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Quiet Strength 3

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Summary: Roles are reversed and Daniel has to start to lose control. Many thanks to the usual suspects, Joy, Danvers, Catspaw and Wadjet for betas, opinions (what them? Opinionated? Never!) and ideas.

Jack stood at the door of Daniel's apartment, worried sick by his lover's countenance at work. He'd been on the receiving end of derision again, a new marine colonel taking the time and trouble to let Daniel and the other civilians know in just how much contempt he held them. Some of the civilians had told him to fuck off, some had got upset. Daniel had said nothing, just stared at the man coldly. The colonel's men had tried to stick up for the civilians, in whatever way they could, but he had shouted them down and they were afraid of him. Jack had heard about it and dressed the man down, but as they were from different forces and the same rank, even considering Jack's seniority, the man hadn't really taken it on board. It had taken a royal dressing down from Hammond before so much as an acknowledgement of the civilians' worth came from him, and that had been begrudged every inch of the way.

It may have helped if the previous few missions hadn't been totally military, with Jack overcompensating by trying to keep Daniel out of the firing line after he had got hit by a staff weapon blast during the first of them. Daniel had been furious with Jack, even though he'd understood why. They'd had a blazing row at Jack's place a few days before and had barely spoken since.

You told me you trusted me and my judgement in the field, Daniel! You can't have it both ways. Either I'm your leader out there and you accept that or you're off the team.

Is that what you want? You want me off the team for doing my job? I was backing you up, Jack! Just as I have done from the very first mission. Are you telling me that I've let you down?

NO! Of course not! You've never let me down. But you're not listening to me out there.

I listened Jack! And I acted on what you said. I followed your orders to the letter and got hurt as a result. And since then you've been treating me like a baby and not listening to me. I do NOT need to be wrapped in cotton wool and I am NOT new to this anymore. I have seen more action than most people ever will. Surely my judgement must be worth something by now?

It had got worse; accusations that Jack was trying to block Daniel out again, not trusting him in the field, not accepting that he was a grown man, were followed by counter accusations that Daniel was trying to be the dom while they were at work, not listening to Jack and not accepting his leadership. Daniel had withdrawn from Jack at that, gone home and not spoken to him again that day. Jack had tried phoning him, but only got the answering machine.

Neither man had been right during the row, and yet in some ways, both had. Jack was overdoing the colonel thing, not really trusting Daniel in battle, even though he knew and understood Daniel like no one else ever had, and genuinely knew that Daniel was as good at watching his back as anyone ever had done. Daniel had been right, following Jack's orders to the letter had got him hurt that time, and maybe as a result he had been more determined to do his own thing in future, giving Jack more reason to hold him away from the front line. They were both right, and both wrong. One thing was for sure, their relationship wasn't really coming into this. Jack had been this way with Daniel for a long time, and Daniel had always fought back when he'd needed to. If nothing else, this row proved to them that nothing had really changed at work. They'd had versions of this particular fight on many occasions.

Daniel had barely spoken to anyone since the row and Jack was really worried now about his mental state. It was just as Daniel had been after Jack had cut himself off from him the first time. Daniel had withdrawn into himself, not wanting to allow anyone near him, to hurt him.

'Please Danny, open the door,' Jack thought. He knew that Daniel was there, it was as if he could sense his presence.

Eventually, the door opened.

"Jack." Daniel's voice was calm, monotone, uninterested.

"May I come in?"

"Do what you want."

'Crap. This is not what I wanted' Jack mused. He stepped in and shut the door, preparing himself to go into his submissive 'state', but Daniel wasn't himself. He wandered into the kitchen and poured himself a coffee. Ever the good host he offered one to Jack. Dom Daniel never offered, he gave. Jack's heart sank.

"Danny, please talk to me. I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean what I said."

"What exactly?"

"About you not being on the team," Jack started, "about you being a dom in the field. I didn't mean it. Honest. Please don't cut me out."

Daniel said nothing, he just stared at him.

"You meant it," he said quietly. "You meant every word you said. You don't want me on the team."

"I do, Daniel, believe me I do. If you leave the team, I'll leave the SGC."

"You don't mean that."

"Yes I do. I'm not going out there without you. You scared me, when you got hurt that time. It was my fault you got hurt and I'm really sorry about that."

"I've been hurt before, it's not important."

"It is important, Daniel. I'd feel like crap if any of you got hurt, but when it's you..."

"You're saying this because of us?"

"No. Because you're my friend, Daniel. My best friend. I love you and have done for a long time. Yes, I'm in love with you now, but I haven't always been, and even then I'd break my heart whenever you got hurt. Maybe now it cuts a little deeper, but not so you'd notice. I overreacted and I'm sorry."

Daniel stared into Jack's eyes as if he was searching for an answer. Maybe he got one, Jack didn't know. All he knew was that Daniel's head dropped like Jacob's did when he was allowing Selmac to take over, and then when he looked up, a different man was there.

"Do you wish us to break up?" the man asked.

"No! Never. This is it, Daniel. You and me all the way."

"Do you accept that this is me? That this isn't a role that I play?"

"Yes," Jack nodded and spoke at the same time, though his voice was cracking as he spoke. Shivers ran down his spine as he wondered just what was going through Daniel's quicksilver mind now.

"But you still do not trust me, Jack. You didn't trust me enough to listen to me on that first mission. You didn't trust me to back you up on the others. You don't really love me if there is no trust."

"I trust you, Daniel, more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life. I went with my instinct on the first mission and fucked up. I got scared for you on the others, because if I lost you my life would be over. You are it for me, Daniel. My reason to live. You have to believe that. I know you have Paul as well, but I really only have you. If something happened to you I wouldn't stay with him."

"Why do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Belittle your place in my life. Have you any idea at all how I would feel if you weren't here? If something happened to you? How do you think I feel when you usher me behind the lines, Jack? Put yourself in my position, unable to go to your assistance because you've got me doing something 'safe'. Yes, I love Paul very much, and if he left me I'd be heartbroken. But don't you think for one moment that you're playing second fiddle to him, Jack O'Neill. I do NOT work like that."

Daniel had raised his voice for that one word and it made Jack jump. Yes, Daniel shouted at him at work, even during that fight in his house. But when he was like this, the dom, he never spoke loudly.

Jack said nothing. He wasn't sure what he could say. In the end he dropped his head and looked at the floor.

"I'm really very sorry, Daniel. I don't know what to say to make things better. Do you want me to go?"

"Do you want to go?"

"No. I want to stay with you."

He felt Daniel's finger on his chin, the first physical contact they'd had in days. It lifted his head until he was looking into Daniel's eyes.

"How am I going to make you trust me implicitly, Jack? Trust my judgement in the field as well as here?"

"I do," Jack said, but even as he said it, he knew that the only person he truly trusted in the field was himself. And Daniel saw right through him. Daniel had acted on his orders that day, trusting him to be right even though he knew that Jack was wrong. He'd acquiesced, believed in him enough to take the chance that his own interpretation of events had been wrong. And Jack had screwed up. Not trusting Daniel's thoughts had got the younger man hurt.

"What's it going to take, Jack?" Daniel whispered.

"I don't know. But I will do whatever it is you want me to, Daniel. I'll leave the Air Force if you want."

"Why would I want that?"

"It would prove it to you, wouldn't it? Prove that I want to be with you more than anything?"

"I don't want you to do that, Jack. I want you to trust me. Respect me. Have faith in my judgements. How would walking away from the SGC prove that?"

"It won't." Jack's heart felt like it was on a knife edge. He couldn't lose Daniel again.

He suddenly had an idea. "Daniel? Tie me up. String me up to the ceiling. I'll show you that I'm not afraid anymore, that I trust you to take care of me."

