Jack gave the chessboard a final glance as he went to answer a knock at the door, beer in hand. He couldn't see an opening, no matter which colour he was playing. Had to be missing something...
He opened the door with a familiar tight, restless anticipation rolling in his gut. Show time? Maybe. Little too soon for them to make contact, though; it had to be -- "Daniel?"
Okay; not entirely unexpected. He'd known there'd be something like this; some private, between friends, attempt to reconcile. Even hoped for it, because, done right, it could be useful. He'd just expected it to be all three of them. Would have been better that way; they could've left, hurt and angry, and gone off to bad-mouth him until they felt better. One on three he could've handled; this was going to feel like bullying.
He prepared to hate himself very soon, and took a slow, dismissive swig from his beer bottle, refusing to step back and let Daniel in.
Daniel skipped the small talk. "I had to -- there was something I didn't say before."
Before? Daniel hadn't said much of anything on base once Jack had announced his forced retirement, and cleared his desk. Dismissing it as unimportant, he shrugged. "Really not a good time, Daniel."
"It never was. And so I never did."
"Never did wha--?"
Daniel's mouth was on his before he'd finished speaking, wet and warm and an inch off target.
Jack's hands batted frantically at air a split second after Daniel's hands, shaking but determined, cupped his face. Beer jolted out of the neck of the bottle he was holding, splashing over the back of his hand, cool foam dripping down. The little finger on Daniel's left hand found the hollow of Jack's jaw and sent heat and terror washing over him.
No. Not this, not now, no.
He freed himself and bent to put the bottle down, moving with the fluid, slow-motion speed of a desperate man. He mouthed a synopsis of his thought at Daniel; a silent, forceful no, juggled options, most of them violent, then pulled Daniel inside the house with a swift tug on his god-awful shirt, releasing him instantly so that he could slap his palm across Daniel's mouth to shut him up. It had to hurt, because he wasn't giving Daniel any chance to break away. Strong, long fingers, and Jack knew just where to place them.
He nudged the door shut with a careful kick. No good line of sight from the street, but that meant nothing.
Daniel's teeth scraped at his palm, trying to get enough skin to bite, his head thrashing from side to side, and that was good, that was what he'd taught him, but not now, Danny, not now, dammit. Even this was making noise; small scuffs of shoes on wood, their breathing too fast, too heavy.
The silence was the most damning thing of all. They should be talking.
"Daniel, I said all I was going to say back at the SGC, and I don't appreciate you not taking the hint that I've had it up to here with being lectured." Confusion and indignation flooded Daniel's wide-open eyes. His glasses were askew, just a little. Jack contorted his face in a grimace, willing Daniel to get that there was something wrong, overplaying it deliberately, because Daniel had changed everything with that fucking kiss, and he had to tell him now -- no. A hint. That was all he could give him. And even that was going against direct, specific orders, dammit.
Daniel wasn't catching on that they weren't, appearances to the contrary, exactly alone. Jack, still a step ahead of him, moved his free hand down to grab at Daniel's before it tried to punch him -- which Daniel should've been doing way earlier than this, and he was so going to call him on that later when this was all over.
Something changed as his fingers tangled and twisted with Daniel's. Daniel stopped struggling for one thing, and stopped biting. Jack just had time to feel grateful for that, a fleeting flash of relief, before he felt Daniel's lips take on a new shape, pushing forward to kiss the wet, chewed skin. It didn't feel sexual, even if Jack could swear he heard the hairs of his body stand up as he shivered in reaction; it was just Daniel doing what he did best, and communicating his peaceful intentions the only way he could, given that he couldn't speak: Hey, Jack. Friend, here. Don't kill me, even if you have gone totally insane since I saw you last.
Not sexual at first, but still a kiss, and it didn't end. Daniel's tongue stroked over wet skin, and no way that was needed. Jack's reaction of shocked, unwilling arousal must have reached his face, because Daniel dragged their paired hands over and up, and ground the heel of Jack's hand against his jerking, swelling cock as if that was a reasonable fucking thing to do a minute after knocking on someone's door.
Jack rode out a stab of pain, salt-bright, from his cheek as he clamped down on a moan, deep and heartfelt.
"You should go now, Daniel." His voice sounded weird. Shaky. Daniel worked his hand free and Jack's palm was left by itself, filled and curved by the shape of Daniel's erection.
