The Eclipsed Series

Part One

Standing in the Shadows



Many thanks to Princessofg for her invaluable help in beta reading this story.

Now

Next time around, I'm going to fall in love with a man who isn't in danger five days out of seven, even when he's flying a desk, who isn't forbidden, under pain of many unpleasant penalties, to fuck me into incoherent, breathless bliss, and, top of the list, isn't so many fucking light years away that even thinking about him has a seven year time lag.

I'm stuck on Dakara without Jack.

That's a really bad punch line to a really bad joke.

I'm not laughing.

Next time.


*****


Then


For a man I had to call 'sir', scattering it with a lavish hand through every conversation we had in public, until it was like a comma, a breath taken, a space filled, he was astonishingly relaxed about protocol when we were naked.

I still called him 'sir' a lot, though. Force of habit; got me off... And, like the push along toy dog I once had, fur rubbed off in a dozen places by my loving hands, the dog an uncle, guffawing into his beer, had named 'Killer', calling Jack, 'sir' when I knew how his skin tasted gave the word a whole new resonance.

Only with him, of course. I could snap out brisk, efficient 'sirs' from dewy dawn to dusky night to the people I worked under at the Pentagon and never notice that I was doing it.

But let me pick up the phone and hear Jack's drawled, "Major Davis?" in my ear and my dick would be saluting as I murmured, "Yes, sir?" back at him, fighting to keep every single emotion in check.

Not easy.

Luckily, I'd had practice.

And a sibilant 'sir' hissed softly against any one of a dozen places on Jack O'Neill's body would always get me a shudder and a breathless chuckle.

It had been weeks since I'd seen him. Three, and a handful of days, to be precise. That wasn't that long for us, not really. Once, it was four months, and my right wrist had ached.

Precise.

I was always that. Facts and figures, projections and statistics, tripping off my tongue.

Rather have Jack's come slicking it, dripping off it, splashing wet and heavy onto his belly or throat, just for the pleasure of watching his dark eyes narrow, his lips tighten in pretended annoyance. And I might get his hand in my hair, forcing me down to lap it up, lick him clean, or I might kneel back and see his fingers slide through the mess, contemplative and serene smile on his face as he proved once again that it was impossible to gross him out.

I really shouldn't have been thinking about him at work. Now I wanted him, and the chances of having him weren't good. So I tried not to think about him.

Tried hard.

I'm good at that, too.

It might have worked if my desk hadn't had an in tray and an out tray, both holding a discreet, well-managed heap of files with his name on every other fucking page.

He was part of my work, after all, and I reached for another file, praying that this one wouldn't have the torment of a black ink squiggle that was his signature, because right then, dick heavy and full, that would have meant that I'd be trapped behind this desk until my erection subsided, and I'd got a meeting in fifteen minutes on the other side of the building.

It had a memo inside it, brief and pointed, and I found out that he'd been hurt, that SG-1 was recuperating, that for a week they'd be stood down.

I gripped the stiff card of the folder tight enough to crease it and I let out a shaky breath, released it, and set the report down carefully in front of me.

Injured. Not dead. Hurt. Not dead. Alive. Not dead.

I read the report three times and my eyes were blurring as I persistently, stubbornly skipped over the part where his injuries got centre stage, and then I closed it.

I wanted to fucking kill him.

And fuck him.

The two impulses went together too often for me to consider them incongruous.

*****


Way Back When


I'd been at the SGC for two days of a five-day stint stretching over a weekend; paperwork, pen pushing, nothing at all exciting, although I hoped to parlay my notes into an increase in their budget. Not quite my department, but when it came to the SGC I was prepared to fight on the beaches if needed. SG-1 had been on a mission and had come back tired and dusty but all in one piece. There was a certain relaxation in the control room as they stepped through the 'gate, whole and, as far as I could see, not pursued by bears.

Hammond smiled to himself, giving a short, decisive nod of his head, and turned to go down and greet them. As an afterthought he asked if I'd like to sit in on the debriefing and so, an hour later, I took my place at the long table and listened to the four of them recount a tale that would end up on my desk in due course, squeezed dry of juice like Doctor Jackson's rapid blinking as he complained in a low, intense voice about the inhumanity Colonel O'Neill had displayed in dragging him away from a fresco.

O'Neill's reports fascinated me even then and seeing their genesis in his drawled, informal words added another layer to that fascination. He was respectful, always, but clearly on good enough terms with Hammond to get away with the odd humorous comment. Major Carter was far more by the book in what she said and how she said it but it was easy to see that all of them were just that little bit indulged. They'd earned that, I supposed.

I found myself wondering how that indulgence translated to their off-duty lives at about the same moment as Colonel O'Neill's hands twirled a pen in a slow roll, fumbled the final twist, and sent it catapulting across the table at me. I caught it without thinking, the slim column of metal warm from his grip, and got a rueful, weary grin.

"Sorry."

"Quite all right, sir."

I held it out, he took it from me, Teal'c spoke the four words that were his sole contribution to the debriefing, and it ended.

Hammond stood, gathering up a sheaf of papers, and said, "Dismissed. Enjoy your weekend, people. Your next mission is scheduled for 0900 on Monday."

"Weekend?" O'Neill asked, rising to his feet a fraction of a second behind Hammond, beating Carter and myself by a head. "Daniel, care to translate?"

Hammond smiled. "I can't promise anything, Colonel, but I'll do my best to let you all have some downtime. You deserve it."

He wasn't wrong there. They'd been sent through the 'gate, slammed across the universe, over and over the last month, called from their homes -- or in Teal'c's case that dark, cramped room of his -- in the middle of the night at least twice. Stood last week where I'd stood with Hammond, and heard Tollana die, a whole world lost to the Goa'uld.

So much to do, so little time to do it in, so few heroes to do it...

Hammond left and the focal point of the room shifted to O'Neill. It was subtle, and it doesn't work if the commanding officer is a nonentity, or not as well, but put different ranks in a room and the lower ranking officers tend to always keep one weather eye on their superiors. That had given Carter two people to watch; O'Neill one, and now, with Hammond gone, he slumped slightly, hitching his ass onto the table and scratching at his ear.

"So, people, what'cha got on?" He didn't wait for them to answer. "Prize for anyone who can guess my plans for tonight."

Teal'c looked inscrutable, Carter did a head duck and smile, hands clasped behind her back, and Doctor Jackson stared into space, probably still brooding about his fresco. Why I spoke up, I don't know.

Oh, I lie. I do. I had the right answer, and they didn't, and I'm a smart-ass. Plus, he was looking a little hurt that no one was playing with him and even then I had enough quiet, respectful lust simmering away that I wasn't going to let that happen.

Not that I wouldn't have given a week's vacation to be capable of hurting him emotionally, to have that much power over him, but I didn't -- and I'm really being honest now -- ever see that being a possibility.

