a little, the sound of the sleeping bag rustling under them.

"Even if it had been a ...hallucination," Daniel began, then paused. This wasn't as easy as he'd hoped for. He had to both deal with Jack's denial and his own confusing memories.

"You remember it?" Jack's voice held both hope and something that Daniel thought might be fear.

"I... remember bits and pieces." Daniel tilted his head back with a sigh.

"Oh..." Jack's voice was straight and almost emotionless.

"And I get the feeling your choice of words were different back then," Daniel finally continued.

"I had a long time there to think things through... even with the short period I ate that damned plant and walked around thinking everything was out to get me." Jack laughed a little. "I guess I had an epiphany and then... then you showed up."

Daniel finally opened his eyes again, turning his head a little to look at Jack's shadowy figure. "And what conclusion was that?" Daniel wasn't sure if he'd remember enough to know if Jack's answer was a lie or not, but...

"That I didn't like living without you."

Of all the things... Daniel hadn't expected this. "So you regretted my ascension?"

"I regretted ever leading the team to Kelowna, I regretted leaving you with Quinn... alone..." Jack swallowed hard. "I regretted letting you go without knowing what to say to you."

Daniel closed his eyes again, feeling his face heat a little. The words rang true, they rang with an odd familiarity. "I... I don't remember what you said to me... on that moon."

"I didn't say a whole lot..." Jack admitted. "Not in the beginning."

"For how long... how often...?" Daniel wasn't sure how to ask. He'd come over tonight because he wanted answers, and now he was getting too many, too many answers that raised new questions... Some that he was sure Jack would never answer. Some he wasn't sure he wanted the answer to. He opened his eyes and turned his attention to Jack. Maybe this was how Pandora had felt?

Jack came back and lay down on the deck, putting his hands behind his head, staring unseeingly into the night sky. "You were there... I think... more than three or four times... Sometimes it was only for short periods... an hour or so, other times... Other times you stayed with me for days..."

Daniel followed suit and stretched out on the deck. The sky was a velvet cloak with sequins -- an apt image... though even that illusion was broken because *they* knew what was out there...

"You... you tried to make me understand about the plants... and in the end it worked..." Jack's voice was low, but very clear.

"Jack?"

"Mmmm?"

"Tell me what we talked about..." Daniel needed to get to the core of it, needed to understand what had been so familiar about it all.

"I... I can't Daniel, not if you don't remember on your own."

Daniel groaned. "Damn it, Jack. Just tell me why you could tell me back then and not now?"

"I figured since you weren't real there would never be any..." Jack's voice trailed off.

"There could be no repercussions of any kind," Daniel finished for him.

"Tell me why you came here tonight," Jack asked.

Daniel was quiet for a moment, watching Orion in the sky. The hunter... the symbol that had opened the 'Gate for him... That had kept him in Jack's world. He paid it a silent 'thank you'.

"I keep having dreams that are probably debris... leftover images from my time as ascended." Daniel closed his eyes again. "I keep having dreams about you."

Daniel felt how Jack shifted next to him. "Dreams?"

"About a place of tranquility about something we've talked about, something... important." Daniel opened his eyes and turned his head. Jack was laying on his side, head propped up on one hand, looking down at Daniel with a strange expression.

Daniel rolled to his side and mirrored Jack's position. It also brought him almost chest to chest with the other man.

"How did you feel when you left me behind on Nem's planet?" Daniel suddenly asked. An idea was forming in his mind, but he wasn't yet sure exactly what it was.

Jack snorted, a small smile gracing his thin lips. "I bashed in a window... on the General's car." A quiet chuckled escaped Jack. "Amazing that he took it so well."

"And when you had to leave me on Klorel's ship?" Daniel hoped the darkness hid his blush. It was amazing how well his body remembered his welcome back. He just wished Jack hadn't hugged him in the 'Gateroom of all places... It had taken some time before he could walk the halls without hearing this and that comment... mostly accompanied by either a snigger or a leer... or both.

"The trip back to the Mountain..." Jack's mouth thinned even more for a moment. "I kept my head high, for the sake of the team, but inside..." The brown eyes closed. "Inside I felt torn to pieces."

"You would think I'd gotten used to it by the time you really *did* die and ascend, huh?"

Daniel winced as he saw the lines of pain at the corners of Jack's eyes. They used to be laugh lines... not pain and loss... Without thinking about it, he reached out and rested his hand against the side of Jack's head, his thumb caressing Jack's temple.

