default style cream background and navy text

Give Me a Break

Summary: Inspired by a trip home. Jack needs to be pushed to admit his feelings, and Daniel knows just the man to help out. Many thanks, as usual, to Joy for the beta. Missed ya, hun.

General Hammond sighed as he saw Jack O'Neill at the latest debriefing. The mission hadn't gone very well, the team coming back miraculously uninjured, but even though the team said nothing, Hammond had a gut feeling that O'Neill's notoriously undiplomatic streak had come into play at some point. Hammond wondered why Daniel was taking the flak - as usual - pinning the blame on himself for the 'misunderstanding' that had led to SG-1 being taken prisoner. The other two jumped to Daniel's defence, but O'Neill said little, just grunting a 'what they said' instead. Something drastic had to be done and George knew it. He also knew, however, that going directly to O'Neill wouldn't work. No, he'd have to be a little bit more cunning.

"Doctor Jackson, would you mind remaining behind please?" he asked as he ended the debrief and dismissed the others.

Sam and Teal'c looked ready to speak, Hammond guessing (correctly as it turned out) that they thought he was going to have a go at their archaeologist for supposedly screwing up the diplomacy. Hurriedly, he added, "I'd like to discuss some budgetary concerns within your department."

Daniel agreed and the others relaxed. All except Jack who looked as shut off as he always seemed to these days.

After the others left, Hammond got up, turned off the cameras and dismissed the airman who was always there to take notes.

"I take it you don't want to discuss the budget really?" Daniel asked.

"Your perception, as always, is spot on, Daniel," Hammond replied, his use of Daniel's given name indicating that this was an off-the-record 'chat'.

Daniel sighed. "What have I done now?" he asked with a wry grin, his head slightly bowed as he waited for yet another bawling out. Hammond rarely had a go at him, so George realised by Daniel's body language that he was often being blamed for things, probably by O'Neill.

"Nothing, son. I need your help," he replied gently.

"Oh? Oh! Fine, shoot." Daniel's head lifted and his eyes were brighter. Hammond couldn't help but smile at the change in his demeanour.

"I'm not sure you'll like the subject matter though," he cautioned.

"Go on," Daniel said slowly, getting a sinking feeling.

"It's about Jack. What's going on between you two?"

"I have no idea, Sir," Daniel replied.

"Daniel, I've told you this is off the record. If you want, we can take this outside. It's me, George, not the General."

Daniel let out a snort. "I mean it George. I have no idea. One day we were friends, you know we were. We did everything together. Next thing he was bitching at me. I really do have no idea what it was that I did to make him feel like that."

"It's affecting his work," George said carefully.

As expected, Daniel jumped to Jack's defence, declaring that he was a damned fine leader and that whatever problem he had with Daniel, it wasn't interfering with his command decisions.

George let out yet another sigh.

"Was it really your fault that you were taken prisoner?" he asked kindly. "Or did he push you into saying something or doing something that you'd cautioned against?"

Daniel couldn't look him in the eye, couldn't answer at all. George was right.

"I have a dilemma, Daniel. Whatever is wrong is not only affecting SG-1 and your performance as a team, it's affecting the morale of the whole base. Something has to give. Now, I have a couple of options. I can retire Jack from the field, he's overdue that anyway; or I can break up SG-1. Neither option fills me with joy. Unless you have another idea?"

"Don't force Jack into retiring," Daniel pleaded, "it would kill him. I'll leave if it's necessary. Either I'll leave SG-1 or if my presence here on the base is that painful for him, I'll leave the SGC altogether. Don't do that to him, please."

"Then give me another option, Daniel. Jack is a most valuable and highly-respected leader. I have no desire to lose him or to make him fly a desk. But, I'll be perfectly frank, we cannot afford to lose you. You are... unique, I think would be a good word. And you know it."

"There are hundreds of competent linguists on the planet, Sir," Daniel argued.

"Maybe so, but there is only one Daniel Jackson," Hammond replied with a smile. "Tell me, Daniel. How many linguists have your understanding of ancient cultures? How many are open-minded enough to accept the possibilities of alien involvement in our own development? How many have the other degrees - in archaeology and anthropology? How many have an IQ as high as yours and a mind able to solve puzzles long before the rest of us mere mortals have even worked out what the puzzle might even entail?"

Daniel blushed. He hated it when he did that.

"Not many," he admitted.

"Daniel. The SGC needs you. Earth needs you. I'd much rather have you and Jack working together, because when the two of you do work together, you're a formidable team. But you're not working at the moment, you're just going through the motions. It's going to get one or more of you killed if you go on like this, and that cannot be allowed to happen."

Daniel got up and walked around the room, saying nothing for the moment but thinking about what George had said.

"I'll take him away," he said suddenly. "Maybe getting him away from here will help him open up. I'm in contact with some old friends from Oxford and they told me that if I ever wanted to go over there they'd get everyone together for a reunion. Of course, I can't be allowed to go somewhere like that on my own, can I?" he asked with a grin.

George smiled.

"Why don't you go and contact one of your friends, Daniel? I think you're looking very tired and you could do with a break."

"Thank you, Sir, I'll do that. You're right, I'm feeling absolutely exhausted."

He left the briefing room and headed to his office, looking at his watch to figure out what time it would be. It was still fairly early in the day 'Cheyenne Mountain time', 9 a.m., so it would only be 4 p.m. in the UK. Mike would still be in his lab, he was sure. He picked up the phone and made an international call.

Jack was called to Hammond's office, expecting the worst. He'd snapped at Daniel publicly again that afternoon and he knew that Hammond would have heard about it. He was surprised, then, to see that George was smiling as he called him into the office.

"Ah, Jack. I'd like you to do me a favour, please."

Stunned, Jack replied, "Of course, Sir, name it," immediately regretting forgetting the basic tenet of survival in the armed forces. Never, ever, volunteer for anything.

"Dr. Jackson has been invited to a reunion of his old college friends back in the UK. I don't know if you've noticed, Jack, but he's looking very tired. I think he could do with a break. However, he's far too valuable an asset to be allowed out of the country on his own. He needs an escort. Would you accompany him, please?"

Jack let out an inner groan. Not Daniel, please. His eyes pleaded with George not to ask this of him.

"If you can't, I think that he will burn up," George carried on regardless. "I don't think that another spell under the care of Dr. MacKenzie would do him any good, do you?"

"No, Sir, that would kill him," Jack replied quietly.

"Either that or he might leave us altogether, and I think that would be a disaster, both for the SGC and Earth, don't you?"

"Yes, Sir, it would," Jack acknowledged.

"Unless, of course, you know why he's suddenly so tired? I don't know if you think the same, but he's giving me the impression that he's not just physically tired, but tired of everything. I've seen the fallout from that sort of exhaustion, Jack, and it's not pretty."

Jack had to agree, again, that it wasn't.

"Okay, I'll do it," he said resignedly, not really wanting to do it at all. However, his small voice told him that he wouldn't be able to live with himself if Daniel got himself into a worse state - especially as he knew the cause of it.

"How long will we be away, Sir?" he asked, mentally shutting himself down and preparing himself to tackle this as if it was a mission.

"I believe he has requested two weeks' leave, Jack."

Another inner groan, but Jack's features were schooled and he just nodded. George dismissed him and when he shut the door, he sent up a prayer for Daniel's welfare, worried that this may just push Jack over the edge. George was no fool. Even if Daniel thought that Jack detested him, George knew he didn't. And why he didn't. He was prepared to overlook that, but he was not prepared to overlook Jack's behaviour. It was time to sort things out.

The flight into Heathrow had been quiet. Jack had hardly spoken to Daniel the whole time, though he was impressed by the first-class tickets that had been insisted on by Daniel. They were both long in the leg and neither of them liked to be cramped. For once, Jack had agreed - especially as Daniel had somehow 'persuaded' George to inform Jack that this was an all expenses paid trip for Jack. It was, Daniel was paying for it. He didn't care though, he wanted to sort this out once and for all, and as far as he was concerned, no price was too high.

Daniel hired a car, was surprised when Jack didn't argue about him driving, and headed up the dreaded M25 before turning onto the relative sanity of the M40 to Oxford. Jack stared out of the window most of the way, grunting in reply to the bits of information that Daniel passed on to him.

By the time they reached the hotel, Daniel was losing his patience with the man. They booked into separate but adjoining rooms and took themselves upstairs.

Daniel just managed to refrain from slamming his door as by now he was very angry. Why did he even bother? Jack hadn't been rude, but he hadn't said a damned thing unless prompted for the last eighteen hours. Daniel didn't feel hungry, he couldn't face any more time with the man that day either, it was getting late locally and he was very tired. He tore off his clothes, washed, brushed his teeth and got into bed.

Jack kicked himself when he got into his room. Daniel had been almost twanging with anger and he knew why. He couldn't believe that he had been so awful to him all the way. He sighed, unpacked quickly, grabbed his key and then left the room. He knocked on Daniel's door, heard a muffled 'fuck' and then heavy footsteps as they stomped to the door.

The door opened and Jack had to hold in a gasp. Daniel was only wearing his boxers.

"What the fuck do you want, O'Neill?" Daniel demanded.

"Um, I was just wondering if you wanted to come and get something to eat."


"Eat, um, thought you might want to."

"You want to spend more time with me?" Daniel asked incredulously. "What brought this on?"

There were voices coming from down the corridor and Daniel was still standing at the doorway in his boxers.

"Er, Daniel, you may want to go into your room," Jack prompted, "unless you want the other guests to see you like this." He waved his hand at Daniel's body.

Daniel shrugged but turned into his room anyway. When Jack shut the door behind him he asked again, "So, why have you come here? You spent the last eighteen hours ignoring me. I decide to go to bed and you turn up and ask if I want to go get something to eat. So you can do what? Ignore me again? I don't fucking think so, O'Neill."

Jack looked into Daniel's eyes for the first time in an age and was shocked by what he saw. They were empty, dead, the sparkle that had once resided there was gone. They didn't seem as blue as they once had been, more grey than blue now. It saddened Jack beyond measure.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"For what?" Daniel asked.

"Um, for ignoring you."

"What, for the last eighteen hours, or for the last year or so, Jack?"

Jack couldn't find an answer to that so Daniel continued. "And what about the yelling at me? And the public humiliations, Jack? What were they for?"

Daniel was beyond angry with him now. He wasn't shouting, he was very quiet. Jack knew that this meant he was very, very upset. He still couldn't answer, couldn't tell him why he'd been pushing him away. He just couldn't.

He whispered, "I'm so sorry, Daniel," turned around and left the room. He winced when he heard something being thrown at the door as it shut. He had handled that badly and he knew it.

Daniel was close to tears. The best friend he had had in his life didn't want him around anymore and it was like he had lost a lover. He actually hurt more than when Shau're had gone - and that was saying something. He'd thought that the day she died that his heart had been cut out. Giving in to his loneliness, his hurt and his anger, he finally let go and for the first time in a long time, he cried.

Jack was standing outside Daniel's door, wanting to go back in the room, to try to make amends before it was too late. When he heard the sobs coming from the room he was horrified. Daniel almost never cried. Only twice he had seen it; once when Daniel had tried to kill him when coming down from the sarcophagus withdrawal, the other time when he was banged up in the rubber room. He hadn't even cried - in public at least - when Shau're had died. But here he was, driven to heart-rending sobs by the man that was supposed to have been his best friend. He knocked on the door.

"Daniel, open up," he demanded. "Dammit, Daniel, open up or I'll break the fucking door down."

A few heads popped out of other rooms, looking at the commotion. Jack was scared now though, more frightened than he had ever been in his life. Only the rush to get Charlie to the hospital after the gun had gone off had been worse. He knew that if he didn't get to Daniel now, he'd never get another chance again. He ignored the looks.

"Fuck off, O'Neill," Daniel growled.

"Uh huh, Jackson, open the damned door now!"

Daniel was in a dilemma, what should he do? Jack sounded scared. Daniel knew that tone of voice. Thinking that he'd regret it later though, he finally pulled himself together and opened the door.

"Right, you're in. Say your piece and then I'll say mine," Daniel ordered, "and then you can fuck off back to the States. I won't be coming with you."

Jack had been afraid of this, but he had no idea what to say.

"I told you I was sorry, Daniel, what more do you want?"

"An explanation? Of why what was supposed to have been a close friendship suddenly became such a burden to you? Of why someone that was supposed to have been your best friend suddenly became your mortal enemy?"

"You didn't!" Jack rebutted, but he knew that Daniel was right to think it. "You didn't," he repeated much more quietly. "It's not you, Daniel, it's me, honestly. Please, believe me."

"Then what? Why? I need to know, Jack." Daniel decided to lay his cards on the table, it may be too soon to do this, he thought, but he had to try. "Do you want to know why we're here?"

"You needed an escort to a reunion," Jack replied.

"True. But the reunion was organised at my request so that you and I could get away from the SGC and maybe get on. But your behaviour on the plane and in the car proved beyond any doubt that being at the SGC has nothing to do with why you've been acting like a twenty-four-carat prick. I organised the reunion at the General's request. He was going to split the team or force you to retire from the field, Jack. Either that or I will leave the SGC - whatever works; I just don't care anymore. I persuaded him to keep you as leader of SG-1, Jack. I used this break as a means to prove to him that we could be friends again. Seems like I was wrong again."

He looked completely and utterly defeated - a manner that Jack was definitely not accustomed to seeing Daniel in. Defiant, frequently - defeated, never.

"You weren't, Daniel. You weren't. I'll improve, I promise."

"You expect me to believe you?" Daniel asked with a hollow laugh.

"No. But I'm hoping you will give me a chance, Daniel. I will improve. If I haven't proved it to you by the end of this vacation, I will retire. You have my word. That used to mean something. I hope it does again."

