Earth was noisy, stank and I didn't care. Not as first, at least. The euphoria of a returning traveller wore off quickly on the flight back to Washington, rubbed away by surly grunts in place of courteous inclinations of the head, smog-tainted rain instead of clear blue skies, painted fresh and bright at sunrise and sunset.
It was going to take a while to adjust. I side-stepped a group of tourists, slammed into a narrow space a hairsbreadth in front of a girl with a suitcase who scowled at me and got an unrepentant smile in return, and tossed a handful of change neatly into a busker's guitar case, tired of it jingling in my pocket.
Maybe not that long.
I was about to get into a cab when I realised some of the change might have come from off-world, swore, retraced my steps, and spent a difficult five minutes explaining why I wanted my money back.
Cost me a twenty and left me with my ears burning and my nerves shredded.
I should have gone straight to my office to report, but I went home first.
The air was fresher than I expected. Someone had been coming in. I'd been anticipating the customary startled thrill of surprise that, yes, that hastily rinsed mug was still where I'd left it draining, weeks earlier, that the towel was still lying on the bathroom floor, the bed still rumpled because I'd sat on it as I tied my shoes the morning I'd left. Coming back after a trip was like walking into a room and hitting 'play' on a paused DVD; you'd missed nothing; it'd all been waiting for you.
Now I was walking back, not into the home I'd left, but a place someone else had been using. Books were put away, but in the wrong places, cushions were piled on the couch, not the armchair with the ottoman in front of it, indented and squashed to afford comfort to someone not me. I pressed play on the CD player and flinched back; too loud, not mine, what the hell...
I knew it was Jack who'd been here; just didn't know why. Coming in to stock the fridge and air the place; yes, that would have been thoughtful and not entirely unexpected, no matter how pissed off he'd seemed to be the last time we'd spoken. Spending longer than a brief stay here was less so.
I made sure he hadn't left me a note – unlikely; we'd never even exchanged Christmas cards - and glanced around feeling uneasy, unsettled.
Without showering I got into a clean uniform and went to find him. Four o'clock; he'd be in his office until six, at least.
His secretary smiled at me. Anne and I got along well considering we knew absolutely nothing about each other, as proven by the fact that she flirted with me in a ladylike way.
"Major. Good to have you back."
"Glad to be here, Anne." I pulled a conspiratorial face. "Any chance of a minute with the General? I've got orders to submit an immediate report and the sooner I do, the sooner I can go home and pass out."
It was as good an excuse as any and not far from the truth; if I'd still been off-world, it would have been late evening, almost midnight, not late afternoon. I nodded and she smiled sympathetically.
"He's supposed to be clearing some paperwork but I'd say you took priority, wouldn't you?"
She was about to buzz Jack on the intercom when he pulled open his door, gave us both a cold stare and jerked his head at me. "Davis. Get your ass in here, will you? What did you do; take the scenic route? Your plane landed two hours ago."
Anne primmed up her mouth and scooped up a stack of folders, heading out into the corridor without looking back.
I watched her leave, glad of the chance to look away from him. He looked like hell. He looked old. He looked every inch the general. He looked pissed, unapproachable and sour. He looked a hundred things that hammered an 'off-limits' sign deep into his chest and I didn't give a fuck how worn-out he was, I was so happy to see him it was hurting to keep the smile from surfacing.
But not here.
Never, ever, at work. Ever.
It wasn't a rule; it was the foundation of what we had. And I'd let our first meeting after weeks apart be in uniform – well, that didn't matter so much; God knows we'd fucked each other raw in Air Force blue often enough – and in his office.
Now that did matter. I might have my fantasies about being fucked over his desk, or on my knees sucking him slowly for hours and hours – fantasy, definitely a fantasy -- licking and tasting and teasing while he worked, ignoring me until his hand brushed my hair in an unspoken signal and I took him in deep – God, yes, I had a dozen of those.
