Summary: A special fic for Lizzy in return for the fluffy bunny (don't ask!). The title says it all.
"Daniel? What are you doing?"
Jack sat at the table in the commissary next to Daniel, and opposite Paul Davis who was staring at a piece of paper and nursing a mug of coffee.
"Oh, hi, Jack. We're looking for a holiday home."
"Well, you have the cabin to get away to when things get a bit much, and both of us wanted somewhere to go to as well."
"I get that," Jack agreed. "But you can always use the cabin when you need to."
"I know, Jack, and I appreciate that, really. However, it's not really what either of us wants. I like getting away from it all from time to time, but to be honest, I'd prefer to have somewhere a bit livelier. I'd say less in the way of mosquitos, too, but given where we're looking..."
"Yeah, where's that?" Jack prompted.
"New Orleans," Paul said. "It's more or less halfway between DC and here."
Jack nodded, then he screwed his face up. "So, what, you're buying it together?"
"Makes sense, Jack," Daniel explained. "Neither Paul nor I would be able to make too many trips to anywhere we bought, so by buying somewhere we can share, the house would get twice as much use."
"Fair enough. What if you both get a break at the same time?"
"The place we're considering has two bedrooms," Paul answered, showing Jack the printout from the details garnered from the web. "It also has an attic space which we could convert into a spare room. That way we both get our own space, and it gives us the chance to take someone with us, too. Like you, or Sam or Teal'c, if you wanted a change."
"Cool." Again his face screwed up and he added, "You two get along that well then?"
"Yeah, we've always got along well, Jack, you know that," Daniel answered. "I'm sure we can stand being in the same house for a few days without worry. I think we'd only notify the other one to stay away if we were taking someone with whom we wouldn't want to be, er, interrupted," he added with a smug smirk. Then he added, "Not that that is a likely eventuality, at least on my part."
Jack laughed and Paul raised his coffee mug in toast to Daniel's words.
"So, what do you have here? Uh, two beds, two bathrooms, kitchen/dining room, lots of balconies... looks nice. Pretty run down though."
"That's why it's pretty cheap for a place in town. Still a lot of money, but we don't want to have to rent a car every time we go there. As it's in town, we can walk to the shops and so on. It will need refurbishing, so we'll have to go there soon, find someone to supervise the works and so on. Of course, we have to have our offer accepted first."
"Well, good luck with it. I'll come stay when it's done."
"You'd be most welcome, Colonel," Paul replied with a smile. "I'm really hoping that we'll be in in time for Mardi Gras next year. That should be fun."
"I will so be there with you, Paul," Daniel laughed. "I'm looking forward to that."
Daniel smiled as he stepped out of the taxi cab in front of the building that housed their new top floor apartment. In one of the old wooden buildings on the edge of the French Quarter, it had cost them an arm and a leg between them, but from what they could see, it was worth it. Once a single dwelling, the house was now separated into three different apartments.
"Hey, Paul, have you been here long?"
"No, my flight only got in about half an hour before yours. I've been looking around the neighbourhood."
"I think I'm going to love it here. Lots of nightlife, shops, places to go, people to see..."
"And not one single alien in sight?" Daniel whispered, laughing.
"Well, not that we can tell, anyway. Come on, I've got the keys, it's time to go up there."
They'd seen the place once before, when they'd gone to buy the house. But this time it was theirs, and there would be no one to hustle them around the rooms. The surveyor had told them that the place was structurally sound, but would need rewiring, re-plumbing and updating in general. Given that the value would practically double when they'd done that, they figured it was worth the work.
With not a little trepidation, they walked up the stairs past the ground and first floors, then opened the door to their apartment.
The first room they entered was the main living area. To the left of that was the kitchen/diner, needing total refurbishment because of age-related decay, but large and open and full of wood.
"I want to keep as much of this as possible," Daniel said. "We need to keep to the whole ambience of the area and the house, I think. Much as I love modern kitchens, it would look so out of place here."
"Agreed. But we are definitely going to have things like a dishwasher," Paul replied with a grin. "I am not spending a precious weekend washing up."
Daniel nodded, accepting his position. "We'll get a contractor in as soon as possible, someone to supervise all of the main restorations and refurbishment. Come on, I want to see those bathrooms again. I had a bit of an idea about them."
Paul followed Daniel into the first bathroom, a smaller one that was attached to one of the bedrooms.
"How about we tile this from head to foot, then put in a shower, toilet and sink?" he suggested.
"You mean like a wet room?"