Jack sounded so contrite, so sincere, that Daniel decided that he would give him yet another chance. He nodded tersely and said, "Last chance, O'Neill. After this, no more."

"Thank you," Jack replied. Then he wished him goodnight and left for his own room.

Daniel lay in bed that night wondering if he was doing the right thing. However, he had promised the General that he would try to get things back on track with Jack. If they could get some sort of truce between them, things would at least be bearable. His cellphone went. He answered it and discovered that Mike, his old friend, was on the other end of the line. They chatted for a few minutes, Daniel told him where he was, arranged a time to meet the next day and then hung up. Daniel was exhausted and fell asleep in minutes.

Jack also lay in bed that night pondering the situation. But for him, the worst thing had been seeing Daniel dressed - or undressed - as he was. Just seeing him like that had automatically put up his guard, adding a harder tone to his voice. He felt guilty about the way he had treated Daniel - had felt guilty about that since he started. At first he'd just hoped that Daniel would give up and ask to join SG-11. When his quest to find Shau're was finally over, Jack didn't realise that he would have another quest, another reason to stay. Jack had tried to push him away again when they found the boy, but Daniel was a stubborn bastard at the best of times. No way would he give up on his friendship. He wanted to know why Jack was being such a prick - but Jack couldn't tell him, could he? Jack lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling, running everything through his mind. If he had to retire anyway, what difference would telling Daniel actually make?

Daniel was up and dressed when Jack knocked on his door the next morning so that they could go to breakfast together. Daniel's guard was up and Jack knew it. He answered everything that Jack asked politely and succinctly, but he didn't initiate conversations in the way that he would do normally. When Jack asked him about the hotel, which was an old one and apparently held some importance historically, Daniel just replied with a very brief description of what had gone on. There was no elaboration, no excitement at sharing some knowledge - no nothing. Jack sighed. Daniel's zest for life had seemed to have left him.

"When are you meeting your friends?" Jack asked.

"This evening. In a pub nearby. You don't have to come, Jack. I'm not going to say anything that I shouldn't." Daniel's voice was quiet and beaten, he was expecting Jack to say he'd have to come, or that he'd wait for him in the hotel. Instead, Jack surprised him.

"I want to come, Daniel. If you want me to, that is? I, er, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want me to come. But I do want to. I'd like to meet your friends. They're the only ones you're in contact with, aren't they?"

Daniel's eyes and mouth opened wide. He was so shocked that Jack would actually want to do this - and he knew Jack well enough to know that he was telling the truth - but not only that, to know that he had cut everyone else from his past out of his life, except the handful of people they'd be meeting that night. He shook himself and replied.

"Um, yes. They are. You can come if you want to, Jack. It might be boring for you though, we're only going to end up reminiscing. I think I'd be bored if you met up with some of your Academy friends and talked about those days. I meant it, Jack, you don't have to come. I won't be offended, I promise."

His voice was low and soft, nearly back to his friendliest way with Jack, and Jack realised that he had missed that tone so much. It made him smile to hear it again.

"I'll come," he replied just as softly, giving Daniel the warmest smile that he had shown the man in a few years. "And if it gets too academic and over my head, I'll come back. How does that grab you?"

Daniel returned his smile, causing Jack to catch his breath. He had missed that look too.

"That sounds fine, Jack. You're more than welcome to come, but don't stay out if you don't want to. Promise?"

"I promise."

They walked around the town together, shopping and sightseeing. Daniel, after some prompting from Jack, gave him a guided tour. He showed him some significant buildings in the history of the town, told him about some of the local colourful characters, even pointed out the best pubs. Jack asked why he wasn't hearing about some of the more significant buildings in the history of Daniel Jackson, but the only reply he got was a small smile. Finally Daniel added, "You'll probably hear about them tonight."

Back at the hotel, they had dinner as early as they could before retreating to their rooms to get changed. As they went up, Jack asked, "What should I wear?" and Daniel told him that he could go as he wanted. It was only a pub after all. No need to put his dress blues on.

Jack gave him a pat on the back and headed into his own room before rifling through his clothes to find something suitable. He had some dark-blue jeans and a silver-grey shirt; yeah, they would do. Coupled with his leather jacket, he'd look presentable. He wondered what Daniel would wear. How good would he look? He prayed that he wouldn't wear one of those god-awful plaid shirts.

He knocked on Daniel's door and was stunned when it opened. Daniel was ready to go and he was looking gorgeous. Tight black jeans, a bright-white tee, hiking boots and a black leather jacket.

"Jack? Are you okay?"


"You look like you're about to have a heart attack. What's wrong? Have I got something on my face?"

"No, nothing. Ready to go?" Jack squeaked.

"Yes," Daniel drawled. "Come on then." His mind worked overtime, running through the list of reactions that had manifested themselves in Jack's face. Open mouth, wide open eyes, dilated pupils, shortness of breath... oh boy, Daniel finally worked out what Jack had been struggling with for ages. He was attracted to him. Of course, it explained a lot. When Shau're had died, Jack no longer had the 'he's married' thing to hide behind - both from himself and from the others on the base. The stupid law must have scared Jack, made him unable to deal with the situation rationally. But now things were different.

As they made their way out of the hotel and walked along the street to the pub, Daniel analysed the whole thing. Jack had a problem with being attracted to him. Obviously, part of that was because of the law. Hopefully, that was all it was. Quite possibly some of it had to do with the fact that he was Daniel's team leader. Daniel could understand that too. What Daniel didn't know was whether Jack would have a problem with the fact that he was a man. He knew that Jack was not homophobic. Knew that for a fact. However, it was one thing Jack accepting other guys being gay, it was another thing him having the feelings himself. Had Jack ever done this before? Daniel had an idea and he hoped that one, very specific person was going to be there in the pub tonight.

They opened the door to the pub and stepped in. It was usually a fairly quiet place, and being midweek it was almost empty. Almost. Jack was nearly bowled over by a small woman who came flying across the floor and into Daniel's arms.

"DJ! You made it!" She landed a huge kiss on his cheek and Daniel returned the favour. Jack realised that Daniel actually had her in his arms, holding her about a foot off the ground. If he'd had enough room he looked like he'd swing her around.

"Millie," he replied into her neck, "I've missed you so much."

Jack wondered if she had been some girlfriend of Daniel's, but then ex-girlfriends didn't tend to act like this. A much taller man turned up by their side, removed her from his arms and took her place, though his feet remained firmly on the ground.

"Hey Deej," he said, his voice low and gravelly. "Where the fuck have you been hiding out?"

"Andy, missed you too. I'll tell you what I can in a minute. Is Mike here?"

"Taking a leak, he'll be out in a minute. Assuming he hasn't got lost again."

The reply sent the three friends into fits of laughter, and Jack assumed that it was an old joke. Daniel turned and looked at Jack and smiled.

"Jack, this is Dr. Millie Lockwood and her long-suffering husband, Dr. Andy Roberts. Andy and I were in the same department - he's a linguist too. Guys, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill," he introduced Jack cryptically.

Before they could ask more about him, another yell went up.

"Daniel! About time too! C'mere!"

Daniel fell into yet another hug and Jack found that he was surprised. Daniel rarely, if ever, easily fell into hugs. But here he was, willingly being hugged and returning them.

"Jack, this is Dr. Mike Porter," he said, and introduced Jack in the same way to Mike as he had done to the others.

Mike asked the question that the others wanted answered.

"Colonel? Daniel, what are you doing being accompanied by a colonel? And what, dear Colonel, are you a colonel in?"

Jack grinned, there was something about Mike that made him relax - the others too. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew that these were good people.

"Air Force," he replied, "and I'm here to make sure that Daniel doesn't get into trouble. We think he's got a magnet inside him," he teased, "it seems to attract trouble wherever he goes."

"You noticed that, eh?" Millie laughed. "You haven't changed then, Deej?"

Daniel pretended to be offended, but couldn't keep from laughing and went off to get some drinks in instead. While he was at the bar, Mike asked quietly, "Why are you really with him?"

"Actually, I was telling the truth. Daniel works for a classified department - don't ask about his work, he can't talk about it. It's good. That's all we can say. If you know him as well as I think you do, you'd know he'd never do anything that was bad." The others mumbled agreements. "I'm his friend, his team leader too. It's my job to protect him."

"You're a bodyguard?" Andy asked incredulously.

"Only to Daniel," Jack answered truthfully.

The others realised that they weren't going to get much more out of him than that. Daniel returned with the drinks on a tray and Jack was touched when he recognised what he and Daniel had to drink. Jack Daniel's. It had been forever since they had drunk that together. Jack let out a breath that he didn't know he'd been holding. Daniel was telling him a lot with that drink; that he was prepared to forgive him, prepared to give him a chance. It was up to him not to screw things up now. He smiled at Daniel and raised his glass to him before taking a sip. Daniel visibly relaxed when he saw Jack's reaction to the drink. He'd hoped that Jack would get the message. The raised glass told him all he needed to know. Message received and understood. And welcomed. He gave his own smile back to Jack and raised his own glass. Mike, Andy and Millie watched the interaction and it dawned on them that something much, much bigger was going on.

"Is Gareth coming?" Daniel asked, his eyes wide open as he gave everyone his innocent face.

"As I told you on the phone, Deej, he said he'd try," Mike replied. "He really wants to see you again."

"I'd like to see him too," Daniel replied honestly.

He did. Boy did he ever. However, whatever level his relationship had now reached with Jack, it was going to be dealt a blow if Gareth turned up. But Daniel felt that it wouldn't be such a bad thing. If Jack was going to act on his feelings, he'd need a push. And Gareth would push him. And if it pushed him away, well, it was better that it happened now than when Daniel really let down his guard. Jack might think that Daniel was forgiving and forgetting, but Daniel certainly wasn't trusting. No way. Jack had a long way to go before he'd do that.

An hour passed, and Jack found himself laughing more than he had done in a long time. Millie was a scream, and though she was married to Andy, and had been for fifteen years, she'd sat herself on Daniel's lap and didn't look like she was going to get off anytime soon. Andy, however, didn't look in the slightest bit put out and Jack realised that this was perfectly normal behaviour for them. The interaction between Daniel and the guys showed that the four of them had been close - inseparable even - for the three years that Daniel had been there. At one point, Daniel even said that they'd been the three happiest years of his life. It turned out that they'd even shared a house together.

Daniel kept looking at the door, his face dropping whenever it opened and someone came in that he didn't know.

Jack got up to take a leak, and to leave them alone for a few minutes, the other guys looking like they wanted Daniel alone. He trusted Daniel not to say anything about the project, so he left.

"What's the story with Jack, Daniel?" Mike demanded.

"What do you mean?"

"Are you two together or what?"

"No. We're not." Daniel's answer was cold and it shocked them.

"DJ? Were you?" Millie asked carefully.

"No. Never. Look, guys, he doesn't know about me, okay? Don't say anything, not till I tell him."

"But what about Gareth? What if he turns up?" Andy asked.

"Then he's going to have a shock," Daniel replied with a humourless laugh. "Besides, Gaz is probably with someone."

"He was married," Andy supplied. "But he's divorced now. Last time I saw him he was single."

"And every bit as gorgeous as he was," Millie sniggered.

Oh boy, this was going to make life more interesting, Daniel thought as he dropped his head in his hands. He changed the subject.

When Jack came out of the gents', he saw the four of them huddled together, talking softly. Daniel's face looked sad and Millie was hugging him, looking like she wanted to cry. Andy and Mike were dour-faced.

"Danny?" Jack rushed over to him. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he replied, "I was just telling them about Shau're." Daniel's eyes told him that a lot more had been said, but Jack wasn't worried that he'd told them the classified information. They'd long ago worked out a 'safe' explanation.

Jack put his hand on Daniel's shoulder and squeezed it. Daniel also looked like he wanted to cry, and then it dawned on Jack that that time had marked the beginning of his bad treatment of Daniel, and that perhaps part of the pain that Daniel felt was because of that. Jack's shoulders slumped and his face crumpled.

"I wish I could turn the clock back, Danny," he said.

Daniel gave him a sad smile, knowing precisely what Jack meant. Not just to rescue Shau're, but to rescue their friendship. Daniel also hadn't missed that he'd twice called him 'Danny' and neither had the others. But, because Daniel had said nothing, they said nothing about it. They had their own nicknames for him, ones that he'd come to accept because they were given with love and affection. DJ and Deej were names that only his 'gang' had ever called him. They wouldn't ever have called him Dan or Danny. Not even Gareth called him that.

The pub door opened again and everyone looked, even Jack, though he wasn't sure why. Next thing he knew, Millie had been deposited back on Andy's lap and Daniel had moved faster than he'd ever seen him move before. He was in the arms of a god. Six four, red-haired, and when Jack finally got close enough, he saw the most jewel-like green eyes he'd ever seen. In many ways he was like Daniel himself, apart from the colouring. Jack noted that as happy as Daniel had been to see the other three, his greeting paled into insignificance in comparison with the one that the stranger was getting. They were wittering away in a language that Jack didn't even recognise either.

He turned to the others and asked, "Who the hell is that and what language are they speaking?"

Millie answered. "That's Gareth - Gaz. He and Daniel are, um, old friends. Close, very, very close. Gaz is Welsh, that's the language. They'll swap back in a minute. They obviously don't want us to understand something."

Jack looked at Andy. "Don't look at me, my speciality is the Near East. I know it's Daniel's too, but he and Gareth spent a hell of a lot of time together. You know what he's like. Insatiable..." Millie and Mike sniggered.

"..For knowledge," Millie added, causing the other two to choke on their drinks. Jack had no idea what they were keeping to themselves.