So I opened my mouth for O'Neill for the first time, if not the last, and said in the diffident tones protocol required, with the merest hint of a throat-clearing to get their attention as I'm not sure I was registering on anyone's optic nerve, "Do they involve a telescope and a beer, sir?"

Heads turned, frowns gathered, but the man gave me a blinding smile and nodded enthusiastically. "And Major Davis gets the kewpie doll!"

"Jack?" Doctor Jackson emerged from his pensive study of the table and raised his eyebrows. "Something happening in the night sky? Or did you get a new female neighbour under forty?"

Carter stared very hard at the floor and Teal'c's shoulders shifted in a way that told me Jackson had just gone a little too far in front of, well, me, but O'Neill seemed completely at ease.

And why not? He was O'Neill.

"No, Daniel, I haven't, but thanks for asking. I'll be sure to invite you over when I do." He turned to me and waved his hand graciously. "Go on, Major. Enlighten them."

Reminding myself that I might not have saved the planet but I held the same rank as Carter and Civilians Didn't Count, I gave him a small smile. "Tonight is the --"

"Total lunar eclipse," Carter interrupted me, nodding and looking eager. "Of course."

I closed my mouth and decided to leave before I breathed in some air they wanted.

I made it as far as the stairs, my murmured excuse unheard as Carter was explaining to Teal'c what caused the eclipse and Jackson was nipping in whenever she took a breath with a terminally dull story about one he'd seen in Egypt at the age of three. Years, I assumed. I was about to leave when the Colonel stopped me, sauntering over as he called my name. "Davis. Your prize."

I turned, polite smile in place. "Thank you, sir, but I'll pass on the doll, with all due respect."

"Good, because I don't have one." He patted his pockets. "Nope. No doll. So you either take a rain check or pick something else."

I was lost. He was carrying the joke on too far and I didn't know him well enough to feel safe unleashing my own stunted version of humour.

I didn't know him at all back then.

This close, with his back to the others, he was shielding me. His face was bland and blank but there was something there that hooked out a wish and gave it words.

"The eclipse. I've never seen a total one through a telescope. I don't suppose you'd allow me to join you --"

I paused. I'd just invited myself to a Colonel's house. No. Oh, fuck, no.

Jackson and Teal'c didn't react at first, and when they did it was in response to Carter's stiffening back, I think, taking their cue from her. I shook my head, cheeks burning. "Sir, I'm sorry, I didn't --"

"Relax, Davis." His hand came up to clasp my shoulder, a brief, impersonal reassurance. "Be glad of the company." He turned his head which gave me the opportunity to suck in a swift, much-needed breath, my arm tingling where he'd touched it. Two layers of material and I could feel each finger. They'd be writing fairytales about me next. "Let's make it a party. You kids up for some beer and pizza by the rapidly disappearing light of the moon?"

The atmosphere lightened and dissolved as they made their excuses and by the time he turned back to me, I'd regained my calm.

"Looks like it's just us, then. See you around eight, Major; it'll be light enough for you to get a look at my equipment before the fun and games start."

And I had enough self-control to fail to respond to that in any way, which was just what he wanted me to do, and if I hadn't I think he'd have found some way to cancel.

He wanted a lot from me back then. Still does. Has it gotten easier to give it? I don't know.

But I managed it then.

Go, me.

*****


I arrived at his house at 8.30, deliberately late for several good reasons. I didn't want to seem eager for a start -- and I wasn't, not entirely. This was taking a chance on ruining every fantasy I had about the man, like film exposed to daylight. I wasn't sure I wanted to gamble my well-worn dreams against the slim odds of getting more fuel for the fire.

I did want to push this a little out of the realm of having been given an order, though, into something that was a little more just the two of us meeting up socially -- it didn't have to be more than that -- and I indulged myself in the wistful hope that Jack O'Neill would be sitting there waiting for me, wondering if I was going to stand him up.

My capacity for self-delusion was, and is, infinite.

I knocked, smoothing my hand nervously over the crisp white cotton shirt I'd put over the only casual pants I'd packed; faded green chinos, too hot for the humid night. Somehow, off duty or not, I couldn't quite see myself turning up in shorts.

Doctor Jackson opened the door.

There had to have been an instant where my face gave me away because his eyes widened with interest and speculation before he smiled.

"Hey. You found it then. Jack was wondering if you'd got lost."

I grabbed at disappointment, and a completely inappropriate anger, and buried them deep. "Good evening, Doctor Jackson. No; no trouble getting here, thank you."

I liked the man, with some small reservations. I wouldn't have assigned him to SG-1 initially if it'd been up to me, but having seen what he contributed I was never in the camp sneering at the idea of including a bespectacled civilian scientist in an elite military team. He belonged with them, and that was that.

Now, seeing him here, totally at his ease, hair still damp from a recent shower, feet bare, I wondered if he belonged to Colonel O'Neill in a more personal way.

Shit.

I surrendered the dream at that moment, relaxed, gave him a natural, even happy, smile and stepped past him into the open room. I decided to stay for a while, manufacture a believable excuse -- child's play, that last -- and leave them to fuck each other's brains out the way they'd probably wanted to all the time they were off-world. I didn't grudge it to either of them. They deserved it.

Yes, I'd leave, and then I'd go back to the best hotel this place had to offer -- a Washington per diem went a long way out here -- the one I always stayed at because I loathed sleeping at the Mountain, trapped under the weight of it, and I'd get drunk and laugh at myself and jerk off, assuming I was still capable, to any one of a number of scenarios that didn't involve anyone in uniform and that would be that.

Because, although he didn't do much for me, I knew enough to know that Jackson was O'Neill's best friend, and if that had tilted and tipped into something even friendlier, they'd be solid, not a crack between them, and if there was an opening to exploit I respected them both too much to take it.

I was wrong about that, as it turned out, because the two of them were heading for problems, but it was true enough in most ways. I couldn't even find it in me to hate Jackson for having what I wanted; he'd earned it; I hadn't.

He walked past me and scooped up a pair of socks and his shoes from the floor, one at a time, yanking them on fast, still standing, balancing and wobbling but getting the job done. "Jack's out in the yard, I think, setting everything up; want to go and join him?"

I nodded, still clutching my contribution to the night under one arm; a bag holding an assortment of imported beer I'd picked up, choosing names I remembered from long ago postings in Europe.

"Tell him if he wants a ride in on Monday to let me know."

I gave Jackson a puzzled smile and he laughed. "Sorry; Jack's truck died on him. He was furious. It's stuck out at the Mountain, waiting for a tow, so I gave him a ride home." He held out hands that still looked a little grubby from motor oil. "Can you believe he had me poking around inside the engine? Sam, yes; she'd have had it up and running in no time; me, not a chance."