Jack's raw intake of breath was almost enough for him to let go. He never did, because Jack's hand came up to keep Daniel's in place.

"Jack... you normally never want to talk about things... feelings..." Daniel wanted to give the other man a way out... give himself a way out. It was painful to listen to Jack voicing all the things that Daniel had suspected deep down.

"I've already been through this, Daniel..." Jack opened his eyes and a small, but sincere smile finally lifted the corners of his mouth. "You've already dragged every damned admission out of me."

"Too bad I don't remember," whispered Daniel. He wished he could remember what Jack had told him... it was important.

"Maybe it's better this way..." Jack's laughter was a welcome sound. "I didn't exactly do this gracefully the first time around."

"Oh?" Daniel watched as his own thumb decided that stroking the side of Jack's face wasn't the worst thing to do. Besides, Jack didn't seem to mind.

"Yeah, I yelled at you... a lot."

"Same old same old?" Daniel found himself smiling at his friend. As surreal this was, he liked it... He really did.

"Yeah, me yelling at you, kicking up dirt, laying down a smokescreen of BS that was award-winning material." Jack sighed deeply, but the smile stayed in place.

"Why didn't you say something to me... after I got back?" Daniel wet his lips and watched with interest as Jack mirrored the movement.

"It didn't seem right... you didn't remember *anything* and the last thing you needed was some strange tale from some strange old man." Jack shrugged as much as his position allowed it.

"I guess you're right... anyone I didn't know, coming up to me, claiming to be... what?" Daniel shot Jack a worried look. Up until now neither of them had actually said the exact words.

Jack grinned. "It was bad enough that I wanted to hug you... there on Vis Urban... but..." he trailed off, something else marring the soft brown eyes.

"I'd probably have decked you," Daniel snorted. He'd been so confused... all these people in uniforms, with weapons, calling him by a name he didn't recognize, bringing him to other people who claimed to know him...

"Oh yeah... I'd have been on my ass faster than you could've said 'Apophis wears a pink tu-tu,'" Jack laughed. "And when Oma put you back together she sure did a good job..." Jack's hand left its place on top of Daniel's, to trail down Daniel's neck, over his collarbone.

Daniel shivered. His thin t-shirt was no shield against the feel of the hand caressing him. So much was still unsaid... Daniel had come looking for answers... maybe what he would eventually find could turn out to be *the* answer.

"Is this how it will be?" Daniel found himself asking. "You leaving because you can't handle seeing me die again?"

Jack's breath hitched and the hand resting against Daniel's chest faltered for a moment. "It's fool's talk, Daniel... because as much as I can't handle leading you into possible death and destruction, I can't sit back and let you go alone..."

"You need to be there to watch my six?" Daniel asked.

"That's a loaded question, Dr. Jackson." Jack's eyes seemed to regain a little of their sparkle.

"Is it, now?" Daniel raised an eyebrow. He shouldn't be lying here, in the middle of the night, on Jack's roof, having a loaded conversation with the man. Not when one considered Jack's career, the environment they both worked in...

Something must have shown on his face, because Jack brought his hand up again, cupping Daniel's face. "You're thinking too hard," he said.

"I take it you've gone through all the reasons why this won't work, right?" Daniel swallowed hard, but he needed to hear the answer. He couldn't allow a man like Jack to push away the life and career that was the blood in his veins, the air in his lungs. How had it come this far?

"Oh, I went over them all, from top to bottom, left to right and back again," Jack admitted with a snort. "You see, I could do that, you made me admit a lot of things on that moon...." Jack paused for a few heartbeats. "Hell, I figured you were just part of my subconscious mind, not like I really had to hide anything from you..."

"I... I was there, Jack... I remember bits and pieces, but... I don't remember what we talked about, just... flash-like images." Daniel felt his heart drop to his feet.

"I thought Oma had taken all your memories from that time..." Jack muttered.

"I think she did, but... it's like a residue of what happened. I need little triggers to get me to remember... and even then it's vague, like a dream," Daniel sighed. He should get up; break their physical contact before either of them did something stupid.

Daniel was so deep in thought he never did manage to react before Jack's fingers tightened around his head and gently coaxed him forward. Warm dry lips covered his and Daniel felt dizzy. It wasn't an openmouthed kiss just... Did this fall into the 'stupid' category? Daniel couldn't get his mind to function on a level where he could make that out.