Daniel's eyebrows lifted in a question -- God, Jack couldn't imagine what he was thinking about any of this -- and he tilted his head back, trying to free some space to talk; taking advantage of Jack's slackened grip.
Jack couldn't let him do that. Protecting the mission, Daniel, his own ass; it didn't matter which came first; they weren't in conflict right now. He pushed Daniel back against the nearest wall with the weight of his body, crowding in close, and gagged him again, his fingers biting into the smooth skin of Daniel's face, turning the skin white around five dents. He took his hand off Daniel's dick -- his country owed him for this, oh, God, did they ever owe him big-time -- and planted his hand in the centre of Daniel's chest, butterfly-pinning him in place. Daniel's heart was thudding wildly, hard, jerking like his dick had. Jack felt guilty; one thing to have the shared knowledge that Daniel was hard; discovering that he was this worked up was something Daniel should have been allowed to keep private.
He scoured the guilt away with abrasive words. "I'm not going to waste time on a geek like you now I don't have to. Not going to listen to you tell me I suck for putting humans over aliens; lives over stupid fucking artifacts --"
The next bite was a serious attempt to maim him. Jack felt the tough skin of his palm give under the onslaught, but refuse to yield. He stopped Daniel with his thumb and some brutally direct tactics he knew he'd be ashamed of using later, putting his hand back where it had been and circling the head of Daniel's cock through two layers of clothing, hard enough to sink the sensation deep into hidden skin, until Daniel stopped attacking him with his fucking teeth and closed his eyes.
Stupid, Daniel, stupid -- we're fighting here -- I didn't mean that the way you think --
Then he eased his hand away from Daniel's face and replaced it with his mouth, a Judas kiss, because Daniel tried to match their mouths right away, eager, hopeful, and Jack jerked back an inch, not letting their lips touch, breathing the words urgently. "Daniel, no. Trust me, okay?"
After a long pause, Daniel nodded, bumping his forehead against Jack's because they were that close, and Jack sighed and stepped back.
Daniel licked his lips, and pushed his glasses straight. He was flushed and wild-eyed and, without a shadow of a doubt, fucking furious, but he didn't let Jack down, and he kept his voice conversational. "I just want to know why you did it, Jack. We all do." He glanced down at Jack's beer. "Got another one of those? Or maybe an apology?"
"Not going to happen, Daniel. And I know you don't like beer, so why don't we skip that excuse to hang around?"
"You're not sorry about anything you've done recently?" Daniel's gaze dropped to stare at a point south of Jack's belt and hung there for a long, slow count of three.
Oh, you sneaky, clever --
"Can't think of anything, no. I saw an opportunity, and I took it."
"Grabbed it with both hands..." Daniel murmured.
"You could say that."
"But you didn't get to keep it."
"No. Thanks to those dumb fucking regs, I had to give it back." Jack took a step backwards. Body language. Daniel could read that. He kept the edge in his voice, the sarcasm, trusting to the words. Daniel was used to interpreting words out of context, divorced from their speaker. "Guess there is something I'm sorry about, right there. Will that do? Because it's all I've got."
Daniel nodded slowly. "You're more of an asshole than I realised."
"That all you've got? Come on, Daniel; you can do better than that! You've spent how many years holding it all in; let it out now you can."
That really hadn't been the best way to put it, but Jack was getting dizzy from juggling two conversations, playing to an unseen audience, and processing the fact that Daniel had some interesting ideas on what a supposedly retired colonel could do with his time and his idle hands.
Daniel's mouth tightened and he walked forward, cat-footed and careful, put his hands on Jack's shoulders, and let gravity drag his spread fingers down over Jack's chest and stomach.
"Okay, I will." Daniel smiled. Not a kind smile. "Because there's nothing you can do to me, is there? You're not in any position to stop me now you're off the team."
One finger. One brushing, stroking, inquisitive finger -- Jack shuddered under Daniel's touch and knocked Daniel's hand away. "Still not a good idea to piss me off, Daniel. Nothing to stop me doing what I've wanted to more than once, and wiping that smug, liberal smirk off your face."
"How?" Daniel leaned in and put his mouth over the pulse beating high on Jack's neck, letting his teeth dig in.