That simple a solution to why he was here? I didn't think so, but I wasn't inclined to argue.

"You were probably as much use as I would have been."

He grinned and headed towards the door. "I doubt it. You look the practical type. Enjoy the eclipse."

"I'm looking forward to it."

He nodded. "Jack is, too." He rolled his eyes. "Really looking forward to it. Doesn't it do this quite a lot?"

"Well --"

"Noooo, don't tell me!" He held up his hands and backed away. I couldn't help smiling at him and then the front door slammed and I was left alone in Jack O'Neill's house. I took a single long, slow breath and headed directly for the yard without looking at anything not in a direct line between me and the back door. I had principles. Sneaking and snooping around would have been tacky. Tempting, but tacky. And I'd given them thirty minutes extra to get rid of any evidence; for someone like O'Neill that was plenty.

"Good evening, sir."

"Major."

He didn't even turn around from his sad contemplation of a small patch of limp, sun-bleached grass. It had been a long, dry summer.

"Daniel escaped?"

"He, ah, he just left, yes. He told me that you were out here -- oh, and that he'd take you to work on Monday if you still needed a ride."

He swung around and smiled at me. "Told you about my fucking truck, did he?"

I nodded and held out the beer, mute with lust in the face of a truly bizarre shirt and jeans so pale with washing that they looked paper-thin. It struck me that I'd never seen him in casual civilian clothing before. He looked... normal. Apart from the shirt. It was disconcerting. Both the shirt and the lack of heroic aura.

"You're all dressed-up," he commented. "What's this? Flowers and chocolate?"

I don't know how he gets away with saying things like that. There was no trace of innuendo, no leer -- and an equal lack of expectation that anyone would take him seriously, or concern that they'd mind him saying it.

He peered inside the brown paper bag and started to pull the bottles out one by one, placing them on a wooden picnic table. "Hey, nice... Hobgoblin? Drank that once in England. Gave me a hell of a hangover."

"Their beer can do that to you."

"No kidding..." He finished unpacking, studied the half dozen bottles in silence and then gave me a nod of thanks. "Want one of these? Or a cold one from the fridge?"

"Cold sounds good," I admitted, plucking at the wilting collar of my shirt.

"Yeah, it's warm tonight. Daniel was sweating by the time I'd finished with him."

Oh, now, come on...

"Would you believe the man doesn't know what a spark plug looks like?" he went on.

"No."

He pouted, stopped in his tracks. He'd picked that trick up from Jackson. "Well...close."

"I think Doctor Jackson has many other talents."

I made sure there wasn't an ounce of sarcasm in that because I meant it. He did. He was a walking library and, from what I'd read, was handy enough with a gun, and spit in your eye brave, too.

Getting all of that from an untrained civilian, and expecting them to fix your car as well, verged on the greedy.

I got an approving look. He clearly liked people being nice about Jackson.  "He does, yes."

We stood there in silence for a moment and it was a little awkward but pleasant, too. The evening air was heavy and drowsy, sprinkled thickly with the summer scents of fresh-cut grass, barbecue and citronella hovering over a thousand backyards just like this one. It was Friday night and the sleeve of O'Neill's blue and white patterned shirt brushed my arm as he went by me to get us a beer and that was all it took to make me decide to stay as long as he wanted me to.

When we made it to the roof I lost a lot of my awareness of his rank because he was so eager to show off his toys that he became endearingly boyish. The line I couldn't cross was still there, but it had been redrawn much closer to him. As we bent over the telescope I could fool myself that he was a friend and batted him away impatiently as he leaned over me and tried to fiddle with a knob that I'd just got set to where I wanted it.

He gave a huff of near-silent laughter at that, beer-spiced breath warm on my neck. "Sorry. Wasn't expecting you to really know what you were doing."

"I said I'd never seen a complete eclipse through one," I said absently, staring up at the white shimmer of the full moon, its surface pocked and battered into familiar patterns. I never saw the face without effort, but I could pick out many craters by name. "Not that I haven't used one."

"You got one of your own?"

"In Washington?" I shook my head. "Not worth it with the smog."

"You're going to make me drag it out of you slowly, aren't you?" he asked, drawing out 'slowly' until I felt his voice reverberate through me, plangent and pervasive.

"Sir?"

He sighed. "If I said 'Call me Jack', you wouldn't, would you?"

I hesitated, wondering what he wanted me to say to that. "No, sir."

"And making it an order would be pointless."

"Sir." The yes was silent.

"So tell me instead, Major Davis, when did you get bitten by the astronomy bug?"

I leaned back in the chair and reached for the beer I'd abandoned on a small, round table. It was light enough with the moon high and full to be able to see his face and he looked expectant.

"I used to hang backwards out of my bedroom window when I was a kid," I confided, tipsy enough to show him, tilting my head and arching my back until the chair creaked and dug into my shoulder blades. I heard the scrape of his shoe on the wooden deck, sharp and sudden, as if I'd startled him, but he didn't say anything.  "Holding on by my fingertips and staring up..."

I cocked my head to see his reaction. He winced, which wasn't what I expected until I remembered his son. "Sounds dangerous."

"I think my centre of gravity kept me mostly inside the room."

He snorted. "Like you knew that at the time!"

I gave him an apologetic grimace. "I was eight. I knew about stuff like that even then."

"Geek," he said, making it a question, not an insult, and grinning when I nodded. "Thought so. You and Daniel..."

I wasn't letting him compare us. No fucking way.

"I don't think we're all that similar, sir."

Unless you counted the part where we both wanted to be naked with you doing illegal, inappropriate, filthy deeds to us. Or lying back and letting us get imaginative on your ass.

Either way worked for me. I just wanted -- just once -- to wake up with the memory of his skin against my hand and the taste of him deep in my throat.

Wanted to win the lottery, too, although God knows what I would've done with it. It's not as if I'd have retired. This was all I wanted to do. I'd have paid to have stayed a part of it.

"No, I guess not." He smacked me down, chalking the line again in a wide sweep, his voice tart and acid, green apples and lemons. "Unless you've saved the world when I wasn't looking?"

I pushed back my chair and stood, anger and disappointment in him making my heart hammer jerkily in my chest. My voice wavered, just enough to be noticeable, and I dug my nails into the palm of my hand, hard, using the small pain to distract me from the necessary grovelling I was going to have to do.

Fuck him. Both of them.

"No, sir, I don't believe I have. I assure you I intended no disrespect. Doctor Jackson is a man I hold in high regard and --"

"He's a geek," O'Neill said, moving away from the railing he'd been leaning against and taking the three steps needed to bring him close. "I know it, he knows it. Hell, even the Goa'uld know it. He's just my geek, that's all."

"I know." I was suffocating here, dismay and excitement and dread rushing over me. He was close enough that I would have had to step back to throw a punch. That close. "Believe me, I know."