Daniel cocked his head to one side. "No. I can't do that. I threw away the ropes."


"Because they upset you. I told you, Jack. I'd never harm you or allow harm to come to you. Mental as well as physical. I hurt you - unintentionally, but I hurt you. And for that I am truly sorry. It won't happen again."

"You didn't hurt me," Jack whispered. "You helped me. Helped me get over my fear. I haven't had a single nightmare since that day. The way you and Paul helped me over it, it was a thousand percent better than any of the so-called help I got from the professionals. I do trust you, Daniel."

Daniel was a little surprised by this, but he covered up his shock well. He nodded then got a little smile on his face.

"Go to the bedroom, and do not say a word unless I allow it."

Jack nodded and walked straight in there. He stood in the room, unmoving, not getting undressed or sitting on the bed as he would do normally. He was determined to prove that he would do everything that Daniel said and nothing more.

After a few minutes, Daniel entered the room and smiled.

"Good. Get undressed, then stand where you are. Do not move after you return to your position."

Again, without a sound, Jack did as he was told. He saw Daniel laying out a few things on the bed as he complied and his mind started to work overtime, but he still said nothing.

"Take a good look at the bed, Jack. Look at what is there. I'm going to fuck you with at least one of these things. You won't know which one."

Jack saw everything. A dildo, large, wider than Daniel's own cock, but still lifelike, lay there. A large, long, wide rubber plug with a chain hanging from it. He fought down a snigger when he saw a cucumber, still in its plastic wrapping from the supermarket. Then his blood ran cold when he saw a knife, still in a leather sheath. His rational brain told him that Daniel would never do something like that, but there was still a little fear there. Would he? Could he?

Daniel turned him around and led him to the bedroom doorway. He opened the door and told Jack to stand there, his hands high up on each side of the frame, his feet in the same position at the bottom, creating a 'star' shape. Jack felt alone and exposed. Again, his rational brain told him to be sensible. No one could see him apart from Daniel. But again, a frisson of fear ran down his spine.

His world went black. Daniel had tied a black, silk, blindfold over his eyes. Somehow, he kept quiet. His mind was going into meltdown. He knew, no he knew that Daniel was not going to hurt him, but all the while his fear level grew. He gasped when he felt something cold running down his spine. Daniel had nothing on his feet and the thick carpet cushioned any noise he made as he moved around the room. The knife, it was the knife. Oh God, what was he going to do?

There was something both terrifying and erotic for Jack as he felt the flat edge of the blade moving down, then up his back. He didn't move an inch as Daniel ran the blade across the back of his neck and then across his throat, never cutting, always using the flat side. Jack had used knives to kill though, he knew just what Daniel was saying to him. Trust him. Trust him to not move and cut his throat. And Daniel was trusting Jack not to move too. If Jack did move, Daniel could hurt him.

A light went on in Jack's mind. This was what it was all about. A two-way street. Even though he'd already known this, a part of his mind had always thought that Daniel was just getting off on dominating his 'boss'. But it had nothing to do with that, and now, in this most incongruous of positions, it came to him. Daniel was trusting Jack to trust him. Daniel knew that Jack wouldn't hurt him on purpose, as Jack knew that Daniel wouldn't hurt him. But knowing and knowing were two different things. And now, Jack knew. He felt ten feet tall. He felt safe. Completely and utterly safe. It didn't matter that Daniel was running a blade down his chest and towards his groin. He'd never, ever, been safer. Though there was a little, wild thought that he'd better never piss Daniel off as he really seemed to know what he was doing with the knife.

He smiled and Daniel saw it.

"You finally get it, don't you?" he whispered. Jack said nothing. Daniel smiled broadly. "You may speak."

He withdrew the knife as Jack answered. "Yes, Danny. I finally get it. I love you."

"I love you too, Jack. Do you want to stop this?"

"No. Whatever you want. I want it."

"Good. You won't be disappointed, I promise."

"You never disappoint me, Daniel."

Daniel moved away, quickly removed his own clothes, grabbed the lube and covered himself. He warmed some more up on his fingers and then placed some at Jack's entrance.

"May I fuck you?" he whispered.

"Yes. Please," Jack moaned.

He felt Daniel's hands on his butt cheeks, opening him up for him. His arms were starting to burn from being held up but he kept them there without a word. Then Daniel pushed into him, slowly rocking his hips, holding Jack's hips tightly in his hands and steadying him as he finally buried himself to the hilt.

"Don't come," he told Jack. "You will come later, but not now."

Jack let out a low moan of complaint, and then tried to send his mind elsewhere to stave off the inevitable. Daniel's movements grew in speed and force. Jack concentrated on his arms and the pain in his shoulders that was starting to build, actually grateful that the pain was there so it would take his mind off his dick. Then he laughed internally as another light went on. Daniel hadn't put him in this position to expose him, but to help him in a weird way. Daniel had planned this. 'He's a devious bastard,' Jack thought to himself, feeling Daniel's hot breath coming on his neck in shorter, shallower pants as he got closer and closer to climax. 'But he's my devious bastard.'

Daniel cried out loud and harshly as he came pouring inside Jack, thrusting almost violently as he finished. Jack had a feeling of serene calm about him in comparison to the frantic movement behind him. It was all going to be perfect for him. It really was going to work.

Not wanting to hurt Jack, Daniel pulled out slowly. He took Jack's right arm in his hand and pulled it gently from the frame. He lay kisses and soft massages along his arm and up to Jack's shoulder, then did the same with his left arm, then he helped Jack to stand straight.

He turned Jack to face him, removed the blindfold and laid a brief kiss on Jack's lips.

"You deserve a reward," he said. "Tell me what you want, Jack. I won't refuse you."

Jack smiled back at him. "Would you hold me?"

Daniel held him as if his life depended on it. "I'm never going to stop holding you, Jack."

"Good. That's all I want."

"All? You sure you don't want me to do something about that?" Daniel's blue eyes twinkled mischievously as one of his hands dropped and took hold of Jack's still hard and leaking cock.

"If it's not too much trouble, Daniel, I wouldn't say no," Jack rejoined. He was enjoying seeing the humour back in his lover's eyes and if he was completely honest with himself, that was enough for him.

Daniel kissed him hard, then with a sexy grin, he broke away before dropping like a stone to his knees and taking Jack in his mouth.

Jack fell back against the doorframe as he felt the hot mouth on his dick. This wasn't going to be long, but he knew it would be good.

"Oh God, Daniel. You feel so good."

Daniel said nothing, just worked Jack the best way he knew how. He ran his hands all over Jack, wherever he could reach, stroking skin, reaching up and pinching Jack's nipples till he howled with pleasure, playing with Jack's balls. At one point, Jack was wondering if Paul had come in, Daniel seemed to have too many hands for one man.

Soon it was too much and Jack gasped out a warning before pouring down Daniel's throat.

He felt like he had the blindfold on again, his whole world had gone hazy. By the time his vision had come back to normal, Daniel was standing upright again.

"Love you, Jack," he murmured against Jack's mouth, before plunging in and kissing him hard, plundering his mouth as if he was trawling for Jack's breakfast. They stood like this, holding each other tightly until they broke away, gasping for air and exhausted by their actions.

Daniel led Jack to the bed and lay him on it, got a damp cloth and cleaned him up, then climbed into the bed with him. They thought they'd just take a nap, but it was morning when they finally awoke.

Jack was whistling the next morning as he strolled down the corridors of the SGC, getting funny looks from the various members of staff as he went. Daniel saw him coming - rather, he heard him coming before he saw him.

