Stop Me If You've Heard This One



"SG-8 didn't make it."

Daniel steps aside, his smile of welcome fading, and Jack walks past him to sit and wait for the drink he knows Daniel will bring him. Straight whiskey, no ice. Drunk not to be savoured, but to be gulped, swilled around, and swallowed with a grimace, leaving a layer of bitterness coating Jack's tongue and flavouring his words.

Sober, Jack's taciturn when it comes to emotions. Get him very drunk, and that turns to sullen silence.

Just drunk enough, though, and Jack's words are spat out, vicious and fast, unstoppable as a bullet.

"--just a kid, Christ, why do they send them out that young? And Connors was getting married next year, did you know that? Fucking Goa'uld and their goddamned ambushes --"

Daniel knows that. Knows all four who died as well as Jack did. He's walked beside them through the 'gate, worked with them, shared a table in the mess, a shower in the locker room, a smile in passing.

He's silent though. He's not allowed to grieve until later, and Jack doesn't want sympathy or agreement that the world's a shitty, nasty place and the rest of the galaxy is no better. One word and Jack's defences will slam down, military mask in place, and he'll leave.

Daniel doesn't want Jack to leave.

So he listens. That's what Jack wants. That's all Jack wants. Daniel in the time-honoured role of bartender, supplying oblivion in a bottle and a distantly friendly ear.

Daniel, who's not military and doesn't care if Jack lets his feelings out to play with sharp objects so that it all ends in tears.

Not that Jack will actually cry, thank God. Daniel can cope with words, fend off blows, if he has to, and one day he will, but he can't handle tears. Not from Jack.

He'll hold Jack over a toilet bowl and deal with the mess when he misses, he'll stay awake, balanced on the extreme edge of his bed as Jack sleeps and snores, spread out selfishly like a man who's far too used to sleeping alone.

That, he can do.

He'll even deal patiently with Jack's fumbled, drunken attempts to fuck him (twice, and the second time he almost let him. Almost.) and walk through the role of amnesiac the next day when Jack can't look at him without a dull flush burning colour into ashen cheeks.

Not tears, though.

If Jack cries, Daniel knows what he'll do, how his fingers will brush at warm wetness on skin, his forehead furrowed anxiously, how he'll take advantage of Jack's weakness and kiss him, soft, Judas-kisses, learning the taste of Jack's mouth before leading Jack into the waiting darkness and stripping him bare in ways Jack will never forgive.

Daniel's been waiting a long time for Jack to show up at his door without the names of the dead on his lips. Too long to be kind or merciful past a certain point. Too long to consider consequences.

Not long enough to hope Jack cries.

Not yet.

Jack stops talking and the glass, a cheap one because sometimes they get thrown at walls, clunks down, empty.

"The hell with it," Jack says quietly, a defiant, defeated tremor running through his voice. He slouches back, long legs measuring the couch. "Daniel?"

And Daniel goes to him, sits on the floor, his head where Jack's fingers can touch it; endures clumsy pats and painful tugs at his hair, and waits for Jack to get up, throw up, and try to fuck him.



4/12/05

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