"You know nothing," he said firmly. "Now sit the hell down, will you? I didn't mean to --" He looked me over and a small smile quirked his lips. "No, you're not ruffled, are you? Neat and tidy, spick and span."

Sweating and hard... wasn't he supposed to be observant?

"Sir, with all due --"

"We both know that's something you say when you're contemplating your superior officer head down in a swamp, so save it."

"I think I should go."

"Why? Because I defended a member of my team? It's what I do. You know that."

"No." I couldn't step back because of the chair and he was blocking my way to the stairs. "I shouldn't be here. I should never have invited myself. It was --"

"Unorthodox," he agreed. "A little. But it's not as if we don't know each other and you're on my favourite people at the Pentagon list, you know. You're on our side, aren't you?"

An invitation to sit at the cool table, twenty years too late.

"The Stargate programme is something I'm honoured to be a part of, sir." I left it at that. It was the simple truth.

"What I don't get is why you did it."

"Became the liaison?" I was floundering a little. "It was an incredible opportunity, sir."

"No." He waved at me to shut the hell up, looking impatient. "Not that. Here. Tonight."

"Sir?" Playing dumb with a superior officer came easy. I'd been doing that for years.

"It's Friday night, you're young, free and single -- you are, aren't you?"

"Divorced, sir."

Seven years and the thought of Claire still brought a metallic tang of dislike to my mouth. I swallowed and O'Neill's lips twitched with abashed regret. "Sorry. Me, too."

"I know." I couldn't keep the surprise out of my voice. I knew his fucking shoe size; how could he think I was unaware of his marital status?

"Yeah, I bet you do. I bet you know a lot more about me than I do about you."

I met his gaze without flinching. "Probably. It's my job, sir."

"I guess. So it's only fair that you tell me something I don't know about you." He was skating on ice as thin as the seat of his jeans, damn him, and he had to have known it. "Like why you'd risk getting embarrassed in the briefing room by me putting you in your place -- and you know I could have -- just for the chance to look at something that isn't all that out of the way special with a man who -- and I know you know this, too -- can't do a damn thing to help your career."

I'd never had him say that much to me before. It was overwhelming. He was overwhelming.

"I'm not interested in the night life this town has to offer and I am interested in the eclipse, sir."

He stared at me and looked vaguely disappointed. What he expected me to say, I don't know: 'Sir,  I wanted to see if I could make it to the end of the night, sir, without coming in my fucking pants, sir, because, yes, sir, you're that big a fucking turn-on for me'? Hardly.

Stepping back, he indicated the telescope with a sweep of his arm. "So sit. Watch it. Me, I'm going to get another beer."

He left me up there, the stars lost in the milky light of the moon, my hands pressed together between my knees to stop them from shaking. Left me for long enough that I was about to go in search of him, and then appeared at the top of the stairs, two bottles clinking between his fingers.

"Sir, I'm driving; I think I'll pass on any more."

"Who said one was for you?"

The easy charm had vanished, replaced by the sourness I was coming to dislike.

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."

"Oh, for crying out loud."

Hearing him say that; the phrase everyone used when they mimicked or quoted him, brought an involuntary snicker from me. He swung around from depositing the bottles on the table, his expression dark. "Excuse me, Major?"

"Nothing, sir. I'm sorry." I stood and edged past him. "I think perhaps I should --"

"It's starting," he said, interrupting me. "Look."

I turned my head and saw the curved edge of the moon lose the perfection of its arc, blackness sweeping over it, inexorable and frightening.

His hands found my shoulders, turned me and pushed me down. "You wanted to watch, Major. Watch."

His hands remained on me for a long moment, in a loose, light grip. If he felt me shiver he didn't comment. I put my eye to the telescope and I watched the moon darken and redden with Colonel Jack O'Neill standing right behind me, his leg close enough that when I raised my hand to adjust the focus, my elbow nudged it.

I didn't apologise and he didn't move back.

Arousal fought suspicion. I doubted that this was a trap; not his style, not his job, and if he had picked up on my feelings for him, he'd been around for long enough to know how to deal with that if it bothered him. Some straight men were flattered, or amused, by the knowledge that they'd attracted a man. Not many, but some. Others would lash out, overreacting in panic and fear. Neither reaction fitted the picture I had of him. He wasn't the sort to let his emotions drive him and he was pragmatic enough to appreciate the value of having someone like me -- a wholehearted advocate of the Stargate programme -- at the Pentagon.

It didn't mean I could tell him anything openly, though. Regs were regs, even for him, and you don't get to colonel without a healthy respect for the framework that supports your rank.

And if what I was getting from him was an invitation, subtle enough to leave us both safe if it didn't work out, well, I was still too raw from his change of mood to be receptive -- and wondering if he'd argued with Jackson and I was being set up as a revenge fuck.

His hand closed, warm and large, around the back of my neck and the image I was watching jiggled and wavered as my head jerked.

I made a stifled, strangled sound, deep in my throat, and was lost.

He could have me. He could have anything he wanted. I gave up pretending that there was any chance that I would ever walk away from this man, because it just wasn't going to happen until I'd had him in me or around me.

His thumb stroked up high behind my ear and I bit down on my lip.

He could have put the palm of his hand anywhere on my bare skin and I'd have loved it, but there... perfect. A shiver ghosted down one side of my body, from where his thumb was gently digging in, to my thigh, hair-raising in every sense.

"Tell me what you see."

I couldn't tell what he was looking at; the disappearing, swallowed moon or my bowed head.

"My knees?"

He grunted, either in amusement or impatience. "Then look at what you came here for, Major. Don't waste time."

I turned away from the moon, twisting out from his hand, managing it easily because he wasn't holding on. Slowly, I looked up at him and then down at the soft, hidden bulge of his cock, level with my mouth. There was a pause, a beat, and then he nodded.

"Thought so."

He didn't sound satisfied or smug. Thoughtful, maybe, as if I'd just become a problem he had to handle.

I could remember some of his past solutions. High body count.

He could have swept me aside if he wanted to. He had pull; way more than I did, for all my careful networking. I wasn't safe with him knowing about me and I knew it.

"What are you going to do about it, sir?"

I didn't bother trying to dissemble or cover it all over any more. Too late (how had it gotten to be too late? What the hell had I done that made him touch me?) and he wouldn't have appreciated it anyway.

"I don't know, Davis." There was a bite back in his words. "What do you suggest a colonel does with a major who's bucking for a dishonorable discharge?"

That made me shiver, reminding me of the penalties; the fear of which, for me, was rooted in the fact that the Stargate was the only life I had. If I lost that I wasn't sure where I'd go next, knowing what I did.

"Hypothetically?"

"Sure." He drawled it out sarcastically. "Hypothetically."