"Good morning Doctor Jackson," Jack announced as he came into view. "And a lovely morning it is."

It had, in fact, been raining as if it were a tropical monsoon when they had come to work, so Daniel was stunned.



"Are you all right?"

A few airmen fought back sniggers as they saw their 2-IC jovially greet his best friend as if he hadn't seen him in ages, instead of having woken up in his arms that morning.

"I'm fine, Daniel. Just fine. Thanks for asking. Yourself?"

"I'm good," Daniel replied with a smirk. Then he shook his head. "You are so gone, O'Neill," he whispered when Jack was close enough. "Are you insane? They'll know you're getting laid if you carry on like this."

"Ah, Danny. You're not going to have grumpy old Jack today," Jack said as he ushered Daniel into his office, pointedly shutting the door on the eavesdropping airmen.

"Jack, I'm trying to protect you."

"I know, Daniel. It's okay. I'm allowed to be in a good mood, aren't I?"

"Sure you are, Jack. But grinning like a moron isn't helping." Daniel was laughing as he spoke though, enjoying Jack's lightened demeanour. Jack looked ten years younger today, as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

"You ready to go out?" Jack asked. He saw a look of, what, he wasn't sure, descend over Daniel's face. Pain? No, not pain. Despair? Worry? Oh boy, he knew.

"Daniel, I'm not going to get like that again, I promise. Well," he added at Daniel's raised eyebrow, "I promise I'll try not to get overprotective. You have to know that it's not because I don't trust you, that it's because I can't bear it when you get hurt. Please believe me."

"I believe you, Jack. And I promise to try not to get pissy with you if you do. Remember something though, and this is vitally important, if something happens to me, it's not your fault."

"Even if it is?" Jack's gregarious mood was suddenly diminishing.

"It won't be. You're going to trust me out there, Jack. And that's trusting me to let me screw up on my own. If I get hurt, it will be my fault, not yours. You have to accept that, Jack."

Jack nodded, not really accepting it, but prepared to try.

This mission was a quiet one, a reward for all the recent hassle. Daniel had a temple to 'play with' or so Jack teased. Sam and Teal'c were gathering the usual mineral and botany samples and Jack was bugging the crap out of his lover.

"Aren't you finished yet?" he moaned after Daniel had filmed the place from top to bottom, inside and out.

"No, not yet. I'm trying to dig a test hole, Jack, to see if there's something here."


"Anything that will tell us who or what was here before." He sighed. They'd had this particular conversation many times before too. It was time for a diversionary tactic. He picked up his radio.

"Sam? How's it going?"

"Great. You?"

"You know, the usual."

"Oh. The Colonel around, eh?"

"You got it."

A chuckle came over the airway and then stopped. "He's right next to you, isn't he?"

"Right again."


It was Daniel's turn to snigger now. "How far out are you?"

"We're going to be, oh, about forty minutes? Yeah. At least."

"Don't rush back on my account, I'm still trying to work."


They signed off and then Daniel slowly turned to Jack, looking predatory.

"Daniel? Not on duty."

"Not what?" He batted his eyelids and tried to look innocent, failing hopelessly as Jack knew him better.

"No! We can't."

"Go inside, Jack," came the quiet command.

"Dddaniel!" It hadn't helped that Daniel had just run his hand over Jack's crotch.

"It will be all right, Jack. Go inside."

Trying to fight the baser feelings that he had, Jack followed Daniel's command. As he got in, he turned back and saw Daniel standing in the door. Looking from the dark to the light, Jack saw Daniel as never before. It was as if he had an aura about him. The light danced in his hair, making him look blond once again. Then Daniel moved, taking Jack's gaze with him. He smiled to himself, knowing the look that Jack had.

Daniel had done his own risk assessment of the complex. It wasn't going to fall in anytime soon. And they had put up the perimeter sensors, so if anyone came, they'd have plenty of warning. He wouldn't take chances with Jack's safety or career. He walked to a dark corner, beckoned to Jack and then undid his trousers, pulled them down and exposed his hardening cock.

"How are your knees, Jack?"

"Fffine," Jack gasped. Without another word, he approached Daniel, dropped to his knees and started work. He sucked hard, creating as much tension as he could, willing Daniel to come quickly. His rational brain was arguing with itself, knowing on the one hand that Daniel wouldn't put him in danger, but on the other hand he was on duty. He felt Daniel's hands on his head, fingers running through his short hair, coaxing, encouraging. It was enough to help him and he renewed his effort until Daniel came, silently pouring into his mouth.

Daniel pulled Jack to stand up and kissed him hard.

"I love you, Jack O'Neill," he whispered, then turned him to face away from him. Before Jack knew what was happening, his pants were unbuttoned and down and Daniel was jerking him off. For a moment he wondered why he was facing away from Daniel, then he realised that this way would be less messy - and no funny stains on his uniform for him to explain. Yet again, even though Daniel was making him take a risk, Jack knew that he was also keeping him safe.

It didn't take him long and he spilled over Daniel's hand, quietly grunting as it happened. When he calmed down, he turned and faced Daniel with a grin on his face.

"You," he said as he kissed him softly, "are a bastard. You know we shouldn't do that on duty."

"But you knew I weighed up the dangers, didn't you? You know that I wouldn't cause you harm, don't you?"

"I did and I do."

"Still love me?" Daniel teased, whilst wiping his hands with some of the tissues he always carried.

"You know I do," Jack grunted. "So, you gonna tell me why?"

"How do you feel?" Daniel asked by way of an answer.

"Fine. Good. Relaxed."

"Good. Ready to stop bugging me?"

Jack snorted and reached out, kissing Daniel on the cheek before they headed out of the temple.

"You win."

"I always do, O'Neill."

A few weeks later and SG-1 were in trouble again. They'd been on the planet for a matter of moments when they were surrounded by natives. Sure, they could have fought their way out, but Jack knew that there would be many casualties on both sides if they did. Daniel quickly weighed up the cultural aspects of the opposition and dropped to his knees.

"Teal'c," he hissed. "You're Sam's bodyguard."

"What are you two?" Jack whispered.

"I'm your slave, Sam's your sister. Don't question it, just do it, Jack."

Jack was about to complain but the look on Daniel's face told him everything. He had to play along or people would die. Sam glared at Daniel but softened when she saw the look in his eyes. He wouldn't say this if it wasn't necessary.

"Do you want to explain, Daniel?" Jack asked through gritted teeth.

"Look, Jack, use your eyes. There are no women there, Sam will need protecting from them. Also, it's a real master-slave culture. We can't all be masters."

Jack looked at Daniel and grinned. He knew why Daniel had been the one to drop to his knees. No matter how much he was a dom, he didn't look like one. Jack had the more 'alpha' persona. No one would believe their relationship if it were to come out. Besides, neither man wanted Teal'c and Sam to know of that side of their natures.

Sam was not happy at the thought that she'd need protecting, but when she looked around and properly weighed up the opposition, she understood just why Daniel had said it. There were no women there, and some men were looking hungrily at her. Some of the men had other men, younger men as a rule, by their sides, just behind them, heads slightly bowed when their masters spoke to them. There were just too many of them for SG-1 to fight their way out of this one. If they were to get out of this peacefully, they'd have to act in a way that the opposition would expect. No matter how much SG-1 hated the idea.

A man approached, a few others surrounding him. He had no markings or costume that distinguished him from the others. He was obviously the leader though, his demeanour showed them that this was the case. He came close and called out to them.

"Who are you?"

Gratified that the man was speaking English, Jack answered, "Colonel Jack O'Neill."

"Don't introduce any of us unless he asks," Daniel whispered.