"I've missed you," Jack whispered against his lips. "I missed you when you ascended, hated myself for all the things I did to you before you died, all the things we said, the things we didn't..." Jack's voice trailed off.

Daniel managed to open eyes he hadn't even been aware of closing. He found Jack's face less than a breath away, soft, warm eyes full of wonder.

"I wanted to do that... but you weren't 'there'..." Jack's voice broke for a moment and Daniel wasn't sure what to say. What *could* he say when his best friend had just kissed him?

"For how long?" Daniel asked, his heart beating a mile a minute.

"I don't know," Jack admitted a little sheepishly. "I think I've maybe wanted to for a very, very long time..."

"But...?" It was there, Daniel could almost *hear* it. This was beginning to look like some damned crossover between Twilight Zone and a Harlequin moment.

"It took me so damned long to admit it... to have my epiphany..." Jack halted for a moment, then continued with renewed energy. "On that damned moon, you *made* me admit to it, you *made* me open the door I'd been ignoring for what has probably been years."

"So you're saying that it's my own fault?" Daniel asked with a grin. It was strange to hear these things from Jack, but...

"Oh yeah, Daniel, you brought this upon yourself." Jack's laughter rose a little, and for the first time in a very *long* time, Daniel recognized the joy in it. Not that Jack never laughed, but it had been missing something, something vital for so long.

"And because you thought you'd dreamed me up, you figured you couldn't tell me a second time?" Daniel shook his head.

"Come on, Daniel, would you have believed me?" Jack laughed again, the softest whisper of breath caressed Daniel's face. "Hey, Danny. I've got the hots for you, what'cha say we go explore some possibilities... in bed?" Jack laughed again. "Yeah, right, I could've seen that go down well... *not*."

Daniel blinked, his mouth opening and closing but no words were forthcoming. Had Jack just said? Sure it had all been leading towards that, but...

Jack licked his lips and this time, as his mouth fit over Daniel's, it sent sparks of energy through Daniel's body. He kept telling himself to push Jack back for a moment, to get some air, to get some time to *think*, but his own body seemed to be completely detached from his mind. Daniel's fingers slid through Jack's hair, firmly holding Jack's head in place.

Not that Jack was going anywhere. He seemed rather busy. Without a second thought, Daniel ended up being the one to take them further, tentatively slipping his tongue inside Jack's mouth. A moan almost made him pull back, but it seemed that Jack had other ideas, holding his head in place, teasingly brushing his tongue against Daniel, coaxing it back where it had been a moment before.

This time Daniel knew he was the one moaning. Hey, wasn't his fault, it was Jack's. Having his tongue sucked on was a lot more of a turn on than Daniel had ever thought or experienced. Maybe it was the perfect fit of their mouths? Maybe the perfect fit of their bodies as they both moved at the same time, wriggling to get as close as they could... even closer if it had been physically possible?

Maybe it was...

Maybe...

...

"I... please... don't leave me again..."

Daniel wasn't sure if what he was hearing was his own harsh breath or if it was Jack's. But the words... the words weren't his but they were a perfect echo of how he felt... a perfect mirror.

"Jack..."

"No!" Jack's hand was resting on Daniel's arm, and the fingers suddenly tightened enough to hurt. "No..., just say it." There was little distance between them and Daniel breathed in the sweet smell of desperation.

"Say it..."

The colors of Jack's eyes were non-existent... the dark shadows created nothing but dark and light in there, black and white.

"There are so many things we have to take into consideration," Daniel tried to say, tried to swallow around the lump in his throat.

"Say it..."

It was as if they were frozen in time. Maybe it was only a few seconds... maybe it was minutes, hours ...lifetimes.

"Please..."

"...yes."

Time moved again and Daniel felt the slide of their bodies, the shift as strong, wiry arms wound around him and he was pulled against flexing muscles, flat planes but most importantly, human warmth.

This time the kiss wasn't driven by fear or despair, but by something else... something deeper. The last coherent thought running through Daniel's mind was that it felt like hunger... the kind that couldn't ever be sated, though like a damned man he would be doomed to try for the rest of his life -- a true Sisyphean, task, but to Daniel a perfect blessing.