"Exactly. This would be a big shower. Room for two," he added, his eyebrows waggling and making Paul laugh.
"What about the door? It only goes to the one bedroom."
"We could move that onto that narrower wall and out into the living area instead."
"Okay, what about the other one?"
The other bathroom was set in-between the two bedrooms, which were pretty much of equal size. Each room led out into the main living room which went from the front of the house to the back and which had a balcony accessible from the French doors which were opposite the stairwell and main door at the back of the flat. There was a narrow, spiral staircase to the back of the living room which led up to the attic.
Daniel opened the door to the main bathroom and told Paul of his idea. In the bathroom was an old, free-standing bath with clawed feet.
"How about we move that into the centre of the room?" he suggested a little seductively. "This room is big enough to cope with it. With the wooden floors, maybe a large leafed pot plant in the corner..."
"I see what you're getting at," Paul agreed, seeing the picture in his head. The house in which the apartment was situated stood at the end of a long terrace, so their home had windows on two sides (the back being the location of the stairwell). As Daniel spoke, the sun shone in the big bathroom window and lit up the area that Daniel was pointing out as the new home for the bath and Paul's imagination ran riot.
"I think we need to choose which bedroom we want," Daniel said as he took him out of the bathroom. "Toss you for the front one?"
Paul grinned and agreed. "Heads," he called out.
Daniel flipped a coin. "Damn - two out of three?"
"No way. Besides, the other bedroom is a little bit bigger."
"Yeah, just less light. Ah well, you'll get more traffic noise," he teased with a shrug.
"This is it!"
Daniel was thrilled to bits with the work that had been done. On the previous visit, they'd hired a property development company to do up the apartment and they'd done a wonderful job. Keeping the character of not just the building, but the area, they'd managed to update all of the fixtures and fittings and had decorated it subtly and smartly. It hadn't been cheap, neither had the furnishings that he and Paul had chosen for it, but in their eyes, it was worth it. The two men wandered around the apartment in awe, pointing out this and that and generally feeling like a pair of kids at Christmas.
"Oh wow," Paul exclaimed after they'd descended the spiral staircase that led to the attic room - which was now a self-contained guest area with bedroom, bathroom and lounge - and he turned to Daniel with a huge smile on his face. "This is just what I dreamed of. I can see me moving here when I leave the Air Force," he continued.
"Me too," Daniel agreed. "I wonder if we'll put up with each other that long," he added with a twinkle in his eye.
"Assuming we're both still single," Paul laughed. "And the way things are going on that front, I can't see that changing for me."
"Me either," Daniel groaned. "It's not as if we have the time to go look anywhere else, is it?"
Paul flopped into the big comfy armchair in the living room and shook his head. "Who knows, maybe we'll find someone here?" he suggested.
Daniel looked at his friend and smiled a small but knowing smile.
"Who knows?" he echoed. Operation Cajun Fishing Trip had well and truly begun.
"Oh God, Daniel, that was delicious," Paul moaned as he put down his knife and fork.
Daniel had pushed the boat out - well and truly. Insisting that they eat at home for the first time - at least not out of a pizza box for a change - he'd ushered Paul out of the kitchen, claiming that he preferred to work alone. Paul had enjoyed a starter of Cajun shrimps (Daniel thought it appropriate), followed by home-made fish cakes containing fresh salmon with a seafood salad on the side. He finished it off with the most delicious fruit salad. Fresh strawberries on a bed of bananas which had been cooked in Southern Comfort and Grand Marnier, other complimentary fruits arranged down the side as much for decoration as for their taste value - and covered in a lethal cream which had had the alcohol whipped into it and then topped with shaved chocolate. The best chocolate at that.
"You enjoyed it then?" Daniel teased.
"Oh yeah. If you ever give up digging in the dirt, you could run your own restaurant."
Daniel smiled broadly over his glass of brandy. "Nuh huh," he said quietly. "It's much more fun just cooking for friends. I would hate to be under that sort of pressure."
"Well, if you ever decide you can take it, you'd be good at it. I'd go and eat there."
"Thank you for your vote of confidence," Daniel replied, raising his glass in a toast. "To our new home," he said, his voice suddenly dropping.
Paul heard the change in tone and involuntarily shivered. "To us." His own reply was more curious, wondering just what Daniel had on his mind. Before he could analyse it, however, Daniel changed the subject and started talking about the area in which they found themselves. Paul soon found himself drawn into the conversation and they were planning tourist trips around the historical parts of the city.
