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Past Prologue

Summary: A secret from Jack's past surfaces. It could tear them apart or bring them together. Talk of rape ('off camera' so to speak), threatened non-con. Implied and threatened non-con S&M. Many thanks to Joy for the beta, hand holding and the ideas for the second half.

"So, Daniel, what are you doing for Christmas?" Janet asked as she checked him out in the routine post-mission trip to the infirmary. He was hiding the bandaged wrist from her, the one he'd tied in his bandana after he had fallen. It looked like a trip to the hospital in town for him. The mission had been a nightmare with Jack yelling at him from start to finish and he was feeling pretty fragile now. The last thing he wanted was any fuss. When he had fallen he'd wanted to cry, the pain was so great, but Jack was shouting at him again so he'd hidden the hurt.

"Same thing I do every day. Come here, do some work, go home." He was really fed up of people wittering on about the stupid holiday. He wasn't religious, it had no meaning to him at all. Sure, he'd bought a few presents, mainly for Cassie, but that was it as far as he was concerned.

"Daniel, you must have some plans," Carter called out, "it's a family time." She bit her tongue as she said it.

"That of course assumes you have some," he retorted, not a little bitterly. He had once thought he had one. Not these days.

"You've got us," she replied, trying to improve on her situation. It just made things worse when Daniel was forced to try and hide an hysterical laugh that threatened to burst from him. Yeah, right.

"Don't you have any traditions?" Janet tried.

"No." There really wasn't any other answer to that.

"Some of your foster homes must have had family traditions," she tried again.

"Janet, if it will make you happy, I'll tell you what Christmas means to me. Nothing, nada, zero, zip, zilch. I was never in a foster home long enough to be on friendly terms with the family, let alone get things like presents and cards and all the things that kids have. I didn't care then, I don't care now. It means fuck all. I don't believe in God, I have no right to celebrate it. It's just a day, nothing special. Okay? Can I go now?" She held back her distress as she nodded that he was fine to leave. She'd deal with his wrist later, even if he didn't think she'd noticed.

Daniel grabbed his jacket and stormed out of the infirmary. Stupid people, why couldn't they just leave the subject alone? He crashed through his office door and got a surprise.

"What the fuck are you doing in here?" he asked Jack.

"Well, that's a nice greeting I must say. What do you say to people you don't like?"

"Jack, drop the crap. You don't like me, for some reason these last couple of years you've barely spoken to me, let alone dropped into my office unless you come here to shout at me. What do you want?" Daniel was in pain, physical and mental and he wanted to be left alone.

Jack took a deep breath, tried to calm himself down. Now obviously wasn't a good time to talk.

"Look, forget it, I was only coming to ask you if you wanted to come over for a drink after work. If you don't want me around, then fine. I'm outta here." He got up to leave but he was stopped by a stunned Daniel.

"You wanted me to go to your house? Why? What brought this on?"

"It's been a while," Jack replied lamely.

"A while," Daniel echoed, clearly considering Jack's remark. "I haven't been to your house since you kicked me out, remember? The 'no foundation' thing? The lies you told me when you got back?"

"I didn't lie when I got back. I told you the truth."

"About the mission, maybe, but not about us, Jack. You said that things would go back to normal. That was the last time you stepped foot in my office without an official reason. You've never invited me to your house since. So much for foundations, Jack. You don't want me around? Then fine, just have the guts to say it for once and for all. You want me off your team? It's your team, Jack, I don't stay if you don't want me. God knows I have nothing to do on it anymore. 'Shut up, Daniel;' 'go back to your rocks, book boy;' that's all I hear these days. Tell you what, I'll even save you the bother of a trip to Hammond. I'll go see him now, shall I? Request a transfer off SG-1. It'll spare you the embarrassing questions as to why you don't want one of your team anymore. You can spend your time with Sam, then, not having to worry about the 'civilian'."

Damn, but he was feeling bitter that day. He mentally kicked himself for sounding off. Jack seemed to be holding out the first olive branch in as long as he could remember, and the only reaction he could give him was one of spite.

"I never said I didn't want you on my team, Daniel. Hell, I fought to include you."

"That was years ago, Jack, back when our friendship meant something to you. You don't have to say you don't want me on your team, you just don't talk to me at all unless it's to tell me to go away. How am I supposed to think, Jack? Tell me! Tell me you want me on your team!"

"I do want you on my team, Daniel. But if you're not happy, then perhaps you should leave." He pushed past him and left.

Daniel slammed the door shut, sat down and finally gave in to his misery and sobbed. He didn't realise that the door had bounced on its lock and wasn't quite shut. Jack stood outside his office, grateful that the corridor was empty. Daniel's heart rending cries were tearing him apart.

Why doesn't he want me? The thought entered Daniel's head unbidden. Why not? The reply was obvious. He had done the job he was employed to do and now Jack was fed up of him. Of course he was, why wouldn't he be? Everybody became fed up of him after a while. The various foster parents that had handed the too bright child back to social services, even his own grandfather hadn't wanted him. The academic institutions loved him - for a while - until he became a liability when his fantastic mind overtook the staid brains and left them standing.

'Where now?' he thought next. He completely broke down when he realised that he had nowhere left to go.

Jack watched him from the doorway, unable to do anything for him. He so wanted to be his friend again. It had dawned on him that day when he was yelling at Daniel for something that wasn't his fault, yet again, that Daniel wasn't going to take any more of his crap and he wanted to try to mend things before they went too far. It looked like he was too late.

Jack's heart had been broken years before with the death of his kid. Daniel had been the one to mend it, at least to start the mending process. They had become close, really, really close. The best friendship that Jack had ever had.

Then came the blinding realisation when he thought he was going to die on Thor's ship that Daniel was more than that. The next nine days had been hell. Carter had taken him to one side when Teal'c was meditating and virtually admitted to being in love with him. He had grasped the opportunity thrown at him. He didn't want to be in love with a man, for fuck's sake. So he'd taken her on, quietly spending his spare time with her, screwing her at every opportunity. Teal'c had found out somehow and had words with them, telling them to cool it. Telling him not to deny Daniel. The zaytarc incident ended everything between him and Sam. He 'cared' for her, but he wasn't in love with her. It was too obvious, even to her. He'd taken it all out on Daniel. Everything. And Daniel hadn't got a fucking clue why.

Jack was going to walk away from the sobbing, unable to take any more when he heard a familiar click. A gun safety was being removed. He burst into Daniel's office in time to knock the gun from his hand. Daniel looked up, stunned beyond words.

"No, Daniel, not this, please not this," Jack begged.

Of course not, Daniel thought. How cruel of me. That's how Charlie died.

Empty eyes stared at Jack, the older man shivered and cried as he saw how far gone Daniel was. Damn him, it was all his own fault. He had driven him to this.

"I'm sorry, Daniel, I'm so sorry," he blurted out.


"For treating you so badly," he sniffed.

"Why? Why did you do it? Why do you hate me? What did I do that would make you hate me so?"

"Not you, Daniel, not your fault. All mine. Sorry, I'm so sorry."

"It's over, Jack. I can't go on anymore. I've got nothing, no one to turn to, nowhere to go. You don't want me here, not on your team and never in your life. I just wish I knew what I could have done so that you wouldn't hate me anymore. I tried to be a soldier for you, but you shut me out even more after that. What did I do, Jack? I thought you cared for me once. Why don't you care anymore? What is it about me that makes people hate me? I haven't done anything to hurt you, have I?"

"Not true, Daniel. It wasn't your fault, never was your fault. I could never hate you, not you. I did care, I do care, never stopped caring, just stopped showing it. I'm sorry."

"So am I, Jack."

There was a knock on the door. Jack stepped back. It was Janet.

"Daniel, are you going to let me look at your hand now?" she asked kindly. She had seen the wrist, but knew that he needed to leave the infirmary at the time, he'd seemed so fragile.

"Please, Daniel, I'd like to take a look," she nearly begged him, her big brown eyes pleading with him.

Tentatively he gave her his still-covered hand and she gently unwrapped it. It was obvious to her that he had broken a bone in his wrist, his hand wasn't looking too good.

"Come on down to the infirmary, Daniel. I might need to plaster this," she ordered, her voice firm but gentle.

"Daniel? What's wrong?" Jack sounded lost, unsure of himself.

"Um, I hurt my wrist when I fell on the planet," Daniel replied, physically shrinking back and waiting for the yell to come.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Jack asked quietly, hating himself for making Daniel fear him.

"You were shouting at me at the time, 'useless-good-for-nothing-geek' I seem to remember. I thought you'd hate me more." His voice was quiet, almost childlike. Jack didn't recognise him at all. The Daniel he knew was strong, almost arrogant, but the man in front of him was completely lost.

"Oh God, I'm sorry, so sorry."

"My fault, clumsy, I fell," the responses were almost Pavlovian. How many times had Daniel had to take the blame as a kid? How often had he kept quiet, to be unnoticed so that the foster parents wouldn't get fed up of him so quickly?

Tears were streaming down Jack's face, he couldn't hold back anymore. He looked at the floor and saw the gun. Perhaps it would be better for Daniel if he wasn't around to hurt him. Daniel caught the look and pounced, grabbing the gun and putting the safety back on before Jack could react. He had seen that look before, back on Abydos all those years ago. He had hoped he would never see it again.

"No Jack, you were right, it's not the answer."

Janet watched the interaction between the two men, keeping back away from them, afraid to interfere - absolutely terrified truth be told. 'Please God, let them sort things out between them', she thought. An unspoken conversation was passing between them, their eyes saying more to each other than a thousand words could ever manage. She had no way of understanding them, no way of knowing what they had agreed. She was startled when Jack turned and said, "Come on, infirmary," and Daniel followed him without a word, out of the office and down the hall.

The bone needed to be set, but fortunately he would be able to manage with a small wrist strap rather than a cast. Daniel said nothing as she worked, managing to hide the pain well. He was so numb that he hardly felt anything.

Carter came back into the infirmary and tried to joke with O'Neill but he blanked her out, only watching Daniel. He wasn't going to take his eyes off him. The doctor was worried about their states of mind but was afraid to suggest psych evaluations. Nobody at the base trusted MacKenzie but these two had more reason to hate him than any others. No, that would be counterproductive. They'd have to work this out themselves. She snuck off into her office and called the General.

As the nurse finished with Daniel, the General entered the infirmary.

"I see you have a problem, Dr. Jackson. Ah well, I'm putting SG-1 on stand down for the next two weeks for the holidays anyway. You all look as if you could do with a rest. And no, before you even think it, you are not allowed to work in your office. Go home, stay away for fourteen days, starting now. Same goes for you, Major Carter, I don't want to see you in your lab. Colonel, I'm sure you can find something to keep you occupied at home. I'll allow Teal'c to visit his family. Fourteen days, people. Go."

Sam thanked him, Jack too. Daniel looked stunned. What would he do? He was still numb from the events in the office, afraid that Jack would take the final step and end everything. He was afraid that he wouldn't have the courage to do it himself. He still had no idea what he was going to do with his life. It was over. He couldn't go back to the academic institutes that had laughed at him, he couldn't stay at the SGC. He didn't want to go back to Abydos, the memories were too painful. He was afraid to find Oma Desala. Moving on to a higher plane of existence maybe beyond the realms of most mortals, and it did have its good points, but, and here was the clincher, did he want to live for ever? Would Oma and the others of her kind get fed up of him too? Where would he go from there?

He blindly made his way to his office to grab some things. Realising he was still in his BDUs he detoured to the locker rooms. He ignored the other teams in there, quickly changing into his civilian clothes.

"Daniel? Are you all right?" It was Ferretti.

"Um, yeah, sorry, miles away. Just had two weeks downtime sprung on me, bit stunned I guess." He tried to smile. Ferretti had been kind to him from the word go - at least after the Ra thing, teasing him but never allowing things to get out of hand.

"What's wrong with your hand?" he asked gently, pointing at the strapping.

"Fell, broke a small bone. Nuisance more than anything else. It's gonna make writing hard though."

"Trust you," Ferretti grinned, "being the right hand I thought you'd worn it out." He winked at him and Daniel managed a snigger.

"Don't need to," he said, getting a chorus of "ooh er" from the others. Tomorrow, there would be another rumour, 'Dr. Jackson's getting plenty. Wonder who with?' Ah well, it didn't matter anymore. Daniel put his hand on Lou's shoulder, giving him a tight smile as he did. He wanted to say goodbye, but he wasn't sure how he would do that.

As he emerged from the elevator and headed to his car he tried to put everything behind him. He didn't want to crash his car on the icy roads while stray thoughts took him over. Giving himself a mental shake he got to his parking space. Jack was there, waiting for him, his brown eyes pleading with Daniel.

"Follow me," he said, getting into his car, never looking back to see if Jack was complying.

As he got to his apartment block and entered it, he still couldn't bring himself to look around. He knew that Jack wasn't in the lobby with him, but he had no idea if he was coming. He greeted the concierge, ignoring the Christmas decorations around him, and said that a friend may be coming over soon and would he let him in please. Then he headed upstairs.

Daniel left the door on the latch, hoping that Jack would see the symbolism to that too. The door's open Jack, so am I. Open and vulnerable, at least to you. He went into the kitchen and rifled around his freezer, looking for something to eat. Was there anything there that would be enough for two? When was the last time he'd cooked for two? It had been a while. A casserole, chicken in white wine, that would do. He pulled it out and threw it into the microwave to defrost. Found a couple of potatoes. Yeah, they'd do. When the casserole had defrosted he'd start them off in the micro and then finish it all in the oven.

Still no Jack. His hands were shaking as he poured himself a large Southern Comfort. His wrist was starting to hurt so he headed off to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. He pulled out some painkillers, a new brand he hadn't had before, taking the box with him into the kitchen so he could read the instructions there. He'd taken his glasses off and left them in there earlier. Could he drink with these painkillers? Did he care anymore? A knife glinted on the work surface, tempting his dark side. He picked it up, turning it in his hands, fascinated by the sheer lethalness of the edge. He didn't hear Jack come in, quietly looking for him.

Jack gasped as he saw the alcohol, painkillers and the blade in Daniel's hand.

"Daniel? Please don't," his voice was cracking with the emotion.

Daniel jumped a mile, dropping the blade as he did. He quickly regained his composure.

"I didn't think you were coming," he said, grabbing his painkillers and taking just the prescribed dose. Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps he'd read that all wrong, but he knew that look that Daniel had, he'd had it before himself.

"I wasn't sure if I should. It was only when I saw your door was open..."

Daniel nodded. "I'm making a casserole," he stated, "it won't be ready for ages yet."

"Good, fine, sounds great." 'God Jack, find your tongue why don't you?'.

They needed to talk, they both knew they needed to talk. They had so much to say and neither of them could find the words. Daniel poured Jack a drink. He could sleep on the couch if need be. They were both shaking as they knocked their liquor back, the smooth drink becoming harsh as the larger than normal quantity hit the back of their throats.

Despite Jack's training, his cool head under fire, he always knew that Daniel was the braver man. He proved it again.