Finally, Daniel and Gareth approached, Daniel saying he'd get the next round in. Millie introduced Gareth to Jack and Jack got a good look at the newcomer. His initial opinion was bolstered when Gaz removed his jacket, revealing a finely honed body.

"Good idea," Daniel said as he put the tray down, "it is getting warm in here."

He removed his own jacket, showing his friends just how much he had been working out.

"Dear God, Daniel, you've grown," Millie teased.

"I'll say," Gareth replied. "Jack? What have you been feeding him? We tried, but no matter how much he ate - and he ate a hell of a lot - he always stayed really skinny."

Jack laughed out loud, deciding that despite a little warning bell that was sounding in his mind, Gareth seemed to be as good a person as the others.

"It's a secret formula," he replied with a grin. "I know I said that what we do is classified, well, we're experimenting. We take skinny, get-blown-away-in-a-stiff-breeze-type academics, feed them the secret formula and watch them grow. We're thinking of marketing it for the dog world."

Daniel's friends burst out laughing, Daniel smacked Jack up the back of his head, and the teasing continued. As the night wore on, Jack noticed that no matter how relaxed and happy Daniel was with his friends, there was a special connection between him and Gareth - the same sort of connection that he had once had with him. Jack also realised how much he missed that - the near telepathic communication, finishing off each other's sentences, not needing to ask a damned thing; just knowing. No wonder Daniel was pleased to see this guy. Jack was even more determined to get this back. If Hammond was so concerned as to send them off on holiday together he probably wouldn't be concerned if they did get 'close'. He doubted he'd question the reasons behind any closeness. Hammond wanted the team to work again and he wouldn't care how they were working.

'Last orders' was called and it was time to go. Daniel was close to tears as Millie hugged him, he fought them back as Mike and Andy did the same. Promises were made to meet up again as soon as possible, Jack confirming that he'd personally see to making sure that Daniel got a chance to come back. Daniel rewarded him with a huge smile for that.

"I mean it, Daniel," Jack said, "you need this. We'll make sure you get a chance. I'll make sure you get a chance. When we get back, I'll talk to the General and insist that you are allowed leave to come here. How does once a year minimum sound?"

Daniel put his hand out to Jack's, took it, squeezed it and replied, "It sounds wonderful. Thank you, Jack."

"My pleasure," Jack said with a huge grin. He didn't want to let go of Daniel's hand, but soon felt it slip from his grasp.

They left the pub, Millie, Mike and Andy poured themselves into a cab and were waved off.

"Gareth's coming back with us, Jack," Daniel said. "He's staying at the same hotel. Besides, he and I have some things we want to catch up on." The unspoken word 'privately' cut Jack to the core. All of a sudden he was worried about the nature of Daniel's friendship with him. Daniel picked up on Jack's demeanour and his face dropped. He had a horrible feeling that he'd just screwed everything up with Jack. Jack saw this and quickly reassured him.

"Can't say I blame you," he said, "it wasn't easy to talk in there after a while. That bunch of students that came in were very noisy, weren't they?"

Daniel looked relieved and agreed, and the three men walked quietly back to the hotel. Jack determined that he'd question Daniel in the morning instead.

They said goodnight outside Daniel's door, and Jack's heart lurched as he saw Gareth follow Daniel into his room. Jack went into his own and then pressed his head against the wooden walls of the ancient building. It was a small hotel, only a handful of rooms, each one beautiful and with a warmth that modern hotels just didn't have. But, the thinner partition walls between the rooms didn't grant 100% privacy.

Daniel felt himself being pulled into Gareth's arms and he allowed it, wanting this too. He'd missed him so much. They had been together for two years and only split up because Daniel had the offer to work for Professor Jordan at the Institute. That they had loved each other was in no doubt. That they had ever stopped loving each other wasn't even a possibility. But now, the love was that of friends, the deepest love of friends. There was no turning back the clock and they both knew it. But that didn't mean that they didn't still fancy each other.

"DJ? Do you want me to stay the night?"

"Oh boy, do I ever," Daniel growled back. "Get into bed, Gareth," he purred, "I'm going to remind you of what we've missed out on."

"Bring it on," Gareth laughed.

He walked backwards to the bed, stopping as he got to the edge. He hauled his tee shirt off and revealed his tight body and well-developed muscles.

"You are so fucking gorgeous," Daniel murmured. "Did you know you still have a starring role in my fantasies?"

"I do?" Gareth asked with a grin, undoing his flies slowly and seductively. "I don't see you getting undressed, Daniel. You want to stand there all night?"

Daniel smiled; a small, secretive smile. Then he dropped his jacket on the floor, bent down at the waist and undid his boots, kicking them and his socks off quickly and then he stood back up. Not taking his eyes from Gareth's he pulled his tee shirt quickly over his head and had to fight down a snigger as his friend gasped. He undid his belt, then unzipped his jeans but leaving them on, then he moved closer to Gareth and put his hands out, running them up and down his chest and arms.

"Wow, Deej, you are fucking stunning," Gareth whispered, putting his own hands all over Daniel. Then he grabbed him and pulled him close. They both let out a gasp as skin hit skin; lips found each other, frantically clashing and battling, tongues found again the once familiar routine of touch and stroke and their arms wrapped around each other, pulling themselves so close as if they were trying to get under each other's skin.

They fell onto the bed, trousers were wriggled out of, boxers going the same way, and for the first time in years they lay naked together. Gareth broke the kiss and panted, "God, Daniel, it's been so fucking long for me. You're the only guy I've ever wanted, ever been with. I miss you so much, you know."

"I know, babe, me too. We don't have to do anything, hun, not a thing. I don't want to hurt you."

"Hey, I want you. I always fucking want you. That was our problem, wasn't it? Couldn't keep our hands off each other. I feel the same for you now as I did back then. The same desire, the same want, the same attraction. Damn, Deej, if anything I'm more attracted to you now than then."

"Could say the same about you, Gaz. You know this can't be any more than this though. I have to go back, my work is important, vital even, to the whole future of the planet. My own personal feelings can't be taken into account."

"Why not?"

"Trust me on this one, babe, they're not. You know me, you know I'd never, ever, get involved in anything bad, don't you?"

"I do."

"I can't tell you a damned thing about it, but it's more than important. It's probably the most important project ever. I can't leave it. I can't start a relationship with you again. No matter how much I might want to."

"What about Jack?"

"What about him?"

"You want him, don't you?"

Daniel couldn't answer. He buried his head in Gareth's chest and just nodded.

"Hey, it's okay. They've still got that stupid law haven't they?"

"Yes," Daniel sighed.

"Ach, maybe he'll follow his heart, Deej. He's crazy about you, you know."

"I think he loves me," Daniel replied and then he explained what had been going on.

"Do you want me to beat him up?" Gareth asked in all seriousness.

"No," Daniel laughed. "I can take him if I need to."

"I don't doubt it," Gareth replied, stroking Daniel's arms once more. "Anyway, are we going to talk, or are we going to fuck?"

Daniel lost it and fell onto his back laughing out loud.

Jack had been listening in. He hadn't understood a word that had been said, but the tone of voice at certain times told him the subject matter. When he heard Daniel laughing though, he allowed himself to relax a little. Then the laughter stopped abruptly and was replaced by low moans. Shit, Gareth was most definitely not 'just a good friend'. Jack pulled away from the wall and grumpily got ready for bed. He wasn't sure just how he was going to handle this in the morning.

Daniel loved the feeling of Gareth on top of him. He'd had boyfriends since Gareth, but none of them had been bigger than him and he missed the sensation of being pinned down by someone larger, heavier and most of all, stronger. Daniel wasn't the submissive-type, but he loved the feeling of... danger... he supposed. Losing control to someone who could just take it from him if he wanted to - well, it was liberating. It allowed Daniel to behave as he wanted to, knowing that his lover could stop him at any moment if he went too far. Gareth was the sort to do that too, to let him get away with pretty much anything, but not afraid to tell him to stop. Knowing that, Daniel let himself go. For once, for the first time in years, he allowed himself to completely feel.

"I want you," he told Gareth, "I've missed being buried inside you so much. Will you let me?"

"Oh yes, Daniel, I want it too. Just be careful, eh? It's been so long I think I've gone and regained my virginity. "

That was one of the other things that Daniel missed about him - he made him laugh a lot. In bed, out of bed, it didn't matter where, Gareth always made him laugh. He was laughing now as he reached for the lube and slipped it under the pillow. Mike had told him that Gareth would try to get down and he'd bought it in hope as much as anything.

They kissed again, building up their touches till they were driving each other insane with want. Daniel wanted to taste him again for the first time in years, but the usual 'safe sex' warnings were going off in his mind. Gareth picked up on it.

"I'm clean, Daniel, don't worry. There's only been you. And then I got married, got divorced, and there's been nobody else since. And since she remarried, she's had a baby. I'd have heard if she wasn't clean, trust me. What about you?"

"There've been others, Gaz, but I can promise you I'm clean. Most of my blood is in a freaking test tube." At Gareth's quizzical look he elaborated. "I'm part of a field unit, I get injured. Trust me, they don't want anyone carrying infectious diseases. We're tested regularly."

Gareth grinned. "Well, what are you waiting for? I know you want to go down, Deej, you always do."

Daniel laughed again. "You know me too damned well, Gareth. Lie down, babe, I am so going to enjoy this."

And he did. He slipped down Gareth's body, trailing kisses as he went, pausing to suckle on his nipples as he knew Gareth liked. By the time he'd reached his goal Gareth was almost howling at him to get on with it. Daniel knew that this would probably be the last time he'd ever do this with this man so he was determined to make it last. He kept taking him to the edge and backing off, running his tongue over his balls, mouthing them one at a time. He grabbed Gaz' legs and pushed them up and headed further south. Gareth cried out as he felt Daniel's tongue playing around his ass. Unintelligible moans turned to muffled screams as Gareth pulled a pillow over his head. He felt the tongue push inside him and he was taken so close to the edge that he knew he couldn't go on anymore. He pulled the pillow off.

"Daniel, now, fucking finish me, please. I'm gonna come, with you or without you."

Daniel knew that he meant it, knowing the moods of his lover as well as his own despite the many years apart. He dropped Gareth's legs and headed back, swiftly taking his dick in one move down his throat. That one move was enough for Gareth and he came hard and long, replacing the pillow so he could yell as loud as he liked.

He'd almost greyed out by the time he'd finished. He was laying on the bed, boneless and panting when Daniel crawled back up his body, repeating the trial of kisses as he went.

"Gaz? You okay?"

"Fucking stunned. Damn, Deej, you're good at that."

"Can we go on?"

"Feel free, I'm all yours. Couldn't put up a fight if I wanted to. Not that I want to," he added with a grin. "You want this old ass, it's all yours."

Daniel slapped the side of the 'old' ass. Gareth was only five years older than him.

"Turn over then, 'old man', I'm going to give you a night you'll never forget."

Gareth groaned, knowing that Daniel meant what he said. He lay on his stomach and let Daniel do all the work. He was just too darned out of it to do anything himself.

Daniel pushed his legs apart and grabbed his buttocks, massaging them 'outwards'. He reached for the lube, which Gareth just about had enough strength to retrieve for him, coated his fingers and went to work. As it had been such a long time he was very careful about the preparation, no way in hell did he want to hurt him. He took his time, trying to make the experience a good one. Judging by the noises coming from the pillow, it was. When he thought that Gaz was ready he asked him, got a grunt in reply and took that as a yes. Next thing Gareth knew was the sensation of something a lot bigger than a few fingers up his ass. He recalled all the techniques that Daniel had taught him all those years ago and did what he could to relax himself. He breathed through the burning sensation as Daniel pushed past the outer muscles and then demanded that he go all the way in.

"God, Daniel, please, just do it, love, I'm okay. It's wonderful, honest."

Daniel pushed gently, rocking his hips till he was finally there.

"Oh Christ, Gaz, you feel so good. Nobody feels as good as you, babe, nobody."

He stopped talking then, both men reverting to primal grunts as Daniel started to move faster and harder as he knew that Gareth would want. The sheer joy at being with him again was too much for Daniel and he came crying out Gareth's name.

Jack woke up a bit later than normal. His sleep had been disturbed by dreams - some were bad; Daniel dying or injured, Jack leaving him as he had done on a number of occasions, Daniel giving up and not going to the sarcophagus on Klorel's ship. Some were worse; Daniel in bed with someone else, laughing at Jack as he stood there watching the man he loved more than life itself getting fucked by some other man, a man that wasn't Jack.

He quickly washed and got dressed and presented himself at Daniel's door as they had arranged the day before. He knocked, heard a groan and relaxed as he realised that Daniel hadn't given up and gone on to breakfast without him. What surprised him though was that Gareth was still there. He was, in fact, opening the door in his shorts.

"Morning Jack," he said, trying to sound cheerful but only succeeding in sounding very tired.

"J'ck? Whatcha doin'?" Daniel groaned from the bed.

"Um, I was going to meet you for breakfast, remember?"

"Fuck! What time is it?" Daniel fell out of bed and Jack had to swallow down a moan when he saw the naked form heading for the bathroom.

"0830, Daniel," Jack replied, trying to slip into his 'this is perfectly normal' attitude. It was the one he adopted when faced with weird things on alien worlds and he didn't want to show that he was, in fact, totally freaked.

Daniel stopped, turned, looked at Jack, grinned and nodded before carrying on to the bathroom. Jack knew then that Daniel understood. He also realised that he was probably in deep shit.

"I'll be in my room, Daniel, call me when you're ready to go down. If you still want to go to breakfast, that is."

"Sure Jack, give me five," the disembodied voice came back at him.

"I'll, er, see you around, Gareth," Jack said, "it was good to meet you."