"The colonel could consider that the major's behaviour had, up to a certain point, been perfectly correct, sir. He could then give further consideration to his own actions and possibly take some fucking responsibility for them."

"Easy," he murmured as I shoved up from the chair, shaking with a bright, hot anger now. "Had to see..."

"See what? You knew." I reached out and put my hand on his chest, feeling the steady thump of his heart off to the right, distant and soft as I pushed at him. "Don't tell me you didn't! Don't tell me you and Jackson weren't having fun talking about it before I got here --"

"Hey." He shook his head, grabbing at my hand and holding it an inch away from his body so that my fingers curled and just managed to scrape a hold on that fucking awful shirt. "That didn't happen and I don't know where you got it from. Why the hell do you think I'd be discussing you with Daniel?" He rolled his eyes. "He knows enough about me to work stuff out but I don't -- we don't talk about it. Christ." He sounded pained, as if the thought of it was enough to freak him out.

I got a flash of Doctor Jackson looking earnest, liberal, and very understanding, and couldn't help the snuffle of laughter that escaped me.

"Yeah. He'd be too okay with it, wouldn't he?" O'Neill's voice was rueful but he was relaxing again, as if we'd gotten over a hurdle. For my part, I thought we were still staring up at it and not seeing any way past it. "Wouldn't see the problem. Some stuff Daniel doesn't get. Intellectually, yes, but deep down, no. It's okay, though. He gets everything else in the world I miss."

Jackson and O'Neill as jigsaw pieces, two interlocking pieces of sky...I didn't need it rubbing in how necessary they each were to one another.

"Sir --"

"What?"

Behind us, overhead and ignored in the summer sky, planetary bodies and stars were dancing for our amusement. It was getting darker now.

"Permission to speak freely, sir?"

"For God's sake. Yes."

"Fine." I took a moment to rephrase it as if he was just anyone, just a man I wanted, a man I knew wanted me. It was difficult. Maybe I needed Jackson to help me translate. "Did you want this? Is it why you let me come over? Because if it is, you can trust me. I'm the safest fuck you'll ever have."

He let a long silence speak for him, processing what I'd said before asking, "In what way?"

I made sure we were looking at each other. I needed to see his face for this, and dark though it was, we were close enough for that. "I'm clean. We'd still be using protection, that's not something I ever -- but I'm clean. I don't do this often and I don't do it twice with anyone. The risks become too great. I don't -- ever -- talk. Not even to you. We fuck tonight and you bring it up a week from now and I'll give you the blankest stare I've got." I smiled at him, eager now that we'd moved past uncertainty, the thrill of what was to come leaving my cock stiff and ready, pressing up against the back of my zipper. "And if you say no, sir, we'll just skip to the blank stare part right now."

His head tilted as he considered what I'd said. "Nice speech. Very... rehearsed."

Sarcastic fucker. "Yes, sir. I stand in front of my mirror every morning polishing it up in case I get lucky."

"The scary part is, I can believe that." He shook his head. "Sorry, Davis. I wanted more than that from you."

"More than what? Sir. In case I didn't make it clear, you can have me. Mouth, ass, dick, however and wherever you want them."

Talking frankly was like drinking; the more I did it, the harder it was to stop.

And I was getting off on using language like this to him.

"I got that part."

I waited and got a sigh from him. "More would be the option of a second chance, Major, assuming we both walked away happy from the first time. More would be something just a little less cold than your list of rules. I get to fuck someone... safe about as often as that happens," he jerked his head up at the eclipsing moon, "but if I wanted sex like you're offering, I'd just pay for it. And I don't like doing that." I noted the careful phrasing and wondered why he didn't lie to me. And knew that I should look into who he'd paid for sex and wouldn't because I trusted him to be discreet. "So thanks, but I'll pass. I'm good at waiting."

"You don't have to wait." I tried not to gape at him but I was losing it, indignant and disbelieving.

"Why? Think I'm that desperate I'll put up with second-best? Late forties, here. Not a horny kid. I can get by with my hand. Again."

"I'm not offering you that. Second best, I mean. This is it. It's all I have. It's yours if you want it."

I sounded angry and hurt, because that's what I was, and he sighed, pushing his hand back through his hair, leaving it sticking up and wild. "Davis --"

"You want me," I insisted.

"I do. I did. Hell, yes." He looked me over with a casual heat and I flushed, craving him with an intensity I thought I'd lost somewhere along the way, over the years. My cock was signalling, urgently, that it needed to come, very soon, thank you, and my nipples, usually a take it or leave it zone when it came to being touched, were erect enough that I was aware of them, an oddly distracting sensation I could've done without.

I was tempted to force the issue by going to my knees, but we were outside and I couldn't overcome training to that extent. Just the thought of it, though --

"Fuck."

"Did you just say something, Major?"

"Yes, sir. I said 'Fuck', sir."

"And why was that, Major?"

Oh, I could play that game all night...

"Because I think I've blown any chance of getting to --"

"Blow me?"

"Amongst other things, sir, yes."

"I know why I wanted you, but I'm still hazy on why it's mutual. Given that you're too bright to think I'd let anything that happened spill over into work."

'Wanted' faded the last of my happiness to grey. "I never gave that consideration a moment's thought, sir. I'll ask that you take my word for that, please."

He stared at me and nodded. "Sure. You're not the type. I know that. So why? I've got to be, what, fifteen years older than you?"

"About that."

"I'm not getting it."

"Neither am I, it seems."

The joke, pitiful as it is, had him chuckling softly. "Major, that makes two of us. And it's been a while for me, if you want to know."

I met his eyes. "Then don't turn me down. Please."

"Shit, Davis, if you're that desperate I can point you at some places in town --"

"Sir, tell me you haven't --"

"Relax. Not stupid." He rolled his shoulders, looking uncomfortable. I guessed that maybe it had been a close call sometimes.

"Neither am I, sir. Safe; I told you. You are; that wouldn't be. Besides... "

"What?"

I made a soft sound of frustration, smacking my fist down on the top of the railing. "Sir, you're hot as hell. You have to know that. I've been -- you're -- God, this is difficult!"

"Relax, Major." He blinked. "You're kidding though, right?"

"I'm not saying it again, sir."

"Had your eye on me for a while, have you?"

"No, sir.  This wasn't planned. I never even thought you were --"

"Uh-huh," he said, shaking his head. "Don't say it."

"No, sir. But as far as it goes, you could have had me a long time ago if you'd wanted me."

He shrugged, starting to look as if he wished the conversation was over. I stood to attention automatically, registering the difference when I was doing it in civilian clothing; the incongruity of it in a conversation like this. "I really do think I should leave now, sir."

"I think you're right," he said, stepping aside. The moon was covered now, held in darkness. We both turned to look at it, one last time, and his hand brushed mine. I couldn't help grabbing it, needing, just once more, to have his skin on mine.