"I thought you'd read my file, found out about me, hated me for it."

"No, what should I know, Daniel?"

"I'm not straight, Jack, I'm bi," he said, shaking with fear. "Thought you'd found out."

"No, I didn't know that. Don't care, by the way. Didn't think you'd peg me for a bigot."

"Wouldn't have, but I had no idea what else to think. If not that then why, Jack? Why did you turn away from me?"

Jack poured himself another drink, sat on the chair opposite Daniel, turned his head to look up at the ceiling for a moment before dropping it and studying his feet. Summoning every ounce of inner strength he had, he told him everything. How he had fallen for him, fought back, gone for Sam instead. The restless nights when all he could dream about was Daniel. He even told him about the painful jerk-off sessions, coming with Daniel's name on his lips, and the crying afterwards, the hating himself for feeling like that. It took Jack ages to get through it all, Daniel didn't say a word, knowing not to interrupt him. He ignored the impatient beep from the microwave; dinner could wait. When Jack finished, Daniel saw the tears that had fallen down his face. They matched his own.

He moved towards Jack, it was now or never. Their friendship was over anyway, he had nothing more to lose. He knelt in front of Jack and took his face in his hands. Then he placed gentle kisses over his eyes and cheeks, wiping away Jack's tears with his lips. Then he shrank back and looked at the older man with trepidation, waiting for the outburst or the back-hander. It didn't come.

Jack saw the fear in Daniel's eyes and hated himself for once again putting it there. During his confession he had overridden his previous claims not to be a homophobe by freely saying that he hated himself for having those feelings for another man. He didn't want to feel like that but he did and he was ashamed. Ashamed for falling in love with Daniel and ashamed at himself for feeling, well, ashamed. He was confused, couldn't figure it all out.

Daniel got up and went to finish dinner. They'd need to eat, the amount of alcohol they were putting down their throats demanded it.

Daniel got the oven on, popped the casserole in, sticking it on timer. He had a feeling he may get distracted. Then he put the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes to get them started. As soon as they were finished he added them to the oven. Dinner could cook itself now.

Jack had followed him into the kitchen, watching him as he worked. He was fascinated by the man. For someone who seemed to keep falling and getting into trouble at work, he had a certain grace in his motion, a surety of movements that he wouldn't expect.


Daniel looked over to Jack, still worried that kissing him had been the wrong thing.

"Daniel. We've got to figure this out, it's killing us."

"Jack, how I see it is you think you're in love with me but all the homophobic, hard-assed, military bullshit that you've lived with is standing in your way. Do you love me?"

"Yes, I think so," he said quietly.

"You think so. Way to go to make a guy feel special. Come back to me when you can admit it, Jack. I won't be messed around anymore." Daniel's stance stiffened to match the hardness in his voice. No more, he couldn't take any more.

"Sorry, Daniel, I'm screwing this up again, aren't I? I do love you. I'm in love with you."

"And you're scared."

"Fucking terrified."

Daniel nodded again, thought for a moment and said, "Is it the fact that you're in love with me, or that I'm a man that scares you? Or, to put it bluntly, is it the fucking that's terrifying?"

"All of the above. I'm scared Daniel; I hurt you, constantly. I don't want to but I do and it's so easy. I'm afraid of scarring you even further. Yeah, the fact that you're a man scares me. I don't want to lose my job, my pension, that sort of thing."

"And the sex?"

"That scares me more than the other things."

Daniel studied Jack's face, he knew that he'd have to get the story behind his fear out in the open quickly or he'd lose him for ever.

"The first two things are fairly irrelevant, Jack. I love you, always have, it's why I stayed on the team. You'll hurt me, I'll undoubtedly hurt you, we'll figure it out. The job thing, we'll be as discreet as we can. I won't expect you to change your name to mine or walk through the gate hand in hand." That got a little wry smile from Jack.

"Talk to me, Jack. Was it what happened to you in Iraq? Was there something else? You can tell me anything, remember. You always used to."

He put his hand out to Jack and he took it. Not letting go, Daniel led him to his bedroom.

"Take your shoes off, Jack."

Daniel kicked his own off and lay down on the bed. This was the moment, this was it. Jack would either kick them off and they could work things out, or he'd run. Jack plucked up his courage and kicked them off. He was rewarded by a shy smile from Daniel and an outstretched hand. Jack took it and allowed himself to be pulled onto the bed, letting out a nervous sigh when Daniel's strong arms enveloped him and held him tightly.

"Jack, talk, tell me what happened to you. I won't judge you, I won't hate you, I won't think you were weak. I've been there, remember? I've been raped, tortured, addicted. You helped me. It's my turn now. You're safe. I'll never do anything that you don't want me to do. You have my word on that Jack. Now talk. Tell me what scares you."

Jack buried his head in Daniel's chest, wrapping his arm over the younger man and clinging hard. He was amazed by the younger man's compassion, especially after the way he'd treated him. One thing he knew for certain was that he'd have to talk, no matter how hard it was. If he didn't, he may as well walk out of Daniel's life for ever.

"I was raped," he whispered. "Not in Iraq. At the Academy."

Daniel swallowed hard, he hadn't expected that one. Okay, he was talking, they could deal.

"What happened, Jack?"

"I was new, only been there a couple of weeks. Some of the older guys took me under their wing, I thought I was lucky. They'd take me out, get me drunk, get me laid, you know."

"Yeah, Jack, I know."

"One night, I was gone, completely shitfaced. They took me back to my room and made me do stuff."

"How many of them were there, Jack?"


"So, you were outnumbered. Not much you could do except stay alive. What did they make you do?"

Jack started shaking, he remembered everything but he couldn't articulate anything. Daniel understood, he could feel for him.

"It's okay, Jack, nobody's ever gonna hear this except me. You know I never talk, not even under torture. Your secret is safe." 'That's it', thought Daniel, 'I need to keep reassuring him that he's safe'. "Come on, come closer, hold me tighter, it will make you feel better." Jack responded by snuggling so hard Daniel was worried that his ribs would break. Didn't matter, they could heal later.

"I'm betting they forced you into giving them, what, hand jobs? Blow jobs?" Jack nodded to both of them.

"Then, seeing as they were young and likely to recover fairly quickly, at least one of them wanted the whole thing." Another nod. Got it, he had been raped, completely.

"And I'll bet they threatened you if you ever spoke of it, had something that they could hold over you." Oh yeah, hit home with that one.

"What, Jack?"

"They took pictures of me doing things to them, hiding their faces, but it was obvious it was me."

"So they wanted it to look like you were doing this sort of thing on a regular basis. Bastards. Do you remember their names? Are they still in the service?"

"I do. Two of them are. The other one's dead."

"Not good enough for him. Fancy getting some revenge?"

Jack blinked and looked up at him. Daniel was grinning from ear to ear. He sat up, Daniel did too and Jack was surprised by the younger man pulling him into a hug and kissing his cheek.

"Oh, my Jack, we're going to have some fun. We've got two weeks to extract revenge. And we're going to, I promise. Nobody fucks with my best friend and gets away with it. Not to mention that these bastards are the cause of all the hurt between us. And," he said screwing his nose up in a way that made Jack want to kiss it, "it's fucking up my sex life, and I hate it when that happens. You'll see, Jack, everything is going to work out, I promise. Oh, and before you decide to back down, think on this. How many others did they do this to?"

"Daniel? What have you got in mind?"

"Trust me, Jack?"


"Tomorrow, I'll tell you then. In the meantime, I'm going to prove to you that this isn't scary. I won't hurt you. If I do anything that you don't want you say stop. I'll stop. No question."

Jack nodded, shaking slightly. He was surprised and jumped when Daniel kissed him. He did it so gently, sweetly and passionately. Jack felt himself falling into his arms, wanting more, pushing his lips harder, responding to Daniel's touch. He wanted, but he didn't get. Daniel broke the kiss.

"Slow down, Jack. I love you. I want to make love with you. I don't want to take. I want to give. You have to know that sex between us is going to be wonderful and gentle, it's not going to be full of fear and hurt. For now, this is all you're getting. Until you can accept me in your personal space without flinching. Okay?"

He agreed, disappointment washed over him but he knew that Daniel was right.

"Daniel, I am in love with you, ya know?"

Daniel smiled, it took over his face and lit up the room. Jack's heart leapt. He hadn't seen that smile in years.

They ate together, chatting away as if the past troubles hadn't happened. Back in their old routine of teasing and joking. Daniel was a great cook but Jack never missed the opportunity to pull his leg about it.

"So, you gonna give up the SGC and wait for your old man to come home from work?"

That got a tea towel thrown at him and an order to wash the dishes because Daniel couldn't get his right hand wet. Obviously wasn't going to leave work then.

Jack had had far too much to drink to drive home. It was late and the awkwardness of earlier hit them both again. Daniel, once again, had to push the subject.

"Jack. You can stay or you can get a cab. It's up to you entirely. If you stay, you can either sleep on the couch or you can share with me. Your choice. I'm not going to jump you if you stay, you're perfectly safe with me."

Jack sensed that he was making this a test of the trust that Jack had in him. It wasn't, Daniel would never do that to him, but Jack was determined never to let him down again. If this is what it would take...

"I want to stay."

"Great. Come on, let's get ready."

He led Jack to the bathroom, found him a spare toothbrush and a disposable razor for the morning. Then while Jack was getting washed he headed into the bedroom and found him a pair of sweats and a T-shirt to sleep in.

Jack came out of the bathroom, almost looking shy. Daniel moved slowly over to him and quietly took him in his arms.

"Clothes are on the bed, Jack, I'll be back before you know it. By the way, I sleep on the left. No arguing."

Jack laughed as Daniel's eyes twinkled at him. He got changed, kicking himself for feeling so nervous. This was Daniel, for fuck's sake, not one of those bastards. Even after all the hell he'd put him through, Daniel would never hurt him. Never.

He climbed into the bed and waited for his friend, no, his lover to come. He didn't have to wait long. Daniel strolled out of the bathroom, a pair of old sweat pants hanging loosely over his hips, a battered old T-shirt on the top.

"Not a pretty sight, I'll grant you," Daniel joked, "but they're comfy."

He got into the bed, on the left and turned out the light.

"Daniel? Hold me, please," Jack's voice was quiet. He felt the strong arms snake around him and pull him close.

"Not gonna let you go, Jack, never again. You're mine now, got it? I'll take good care of you, I promise. I won't hurt you."

He murmured soothing words, stroking Jack's back and hair as he did, feeling happier when the older man's body relaxed into his arms and finally, he was asleep.

Jack woke up and found himself still held by a seriously unconscious Daniel. He smiled at the younger man. Oh, he knew how much Daniel hated it when people said he looked like a kid, but when he slept he really did, morning shadow on his chin not withstanding. Jack carefully disentangled himself from the strong arms and long legs and headed to the bathroom. A quick shower, shave, etc., had him feeling a lot better about himself. He was very slowly coming to terms with the fact that he had somehow got Daniel after nearly losing him for good. A cold shiver ran down his spine as he remembered the look on Daniel's face when he knocked the gun from him. He never wanted to see that look on his face ever again. He would do whatever it took to keep it away. If that meant fighting down his urge to run and scream when Daniel kissed him, he would. It was fucking ridiculous, he thought, he was in love with Daniel, no doubt about it. The feelings were even stronger than those he'd had for Sara. But every time he closed his eyes, there his rapists were. As clear to him now as they had been nearly thirty years ago. Over time he had put them out of his mind, but when he'd realised how he felt about Daniel, the nightmares had returned. 'Tough, O'Neill', he thought, 'suck it up. Do you want to lose him'? The answer to that was a very definite 'no'.

He went into the kitchen and started to make some coffee. While it was brewing he stood in the doorway of the bedroom, just watching over him. He could do this, he would do it. He could make it work.

He had to.

"Danny, time to wake up," he called as he brought the coffee in.

"F'ckoffJ'ck," came back at him. 'Ok-ay', he thought, amused at how normal it seemed, 'so that's how it's going to be'.

"I've got coffee," he singsonged at him.

"Wha'? Gimme!" A distinctly mussed up and sleepy archaeologist appeared from under the covers.

"Jeez Jack, what time is it?"

"Oh, 800," came the reply.

"What! Holiday, Jack, doesn't that mean anything to you? Ack, what the fuck am I doing falling in love with a guy who thinks this is the middle of the day? You do know we are completely incompatible, don't you?" Daniel gave him a shy smile over the top of his mug.

"Oh yes, I do," came the sighed reply. "Don't think there's much we can do about that though."

"No, you're probably right about that. Just don't wake me up too early if you don't need to, okay? Good coffee, by the way, thanks."

When Daniel finished his drink he put the mug down and put his hand out to Jack.

"C'mere, I won't bite," he said.

Jack complied, falling much more easily into Daniel's arms this time. He was treated to a long, slow, tender kissing session with him. Oh yeah, he could definitely get to like this. A certain part of his anatomy all ready did. So did Daniel's for that matter.

Daniel felt Jack pushing towards him, their insistent erections clashing.

"Jack, do you want more?" he whispered.

"Oh God yes, need more, please," came the urgent reply.

Daniel carefully removed Jack's pants and kicked his own off. Tops were removed with alacrity. He pulled Jack down and under the covers. Not wanting Jack to feel under any pressure, he wriggled until he was lying underneath him, taking Jack's weight. He parted his legs and Jack's fell between them. Continuing the kissing, he reached down and stroked Jack's erection, catching hold of his own at the same time. Moans from Jack encouraged him, so he ran his fingers over the heads, moistening the shafts as he went.

"Move Jack, come on, you can do this, I want you," he murmured, urging Jack to push into his abdomen. Jack started to move, crying out as the friction pushed him closer and closer to the edge.

"God, Jack, love you," Daniel called out. "Need you Jack, I want you so bad."

"Daniel, oh God, my Danny, mine," came the reply.

The motion quickened, became more frantic but even more loving. Daniel felt himself nearly ready, Jack was close too. They had to do this together, he thought, to break down more barriers.

"Come with me, Jack, now, let yourself go. Come for me, babe, please," he begged. Slamming his hips up in time to meet Jack's he sent them both spiralling out of control.



Very quickly Daniel found himself with an armful of weeping colonel. He joined him, the two of them sobbing their hearts out. Whether doing that had been wise or not, they had both needed the release it gave them.

After showering, again, this time with Daniel who had to stick his hand out of the water, Jack sat quietly on the bed. He felt better, he thought, this wasn't going to be as hard as he had feared. It wasn't going to be easy, but hopefully he'd get through the worst of his troubles without going nuts. Next thing, though, he had to find out what Daniel had in mind. He wandered through to the kitchen and found him drinking coffee. No surprise there, then. He was shocked to find him smoking.

"I didn't think you smoked, Daniel. How long?"

"All my adulthood," he replied with a grin, "though not often. Usually when I've had a crappy day, or like today, post-coitally." He winked at Jack, making him smile. "It relaxes me. Do you mind?"

"No, just jealous. It's been a while for me."