"Same here," Gareth replied, then he looked at the closed bathroom door, made a decision, and quick as a flash grabbed Jack by the throat.

"Daniel didn't tell me exactly what you did to him, but I know him and I know the way he reacts to anything. You do or say anything else to hurt him and I will kill you. He's been through enough without so-called friends fucking with his head."

"As opposed to just fucking him?" Jack snarled.

"I love Daniel," Gareth spat back, "I always did, I always will. He's the only guy I have ever wanted. I thought I was straight till I met him, but he was so amazing I changed my mind. He proved to me that I could be what I wanted to be and he taught me so much. Not least how to love without prejudice. Don't you see? I couldn't hurt him. I've never hurt him. He wanted me last night, it was my pleasure to give him what he wanted. When was the last time you did that?"

With that he dropped Jack and returned to his clothes to get dressed. Jack said nothing and left for his own room.

He was fuming, absolutely mad as hell. But not with Gareth. He was disgusted by his own reaction to the situation. He wasn't bothered that Daniel was gay or bi or whatever. Not that at all. He knew now that what bothered him was that Daniel had done something about it a long time before he'd met Jack. That he seemed to be wonderfully secure in his sexuality - something that Jack knew that he, himself, wasn't.

Daniel, meanwhile, was dressed and wondering why Gareth didn't want to join Jack and himself for breakfast.

"I'm sorry, DJ, I have got to go," he said, "I have to be in work this afternoon. I've got a train to catch. I wish it wasn't so, I wish I could spend the rest of my life with you, but I know it's not possible. Know this though, babe, I love you. I always have, I always will. And if he gives you any more trouble, you call me. I'll come over to you and I'll sort the bastard out. Don't you dare put up with any more of his crap, bach. Don't you fucking dare."

Daniel pulled him into his arms and hugged him close.

"Love you, Gaz. I'll never stop. You're special to me, you have a place in my heart that will never lose you. You need me you call me. I've given you my number, you use it. I won't always be able to get back to you straight away, sometimes it will be days before I get back. But I will. If I don't, if I can't, someone else will. I'll make sure that you know if I'm killed."

"Daniel? Is that likely?"

"Yes, babe, it is. I'm not going to sugar-coat anything here. My job is incredibly dangerous. I have died a number of times. I've got lucky and they've got me back. My luck will run out and I know it. When it happens, you'll be told. I promise."

"Shit, Daniel, part on a happy note, why don't you? Ach, come here, cariad, I feel the need to kiss you again."

"Oh, I think I can manage that," Daniel replied with a grin.

By the time Daniel knocked on Jack's door, Gareth was gone. Jack saw how red Daniel's eyes were as he appeared at the door and his heart broke for his friend. He grabbed him, pulled him into his room and hugged him close.

"Dammit, Daniel, why didn't you tell me about him before?"

"How could I, Jack? How could I?" Daniel's dam was threatening to burst and all Jack could do was hold him tight.

"You can let go, Daniel, you're safe," he encouraged, but somehow that made Daniel more determined not to cry.

"Don't you hate me now?" Daniel asked quietly, his voice muffled by Jack's shoulder.

"Don't be ridiculous, Daniel. Of course I don't. I've never hated you, not for a moment. I know I've acted like I did, but I didn't. You're far too precious to me."

Daniel pulled his head back and looked into Jack's eyes. For the first time in an age he saw love for him there and nothing else. He had to fight back the tears that threatened to come again. His stomach came to his rescue and rumbled loudly.

"Breakfast, now," Jack ordered, and shepherded him out of the door.

As they sat across the table from each other, tucking into a large cooked breakfast, Jack gently questioned him about Gareth.

"Was he your first boyfriend?"

"No. I lived with a guy before him, Faisal, at Harvard. We were together for five years. I had meaningless relationships with women in-between times. Then I met Gaz and fell for him big time. I'd been at Oxford for a year, dated some guys and some girls, the usual, you know?" Jack nodded. "Then along he came. Mature student, coming back after a gap to do his doctorate. He was gorgeous."

"Still is," Jack muttered. "If you like, er, um, well. He's a good-looking guy."

"Yes, he is," Daniel said, amused by Jack's reaction. "Anyway, he was straight. He knew I wasn't, I'd never hidden the fact that I was bi. We became friends, got on like a house on fire, you get the picture." Jack did. "By then I was gone - completely gone. I told him one day. He was over at my place, we were swapping music as we were wont to do, and I came out and told him that I fancied him and wanted to kiss him."

"What did he say?"

"Yes." Daniel's answer was so blunt that Jack had to fight from spitting out his coffee.

"Yes? That's all?"

"He was curious. He'd never kissed a guy before. I told him that the second he said stop, I'd stop. He believed me - it was true, I would have stopped."

"I take it he didn't say 'no'."

"Oh no. He said 'yes'... a lot," Daniel giggled. Jack joined in, mainly because any laughing noise from Daniel was usually infectious.

"You didn't go further, did you?" Jack whispered, trying to stop the other people in the dining hall from overhearing them.

"Oh yes. After about ten minutes of necking we were lying on the bed and both of us were wanting to get off. So, I did something about it."

"What?" Jack's voice, while still whispering, managed to convey shock as well as curiosity.

"You really want to know?"

"No. Yes. Dammit Daniel, you're turning me into some sort of pervert."

"Ha, you always were one. It's not my fault if you get off vicariously on other people's sex lives. I've seen your video collection."

Jack cracked up, earning himself some funny looks from the other diners. Daniel carried on, pretending to be oblivious to the looks.

"Do you really want to know?"

"I've got to know now, Daniel. You've as good as dared me to know."

"Okay, but not here. Finish your breakfast."

They hurriedly finished their breakfasts and headed back up to their rooms, crashing through Daniel's door as they went.

Jack was standing against the door, Daniel standing in front of him. They were almost nose to nose.

"I'll tell you," Daniel said, his voice low and sultry. "I felt him against my leg, hard, aching to get off. I opened his zip and he pushed towards my hand..."

Do you want this, Gareth? Do you want me to get you off?

God, Deej, just do it, please. You've got me so fucking hard I can't think straight.

I'd say that was obvious.

Cut the comedy routine or I'm going to start without you.

Hmm, that would be such a pretty sight. Perhaps I should let you do that.

Daniel, please.

Oh, okay. Lie back, Gaz, let me take care of you.

"He lay back and I stripped him, took my own clothes off and lay on top of him. He was nervous, scared of what I might do. I think he thought I wanted to fuck him."

"Didn't you?"

"Eventually, of course, but not then. I just wanted him to feel good."


Daniel stared into Jack's eyes and saw them blackened with lust. This could be interesting, he thought. He continued.

"I carried on with the kissing, but this time our dicks were rubbing up against each other. I started the movements, you know, thrusting my hips into his."

For the first time, Daniel was almost sure that Jack did know what he was talking about and that encouraged him.

"More kissing, more touching, then I put my hand on both our cocks and squeezed them together. He was nearly there. I worked him hard..."

God, Daniel, please. More, that's it, nearly... there... ohcrapI'mfucking... aaaahh!

"I think he enjoyed himself."

"Did you get off?"

"Oh yeah, just after he did. His face was a picture. He sat up on the bed, I handed him some tissue so he could clean himself up while he freaked."


Shh, Gaz, it's okay, you're just freaking. It's to be expected. Sling your pants back on and come and lie down with me. I think you need a cuddle. And I really don't need to be looking at you completely undressed. Not if I'm to exercise any amount of self-restraint. You really are gorgeous, you know.

I am? Oh, um, thanks. I'm freaking, I didn't think I would. To tell you the truth I've been wondering what being with you would be like. Thought I'd dealt with the fact that you're a he and I'm a he and all that.

Don't worry about it. I'm not upset with you, Gareth. There, come here, you'll feel better now you're half-dressed.

You're right, I do. Um, is that cuddle still on the cards?

Always. You're still you, Gaz; still the best-looking guy on campus, still the Gareth that can pull any bird he wants.

You've been hanging around with Mike too long, Daniel. Say that to any of the girls and you're a dead man.

Oh, I know it. Are you okay now?

Sure, yeah. Just had one of the most intense orgasms of my life, discovered a whole new way of getting off, and I'm now dealing with the fact that at twenty-seven I've realised that I'm not as straight as I thought I was. I'm fine.

Another day at the office?

*Snigger* Something like that Deej. Deej?


How do you, er, feel about me?

I love you. I'm in love with you. I fell hard not long after we met.

Oh, wow. I, um, I'm not sure about how I feel about you, Daniel, not just yet. Don't get me wrong, I think you're probably the best friend I've ever had in my life - and I do love you as a friend, that's for sure. You're certainly the only guy I've ever even thought of in this context. I'm pretty certain that I'm not just mildly curious anymore either, that I really am attracted to you. I've never fancied a guy before, this is all very new to me.

Gaz, take your time. I don't expect a damned thing from you, okay? I'd like very much to start a relationship with you, in fact I'd love it. But, I don't want to put any pressure on you. If you want to think about it, if you want to say 'no' I'll understand. I can't expect you to suddenly think you're bi too, you know. Not just for me.

Why not just for you, Daniel? You're special, you should know that.

"He got oh, so thoroughly kissed for that. He decided to give it a go, wanted to know what it could be like, would be like. We took our time; I had had a wonderful lover for my first one and I wanted him to know that being with me would be as good for him as being with Fai had been for me. He did fall in love with me, eventually. Came out and told me one night. It was the most amazing thing. He took me to dinner, wined and dined me, took me to bed and we spent the night making love. When the sun came up we watched it. And then he told me..."

Daniel, I need to tell you something.

Are you breaking up with me?

Hush, no, don't be silly, Deej, how could I do something like that? I'm in love with you. I know it now. Sorry it's taken me so long to say it, but I think I loved you from the first time. I just didn't really know it.

"I nearly cried, he was being so sweet and loving. The Celts are a romantic bunch at the best of times, but Gaz really topped them all. I had the most wonderful couple of years with him, Jack. I've missed him so much."

"I can tell," Jack replied seriously. "He told me that he still loves you. I believe him too. He's a lucky guy."


"Daniel, you are special. He was right. Having you love him made him lucky."

"I was the lucky one, Jack. He ignored the fact that he's essentially straight just to be with me. He doesn't look at other men, Jack, none at all. It was just me."

Jack groaned, "And this should tell you, Daniel, that you, you are the special one here. Why would he have done that otherwise? You just said he wouldn't do it for anyone else."

Daniel bowed his head, his innate insecurity when it came to being loved by others showing itself. He knew that others loved him, he'd been told it often enough, but he could never understand why anyone would want to love him. He just thought that it would always be a temporary thing. He wouldn't allow himself to believe that someone would love him for life - he'd lost too many people that he'd loved for that.

Jack saw all of this in his body language and decided that now was the time to do something about it. He kicked off his shoes.

"Jack?" Daniel saw him do it and he was confused.

"Danny, you look like you could do with a cuddle. It's your turn to freak, I think. Tell me, did you ever freak when you figured out your sexuality?"

"Um, no. I always thought that it was because it happened when I was young. Thought I was gay, to tell the truth. Fai made me date girls though when we were starting out to prove to myself what I was."

Jack didn't get that at all. Daniel sighed, kicked off his own shoes and allowed Jack to lead him to the bed where they lay down together. Jack pulled him into his arms, pushed him down a bit and got Daniel to rest his head on his chest.

"Better?" he asked.

Daniel turned his head and looked up at Jack's face.

"Much, thanks."

"Tell me what you meant about Fai."

"I was sixteen when I met him - I'd already had a boyfriend in one of the orphanages, but we'd never gone past hand jobs and kissing," Daniel laughed a hollow laugh at the thought. "I figured that I was gay and just added it to the list of things that made me different from other people. It didn't come as a surprise to me. Anyway, Fai was older than me, a lot older than me, and I went after him like a man possessed. Don't forget that at sixteen I'd seen and done more than a lot of people twice my age. Emotionally I was far more mature than your average sixteen year-old."

Jack acknowledged that and Daniel continued.

"Anyway, Fai said that I should date girls, I never knew, I might like it. I tried, I got bored. It wasn't that I didn't like them, I was just more interested in Fai. I spent two years seducing the bastard."

"Two years? Wow. He must have been worth it, Daniel, most teenagers don't have that sort of patience."

"Oh, he was and I knew it. I knew I could go to any number of guys on campus and get fucked. I didn't want that. I was in love with him, truly in love with him. When I finally persuaded him that I was mature enough, he taught me what to do. He'd let me go so far but never all the way up till then, I think he knew that I would have gone off and got myself fucked by a stranger if he hadn't done that. But he made sure that I was completely accepting of the idea before he'd take my virginity. I thanked him - later - but at the time I fought him all the way."

"Where is he now?" Jack asked gently.


"Aw, crap, Daniel. I'm sorry."

"Yeah, me too. He was a good guy, Jack, one of the best. You'd have loved him. Everyone loved Fai. He never, ever, assumed a thing. Always asked, never took. I did love him, Jack, with all my heart. When we broke up I thought I'd never want anyone again. Then I met Gaz and he brought me out of that. We only split up because I had to go to Chicago. Without him though, I don't think I'd have been able to love anyone else."

"Weren't you with Sarah in Chicago?"

"Yeah. Only for a year though. I was with another guy before that. I didn't love him though - well, I did, but not in the same way. Same thing for Sarah, I guess. I cared about them both, but I was never in love with either of them. I've only deeply loved four people in my life."

Jack ran through a list of the relationships that he knew about. It didn't sound right. Fai, Gaz, Shau're...

"Um, Daniel, who's the fourth?"