"Sir --"

His hand slipped free and came up to cup my face, holding me in place as effectively as a gun to the head. "You're really fucked up, you know that?"

"I'm just careful."

"No. I'm careful; you're... closed-off. You're too young for that."

"Military," I reminded him. "I made my choice and I don't regret it."

His hand dropped away. "Which choice? Enlisting, or scaring me off, when if you'd kept your mouth shut you'd be naked and having one hell of a good time right now?"

"I don't regret enlisting, sir."

"That it?" he asked when I didn't carry on.

"What do you want me to say?" I realised that we were having this conversation in low, careful voices and choked on a laugh. "God, yes, I regret being honest with you. Yes, I'm going to go back to my hotel room and kick at the wall and curse myself and jerk off until I can't stand to touch myself I'm so fucking raw. That what you want to hear, sir?"

"God, no. I hate to think of it." He shuddered theatrically. "You. Doing that. Coming over me. Not literally, of course --"

"Very amusing, sir," I said tonelessly.

"Oh, come on, Davis! I'm flattered, of course I am." He didn't look it. He looked... shocked, as if he couldn't believe what I'd said and the fact that I'd said it at all.

That made two of us. I'd have liked to have blamed the full moon, but that was just a little too easy, and, apparently, I didn't like making things easy for myself or anyone close to me.

And O'Neill was still close to me.

"Are you --?" He waved his hand around indecisively but the dip of his head made it clear enough what he meant.

"Erect?" I enunciated it carefully, hoping to make him flinch, but he didn't. "Yes."

"Still?"

I gave him the thinnest of smiles. "Have been, off and on, since you patted my arm in the briefing room, sir. May I go now? Or did you want to watch me squirm a little longer?"

The white moonlight was starting to seep back, enough of it to make his expression visible, although I was in the shadows from his perspective. He looked sympathetic and I hated him just a little bit more. "You know, I would. But not here. Want to take this inside?"

"Sir?"

He smiled and patted my arm, exactly the way he'd patted it earlier. "I'm offering you a pity-fuck, if you want it, Major. Out of the kindness of my heart and some fellow feeling for a man in your condition."

I didn't believe him, and I was tense enough to lash out. "Are you sure you'll be able to get it up with someone as second-rate as me?"

He shrugged. "Won't matter if I don't. In case I didn't make it clear, this is for your sake, Major so you'll be the one doing the heavy lifting."

"You want me to fuck you?"

This wasn't happening. Couldn't be.

"If you can get it up." He crooked his finger at me. "Come on. Before I change my mind and kick your ass the hell out of here for being an idiot."

*****


When he'd gone back into the house he'd turned on some lights, because it was brighter than I remembered, but as we walked through the house he flicked them off, so that by the time we reached his bedroom the only light burning was the lamp beside his bed.

I took one look at the bed and wanted to find a wall to punch, a pillow to scream into.

It was made. Carefully, freshly made. He'd been expecting it to be used and he'd taken time, somehow, with Daniel hovering, or in the shower, to strip away the sheets he'd slept on the night before and put on new ones. I still wasn't completely certain he hadn't done it because he'd fucked Daniel on them but I was getting more certain with every moment. The resentment I'd been feeling broke away and crumbled as I pictured him getting into it alone, the crisp, cool sheets too pristine for comfort when he'd expected them to be rumpled, smelling of sex and sweat. Smelling of us.

I'd reached my limit for self-deception; I wasn't walking away from him, or this. Couldn't do it. Fuck my rules, fuck my scruples and his.

He reached for a button on his shirt and I started toward him, wanting to be the one doing that for him, caught up in a sudden passionate gratitude.

His hand warded me off. "No. This is the way you wanted it. You get to fuck me and you get to come. That's it."

Speechless, I watched him strip, economical, casual movements designed to get him naked, not to arouse me. When he was bare, his clothes tossed in the direction of a wooden chair in the corner, he gave me a sidelong look and then got onto the bed, face down. With a grunt, he settled himself so that his cock, half-hard from the quick glance I'd given it, was comfortable, and then rested his head on his folded arms. His legs were spread, not much, just enough for me to see shadows, hair and the wrinkled fullness of his balls. I wanted to do more than look but I couldn't move, sure if I did I'd turn and run because this was terrifying.

"You'll find what you need in the drawer beside me," he said after a moment. "Help yourself."

I fumbled my way out of my clothes, got what I needed from the drawer, mechanically checking expiry dates -- they were close -- and then hesitated.

"Major?"

"I can't --" My dick was reflecting my panic and even the sight of O'Neill's naked back, scarred just enough to be intriguing, and the understated, practical strength in his arms and legs wasn't helping. His ass was firm and lean. A muscle on one cheek jumped as if he could feel my gaze like a tickle and he reached down and gave it a casual scratch before returning to his previous position. If he was really as nonchalant as he appeared I was going to have to hurt him, because it was accelerating my meltdown.

I wasn't going to be able to do this cold. Not with him, in this house, in his bed. God, there was a photograph of his wife on the nightstand I'd taken the lube and condom from.  I'd fucked strangers up against walls and walked away in less than five minutes, buoyed up by the seedy anonymity of it all, the thrill -- which was stupid and why I had rules now, to stop myself from doing that -- but I wasn't sure I could do this.

"Sure, you can. You've done it before, right? And if you haven't, you're a bright kid; you can --"

"I've done it before." Just how old did he think I was?

"Of course you have."

I sat beside him and let my hand rest against his ass, just to see what he would do. I could feel the muscles clench sharply but then he sighed and relaxed, spreading his legs wider.

"Anything off-limits, sir?"

"What?" He sounded annoyed, as if I'd spoiled the mood, or something. "Davis, what part of 'fuck me' are you having problems with? Everything's off limits but your dick in my ass, and I'm assuming you know enough not to just ram it in, so what the hell is taking you so long?"

I watched my fingers curl into a tight, frustrated ball, fingernails scoring his skin. He gave a yelp and twisted around to glare at me.

"Sorry, sir."

"And stop calling me fucking 'sir' when five minutes from now you're going to be balls deep in my ass. Christ."

"What would you like me to call you, sir?"

He thought that over and came to the same conclusion I had; there was nothing that worked.

"Don't see why you have to call me anything," he said finally, propping his chin on his crossed wrists again and staring at the pillow. "Are we going to do this?"

"You sound eager." I opened my hand and ran the tip of my finger along the crease of his ass, lightly enough that it didn't part for me. Every time I touched him I felt a quiver of amazement that he was letting me; that my wrist wasn't hanging broken from my arm, that my fingers remained uncrushed. "Are you going to admit that the favour thing is bullshit and you want this as much as I do?"

"No."