"I can roll you one if you want, though you shouldn't, it's very bad for you," he added, his voice teasing under its lecturing tone.

"Nah, I've been good for six years, I can keep going. At least for now. I may hold you to your offer if things get more fraught. What revenge do you have in mind?"

"Against you? None," Daniel's eyes twinkled with mischief. "However, if you're up to it, I think we can have some fun at those bastards' expense." He got a shallow nod from Jack. "Okay, who are they?"

"General Simeon Baxter and Colonel David Smith."

"Do you know where they are?"

"No. I just kept an eye on whether they were still in the service or not. They're only a couple of years older than me. Baxter's turned down retirement. Don't know about Smith."

"Fair enough. I'll call Sam. She can hack into the Pentagon's records. Don't worry, I won't say why. Hopefully she'll just do it."

Daniel put his cigarette out and stood up, heading to the phone. "You are okay about this? I don't want to make any old wound more raw."

"Do it. As you say, they may have done it to some others too. They deserve to be punished."

"We can do it without your name being mentioned, Jack. But you're going to have to trust me."

"I do, Daniel. I don't trust anyone more than I trust you. I'm just sorry that I haven't shown that for a while."

"Enough with the apologies, already," Daniel shot back. "I understand, okay? I've been hurt by others. I took Shau're's death out on you, I know I did. I'm sorry for that. But sorry isn't going to change the past, Jack. We have to get on with our lives. I want you in my life, but I don't want you with me if all you feel is some sense of guilt or pity. If you love me, really love me, you'll get rid of that monkey on your back, suck it up and get on with your life. Our life. If you can't do that I can't hack it. I don't want to hear any more apologies from you, okay? Apology was already accepted."

"Got it," Jack said, suddenly feeling a damned sight more positive about everything. He put his hands out to Daniel, pulled him into his arms and kissed him for the first time. He enjoyed the fact that Daniel fell into his embrace, seeming to love being there. Damn, he just plain enjoyed kissing him. A lot.

"Wasn't that much better?" asked Daniel with a huge grin plastered to his face when they broke for air.

"Oh yeah, much," replied Jack huskily, pulling him back for another go. They broke apart laughing for some reason. Daniel put it down to the fact that they'd started to move on. They'd cried and now they were laughing again.

Daniel picked up the phone and called Sam.

"Hey," he said, not really sure of his reception.

Sam had been worried about him all night and was glad to hear his voice. "Hey yourself. How're you feeling?"

"I'm fine," he said, "good in fact. You?"

"Yeah, glad to be on vacation for once. I think things were getting a bit overwrought at work."

"I know what you mean. Look Sam, I want to ask a favour of you, but I don't want to talk over the phone. Can we meet?"

"Um, sure, shall I come over there?"

"Hang on a sec," he put his hand over the mouthpiece - 'she wants to come here' - he hissed to Jack. When he got a nod in reply he said, "Sure, of course. Come over when you're ready, Sam."

They said their goodbyes and hung up.

"You don't have to stay here," Daniel said, "if you don't want Sam to know anything that is. I know we're going to have to keep this, us, a secret from her and Teal'c. Fuck, I hate that, but I know that it's what we need to do. At least for now. So, if you want to go, I'll understand."

"I'm staying, Daniel, not going anywhere. I don't care if anyone knows, not anymore. Don't you get it? You are more important to me than anything; my job, my pension, my reputation. It doesn't matter anymore. I nearly lost you yesterday. That scared me; deeper and more than anything ever has before. Never again, Daniel. Never again. I don't care if Sam finds out about us, I'm not going to deny it if she asks, and I don't want you to either."

"Do you think she's going to be jealous? You know, could the fact that you're with me and not her cause problems?"

"I don't think so. If nothing else, I'm sure she'd tell me before she kicked up a fuss. Besides, if she complains about us, the fact that she and I were together will come out. That'll go against her."

Daniel nodded, not liking that thought. He did love her, as a friend, even after everything that had happened.

They had some more coffee, spent a little time necking on the sofa. Jack thought it was hilarious, it reminded him of when he was a teenager.

"Except," he said, "none of my partners were six foot tall, strong-armed men."

Daniel laughed. "Some of mine were," he said with a grin.

"I don't get it, Daniel. Why didn't you tell me before? When we could talk, that was?"

"I was looking for Shau're. Simple as that, Jack. I loved her, I still love her, I always will. I had girlfriends in the past, I preferred to be with men, but I like being with women too. I didn't think it was a good idea to let it be known that I'm bi, I like to keep my body intact, you know?"

"You didn't think that I'd hurt you, did you?"

"At first, I had no idea. By the time I got to know you though, I was wrapped up in Shau're. It wasn't really a relevant subject. Then, when she died, I pushed you away. I wanted you with me so badly that I was afraid that I'd do something stupid, like kiss you or something. When you pulled away from me I thought you had found out, that it was on my files and you didn't like it. I went a bit mad for a while, going out, clubbing in Denver whenever I could. I'd look for comfort wherever I could find it. I settled with someone for a bit, he's military so I'm not going to tell you who it is, you know him. I know you wouldn't say anything, but it's not my place to out him."

"That's okay, I think I know who it is, but I won't ask. Damn stupid rules."

"Yeah, well, I'm sure you can guess my feelings on that particular subject. It didn't work out between me and him, we're friends now though, good friends. It's nice because I have someone to talk to when I need to."

"If it is who I think it is, I don't think you could have found anyone better, either. I promise, I won't make things awkward when I see him." Daniel looked into Jack's eyes. Oh yeah, he was pretty certain he knew.

"So, what is it about men you like, Daniel? I have never fallen for a guy before, this is all so new to me."

"Wow, it's not easy to describe. I dunno, I guess it's more an equality of character thing. You and me, for example, when you get past your problems, and I want you to take your time over that by the way, we'll be the same, exactly the same. You'll want the same things as me, you'll need the same things as me. You'll understand when I turn over and go to sleep straight away. You'll understand when I don't want to spend the night making out, but I want it fast and hard. You'll be able to give that to me, and I'll be able to do the same for you. You'd have a hard time physically hurting me. Tell me, did you ever once let yourself go completely with Sara?"

"No, I don't suppose I did. I'd always hold back a bit, afraid that I would hurt her."

"Same here for me. All that tenderness is wonderful, and it has its place. Don't get me wrong, I love it like that, but sometimes, just sometimes, I need to be me, all me, and let myself go, surrender to the moment. I was always afraid to do that with a woman, even if my fear was misplaced. I'm never afraid to do that with a man. I know that if I started to go too far he could stop me. I've never gone for guys who were weaker than I am."

"I think I'm beginning to understand that. It makes more sense than it did before."

There was a knock on the door, and Sam was standing there as Daniel opened it. Before she walked in he pulled her into his arms and hugged her hard.

"I'm sorry, Sam, I'm so sorry for being a bastard to you. Forgive me?"

"Daniel, no, it wasn't you. Please don't." They held each other tight. Whatever it was that had gone on with Daniel, she thought, it was over now. She wasn't going to throw this chance away to make things right. No matter what the cost, she mentally added. He took her by the hand and led her in.

Jack was making coffee in the kitchen.

"Colonel!" She was very surprised to see him there, especially as he was wearing Daniel's clothes. What on earth was going on?

"Morning Carter," he said, handing her a mug.

"Jack had too much to drink to go home last night," Daniel said, telling her the truth, but not the whole truth.

"Oh!" She knew for a fact that they hadn't spent much time in each other's company for quite a while, so she was very surprised.

She was even more surprised when she saw how tenderly they looked at each other, shy smiles aimed between them. They weren't, were they? Nah! She knew damn well that Jack was straight. She had first hand experience of it. Didn't she? What the fuck, they weren't fighting and Daniel was happy to see her. Hell, he was happy. Whatever was going on between them, she'd cope.

"What did you want me to do, Daniel?" she asked as they sat around the table.

"I want you to do something wrong. I need some information from the Pentagon files, Sam. If you don't feel you can do this, say now. I won't hold it against you, I promise. I do have another avenue of enquiry if you don't want to do that." Jack looked at him as he said that. Oh yeah, his suspicions were growing. Wasn't going to say a word though.

"What sort of information, Daniel?" Sam asked suspiciously.

"I need to know the whereabouts of two men. Both are in the Air Force, one's a colonel, the other's a general."


"Can't tell you that, I'm sorry. It's personal. I know you wouldn't say anything, but this really is something that I have to keep to myself. I cannot and will not involve you any further than I have to."

His eyes begged her to trust him. She had to, she knew now that she had to prove to him that she could be there for him as he had so often been there for her.

"Okay, what are their names?" She made a grab for Daniel's laptop and powered it up. Then she connected to the Net, and hacked her way into the files. Knowing some passwords was an advantage after all.

"Will they trace this?" Jack asked.

"Not a hope in hell," she said with a grin. Not after the trail she was leaving, anyway.

"Colonel David Smith," she said, downloading his file. "General Simeon Baxter - whoo boy, he's just become attached to the JCS."

Daniel and Jack looked at each other and grinned. He was so going down.

She disconnected the modem and showed Daniel the files she'd got.

"Thanks Sam, I owe you one," Daniel said as she turned the laptop to face him.

"Feel like a trip to California, Jack?" he said with a grin. Smith was based near San Francisco.

Jack got on the phone and booked two tickets on the next flight out before he lost his nerve.

"Can't you at least give me a hint?" Sam pleaded.

"Let's just say that these are two very nasty individuals and they are going to find out what it's like to be the victim for once. Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything wrong, I promise. I won't hurt them - physically."

"What did they do to you?"

"Me personally? They fucked things up for me and I'm not feeling particularly forgiving right now."

Jack came back and kissed her on the cheek.

"Thanks for that Sam. Do yourself a favour and make yourself scarce now. Go see your family. If anyone asks, we haven't seen you since yesterday, okay? I don't want you to get involved in this any more than you already have."

She could tell by his tone of voice that he was in his protective mode, not dismissive or bossy. She felt it best to acquiesce. Maybe after the holidays things would return to how they used to be.

She hugged them both, told them to be careful in whatever it was they were up to, and then made them promise to call her on her cellphone when they got back. She'd come back and they could party. She got a very enthusiastic 'yes' from them about that and she left a lot happier than she had arrived.

"When's the flight?" Daniel asked.

"This afternoon, 1500 hours."

"Jack, this is a civilian house, I'll thank you to speak 'civvy' to me. 1500 hours, indeed. Anyway," he looked at the grinning man, "what are we going to do for four hours? It won't take us that long to pack." He ran his tongue over his bottom lip before catching it under his teeth.

Jack's response was to grab him and kiss him hard and then lead him to the bedroom.

He lay Daniel down on the bed, feeling better about being there himself. Clothes flew off as frantic hands moved swiftly over their bodies. Jack found himself on his back, Daniel kissing him all over. Part of him wanted to scream, the other part of him wanted to beg Daniel to go further. He didn't need to beg, his interest in his lover very apparent. Daniel decided to take his life in his hands and went down on him, taking him all as quickly as he could. Jack moaned and groaned and yelled as Daniel's experienced tongue set to work. He deliberately stayed away from Jack's butt, though, not wanting to scare him. He also knew that Jack shouldn't stop him doing this, after all, what guy would?

He felt Jack's fingers in his hair, not pushing, just caressing. This was good, he thought, he could make Jack happy like this. Soon the warning noises grew and he sucked harder and firmer until Jack couldn't hold on anymore. He came in a rush, crying out Daniel's name as he did.

"Jack, are you all right?" Daniel asked, afraid that he had gone too far.

"Wow, Danny, I mean, whoo yeah. Wow."

"I see it doesn't do much for your literacy," Daniel teased as he nuzzled his neck.

"Gimme a minute, will ya? Jeez Daniel, your tongue should be certified as a lethal weapon. You're good at that."

"I know," he said smugly. "It gets better."

"It does? How?"

"Wait until you feel happy about me touching anywhere. I promise you, it gets better. But for now..."

"I don't think I'm ready to reciprocate," Jack said sadly.

"Don't expect you to. Kiss me, that'll do," Daniel replied with a grin. Jack complied happily.

"That's me?" he said at the unfamiliar taste.

"Mmm, it is."

"Oh. Don't know what I was expecting."

Daniel laughed at that. It was wonderful watching the looks of discovery on Jack's face as he faced new things with him. This was the way they should always have been. Discovering things together.

They arrived in San Francisco not that long after they'd left, allowing for the time change. They headed off quickly to town, finding an hotel and booking adjoining rooms. They didn't dare to look as though they were a couple in public. Despite Jack's assertions that he'd retire in a heartbeat, Daniel wasn't going to take any chances. Besides, even though they'd spent months shouting at each other at work, everyone at the SGC knew they were joined at the hip. Adjoining rooms would be normal.

"Are you going to let me in on your plan yet?" Jack asked, bouncing on his bed to test out the mattress.

Daniel stuck his head around the door and grinned at the sight. Oh boy, Colonel Jack O'Neill, forty-six going on five.

"I'm still working on it, to tell you the truth. How do you feel about a stake-out?"

"I thought we'd eat in," Jack replied as he walked over to him, taking him in his arms and kissing Daniel's neck.

Daniel giggled, "Stake-out Jack, not out for a steak."

"I knew that," Jack murmured. "Have you any idea how fucking gorgeous you are?"

Daniel laughed out loud. "It's been mentioned once or twice. Are you getting sappy on me Jack?"

"Absolutely, King of Sapland, that's me."

"Oh boy. We really are completely incompatible. I'm not sappy at all."

"You don't mind, do you?" Jack's lips moved under Daniel's chin and down his Adam's apple.

"God, no," Daniel gasped.

"You want me to stop?" Jack whispered as he opened Daniel's shirt, tracing the exposed skin with his lips and tongue.

", don't stop. Do what ever you want Jack, please. Only what you want, promise me."

Jack took him by the hand and led him to the bed, laying them both down together. He didn't think his legs would stand too much more.

"Promise, Daniel. We don't make each other do things, we don't hide from each other, not anymore."

"No, no more."

Their shirts off, the men had some serious make-out time, which was interrupted by a rumbling stomach.

"Hungry, Daniel?"

"Starving. Come on, let's get dressed and go and find something to eat."

As they sat in the restaurant that Jack chose for its romantic ambience, they discussed the possibilities for revenge.

"If we make what they did a matter of public record your name will get dragged through the mud. I'm not prepared to do that, Jack. You were the victim here, I'm not having you victimised twice. No, this has to be subtle, but to make them live in fear of discovery."

"Biblical revenge," Jack grinned, "an eye for an eye and all that."

"Exactly!" Daniel replied, waving his fork for emphasis and sending a tomato piece from his salad flying towards Jack. He watched open-mouthed as it landed with a wet splat on Jack's cheek, sending them both into a fit of the giggles.

"Hey, I'm all for extended foreplay and even a bit of food fun Daniel, but let's keep it for the bedroom shall we?"

Daniel laughed, "You like that? Oh boy, we're gonna have some fun, flyboy. I know this really neat thing with chocolate sauce. You wanna try that?"