Daniel didn't answer, he couldn't. He hadn't meant to say what he just did. Trust Jack to pick up on it. Jack asked again and still Daniel didn't answer, he just looked at Jack with big eyes pleading with him not to go there.

"How long, Danny?" Jack asked quietly. Daniel just shook his head. He couldn't answer that either.

Daniel dropped his head to look the other way again and felt Jack's finger on his chin and pulling him to look up.

"Daniel, look at me, please," he begged.

Daniel looked up and felt his lips being caught by Jack's. It was just a chaste kiss, their first, but it was sweet and it told Daniel that his suspicions had proved correct.


"Me too, Danny, and for far too fucking long."

He wrapped his arms tighter around him and held him close.

"Why didn't you tell me, Jack?" Daniel asked quietly.

"How could I? You were married, I assumed you were straight."

"Like you?"

"Ah. Look, I know you're obviously very secure about who and what you are, Daniel, but you have to understand that I'm not. I had a boyfriend when I was a teenager. I thought, like you, that I was gay. I was okay about it, my mom found out, she was pretty cool about it too. My dad, though, if he'd found out he'd have disowned me."

Daniel looked at him with sad eyes and squeezed him tight in sympathy.

"Anyway, I wanted to join up, wanted to fly you see? Couldn't afford to learn privately so it had to be the Air Force. I knew I'd not be able to be what I was and to be what I wanted to be, so I had to give up guys. I dated some girls, hated it too, but I had to pretend. Then I met Sara and she swept me off my feet. She really was something special, Danny."

"I know," Daniel replied with a smile. "You still love her, don't you?"

"Always will. How could I stop? She was Charlie's mother, that will always make her special to me. But then you came along and I fell for you early on. It was easy enough to hide behind our friendship at first, especially when we were looking for Shau're, but when she was gone I knew I didn't have that as an excuse anymore. The stupid law scared me, Daniel. I didn't want to give up my life but I knew too that I loved you more than I loved my job. Unfortunately, all those years of hiding had given me a lot of personal problems. I'd hidden that side of me from myself as much as from anyone else, you see. I had to."

"So you had to deal with all the crap and the straight persona you'd created for yourself as well as wanting to keep your job. It can't have been easy on you."

"It wasn't. So, I did the unforgivable, I took it out on you. I just wanted you to get fed up of me, Daniel, that was all. I figured you'd say 'to hell with him' and go and join SG-11 or something. I didn't ever want to hurt you. I know I did and I'm so fucking sorry, more sorry than I can say, but I didn't mean to, honest."

"I believe you," Daniel replied quietly, now completely understanding the hell that Jack had been through too.

"Will you ever forgive me?" Jack asked, almost plaintively.

"Yes. But it's going to take me a while to trust you again. I'm sorry, Jack, but it's not going to happen overnight."

Jack dropped a kiss on his head and smiled. "I can't believe how lucky I am, you know. I'll prove it, Danny, I'm not going to fuck you over again. You have my word on that."

"Good. Um, Jack?"


"What now? I mean, do you want to be with me?"

"I want that more than anything, Daniel. When we get back, I'm going to tell Hammond that I'm retiring. I'd rather be with you than stay in my job now. That is, if you want me?"

Daniel twisted out of Jack's grip and raised himself to eye level. Then he kissed Jack. Softly at first, increasing in intensity until it ended, leaving Jack totally breathless.

"I love you," he told him, "I've loved you for so long, Jack. I want you, too. If you go, I'm going too. I won't stay there without you."

"Aw crap, that means I have to stay. You can't leave the SGC. You just can't. Earth needs you, Daniel, you have to be there."

"So do you then. I think that George knows, you know. I don't think he cares either. As long as we're discreet he won't say a thing."


"Um, Jack, I went out with a guy for a year, not so long ago."

"I had no idea."

"Hmm, I know. I can do discreet."

"Yes, I think you probably can."

Daniel had decided that a real break was called for and he insisted that Jack not argue with his choice of destination. They drove up to Mid Wales, to the Beacons. Jack was wondering just why they would want to go there, just seeing mountains in the distance as they headed up the road.

"It's peaceful there. It's the end of tourist season at the moment, so we should get somewhere good to stay even though everything will be open. Brecon is set up for tourists so there's plenty of hotels and bed and breakfast places. It's pretty too. Just as well we missed the Jazz Festival they have in the summer - we'd never get anywhere to stay then. We need this, Jack. I don't know about you but I really am tired and I need a break. I think you probably do too. Trust me on this one, you'll love staying here."

"How come you know the area?"

"Ah. Don't get mad, but Gareth is from this area. I came here a few times with him. By the way, I came as his friend not his boyfriend. He thought about coming out to his family, but he wanted to see where our relationship would go first. Anyway," Daniel added quickly as he realised that Jack wasn't happy about his talk of Gareth, "his parents used to have a farm here."

"Farm? Up in these mountains? What the fuck could you grow?"

"Sheep," Daniel laughed. "Lots and lots of sheep. That's pretty much it. Stuff can be grown in the valleys, I guess, but they're pretty narrow and either flooded for reservoirs or full of trees. And don't do any sheep jokes either, I'm warning you. A - the locals will have heard them all before, and B - they probably wrote them."

Jack snorted and carried on looking at the scenery, getting more and more stunned by it as the miles went on.

"Count how many shades of green there are," Daniel suggested. Jack quickly lost count.

"Those mountains are red," he said.

"Yeah, some look like that, but when you look at them from a different angle they look green again."

"That one's black!"

"Ah. Shadow from a cloud. The Beacons are notorious for getting lost in low cloud when the weather closes in. I think that one's a one-off though, so we should be okay. The rest of the sky is pretty blue. Keep watching the mountains Jack, they keep changing colour. Sometimes they're even purple."

Jack was genuinely stunned by the scenery which was totally breathtaking. He was most disappointed when Daniel pulled off the main road and went into the town of Brecon.

"We'll find a tourist information place and get them to find us somewhere to stay. Do you want to stay in town or out in the country?"

"Out would be good," Jack replied. "I saw the reservoirs, don't suppose there's any chance we can go fishing, is there?"

Daniel laughed, "Well, we'll just have to ask, won't we?"

They found somewhere to park, Daniel cornered a local and got the directions to the tourist information office and they strolled towards it.

"Did you bring your hiking gear, Jack?"

"Um, no, didn't think we'd be needing it in Oxford."

"Ah, well, this wasn't really on the agenda. Tell you what, as soon as we've found somewhere, we'll see if we can get ourselves kitted up, it will give us the chance to walk over the Beacons. I've done a few of them, Pen-y-Fan is a tough one. It's nearly 900 metres and has a habit of disappearing under low cloud. But, if it's a clear day - wow - the views are out of this world."

Jack snorted and Daniel looked at him and realised what he had said. Given their job, it was a strange thing to say.

As they reached the door of the information office, Daniel turned to Jack and said, "Um, Jack, how do you want to do this? Do you want us to have separate rooms? The same room but twin beds?"

Jack put his hand on Daniel's arm and said, "Danny, I know we haven't taken this relationship any further than a kiss yet, but I want more. That is, if you want that too?"

"Of course I do, Jack, I just don't want to push anything. If you're not happy about any situation, say now."

Jack nodded, smiled, slipped his hand in Daniel's and pulled him inside.

The lady in the office didn't even blink when Jack asked her about finding somewhere in the countryside in which they could have a double room. He also asked her about fishing and places that they could buy hiking gear. She told them all they needed to know, and while they went off to kit themselves up, she rang around some of the farms that were doing accommodations and eventually found them just what they were looking for. She knew the owner of the B&B and thought that the guys would fit in well there. Mrs. Lloyd was a very nice and friendly woman.

By the time the guys had everything they wanted and returned, she had sorted them out, drawn them a map on how to get there, and found all the different leaflets with specific information about the various touristy things in the area. They thanked her profusely, returned to the car and with Jack navigating, Daniel carefully drove to the farm. Jack's navigation wasn't helped by the fact that he couldn't pronounce any of the names on the map, whereas Daniel could not only read and pronounce them, he could give him the English equivalents. That didn't help when Jack stumbled over names and caused Daniel to miss a few turns as a result while he tried to work out just what Jack was on about.

Jack was a little nervous as they pulled up at Cwm Felin Farm. All this being determined to be with Daniel and not screw it up was well and good, but he was so used to hiding everything that openly sleeping with Daniel was going to be a problem and he knew it. He also knew that he'd have to be very, very careful. No way was he going to upset Daniel. No way.

Mrs. Lloyd was in her late sixties. She was short, grey-haired, and with a bustling manner and the figure to match. Mr. Lloyd had been a farmer but he had died in an accident in his fifties and she had been left with a farm to run and no sons to take it over. Her only daughter had, by then, already married and gone, marrying a local farmer's son. So, she did the pragmatic thing. She gave some of the land to her daughter to add to a bit that her son-in-law's father had given him, so that they could make a go of farming themselves, sold most of the rest of the land, and with the money she converted the farmhouse and some of the outbuildings into a bed and breakfast place. She wasn't the sort of person that could live in a town, even villages seemed noisy after the quiet of the countryside. Animal noise was about her limit. However, she didn't want to be alone, so this suited her down to the ground.

She'd wanted to have a brood of kids, being one of those women that loved them. She'd had two, but her second child, a boy, had died having been born very prematurely and she couldn't face going through that again. So she turned her efforts to making other people's lives good instead. Her daughter had had four children, three boys and a girl, all of whom were now grown up. The daughter was the youngest, eighteen years old, still living at home while she took a year off before going to university. And the granddaughter spent a lot of time at the Cwm Felin, helping out as best she could. So it was that Daniel and Jack turned up at the farm and they found themselves being greeted by grandmother and granddaughter and hustled into the house.

"Welcome," said Mrs. Lloyd, "come on in. Let's get you settled in, shall we?"

Jack was amused and slightly bewildered by the effusive greeting and Daniel was trying not to laugh.

"Thank you," he said, "I'm Daniel, this is Jack. We're looking forward to staying with you."

Jack was further amused by Daniel's 'peaceful explorer' attitude. Mrs. Lloyd introduced herself and her granddaughter.

"I'm Angharad, this is Bethan," she said, "and as we're on first name terms, we're friends now. So, let's make you comfortable."

They were shown to their room, a beautiful, simply-decorated room on the side of the house. It was large, with a wooden floor, a few rugs on it as decoration as much as for comfort. The furniture was big, wooden and old, and the bed was huge. It was a typical farmhouse room, though a farmhouse that had obviously once been built by a well-off farmer. The house dated back a number of centuries, but had been added to and modified over the many years of its life, giving the whole place a really quirky feel. Jack guessed, correctly, that the house would appeal to Daniel's own quirky nature.

"This is beautiful," Daniel sighed as they entered the bedroom. He turned and smiled at the women and said, "We came here because we need a break, a real get-away-from-it-all holiday. This is perfect."

Jack added his agreement, but he was very quiet. Angharad picked up on this and sensed that he was feeling a bit awkward. Her mothering instinct took over and she took him by the hand.

"Come with me, love," she said quietly, and the others followed her to her own side of the house. She sent Bethan off to put the kettle on to make some tea and then told the men to sit at the table in her large kitchen. Daniel's eyes roamed the room, taking in the warm and friendly feel of the farmhouse kitchen, the huge table in the middle, the individually built cupboards, the aga in place of an oven... it all spoke of home and family. Angharad disappeared for a moment and then came back with a photograph.

She sat at the table with the men and she asked gently, "How long have you two been together?"

Jack blushed, so Daniel answered, knowing somehow that this would be for the best.

"We've only just got together, this morning," he said with a grin, "but we've been friends, close friends, for years."

"It took you a while then?" she prompted.

"Yeah, but I'm glad we've finally got our act together," Daniel added.

"Me too," Jack put in. "I'm probably going to have to retire when we get home, but I think he's worth it."

Daniel rewarded him with a shy smile for that.

"Retire?" Angharad asked.

"I'm in the Air Force," Jack said, "Colonel. I can't be with Daniel openly if I stay there."

"They can't ask you about it, can they?"

"No, but if anyone finds out..." his voice trailed off and she nodded in understanding.

Daniel wondered why she had brought them into the kitchen, and what the photo was all about. He asked, but in a circuitous manner.

"Angharad," he said, delighting her that he'd pronounced the name properly, "are you okay about us, I mean, being here together?"

She beamed at him and showed him the picture by way of an answer.

"This was my sister," she said, pointing to a woman in her forties. Standing next to her was another woman about the same age. "Her name was Mair. This was her 'companion', Elise. They met at university. My sister had gone off to get a degree and become a teacher. Bear in mind, she was older than me, and in those days, relationships outside the norm were not spoken of. If two women lived together, as spinsters, nothing was inferred, it wasn't done. Their relationship was tacitly accepted by the family, but never discussed in detail. We accepted Elise into the family and she became as much as sister to me as Mair. I loved Elise, she was a wonderful woman. Mair was devoted to her, and the other way around. When she was sixty, Elise died suddenly of a heart attack. Mair died of a broken heart not long after, she literally pined to death. They'd been together forty years and loved each other as much as my husband and I did. So, in answer to your question, you are most welcome here, boys, as yourselves. Don't be shy. I won't get in touch with your boss, Jack, they won't get anything from us, I promise. Relax, give your relationship a chance to grow."

Jack put his hand out to hers and took it, holding on tightly he looked into her eyes and said, "Thank you, it means a lot to me. I've had to hide who and what I am for so long that it's not going to be easy for me to relax, but if I can't do it here I don't think I'm going to do it ever. I don't trust people easily, I'm always on my guard, but I know - I know - that you are 'good people' and I like good people. Can't promise I'll be able to say your name though," he added with a grin.