"It'll still be true." Clinging onto that was helping me to regain my calm.

"I wish your cock was as big as your ego." He turned his head enough to give me a sarcastic grimace. "No, wait; I take it back, You'd probably kill me if it was."

"I know how long it's been for you."

"No, you don't."

"I know names, places, times..."

"Major --"

"It's been longer for you than for me and I'm so fucking desperate right now I can't think, but I'm not fucking you until you let me touch you."

"They kinda go together, Davis."

"You know what I mean." I palmed his ass, stroking it roughly, avidly, over and over, pressing the heel of my hand into the solid weight of muscle. "Want to kiss you, sir. Mouth on mouth. Want to suck you and bite you and lick every place you've got that's going to leave my mouth tasting of you. I want to have you and yes, for you I'll break my rules. I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry. God, will you fucking look at me you cold-hearted bastard?"

He rolled over, hooking one hand behind his head, drumming the other against his thigh, drawing my gaze down to his cock. Still not all the way hard. Needed touching. Needed the warm wetness of a tongue to make it rise and fill. "I'm looking."

"Well?"

"Oh, do what you fucking want, Major. But next time I'm gagging you if you keep running your mouth off like this."

"Sir, with all due respect, that would be a mistake." I straddled him and made a grab for his wrists that he could easily have avoided and didn't. When I'd pinned them high and wide I smiled down at him. "Let me show you why?"

His eyes narrowed. "Major -- let go of me."

"Yes, sir."

"And sit back so I can -- yeah." He sat up, with me in his lap, my knees split wide. "Okay, let's just go over some stuff. You don't talk like a fucking whore when you're in my bed, you don't make this all your turn, my turn, or crap like that. I said you could fuck me, and you can, but let me know if you want it the other way around because that works for me, too. And right now I want to get off badly enough that I'm ignoring the way you're really pissing me off, but I can guarantee you once I've come, I'm going to be a lot less forgiving."

"No, you're not." I leaned in and bit at his lip feeling the heat of his skin on mine as my hands slipped around his shoulders. "You're going to be fucking purring, sir."

His hand slid around the back of my neck and I shuddered, letting him see just how much I liked that.

"God, your nipples just went hard, do you know that?"

"I did notice, sir, yes." His thumb rubbed over one and I moaned. "God, that doesn't -- I don't like that, sir...."

"Yes, you do."

"Don't --"

He pinched, his fingers skidding off because there just wasn't much there to grab and hissed crossly, his thumb moving restlessly across the strip of skin under my ear.

"Do."

"Involuntary, reflex action, sir, " I gasped. "Not an erogenous zone, I swear. Want to make me beg, go lower."

"Belly button?" He actually spent a few seconds playing with it, poking his finger inside the shallow dent and swirling it around.

"No, sir. God, please --"

"Oh, you mean your dick..."

Long fingers. Strong, long fingers, and all that I was getting was a barely-there graze of his fingertips across the head of my cock, flushed red and shining wetly, so that he brought his fingers away wet, too, staring down at them curiously and rubbing them together.

I could hear the shallow, fast pants of my breath and feel a pulse beating in my neck, smell myself, sweaty and aroused, heavy, rich, intimate smells that were turning me on because they were mixed with something unfamiliar and similar, all at once. I loved the smell and taste of my fingers after I'd jerked off, curling up in bed and going to sleep with my hand tucked under my chin, breathing in the acrid, organic, indescribable tang of come.

I'd got my kinks, my dark, dirty little fantasies, shameful and secret and precious, but if he gave me a chance I'd share one with him and lick my come off him, absorbing it back into me from wherever it had landed.

I squeezed my eyes closed against the dizzying pulse of lust that thought gave me and opened them just as he kissed me, his hand finally tightening around my cock.

Perfect timing.

He got my startled, open mouth to push his tongue into and he got the jerk forward of my body as I tried to fuck the hot clutch of his palm, too used to that kind of touch, self-conditioned into responding just like this.

"Easy, Davis. In me, right? That's where you want to come."

The whisper worked its way through to what was left of my mind and I nodded frantically, scraping my hands down his back, wanting to touch as much of him as I could so I could look at him later, in uniform, and know exactly how he felt and looked and smelled...

I saw him smile and went in for another kiss. He'd shaved as well as made the bed, and his chin was smooth, with just a tiny patch of stubble where he'd missed on the second pass over with his razor. I went for that roughness, mouthing at it and feeling the short, stiff hairs rasp against my lip.

I still hadn't touched his cock, like a kid saving the best bite for last, but when he let go of mine, probably realising how close I was to coming, I let one hand drift around and down.

"Oh, God, oh, God --"

"Fuck, Davis --"

It wasn't enough, any of it. I couldn't score his back deeply enough with my nails, couldn't bite and suck hard enough at his mouth, his throat, his collarbone -- couldn't squeeze and pump and work his cock fast enough. A strangled sob rose in my throat.

"Please --"

"Any time, Davis --"

I managed to focus and saw that his eyes were glazed with the inward concentration of a man trying very hard not to come. I couldn't take all the credit for his arousal, I supposed, given how long it had been since he'd done this, but I couldn't help feeling inordinately pleased that I was making him happy.

He pulled away from me abruptly, passing his hand over my chest, fingers shaking as he tipped me off his lap, his hand never leaving me so that I didn't feel rejected.

Without speaking, he glanced down at the lube beside us and then turned, kneeling with his back to me. I didn't want to do it. It would end when I did; the ostensible reason for my visit was over and we weren't close enough friends for it to be reasonable that I would stay and chat for long. We'd come, I'd dress, and I'd leave and that would be that, because I was going to climax fast enough to leave nothing but a scornful smile on his face.

He moved, leaning forward, hands and knees, for me, ass there, knees spread and I hadn't -- I needed --

"After --"

He grunted when my words tailed off, his fingers flexing uneasily in the white sheet he was kneeling on, and I swallowed and tried again. "I want -- I'll go, I will, I promise, but --"

"What do you want?" He sounded tired.

"Your cock. In my mouth. I want to taste you."

He shook his head, but in surprise rather than negation, because his next words were mild enough. "I'll have come before you're finished. Sorry."

"I don't care."

A shiver went through him and his voice went tight and strained. "Okay. Whatever. Just --"

I rubbed my hand along his spine and reached for the condom. My hands weren't steady either but the cool, slippery feel of it, and the chemical reek of the lubricant, took the edge off a little.

Then I slicked myself, cock and fingers and touched him, going deep quickly, making it fast. I was moaning, harsh sounds escaping a bitten lip, and he was pushing, grinding himself onto the two fingers I was giving him to fuck, silent and shaking and hot around my skin.