Jack's hands seemed to be everywhere, touching with a reverence that seemed almost painful. Then it was as if the moment broke and floodgates opened. Daniel rolled onto his back, bringing Jack with him. He pulled at Jack's shirt, slipping his hand up under the thin garment, feeling the burn as he touched skin, his nerves tingling with indescribable energy.

Shirts were removed and tossed aside, Daniel's pants were pushed down along with his underwear and Daniel suspected that Jack's boxers had taken a dive over the railing of the observation deck. Not that it mattered, because he was realizing that what he'd come for and what he'd found weren't quite as different as he'd thought at first.

Suddenly the weight of Jack's body was lifted from him. Daniel looked up as Jack straddled his hips and he couldn't quite stop himself from bucking up, his erection sliding against Jack's ass.

Daniel sighed and slipped his hands up, resting them against Jack's chest. He heard as much as felt the rumbled laughter that shook Jack's body.

"You want to?" Jack rolled his hips suggestively, his body a looming shadow above Daniel.

Feeling the blush heat up his body and face, Daniel found himself nodding.

"Ever done this before?" Jack's voice was low, but calm.

Daniel nodded again. He didn't quite trust his voice.

Jack leaned back a little, the pressure almost driving Daniel out of his mind. "Good, then at least one of us knows what he's doing."

Daniel's eyes widened. "You're taking this remarkably easy for a first time," he managed to get out, wondering why his voice sounded so raw and needy.

It should be beyond surreal to lie there, on his back, on the observation deck of Jack's house -- spread-eagled with Jack looming above him. Both of them as naked as the day they were born. But it wasn't... it was right.

"I've had a long time to think this through," Jack admitted. "I even allowed myself to wonder after we got you back... I figured it would be safe because it would never happen."

"And now?" Daniel levered himself up on his elbows, watching Jack with all his attention.

"Now the thought of you making love to me is all I want," Jack ground out before he leaned forward to kiss Daniel again, his mouth warm and friendly.

Daniel was pushed down flat on his back and for a while he was lost in the overwhelming feeling of the warm body above him, the slick tongue in his mouth, the frantic beating of his heart, his mind and body telling him that for the first time in years, he was 'home'.

"Jack," he ground out when Jack finally let go to let the both of them catch their breaths. "You said make mphfff..." The rest drowned in another kiss.

"I said," Jack rumbled as they parted again. "That I wanted you to make love to me... I'm too old to just pitch for the other team for the sake of a one night stand..."

Daniel nodded, speechless for God only knew what time this night.

Jack held out his arms and even in the dim light, Daniel could see the wide grin on his face. "So how do you want me?"

Daniel tilted back his head and finally laughed out loud.

"What?!" Jack sounded both surprised and perhaps a little hurt.

Daniel looked at him again, feeling something swell and break inside of him. He smiled softly at Jack who sighed and shook his head, before gently removing Daniel's glasses and setting them as far aside as possible.

Giving into temptation, Daniel leaned a little to the side and reached out to run two fingers along Jack's exposed flank. He smiled as he felt the shiver running through Jack and a second later he was pinned to the ground and Jack was trying to remove his tonsils. Daniel had the wild thought of actually telling him that those had been removed a long time ago... but Jack seemed to be enjoying himself so...

Daniel groaned. Okay, he was enjoying it too. Very much, even. Jack's grip lessened a little, but the kissing didn't let up and Daniel hummed happily as he managed to slip his hands around Jack's hips and dig his fingers into the muscles of Jack's ass. The result was an impossible deepening of the kiss and Daniel began wondering if he'd need oxygen at some point.

Fortunately it seemed that Jack needed to catch his bearings a moment later and let up on the lip-lock. Daniel closed his eyes and fought to get enough oxygen to his brain to actually function on some level. Not that it needed to at the moment, because Daniel was kind of busy getting to know Jack's ass.

"You never did say how you wanted me," Jack panted, his face no more than an inch from Daniel's, dark eyes glittering and warm breath washing over Daniel's mouth.

"De-depends on how far you want to go," Daniel forced out. As much as he wanted the whole deal, he was unsure that Jack knew what that would hold in store for him.

"All of it," Jack enthused.

"Jack..." Daniel began, trying to come up with *why* slowing down would be a good idea. With little success.

"No, I mean it, Daniel... please?" the last word was accompanied with Jack bending his head to nibble at Daniel's lower lip.