And I knew he had plenty like it himself, where he was the one kissing oak, hips bruised by wood, nails scrabbling for purchase on a polished surface as I screwed him in a silence we couldn't break with anything but a soft, stifled gasp.
It didn't mean they'd happen, any of them. I couldn't recall even shaking his hand once I'd closed the door behind me. No contact. No personal conversation. Major and General.
It was too ingrained a habit to break.
I swallowed down the need to yell at him until we started kissing to shut me up and followed him into his office, closing the door with a respectfully quiet click.
"Sir. My luggage was delayed and I –" Wasn't going to tell him about the man with the guitar playing Beatles songs badly. "I needed to change so I went home first."
"I don't need spit and polish, Major. I could care less if your buttons are shiny. Report."
The desk lay between us and he hadn't offered me a seat. I fixed my eyes on a point on the wall, my hat tucked neatly under my arm, and began to recite a brief summary, composed and committed to memory on the flight between dessert and a disappointing brandy. Nothing he didn't already know, but it filled the thirty seconds of his attention span.
"Yes, sir. I'll write it up tonight and have a copy on your desk by tomorrow."
"Lunchtime will do."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." I paused. "Sir?"
He was staring down at his hands, folded and resting on the desk. Still hands, empty hands.
"I said you were dismissed."
I couldn't force the words to sound the way they should; my voice was uneven, my throat was closing up. Anger, a little, but mostly bewilderment.
I rarely called him that. Never here. Never on duty. It brought his head up, his dark eyes momentarily as confused as mine must have looked. The confusion didn't linger, swept away by anger.
"Major Davis, for the third time –"
"I'm going. God."
I'd just sworn at a superior officer. A day of firsts. Maybe he'd take it as a flattering alternative to 'sir'?
His eyes sparked dark and furious.
Just when I was bracing myself for a sharp reprimand, scouring my ears like sandpaper, he stood up and walked past me, opening the door and staring at Anne's empty desk.
Then he turned, took a handful of my jacket, and dragged me onto his mouth, kissing me ravenously, all spit and teeth and spite.
He tasted wrong and the place was wrong and I pushed at him, one-handed because of my hat, keeping my hand flat, not a fist, because I didn't trust him right then and striking a superior officer was much, much worse than swearing at one.
He tasted, I thought, as I twisted my mouth away, of a particularly foul lemon-mint toothpaste I'd received in the mail just before I'd left. I'd tried it, shuddered, and left it out on the counter in the bathroom instead of consigning it to the trash because the phone had rung as my hand was reaching for it.
A triviality, lost in weeks of work, called back by a kiss.
I'm logical. Persistent. Quick-thinking. It says so frequently on my progress reports; the ones that never seem to see me promoted as a result of my excellent qualities.
I caught my breath, my hand still on his arm, his grip slackening, and took a moment to do some deducing. He'd used my toothpaste. So it had been him stopping over at my place. But he shouldn't still taste of it after a day drinking coffee. So he'd been back there since the morning. Waiting for me? Was that it? Angry because he'd missed me, in two senses of the word? Maybe... but although he could be surprisingly fastidious at times, would he have bothered to brush his teeth while he waited? It didn't seem likely. I wasn't the fussy sort and –
"Who have you been fucking at my apartment? Who got to give you a liquid lunch?"
It wasn't a leap in the dark. I was watching a score of memories spin languidly by; Jack leaving my bed, or his, his mouth slickly coated with come, grimacing and gargling because he hated the aftertaste, scrubbing fiercely at his teeth, and once doing it before coming back to bed and shoving a minty-fresh tongue up my ass.
It had tingled and burned. Fucking Listerine.
"It wasn't like –"
"Give me a name." I was hissing the words through clenched teeth, keeping my voice low because that way it didn't shake as much. "If you bothered to ask –"
"Daniel. It was Daniel, but I didn't – I slept with him, yes, but we didn't fuck. Christ, Davis! What does it get to make you trust me?"