Jack blushed, "You're not as innocent as you make out, are you?"

"Nope, never have been. I never made it out, you just thought I was. Think about it, Jack, I'm an academic. My mind is open to possibilities. I'm a field anthropologist; I observe and take part in weird rituals. I'm also an archaeologist with a speciality in linguistics. I've read things that would make the hairs on your chest stand on end."

"Just as long as you don't say they'd turn me white," Jack retorted. "You know, I don't get it. Why me? I mean, I'm pretty certain I know who you've been involved with; he's good-looking, young, smart. Why not him?"

Daniel studied his face for a while and replied, "Yeah, you do know who he was. You're right, he's all of the above and he's a damned good friend to me. Let me deal with the question of 'him' first. Distance - that was the first one. It's a relationship killer. Not to mention the fact that he's career military, I didn't want to take the chance of screwing his career up. Now, I know you are, but everyone accepts that you and I have a close relationship, so us spending time together won't be seen as unusual. In fact, loads of people thought that we'd broken up when we weren't spending time together."

Daniel waited for Jack to stop choking.

"Better now?"

Jack nodded, bright-red from both embarrassment and the choking fit.

"Nobody at the base gave a shit, Jack. They all thought that you'd been screwing me from the time you brought me home and I stayed at your place. Of course, I always denied everything whenever I was approached about it."

"You were approached about it? When? Who? What did they do?"

Jack was getting a little loud, angry that such an assumption had been made.

"Shh, Jack, you're drawing attention to us. Come on, it's okay. Occasionally I'd get asked out, I'd turn them down. Nothing ever came of it. I play the straight card Jack, I have to. If people up there knew I was gay then I'd suddenly find it more difficult to turn down requests. They'd have used our relationship against you. I had to turn down a couple of guys I'd have said yes to in other circumstances," Daniel grinned as he said that.

"Shit, Daniel, why didn't you say anything to me before?"

"Two reasons. One, you'd have gone ballistic, and two you'd have found out about me and I didn't want that then. Anyway, do you want me to tell you why I'd rather be with you?"

"Um, yes, okay," Jack tried to sound casual.

"You're my best friend, Jack, you're closer to me than anyone else has ever been. On top of that I find you incredibly attractive. I prefer older men, always have."

"P, um, he's younger than you." Jack nearly said his name, quickly covering it up. It was okay for him to guess, but he'd never come out and 'out' the man.

"Yes, he is. He was an exception to my usual choice. And yes, as you say he's good-looking, so are you. He's smart, so are you. You aren't like him, and you are like him. You share some great qualities. He's very loyal as are you. That is extremely important to me, more than most other things. You're kind and you can make me laugh in a way no one else ever has. I like that, I love to laugh."

"I haven't done so much of it recently, have I?" Jack looked guilty as hell, but remembering what Daniel said back at the loft he quickly added, "but I promise, that's gonna change. From now on, it's you and me, all the way. I mean this Daniel, I am not letting you go. I'm near to my retirement anyway. I can either stay and fly a desk or I can retire and start a new life, a new career even. Just remember this, Daniel, you first. Got it?"

"Got it," Daniel replied, smiling broadly back at him. "Come on, let's go and look at where this guy lives. I just hope he hasn't gone away for the holidays."

An hour later and the men were parked near a house in their rental car. It was dark, Jack set the car as far away from street lighting as he could.

"We need to get in there, Jack, we need to listen in to what's going on inside the house."

Jack grinned. "I'm sure that I can arrange that," he said cryptically.

One thing they had established, Smith was home. He didn't live on a base but in an ordinary housing estate. Time to start planning.

They headed back to town and to the hotel. Daniel insisted on going clubbing that night but not letting on where or why.

"You can't come, Jack, I'm sorry."

"Daniel, if you go, I go."

"Not here. Look, I want to go to a gay club. It's okay if I'm seen. I doubt there'd be anyone there that would know you, but I'm not prepared to take any chances. I want to do a little research, that's all. And don't worry, I can take care of myself. I asked you if you trusted me and you said you did. Time to put up or shut up, Jack."

Jack agreed, not happily. He knew that Daniel had far more experience than he did of this sort of thing but he was afraid for his welfare.

"Get a cab back as soon as you've found out what you want to know. Take your phone. Get back here by two a.m. or I'm coming to look for you."

"Mother hen," Daniel muttered, kissing Jack as he said it. He disappeared into his room to get changed.

Jack's heart stopped as he came back out. Gorgeous didn't even begin to cover it. Head to foot in black. Leather jacket and trousers so tight you could make out the shape of his muscles and just how tight his ass really was. BDUs never looked that good on him. A black cotton T-shirt rounded off the combination along with black ankle boots. No glasses were on his face, but contacts which made his eyes seem even bluer.

"Fucking hell, Daniel, you can't go out looking like that."

"Don't you like it?" Daniel teased. He knew exactly how he looked. Enough people had come on to him when he'd worn them in the past.

"Love it. You won't be safe."

"Jack, you taught me how to kill with my bare hands. I'll be safe. Besides, I'm armed."

"You are? Where? What?"

Daniel kicked the heel of his boot and a blade came shooting out of the front.

"I was given these after I got involved in a fight at a club once. Haven't had to use it yet, but it's there if I need it. I won't, I rarely get any trouble Jack. I'm off, I'll be back as soon as I've found out what I need."

Jack hated the waiting. Daniel had been gone for hours and he was getting worried. Finally, around one a.m. he heard the key turning quietly in the door to Daniel's room. He opened the adjoining door and looked in. He relaxed when he saw Daniel alone. He didn't think that Daniel would cheat on him, but he wasn't sure what he'd had in mind.

"Hey," Daniel said, "I thought you'd wait up for me. I'm glad you did. You couldn't pour me a drink, could you? I could really do with one."

Jack greeted him and headed off to the mini-bar. He found some miniatures of Jack Daniel's and poured him a double. As he turned around he saw Daniel stripping off his leathers and he caught his breath. Wow.

Daniel turned and looked at him, surprising Jack with the shy look that he gave him.

"Thanks Jack," he said as he pulled the pants off and took the drink. He sat and rolled himself a cigarette, the stress of the evening beginning to tell. "That place was like a meat market. I had to stay completely sober."

He found his sweat pants and put them on and then sat on the bed, patting the side and encouraging Jack to join him.

"Did you find out what you wanted?" Jack asked.

"Oh yes, I got exactly what I wanted. Tell me, how are we going to listen in to the house?" He was pretty wound up, but finding little solace in his drink and cigarette he knocked back the drink and stubbed the cigarette out.

"I've done some investigating myself, trawling through the Yellow Pages I found a couple of places where you can get spy stuff. You'd be surprised what you can get these days, Daniel. What about you?"

"Oh, that's going to be a surprise. Let's just say I'm hiring someone. Someone with a very special, um, talent. You'll find out when the time comes, I promise. Anyway, come on, I'm tired. Do you want to sleep with me tonight or would you prefer to be alone? I don't mind, Jack, whatever makes you happiest."

"Daniel, I told you. I'm going to be with you from now on. It's me and you, buddy, all the way. Sure, there's always the possibility that I'm gonna freak every so often. You'll just have to live with that. But, in the meantime, I'm going to try and make this as normal as any other highly-illegal, career-fucking relationship could ever be. I love you. Don't forget that."

They got ready for bed and decided to sleep in Daniel's because it looked slightly more comfortable than the other one. They could always try that the next night.

Jack pulled Daniel into his arms. "My turn tonight, Daniel," he murmured. He kissed him, planting his gentle kisses on his throat, along his jaw and then nibbled at his ear, marvelling at the effect that he was having.

"Undress," he ordered and Daniel kicked his sweats off as quickly as he could. Jack's followed suit. Daniel lay there, letting Jack take the lead, not wanting to scare him off. He gasped as he felt Jack's hand take his prick and gently work it. He moaned as he felt himself build up.

"Jack, oh God, please, yes, just there, just like that. Oh babe you're so good at that. Love you, Jack, I love you so much. Harder, please, oh yes, like that. OhmygodI'mgonna..."

Daniel spilled over Jack's hand and he grabbed his face, kissing him hard.

"Damn Jack, you are very, very talented at that," he said with a grin.

"I practise on myself a lot," Jack answered, laughing at himself.

Daniel cracked up and kissed him again.

"What do you want me to do for you Jack, just say it, I'll do anything you want."

"Danny, you don't have to..."

"Jack, I want to. Don't you see? You make me happy. You also make me horny. I love you. Please, let me do something for you. Anything." He added the last word huskily and sent a shiver down Jack's spine.

"I want you Danny," Jack managed to whisper.

"Do you want to fuck me?"

Jack flushed and nodded shallowly.

"I want that too," Daniel replied and reached over to the drawer where he had earlier deposited a tube of lube, for use on the 'off-chance'. He got it out and gave it to Jack.

"Jack, do you know what you're doing?"

"I, um, I've done it with a woman. I guess it's similar?"

"Yep, pretty much, but better to be on the receiving end if you're a guy."

Jack froze and Daniel mentally kicked himself.

"Sorry Jack, I didn't want to remind you of that. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, honestly. I won't care. I love you, not what you can do for me."

"It's okay, Daniel. This is stupid of me. I can do this, I want to do this. You have the sweetest ass and to be perfectly blunt I have fantasised about this for a long time. Please, if you want me to..."

"Oh yes, I do. Come on, I'll help you out. This time will probably be a bit methodical, but, and I promise this, as you feel more relaxed, it will be so good. And when you are one hundred percent happy with the idea I'll show you why it's good to be on the receiving end. It doesn't have to hurt, it isn't degrading or anything like that. It's wonderful. If you love the man that's making love to you it's like it makes you whole. That's the only way I can describe it. Please Jack, make me whole."

Jack responded by kissing him hard, a few tears threatening to escape. He mentally scolded himself for feeling like this. The events of his past were just that - in the past - and he was going to make love to a man he loved more than life itself. He wasn't going to be held down and fucked against his will. Daniel was going to let him, wanted him in fact. This was going to be so good. His dick had deflated a bit, but some intense kissing and touching had renewed the interest. He felt Daniel open the tube and squirt some lube onto his fingers. He knew what to do in theory so he set to work, inserting one finger first and then another and another, gently moving them around and getting seriously turned on by Daniel's positive reaction to it.

"God Danny, you're so tight, so fucking hot."

"Now Jack, please babe, now," Daniel moaned.

Jack covered himself with lube, afraid that he would hurt his lover, but Daniel reassured him over and over that he was fine. Daniel lay on his back and wrapped his legs around Jack's chest. Then Jack found himself in position and he pushed in.

"Jesus Christ Daniel, it's tight."

"Jack, relax. It's fine. It's not hurting. Come on, push, harder. Yeah, that's it. OH!"

Jack froze.

"Daniel! Are you all right?"

"Shh, yeah, better than all right. You just hit the spot. Please Jack, move and move now." Daniel's last phrase was almost growled and Jack tried not to laugh. He couldn't get over how different this Daniel was to the one he saw at work. And he loved him as much as he loved the other one.

"N.not gonna last, Danny, s.sorry."

"'Sokay, Jack," Daniel's breath hitched as Jack hit the spot again and again. "Go for it, please. I want that."

Jack was amazed by Daniel's powers of recovery as he felt his dick hardening against his stomach as he pushed in. Noticing that and realising that he was the cause of it pushed him over the edge and he came hard inside his lover.

He collapsed on him and pulled out gently.

"Oh God Daniel, that was incredible. You let me do that, I can't believe you let me do that." Jack's voice was filled with wonder and love and he was rewarded by a sleepy but loving smile.

"Um, Daniel? Do you want me to do something about that?" he grinned as he pointed to Daniel's renewed erection.

"Nah, it's okay. You don't have to do anything Jack."

"Maybe I want to," Jack's voice was teasing now.

Daniel decided to take him up on it then.

"Well, if you want to, I'm not gonna stop you. Feel free, I'm all yours to do with as you please."

'Yeah, you're mine all right,' Jack thought, 'and I'm going to reward you for that.'

He plucked up his strength and his courage, bit back down on his natural horror and went down on him, taking him in his mouth quickly. He was encouraged by the gasp of delight and surprise that came his way and he worked Daniel hard. He did everything he liked having done to him, teeth rasping the skin, tongue working its way up and down the shaft, pushing Daniel's cock between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. Sucking hard. Daniel was very appreciative and very noisy too. This made Jack want to laugh.

"Jack, Oh God, I can't hold on," Daniel warned, not wanting Jack to take this any further than he was prepared to go.

Jack tried to separate his mind from his body, not wanting to give up. He knew that he had a mental block and he was the 'jump back on the horse' type. But this was the first time after his 'fall' and he was afraid. He wasn't a coward though and he bit back his fear and sucked harder. Daniel warned him again but finally he couldn't hold on anymore. He came hard in Jack's mouth and Jack swallowed quickly to stop himself being choked to death.

When the final spurts ended he released him and crawled back up the bed to where a very stunned-looking Daniel was waiting for him.

"God Jack, you are incredible, amazing, fantastic! C'mere."

Daniel pulled him into his arms and kissed him senseless.

"I love you, Jack, don't you ever forget it. I'm proud of you too. You are so brave, so courageous. I know what that cost you and I am so grateful. Love you."

Jack couldn't stop shaking. He had broken down some of the barriers that he had set up all those years ago.

"Jack? Are you all right?"

"F.f.fine, just surprised at myself."

"Are you sorry you did it?"

Jack's head shot up and he looked him right in the eye.

"NO. Definitely not. I'm glad I did it. It's just different from anything else I have ever done, Daniel. Well, apart from... you know."

"Jack, that was the first time you did that because you wanted to do it. I told you, I love you. I want you to be happy in what you do. I'm happy with whatever you do. Told you before, I'm a slut, I'm happy for you to do whatever you want. If you want me to do anything, all you have to do is say it."

Jack sighed and snuggled closer to him.

"Hold me?"

"Hold you? Dammit Jack, I'm never letting you go."

"Shh Jack, it's okay, I'm here for you, it's me, Daniel, come on babe, let it go."

Daniel had been afraid of this. Jack was having a nightmare and by the sound of it, it was about the rape. He picked up words here and there and it made him sick. It also made him more determined to get revenge.

"Jack, come on, wake up, please. Snap out of it."

Finally, Jack opened his eyes. At first he was shocked at seeing a man in his bed, and connecting him with the rape in his nightmare he went to lash out. Daniel was waiting for it though and grabbed his hands, calling his name until he realised where he was and who he was with.

"I'm sorry Jack, I let you go too far too fast. I'm so sorry. You know it's me, I won't hurt you, you know that, don't you?"

"It's okay Daniel, sorry, I was a bit disorientated there for a minute, didn't mean to lash out at you. So, you heard what was going on?"

"Oh yeah," Daniel replied bitterly.

"You still want me?"

"WHAT? Do you think that I wouldn't? For chrissake Jack, I hate those bastards and what they did. I love you. Get it?"