In bed that night, Paul was wondering again, however. Daniel had been thoughtful and considerate - he always was, but this time it was more so than normal. Saying goodnight had been interesting. For a moment, Paul had thought that Daniel wanted to join him, but when it looked like he was going to ask, Daniel had given him a small smile and then gone straight to his own room. What was going on?
Back in DC, Paul was at his desk in the Pentagon. The weekend had been fun. They'd visited some of the local bars and restaurants, done some sightseeing and generally enjoyed the hell out of themselves. Paul tried to concentrate on the work in front of him but his mind kept drifting to the moments spent in the apartment - not, as he would have expected, the places they'd visited. Daniel had been... oddly attentive. They'd always got on well, in fact they'd grown close quite quickly after Paul had joined the project, but in none of the evenings they'd spent in each other's company had Daniel acted in quite this way. There was something about his actions, his manner that Paul couldn't quite name.
Paul picked up another file; SG-9's report on the latest trade agreements with the weird purple-coloured humanoids, the Fl'rrs. He sniggered to himself as he tried to say the name. Fleurs... Flirts...
Paul froze. That was it! Daniel had been flirting with him!
In the next few minutes, Paul ran through a gamut of emotions. Fear - he was Air Force! Was he giving off the 'wrong' image? Pleasure - well, he was human after all. Who didn't like the idea of being attractive to someone? Nervousness - Daniel was his best friend. What if they did enter a relationship? What if something went wrong? How would they be able to keep hold of the apartment then?
He ran through his thoughts, still staring at the file in his hands. Eventually, he shook himself when he realised that he'd been sitting like a statue for a whole ten minutes. Scolding himself, he made a decision and straightening his back, he returned to his work. He and Daniel would need to talk.
Talking to Daniel proved easier in theory than in practise. The SGC was swamped under with mission after mission - one crazy panic following another. Paul was flying back and forth between DC and the Springs so often that he sometimes forgot where he was. Things came to a head when SG-1 and SG-3 crashed through the gate and onto the ramp, still firing back into the wormhole as they rematerialised. With the cry of "Close the iris!" peace finally descended in the gateroom.
For about ten seconds.
All hell broke loose as the medical teams burst through the blast doors into the gateroom and descended on the fallen teams. None of the team members had escaped injury. The mission had been to rescue a Tok'ra, but they'd been too late to achieve that goal and had in fact, come under fire and more from a large group of Jaffa. One of SG-3 was close to dying, a massive wound in his stomach not giving him a good prognosis. All of the others were battered, bruised, some not a little burnt - staff weapon injuries mingling with the cuts and bruises from hand-to-hand fighting.
Paul was at the SGC that day and he watched helplessly from the control room as each of the eight-man rescue team was carted off on a stretcher or led gently by the arm, depending on injury.
He didn't want to get in the way, so he forced himself to stay out of the infirmary, but that didn't stop him worrying himself sick about Daniel and the others. He knew all of SG-1 well and respected the team. Able to do nothing else, he waited until the fuss died down in the infirmary and sent up prayer after prayer for the injured.
The prayers for Sergeant Villegas went unanswered. His injuries were too severe. As with every death at the SGC, a silence descended throughout the facility. It stayed quiet, too. This mission had been a disaster from start to finish. Jack was furious. The intelligence received from the Tok'ra was at best faulty, at worst deliberately misleading. He wasn't sure which one, but he was angry enough to physically extract the answer from the next Tok'ra that was unfortunate to cross his path. Teal'c swore revenge - Villegas had been a sparring partner of his and he'd really respected the man. Sam was quiet and brooding, her faith in the Tok'ra taking yet another knock. Daniel was the quietest of the lot, unresponsive to the treatment he was getting from the doctor on hand, not crying out when his cuts were cleaned, not wincing when his bruises were touched. It was as if he had no feeling left whatsoever.
Paul watched him from the infirmary door, unable to stay away as long as he'd thought he should. He could see that Daniel's injuries were superficial, but he could also see that he was hurting a lot deeper than the doctors could reach. He made up his mind and left the doorway, turning away and marching straight up to see the General. He had a plan.
Daniel was slightly bewildered as he entered their apartment. His mind had been elsewhere virtually from the moment that he'd arrived in the infirmary and he'd just gone with the flow, letting Paul take over the organisation. Only he hadn't realised what Paul had been organising.
He turned to look at Paul and saw that his friend was pretending to look annoyed with him.
"You haven't been listening to a word I've said, have you?" Paul scolded softly.