Swallowing down his surprise at Daniel's statement, Jack complied. The man was upon them now, much closer, and he eyed up Sam, then Teal'c, then looked back at Jack.

"Who are they?" he nodded to the still upright team members.

"This is my sister, Samantha," Jack said, not looking at her. "He is Teal'c, her bodyguard. Before we go any further, I will tell you this," Jack's commanding voice rang out. "No one, and I mean no one, will touch her. Anyone that lays a finger on her will end up dead. Do you understand this?"

"Who are you to give orders like this?" the stranger demanded.

"I told you. I'm her brother. I can and I will kill anyone that comes too close to her. I ask again, do you understand this?"

With an amused smile, the stranger agreed.

"She will not be touched while you are here. You have my word."

"That means nothing," Jack countered. "I do not know who you are. You could be a slave sent out to test us, for all I know."

A flash of annoyance ran over the man's face, then he smiled and nodded.

"I am Raze Mayat, leader of these people. Tell me why you are here."

"We're explorers. We use the stargate and travel the galaxy, looking to make alliances, for trade and so on."

"What do we have that you would be interested in?"

"I have no idea," Jack drawled laconically, "it remains to be seen."

Mayat laughed. "And it remains to be seen if you have anything that could be of interest to us."

Before Jack could answer that, Mayat stepped back and issued some orders. His people fell back and started to head towards a canvas village.

"We must return through the gate tomorrow morning," Jack said. "If we do not return on time, our chief will send an army through to retrieve us."

"An army?" Jack suddenly went up in Mayat's estimation. "A Jaffa army?" he nodded at Teal'c.

Jack let out a snort. "No," he said coldly. "Something far, far worse."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow at that one, and Sam had to fight down a snigger. She also had to fight down the urge to look at Daniel. Something was distinctly wrong with this scenario. Much as Daniel had played the slave before, it was so out of character for him that she felt uncomfortable on his behalf. Covering up her checking up on him by turning her face towards Jack, she scanned Daniel with her eyes. He seemed to be happy enough, quietly fulfilling his role as Jack's slave. She couldn't figure it out at all.

They were taken to a large tent where they were told to sit on some cushions. Jack sat in a place of honour, Sam at his right-hand. Teal'c, as bodyguard, sat at her right-hand. Daniel had rightly assumed that his guard status would elevate Teal'c from the position of slave to that of an honoured and trusted servant. He stood behind Jack, wordlessly taking in their surroundings. He was actually glad of it, in a way. No one was looking at him and he was able to observe and study, absorbing the culture and watching the actions of the other masters and slaves so as to not make a cultural mistake. He saw that the people were of many Earth races, obviously taken there once by a Goa'uld or other alien race and left to their own devices. He wondered if they were totally nomadic, but their lack of women there would suggest that there was another, more permanent settlement, possibly where they could better protect them. These would then be the warriors or hunters, travelling either to war or maybe to get food for storing before winter.

He heard Jack's voice breaking through his concentration.

"Daniel. How many times do I have to call you?"

'Shit,' he thought, 'watching out to avoid this and already I cock-up.'

He dropped to his knees and apologised profusely.

"I am sorry, master," he murmured, hating using that word but understanding the necessity. "I was observing our hosts."

His head was turned to the floor and he didn't look at Jack's face as he spoke. He felt a finger under his chin tipping his head up.

"And what did you discover?" Jack's voice was quiet and patient, much like Daniel's when they were home.

He told Jack what he had worked out and got a smile in return. Mayat laughed out loud.

"It would seem that your slave is not just a slave," he boomed. "He is correct. We keep our women at home where they are safe. It surprises us that you take your sister on such a dangerous venture."

Jack eyed the man then grinned. "Samantha is a very special woman, and I would hate to leave her behind. Besides, we go to cultures where women are allowed everywhere. Taking her with us allows us latitude with them."

The more they learned of these people, the more they realised that there was no reason to trade. But when Jack's body language said that he was going to suggest that they leave, Daniel tugged on his jacket surreptitiously.

"Daniel?" Jack turned and spoke with an indulgent tone.

"We can't leave," Daniel whispered, "it would insult them. Tomorrow we can go safely, if they invite us to stay, that is."

"You're sure?"

"As I'll ever be," came the very quiet reply.


Internally, Daniel smiled. Ever since they had hooked up, apart from their little 'difficulty' some weeks before, Jack had been more inclined to trust Daniel in the field, at least in these situations. No more serious questioning, and no rows in front of aliens. Teal'c and Sam had noticed too, but they were not sure why this was happening. All they knew was that missions were getting better.

Food was served. Daniel quickly took his position at Jack's feet. As he was the slave of a guest, he wasn't expected to go and fetch any food from the kitchen tent. Plates of meat, bread and cheese, along with jugs of ale, were put on the rug in front of them. Daniel placed food on three plates, then handed two of them to Teal'c. Teal'c tasted the food, testing it for safety, then handed a plate to Sam with a nod. Then Daniel handed another without a word to Jack.

"Daniel? Aren't you going to eat?" Jack whispered through gritted teeth.

"Not yet," came the equally quiet reply. Then, head still bowed, he spoke louder. "Would you like ale, master?"

"Please," Jack replied. He figured he could at least be a polite master.

As Daniel poured three mugs of ale, handing them out as he had done before, Jack mused that he felt distinctly uncomfortable in this role. It should have been easy for him. He was a commanding officer, protector of his people. Purely for that reason, he was used to giving orders and looking after his team. He felt awkward at being overprotective of Sam, but Daniel's hunch had played out. These people were not used to seeing women outside the home, and his threat to kill anyone that came close to her had been expected, if not required. It was something that they understood.

But it was this master/slave thing with Daniel that rankled. Again, it was purely to keep them all alive and safe. Again, Daniel was only playing a role and it was giving him the chance to be unnoticed and do his job. It was also keeping Daniel safe in that he was Jack's property, so no one would touch him. But Jack wanted it to be the other way around, to take care of his master, just as they did at home. He hated the way that Daniel wouldn't look him in the eye. That hurt.

Time went on and the crowd was getting restless. Daniel picked up on it and flicked his eyes up, his head still bowed. Jack saw that Daniel needed to speak, so he moved in close to him.

"Speak," he said as if talking to his slave, then their voices dropped so that only they could hear them.

"This is a men-only culture, Jack. Get Sam out of here. Ale has been flowing and they're going to want a little freedom to act as they would do normally. She's cramping their style."

"Gotcha. By the way, this slave thing, I mean, are you and me, do we, will we, you know..?"

Jack didn't want to say it out loud because he didn't want Sam to hear it, but Daniel misinterpreted it as shyness and had to fight down a snigger.

"Whatever you want, master," he replied, somehow maintaining a straight face.

"Mayat," Jack called. "We must leave now, or Samantha should be taken somewhere for the night. Somewhere safe."

"Of course, of course," Mayat's now joyous voice rang out. The ale had been flowing well in his direction all night. "I assure you that she will be as safe as our queen all the while that she is on our lands. Women are revered here, O'Neill. They are our most precious possessions."

Sam nearly growled at that, but too many years on the job allowed her the composure to accept it gracefully - for the moment. The guys would get yelled at when they got home.

"Teal'c?" Jack looked at the big man, needing to say no more than that. Teal'c stood.

"I will not leave her side, O'Neill, as you well know. My lady," he turned to Sam and put out his hand, pulling her to stand when she took it. This slave thing was more natural to him, but he liked it even less than Daniel did. He very much appreciated the role that Daniel had quickly established for him.

Jack watched as they left, accompanied by a couple of slaves that would show them the way.

"They'll be safe?" Jack asked Daniel.

"Should be," came the reply.