Jack snarled, grabbed Daniel by the hair and his arm --mostly his arm -- and pushed him away. "Don't make me hurt you, Daniel." He couldn't let go now he'd touched him. He ran his hands over him, greedily, angrily, thrusting his fingers through messy hair, up inside the loose-rolled sleeves to find skin, watching Daniel's face. Warm skin. God, Daniel was so warm-- "You know, you've done enough to get the message over that I'm a huge disappointment to you. Why don't you just go? And when the Goa'uld come knocking, because we're not prepared for them, that'll be me you hear screaming, I told you so, before we're all blown to hell and back."
Daniel stood passively under Jack's hands, a partial, skewed understanding finally filling his eyes as Jack released him.
"I don't blame you for caring about that. For doing everything you could to keep us all safe. I understand your motives."
"But?" Jack tilted his head. "I know you, Daniel. There's always a but."
"Stealing from our allies. Betraying their trust. You crossed a line."
God, he still believed that, didn't he? Daniel still thought -- fuck. Did he get it or not? Jack wasn't sure now, and he couldn't ask, couldn't tell.
"Yeah? So did you when you came here; the difference is, I was right to cross it; you weren't. Get out of here, will you?" He couldn't say please, but he wanted to beg. Daniel had to go. This had to end. He'd been rehearsing ways to grovel to all three of them when it was all over, but this -- God, Daniel was going to hate himself for this, and hate Jack more.
"Before you do something you'll regret?"
"Already have, Daniel. We had to give it back, remember?" Jack took the breath he needed to say what had to be said. "We lost that chance to get something important. It's gone."
Really gone. Daniel would never forgive himself for fucking the timing of this revelation up so spectacularly once he found out about the deception. He'd retreat, brush it off, refuse to talk about it -- flinch away.
Jack wondered how long Daniel had been awake last night thinking about this. He looked tired. He hadn't noticed until now -- hell, he hadn't had chance -- but Daniel was moving with the overly-careful lethargy of the exhausted, drunk on the high of being awake for way too long.
He wasn't even sure if Daniel was seeing the big picture here at all. Too focused on himself for once; the kisses, the touching, the signals that were so mixed it had to be frying his brain. Had to be if he was buying the line Jack was giving him about the need to steal -- and that was something else they were going to have to talk about, but not now, not now --
Daniel's hand came up, looking for something to hang on to. Jack took another step away. He was running out of room to do that. "Then all of this was a waste, wasn't it? You've lost everything that mattered to you -- your career, your reputation, your friends, and nothing's changed. We're still at risk."
"Looks that way, doesn't it? Now do you get why I'm not in the mood to talk to you? Since you're not seeing this my way, and never will?" He side-stepped Daniel and opened the door. "'Bye, Daniel. Thanks for dropping by. It's been.... enlightening."
Should have remembered that Daniel never gave up. Ever. "For me, too. Maybe we can do this again some time, when you've had chance --"
Jack cut him off. Daniel would know why, afterwards. "I don't see that ever happening, do you?"
Daniel frowned at him, looking as if he was trying to work out if this was something he was meant to believe. Jack could have smiled then; hell, pursed his lips in a silent kiss, winked, ruffled Daniel's hair... the people listening wouldn't have picked up on that, and Daniel would have had something to work with; he'd have figured it all out, or close enough, after he'd slept and his mind was clear, and he'd have kept his mouth shut. Hell, they all would have done; he'd told Hammond and the others that. His team. Would have been safe with them.
But he couldn't. Colonel in the US Air Force. On duty. On a mission to save the goddammed world. And, yeah, sure, he'd crossed the line. Touching Daniel like that. Way over the line.
But you could always step back.
Daniel hesitated, then went through the door. Stopped. Turned. Looked back. Still too close to the house to be safe to talk. They could've bugged the garden, too. He closed the door in Daniel's face with a sharp push. Should have maybe sealed the deal with a nasty smirk, but he couldn't bring himself to do that on top of everything else he'd just put Daniel through.
Had to be done, though. He'd got his orders. And nothing had changed, the way Daniel had thought it had. Probably never would. Not now. He'd never thought he stood a chance of getting Daniel, so nothing had changed there, not really, not --
The silence of the house settled down around him again.
White queen took a pawn, coming sweeping across out of nowhere, and he twisted the board around and fought back until he lost.
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