Daniel shook his head. "I'm sorry, Paul. My mind was elsewhere."
"It's okay. Come on, you go and sit down on the sofa, put the TV on or something. I'll rush out and get some milk and bread and things."
Daniel allowed himself to be steered to the sofa and sat with a flop, sinking into the thick cushions.
"I won't be long," Paul called as he headed directly for the door.
"Tha's okay," Daniel slurred, shutting his eyes for a moment...
He awoke with a start, feeling Paul gently shaking him awake. In the time he had been dozing, Paul had done enough shopping for a week, unpacked it and cooked dinner. It took a supreme effort for him to open his eyes enough to realise what was going on.
"Dinner time," Paul encouraged. "Come on, let's get you to the table."
"I'm all right," Daniel retorted as Paul put his hand out to help him up, but he felt very wobbly the minute he was vertical. He didn't shrug off Paul's arm as it wrapped around his waist to aid him.
"Sure you are, Daniel," Paul chuckled. "You're dead on your feet. You've been working non-stop for the past couple of months - so have I as a matter of fact. We need this break."
"How long have I got?" Daniel mumbled. "I wasn't really paying attention," he admitted sheepishly.
"Doctor Frasier insisted that you and your team have a week's leave on medical grounds - to recover from your bruises."
"How have we been allowed to leave town? Jan usually insists on us staying close."
"Nobody on your team has been hurt in a manner that warrants checking up," he shrugged. "It'll take a bit longer for all the bruises to heal, too, so Hammond's granted you all another two weeks' ordinary leave on top of it."
"Wow. Three weeks? I only usually get that much if Janet's tied me down somewhere."
Paul laughed at that and placed Daniel's dinner in front of him.
"Eat," he insisted.
Daniel looked at the plate of chilli and rice that Paul put in front of him and his stomach growled loudly. "Smells great," he said, then shovelled his fork into it. A moment later, Paul heard a satisfied 'hmm' coming from his friend. "That's good," Daniel praised when he swallowed. "I didn't know you could cook."
"Well, no I can't," Paul teased. "I've survived to the ripe old age of thirty-seven on sandwiches alone."
Daniel ducked his head and then looked up with another sheepish look. "Sorry," he said quietly. "How long are you on leave for?" he added, changing the subject quickly.
"Three weeks, too," Paul replied. "You're not the only one that needs a break."
He felt good when Daniel's face broke out into a huge smile. "Does that mean we can have a proper holiday together?"
"Sure does," Paul answered. "I figured a week of lazing around and recovering, a week of doing the tourist thing and generally letting our hair down and then another week of lazing around and recovering - you know, the holiday after the holiday thing."
"Thank you," Daniel sighed. "I really appreciate you arranging this. I didn't know whether I was coming or going at the SGC. My feet haven't touched the ground in weeks. I don't know why it should suddenly have got so bad, but it has."
"Hammond wasn't too keen on the idea of letting SG-1 off the hook for three weeks," Paul replied, "but he could see how exhausted you all were. The Colonel said he's going to see his family for a few days and then he's going to shut himself off from the outside world at the cabin. Sam's going to see her brother and his family and Teal'c's jumped ship already and headed off to see his son. The moment Hammond agreed to the leave, he didn't see the others for dust."
"I don't remember that," Daniel said, shaking his head as if to dislodge the memory.
"You were there, at least in body, Dan," Paul said softly. "I think it was the fact that you weren't there in mind that prompted Hammond to agree to such a long break. That and the fact that Doctor Frasier had the look on her face."
"The one that says that her orders must be followed to the letter or else she'd personally be castrating a few people."
Daniel laughed, knowing that look all too well.
"Got to hand it to Jan," he chuckled. "She's good at that."
A huge yawn from Daniel as soon as he'd finished his food prompted Paul to take over again. Without allowing Daniel to argue, he ushered him into his bedroom and helped him get undressed and ready for bed. With a grunt, Daniel indicated what he wanted to wear when he was asked, his eyes fighting to stay open until he was ready.
"I need a shower," he complained.
"Tomorrow. You'll fall asleep in it," Paul countered. "Come on, let's get you into the bathroom. You'll feel better when you've got ready."
"I can do it," he mumbled.
"Sure you can," Paul answered, rolling his eyes in exasperation. "Just make me feel better and let me help, will you?"