"Ach, don't you worry about that. More people have screwed that one up than got it right. If you can't say it properly though, just call me Ann. I'd rather that than have it said wrongly. And talking of which, just how can you pronounce it properly, young Daniel?"

Daniel snorted. "I'm not that young," he insisted.

"To me, you are. Now, answer."

"I know someone from around here. His family farm in the area. He taught me to speak Welsh, I'm a linguist by training, so another language wasn't too difficult for me. I already spoke French and Latin, Welsh was reasonably easy after that."

"Well, there's a surprise!" Angharad announced, delighted by his news. "Not so many Welsh people speak it. Oh, they can read the words, say them properly and all that, but beyond simple phrases and a handful of words, the majority don't. To hear someone from outside the country speak it, well, that's wonderful."

"There's a Welsh Language Society in America," Daniel told her, "dedicated to the teaching of the language. I think it started among families of those that had emigrated out there, but it's not exclusive to descendants. Anyone that wants to learn, can."

"Hell, we're famous," Bethan said as she put the tea on the table, laughing as she did.

"They just want to be able to understand Tom Jones," Angharad added with a wink.

Jack started to relax as they drank their tea. The ladies questioned him about flying and places that he'd been, did the same sort of thing to Daniel too. At first, Jack was reluctant to talk about himself, but he soon found himself chatting away freely. Bethan explained, laughing as she did, that the Welsh are a 'nosy bunch'. "We like to know people," she added, "that's all. Anything you want to keep to yourself, just say, we won't think you're being funny or anything. But we're curious, we love to learn - anything really. Same goes both ways, by the way, you want to ask anything, ask. If we don't want to tell you, we won't. You can't become friends with people if you don't know them, can you? And if you know people, really get to know them, then you won't want to fight them. How can you fight someone when you know their mother's name, or that when they were six they had a dog that liked to jump in rivers, or other personal stuff?"

Jack had to acknowledge the truth behind what she was saying. Fighting the anonymous enemy was one thing, trying to kill someone you knew well was very hard. The more people got to know each other, the less they'd want to go to war with each other.

Night was drawing in and they were still sitting around the table. Daniel's stomach rumbled and Angharad jumped up.

"Look, I know this is just a bed and breakfast, but you can't go out on unfamiliar roads in the dark just to find something to eat. I'll put something on now, you two go and have a rest, unpack, whatever, and then I'll call you when the food is done. Join us tonight, please."

They thanked her and agreed, then headed back to their room. As they got into it Jack pulled Daniel into his arms and held him tightly.

"Thank you, Danny. Bringing me here, making me face everything. I, er, well, I damned well needed it. I need you to know something. Whatever happens when we get back, however it turns out, I don't regret this. I'll never regret being with you. I do regret having my head up my ass, I do regret treating you so badly, and I do regret trying to hide what I am. But I'll never regret finally having the courage to tell you. I don't think I'd have regretted it if you'd run a mile afterwards. You deserved to know why I'd been such a bastard to you. I'm sorry for what I did, more sorry than I'll ever be able to say."

Daniel didn't know what to say for once in his life, and so he retreated to the time-honoured way of dealing with it - he kissed him.

"I love you, Jack O'Neill," he whispered as they broke apart.

"Love you, Daniel Jackson," Jack's reply was also whispered.

They quickly unpacked and then kicked off their shoes and lay down on the bed, just holding each other tightly.

They'd had a good meal, plain food but 'honest' as Jack put it. It tasted good and filled the gap, just as Jack liked it. Angharad and Bethan had the guys laughing, telling them of the locals, including some of the more colourful characters, and of the history of the farmhouse and some of the local myths and legends. Daniel was rapt and Jack enjoyed watching his reaction to it all. Gareth had apparently told him other stories and Daniel shared them, making his name as a storyteller. It was getting late by the time they'd finished and the guys retired, both of them a touch nervous as they got ready for bed.

They lay together, holding each other tightly. Daniel, in the same position that he'd been on the bed in Oxford, snuggled down further and rested his head on Jack's chest.

"Um, Daniel?"

"Yes Jack?"

"Oh God, I don't know how to say this, but..." his voice quietened and Daniel turned his head to look up at him.

"Jack, just say it, please. Whatever it is, we can deal, okay? No more secrets, please, I can't take anymore of that."

Jack sighed. He plucked up his courage and said, "You know I said I'd had a boyfriend when I was a teenager?"

"Yes," Daniel drew out the word, wondering where this was going.

"Well, we were young, Daniel, and nervous, I guess. We never went all the way. We'd spend our time kissing, getting each other off all right, but I've never been, never done..."

"You've never made love?"

"Um, no, not with a guy."

Daniel sighed, this was going to make things a bit awkward.

"Jack. We don't do anything that we're not comfortable with - both of us have to be comfortable about doing anything or it doesn't get done."

"You're okay about this?"

"What, that you're a forty-six year-old virgin?" Daniel teased.

"That sounds so damned sad, doesn't it?" Jack groaned.

"Yes. However, I'm fine about it, Jack. Hope you don't intend staying that way?" he asked speculatively.

"I must admit I've not given it much thought, Daniel. Till today, last night more realistically, I'd not allowed myself to think about it. I'm nervous, to tell the truth."

"Then we won't do anything till you're happy with the idea, Jack. Answer me one thing though, will you?"


"If I allow you to make love to me, will you think less of me? Is that why you've never done it? Do you think that a guy that gets fucked is weak? Is submissive?"

Jack thought hard about that.

"I'm not sure," he answered honestly. "I guess it's the perception, isn't it? In my head I know it's not true, but I've had to lock away any desires I've had for so long that I'm afraid that I've built up some prejudices without meaning to. I love you, Daniel, that is never going to be in doubt."

"Then let's leave that, shall we? There's plenty of other things we can do, if you're interested?" Daniel's voice suddenly went very husky and the effect on Jack was obvious pretty much immediately.

Daniel had a think about what he would want for his first time - in effect that was what it was for Jack, his last time having been so long before. He thought that slow and gentle, just an exploration of each other would be called for. So he wriggled back up till his face was level with Jack's and he kissed him.

One thing that Jack was extremely comfortable with was kissing, so he kissed him back, putting all his love for Daniel into the contact. Daniel broke away panting and he looked at Jack with lust-darkened eyes.

"Damn, Jack, you are good at that," he murmured. Jack grinned and was about to go for a second try when Daniel stopped him.

"I've got an idea," he said, his eyes twinkling at his lover. "Sit up."

They shifted themselves till Jack was sitting up, propped against the headboard and pillows, and Daniel straddled him, kneeling either side of Jack's legs. Then he kissed him again, much more gently this time. Jack allowed Daniel to take the lead, and didn't regret it when he started to move. Daniel traced Jack's jaw line with his lips, softly planting kisses along it, gently nibbling Jack's earlobe and making him gasp.

Daniel broke away and sat back, pulling his tee off and then reaching to remove Jack's. He stared at Jack and groaned with desire as he saw the muscular body in front of him.

"You are so fucking gorgeous, O'Neill," he whispered, surprising the hell out of Jack.


"Oh God, yes," Daniel replied in-between the kisses he placed down Jack's neck and over his shoulders. "You so are," he confirmed as he caught one of Jack's strong arms in his hand and then licked and kissed his way down the inside of it, pausing to suckle at places that seemed to drive Jack out of his mind.

"I love strong men," he murmured. "I can only ever be me if my lover is strong," he said. "I can let myself go, enjoy the hell out of myself, knowing that you'll be strong enough to stop me if I go too far. I can do the same for you, Jack. You can be you, you can feel, act, do as you wish. If you get too much for me, I'll stop you. If I don't stop you, then you know that I want you to do what you're doing. Understand?"

Daniel listened to Jack's reply while he continued kissing and licking and gently biting his hand, wrist and back up his arm.

"Yes," Jack hissed with pleasure, "I think so. Never did let myself really go, not with Sara. Might have hurt her."

"I know, babe, I know. Same here. Loved Shau're with all my heart, I couldn't hurt her, I'd rather have died. I won't hurt you, Jack, you have my word. But you are in a better position to stop me if I get carried away. I want that, it's good."

Jack's breathing was getting ragged and Daniel stopped what he was doing and looked into his eyes. There was a hunger there, a desperation to take this to the end. Daniel reached down and removed his and Jack's boxers, now leaving them naked together for the first time.

"Jack? What do you want me to do?"

Jack opened and shut his mouth. Daniel saying that line had been a part of his most erotic fantasies and now it was there for real, he didn't know what to say. He knew one thing though, whatever he asked of Daniel, he'd have to be prepared to do himself. This relationship with Daniel was going to be a partnership of equals and he knew it. Instead of answering, he decided that he'd have to act.

He grabbed Daniel fiercely and kissed him with all of his might, then he pushed him to lie on the bed, kissed him again, then did something he knew how to do - no matter how long ago it had been, this was something he loved to do and loved to have done. He went down.

Daniel nearly jumped off the bed when Jack took him in his mouth. He hadn't been expecting this, that was for sure. And something else he hadn't expected, Jack was good at it. He put his tongue to good use, licking and sucking, taking Daniel to the edge and then bringing him back down again. He loved this, it was good, it was very good. When Daniel knew that he couldn't hang on, he gasped, "Jack, now please, I can't take anymore."

Jack took pity on him and swallowed him whole, the amazing sensation sending Daniel over the edge. He'd pulled a pillow to his face and yelled. When he stopped panting he looked at Jack and could see that he was wanting to get off himself. With a feral growl he flipped Jack onto his back and returned the favour, putting every ounce of love and passion into the act. Jack wasn't going to last long, he'd been on the receiving end of Daniel's touch for too long that night. He gasped a warning and howled, his fist stuffed into his mouth as he came harder than he had done for a long time.

Daniel soothed him as he came down off his high and then the two men kissed and held each other tightly, realising that they both had unshed tears in their eyes when they broke apart.

"God, Daniel, I so fucking love you," Jack sniffed.

"Love you so much, so much," Daniel replied.

"C'mere," Jack ordered gruffly and pulled Daniel into the tightest hug they could get into. "I'm never going to leave you, Danny, never. I'll die first."

He got oh, so, thoroughly kissed for that.

The next morning they decided to head off up the mountains. The lady at the tourist information office had told them where the walks started from, there being set trails for those that didn't know the mountains well. They packed the rucksacks that they had bought in town - as both of them were well trained for survival they knew to take even a walk on unfamiliar mountains seriously. Angharad fed them a large breakfast as she looked through their kits, then with a smile she approved of their preparation.

"So many people go up there underprepared and mountain rescue get called out time and time again. My husband was part of the local team," she added, "and it was on a rescue mission that he was killed. Turned out some tourists had gone up there for a picnic, the weather had closed in as it can do very quickly so high up, and the team were called out. One of the tourists was even in sandals, believe it or not."

Jack and Daniel both shook their heads in disbelief.

"Anyway, they were helping them get down, and one of the tourists slipped, fell into my Dafydd and knocked him off a ledge and down the mountain." She looked out of her window quietly, remembering that awful time. Daniel's heart went out to her.

"Angharad, we know how you feel," he said quietly. "My wife was killed deliberately."

She turned to him with pain in her eyes. Jack also told her, "My son was killed in an accident."

She didn't know what to say, just put her hands out and hugged them both. Something about the men had drawn her to them, something she couldn't put a finger on. When they had first walked through her door she knew that she could be of some use to them, that they both needed to be there. Now, she was sure that she was right, that her perceptions of the men were spot on. Her mothering instinct had come to the fore in a way it didn't usually with her guests.

She shook herself, not mentioning what they had just spoken of. She wrote two numbers on a piece of paper.

"Have you got a mobile phone?" she asked.

"Yes," Daniel replied, "charged up and ready to go. A satellite phone, I don't need to worry about reception either."

"Good," she beamed, "you are well-prepared then. This is my number, this is mountain rescue. You can just dial 999, but this is their local number. Come back well before dark. If it looks like the weather is about to close in, stay put and call. Do not try to descend. I'm serious, boys, these mountains are beautiful and they look easy and safe, but they are deadly, even to those of us that have lived here all our lives and know them well."

They promised to follow her instructions and left. Daniel drove to the nearest trail, parked up, and the two men headed up the hill. They walked for a couple of hours, quietly taking in the stunning surroundings.

"Daniel, this is breathtaking," Jack said as they stopped for a break.

"You're not as fit as you think you are then, O'Neill," Daniel teased. "Catch your breath and we'll go a bit further up. We're near the top. We can eat up there. I saw the food that Angharad packed in there when she thought we weren't looking. Not only do we have the dried rations we bought, we have sandwiches. And a flask of coffee."

"She's one hell of a woman, isn't she?" Jack snorted.

"Oh yeah. I think we landed on our feet there, Jack. Can you even begin to imagine somewhere better?"

Jack had to agree that he couldn't. No, the place didn't have a TV in his bedroom, he wasn't even sure that she had one in the house, and yes, the bathroom contained the basics and nothing fancy like a jacuzzi, but it was only a farmhouse after all and not a five-star hotel. And no five-star hotel that he knew of came with tyrannical mothering. He gave an inward laugh. Angharad was a lot like his mother.

"I'm surprised you're so relaxed with the overbearing mothering from our host," he teased.

"Oh, I think she's wonderful," Daniel said with a smile, "I'd have loved a mother like her."

"Wait till you meet my mom, Daniel," Jack grinned, "Irish moms are every bit as bad. She'll be checking that you've got clean underwear on by the second day she knows you."

Daniel hooted with laughter and said that he was a touch surprised that Angharad hadn't done that.