He couldn't just throw caution to the wind and from one moment to the next have sex with this man... It would be irresponsible. And Jack had already admitted to never having done any of this before. Sure, Daniel wanted it and preferably sooner than later, but what if... What if Jack didn't like it? What if it wasn't pleasurable for Jack and he...

"Daniel, stop over-thinking it," Jack mumbled against Daniel's mouth. "I'm *sure* about this."

Daniel felt his reserve cave. "But what if you don't like it?" he blurted out.

"Don't worry, Daniel." Jack nibbled at Daniel's lips again. "It's you and I *really* don't want anyone else." And Jack's voice was the last straw. He sounded sure and at ease and at that moment Daniel didn't doubt that the other man wanted what he *said* he wanted.

How could Daniel deny him that? How could he deny them both this?

Daniel ran his hands down over Jack's sides, reveling in the feel of warm skin under his fingers. "We haven't got anything to use for lube, unless you go find something in the house."

"It'd take too long," Jack muttered against the skin of Daniel's neck, sending shivers up and down Daniel's spine.

"Jack, without..." Daniel began, switching into lecture mode. He had to get all this right... if he scared off Jack the first time there might not *be* a next time.

"Come *on*," Jack muttered. "I'm sure guys had sex before the invention of Astroglide."

Daniel couldn't help the little laugh that escaped him. "And how would you know about lube?" he asked. At least their conversation was surreal enough to slow them down a little. The flare of need seemed to be a low burn now and Daniel wasn't too worried about going off before time.

"I read up on it to figure out what the heck I was actually getting myself into," Jack answered with a grin. The smug SOB *knew* he'd won. Not that Daniel could blame him. He just had to make it good enough to give Jack the need to come back for more... again, and again and...

Jack's mouth closed over his again and Daniel felt as if quite a few of his brain cells melted. Damn, but the man could kiss... and kiss... and kiss...

"That genius brain of yours come up with a substitute?" Jack asked as he pulled back a little, then to only dip down again, licking at Daniel's neck.

Daniel groaned and held on for dear life. He tried to remember if there was anything that might... Wait... "I... I think I've got it, Jack..." Daniel's eyes rolled shut as Jack licked just below his ear.

"Good," Jack growled into his ear.

Daniel took a deep breath, trying to steady himself.

"So... how do you want me?" Jack asked with a grin.

Daniel found himself answering it with a wide one of his own. "Mmmm, on you back," he said quietly.

Jack's eyebrows came up, but he did as he was asked, rolling off Daniel. Daniel lay still for a moment, catching his breath. They really were doing this. With a happy little sigh, he rolled over to his side and put his hand on Jack's chest.

Brown eyes twinkled up at him. "Any requirements?" Jack asked.

Daniel found himself laughing again. What was this all about? He and Jack had basically only fooled around so far and yet he'd laughed more tonight, felt more alive, than he could remember having felt for ages... especially since he'd descended.

Looking down over Jack's body, he marveled again at how perfect this was. The moonlight played across the flat planes and hard muscles and Daniel's smile widened as his eyes swept down over Jack's erection. Impressive and exactly what they needed.

"I'll start off easy," Daniel promised, ruining it with an impish grin. This was going to be good. Really, it was the perfect solution. And it would relax Jack, hopefully more than enough.

"Need me to do anything?" Jack asked, watching Daniel with an obviously fake mask of laziness.

"Just lie back and enjoy," Daniel replied before he leaned over, planting a small kiss on Jack's collarbone. He felt as much as heard the sigh as Jack's body relaxed.

Daniel hadn't ever thought he'd be allowed this much, so it wasn't without trepidation that he started to explore Jack's chest. The warm skin almost burned against his lips as he worked his way down over Jack's chest, detouring to the side to flicker the tip of his tongue against a nipple. With a small smile Daniel gave the other side the same treatment, licking and sucking at the small nub.

Jack's body went tense, though this time it was entirely different. This time there was a thrum of expectation and Daniel sighed contentedly before he bit lightly into the skin of Jack's abdomen. A shiver ran though the prone body and Daniel's smile widened.

Daniel took his time, getting acquainted with Jack's body. The salty taste of sweat on skin, the musky smell as he nuzzled against Jack's crotch, feeling the heat from Jack's erection against his cheek.

Jack's hands wandered over whatever they could reach and Daniel wriggled a little as fingers slid over his flank, hitting a particular ticklish spot.