It was as good an answer as Jack could hope for.

With Sam's departure, the atmosphere became more rowdy. Jack noticed that some of the slaves were being fed now, their masters giving them the remnants of their own meals. Jack felt guilty that he hadn't left more for Daniel. Some of the feeding was being done in a more erotic way, with the slaves either on their masters' laps or at their feet, depending on the sizes of the men. As Daniel was a big guy, Jack opened his legs and pulled him to sit in-between them. Then he took his plate and started to give Daniel some food. They took the opportunity of being close to pass information in whispered exchanges.

"It's going to get out of hand soon, Jack."

"Yeah, I kinda got that. You want some more food?"

"Some cheese. It's nice."

"It is; here, bite down on that."

Jack put a small piece of cheese on Daniel's tongue and gasped when he felt Daniel's mouth close over his fingers. He let out a low growl when he felt Daniel's tongue, teeth and lips working him as he did when he went down on him. Jack was getting very hard at the images thrown up by this and he pulled his fingers out of Daniel's mouth, with some regret.

Leaning close to Daniel's ear, he whispered, "You are going to be the death of me."

"But what a way to go," Daniel replied with a grin. "You want me to do something about that?" he added huskily, pointing to Jack's groin.

"Not here," came the hissed reply.

"Why not? Look over there."

Daniel's eyes flicked over to another part of the room. Now Jack was getting a good look, and an eyeful too. Some slaves were sucking their masters, some were being fucked by them. No one thought it was odd, it was just a continuation of the evening's refreshments. One thing that Jack noticed was that the masters were not paying too much attention to their slaves' needs - at least in public. He guessed that they'd be nicer in private. At least he wanted to believe that.

Mayat was talking to Jack, just making small talk, as his own slave stood up and stripped off. Jack kept his eyes on Mayat, agreeing with him that it was hard to keep subordinates under control if you let them get away with too much. He tried to ignore it when Mayat stood, his slave undid his pants, then covered Mayat's dick with some oil before getting on his hands and knees in front of him.

Jack's attention was brought back to Daniel when he felt a tug on his belt.

"They'll get suspicious," Daniel warned when Jack went to stop him. Jack sighed. It had to be done.

"Do whatever you want to do, Daniel, nothing more, okay?"

"Not a hardship, master," Daniel replied with a grin. He indicated that Jack should lay back a bit, resting on his elbows. When he did, Daniel pulled down Jack's pants and boxers and without warning, took him in his mouth.

Mayat had at least stopped speaking to Jack, he was too involved in fucking his own slave. Jack was grateful for this as he knew that he'd not be in a position to talk with Daniel's mouth on his dick. Hell, he wouldn't be in a position to think, let alone talk.

Sam and Teal'c had been shown to the tent, going quietly, but with reservations.

"What's going to go on in there?" she asked Teal'c when they were left alone.

"I do believe that the men in there wanted to behave in a manner that they wouldn't with a woman in their company. Something I believe they do not wish a woman to witness. "

"Teal'c, it's not as if I haven't heard ribald jokes and swearing before," she complained.

"That was not my meaning." Teal'c wondered if he should explain properly, thinking that the men would not like her to know too much. He had worked out what was going to happen that night, and having looked at Daniel and seen that he wasn't upset, was happy to let it play out.

"What did you mean then?" she growled.

Teal'c mentally shrugged. Major Carter was a woman of the universe, after all.

"The men inside expect their slaves to sexually accomodate them, Major Carter."

"WHAT?" She was stunned - not by the thought of the other men, but by her men. "We can't let this happen, Teal'c."

Teal'c tilted his head and raised an eyebrow slightly in question.

"That's wrong! You're saying that the Colonel will, what, use Daniel for sex? I don't believe he'd let that happen."

"Daniel Jackson would not allow himself to be used in such a way if he objected to it. "

"They're friends! And friends just don't do that. Besides, they're both straight."

"I do not understand."

"Heterosexual. As in they were both married, they like women, and so on."

"And you are certain of this?"

"Of course! Besides, it isn't right."

"If they are both willing, surely there is nothing wrong with them doing what is necessary for us all to stay alive."

"That remains to be seen," she replied with a grunt. "I'll talk to them tomorrow."

"You will not. It would be wiser to remain impartial. You cannot report something you have not been witness to."

"I wouldn't!"

"I know this. But you should not have to lie either."

Sometimes, just sometimes, Sam hated Teal'c's logic. She grunted an agreement and got ready for bed. There was a large fur put down on the floor for her and it looked comfortable. Teal'c was invited to join her, but he said he'd feel better just meditating, though he would sit by her side. He gave a small smile when later, as she slept, Sam turned and rested her head by his thigh.

The party had broken up, slaves leading their masters to bed. Jack and Daniel were taken to the tent that they'd been allocated, attached to the one in which Teal'c and Sam resided. Jack stuck his head around the flap and Teal'c opened his eyes.

"We're okay, just going to bed in here."

"That is good news. I will remain alert, O'Neill, there is no need to keep watch."

"Thanks, buddy. Daniel will be sharing with me, he says it's to keep up appearances."

"Understood. Though I do not believe that Major Carter will understand. She believes that you have used Daniel Jackson tonight."

"What? No, of course I haven't. Hell. We'll talk when we get back home."

"I do believe that that would be a good idea, O'Neill. Goodnight."

"Yeah, night Teal'c."

Daniel was already in bed by the time Jack got there. They too had been given a large fur rug to sleep on and another as a blanket. Jack kicked off his boots, then noticed that Daniel wasn't wearing anything.

"Daniel? Clothes!"

"Jack, what if someone came in? I'm supposed to be your slave, aren't I? Here for you, to be used by you as you wish. When you wish. And how you wish it. If I were to wear something to bed, how would you fuck me in the night if you wanted to?"

"I'm not going to do that."

"No, you're not. But they don't know that, do they? It's okay, Jack. Strip off but leave your boxers on, okay?"

Jack wasn't happy with the idea of this, it made him feel vulnerable. Daniel understood this, but something else he understood was that these people would leave them alone as long as they could relate to them. So far, so good. But if Jack didn't comply, didn't behave in the manner in which the natives would understand, they may react badly. So, Daniel had to get Jack to be the master - and to let down his guard, just a bit. Daniel knew that Teal'c would protect them if the worst came to it, and Sam was likely totally dressed, so she'd do the same. Jack was going to have to let them protect both him and Daniel.

Jack was still hesitating to do this. Daniel was in a quandary. He knew of two ways that may work. One, he could dominate Jack and make him do it; two, he could be the slave. He didn't like the second option because he knew how uncomfortable it made Jack. So, he stood up and stared Jack in the eye. His voice was quiet, barely audible.

"Strip, Jack," he ordered.

Jack knew that tone of voice and also knew that he couldn't turn it down. He stripped.

"I think you owe me something," Daniel added, his voice still at the quiet level he'd started speaking in.

"What do you want?" Jack didn't say it, but his face did.

Rather than answer, Daniel lay back down on the rug and crooked a finger, beckoning Jack to him. Then he pointed where he wanted Jack to go. With a feral grin, Jack went down.

Teal'c heard a quiet groan coming from the next room in the tent and silently made his way to the flap. Barely moving it, he looked in and saw Daniel on his back, his hands on Jack's head as it bobbed up and down. The look of sheer pleasure on Daniel's face made Teal'c smile to himself. It would seem that the 'slave' was getting his own back. Any lingering doubts that Teal'c may have had about the relationship between Jack and Daniel were gone. He would not, of course, tell Sam about it, but he would allow himself the pleasure of knowing.