As they carried on up the mountain Jack caught hold of Daniel's hand and got one of the rare, shy smiles from him. He knew that Daniel wasn't really shy, but he had a certain look that made him seem so. It made his heart sing.



"Will your mom be all right about me?"

"Sure. She knew about me when I was a teenager, I told you that."

"What about the rest of your family?"

"Most of them will be fine. My dad died a while back, so I don't have to worry about him. Don't sweat it, Danny, they're a good bunch. Besides, told you, love you, not gonna leave you."

Daniel stopped and took Jack into his arms and kissed him hard.

"Love you, Jack, not going to leave you either."

They reached the top of the mountain, the sky mercifully clear and it was everything that Daniel had promised. Jack said nothing. He just stood and looked out as far as he could, doing a 360 degree circuit a couple of times before sitting down on a rock and finally saying - "WOW!"

Daniel got out the food and flask that had been packed for them and shared out the meal.

"So, are you glad I dragged you up here?" he asked as he tucked into one of the thickest cut sandwiches he'd ever seen.

Jack grinned as he looked at his own sandwich; it had ham, cheese, and what looked like the entire contents of a salad bowl.

"Oh yeah, Danny, this even beats fishing."

That was something that Daniel had never thought that he would hear from Jack.

They stayed at the top for a while just enjoying the fact that for once they were absolutely alone. The peace was incredible. Jack watched a hawk as it rode the thermals and then saw it suddenly dive down out of the sky to get its own lunch.

"Did you see that?" he asked Daniel in astonishment.

"Yeah, truly wonderful, isn't it?"

With a sigh, they both knew that they had to get back down before dark settled in. It was the end of the season and the nights would draw in earlier than they'd want.

"Don't forget, Jack, the latitude here is higher than at home. Night falls quicker. We have to make a move, but we can't rush. It would be too easy to slip and fall as we go down."

They trod carefully as they followed the trail down, watching where they were going but chatting away and still holding hands whenever the path allowed it. Daniel realised that he'd never felt more relaxed in all the years he'd known Jack.

A cry broke the peace.

They heard a woman's voice and then another, they were obviously distressed. As quickly as they could they headed to the source and found one woman holding onto another who was dangling over one of the small ledges that seemed to suddenly appear on the side of the otherwise smooth mountains. Without hesitation, Jack grabbed one of the hanging woman's hands and Daniel took the other. They pulled together and hauled her back up. Before either woman could say anything, Jack picked the one up and carried her away from the edge, Daniel gently leading the other, who was now going into a bit of shock, to them.

"Let's get you checked out," Jack said, his military voice cutting through the eerie silence. "Have you hurt yourself at all?" he asked the woman that had fallen.

She told him that she had gone over on one of her ankles as she had trodden on a loose stone, causing her fall.

"Do you think it's broken?" Jack asked.

"No, I think it's just twisted."

"Okay, we'll leave your boot on, it's probably going to hold it better than if we try to strap it up."

Daniel noticed that the other woman hadn't said anything and that she was shaking. He quickly opened his pack and pulled out the space blanket that he'd bought and wrapped it around her. She thanked him and smiled.

"I'm Daniel," he said by way of introduction, "this is Jack."

"Jennifer," the woman with the twisted ankle said, "and Rachel. And thank you gentlemen, that was a bit of a drop down there."

"Oh, no problem," Jack replied with a smile. "Trouble is, you can't walk down the hill and I don't think we'll be safe carrying you down. I'm afraid we'll have to get help."

Jennifer groaned. "Oh God, this is so embarrassing," she said.

"Ach, don't worry," Jack said, then pointed at Daniel, "he's always needing rescuing from something or other."

Daniel smacked him. "Yeah, usually you. I've got a phone, I'll call up mountain rescue. Jack, the burner's in your kit, put the kettle on, will you?"

Daniel dialled up the number that Angharad had provided him with and explained the problem and what they had done. The man on the other end sounded pretty relaxed when Daniel also pointed out that they had plenty of survival equipment and that they knew how to use it. Apparently the rescue team were already out on another mountain, they might be a while.

"We'll be fine," Daniel soothed, "it's just our injured friend here can't walk down and we don't know the mountain well-enough to try a descent. Night is starting to fall."

"Can you describe where you are?" the man on the phone asked.

"Oh, hang on," Daniel pressed a button on his phone and then relayed the GPS co-ordinates.

"I wish everyone went up the mountain as well-prepared as you. Okay, I know where you are," he said, "that crag has caught a few people out. We'll be with you as soon as we can."

"GPS?" asked Rachel, now starting to relax under the tender ministrations of the men.

"Ah," said Daniel.

"And GPS with that sort of accuracy?" Jennifer added with a grin.

"Um," said Daniel.

"Daniel's cosseted by his friends," Jack laughed. "He was informed a while back that he would carry this phone on him at all times." The unspoken words 'while he's on Earth' passed between the men and they had to smother a laugh. "It has access to military satellites, we can pinpoint his position to within a few yards."

"Ideal for a precise strike," Daniel groaned. The women looked confused. "He's Air Force - pilot. Always looking for a way to take me out without others knowing it was him." Jack snorted, the double meaning of his statement only apparent to the men.

Jack handed out coffee to the women, they had their own supplies and mugs and were sharing them with the men.

"I feel such an idiot," Jennifer said, "it's not as if we were up here in beach wear."

The men agreed that they were, in fact, well-prepared for the trek - also pointing out that shit happens too, even to the best prepared.

Daniel called Angharad and explained to her where they were and what was going on. She fussed a little and then told him that he should get off the phone and save his battery for emergencies - thanking him for letting her know too. She knew that they'd be okay though.

It was now quite dark and they were all getting cold. The women snuggled up together under one of the blankets, the men sharing the other one.

"You two look cosy," Jennifer teased, she was turning out to be the more mischievous of the pair.

"Ah," said Daniel again, not wanting to say anymore. Jack picked up on this and sighed.

"We are," he said defiantly. "We're, er, together."

Both men blushed when the girls giggled and said that they looked very sweet together.

Lights appeared and soon they heard the noise of a dog barking. The mountain rescue team had found them. They packed up their kits and got ready to be led back down. Jennifer moaned when the team insisted on carrying her down on a stretcher, but she acceded and got on it after encouragement from the guys. Jack played with the dog for a moment, making a huge fuss of the German shepherd who turned out to be one great big softy. Daniel laughed at him and then informed Jack that he'd have to stay away from him unless he wanted him to be sneezing all the way down.

They carefully picked their way down the mountain trail, the rescue team grateful that they were all so sensible about the situation. Apparently the mission they'd just been on had nearly ended in disaster when the tourists that had got themselves so terribly lost practically fought them all the way down.

Back at the car park, Jennifer was bundled into a waiting ambulance to take her to casualty to get her ankle checked out. Rachel was going to follow the ambulance to the hospital and then take them both back to their hotel. Both women insisted on giving the guys a hug and kiss, thanking them for saving Jenn and making both guys blush - again. Wearily, the men got into their car and drove back to Cwm Felin.

Angharad was waiting up for them, fussed over them when they got in, gave them a hot meal and something to drink and then sent them to bed to sleep.

After getting ready, they got into bed and Daniel slipped into his now favoured position and rested his head on Jack's chest.

"Do you think that we'll ever be able to do anything without getting involved in something like that?" he groaned.

"Probably not. Not until we find your trouble magnet and surgically remove it," Jack teased.

Daniel poked him in the ribs. "Hey, it wasn't me that was in trouble."

"No, but wherever you go something happens, whether it's to you, or to someone else that you happen to be around, Daniel. Just as well we were there though," he added, "I'm glad we were there. It was enough of a drop to kill Jenn and I don't think that Rachel could have held her much longer."

Jack realised that he'd probably said the wrong thing. Daniel could take things too literally sometimes.

"Danny? What's wrong?"


"Daniel, something's wrong. Talk."

"Not so much wrong, Jack, as... hell, look, you're right, you know? Wherever I go there's trouble. I never mean it to happen, honestly, it just does. I should leave the SGC, before I get someone else killed."

"Someone else? Daniel, what the hell are you talking about? And what's this about leaving the SGC?"

"Shau're for a start, Jack. If I hadn't left her in the gate room on Abydos... not to mention all the others that died that day. I opened the fucking gate, Jack. The gate on Earth and I reopened the gate on Abydos. All of the deaths that followed are therefore directly attributed to me."

Jack was stunned into silence, but not for long.

"Daniel, let me ask you something. Did you find the gate?"

"Um, no."

"Did you order someone to figure it out?"


"Did you have any idea whatsoever what would happen when you did figure out what the gate was?"

"No." Daniel's voice was very quiet now.

Jack delivered the coup de grāce. "Danny, did you tell Apophis that the Earth gate was finally opened?"


"So? How are you in any way responsible? You did as you were asked, you cracked a code, figured out a puzzle. Then, might I add, you saved the people of Abydos from slavery. Yes, people died - on the first mission and then later when Apophis attacked - but you are not responsible for that. If anything, I am responsible. I allowed you to encourage the rebellion, I took you away from Shau're. I know you wanted to show me the cartouche room but I allowed it. I'm the CO, Danny. It's my responsibility."

Daniel rushed to soothe Jack's guilt, but he soon realised that Jack carried it deeply, as deeply as he did. Jack continued though.

"Listen to me, Daniel. Assuming the gate hadn't even been found, can you tell me that the Goa'uld wouldn't have come back to us at some point? That they wouldn't have rediscovered the co-ordinates for Earth? It was the first world, Danny, they knew where we were. They could have come back with or without the gate. And you know this. I'm not going to offer platitudes for those that have died. They shouldn't have died - you know that and I know that. But it's not really our fault. It's the snakes. And I want you to think on this. How many times have you directly been responsible for saving the Earth? Without you, we wouldn't have stopped Apophis' invasion. Without you, Carter wouldn't have known how to stop the asteroid. It was your idea that triggered her solution. She had run out of ideas and we had just about run out of time. There are six billion people on this planet. You've saved them twice directly as a result of your positive actions. Not to mention the times you've helped out either indirectly or helped us stop things before they got that bad. Give yourself a break, Daniel, and drop the guilt. I know you'll never forgive yourself for Shau're's death - I understand that better than most. But as for the rest, you've more than done your bit."

Daniel wriggled around and lay on top of Jack, holding himself up off Jack's chest with his hands. He lowered himself as if doing a press-up and kissed Jack delicately, his lips barely touching Jack's. Then he ran his tongue over Jack's lips and waited for Jack to grant him access. When permission was given, by Jack opening his mouth, he pressed more firmly and kissed him with every ounce of passion that he had.

"I love you, Jack O'Neill," he whispered, gasping for air as he broke away.

"Love you, Daniel Jackson," came the equally quiet reply.

"Jack, I want you, please. Fuck me?" He demanded and asked in the same measure. Jack groaned.

"I've got a better idea, Danny," he said, "I want you. Please, babe. Me first, this is important to me."

Daniel understood what Jack meant by this. He was not just surrendering his 'virginity', he was offering him so much more. This meant total commitment on Jack's part, something that Daniel had only partially allowed himself to believe was likely. Jack was committing not just his body to Daniel's keeping, but his soul.

"Are you sure, Jack? This is a big thing."

"Daniel, I know your dick is a thing of beauty, but there's no need to exaggerate," Jack teased.

Daniel fell about laughing. "That's the first time my dick has been described like that!" he howled.

"I'm sure," Jack's brown eyes twinkled with humour, but there was an underlying hunger there too.

"Then lie back, babe, I'll take great care of you," Daniel replied seriously.

"I had no doubt about that," Jack replied, equally seriously. It was one thing them being good-humoured in bed, but some things had to be taken with the utmost gravity.

"If I do anything, anything you don't like, you say stop. You hear?"

"I hear. I promise."

Daniel retrieved his bottle of lube from his bag and placed it on the bed. He resumed his delicate kissing of Jack and repeated his actions of the night before, planting exquisitely soft touches with his lips all over Jack's body, and finally going down on him.

"Danny," Jack hissed, causing Daniel to stop what he was doing immediately. "If you do that I'm not going to be able to hold out."

"It's okay, babe, it will be better for you this way, trust me. You need to be relaxed, and I don't think there's a better way than this, is there? I wouldn't be doing this unless I thought it was the right thing, Jack."

Jack considered what he had said and then told him, "Then I'm all yours, Doctor Jackson. Do what you will."

Daniel grinned and returned to giving Jack the most studious and brain-melting blow job that he had ever received in his life. By the time Daniel figured that it was time to allow Jack to come, his lover was unable to even think. He sucked hard, his fingers by now inside Jack and stretching him as gently and as wonderfully as he could. Jack came hard, repeating Daniel's actions of screaming with pleasure into a pillow to muffle the noise.

"Turn over," Daniel instructed, "it will be better this way."

With Daniel's help, Jack rolled onto his stomach and gasped when he felt Daniel in position.

"Jack? Are you all right? Do you want me to stop?"

"No, please, do it Danny. I want this so much."

"Then try to relax as much as you can, please. I don't want to hurt you."

Jack did the best he could, but the feeling of Daniel entering him, just the head pushing past the tight outer ring, was painful. He took a deep breath and schooled his features to be as calm as he could. He didn't want Daniel to stop, he needed to get past this barrier that he'd put up himself.

"More, Danny, please," he begged.

Daniel rocked his hips slowly, cautiously pushing in a little more with each movement.

"God, Jack, you feel so good," he praised, "I love you so much. You will love this, I promise."

More rocking, more pushing, till finally he was in all the way. He lay on Jack's back, kissing his neck and nibbling his ear to distract him from the pain that Daniel knew Jack was in at the moment.

"It will pass, Jack, it will get better. The more we do this, the better it gets. It's an incredible feeling, Jack, having someone that loves you making you whole. I love you, Jack, love you so much."

