"So on a scale of one to ten, how pissed are you that you don't have super powers?"
Daniel ducked his head, his fingers twisting around the glass he held. "I'm more embarrassed, frankly." He glanced up. "You never thought I had, did you?"
"No, not really."
That got Jack the tight half-smile that meant he'd annoyed Daniel. He saw that a lot. "Mind telling me why? I mean; you had the evidence of your own eyes --"
"Like Carter said; easy to fake, or to fool us. It's happened before."
"Yes, but..." Daniel ground to a halt. "Never mind. I made a fool of myself. That's happened before, too."
That seemed to be a conversation-stopper. Jack watched Daniel place his empty glass on the table and lean back on the couch, slipping off his glasses to rub at his eyes.
"I said if we came out of it alive I was going to harm you severely," Jack told him, more to break the silence than anything.
Daniel blinked at him and slid his glasses back on. "Oh?"
"You were irritating the hell out of me," Jack said simply.
"And that's punishable by whatever falls under the heading of harming me severely?"
"In an ideal world? Oh, yeah." Jack raised his beer bottle in a toast.
"I suppose it never occurred to you that one of the first things I planned to set on fire was the seat of your pants?"
"You were rude, impatient, dismissive..."
"Just being myself, Daniel --"
"And if you ever show me up like that again, I'll --"
"What?" Jack set his bottle down and glared across a few yards of floor at Daniel who was leaning forward, his mouth tight and his eyes flashing angrily. "No powers, remember? And we both know you don't stand a chance if we got physical. I'd snap you like a twig."
"I'm tougher than you think," Daniel told him. "You probably could beat me if it came to unarmed combat --"
"No probably about it."
"But what would that prove?"
"Prove?" Jack echoed, losing track of the conversation.
The room had darkened imperceptibly as they'd sat talking -- and not talking -- and in the flickering uncertainty of the flames, Daniel's mouth had acquired a deceptive blurred softness not reflected in his voice.
"I've told you what I was going to do to you; what did you have planned for me?"
Jack relaxed, grinning. "Oh, Daniel... you know I'd never touch a hair on your pretty little head; Carter and Teal'c would throw a fit and I'm scared of them."
Okay, that, and the slight stress on the last word especially, had been below the belt -- but he'd had one koan too many to deal with -- and too many beers to restrain his tongue. Daniel had come close to getting them all killed, dammit.
Daniel pursed his lips, nodding slowly. "I see. So my head's off limits. How about my ass?"
"I'm sorry?" Jack squinted across at him. "Did you just ask if your ass was off limits to me? Hell, yes! For many, many reasons."
"So you've never -- let's keep this hypothetical for now -- been tempted to, uh, apply some persuasive pressure to it?"
"I've wanted to kick it, if that's what --"
Jack made the best, 'throw me a fucking clue' face he could, and waited.
"Spank it," Daniel said coolly. "Hard."
"That..." Jack cleared his throat. "I think I can truthfully say that I've never given it a --"
"Your bare hand. My bare ass."
"Well, sure, now I'm thinking about it!"
Daniel smiled sweetly. "I've thought about it, too," he said confidingly. "My hand on your ass, that is. More ways than one to set it on fire, mm?"
"I haven't done anything wrong!" Jack growled. "I'm not the one playing in the sandpit while the Goa'uld sneak up and surround us. I'm not --"
"This isn't about that anymore," Daniel said softly. "It's about seeing who can take the most... heat."
"Since you pissed me off enough to make it be."
In a weird way, that made sense. In most other ways, it remained insane.
"How did I annoy you?"
"Who heard that remark about harming me?"
"Everyone who wasn't you or a glowing ball of light, I suppose."
"The same people who heard you tell me to put my shoes on as if I was a child of four? Those people?"
"You were planning to walk back to the 'gate barefoot!"
"I would have noticed within a few steps! Excuse me for being a little distracted at the time!"
"Well, fine! What do you want me to do? Say I'm sorry?"
They were shouting now, voices snapping and cracking like the logs in the fireplace, sparks flying.
"No." Daniel's voice evened out, flat and implacable. "I want you to drop your pants, bend over something, and let me see just how tough you are."
"Well, I won't." That was weak, Jack realised. Lacked force. He tried again. "It's a ridiculous idea."