"Got it."

"Good. You did nothing wrong. They did. I still want you. I still love you and I sure as hell still need you. Do you still want me? Now that you know what it's all about?"

"Oh yes, definitely. Absolutely. Even more now."

"Good, then come here, and let's get some sleep, huh? And no waking me until at least nine, okay?"

"'Kay. Night Danny."

"Yeah, night hun."

The next morning found them making more plans. Jack went out and visited the spy equipment shop that he had found in the phone book. Daniel remained at the hotel waiting for him and talking on the phone.

"Hey Paul, how're you doing?"

"Dan, good to hear from you. I'm great, what about you?"

"Never better. Look, I don't want to talk much over this line. I'm pretty sure this end isn't tapped, I'm at an hotel, but what about you?"

"Don't worry, this line is clear. It gets checked regularly. What's up?"

"I need a favour, Paul. There's a new member of the JCS. Baxter. Can you root around and see if you can dig up some dirt for me?"


"I want to tell you, Paul, but I can't go into details. Suffice it to say he raped a male friend of mine when he was a lot younger."

"Bastard. You got it Dan, I'll do whatever I can to help out."

"I knew you would, Paul. Thank you. Just promise me you won't get into any trouble."

"Hey, you know me, discretion is my middle name."

"And I thought it was 'Casanova'."

"I love you too Daniel."

"Yeah, same here. You seeing anyone?"

"Um, sorta. Just starting out, you know?"

"Oh yeah, I know. Me too. Can't say who."

"But I'll bet I can guess if you've stopped fighting."


"Oh don't worry, you know me, I can keep my mouth shut. And I will. He'd better treat you right, Dan, 'cause if he doesn't I'll ruin him. I hate him for what he did to you."

"It's sorted, Paul, it's all over now. We're friends again. In fact, he's on this little quest with me, helping me out. We're already dealing with one of the other perpetrators."

"One of them?"

"Yeah, there were three."

"Fucking hell. I'd better go Dan, I'll do what I can. Take care, okay?"

"Thanks. You too. I'll see you soon, I promise."

Daniel jumped as the door opened, he'd been staring out of the window and his mind had been miles away.

"Penny for them," Jack said.

"They're not worth that much," Daniel replied, opening his arms out to Jack who stepped into them willingly.

"Hey Daniel, what's bothering you?"

"Not really sure. I guess all of this is bringing back what happened to me too. You know, with 'her'."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Don't be, it's not your fault. Look at us Jack, more emotional baggage than UPS could carry. Sometimes it's hard, you know, just to get through the day."

"I know, I really do know Daniel. We've got each other again now, we'll cope. It'll get easier, won't it?"

"Oh yes, Jack, it will. I missed you so much, I hated not having you there. Damn. Listen to me. I said that was in the past and I meant it."

"Daniel, listen to me. I know you mean it but this has only just happened for us. I can't and I don't expect you to forgive me overnight. I'm stunned by your acceptance of me as it is. I should have known you'd do it, you're an incredible man, but still, you didn't have to."

"I did, Jack. I wanted you so much. I never expected this. I'd have lived with us being friends. You'd never have known how I felt about you, I'd never have made you feel bad about it."

"Shh, it's all over now. We'll sort it all out, we just have to accept that this may take some time. We're both due some wigging out time."

Daniel told Jack that he'd called Paul and asked him for some help.

"Don't worry, I didn't say who was involved or anything, apart from the General, of course. He's going to help. He's also guessed about us. He won't say a word though, Jack, you can believe that."

"How did he guess?"

"I told him I was seeing someone. He made the leap. He didn't mention your name but he didn't have to. I know him too well."

"How long were you two together? Hey, it's a fair question after what you just said. And don't worry, I'm not exactly in a position to out him, am I? Not that I would even if we weren't together Daniel, I think the law stinks and I always have done."

"A year. It started after the submarine thing. I needed someone Jack and you turned from me. You made me blow you up. Have you any idea how much that hurt? And then when you were okay you shut me out like what I'd just done didn't matter. It mattered to me, Jack. You asked me to kill you."

"I got a pretty good idea when I had to try to blow the Gadmeer ship, Daniel."

"Yeah, but I was following your orders, Jack. You wanted a solution and I was getting you one."

"You turned from me then too."

"Only because I thought you didn't care. Jack, you gave me the impression you'd rathered I would have died that day."

Tears fell down both men's faces and they hugged each other hard.

"It's over now though, isn't it? It's really over now, Jack. Please say it is," Daniel begged.

"Shh Danny, it's over. I promise. I'll never treat you like that again. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

"So am I, I didn't mean to bring this up again. I told you it was forgotten, didn't I?"

"It's okay, babe, it's better to say it now. Let's get it all out in the open, then we'll have an easier time of it later on."

"Good idea. I don't want to talk now though."

"There's a first time for everything then, obviously," Jack teased, kissing Daniel's tears away as he did.

Getting the bug into the house wasn't going to be easy, Daniel thought, but he didn't reckon on Jack's talents. He sat in the car waiting for him to come back. They'd watched the occupants of the house depart on what looked like a day out of some sort and Jack had gone off to plant the bugs. What they were going to find out they weren't sure, but some intel was better than none. Daniel's heart was in his mouth when he saw Smith's car returning, but just before it turned into the drive, Jack reappeared at the passenger door. He got in and let out a large breath as he sat.

"That was close. They have a burglar alarm. I managed to disable it until I got back out and then reactivated it."

"How did you do that?"

"Trade secret," Jack smirked. He slipped on a pair of headphones and listened in to the goings-on in Smith's house.

After a couple of hours it looked like they weren't going to learn anything useful. Besides, Daniel needed to take a leak and they were both hungry. They more or less decided to go when Jack yelled. They struck pay dirt. Mrs Smith got off the phone.

"David, that was Aunt Agnes. Momma's been taken ill, I'm going to have to go. I'm sorry, sweetheart but I won't be able to come to the Christmas dance with you on Sunday. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not," Smith's gruff voice came across loud and clear. "Go to your mother, Tabitha, take as long as you need. Make sure that she's all right, won't you?"

Jack relayed the information to Daniel and they both grinned. They listened in as 'Tabitha' ran around the house, packing her things and then watched as she departed in a taxi that Smith had called for her. Then they heard him phoning a friend.

"Mark, it's David. Tabitha has had to go and visit her mother - she's sick - again... yeah, I know... look, do you want to come over tonight?... How about tomorrow... morning?... oh, okay... damned wives are more trouble than they're worth... fine, see you in the morning."

So, it sounded like this 'Mark' was more than just a friend. More trouble than they're worth, eh? Was Tabitha just a cipher? Whoo boy. Daniel's plan would definitely make her sit up and take notice. And given Smith's attitude to his wife, Daniel thought, 'to hell with subtle,' this was going to hurt.

They drove off back to the hotel. As Jack arranged for food to be sent up, Daniel made a phone call.

"Yes, tonight. Look, he doesn't know about this, it's a surprise. Tell him Mark arranged it. I'll meet you there and pay you before you go in, okay? You got the address? Great. 9.30 it is. See you then, bye."

"Are you going to let me in on it now, Daniel?" Jack asked.

"Uh uh," Daniel grinned, "trade secret."

It was 9.25 and Daniel was getting worried that his arrangement would be a bust when suddenly he saw a car pull up. He recognised the young man who exited it and he went up to him and handed him some cash.

"Just say, 'this is a present from Mark to tide you over till tomorrow'. Then do what we discussed, okay? Will this cover your, er, expenses?" He handed him a few large bills and the young man grinned. Sure, it would be more than enough.

Daniel watched from the shadows as he knocked on the door. He heard a sotto voce exchange at the door and watched as Smith looked around to see if any neighbours were about. They weren't so he let the man in.

"Now Jack," Daniel whispered.

Jack got into position. He had a camera with night vision and a telescopic lens. Oh boy, it was definitely picking up some juicy stuff.

The young man had changed into some very revealing leather clothes, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. He had also got Smith to strip completely. They were in the living room and Smith was too stunned by the unexpected visit to close the curtains totally. Jack had enough of a gap in which to work. And he got some fantastic blackmail pictures. The one of Smith trussed up like a Christmas turkey giving head to the young man who was stood there with a whip in his hand was absolutely priceless. He made sure that he got no picture of the prostitute's face though, just Smith's.

What was even better, Jack later found out, was that Daniel had given the man instructions. As soon as he got Smith tied up and helpless he was to leave him. He could get off himself if he wanted, but he wasn't to allow Smith to come at all. And he was to leave him naked and tied up. 'Mark' could find him in the morning.

The next day, Jack and Daniel headed back home to the Springs. Jack knew how to process film, one of his many talents. He purchased the proper equipment and made two copies of each photograph. Daniel printed off a letter on an ink jet, which would be more difficult to trace than one of the old typewriters and sent an anonymous note along with a copy of the photos. They'd post them from Washington to hide their origin.

"Smith," it read, "your game has been exposed. We know what you have done and to whom you have done it. Leave the Air Force now or another copy of these pictures will be sent to the Pentagon. You are being watched at all times. If you don't want your wife to find out about this, get out now."

"Great," Jack said, "let the bastard live in fear."

Daniel was inclined to agree.

They decided that they'd head to Washington the next day. Daniel called Paul to tell him and found out that the major had done some great work. They didn't discuss anything over the phone but arranged to meet for dinner at the hotel the men had booked themselves into.

"Jack? Do you want me to stay or should I go home?"

"What sort of question is that, Daniel? Of course I want you to stay. I thought we'd discussed this."

"I didn't mean it like that Jack. We're here, at home. I know we used to stay over at each other's place before but it's been a while. If I'm seen coming out of your house in the morning people may put two and two together. Jack, I don't want to harm you or your career."

"Daniel. I appreciate what you're saying but it's going to be okay. I promise. Come on, Hammond's going to be glad that we're friends again. I'm pretty certain Carter guessed about us and I could tell there was no way she was going to say anything. I can't see Teal'c getting upset about us, can you? They'll protect us as best they can. And if the worst comes to the worst I'll retire. I'm not giving you up and I'm not going to deny you. Ever. Got that?"

"I know Jack, but I don't want to be what 'they' use to hurt you. I will not be a witness, hostile or otherwise, at your court martial."

"If it came to that, which it won't, but if it did I'd expect you to talk Daniel. You could be sent to jail for contempt otherwise."

"Wouldn't be the first time," Daniel replied nuzzling up to Jack's neck. Jack went to say something else but he was interrupted by, "Hush Jack, kissing now."

He gave a gentle snort and joined in.

Jack, Daniel and Paul Davis huddled together over a table at the hotel in Washington into which the guys had booked themselves. Again, they had adjoining rooms for appearances sake. They'd had dinner sent up to Jack's room though so they could talk in peace. Jack and Paul tiptoed around the subject of sleeping arrangements. Daniel thought it was ridiculous. Because of the stupid rules, neither Jack nor Paul could admit to having a relationship with Daniel, even though they both knew about the other one. He decided that enough was enough.

"Right. I've had it. You two are skirting around the subject. Yes, Jack, Paul and I were together. Yes, Paul, Jack and I are together. You both knew this anyway. Stop pretending you didn't. I'm not expecting either of you to say a fucking word about it outside this room but if you don't stop feigning ignorance I'm gonna do something desperate like strip all of my clothes off and see how you both react."

Jack snorted and Paul burst out laughing.

"I had to put up with that for a year," he moaned to Jack.

"A year? I've had to put up with it for five." They exchanged sympathetic noises and Daniel clipped them both up their heads.

"So," Daniel attempted to change the subject, "what have you found out about Baxter, Paul?"

"Whoo boy. Well - officially, his nose couldn't be any cleaner. That in itself raised my suspicions. I mean nothing, absolutely no black marks against his name. That's not normal. So, I dug a little further and found a few interesting, but unsubstantiated things."

He looked up at the men as he dug into his dinner of salmon with a side plate of salad. He toyed with a boiled baby potato for a minute before the frustrated, 'go on' groans came from the others.

"When he was a captain - way back when - one of his men went AWOL. Nothing that unusual there. He was never seen again. Baxter was overseas at the time and in that town, as I later found out, a couple of other men, local civilians, also disappeared. They were all young, fair-haired and blue-eyed. The local police suspected a connection, but nothing was found. Certainly nothing to tie in with Baxter. Nothing then for a number of years. Believe me, after what you said, Daniel, I checked all the police records wherever he was posted. I was initially looking for reports of rape, but to be honest, a lot of men would rather die than admit that they'd been raped."

Paul was looking at Daniel at the time, but he caught a slight wince and reddening of the face from Jack. Daniel hadn't said who the victim had been. It couldn't be, could it? Hell. He'd have to play this carefully. He didn't want to hurt Jack any more than he already had been if that was the case. It could also explain a heck of a lot. Using his best poker face, one which a lot of people didn't even know he had, Paul continued.

"I feel for them," he said quietly. "Society is so stacked against gay men that any straight man on the receiving end of something like this is bound to feel even worse than he would do already. It makes me sick to think that this could happen, that someone who's been attacked could be made to feel like a victim twice over, but there you are. Where was I? Ah, yes. Police records. Believe me, I checked them all. Fortunately I have a friend at the FBI who has access to stuff like this. I asked her to do this on the sly for me. She found that it happened again. When Baxter had been promoted to light colonel. Again, an overseas posting, again a couple of local men fitting the same description disappearing. Then two of his men went AWOL. Nothing to directly tie with him, but my radar is definitely going off. He's here now, in Washington. I checked the grapevine. He's good at hiding his tracks, but not good enough. Scuttlebutt has him visiting a club where they're into BDSM."

"Ouch," Daniel said. "Not my scene."

"Mine either," Paul sniffed.

"Is that what I think it is?" Jack asked quietly.

"Bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism. And before you ask - no I get nothing from that. I don't mind being tied up by someone I trust implicitly," Daniel replied with a grin, "but I am seriously turned off by all forms of violence, even consensual 'play' like that."

"You like to be tied up?" Jack's eyes nearly popped out of his head.

"Sure, but as I said, I've got to know him, love him and most of all trust him. I'm not someone that could go and pick someone up and just allow them to do whatever. No thank you."

Paul kept quiet at this exchange. He'd tied Daniel up a couple of times, been tied up too. It had all been in fun, both of them laughing their asses off while they played. Somehow, given Jack's history, he didn't think it would be happening for Daniel anytime soon.

"So, how do we get him?" Paul asked as the conversation lulled.

"Me," Daniel said. "Okay, I'm not young anymore but I can hardly be considered old," he teased Jack, reaching out and stroking his grey hair fondly. "and I have the requisite colouring. Hopefully, he'll rise to the bait. I'm guessing that he's the sadist?" he asked Paul.

"I'd guess so, gossip doesn't extend that far."

Jack wasn't happy about this.

"Paul, do you know anyone that goes to this club? Out of choice."