"Daniel?" Jack's voice was shaking and Daniel realized that Jack might be closer than he'd thought.

"Shush." Daniel turned and pushed up on his knees until he was hovering over Jack's cock. He swept down licked along the length. Jack's hand, now resting on his arm, tightened almost painfully.

"Do that again," Jack panted, "and I won't be able to hold back."

"That's the idea," chuckled Daniel as he leaned down again, this time taking half of Jack's cock into his mouth. It wasn't the most pleasant taste, but not the worst either. Daniel smiled around his mouthful as he realized he'd kind of forgotten how bitter it could taste. Still, it was worth feeling Jack's body still for a split second and to feel Jack's hand slide from his arm to grip the sleeping bag underneath them.

And the noises... Daniel closed his eyes and tried to get himself under control again. The combination of taste and sound almost set him off prematurely. 'Can't have that,' he thought to himself.

Warm, hard and so damned alive. It was the only way Daniel could describe it... well, if he *had* to, because he could just as easily settle for feeling and enjoying it. Like Jack... who was... mewling? Ah, best type of encouragement, really.

Daniel made a humming noise as he almost wrapped his tongue around Jack's cock and sucked hard. With a grin he planted both his hands hard on Jack's hips to keep him from bucking up.

"Daniel... I... I'm..." Jack panted and looking out of the corner of his eye, Daniel was pretty sure that Jack was going cross-eyed. Daniel pulled back a little, and he almost choked when warm, bitter fluid filled his mouth. 'Don't swallow, don't swallow,' he chanted to himself.

He almost lost it when he let the softening cock slip from his lips and looked up at Jack, who was watching him with a mixture of awe and confusion. Daniel motioned for him to roll over, but it didn't seem that Jack got the idea. Daniel rolled his eyes and pulled at Jack's hips until the man finally did as Daniel wanted him to.

Jack still seemed to wonder where they might be going, because he kept squirming to look over his shoulder. His eyes widened impossibly when Daniel opened his mouth enough to let half of his mouthful drip into the palm of his hand.

Daniel raised an eyebrow but still he pushed Jack's thighs apart. With a grin he smeared his handful over his painful erection. Let Jack wonder -- hey, the man had told him to find a substitute and that was exactly what Daniel had done.

Leaning down, Daniel put his hands on Jack's ass, pulling the cheeks apart. He watched with fascination as the muscles loosened, then contracted as the night air hit the heated skin of Jack's opening. He couldn't quite believe it, but they really were doing this.

Daniel put his mouth against the top of the cleft and let most of what was left in his mouth dribble out and down, feeling how Jack's body was shivering and shaking.

"Daniel..."

Daniel let his hands slide caressingly up the small of Jack's back for a moment, then returned to what he was doing. He ran the tip of his index finger over the opening and felt Jack shiver again. His finger and the puckered opening were both slick with semen and Daniel slowly pushed inside.

For a moment Daniel thought that Jack's body would fight him where Jack himself had been more than willing, but for a moment the tense body stayed where it was, then Jack let out a sigh and his body went lax. Daniel smiled as he rubbed his finger back and forth a few times, feeling and hearing Jack's responses. Groans, mewls, mumbled, incoherent words that Daniel figured were encouragements filled the night air like a whisper.

Daniel spit the rest of semen out and smeared it into the opening, working in two fingers, wondering how Jack could be this relaxed with it being his first time. Then again, the blowjob had taken the edge of the tension, that was for sure.

'Oh God,' Daniel thought as his fingers scissored the opening. 'I gave Jack a blowjob and right now I have two fingers up his ass...'

"Daniel," Jack's voice was low and barely audible. "You're thinking again, aren't you?"

Daniel couldn't help but chuckle. The man knew him far too well. Well, this was it, wasn't it?

"Think your knees can take it or...?" he began asking. They had to finish this soon, or Daniel *would* be finishing on his own. His need was a throbbing beat through his body.

"Saw something on the 'net," Jack muttered. "Can we do this with me on my back?"

"I'd really rather not do that with this being *your* first time," Daniel admitted. It would be hell on *his* knees and Jack's back. "Let's do something in between, shall we?" Daniel pulled at Jack's hip, the warm body pliant under his fingers.

"Lie on your side," Daniel instructed. Damn, he should have thought about condoms as well. "Jack, we're doing this without any kind of protection, you know."