Paul lay in bed later that night, unable to sleep for thinking about Daniel. When he'd tucked him into bed, ignoring the 'mother hen' comments from Daniel as he'd done it, Paul had felt like he was meant to do it. It just felt right to take care of him. He wanted to take care of him. But so far, Daniel hadn't shown any more interest in him than he'd done during that flirty weekend. Not that Daniel was in a position to flirt, Paul reminded himself. He doubted that when Daniel woke up he'd even remember getting to bed. He shook his head in disbelief. Many times he'd seen Daniel and the rest of SG-1 tired, but never like this. He determined that when he returned to the Pentagon, he would talk to his bosses about getting some extra help for the SGC, as after all, it wouldn't do anyone any good if their best teams burned out.
He was shaken out of his musings when he heard a yell coming from Daniel's room. Quickly, he shot out of bed and ran to the source of the sound. Not bothering to knock, he entered the bedroom and saw what was happening. Daniel was still asleep, rolling back and forth on the bed in the throes of a violent nightmare. From the words that Daniel was spewing, he could tell that it was from the last mission. 'Not nice,' he thought to himself.
Softly, he sat next to him and placed a hand on Daniel's arm.
"Daniel. Dan, come on, wake up, it's just a nightmare." He shook him and spoke to him until Daniel woke up.
"Dan, you had a nightmare. Look at you, you're soaking wet."
Daniel touched his body and saw that the T-shirt in which he was sleeping was wringing with sweat. His sheets were wet, his bed was a disaster area.
"Come on, I've got an idea," Paul ordered. He put out his hand and pulled at Daniel, helping him to his feet. Daniel wasn't really with it when he was steered out of the bedroom and towards the shower room. "Wait there," he said and left Daniel by the door. He ran back to Daniel's bedroom and got some fresh boxers and a T-shirt and then took them to his own room and threw them on the bed. Then he returned to the sleepy Daniel and led him into the shower. He took one look at Daniel, shook his head and then with a shrug, he stripped his own nightwear off, urged Daniel to do the same and then he ran the shower. As soon as the water was warm enough, he insisted on Daniel stepping under the spray.
Daniel was too tired to even really realise what was going on. Paul stepped in behind him and took hold of the shower gel.
"Daniel, you're shattered. Let me do this, please. You need to clean up or you won't sleep well again. This will make you feel better."
As he spoke, he washed his friend, taking care over the bruises and cuts, and Daniel let out an involuntary moan of pleasure when he felt Paul's fingers massaging the bits of him the weren't hurt. He shut his eyes and let Paul wash his hair and Paul saw that a small smile was creeping over Daniel's face. He bit down on his own enjoyment of this, the touching of the powerful body in front of him threatening to turn him on. Now was not the time to feel that.
He made sure that Daniel was rinsed off, then he shut off the water and wrapped Daniel in the robe that hung from a peg on the far wall. After putting on his own, he picked up his night-clothes and another towel and took Daniel by the hand, leading him to his own bedroom.
Daniel was still sleepy, but awake enough to realise that he wasn't in his own room.
"Your bed needs changing, Daniel. I'm too tired to do that. Besides, I think you could do with some company, don't you?"
"If you don't mind?"
"Of course not. Come on."
They towelled themselves dry and got dressed again, Daniel got into Paul's bed and then watched as Paul got in. They lay separately, but that didn't feel right. Again, Daniel spoke one word.
This time he turned to face his friend and Paul stared into his eyes. With a smile, Paul turned to face away from him, then wriggled back until he was spooned up against Daniel. Daniel put one of his arms under the pillow on which Paul's head lay, his other arm wrapped around Paul's waist. In moments, he was asleep. This time, he slept without nightmares and without moving. Paul also slept, feeling warm and comfortable, a sensation he hadn't felt in a long time.
Daniel woke feeling disoriented. He looked around and saw that he wasn't in his own bed. He tried to remember what had happened, but he couldn't. Paul wasn't in the room, so he wasn't sure what was going on. Noticing that he had different night-clothes on, he started to recall something about a shower. He determined that he needed a coffee.
"Good afternoon," Paul teased as he emerged.
"Yup. Actually, it's five o'clock. I think you finally got the sleep that you needed."
"I'm still tired," Daniel complained.
"Not surprising, you have a couple of months of bad sleep to catch up on. I've got a pot of coffee in the kitchen ready and waiting for you."
"Ah, an officer and a gentleman," Daniel sighed.
He followed the chuckling Paul into the kitchen and saw him pour the coffee into a mug. Without thinking, he wrapped his arms around Paul and held him close, dropping his head on Paul's shoulder for a moment.