"'Fraid not, Jack. As Daniel says, it's not my scene, none of my friends' either. And whereas most BDSM is totally harmless, some people use it, take it to extremes and so on. They're the dangerous ones: the 'wannabe' masters, with little talent and no restraint. Certainly a distinct lack of consent, too, from what I've heard about some people. I'm guessing that Baxter's like that. I wouldn't want to go anywhere that he is."

"Well, I'm not happy at the thought of Daniel going in somewhere like that," Jack stated. His tone of voice implied that this wasn't up for debate. Daniel, of course, thought otherwise.

"Jack," he started, but Jack cut him down.

"No, Daniel. If this bastard is behind all of these disappearances, as we're pretty sure he is, then he's dangerous. You are not going to do that. Don't even think about arguing with me, Daniel, you won't win this one."

Daniel grinned and nodded. For once he would listen. Jack's protective streak was back to its mile wide status with him, and he was going to make the most of it. He'd missed it, truth be told.

"We'll have to think of something else, then," was all he said. "Paul? Is he still working or has he gone on vacation?"

"He's still working," Paul answered slowly. Where was this going?

"Oh. Is that invite to visit your office still valid?" Daniel asked with his 'innocent' smile. The same one he'd used when insulting Colonel Simmons that time.

"Anytime, Daniel. I'll arrange passes for you both. Tomorrow afternoon suit you?"

"That will do nicely, thank you," Daniel answered with yet another baby-faced look.

Jack's heart sank. Daniel had a plan and he hadn't got the foggiest what he was up to now.

The two men lay in bed that night, Jack this time holding onto Daniel.

"Danny? What have you got in mind?" he asked while nuzzling his neck.

"Hmm, just there," Daniel groaned back, "oh, nothing yet. Ah. Might be a good way to introduce myself, eek, away from a club. God, yes, Jack, so good. Maybe get him to take me o-out to di-hi-nner or something. Jeez, Jack, wow. You can watch over me!"

Daniel decided that talking was overrated and launched a counter attack. Jack found himself bouncing off the bed as Daniel nibbled and kissed bits of him that he didn't know did stuff like that. Daniel took a chance and lay on top of him, gently nudging Jack's legs apart. Keeping up the kissing and licking and gentle biting, he started to move his hips, letting friction do the work. He felt encouraged when Jack wrapped his legs around his waist, digging his heels into Daniel's thighs and urging him on. Daniel broke away from the kissing to concentrate on his movement. He looked into Jack's eyes and saw them blackened with lust. It pushed him on, grinding harder and faster against his lover till they both came, howling each other's names.

Jack grabbed Daniel and held him tight, showering his face with kisses. It was the first time that Daniel had done this, been the more dominant of the two from the point of view of pushing for sex. Jack realised that he hadn't been bothered by it at all.

"Jack? You okay? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No, no, I'll be fine. Wow, Danny, just, um, wow. No, you can do that whenever you want, it's all right."

Daniel giggled at that and then headed off to get a washcloth. When he returned, he wiped Jack down gently, cleaning him up with tenderness and respect. Jack was touched by this. He waited till Daniel got back into bed before he brought up something that was bothering him.

"Danny? Do you want to tie me up?" he asked nervously.

Daniel shot up, snapped around, pinned Jack to the bed and kissed him hard.

"You listen to me, Jack O'Neill, and you get this through that beautiful head of yours. I don't want a damned thing that you don't want. I wouldn't get any pleasure out of it. Yes, I like to play, and yes, you probably guessed correctly - Paul and I would play like that. But, that is what it was for us, a game, nothing else. Neither of us had any need for it, neither of us got particularly turned on by the act itself - it was the whole thing surrounding it. We were having fun. It would start, maybe, by one of us tickling the other. We'd be laughing. Get it? Not bondage in the way you're thinking. I couldn't do that. It's not me. And if I didn't trust Paul I'd never have done even what we did. Now, if it ever comes to the fact that you want that, then it's fine with me. I won't want you to chain me to a wall or anything like that. I'll tell you if I don't want something, okay? I'm never going to suggest that I even tie you up for fun, though. So, don't you ever get nervous, because I'd rather die than hurt you or scare you. You have to know that."

Jack wrapped his arms around Daniel and pulled him close.

"I do, I'm sorry. It's just seeing you here tonight, with Paul. Ah, fuck it, it's not easy to say this."

"You saw me, with another gay guy, someone who's used to all this and you were wondering if you're in over your head. If there are things I'm going to expect of you, require of you even. Am I right?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Jack's reply came. "Stupid, huh?"

"No, Jack, it's understandable. This whole gay scene is new to you."

"I guess I am, aren't I?"

"Are what?"


Daniel laughed. "Bi, like me. Same difference. Just got a bigger sea to fish from, that's all. Have you started noticing other guys, then?"

"I've been looking," Jack replied thoughtfully. "Ever since I realised I'd fallen for you. It's only you, Danny. I've seen guys at the SGC that I guess I should have been attracted to. Good-looking guys, well-built, everything going for them. They leave me cold. It's only you."

"Oh thank God for that," Daniel announced to the room at large. "I was afraid of the competition for a minute. And don't you worry, Jack. It's only you for me too. Sleep, now, we're going to have a busy day tomorrow."

"So, this is where you work, eh?" Jack teased Paul as they entered his office. Paul's secretary's eyes bugged out when she saw him playfully thump the older man. She knew who Jack was from the reports she'd read.

"Jack, behave," Daniel scolded with a laugh.

Paul regrouped. "Colonel Jack O'Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, this is Peggy Quade, my long-suffering secretary."

"Very long-suffering," she replied with a drawl.

"I've heard a lot about you," Daniel said as he extended his hand to her. "Don't tell anyone, but Paul adores you really."

"He does?" she laughed back, "coulda fooled me."

Jack enjoyed the gentle banter that went back and forth between the other three, Paul joining in and pretending to be hurt. His secretary was old enough to be his mother - and way nicer than his mother had ever been to him. He was sure that she knew he was gay - he was also sure she'd never tell anyone.

"Is General Baxter in?" he asked her carefully.

"Yes, saw him this morning. Don't let on, but that guy gives me the creeps. Can't put my finger on why, but he's just too good to be true, if you get my drift."

The three men nodded quietly, not saying anything, but she could tell that they all agreed.

Paul ushered them out and towards the area where Baxter's room would be. Daniel stopped suddenly as if he'd just realised something, pulled Jack to one side and whispered to him.

"Jack? Do you want to do this? There's no reason for you to be here. I'll be as safe as houses while I'm here."

"No, I'll be fine. I'm not going to freak, I promise."

"Jack, you're going to have to be respectful - he's a more senior officer. Can you do this?"

"Sure, Danny, I won't let you down."

"Hey, I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about you. I've been wondering if keeping you in reserve would be a better way to go."

"What do you mean?"

"If he doesn't know you're here, you can watch over me without him knowing. I'll be safer that way. Why don't you go back to Paul's office for a while? Please, Jack, for me?"

Jack growled to himself, but he had to acknowledge that Daniel's idea was sound. He agreed and then turned on his heel and marched back to Paul's office. When he got there he talked to Peggy - citing the fact that he'd seen enough brass in his life for his reason to return.

While Jack was pacing up and down in Paul's office, impatiently picking up files and fiddling with the executive toy on his desk, Daniel was being introduced to Baxter.

"General Baxter, Sir, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson from the SGC. I've promised him a tour for a long time and he's finally here." Paul said.

"Pleased to meet you, Dr. Jackson. Are you on your own?" Daniel didn't like this one bit - already his warning signals were screaming at him. He cast a sideways glance at Paul and said that he was indeed on his own.

Paul thought quickly, smacked his head and said, "I'm so sorry, General, Dr. Jackson, I need to make a phone call from my office. I promised to pass on some data. Please, excuse me, I'll be back as soon as I can."

He rushed out of the room and headed to his office.

"Jack, get out quickly. Baxter just asked Daniel if he was on his own and he said he was. If he sees you the whole plan will go up in smoke."

Jack didn't like this but he agreed, and told Paul to stay with Daniel until he knew he was safely back at the hotel and with him. Paul acceded to his demands and then shot back to Daniel's side.

"I'm sorry about that," he said, "I'd forget my head if it wasn't screwed on some days. Is everything all right? Can I get something for either of you?"

He settled back down into liaison/aide mode very quickly, and Daniel knew that he had something up his sleeve. He asked for a coffee - 'surprise, surprise' thought Paul and the younger man headed out to get one as rapidly as decorum would allow. By the time he got back, he found Daniel sitting on a chair near the door, his body language neutral - a sign to those that knew him best that he was upset. To those that didn't know him he looked calm. Baxter was praising the SGC to the skies and showing overt interest in the archaeologist. Daniel was doing his 'oblivious' act and to Baxter's view, he was going along with whatever the General had in mind.

"Would you care to meet me for dinner tonight, Dr. Jackson? There are many things we could discuss, especially in light of your position. The more I learn about the SGC, the more I want to know. I could be of some use to you."

Daniel tried not to wince, understanding exactly what Baxter had in mind.

"Tonight? Oh, well, I suppose so. I won't be able to be out late though, I'm afraid, I had plans to attend an opera with an old friend. But yes, an early dinner would be doable."

Baxter obviously thought that Daniel was doable in the extreme and failed to rein in a leer. Daniel continued, "Of course, we won't be able to discuss much in the way of work related subjects, not in public. Where would you like to go?"

"I know a delightful restaurant, The Riverside. I'll make arrangements. How about I get someone to pick you up?"

"That won't be necessary. I'll need my rental car for later on. I'll meet you there at six?"

"Wonderful. Good day, Dr. Jackson, I look forward to this evening."

"Good afternoon, General. So do I."

Daniel shook his hand and then got out of the room as quickly as he could without it looking like it. Paul was hot on his heels.

"Jack's gone back to the hotel. He asked that I accompany you. Don't fight this Daniel. You can't be left alone for a minute now."

"I know. I'm glad for the company, to tell the truth. He gives me the creeps."

They got to the car pool and Paul signed out a staff car and drove Daniel to the hotel.

"What were you talking about?" he asked when they were safely away.

"Just work - though he was interested in Shau're. I want to kill him, Paul. I know he's behind the disappearances, I just know it."

"Jack's not going to let you out of his sight, Daniel. I'm sure of that. He's going to keep you safe."

Daniel let out a sigh as he turned to look at the passing streets. Paul said nothing for a while, but then he blurted out,

"Jack's the rape victim, isn't he?"

Daniel's head snapped around and he glared at Paul.

"Don't worry, Dan, you know I'm not going to say a word. It explains a lot to tell the truth. I realised last night when I was talking about Baxter. Poor bastard. How old was he?"

"First couple of weeks in the Academy," Daniel replied. "How old do you think?"

"Bastards. I meant what I said, Dan, I'm with you all the way on this one. We'll take Baxter out, one way or another. He deserves to go down. And I won't let on that I know to Jack, either. He's got enough on his plate just dealing with this as it is. How's he coping being with you? It can't be easy on him."

"It's not. He's incredibly brave. I'm still waiting for him to freak. I guess it will happen at some point. We're trying to take it easy, but we've always had a passionate relationship - even when we were just friends. We couldn't just argue - we fought like mad. He never shook my hand, we always hugged. You know what we were like. You try toning that down when you're having a physical relationship. It's hard, Paul."

"But you love him, you'll cope one way or the other."

"I know. I do. I've never stopped fucking loving him. And now he knows he loves me and why he does, things are great. We have to get over this though, or it's going to be there for the rest of our lives."

"I understand, Dan. We'll find a way."

Paul pulled up at the hotel door and Daniel got out with promises from Paul that he'd be there as soon as he could get away from work. Daniel said his goodbyes and headed straight up to his hotel room. As soon as his key turned in the lock and he opened the door, he saw Jack bursting through the adjoining door to his own bedroom.

"Danny. Thank God. I've been going nuts."

Daniel slammed the door shut and allowed Jack to sweep him into his arms and kiss the living daylights out of him.

"I do not like that man," Daniel spat when they broke apart. "I'm having dinner with the slimeball tonight. Six o'clock - The Riverside. I'll go in the rental car, Jack. An escape route. Damn. Now I've got him where I want him, I have no fucking idea what I need to do. Have you got any ideas?"

Jack led Daniel to the bed and lay down with him, holding him tightly.

"Don't go anywhere with him tonight. Make arrangements to meet again - similar set up. I'll get some more equipment and have you wired. And I won't take my eyes off you, I promise. The second he tries a damn thing, I'll take him out. How will you get away tonight?"

"I told him I'm going to the opera - meeting a friend."

"Okay. I'll see if I can get some tickets. You'll need to be able to talk about it on your second 'date'."

Daniel smacked Jack on the stomach, "Don't even joke about that, Jack. He turns my stomach."

"You don't have to do this, Daniel," Jack said in all seriousness.

"Yes I do," Daniel sighed. "How many others, Jack? Past, present and future? We have to do this. I trust you to be there for me."

"I'm blown away by that, Daniel. I've not given you reason to trust me recently. I won't let you down, I promise."

"I know you won't. Jack? Do you want to..." he trailed his finger down Jack's chest. The response he got was Jack pinning him to the bed and kissing him as if his life depended on it.

"He's never going to come into my bed, Daniel. The only man in my bed is you. Got that? And yes, I want you. Dammit, I always frigging want you. Can't get you out of my mind."

More kisses, followed by battling hands as they stripped each other, trying to keep their mouths locked as they did. Daniel gasped as Jack pulled away and then scooted down, taking him hard and fast in his mouth. Daniel writhed on the bed, desperate to get off, but Jack was putting some of the tricks that Daniel had been teaching him to good use and he was prolonging the agony. Eventually he let him come, harder than before, and Jack drank him down as quickly as he could.

"Oh my God, Jack," Daniel panted. "Have you been practising while I was out?"

Jack looked up, a little hurt at first but then he laughed when he saw the mischief dancing in Daniel's blue eyes.

"C'mere," Daniel purred, "you need a reward for being such a good boy. What do you want, flyboy? It's all yours for the taking." Jack moaned, he had never, ever heard that particular tone from Daniel before. He wanted him - all of him - now!

"I want you," he croaked.

Daniel grinned, his eyebrows raised for a moment, he didn't take his eyes from Jack's. He grabbed some lube from the drawer where he'd placed it the day before and plastered Jack's dick with it. Then he turned over and got on his hands and knees.

"Now, Jack, just do it."

"But I'll hurt you," Jack howled.

"Oh no you won't. Trust me, Jack, just do it."

The sight and sound was too much for Jack and he positioned himself behind Daniel and taking his cue from his lover, pushed in.

He nearly howled with pleasure as he revelled in the tightness. Daniel threw his head back and uttered a sensual cry. They stopped for a moment, allowing them both to adjust, and then Daniel gave the command to start. Jack followed his instructions, working harder and faster with every stroke. He came yelling Daniel's name, stunned by the fact that Daniel too was coming again.

They flopped down onto the bed, Jack holding Daniel tightly.

"God, Danny, I love you. I love you so fucking much."