Daniel's head snapped back, his shoulders and back arching off the ground. Then Teal'c saw Jack's head lifting, a smug grin on Jack's face as he looked up at his lover. Daniel's own smile was blinding and Teal'c saw Daniel's finger indicating that Jack should move. He saw the naked older man crawl up Daniel's body, then took pleasure in seeing them hold each other, kissing passionately and lovingly. A lot of O'Neill's recent behaviour was now explained to the older Jaffa.

The next morning, a slave entered the tent carrying the local breakfast - which was a lot like the local dinner, substituting tea for ale. He found Jack and Daniel naked and lying together, Daniel's head on Jack's chest. Though it was unusual for a slave to share his master's bed quite so lovingly, it wasn't unknown, so he thought nothing of it. However, Sam and Teal'c heard him enter, and before Teal'c could stop her, she slipped through the flap, just as Jack and Daniel were waking up.


The slave looked at her in surprise. Sam realised that she could have screwed everything up with that one outburst, so she quickly covered for it. "Have you seen the size of that breakfast? I'll never eat that much." Then, with a tight smile, she thanked the slave who was confused by the situation, but accepted that this woman wasn't like men and was relieved that she wasn't his problem. He made good his escape and returned to the kitchen tent, complaining to the other slaves that the woman seemed to want to eat like a bird.

Meanwhile, back in the tent, Jack and Daniel were up. They'd been woken by the slave's entrance, but had really come to when Sam had yelled. Carefully, to make sure that the top fur stayed on, they sat up and gratefully took some tea that Teal'c had poured.

"Um, Carter, could you just go out for a moment while we get dressed, please?"

"Yeah," she said distractedly, still staring at the men. It wasn't as if she hadn't seen them both naked on many occasions, it was just different seeing them like this.

With her in the other side of the tent, the two men quickly got up and dressed, saying nothing but noticing that Teal'c hadn't looked at all surprised. As soon as they had their pants on, Sam was called back in. She re-entered the room and sat, sullenly taking her breakfast from Teal'c, who then sat next to her.

"So, what's going on?" she asked as the men finished dressing and sat down to eat.

"Daniel and I are..." Jack started, then he looked at Daniel with a smile. "Together."

He got a beaming smile back for that. From Daniel. What he got from Sam was unexpected.

"How dare you!" she yelled.

"Excuse me?" Jack was shocked by this.

"For a start, it is so against regulations as to not warrant contemplating," she growled, "and it's wrong!"

"Wrong?" Daniel's back was up. "What do you mean 'wrong'?"

Sam fought down a blush. "You know what I mean."

"No, I don't. Are you homophobic?"

Sam didn't know how to answer that.

"I'm disgusted by your blatant disregard to the rules," she said instead. "Apart from the fact that homosexual relations are banned, you're having a relationship with a team member," she growled in Jack's direction. "And how could you? Using Daniel in this way is despicable!"

Daniel spat out his tea as she said that. Jack just sat open-mouthed. Even Teal'c was stunned.

"You, you... you think that he's using me?" Daniel hissed. "What, did you think that I was some sort of fucking virgin? Inexperienced? Innocent? Fuck. What do you think I am, Sam?"

"You've not been out with men," she spat back.

"And you know this how?"

"I'd know."

"Well, I've got news for you, Samantha Carter, Jack isn't my first - not by a long way. I've had lots of male lovers - only a few female ones. I don't even consider myself bisexual anymore. I'm gay. And happy to be so. And if you've got a problem with that you'd better tell us now."

She was stunned, unable to answer that too. So she turned back on Jack.

"What about you?"

"What about me?"

"Are you gay?"

"What difference does it make? You've obviously decided that I'm some sort of fiend, going around seducing innocent archaeologists," he bit back. "For your information, Daniel came on to me, not the other way around. More information for you, I'm glad he did. No, he's not my first either, I guess I'm bi, but the point is moot. He's the last lover I will ever have in my life. So, you're going to turn me in?"


"It's what you want, isn't it? You obviously think that what we do, what we have is disgusting. So, you want me gone."

"I want us the way we were."

"Bickering? Arguing? Daniel and me fighting all the time? Miserable as sin? You really want that?"

She dropped her head into her hands.

"I need some air." She stood up and walked out of the tent, Teal'c following closely in his role as bodyguard.

"I'm fucked."

Daniel turned and smiled at his lover. "Not yet. Give her time, Jack. And if it comes to it, we both leave."

"What about Paul?"

"We keep him out of this. If necessary, I'll ask him if he wants to end it."

"You don't want that, do you?"

"Of course not. It will break my heart. But I won't endanger him. I'm sorry that I've endangered you. Perhaps I should leave?"


"Leave, Jack. If I left the team, maybe the SGC, we could persuade Sam not to tell on you."

"No fucking way, Daniel. I told you before - you first and foremost. Love ya, not giving you up. If you even think of falling on your sword - literally or figuratively - I'm coming after you."

"I can't leave you, Jack. You can send me away, but I can't leave. Don't you get that?"


"When I took you on, it was not just as a lover. I wanted to be responsible for you." He stood up and paced around the room, trying to formulate his words. "A sub cannot be kept unwillingly. For you to give me control of your life, you have to trust me totally."

"I do, you know that."

Daniel knelt back down, stroked Jack's face, then said, "I know. You do. But you see, if you should ever doubt me, or think that I am not worthy of that trust, you have the opportunity to walk. It's your safety net, what stops things getting out of hand and protects you. I cannot and will not stop you."

"Would you want to stop me?"

"Of course. If you walked, Jack, I don't know what I'd do. But I wouldn't stop you. When I decided that I wanted you, that the time was right for you to join us, I took you on for life. For life Jack. When you have a child, you don't think that you'll keep it till it goes to school, then stop loving it, stop being responsible, do you? It's the same. You're not a child, I don't think of you as one," he added hurriedly, "but it's that level of responsibility. That level of commitment."

"Do you think that I'm not that committed to you?"

"You are, and for that I'm grateful. But you don't have to be. You only have to trust me to take care of you. You don't have to love me."

"You know..."

"I know! I know, baby. What I'm saying is, I don't expect it."

"You can. Come here, Daniel, I need a hug."

Meanwhile, Sam had stormed off, Teal'c hot on her heels.

"I do not understand your objections, Major Carter. It is clear to anyone that O'Neill and Daniel Jackson love each other. Why are you not happy for them?"

"But they shouldn't be!"

"Why not?"

"You know the regulations, Teal'c." She dropped her voice to stop any of the natives overhearing them. "What they are doing is wrong."

"You did not think so when you wished to have an affair with O'Neill."

She stopped dead. "I didn't," she hissed.

"You did for a whole year. And you excluded Daniel Jackson from everything for that entire year. You were selfish, rude and at times, your obsession with O'Neill bordered on the pathological. Not once did Daniel Jackson complain, even though he would have had grounds to do so. You turned him from your friend to your enemy, and he did not deserve that. Now that he is happy, you are wanting to make him unhappy again."

"That is not true!"

"It is. And you know it is. Tell me, has Daniel Jackson ever once done anything to hurt you? Has he been rude? Has he excluded you? Even in the last few months which is, I am guessing, the length of time that they have been together, has he ever made you feel unwanted, unloved or useless?"

"No," she whispered.

"Then why did you yourself treat him in that way?"

"I don't know."

"I think you do. You were jealous of the attention O'Neill gave him, so you took it out on him." Teal'c's voice had softened, more paternal now, gently pointing out a few home truths. "Did you know you made him ill?"

Her head snapped up. "I did not!"