I stepped back, gaping at him, deprived of words. I think my mouth opened and closed three times before anything intelligible emerged.
Before I could add any of the obscenities curdling on my tongue he slid his hand behind my neck and I swallowed each and every one, treacherous body responding with a flurry of excited signals and nudges that yes, sex was imminent, feast after famine, even if my brain knew damn well it so fucking wasn't.
"Go home, okay? I'll be there as soon as I can. God, this is so fucked-up, but not the way you're thinking, I swear."
The rough warmth of his hand soaked into the nape of my neck, anchoring me in a swelling, quease-inducing sea.
"Four fucking years."
He opened his mouth and I realised that he didn't know what to call me. 'Paul' fitted the discussion, but he rarely used it, and in here? Not a fucking chance. He settled for a nod, looking wretched and determined and tired.
"Just go home, will you? I'll be there."
I wiped my mouth, stepped back, smoothed down my jacket and gave him a salute, snapped off and quivering to attention, holding it as he rolled his eyes in exasperation, looking more like himself.
"Oh, for crying out loud..." He sketched a salute back at me and snarled a final, "Dismissed, dammit," to speed me on my way.
I woke, screwing my barely open eyes closed again against a dazzle of sunlight and shifting so that when I opened them again it was less of an assault. There were curtains, and they were drawn, but as they were washed to threadbare they weren't doing a good job of keeping the light at bay. Jack was warm beside me, fast asleep, his bitten, kissed, well-fucked lips slightly parted, snoring enough that if it'd been the middle of the night, I'd have kicked him until he rolled over.
I'd been mostly gentle with him. I didn't think he had any new bruises... He stirred and the sheets slipped away, exposing his right shoulder blade.
Oh. Well, that one didn't count.
His face contracted in pain – and that had to be the cracked ribs, not me -- and I watched it wake him, taking him out of sleep and back with me.
I smiled at him. "Good morning."
We were talking in library whispers, close enough that it didn't matter. I hesitated and then kissed his shoulder, tasting the sweat sex and sleep had left on his skin. He moaned, which could've meant anything, and I began to draw back. His hand worked its way to my thigh through the covers and held me in place.
I felt my balls tighten, my cock swell full and hard.
Just from that. One kiss, one testing, tasting lick of my tongue, and his hand on me. He said sometimes that I made him feel old, when I wanted sex and he wanted sleep, when he hummed along to a song that made me grin derisively -- Well, he made me feel young. Young enough that I could be dangerously aroused, stupid with lust, drugged with the needs of my body, clamorous and insistent.
Sometimes I hated that he could do that; a couple of decades of learned, rigid self-control flicked casually aside.
I swallowed back a whimper and watched his eyes get speculative, interested. Never failed; he thought I was hiding something, holding back, and he went digging. Something else to resent, because he didn't own me. Body, yes, heart, mostly, but the rest... not so much. And it wasn't as if turnabout was fair play in his book. Oh, no. Fuck, no. I remembered what I'd had to do to get anything approaching the truth from him after Daniel had... gone. There was a scar on my knuckle to remind me.
Just thinking about that, and the threat he'd held over me about inviting Daniel in my place had me angry all over again, fresh and hot and bitter, better than coffee for a wakeup call.
"You son of a bitch –"
"Davis?" He drawled it out but there wasn't much surprise there. We never seemed to manage the quick fixes and last night's reconciliation had been partly pragmatic; I was there, he was there, we wanted to fuck and couldn't if we were fighting. Simple solution was to make nice, and that's what we'd done.
Add something else to the list of his sins; I'd become predictable to him. Had to know me inside and out for that to happen and dammit, when had I ever said he could? I breathed out sharply, tasting my temper.
"Sometimes, you just –"
"Piss you off. I know."
It was too early to let loose with a primal scream and he wasn't fit enough for us to fight and fuck our way to a less self-serving peace.
"Don't do that. Don't – don't assume."