"Move, Daniel. Please babe, move."

Jack's orders were gasped out. He was stunned that Daniel was doing whatever he told him to do. A small smile crept over his face, which was turned to the side. Daniel saw it and he realised what was going on in Jack's head.

"That's it, Jack, you tell me what to do. You're in charge, hun, you're the boss here. I don't do a damned thing that you don't want."

Jack got it. The guy on the bottom was in control of the whole thing. It wasn't a matter of being fucked, it was a sensation of being more in control than he had ever been in his life. Something gave - Jack realised again that it was him. He relaxed completely. Daniel knew that he had figured it out and he smiled.

"Tell me, Jack, tell me what you want. I'll do whatever you want, babe."

"Then move, dammit. Nail me, Danny."

Daniel had to fight the giggle that threatened to erupt at that, so he did as he was told to take his mind off it.

"God, Jack, you are so tight, so hot, so fucking incredible. Love you so much," he panted as he started to build up his motions, taking it faster, moving deeper with each stroke. Jack groaned, a pleasurable, happy groan.

Daniel knew that Jack couldn't take a long session of this, not on his first time, so he allowed himself the luxury of giving himself over to his feelings.

"Jack, I'm gonna come," he said in-between puffs of breath. "Can't hold on, you're too much, too fucking good."

"Come, Danny, it's okay," encouraged Jack. So he did.

He muffled his own cries by burying his head in Jack's neck, the vibrations of his voice on Jack's skin triggering a small, dry, orgasm in his lover.

"Shit, Danny," he called out as it hit him. "Love you."

As carefully as he could, Daniel pulled out from Jack and lay on his side.

"Jack, are you all right?" he asked anxiously.

"I'm fine, Danny, absolutely fine. Probably will wince a bit tomorrow, but I'm fine. You didn't hurt me. Tell me, does it get easier?"

"Oh God, yes, honestly. I promise, Jack. You just need practise."

"Well, then, I insist that we practise as much as possible. You were right, it's an amazing feeling. I can imagine how good it's going to get."

"Yeah, well, no hogging the bottom spot, Jack, I want that too you know," Daniel replied with a grin. "Come on, let's go to the shower. I want to check you out."

"I thought you just did," groaned Jack as he gingerly stood. He was sore, but not as bad as he'd imagined it would be.

"Jack, I need to make sure I didn't damage you," Daniel replied seriously. Jack saw the look on his face and agreed to go.

There was an en suite shower/bathroom to the bedroom and they went in together. Daniel put the water on to run but before he let Jack go in it, he dropped to his knees.

"Bend over a bit, Jack, let me look, please."

Jack did as he was told, wondering what Daniel was up to. He felt gentle fingers pushing his buttocks apart and then heard a relieved sigh.

"Thank God," Daniel whispered. "There's no blood. I could so easily have hurt you."

"Hey," Jack said as he put his hand out and helped Daniel get up, "you wouldn't have hurt me, Danny."

They got under the water and Daniel took the shower gel and started to rub it over Jack's back. Jack allowed him this moment of fuss, knowing that Daniel needed to take care of him at that time. Daniel explained that no matter how gentle he had been, he could have made him bleed, it all depended on how relaxed Jack was. Gaz had been relaxed, but even he had bled a little. It was perfectly normal. Jack was secretly pleased that he had been more relaxed than Daniel's other lover had been. Then he got curious. He took the shower gel and sponge from Daniel and insisted on being allowed to wash his lover. Then he asked, "How about you, Danny? Did you bleed?"

"No," he said thoughtfully, "but I'd had a few drinks - it was my eighteenth birthday after all. I was very relaxed. And I'd wanted it for two years, Jack. I was a little nervous, more excited than scared. I trusted Fai implicitly. He'd taught me so much, taught me well too, that I knew that he wasn't doing it just to take advantage of me."

"How old was he?" Jack was extremely curious about Daniel's first lover.

Now clean, Daniel turned off the water and got out of the shower, handing a large towel to Jack as he wrapped one around himself.

"Come on, let's get back to bed and I'll tell you about him."

They quickly dried and then put some night-clothes on. Back in bed, Daniel assumed his position and snuggled up to Jack's chest.

"Fai was ten years older than me. He never went for younger guys, at least he hadn't done up to that moment. Don't you go thinking he was some sort of pervert. I had some gay friends at Harvard and they were well-versed in my frustration at not getting what I wanted. Fai got himself a reputation as some sort of saint. I put him through seven shades of hell."


"I was young, grown up in many ways, but I was a bundle of seething hormones. Fai took everything very, very slowly. Like I told you before, he made me date girls. I got laid all right, but it was always me and her, never me and him. I managed to get him to do some things, things I'd already done. When I turned seventeen I refused to see anyone else, told him that he and I were totally exclusive and if he wasn't happy with that then I'd go elsewhere. He knew as well as I did that I wouldn't be short of offers. Part of him was afraid that I'd get used and hurt, I think. He did love me, Jack. If he hadn't, he'd have fucked me on our first night together. He allowed me the privilege, but never, ever took from me. So, on my eighteenth, I woke up, woke him up, told him that it was his last chance. Either he fucked me that day or I'd leave. I was already living with him by then. He agreed. We spent the day together, he took me out, I had a few drinks, not so that I was drunk, just relaxed you understand, but when we got home he was unsure again. I slammed him against the door, repeated my threat and he gave in. It took him about two hours before he was ready - before I was ready I guess. He was so controlled, so gentle, that it was breathtakingly beautiful. I nearly cried with how tender he was."

"You really did love him, didn't you?"

"Oh God, yes, Jack. I don't want you to think that my relationships have been based on sex, they haven't. I loved him, loved being with him. Just as I loved Gareth and Shau're. Once you've gone past the initial excitement, the sex is nice but irrelevant. Fai was the most generous soul I've ever met. Shau're was the sweetest, most incredible woman I've ever known."

"And Gaz?"

"Probably the funniest and most honest, Jack. We were always laughing. I think I laughed more in those two years than at any other time in my life. His humour is dry, but he has such a sense of the ridiculous, can see the funny side to just about anything, that he never failed to make me laugh. And for that I'll never stop loving him. I can't stop loving, Jack, it's not in my nature. Don't you ever ask me to stop being his friend, I can't, I won't. I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Jack, but I will not give up my friendship with him. Something you have to realise is that we only broke up because I really had to go to Chicago. If you'd rejected me the other morning, not been able to deal with my sexuality, I think I'd have resigned and moved back over here. I told him I couldn't do that, but I'm fed up of not being happy. He and I would have worked and I know it. Maybe not in the way that you and I will, but we could have."

Jack was silent for a moment and then asked, "Do you still want him?"

Daniel smiled in reassurance. "No, Jack. I only want you."

"Then love him, Danny, it's okay with me. I understand better than I can say."

They spent the next week exploring, doing things they'd never get a chance to do normally. They went for a train ride in the mountains on the narrow gauge steam railway; went down a mine at a mining museum; visited castles, walked over mountains and beaches and even took a ride on a speedboat out into the Bristol Channel from Cardiff... all things that they were working to protect, the local populace blissfully unaware of the threat from outer space. The satisfaction the men got from that was unfathomable; watching people going about their daily lives, being the individuals that they were and not just 'the Tauri'. Jack did get to go fishing - with Bethan. She turned out to be a keen angler and took him one day, letting Daniel have the chance to drive up to Hay on Wye and to the book shops there. Angharad, another inveterate reader accompanied him, and the two had a wonderful time going through all the second-hand book shops that littered the small border town.

By the last night though, Daniel was getting fed up. They were due to leave the next day, giving themselves another two days back home to recover from the time difference, et cetera. Jack, however, was reluctant to take the last step with Daniel. Oh, they had made love, Jack thoroughly getting the hang of being 'bottom' and enjoying the hell out of himself in the process. He wouldn't make love to Daniel though, his own ingrained fear of not respecting Daniel stopping him from proceeding. It was ridiculous and he knew it; he had no less self-respect, and he knew that Daniel's respect for him had probably even grown since he had allowed, had begged Daniel to make love to him. Daniel was getting very frustrated and so he thought of a plan. Direct action would be needed.

He spent the entire day flirting with Jack, blowing hot and cold, teasing Jack with brushes of his fingers, licking his lips, looking lovingly at him... and he hadn't allowed Jack to kiss him more seriously than a peck on the cheek, turning away with a smile every time he tried. Jack was getting as horny as hell.

Daniel insisted that they took the ladies out for dinner that night. The two women had welcomed them into their home so much that they felt like they were part of the family. Jack agreed that it would be a nice way to repay them, even though Daniel was actually paying for the stay. The women had gone far beyond their normal remit as hosts.

They had a lovely meal, said goodnight and entered the bedroom. Daniel quickly got ready for bed, but when he was under the covers he secretly took off his clothes.

Jack wasn't sure what was going on in Daniel's mind - a state that he often found himself in. Daniel's 'now flirty, now waspish' mood had been driving him insane all day.

He got into bed with trepidation and as he got in, he found himself being flipped onto his back and his shorts being ripped off. He was about to say something when Daniel put his finger on Jack's lips.

"Hush, Jack, you are going to lie back and enjoy yourself," he told him.

Jack swallowed heavily, unsure of what was coming next. One thing he knew though was that he had to trust Daniel now, to show him that he had faith in his lover.

Daniel retrieved the bottle of lube, put some on his fingers and then smeared it over Jack's dick.


"Hush, I told you, Jack, no more talking. No more waiting. I want this."

Then he straddled Jack's hips and sat.

Jack had to fight back a howl. Daniel's face took on a look of ecstasy. Then he started to move and Jack lost all capacity for rational thought.

He had come to accept that the guy on the 'bottom' was in charge, had come to appreciate it even, but now he was confused. The guy on the bottom was on top, and the other way around. Daniel was running the show, but Jack was on his back. What little was left of his functioning brain told him to shut up and enjoy, and they'd figure things out in the morning.

Jack gave himself over to the sensations. The heat surrounding his dick threatened to cook his IQ which was currently residing in that region. He couldn't believe how tight Daniel was, how soft, how like velvet... just WOW! It was incredible!

"Danny, oh GOD! You feel so good, I didn't know it could be so good, I didn't know," he moaned.

Daniel managed to gather up enough wits to reply - with a small grin on his face.

"Jack, I've waited so long for this. Love you so much."

Jack gasped out a 'love you' back and then stopped talking, reverting to the much-easier-on-the-brain primal grunts, as he thrust up to meet Daniel coming down.

Daniel's movements became more and more deliberate and even desperate. He wanted to come but he didn't want it to be so soon. Jack picked up on his need and reached forward, enclosing Daniel's cock with his fingers. Daniel gasped as he felt the touch and he let out a low, hungry moan. He leaned over and caught Jack's lips with his own.

"Oh God, I love you." He spoke the words with such a passion that Jack had to catch his breath to stop himself from crying.

"God, Danny, let go babe, I can't hold on," he pleaded.

Jack pumped him furiously, working Daniel hard and fast, desperate to bring him to completion. He felt Daniel tighten around him, watched mesmerised as Daniel ground himself down, taking all of Jack into himself and then he felt it. First the hot spurt of liquid onto his stomach, and then the contractions of Daniel's muscles around him. He had to fight back a loud scream as he was forced to come, his own climax pulled out of him. He came and came, wondering if he would ever stop.

They lay together, holding on to each other tightly as they came down off their coital high. Daniel slumped off him and flopped onto the bed. Somehow, he found the strength to reach up to the box of tissues he'd bought and grabbed a handful to give themselves a basic clean.

No more words were spoken, they just assumed their favoured sleeping positions, Daniel being held tightly by Jack as he used Jack's chest as a pillow. In moments, they were both asleep.

The next morning Daniel was woken up with a cup of coffee and a goofy-looking Jack.

"Hey," he said as he handed Daniel the mug.

"Hey," Daniel replied as he took it, not a little suspicious as to Jack's intentions.

"About last night," Jack began, and Daniel got a little afraid at where this was going. He grabbed hold of his mug tightly and Jack picked up on the whitened knuckles. He continued. "Are we going to have to fight over who gets to be on the bottom, so to speak?"

"What do you mean," Daniel asked carefully.

"Oh, I could see how much you enjoyed yourself, and I enjoyed the hell out of myself too, by the way," Daniel relaxed, a little, at that, "but I know how much I enjoy being in your position, as it were. What I'm trying to say is, how do we work this?"

Daniel took a sip of his coffee and then put the mug down.

"Jack, we take it as it comes. Some days you'll want to fuck, other days you'll want to be fucked. On the days that they clash with my wanting the same thing as you, we'll have to work it out, draw straws or something."

Jack snorted. He still saw a note of worry in Daniel's eyes.

"Danny, I still love you, I still need you and I sure as hell still respect you. Probably even more than I did yesterday. You've helped me lay to rest my old ghosts, and I thank you for that. I don't feel any less a man, don't feel any more a man either for that matter. I'm just me. You're just you. And I think that's okay."

Daniel finally relaxed completely and took him in his arms and kissed Jack thoroughly.

"Love you too, Jack," he murmured from somewhere in the vicinity of his neck.

Leaving the farmhouse was hard for the men. They had been truly at peace there, something that neither man had experienced in a long time. A few quiet tears were shed as they got into their hire car knowing that they had to go back to the Springs - and into virtual hiding. They could no longer publicly be Jack and Daniel the couple, just Jack and Daniel teammates and friends. At least they could go back to Hammond and tell him that this latest mission had been a success. Angharad gave Daniel her email address and made him promise to keep in touch. The men decided that they'd head back there... the next time they had a chance for a break.