"You did. You took away his best friend. You turned his best friend against him. He stopped sleeping well, he stopped eating properly. He did his job, went home and did nothing else. He no longer had a friend. He did not feel he could come to me, because he has always felt that he reminds me of what I did to Shau're. I love Daniel Jackson, Major Carter. I love him as a brother. I will not allow you to hurt him any more."

"I won't." She was shaking now, the enormity of her own past behaviour hitting her hard.

They turned and made their way back to the tent, noticing that Mayat was coming over to them. They hurried inside and stopped dead when they saw the two men, sitting on the floor, wrapped in each other and kissing tenderly. Sam's heart sank to her stomach. All of her past feelings were thrown back at her, her attraction to Jack so strong that a wave of jealousy hit her. Then she saw Daniel's face, and in the second between her entering the tent and the men pulling away, she saw such love and happiness there that she knew that she couldn't take it away from him.

"Mayat is coming, O'Neill," Teal'c announced.

"Yeah, whatever," Jack sounded defeated. "Thanks, buddy."

He stood up, Daniel remained on the floor behind him, moving to kneel in the customary position of submission. Jack looked at Sam.

"So, you gonna tell?"

"No. I won't," she whispered.

Daniel looked up at her, his eyes full of gratitude. She stared into them and realised that it wasn't for his own sake, but for Jack's. To be the cause of trouble or pain for Jack would have quite literally killed him. Sam wasn't sure how she could read that in Daniel's face, but she knew that she was right. Shutting down tightly on her own emotions, she gave him a small nod. He returned it sadly, knowing that whatever friendship he had had with her had now died.

Mayat entered the tent and he and Jack spoke. They agreed with the previous day's conclusion that neither world had much to offer the other (Jack had wisely kept the conversations away from Earth's weaponry), so Jack thanked him for his hospitality, told Daniel to pack up and watched his lover carefully as he did. He detected a note of sadness on his face but decided to shelve any discussion till they got back.

Mayat and his people accompanied them to the gate, thanks were once again given, then they went home.

All through the debriefing, Jack saw how tight-lipped Sam was being and how quiet Daniel was. Hammond picked up on it too and asked about it. They just said that they were tired, that they hadn't slept well, and he let it go. When he dismissed the team, he asked Jack to stay behind.

"Jack?" he said as the last one left. His use of Jack's given name indicating that this was an off-the-record chat. "What's really wrong?"

"Ah, George," Jack dropped his head in his hands, "it's not easy to explain. Let me try and sort it out, off-base, okay? I'm hoping that it will blow over soon. Just a clash of ideals, really. Nothing to do with the results of the mission, exactly, and it didn't interfere with what happened there either."

"Are you sure? You said that Daniel had to play at being your slave. Was he all right doing that?"

"He was fine, George. You'd've thought that he'd been doing the master/slave thing for years."

As Jack chuckled inwardly at his private joke, Hammond dismissed him with the words, "I hope that this doesn't become something as big as that problem the other year, Jack, whatever that was."

"No, Sir, it won't. If it starts to get that bad, I'll go."

"Are you in the thick of this again?"

"Sort of," Jack admitted, "but it's really a difference of opinions between Daniel and Carter. It's just concerning me, that's all. Don't you worry, George, I'll sort it."

"You do that, Jack. You do that."

Paul was waiting for Daniel when he got home. Daniel smiled warmly and held his arms out for a hug.

"I have missed you so much," he whispered in Paul's ear as he held him tightly. Then he trailed kisses down Paul's neck, loving it when the younger man's knees started to buckle. "Bed, now," he ordered.

Paul moved quickly to the bedroom and Daniel went there via the bathroom. He took a leak, stripped off, cleaned himself up, then headed straight for the bed.

"You are so beautiful," he told Paul as he moved him to lie face down. "So fucking beautiful."

He grabbed the lube from the bedside table and covered himself with it, nudged Paul's legs as far apart as they would go, positioned himself, then bit down on Paul's shoulder as he pushed inside his lover. Without making any more noise, he started to work, just slamming into Paul, not caring if the man was getting anything out of this or not. All he wanted was to come.

Paul was confused. Even Daniel at his most alpha wouldn't be this selfish unless Paul had asked him to be. One moment, he'd been loving, now he wasn't. It was so one-sided that Paul lost his erection and just lay there till Daniel had come. He only knew that had happened because he heard a grunt and then Daniel rolled off him.

He turned to face Daniel, wondering what had brought this on. What surprised him were the tears silently falling down Daniel's cheeks.

He grabbed him and held him tightly, kissing his face as he did.

"Oh God, Paul. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have done that, shouldn't have treated you like that. I'm sorry." Over and over again, he apologised, being kissed in response.

"You going to tell me what that was all about?" Paul finally said when Daniel had quieted.

With a deep sigh, Daniel lay back on the bed and pulled Paul into his arms. He took a breath, then told Paul what had happened on the planet.

"So, she knows and she's not happy, Paul. If she sees you with me now, it's going to confuse matters."

"Are you breaking up with me?" Paul's voice was almost panicked.

"NO! God no. You know I can't and I won't do that, Paul. I can't. I don't want to. I love you, you know that. But I've nearly fucked up Jack's career, I'm scared that I'll do it with yours. I don't want to hurt you, Paul. I really don't."

"I know, hun, I know. You won't. If she sees us together, we'll tell her that we're friends, okay? That I'm a chaperone for you and Jack."

"What if she doesn't believe us? What if she starts talking? Paul, you have to believe me here. Sam is no longer my friend. I saw it in her face on the planet. She won't say anything about Jack, probably because she's still a bit in love with him. But now... now I think that she will do anything she can to hurt me."

"You're overreacting, Dan. She's been like a big sister to you."

"Till she decided she wanted Jack, yes. Then I didn't exist, unless it was to gang up against me with Jack. He got over that long before she did. I thought she was over it. I thought we were friends again. The last few months have been great. Even before Jack joined us, it was fine. Jack had stopped with the bitching against me and we'd become friends again. She started to be nice, possibly to stay on Jack's good side, I don't know. Since Jack has been with us she's been fine. But now? I'm not sure, baby. I don't think I trust her."

"What if you were to transfer to a different team?"

"Jack's threatened to leave the SGC if I do."

"Crap. If he leaves, you'll leave, won't you?"

"Yes. No question. Same if you were to. Jack would likely retire too, to stay with us."

"Stay with you, you mean."

"Maybe. He does care about you, Paul. A lot. More than he thought he would. He won't allow you to be hurt any more than I will."

"He's not in love with me, is he?"

"I don't think so. You're not in love with him, are you?"

"No. I think I love him. As a friend, certainly. And you know I'm very attracted to him."

"Aren't we all?" Daniel sniggered, allowing his humour to come back, a bit.

"Yes, well. I definitely have strong positive feelings for him, Daniel, but if anything were to happen to you, God forbid it, but if it were, Jack and I wouldn't be together."

Daniel nodded, understanding. He'd hoped that they would at least comfort each other; maybe they would, for a while. But there was no future in a relationship between just the two of them and they knew it.

"How do you feel about Jack being with us, permanently?" Daniel suddenly asked.

"Dan? We've talked about this before. I'm fine about it. Look, it's hard for me to describe. I'm in love with you, I'm more than in love with you. I know you feel the same way about me."

"Damn straight I do," Daniel replied firmly.

"Well then, I don't feel bad if you're with Jack because I know you feel the same way about him and he feels it about you. I don't get jealous, I don't want to make a fuss. To be honest, I'm glad he's there."