Sliding into him, in a series of short, careful pushes, each one leaving my cock sunk a little deeper in his ass, left me wrung-out and dizzy. I realised at one point that I had my eyes closed, sparks and swirls of colour painted onto the blackness, and forced them open. I could stare at nothing anytime; I couldn't watch the bow of O'Neill's back, the way his skin caught the light when it was sweat-damped, the way it flushed darkly at the back of his neck, the neat, clipped line of his hair precise above it.

I watched it then as I felt his body open and take me. Wished I could see his face; wished I could make him say my name, my first name, and knew he couldn't and wouldn't.

And I fucked him, hard and fast and over too soon, my climax pouring through me and out into him, caught and kept safe by the damned condom. Years since I'd fucked anyone bare, and I should have stopped missing it by now.

I hung over him, panting softly, wondering if he minded that I hadn't touched him. I'd been waiting to deal with the shift in position as he reached down to jerk himself off but it hadn't happened. If he'd come, I hadn't noticed. I pulled out of him, slowly, knowing how that felt, the emptiness, the openness -- the vague sense of both relief and loss.

There was a box of Kleenex on the bedside table; I grabbed a handful and dropped the shrouded condom onto the floor, rushing because he hadn't spoken, just given a soft grunt as my cock slipped free.

I turned my head, remembering what I'd asked, and wondering if he would --

He rolled to his back and stared up at me, cock still hard, lip bleeding. He was still hard. He was still --

His hips tilted up and his hand came down, groping blindly, his eyes distant as if he wasn't seeing me. I knocked it away and planted my hands on his hips, holding him down as I ran my tongue over his cock in one greedy, selfish swipe. He cried out, pushing up so that the tip of his cock painted my cheek. I grabbed at the base of his cock and took him into my mouth, giving him a place to come, the thick, sharp warmth pulsing against my frantically lapping tongue.

I swallowed all he gave me, gentling the messy, sloppy sucks until his cock, still hard, was pulled out and his hand came down to pat heavily at my shoulder.

"Enough."

I stared at it as it lay against his belly, glistening and reddened, and then glanced up at him as he cleared his throat.

"Come here."

I moved up the bed to lie beside him, not touching him because I wasn't sure he wanted that from me. We lay on our sides, facing each other, and he ran his thumb across my lips and pushed it inside my mouth. I tasted spit and come and shuddered even as I licked reflexively at the ball of his thumb, the ragged edge of his nail scraping across my tongue.

He withdrew his thumb and reached down to rub it over the head of my cock, wet and slick, both of them.

"God --"

"That all you've got to say?"

"Thank you." I studied his bitten, bloodied lip. "Sorry."

"You should be. You owe me one."

"I didn't think -- you didn't have to do that."

His shoulder lifted in a shrug. "Wanted to see what you'd do. And this way the bed didn't get too messy; I've already changed it once tonight and there's a limit to how much laundry I want to do."

Knowing he was going to sleep in a bed that we'd fucked on, between sheets that smelled of me, had my cock stirring again but I didn't allow myself to hope that we could go again.

"I have to go..."

"Yes, Major, you do," he murmured, looking over my shoulder to the bedside clock. "And soon. Want to shower?"

"No."

I didn't elaborate and he didn't comment.

"Then you -- we'd -- better get dressed and I'll wave you goodbye like a polite host should."

"Sir --"

"You know, I don't bite at this point in the proceedings; why are you all the way over there? Not the cuddling type?"

I eyed him. "I wasn't sure that you'd want that."

"Well, I fucking do, so get your ass over here, Davis."

I smiled at him. "Yes, sir."

He sighed as we finished settling into a comfortable tangle of arms and legs, his hand coming down to rest against my ass as if that was where it belonged. I stroked his back and then scratched at it, getting an ecstatic moan. "Oh, yeah, up a bit --"

His hand moved up, following mine, so that for a minute or two we both targeted the places on each other that itched on ourselves, clueing into it eventually. At some point we started kissing, silly smooches that never got serious, leaving me utterly relaxed and content.

"So is this where you turn around and tell me it was good but you're still not interested in doing me again?" He sounded casual, as if my answer didn't matter.

"You know it isn't. And I promise I won't be such a selfish sonofabitch next time."

"Yes, you were, weren't you?" He pursed his lips. "Still, I did say this was for you, so I'll let you off. This once."

"Sir --"

"I know." He grabbed me and hauled me in for a final kiss, hard and stinging and sweet. "You've got to go. So go."

"Until next time?" I hazarded.

"Works for me."

*****


I watched him step through the 'gate on Monday morning, from high up behind the glass. I'd slipped into the room at the last moment, earning a few curious looks because there was no reason for me to be there. Hammond gave me a welcoming smile and half his attention.

"Always amazing watching that thing work, isn't it, Major?"

"Incredible," I agreed. "I'm heading back to Washington now, sir."

He carried on watching the four of them walk up the ramp, but as soon as the wormhole had blinked out he turned to me. "Always good to see you, Major. Hope you got what you needed."

"Yes, sir. I think I did."

"Until next time, then."

"Yes, sir."

*****


I got back home, the journey strung-out by delays, closed the door, poured a drink; vodka and tonic, bitter and tart and strong and began to shake. As delayed reactions went, it was a good one. 48 hours since his hand had slid around my neck...

The doorbell rang, piercing the empty silence of the room.

I opened the door, drink in hand, and stared at him. Brown eyes, brown hair, taller than me... they all looked like that these days.

I stepped back to let him walk past me and locked the door.

"I've only just got back from the airport; I need to take a shower."

He smiled, easy and polite. "Want me to take a seat out here?"

The ice in my drink clinked sharply against the glass as I set it down.

"I'm not paying you to sit down."

He slid to his knees, elegant and graceful, kissing at where he thought my cock was and getting nowhere close. "No point in having a shower if you're not dirty."

I took a handful of his hair and tugged his head sideways until it was on target. "Oh, I'm dirty. Trust me on that."

"You've been bad?" He sounded a little dubious. Not what he'd been told to expect, but I could see when he decided to expand his horizons. "Want me to punish you?"

"Oh, for crying out l--"

I cut myself off, took a step back, and then another. "Out. Yes, you'll still get paid. Just get out, okay?"

He blinked up at me and then stood. "Did I say something wrong?"

"No." I forced a smile. "Jet lag."

"Oh, right. Yeah, that can be a bitch. I remember this one flight from Honolulu--"

"Please. I'm feeling very tired."

He nodded. "Sure. Next time, I'll rock your world, okay?"

He'd do what?

"There won't be a next time."

The smile I got as he left was amused; there was always going to be a next time, it said. For a man like you, always.

I supposed he was right.

It just wasn't going to be with him.

Blue eyes. I'd ask for blue eyes, straw-blond hair --

"You're really fucked up, you know that?"

Couldn't have agreed more. I just didn't know what to do about it.


Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

Part Ten

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