"Thank you," he said quietly. "I mean, last night, for what you did."
"That's all right," Paul replied a little stiffly.
"Paul? What's wrong?" Daniel let go of him and took the coffee for want of something to hold.
"Wrong? Nothing. I'm glad I could help."
Daniel drunk the mug of coffee quickly, then topped it up and tried to get his brain to function properly. He had the horrible feeling that by hugging Paul, he'd screwed up.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I... I won't do it again, I promise. I hope it's not going to cause any problems between us. If you want, I'll go home and..."
"Dan, what are you talking about?"
"Er, you froze when I held you. I obviously got it wrong, I thought that maybe, I mean, after last night and all..."
"Daniel, nothing happened last night."
"You took care of me," Daniel countered.
"Oh. That. Well, you're my friend, of course I'd take care of you."
"I know, I'm sorry for misinterpreting it."
Without letting Paul answer, he turned and marched into his bedroom.
Paul sat on the dining chair nearest to him with a thump. That had not gone well. He wasn't sure what to say now. This had to be played carefully.
For want of something better to do, he looked in the fridge and then decided on what to cook for dinner. Daniel hadn't eaten since the previous evening, so he figured an early meal wouldn't hurt.
Daniel, meanwhile, was in his room, stripping his bed and remaking it. Under his breath, he was cursing himself for potentially screwing up the friendship that meant the most to him. Only fucking up his friendship with Jack would hurt as much. He'd fallen in love with Paul not long after they'd first met. Daniel had ignored his feelings for him as he'd still been looking for Shau're. He'd rationalised his emotions by telling himself that Paul was there, in sight, but still untouchable in his own way. He'd known that he couldn't make a play for him so it had been a safe passion. At that time, he'd also known that he could have fallen for any one of his team. Probably not Teal'c because of the obvious barrier between them, though that hadn't stopped him growing to love him as a brother. But Sam or Jack - both were candidates for his heart. Neither of whom would probably appreciate it, either. Sam maybe - Jack... Daniel knew that Jack loved him, that wasn't in dispute, but he was his CO. The guy thing really didn't come into it - Daniel also knew that if Jack wanted to, he'd pursue whomever he chose. Getting his mind back on track, Daniel thought of Paul.
With Paul in DC, a relationship would have been next to impossible. He didn't want a relationship, either, he wanted his wife back. Allowing himself to focus on Paul helped him stop wallowing in the misery associated with losing her. So, safe. As he'd thought.
Losing Shau're for good had forced him to rethink his relationship with Paul, and his feelings for him. It took him a long while to sort out his feelings, but by the time he had, he realised that he had fallen for him - and genuinely, not just a passing fancy. Not that he would have said anything. If Paul hadn't started talking about wanting somewhere to get away to, leading to them buying the apartment, he wouldn't have held him in the way he did. Wouldn't have let himself believe that Paul might possibly feel the same. Now, it seemed that he had misread him.
His bed finished, he dropped on top of it and lay miserably, staring up at the ceiling. He'd have to fix this somehow. But how?
Paul, as he prepared the evening meal, was also thinking. He scolded himself for his attitude to Daniel's touch, for hurting his feelings. But he had a problem. His job. He'd been in the Air Force since he was eighteen and he loved it. He loved Daniel, too, and he wanted him. The question was, was he prepared to take a chance?
The dinner ready, he steeled himself and knocked on Daniel's door. He waited as he heard the slow footsteps approach him and the door opened, revealing a Daniel that looked as if his dog was dead.
"Um, dinner," Paul said, fumbling for his words. "It's ready. I thought that maybe you'd be hungry."
Daniel nodded in surprise. "Yeah, thanks. I should get dressed..." he added, pointing back into his bedroom and at the chest of drawers.
"Don't worry about it, it's not as if we have visitors, is it?" Paul replied lightly, trying to get some semblance of normality back.
"Oh, okay." Daniel made as if to step forward and Paul stepped to one side to let him through. The awkwardness was tangible and neither man was happy. Daniel went straight to the bathroom and took a leak and washed before gathering up his strength to face Paul again.
He moved swiftly to the kitchen and sat at the table. Paul joined him and they silently started to eat. Halfway through the meal, a tentative conversation started. Paul prompted Daniel to tell him about the last mission and so Daniel did. He told him how they'd been ambushed, how the Tok'ra hadn't been where they thought he was, how they'd had to go hand to hand. How he'd had to kill a Jaffa with a knife or watch Jack get shot in the back with a staff weapon. Paul shuddered at Daniel's quiet words and when they were over, he reached across the table and put his hand on Daniel's arm.