Jack turned his head, looking over his shoulder as he got comfortable on the sleeping bag. "I haven't been with anyone for a very long time -- and I've had several *thorough* physical check-ups since."

Daniel grinned down at him, as he sat down behind Jack. "Yeah, me too," he admitted. Damn, they'd prodded him and taken tests after he'd returned -- if he'd been infected by anything they'd definitely have found it.

"So... what are we waiting for?" Jack asked with a lewd grin.

Daniel shook his head in surrender. The man was going to be the death of him -- but what a way to go. Daniel lay down behind Jack and aligned their bodies perfectly, biting back a moan as his cock slid between the cheeks of Jack's ass, the slickness promising him a lot more if only he could stay in control for a little longer.

Nuzzling against the back of Jack's neck, he reached down and pushed Jack's leg up a little, until his foot was almost flat on the deck, exposing the entrance perfectly. Taking a deep breath, reveling in the smell of Jack he gripped his own cock and carefully pushed the head inside. It was tight as hell, but Jack seemed relaxed enough.

"Daniel," Jack panted.

"Te-tell me if I hurt you, okay?" Daniel ground out, counting to ten in several different languages, just to keep from bursting right there and then.

"'s good," came the mumbled answer, mixed with more moans and groans. "More."

"Take it easy," Daniel whispered, planting a soft kiss on Jack's shoulder before he gripped Jack's hip and pushed in a little more. Almost in, he thought, then closed his eyes and gave one last push.

"Oh God," Jack moaned, leaning back against Daniel, who dug his fingers into Jack's hip, wondering if maybe he was leaving bruises.

"Move, Daniel, *please*," Jack growled.

Daniel wasn't sure he could ever describe the feeling as he slid out of Jack's body only to push back in. It was amazing, like his body was light, like he was flying, ethereal... Maybe this was how it had been being ascended? No, this had to be better, this was *Jack*.

"I... I can't believe it," whispered Jack, slipping a hand back to grasp at Daniel's hip.

"Wha'?" Daniel managed to ground out. He wouldn't be able to hold back much longer.

"I'm getting hard again," laughed Jack, breathless.

Daniel buried his face in Jack's shoulder and groaned. Still, he grinned as he slipped his hand from Jack's hip to his cock to find that Jack was right. Not bad for an old man, that was for sure.

"Oh..." Jack sounded like he was light years away as Daniel set a faster pace, working Jack's cock while he pushed inside him. Now if he could angle it just right...

"Fuck!" The exclamation came a split second after Daniel pushed in extra hard and he couldn't help laughing.

"What the hell?" Jack's voice sounded like he was about to break.

"Happy button," Daniel ground out, panting as he felt his control slip. Well, Jack seemed to have liked it, so he kept doing the same angle while he finally let go of his own restraints, pushing Jack over the edge a moment before he felt himself following.

Daniel came to, happily nuzzling the back of Jack's neck. They were still joined, but as Daniel moved a little, he slipped from the warm heat of Jack's body.

Jack groaned, sounding disappointed with the loss. Daniel could understand him -- he pretty much felt the same way.

"Can we do that again?" Jack asked, more than a little breathless.

Daniel didn't even try to fight the grin that spread on his face. "I think we both need a little time to recover."

Jack twisted around and strong arms drew Daniel into a warm embrace. "Well, of course." There was a moment of silence while both men seemed to digest what they'd just done.

"Daniel?"

"Yeah?" Daniel sleepily lifted his head to look into Jack's smiling, brown eyes.

"Us both being guys, is it okay if we just fall asleep?"

Daniel choked back a laugh. "Yeah, let's get some sleep." Since they had tomorrow off, he was sure they'd need the rest. Especially since Jack seemed to have enjoyed his first time. Enough to request more, even.

With a smile, Daniel reached blindly behind himself until his fingers hit something soft. Pulling it in, he realized those were his boxers. Oh well. He wiped both himself and Jack off a little -- no need to get stuck together like glue.

Jack grinned and snagged the boxers and a moment later they followed the same path that Jack's had taken earlier. Up and over the railing.

Daniel felt ten feet tall and all right with the world as Jack twisted around and pulled the extra blanket over to cover them. Oh yeah, all was right with the world, as Jack drew him into another warm embrace and as if in cue, they both yawned.

The last thing Daniel heard before he drifted off was their joined laughter mixing with the sounds of the oncoming morning.

The End