Daniel was doing his best not to look nervous as he sat and ate his dinner opposite Baxter. He kept everything formal, but allowed himself to appear a little flirty - not too much, nothing that could be taken as a come on, but enough for someone as interested as Baxter to become a little more interested. Every time Baxter approached the subject of relationships though, Daniel shut him down. He didn't want to discuss anyone with him, it would be as if they were being dirtied by having Baxter speak their names.

His reticence caused Baxter to think that Daniel was na´ve and he became more and more enamoured with him. Daniel turned down dessert and coffee, citing meeting his friend and the opera tickets as his reason.

"But you must try the desserts here, Dr. Jackson, they are to die for," Baxter insisted.

"I'm in town for a couple more days, General. Maybe some other time?" Daniel allowed himself to look a little interested in him, fighting down his urge to throw up the expensive dinner. "I could repay the favour?" He waved his hand over the table, indicating his meal and the fact that Baxter was insisting on paying for it.

"It's my town, Dr. Jackson. Let me treat you. Maybe if I come to the Springs?"

"Of course. It would be my pleasure."

"How about I book us in here again, tomorrow night? 2000 hours?"

Daniel agreed, shook his hand, thanked him for a pleasant evening and booked as fast as he could. He headed to the car and drove around the corner to where Paul and Jack were waiting for him. They piled into the car and Daniel drove without speaking until they got to Paul's house.

"Dan? Are you all right?" Paul was worried now.

"I'm fine. He didn't touch me. I'm having dinner with him again tomorrow night, eight o'clock." Daniel was a little shaken by the whole thing. He couldn't understand it. He'd faced down System Lords, unas, fucking armies for crying out loud - but this man was evil, pure and simple, and Daniel was afraid of him.

He and Jack did attend an opera. The Met Opera was touring and somehow, Jack had managed to bag a couple of last minute tickets for the performance of La Traviata. They'd had to scoot and arrived at curtain up, grateful that that night's performance was a late starter. Jack enjoyed himself enormously, but Daniel spent the entire time going over what had been done and said in the restaurant. He was more nervous now than he had ever been in his life and he didn't like this one bit.

As they said goodnight for public view, entering their adjoining rooms by their own doors, both men reflected on the evening. Daniel was so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he hadn't noticed that Jack had been watching him throughout the performance. Jack was extremely concerned now by his lover's reactions. Daniel never reacted like this.

"Danny?" He stuck his head around the door and saw Daniel sitting on the bed, staring at the wall opposite.

"Hey, Danny? What's up?"

"I'm sorry, Jack. I don't know what's got into me. He makes me feel sick."

"I know, I know. Come on, let's get ready for bed, eh? You look like you could do with a cuddle."

Daniel turned and smiled at him for that, agreed and quickly got ready for bed.

They didn't make love, they just kissed for a while and then fell asleep, wrapped in each other's arms.

Daniel woke with a start. Jack was screaming and thrashing about the bed. Daniel pounced and grabbed his flailing arms, holding him tightly. The strongest language Daniel had ever heard from Jack came pouring out of his mouth as he fought Daniel's hold on him.

"JACK! Jack, please. Wake up! NOW! Come on, Jack, wake up, it's me, Daniel. Please Jack."

Daniel had to use his entire body to pin Jack down, and fought him to stop Jack from hitting out. He called out over and over but found it hard to break through. In all the years of sharing a tent with Jack he had never heard or seen him have such a bad or vivid nightmare.

"Shh, please Jack," tears were forming in Daniel's eyes, tears of frustration and fear because he was out of options to get Jack out of this. He had tried everything he knew. A single tear fell on Jack's face and it stopped him dead.

"Jack, please, wake up," Daniel pleaded and eventually he got through to the older man.

Jack's eyes opened and he saw the distressed look on Daniel's face. He realised what had happened and he pulled him closer, holding tightly.

"Did I hit you, Danny?"

"No, I dodged that. I couldn't get through to you, Jack, I just couldn't."

"What stopped me."

Daniel felt embarrassed now, not wanting to admit that he had nearly burst into tears.

"Danny? What stopped me?"

"Crap. Um, a tear. I was getting frustrated and..."

"That's how Sara would do it," Jack interrupted quietly. "She'd be so afraid sometimes that I'd make her cry. I think it has something to do with Iraq - I never saw any rain when I was there. The place we were held, it was so fucking hot. No rain. I dreamed about rain. We figured that when I felt a tear, it was like my mind was telling me that it was raining and that I couldn't be back in that hell hole."

"Makes sense," Daniel replied quietly.

"Hey, don't you go thinking that I think you're a wuss, Daniel Jackson. I cry, sometimes. You know I do. C'mere, Danny. I think I could do with being held for the rest of the night."

"Me too," Daniel agreed with a yawn and snuggled in closer, making a note in his own mind that the next time Jack got like that, he'd get a flannel from the bathroom and drip tap water on him instead.

The next day was Saturday and Paul was off work. Daniel and Jack headed over to Paul's house in a particularly nice part of town, commenting on the Christmas decorations in the shops and how they went from tacky to tasteful in different areas.

They knocked on his door and entered as soon as he opened it. It was freezing outside and they were glad to be in the warm again. Daniel fell into a hug offered by Paul and then the two men brought themselves up sharp and looked at Jack.

"It's okay," Jack said with a grin. "I know you're friends. I'm not going to get jealous or anything."

Daniel put his hand out and led Jack to the kitchen, where Paul already had a pot of coffee made knowing that Daniel was on his way over.

"So, how are we going to play this tonight?" Paul asked.

"You don't have to do a thing, Paul. It could be risky. You've got a career to worry about," Jack replied.

"Fuck that. This is far more important. Jack, Daniel is my best friend, okay? He's the best friend I've ever had. Don't you dare think that his safety is less important to me than my job. It's not. I'll be there for you both."

Daniel grinned at that and as he stood to pour himself more coffee, he leaned down and kissed Paul's cheek.

"Thanks," he murmured and he got a wrinkled nose grin from Paul in return.

Jack observed the interaction between the men, amazed at how relaxed Daniel was. He wasn't one to be this easy going in other people's company normally. It said a lot about the level of trust that Daniel had in Paul that he would act like that. Well, if Daniel could trust Paul that much, so could Jack.

"I'll be glad of the assist, then," he said. "I bought some stuff in San Francisco but I'll need to get a little more today. I'll wire Daniel so we'll know what's going on at all times. Believe me, Danny, you won't be alone at any moment. You'll be in line of sight of at least one of us constantly. If anything happens or starts to look like it's getting dangerous, we'll be with you in seconds."

"I know," Daniel replied confidently, but underneath he was still nervous.

Suddenly, there was a noise at the door, the sound of a key turning in the lock. Paul's face was one of horror but mixed with a touch of delight. The door opened and a voice rang out, "Hi honey, I'm home!"

"Coburn!" Jack was stunned. What the fuck was he doing there? Major Coburn stood inside the door, his face was one of sheer panic. Daniel cracked up and nearly fell off his chair laughing.

"Oh for fuck's sake, Jason, come in. Sit down. It's okay."

Coburn made his way warily into the kitchen.

"Daniel? Colonel? Um, what are you doing here?"

Jack was about to ask the same thing, but he realised precisely what he was doing there. Daniel took over.

"Jason, it's all right. Nobody's going to say a word. I promise." He looked at Jack and got a careful nod. Neither officer was in a position to say a damned thing.

"Jace," Paul said quietly, "Daniel and I are, um, old friends."

"Fuck that," Daniel snorted, "we used to go out. Okay? I hate this fucking tiptoeing about the subject. I'm gonna do it again guys," he warned the other two, but before he could threaten to strip this time, Jack butted in.

"I'm with him, you're with Paul, he and Paul used to be with each other. I'm announcing to the world at large that I have never and never will want to be with you, Coburn."

The three younger men cracked up at that and Jason sat down to join them for more coffee.

"I've just had a week's downtime sprung on me, I thought I'd come up and surprise you," he said to Paul.

"I'm glad you did, honestly hun," Paul sighed.

"So am I, actually. We're here on a mission. We could use some extra back up if you're interested?" Jack put in.

Jason sat quietly as he listened to the story of Baxter. No names were given about victims, obviously, but that didn't matter to the young major.

"That bastard! How could he? I'm in. Whatever it takes, I'm in. Couldn't give a shit about my career if we can take out someone like that. How are we going to do it?"

"Um, I'm going to dinner with him tonight. Hopefully - oh God - hopefully he'll be interested in me. He seems to be. Jack's going to wire me, so I know you'll all be listening in." Daniel's voice quavered slightly, but he quickly pulled himself together.

Paul ushered everyone to sit in the living room. They took their coffees with them and the air was heavy with unasked questions. Daniel's impatience with the 'don't ask' rule outweighed any hesitance and he came out with it.

"So? Are you going to tell us how you two got together? I can't see how you'd even meet."

"We bumped into each other," Paul said. Jason snorted.

"He crashed into me. We were both heading for the mess, neither of us was looking where we were going and next thing I knew I was on the floor with a dazed major sprawled all over me."

"Didn't hear you complaining much," Paul teased.

"Damn straight I didn't," Jason retorted and put his hand out to run his fingers through Paul's hair.

"We went for a coffee and Jace asked me out," Paul added with a grin.

Jack smacked his head on the back of the chair.

"Now you see, I don't get that," he announced.

"What's that, hun?" Daniel asked from his position on the floor by Jack's legs.

"How you'd know it was safe to ask another guy out." Coburn looked quizzically at him so he added, "I'm new to this. It's only Daniel for me. And before you ask - it's very new for us."

Daniel sniggered.

"Contrary to popular belief, he hasn't been fucking me since the word go."

"How long have you been together?" Jason asked with a grin.

"Less than a week," Jack replied. "I'm still not sure what I'm letting myself in for," he added with a quiet groan. "You still haven't answered my question. How do you know?"

Daniel thought for a minute and replied. "It's not easy, but there are certain things. Like, for example, the amount of time a guy looks at you when you're talking, or if he puts his hand out, say, to rest on your arm - it will stay there a little longer than normal. It's subtle. Unless of course he's wearing a 'way hey, I'm gay' T-shirt, in which case you're probably safe."

Paul handed around tissues to wipe up the coffee that Jason and Jack spat out at that last comment.

"Jesus Danny, give me some warning next time, will ya?" Jack demanded, still laughing though.

"Actually, I'm the stunned one here," Jason said. "I didn't listen to the rumours at all. You two were fighting so much I thought you wanted to kill each other."

"You didn't believe them?" Daniel sounded surprised. "So, you weren't one of the guys that hit on me because you thought we'd broken up?"

Jack sat there open-mouthed, but Jason just laughed.

"Nope - it was just because I fancied you Daniel. And you lied to me, you bastard. You told me you were straight."

"I had to. Sorry about that - and before any of you ask, yes I would have gone out with you if I could have. Things were a bit too awkward at the time, that's all."

"That's okay, Dan, I'm happy now anyway." Jason smirked at Paul who shook his head with a smile in return.

"Poor Jack, it's too much for you, isn't it?" Daniel teased.

"Oh God, shoot me - shoot me now," Jack moaned in reply. Then he got a little more serious. " Jason, I'm heading for retirement. If we get caught, I can get out easily enough. You know what will happen if you two get caught. How do you cope?"

"With difficulty," the younger man replied quietly. "It's not easy. Ya know, I agree with the frat rules - at least they make sense, but this ridiculous excuse for a policy... well, it doesn't bear thinking about. We try to keep it under wraps. We've only been seeing each other for a couple of months. We both want more, but we also know we can't have more and stay in the service."

"I know," Jack commiserated, "I'll do whatever I can to help you guys out, that's a promise. I never liked those fucking rules anyway. I'd have helped you out even if I wasn't stuck with him for the rest of my life." He grinned at Daniel who smacked him on the thigh.

"I might just get rid of you for that one, Jack, darling," he ground his teeth as he spoke. Jack just snorted a laugh back at him. At that moment, he felt more comfortable with the idea of spending the rest of his days with Daniel than he ever had before. It seemed so right.

Daniel tried to hide the fact that he was feeling sick whilst he had dinner with Baxter. Baxter was being 'friendly', insisting that he called him Simeon, touching his arm and so on. It took all of Daniel's powers of self-control not to stand up and scream at him, accusing him of rape and murder. He knew he couldn't do that so he swallowed down his distaste and plastered a smile. As he got through dessert, he forced himself to flirt a little, reasoning that he couldn't face going through this again. No, it had to be tonight.

"Would you like to come back to my place for coffee, Daniel? I have some pictures of Egypt I'd like to show you. An artefact or two as well. Perhaps you could tell me about them?"

"Of course, I'd be delighted," Daniel lied.

He excused himself first though and headed to the bathroom and waited for a moment, checking that all the cubicles were clear. Moments later, Jason walked in. He and Paul had decided to have dinner there too that night, so that they could watch out for Daniel.

"It's time," Daniel said. "He's taking me back to his place."

"Gotcha. We'll follow you. Jack's still outside his house. Are you okay with this, Daniel?"

"I'll be fine. Knowing that the three of you are there really helps. Thanks for this, Jason."

"Hey, what are friends for? But I'm telling ya, Daniel, you and I need to have a long talk about telling me lies."

Jason smiled as Daniel laughed a little, gently punching him on the arm. The two of them knew each other fairly well, had in fact gone out for drinks together on more than one occasion. After Jason had asked him out that time, Daniel felt that he should reassure him that he'd never tell on him. He had grown fond of him over the last couple of years too, knowing that he was a good soldier, a fine officer and a decent friend. He was happy for both him and Paul and knew that they'd get on very well.

Daniel steeled himself and headed back out to the dining room, a gritted teeth smile on his face.

"Shall we go?" Baxter asked and Daniel nodded, eager to get this night over and done with. He waited by the door as he saw Baxter collect his coat, the bill already settled and watched Paul and Jason hurriedly finishing their meal. He relaxed a little when he saw Paul call for the bill, knowing that they'd be close behind. Paul had discovered Baxter's address and Jack was lying in wait for them.

Baxter said little on the way back to his house. He pulled up on the drive outside his front door, looked around as if he was suspicious about something and then shrugged and pulled his front door key out.

"You live here on your own?" Daniel asked as Baxter switched on the hall light.

"Yes," Baxter answered abruptly. "Married to the Air Force," he added by way of explanation.

Daniel just nodded in understanding and followed him to the living room. Baxter handed him a brandy, not a coffee as Daniel had wanted. He had been staying off alcohol all night. When the man pulled out a packet of cigarettes though and asked if Daniel minded, he just said no, pulled out his own tin of tobacco and rolled himself one. He was grateful for the opportunity as he felt more than a little stressed.

Baxter was as good as his word and produced an artefact that he had bought from villagers in a remote part of Egypt. Daniel smothered a grin, declined to inform him that it was a fake, but translated the hieroglyphs anyway. After about twenty minutes of small talk, Baxter stood up. Daniel's eye line was directly pointed at the older man's groin and he could see the beginnings of arousal. It was time and he knew it. 'Please God', he thought, 'let Jack and the others come in time.' Something told him that he was going to be in deep trouble otherwise.