"It sounds horrific," he sympathised.
"It wasn't a walk in the park," Daniel agreed, then he pulled back and moved his arm from Paul's touch.
"Dan, I'm sorry..." Paul started.
"Don't be. Please, just forget it," came the pleading voice.
"I can't, Daniel. It's just... my job..."
"I know. I shouldn't have done it and I know it. I hope that you can at least forgive me. I couldn't bear it if you didn't want to spend time with me anymore."
Again, he didn't let Paul speak and he retreated to his room. Paul cursed loudly and went to follow him to explain that he had something else to add before he'd been interrupted, but he was interrupted again, this time by the phone.
"Dammit," he muttered and picked up the receiver. It was his secretary needing some information for one of the generals and which she couldn't find. Paul spent the next ten minutes trying to explain what was where and who should see it, each minute getting more and more anxious about needing to speak to Daniel. By the time it sounded like she was ready to put the phone down, however, it was too late. A noise from behind him made Paul turn around. Standing in front of him was Daniel, dressed, shoes on and pointing at the door. He was going out.
Paul tried to signal Daniel to wait, but either Daniel didn't see him or he didn't want to see him. He walked out of the apartment alone.
Paul moved to the balcony and watched Daniel as he emerged on the street below and walk down the road. He was only walking for a few moments before he turned and opened the door to a bar across the road. With a wry grin, Paul noted what bar it was, said goodbye to his complaining secretary and put the phone down. Grabbing his wallet and keys, he followed Daniel's path.
Daniel sat on a bar stool, drinking a whisky but not really tasting it. He didn't look up and around him and missed the speculative looks at him. His body language told everyone to stay away - at least for a while. The bruises on his face just added to his air of menace. Rather than making him look like the victim of a beating, he looked more like they should ask, 'what happened to the other guy?'. They wouldn't want to know the answer to that particular question.
The door to the bar opened and some people turned to look, their curiosity even more piqued when the incomer headed directly for Daniel.
Paul sat on the bar stool next to him and ordered a drink for himself and a top up for Daniel.
"You didn't let me finish," he said after taking a sip of his brandy.
Daniel turned his head slightly and looked curiously at him.
"I was about to say that with my job, we're going to have to be careful. Discreet. With us owning a place together, we've already raised a few eyebrows."
Daniel let Paul's words sink in and he offered a small but pleased smile back at him.
"I see," he replied with a grin. "You're not exactly being discreet at the moment," he teased, looking around him and nodding his head in the direction of some of the other early-evening patrons of one of the French Quarter's better gay bars.
"Ach, I'm on holiday," Paul shrugged. "I don't think I'm being followed. It's when we're at work... I don't think that I would be advised to go to your place back in the Springs, for example."
"I get that. I'm not going to announce it, you know."
"You're not?" Paul took his turn at gentle teasing. "No announcement in the society pages?"
Daniel laughed and nudged him. Paul nudged him back and soon the two were giggling like idiots. All of a sudden, though, Daniel stopped laughing and he leaned close to Paul, dropping a gentle kiss on his lips.
"Home?" he murmured, his breath brushing Paul's face as he spoke.
Paul swallowed hard and nodded. Without another word, they finished their drinks and left.
They'd said nothing on the way back, nothing as they'd run up the stairs, in fact, they didn't exactly say much when they entered their sanctuary. Instead, Daniel twisted as soon as he'd got through the doorway, slammed the door shut and locked it, then pinned Paul to said door with an evil look on his face.
"Caught you," he whispered. "Landed you. Hook, line and sinker."
"Thought Colonel O'Neill was the fisherman," Paul answered with a nervous giggle.
"Maybe. But I'm thinking that I'll get the biggest catch this leave. Five ten, 160 pounds... sexy eyes, hot body... what more do I want?"
"I don't know, Daniel, but I know what more I want."
"I think I can manage that for you."
Daniel dipped his head and captured Paul's lips with his own, softly at first, then building up the pressure until he felt his arms start to give. He moved them from the door which they were pressed against and grabbed Paul's body, pulling him closer until they were locked together. Continuing the kiss, Daniel edged backwards and guided Paul towards his bedroom, being the closer of the two to the front door. He fumbled behind his back for the handle on the door, surprising himself a bit when it opened suddenly and they nearly fell into the room. Somehow, they continued to kiss, with Paul's hands roaming over Daniel's body, undoing whatever buttons and buckles came into range. By the time they fell on the bed, Daniel was looking very dishevelled. Not that he cared. He kicked off his shoes and started to work on Paul's clothes. It would have taken them less time to get undressed, but they couldn't bear to break off the kiss.