"Hey." His hand slid up and down my arm, soothing me with that as much as his voice, mellow and calm. "I'm entitled. I –" Barest hint of hesitation, just enough to warn me –
"Don't. Don't fucking say it."
"I know you," he finished.
I rolled on top of him, weight on my hands, grinding them into the ancient mattress, close enough to him that I could brush and drag my thumbs against his shoulders.
"So you do, sir." He pulled a face at the 'sir' and my irritation dissolved because he wriggled and he was there, naked under me, and we'd got all day...
I bent my arms, slowly, achingly slowly, until I could rub my nose, my mouth, my face against his, making soft little noises, giving him everything I was feeling without reservation.
Not an apology. More of a taunt, really, as I was depriving him of the fun of teasing a reaction out of me, but I hoped he'd take it in the spirit it was meant.
His foot lashed out, kicking the covers off us both, and his hand came down on my ass in a solid smack. I yelped, grinned and bit his lip hard, wishing he wasn't hurt – but there was nothing wrong with me...
"You done sulking?" he asked.
"No," he decided, long fingers of one hand busy with the heavy dangle of my balls – which felt nice, but risky, with him in this mood. He squeezed and tugged and I winced and ground against his palm. Not a hope of hiding my arousal, ever. "No, I don't think so."
"Want me to prove it?" My voice was thick, struggling past an overwhelming need to pull the covers back up and over us, to press closer and not move away. How often did I get this; his attention, his time? What the fuck was I wasting it on pointless bickering for?
He smiled. "Now, how would you do that, Paul?"
We'd got our code, as any couple had. Needed it more, too, given how much we were under observation when we were together.
Proving I wasn't angry with him as Paul meant...
No limits, none. No constraints of rank, no fallout, no reference to it afterwards. Major Davis felt a natural reticence about exploring the various ways Colonel O'Neill could be tied to a bed, well-spanked ass squirming against a cool, rough sheet; Paul loved it. The colonel's fingers, four of them, didn't fit inside the major's ass; Jack's slid into Paul's slowly and although when we'd finished I'd told him that was it, no more, too much, don't ever even ask and ignore me if I do, it was something we were both waiting to take to a conclusion. One day. One night.
But it was early in the morning and the sunlight made the shadows we slipped into sometimes thin to nothingness, giving us – me – nowhere to hide.
He was studying me, the barest hint of a smile on his face, as he waited.
"Let go of me," I told him hoarsely.
He got in one last, gentler, squeeze, his departing fingers dragging slowly upward over my cock.
"If I was still ... sulking, I wouldn't kiss you, would I?" His body took my lips as I trailed kisses over it, took them and flushed and warmed under them, until he was pliant and murmuring increasingly ragged repetitions of, "You might... yes, you might..."
I didn't go near his cock. A blow job didn't prove a damn thing; he knew I loved sucking him.
There was something he liked that I didn't do often, not because I didn't want to; he'd never asked me for anything I wasn't willing to do; I sometimes wished he would, because I was curious; would I, or wouldn't I?
I suppose it would depend on who was asking me.
No, I didn't do it often for a simple enough reason; I needed to keep something back he wanted. Give him everything, every time, and how long would he stay? How much of his feelings for me were based on a fascination with the unattainable, the forbidden?
I rolled him over, carefully and split his ass with my fingers, running my tongue over the exposed skin with an indiscriminate, lavish appreciation, flicking the tip of it against his hole, planting kisses meant to tickle so he was choking with laughter even as he gasped out ecstatic, incoherent applause.
No one had ever done this to him before me. Hard to believe and he'd flushed scarlet when I'd gaped at him in surprise, scrambling out of bed and getting halfway dressed before I got myself under control enough to apologise. He hadn't let me do it to him until he'd done it to me first, though, making me talk him through it and tell him what felt good, what wasn't working, and stopping every time I dissolved into pleading whimpers.
He had his own ways of getting revenge.
And, no, rimming him wasn't something I saved for special occasions. Hell, no.