"Want me to go first?"
Now where the hell had that come from? Jack bit down on his lip --which hurt -- and waited for Daniel to giggle until his shoulders were shaking, his eyes damp from laughing, and tell him that he'd been joking, and getting Jack to fall for it was revenge enough.
Not that Jack thought he'd done anything wrong. Not one single, solitary thing.
Instead, Daniel stood, glanced around the room, a slow, unhurried survey, and finished up with his gaze locked onto a wooden chair, high-backed and sturdy.
"My grandfather made that," Jack protested.
"So choose something else." Daniel threw him a glance. "I'm not going over your knee. I think you've treated me like a child enough for one day, don't you?"
"You don't have to -- look, I'll apologise, okay?"
"You won't mean it."
"No, but I'll still say it."
Sometimes, he had to wonder if his brain went to sleep when he was talking to Daniel.
"Oh, use the chair," he said with a sigh.
"What?" Jack got up, pacing in an indirect, circular route that somehow ended up with him beside the chair, gripping the back of it and then jerking his hand away as if the wood had burned him. "Rules? What the hell?"
"This is in the nature of a challenge; there have to be rules, or it won't be fair."
"It's a dare, Daniel," Jack said bluntly. "It's insane, it doesn't get mentioned, ever, and I don't want you to think it's too late to back out, because it isn't."
Daniel eyed him silently until Jack stopped talking, and then carried on. "Rules. Bare skin. That's fair, plus we'll be able to see what damage --"
"Damage?" Jack's voice squeaked.
"Will you stop interrupting me? We'll be able to see what's happening."
"Yes, I suppose we will." Jack was feeling a little dazed, and he had a head full of images that wouldn't do the decent thing and fade to black. Or red.
"I can't imagine it getting that far, but obviously any blood --"
"What? Whoa! No!"
"It ends when I tell you to stop," Daniel said in an icy-silk murmur. "I'll be counting -- not aloud -- and I expect you to do the same. If we don't agree on a number, we split it. I don't expect you to cheat."
"I wouldn't," Jack protested.
"You would if you thought you could get away with it," Daniel corrected him. "You can't."
"Okay, just -- this is you doing all the talking; don't I get to make some rules?"
Daniel pushed his glasses up and then reconsidered and took them off, dropping them on an end table. His face changed, open, vulnerable, but somehow stronger at the same time. It was disconcerting. "Go ahead."
"Instead of making this some whacked-out endurance thing -- and to be fair on you, because if you go first, let's face it, you'll be in no condition to -- to hit me afterwards. Not really."
"Get on with it."
"Sets of ten and swap. And if you call it quits, I have to take one more than you did to win."
Daniel mulled that over, his lips forming a pensive pout. "Twenty."
"Fifteen," Jack said instantly.
Daniel raised an eyebrow. "Is the compulsion to argue with me really that strong?"
"It's a compulsion, so I'd have to say yes." Jack nodded at the chair. "Drop 'em, Daniel. Chair's right there. Fifteen."
"Might as well take yours off, too, Jack." Daniel's hands went to his belt, but his eyes were on Jack. "Save time."
"Sure, Daniel," Jack said slowly, his hands moving in time with Daniel's. "One more rule, though..."
There was a slither and a thud as Daniel's belt and pants hit the floor. "Yes?"
Jack allowed his eyes to flicker south and then took them high again. "Hands, yes. Ass, yes, for hitting purposes. Anything else? Out of fucking bounds."
Daniel hooked his thumbs in his shorts, white and tight and clinging to his thighs. "I don't recall ever suggesting anything else."
"Then why are you ..." Jack waved his hand meaningfully and got a smile that made him wonder how the hell Daniel had thought he was a candidate for enlightenment.
"Work it out on your own time, Jack."
The shorts shimmied down, Daniel stepped out of them, and it was Jack's turn to get looked at. "What? Oh..."
Daniel turned away just before Jack slipped off his boringly prosaic navy blue cotton shorts. It was insulting. Daniel could at least --Jack stared down at himself. Not that impressive a view. Maybe he owed Daniel for not taking a peek. He'd make this easy on him; maybe even cave deliberately halfway through...