There was a noise outside and Baxter was startled for a moment. A dog barked and then he relaxed.

"Just the security firm doing their rounds," he said, "the residents of this street pay for a private firm to patrol. It's cut down burglaries a hell of a lot."

Daniel was alarmed. If Jack and the others couldn't get in...

"Thank you for a lovely evening, Simeon. I'd best be going. I have to get up early."

Jack was shocked by Daniel's words, but then he realised why he'd said them. He was listening into the wire outside the house. Paul and Jason had just joined him.

"Paul, you keep listening in and keep in contact. Coburn, you come with me. We've got a security firm to get past."

He handed the headphones to Davis who put them on straight away. Coburn and Jack put ear pieces in and sneaked out of the car. They were given a running commentary by Paul as to what was going on in the house. Daniel was being 'persuaded' by Baxter to stay.

"I have one more thing I'd like you to see, Daniel. I won't keep you long. Please, come this way."

Baxter's cold and calculating tone told Daniel that he had better do what he was told. He didn't have the luxury of an earpiece so he didn't know where the men were. He followed Baxter to a room which needed a key to open the door. Baxter reached to the side and switched on the light. It was a red bulb, casting an eerie glow on the black painted walls. Daniel gasped as he saw chains and handcuffs attached to the walls. What looked like a rack sat in the middle of the room. Whips and harnesses hung on hooks.

"Why do you want me to see this?" he asked, his voice full of distaste.

"Because, you are going to entertain me Daniel. Remove your jacket."

"Um, no. I want to go now."

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that." Baxter pulled a gun and pointed it at Daniel. "You see, I have a particular penchant for men such as yourself. And I have particular needs and desires that only you can fill. You will strip, Daniel. Then I will put the head harness on, I think - the one with the gag. You're a mouthy fucker, aren't you? Hmm, chains or leather? Which would you prefer? No preference? Good. Then it's the leather I think. Which whip would get you to submit? I doubt the riding crop would do you any good. Maybe the cat-o'-nine-tails? What do you think? A good choice I believe. I do so like to play, don't you? And it's so difficult to find me someone that wants to play with me. I think after a lifetime married to the service I am entitled to a little payback. So, my dear Daniel, you are going to pay me."

"NO. I have given everything I have in service of this planet, Baxter. If anyone deserved payback, it's me. Find someone else to play with. I have no interest in you or your filthy perversions."

Daniel received a back-hander for that and he raised a hand to hit back, stopped only by the gun pointing at his head and the voice of Jack in his sub conscience. 'Survive, Danny. Just do what it takes to survive. We'll pick up the pieces later.' He tried to comply but growled at Baxter and spat in his face.

Another back-hander, this time from the hand with the gun. Daniel seized his chance and kicked out, smacking Baxter in the balls. As his opponent bent himself double, Daniel tussled with him for the gun.

Jack and Jason made it across the garden without being seen, Jack grinning at just how pathetically easy it had been. But then, he reasoned, very few burglars would have had his own particular training. They made it to the back door and looked for a way to pick the lock. It took precious minutes and Jack got very frustrated. Paul was telling him where Daniel was and what was going on.

"They're fighting, Jack, get in there." Paul's voice was panicked and now so was Jack.

A gun shot rang out and Jack lost it, kicking the back door down with Jason's help. As they got to the room where Daniel was Jack was frightened out of his wits. There was no sound in there, none at all.

He entered the room and saw Daniel standing rigidly still. His heart in his mouth he ran to him and gathered him in his arms. Jason knelt down by the body on the floor.

"He's dead," he announced coldly.

"He wanted to torture me, Jack," Daniel whispered. "Then he would have killed me. I know it. We fought. I didn't mean for the gun to go off."

Jack held Daniel tightly and called Paul to inform Hammond about what was going on. A major cover-up would need to be instigated. Paul got on his cellphone and spoke directly to the General, telling him only briefly what had happened - that Daniel had got into a fight with Baxter, fearing for his own life as Baxter had pulled a gun on him and in turn, Baxter was dead. Hammond realised that there was a lot more to this than at first appeared and decided to come directly to Washington. He arranged a flight in an Eagle so that he could be there as quickly as possible, telling the young major that no one else was to be informed of what had happened until he arrived.

Paul left the car and headed into the house, ignoring the cries of the security firm to identify himself until he got to the front door. He knocked sharply on the door and stepped in when Jason opened it.

"Coburn, scoot," Jack ordered. "I can make any cover story believable for the three of us but..."

"I understand, but how will you explain my voice on the tape?" They had taped all of Daniel's conversation with Baxter - from the time they'd met - in case any of it could be used in evidence. Coburn had spoken to him in the restaurant's restroom and just pronounced Baxter dead.

"I won't," Jack acknowledged.

Jason sat on the sofa - they had all moved back into the living room. Daniel was given another brandy, but he couldn't stop himself shaking. Jack pulled out his tobacco tin, rolled him a cigarette and handed it to him, lighting it too because the younger man's hands were shaking so much.

"It's going to be okay, Danny, it's all over now, hun," Jack murmured as he held him close, rocking him gently.

"I don't get it," Daniel suddenly blurted out. "I've faced down System Lords for crying out loud. I've been tortured. I've been fucking killed! But I've never, ever, been as scared as I was tonight."

"It's because it was so much closer to home, Daniel," Jack replied. "When we're out there," he waved his hand skyward, "it's like there's an element of unreality. Like it's not really happening. But this was so real, Danny. You knew exactly what he was capable of and what he would do to you given half the chance. You were so very brave to take this on. I'm so proud of you."

Daniel shot up and ran to the kitchen and threw up in the sink. He couldn't stop, not until there was nothing left. Then he collapsed on the floor shivering and shaking like mad. Jack sent Jason off to get him a blanket, Paul got a glass of water and Jack sat next to him, holding on tightly until a few threatened tears finally escaped.

"It's okay, Daniel, let it out. Please, babe, let it all go now. It's all over, it's all over." He kept repeating this as Jason draped the blanket over his shoulders. Daniel sipped the water, composed himself again and then grabbed onto Jack, holding him tightly as if his life depended on it.

Paul and Jason left the two lovers alone and sat quietly in the living room, wrapped in each other's arms as they heard quiet sobs coming from both men in the kitchen. It was time to let it all go.

After a while, Jack and Daniel came into the living room. Nothing more was said. Jack poured out a drink of brandy for everyone and Daniel rolled himself another cigarette.

"Sorry for losing it," Daniel said quietly. Paul and Jack were just about to reply to that when Jason stepped across the room and crouched in front of him. He took Daniel's hand in his.

"Hey, you're not the only one to lose it, you know? I do too, after a bad mission. I'll bet you anything old Colonel Hard Ass here does too." Jack let out a playful 'oy!' at that but let Jason continue. "You're thinking that because we're military we can deal with death and stuff, huh? I'll let you into a secret. When it comes to killing up close, very few of us deal with it so well, Daniel. Have you any idea how much us flyboys respect you at the base?"

Daniel's head shot up and he stared Jason in the eye.

"W.w.what? No, they don't."

"Come on, Daniel. We freak out and we've been trained to cope. You keep it together more than some of us do, with no training. Believe me, Dan, we do have the greatest respect for you. And it's okay to lose it once in a while. It does you good. It also proves that you are a good human, you know. Someone who still gives a fuck. If you weren't upset by this whole thing, it would make you a frigging statue. So, no more of that sort of talk, eh? Please? You're making me feel like a wuss."

Daniel smiled properly for the first time that night.

"Thanks Jace," he used Paul's nickname to great effect. The major smiled and headed back to his own lover. Jack nodded his thanks at him. He knew that Jason's speech meant more to Daniel than if it had come from either himself or Paul.

By the time Hammond arrived, the four of them had relaxed a bit. Hammond dismissed his driver and marched up to the front door. Paul was there to greet him and he ushered him into the living room.

"General, please, take a seat. We've got a long story to tell you." Jack pointed to the sofa, Paul poured Hammond a whisky and Jack began to talk.

He told Hammond everything - including what they'd done to Smith in San Francisco. The only detail he left out was that of the relationship between himself and Daniel, and Paul and Jason. As far as anyone else was concerned, the four men were friends and nothing more. Hammond suspected that there was more to the story, but he wasn't going to ask. He didn't give a damn, truth be told. Jason had flinched when Jack admitted to being the rape victim so many years ago, but that was out of sympathy and nothing else.

Then they played the taped conversation between Daniel and Baxter - from the point where Daniel said he wanted to go. Everything else up till then had been fairly innocent.

Hammond listened in silence, grave-faced as he heard the sickening words come from a fellow general's mouth. He looked faintly green at the whole thing. Then they led him to where the body lay and he went as white as a sheet. Putting the words on the tape to the sight before him turned his stomach.

"Go." He told all four men. "Get out of here. Give me the tape. It will only be used if necessary. Jack, what happened to you - it needn't be made public. I'm sure we'll find a way to cover this up. As for Smith - he'd better be out of the Air Force by tomorrow, that's all I can say. I wish you'd come to me to start with, gentlemen," he added, shaking his head.

"George, we couldn't," Jack replied. "We didn't know how dirty this was going to get. We couldn't involve the SGC in it officially - or you unofficially. Not until we had evidence. I think we've got it now."

"You have, Jack. You have. Where are you staying?"

Jack gave Hammond their hotel and room numbers.

"I'll contact you tomorrow morning. In the meantime, go, get drunk, sleep. Whatever." He added the last word and the four men's eyes opened wide for a moment, and then they all bade him goodnight. He knew - at least he had guessed that there was more than he should know.

"Daniel," he called as they walked out. "You should be proud of yourself, son, you did a damned fine job."

Daniel gave him a shy smile and the four men headed out of the house of hell.

It was Christmas morning and Jack woke to find Daniel out of bed. An unusual event. They were back home in the Springs. The cover-up had gone well, but they'd had to grit their teeth at the story that was put out, that he'd been killed by intruders that were there to steal valuable antiques. Still, he wasn't going to hurt anyone else ever again.

Jack went to the bathroom and then sought out the errant archaeologist, finding him in the kitchen.

"Hey, whatcha doin' up so early?"

"Getting everything ready. It'll take a while. I figured we'd have Christmas dinner - the works. What do you say?"

"You got everything?"

"What do you think I was doing yesterday? All that last minute shopping?"

"Buying me presents?" Jack laughed.

"Mmm, I thought I might just gift-wrap my dick and see what you'd do with that..." Daniel teased back.

Jack howled, watched him as he put the dinner in the oven and then led him by the waistband back to the bedroom.

"I've got somewhere very specific for you to stick that," he moaned in Daniel's ear.



"Are you saying you want me to...?"

"Yes, I am. If you want such a saggy, old..."

"You're not old! And you're definitely not saggy. And I want to. But are you sure, Jack? It's one hell of a step to take."

"I'm sure. I want this, Daniel. I want you. Please. For me."

"In that case, Colonel mine, just lie back and let me do my worst. I'll be gentle, I promise. And the usual rules apply."

"I know, I know, if I don't like it, you don't do it. Tell me, Daniel, have you done a damned thing that I didn't like yet?"

"No, but there's always a first time."

"I trust you Daniel and I sure as hell want you. But I promise. I'll stop you if I get uncomfortable."

Daniel thought for a moment and then nodded. Jack lay on the bed, still clad in his sweats. Daniel slowly stripped his T off, exposing his hard-won muscle and highlighting his still bandaged hand. Then he peeled his sweats off, revealing an already hardened cock. Just the thought of having Jack had made him rock hard. He yanked on Jack's sweats and pulled them off him in one stroke. He saw that Jack was as excited as he was.

"Jack, lie on your stomach," he ordered.

"Danny, I want to see you, I, er, I need to see you."

"You will, trust me, Jack. You will. Just do as I say for now, will you?"

"Sure." He turned over and felt Daniel's weight on his legs and then his hands with some oil on them as they massaged first his shoulders and then his back. He was getting a little nervous that Daniel would want to make love to him like this, but he scolded himself and made himself trust Daniel that much more. After what his lover had done for him... he could trust him with anything.

He felt Daniel get off him and nudge his legs apart and then he screamed into the pillow as he felt Daniel's tongue trace a stripe down the cleft of his buttocks. He noticed that Daniel was laughing a little, the gentle puffs of air on his skin as he giggled were tickling him.

"Daniel!" he called out, but his voice belied his humour.

"You like it," Daniel called back seductively.

"Oh God, yes. What the fuck are you doing?"

"Just about going to do that too, Jack. Just relax and enjoy."

Jack yelled even louder as he felt Daniel's tongue playing with his anus and then hardening and pushing inside. The feeling was so intense that it went straight to his dick and he felt himself push against the covers of the bed, aching to get off. Daniel slipped a hand around and grabbed the shaft and started pumping in time to his tongue. Jack's howls, mercifully muffled by the pillows, were getting louder and louder until he came hard, spilling over Daniel's hand.

"Oh God. Oh Christ. Oh Daniel," he panted.

Daniel grinned as he rolled Jack gently onto his back and then leaned over him to kiss him.

"Do you still want to go on, Jack? We don't have to," Daniel asked quietly.

"Now or never, Danny, I doubt I'll ever be more relaxed in my whole life. Next time I'm this quiet I'll be dead. Do it, please."

"'Kay. Just lie there and let me do everything."

Jack was right. He was very relaxed. Daniel put a finger in and hooked it, twisting around as Jack moaned to his touch. Surprisingly there was no tensing, not a single bad reaction. Daniel tried for two, attempting to make the whole experience as erotic as he could, rather than the necessity that good preparation was for someone as inexperienced as Jack. By the time Daniel got to three fingers Jack was already starting to come back to life.

Daniel hooked Jack's legs around his back, lubed himself with more than was strictly necessary and with Jack's permission - "for fuck's sake do me Danny!" - he slid as gently in as he could. Moving in short bursts he finally got where he wanted to be and rested to allow Jack to adjust.

"You call the shots, Jack. Remember that. You're the boss here. I'm here to make you happy. Tell me what you want. Slow? Fast? You tell me."

"Slow for now, Danny," Jack replied, finally getting that the guy on the bottom could be as pushy as he wanted to be, and that the guy on top, if he was a decent enough lover, would do exactly as he was told. The dawning on him that he was in a position of strength and not weakness helped him relax even more. He became demanding, urging Daniel on, to go faster, harder, move it dammit. Daniel complied as best he could, trying to make this good for the man he loved. He shifted his angle a little and then hit Jack's prostate hard. Jack screamed with pleasure as Daniel hit it again and again. He felt Daniel's hand on his prick, working him as he moved. But somehow he felt detached from that, the overwhelming sensation of being fucked just took over and his orgasm took him by surprise, the contractions pushing Daniel over the edge too.

Daniel withdrew carefully.

"Jack? Jack? Are you okay, babe?"

"Hmm," was the only answer that came back. Jack had fallen asleep with a smile on his face.