When it was necessary, however, they used the moment to finish getting undressed and to move to a more comfortable position on the bed. Paul was about to duck down for round two of kissing when Daniel stopped him by putting a finger on Paul's lips.
"Are you sure?" he asked seriously. "I mean, really sure? I couldn't bear it if you went home and then decided in the cold light of day that you'd made a mistake."
"This is it, though, isn't it, Dan? Us. Together?"
"Oh yeah. I'm crazy about you. Have been for years, Paul. I don't get more serious than this."
Paul smiled back at him.
"Me either. Like I said, we have to keep it for when we're here, we can't even hint at it to our friends. Maybe one day we'll be able to, but not yet."
"I look forward to that day," Daniel replied. Then he stopped talking and kissed Paul again.
The desperation that had marked their first kiss calmed and they spent the next half hour or so softly exploring each other's bodies, touching, stroking, licking and kissing. Inevitably, however, they got to the point where something would need to be done. Panting hard in an attempt to take his mind off his dick, Daniel reached into his bedside table drawer and got out a bottle of lube. He gave it to Paul.
"Be prepared, eh?" Paul teased. Underneath, however, his heart was beating hard.
"Nah, just went fishing, remember?" Daniel replied. "I needed some equipment."
"I'd better check out your tackle then," Paul answered, but soon he stopped teasing and concentrated on what he was doing.
Daniel lay on his back, his eyes fixed on Paul's face. He felt a wet finger push inside him and he gasped as he bore down on it.
"God, yes. Do it. All of it."
He moaned, a low, hungry moan when Paul continued, pushing another finger inside him.
"Please," he begged. "Now! Fuck!"
"Erudite to the last I see, Doctor Jackson."
"Okay, okay, I'm on it," Paul teased. "Talk about a pushy bottom. Sheesh."
"Not pushy. Just desperate. Oh GOD!"
Paul pushed inside him slowly, allowing Daniel's ass to accommodate him.
"Is that a good GOD! or a bad GOD!" he gasped as he felt the ass muscles contract around him.
"Oh, it's good. Move it."
"Pushy, pushy, pushy..." the ribbing continued.
"Paul. Light of my life. Lover. Baby. Shut the fuck up and fuck me or I'm gonna get up there and do you."
But after that, he shut up and started to move. He'd kept up the talking to take his mind off the event for a moment, so afraid was he of ending it too soon. Now, however, he was forgetting how to speak, let alone trying to figure out what to say. All of his concentration was spent on nailing Daniel to the bed.
Daniel couldn't believe he was getting what he'd dreamt of for so long and urged Paul on, wanting it to end yet wanting it to go on for ever. Needless to say, it couldn't and he gasped out a warning that the end was imminent. Paul let himself go and came, Daniel following seconds later, covering them both as he did.
"Oh fuck," Paul whispered as he collapsed onto Daniel's stomach.
"Yeah," Daniel agreed, trying to get the strength to wrap his arms around his lover but failing.
It took Paul a while to stop panting, but when he did, he slid out of Daniel and onto the bed next to him. Daniel managed to flop one arm in his direction and smiled when Paul wriggled until he was able to rest his head on Daniel's shoulder.
"You think we're going to get away with this?" Paul asked quietly.
"All I can say," Daniel replied, "is that I will do everything in my power to avoid us getting caught. After that, it's in the lap of the gods."
"Who were probably all Goa'uld," Paul groaned.
Daniel poked him in the arm. "I can take any of them any day," he asserted. "We'll be fine."
A few weeks later, Daniel returned to work, and, as was his wont, went straight to the commissary to get his first coffee of the working day. Jack entered the room and saw his friend, so he grabbed a coffee and went to join him.
"Hey Jack, how was your break?"
"Great, thanks. I enjoyed the peace and quiet. Generally just lazed around. How about you?"
"Oh, you know. Ate, slept, ate some more, did the tourist thing, went fishing..."
"Fishing? Did you catch anything?"
"Sure, Jack. Landed me a whopper," Daniel replied with a twinkle in his eye.
"Did you put it back or keep it?"
Jack frowned in a little confusion when Daniel said, "Oh, he was definitely a keeper, Jack," before winking and saying no more.