He bent to pick up his shorts and put them on the couch, and realised that Daniel's ass was in his line of sight. The ass he was about to spank, and even in his head he was stuttering that word because it just wasn't something he'd ever done to anyone, man, woman, or child. Had it done to him, yeah, sure -- but it'd been a nun, with a ruler, in a classroom, and there was absolutely nothing about that event that featured in any jerk-off session ever. It'd been embarrassing, his father had given him hell, and his grandmother had prayed for his immortal soul. All for paying a dollar to look at the porn magazine one of the older kids had swiped from his brother's room, grubby, well-thumbed, and, in retrospect, tame as hell.
And it wasn't as if it was virgin territory for his eyes; or hands, for that matter. He'd pulled a splinter three inches long out of Daniel's left cheek, squeezing the little sucker out, his hands clamped around icy, soaked skin, Daniel being stoic until Sam withdrew discreetly and then cussing up a storm and whimpering like a fucking baby. He'd showered next to it, had it pushed in his face as they tried to scramble up a vertical cliff, and put the sole of his boot against it and pushed when Daniel got wedged between two stone pillars.
Probably patted it fondly when the mood took him, although it was never, ever going to take him again after this.
Daniel sighed impatiently, bent over and spread his legs, and Jack saw a whole new side of him.
"You're getting off on this."
"Does that bother you?"
"Nooooo." Jack rubbed sweaty hands over his legs and stopped when he realised skin wasn't that absorbent. "That doesn't make it right."
"Do you feel used, Jack?"
Oh, that was payback, yes it was. Jack snarled, took the three steps needed to put him behind Daniel, and brought his hand down with a loud, sharp smack. "One!"
Daniel shivered and tensed and dipped his head slightly. Jack swallowed, the sting in his palm finally registering. He looked down the bowed curve of Daniel's spine and saw a fading flush on pale skin. His handprint. On Daniel.
On Daniel's ass.
And he had to do it again? Again and again, until the marks wouldn't have time to fade and he'd run out of new places to hit. Again, until his wrist was jarred and aching, his palm swollen and stretched. Again until Daniel was making noises Jack knew he'd recognise --
"I can't --"
"Yes, you can."
"Can you?" Jack demanded. "Can you do this --" His hand sliced air and came to rest in a controlled tap, barely there, on the same place it'd landed before. "Two, and don't argue, that's the second one, okay? Can you do that to me?"
"Why not?" Daniel twisted his head around, blue eyes dark. "I know how it feels; why not?"
"I wouldn't be enjoying it; wouldn't that matter?"
"Then you'd tell me to stop."
He'd seen Daniel's ruthless side before, but never directed at him. It was intimidating. Being naked wasn't helping.
"I'm not enjoying this either."
"You don't mean that."
Daniel straightened up, but kept his hands on the chair. "I didn't enjoy today, Jack, but I think if I'd told you that, 'too bad' would've been all the answer I got, too. That boy was a weapon to you; to me, he was all I had left of Sha're. I gave him up, and you didn't care. I lost him."
"No, you didn't. You gave him to someone who could keep him safe. You got to see him, to hold him." Jack shook his head. "Fuck this. Fuck you. Get dressed and get the hell out, Daniel. You win. I can't hurt you, and I don't want you to hurt me. Just -- ah, shit. Enough? Okay?"
Daniel looked at him for a long moment and finally blushed, heat rising in a scald of scarlet.
And Jack caved, spectacularly and completely. "Oh, for crying -- come here, will you?"
Hugging Daniel half naked was weird; bits were bumping that really shouldn't be, and yet he couldn't hold back, make it brief and impersonal; Daniel fit too well into his arms and it felt familiar, felt good. "You are one kinky little archeologist, you know that?" he whispered fondly into Daniel's hair.
"Bite me," Daniel whispered back, managing to grind his heel against Jack's instep without breaking the hug.
"Was I really that much of a pain in the...okay, rephrasing that, right the hell now..."
There was a snuffle of laughter against his shoulder, and then Daniel eased away a little. "Yes. You were. I guess I was, too. It was just so exciting, Jack. The walls... you know, I never took a single picture? Not one? We have to go back --"
"Yes?" Daniel paused, frowning slightly at the interruption.
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