I gave his asshole one final, swirling lash of my tongue and knelt back, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand and reaching for the water bottle by the bed to rinse my mouth, spitting into a handful of tissues. Good enough for now, and we didn't kiss much when we were fucking anyway.
He sat up and cupped my face in one hand.
"Nice. Thanks. Well?"
I met his eyes and smiled. "Jack? Fuck me? Please?"
And watched his face soften in relief, even as he pushed me down to the bed.
If I ever told him I loved him – and I never had – it'd have to be Jack I told, or he wouldn't want to hear it.
And I wouldn't want to say it to anyone else.
Way Back When
I'd never spent this long
with Daniel, just the two of us. I was left
wondering how O'Neill kept his hands off him.
Earnest, sincere, maddening, and spiffed up beautifully in a suit and tie. Lecturing me incessantly, as aware of political finessing as a duck is of sauce a l'orange, and ultimately, the only reason we got what we came for.
The man was lethal.
There was nowhere inside that we could expect privacy; even outside, escaping into the chilly, thin air for brief walks, our heads aching from tension, talking and tea, we weren't completely safe from being overheard. It imposed a welcome strain on our conversation.
Left alone, we'd have talked about O'Neill at some point, and I'm not sure I would have handled that well.
I hadn't seen him for a while; difficult to meet, unwise to phone or write... any relationship we had was being conducted via a series of hastily arranged encounters in random hotels, maybe once a month, if that. I'd been praying for a chance to go to the SGC, and getting nothing but paperwork in return.
I was starting to think that the ending on a whimper had begun before I'd had chance to scream.
The last walk Daniel and I took as we waited for the DHD to be loaded onto the plane was the only chance we had to talk freely. It was night, we were standing in the middle of a field, and the guards assigned to us were a hundred yards away, squinting up at a sky that was sending down lazily spinning snowflakes, a few a minute.
"You have to be proud," I told him sincerely. "You've done what I frankly didn't think was possible."
He shrugged, huddling into his jacket, the clear, sharp lines of his jaw blurred by the wavering shadows. "But will it be enough?"
"I don't know." We stood in silence, contemplating Teal'c's situation. "It has to be."
"Yes. It does."
He sounded intense about it and I gave him a curious look. Teal'c was, after all, involved with the capture, snaking, and death of Jackson's wife and yet they seemed to have moved past that to become friends with surprising ease.
Anyone who'd killed Claire, especially to save me from a painful death, would have had my eternal gratitude, but that wasn't likely to have been Jackson's reaction.
Of course, I saw them from a distance. Teal'c and I weren't close; I found him intimidating, not because of his size, or even the snake coiled in his belly. No; he watched. Watched, listened, absorbed, all with an impassive, polite, barely there smile.
I felt, sometimes, that at a moment of his choosing, he'd tell us all exactly what conclusions he'd come to, and it was a terrifying thought.
So for all I knew, Teal'c and Jackson still had issues; I knew now that SG-1 was both tighter and more fragmented than I'd blithely assumed before I'd starting fucking its leader.
In fact, a theory I'd have shared with O'Neill only under threat of death as I could imagine his reaction, the fragmentation was what made them fit; otherwise they were four squares jostling to fill a circle.
Edges and corners had to be broken off, rubbed down, discarded. After working with Daniel for a couple of days, I knew what O'Neill must have gone through to form any kind of workable relationship. Can't have been easy. I felt bruised all over.
Daniel stared up and I tilted my head back, too, wanting a snowflake to settle on me in acknowledgement that I existed, I was there. I hadn't slept much, and I felt distanced and remote, detached and invisible. Maybe I was ill, coming down with something...
"Are you coming back with me?"
"To see Jack."
He met my wide-eyed stare with a small nod, and a smaller smile, and caught a snowflake neatly on the end of his tongue.
And I wondered, again, how O'Neill kept his hands off him.
Two months later, he was dead, out of reach of us all.
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