"Don't take this the wrong way, hun, but he gives me a break. I know when I come here I want to stop thinking, to stop deciding, and you take that from me. But it can get intense at times. I'm not complaining here, just saying how it is. Also, having Jack around allows me to share my feelings for you. I've never been able to sit with you, wrapped up in your arms watching TV or reading or anything like that if someone else is there." He emphasised the last bit, underlining it in the air with his fingers. "But because he's part of us, part of this, I can do it. I can show him how much I love you, love being with you, and he doesn't get upset or anything. And seeing him in my place, it's good. Looking at how happy the two of you are actually makes me happier. Does any of that make sense to you?"

Daniel laughed and kissed Paul's head softly.

"Perfect sense."

A knock at the door had Daniel up and throwing his trousers on quickly.

"Stay here and don't move unless I say you can," he barked and left the bedroom, shutting the door behind him.

He looked through the spy hole and relaxed when he saw Jack there, though his lover was looking serious. He opened the door and let him in.

"Jack? What's wrong?"

"Nothing, not exactly wrong," he sighed as he entered the room. "Just fed up, that's all."

"I understand, baby. Sam a bit much?"

"Yeah, couldn't believe what she was saying, ya know?"

Daniel nodded and pulled Jack into his arms, holding him tightly for a few minutes. Then he locked the door, shot the bolts deliberately, then drew the curtains even though there was no need. It was as much to shut out the outside world as anything.

"Paul? It's Jack, babe, you can come out."

A thoroughly dishevelled Paul came out of the bedroom, dressed only in a pair of jeans.

"You started without me?" Jack squeaked.

Daniel was torn. He wanted to tell Jack that what he and Paul did was of no concern to him, but he felt so guilty for using Paul in that way, he couldn't bring himself to speak. Paul saw the look on his face and decided that this weekend was not going to be a normal one.

"Jack," he warned, "how often do you get Daniel on your own?" He wandered over to Jack and kissed him on the cheek, then went to Daniel and wrapped his arms around his lover's waist. After dropping a kiss on Daniel's nose, he mouthed that he loved him, feeling gratified when Daniel seemed to relax.

"Dan, honey, may I make a suggestion?"

"Of course. Go ahead."

Paul led him to the sofa and then indicated that all three should sit, Daniel in the middle.

"You're looking tired, hun, exhausted to tell the truth. Why don't you let Jack and me take care of you this weekend?"

"What? No. You come here to relax, Paul."

"I know, I know. And normally it's what keeps me sane. But you're looking shattered and I'd take no pleasure from it. I'll still do what you ask of me, but let me look after you. Just this once."

Jack got a good look at Daniel and realised just what Paul was saying. He had been so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he'd missed the tiredness in Daniel's eyes.

"I agree with Paul. You need this, Danny. As he says, just this once. Let us look after you, please."

"What will you do?" Daniel was a touch suspicious.

"Just pamper you a bit. You can still be the boss, Dan," Paul teased, "but let us do some of the thinking, eh?"

With a low groan, then a few comments along the lines of 'I'm gonna regret this', Daniel flopped back against the sofa back and agreed.

Quick as a flash, Paul got on the phone and ordered food from their favourite take-away. It was a Far Eastern place which specialised in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese... the whole area's foods. Without looking at the menu, Paul ordered the 'mixed banquet' for five (that was usually enough for them), knowing that they'd get a large selection from all of the menus. Jack slipped out of the apartment to get some drinks and Paul made Daniel lie on the sofa whilst he cleared off the large coffee table and got out some plates and chopsticks and glasses. Then he asked Daniel what films he'd want to watch and pulled out the DVDs that Daniel suggested. By the time he was done fussing and getting everything 'just so', Jack was back with a couple of bottles of Daniel's favourite wine. He hadn't long shut the door when there was a knock. Paul opened it and greeted the delivery man, paying for the meal (and not letting Daniel pay for once) then carrying the bags inside.

Daniel watched with exasperation as the men made a fuss, putting out the food on the plates, pouring the wine and then, with a shared grin between them, Paul asked Daniel what he wanted to eat. Daniel made to sit up, but Jack would only allow him to be propped up on the sofa, all the cushions behind him to make him comfortable.

"Jack, I'm not an invalid," he complained, but he didn't move, he just stayed put where Jack had settled him. With a shrug, he told Paul what he wanted and Paul filled his plate, then picked it up along with a pair of chopsticks, picked up a piece of spicy pork and aimed it at Daniel's mouth.

"Hey! I don't need feeding. This is going too far," Daniel said, laughing as he did. "Look, guys, I do appreciate this attention, but let me eat on my own, please. You need to eat yours while it's still hot. Jack, switch the TV on and start the film, will you? We may as well have fun."

As Jack was nearest the remote control, he took charge of it and started the first film. "Crash."

"Don'tcha think that that Spader guy looks like Daniel?" Jack asked Paul a short way into the film.

Paul looked back at Daniel in an exaggerated manner, then at the screen.

"Hmm, I see what you mean. But Daniel's better looking."

Daniel swatted Paul with a cushion, his face grinning from ear to ear. They continued to eat accompanied by cries of 'ew' and 'gross' and that wasn't Jack finding the sushi, either.

"Could you not have picked a less, um, disturbing film than this?" he complained as he cast fierce glances at his younger lovers.

"Well, we could." Daniel bent down and whispered something to Paul, making him grin. He headed over to the video collection and called out a few names. "Pulp Fiction? No? The Deer Hunter?"

"Something NON-violent, please?" Jack begged. "I need a break from reality."

"So, no Star Wars, Independence Day..." This time, after putting his plate down, Jack hit Paul with the cushion. Paul hit him back, and before Jack knew where he was he had a major sitting on him. In-between laughs and attempts at tickling each other, they kissed. Lightly at first, then it grew in intensity, the food and films forgotten.

Daniel felt himself getting terribly aroused at the sight of his lovers, now on the floor and tussling for position. Paul hadn't replaced his shirt and Jack's came off quickly. Daniel sneaked into the kitchen which was closer than the bedroom, and grabbed some oil from the counter. By the time he had got back in, both men's jeans were undone and were slowly being worked down.

"Well, this is a pretty picture," Daniel purred as he got by their sides.

They broke apart, slightly embarrassed by their display.

"No, don't stop," came the quiet order. "I want to watch you. Better than any old film."

He stood up and stripped, the men hungrily watching him. Then they continued, finishing undressing each other, kissing and touching as they did.

Jack went to touch Paul's dick, but Daniel stopped him.

"Oh no, you're not coming, not yet. Not until I tell you. Keep kissing."

Now naked, they carried on kissing, aching to touch and get off, but doing as Daniel asked. He heard them panting, getting desperate, the noise getting to him. He knelt by them, touching them both, trailing kisses down each one's spine in turn. Then he had a wicked idea.

"Stop." They stopped, almost whimpering as they did. They saw him push the sofa back to give them more space.

"Paul, lie on your back, you Jack, do the same. Twist a bit to face each other," he added as he knelt between them. He was near their groins, their abdomens barely brushing each other, their thighs rubbing against the outside of Daniel's. He told them to kiss again, and as they did, they felt his breath as he bent down, his face near theirs. Featherlight kisses trailed over their uppermost cheeks, Daniel's tongue snaking in-between their lips. They continued to kiss though, knowing that he didn't want them to stop. His breath came in pants and they realised that he was jerking off. Then he knelt back up and they looked at him. With a muffled grunt, he came, spurting over their stomachs and covering them. They both groaned as he wriggled back, his knees now in-between their feet, pulling their bodies together as close as they could go. Then he bent over again, still panting from his climax, and grabbing both of their cocks in one hand he took both heads in his mouth at once and sucked as hard as he could. That was enough for them and they came almost together. Daniel couldn't swallow, there was too much for him, so they felt the hot fluid as it ran back down over them.

"Dear God!" Jack cried out, then he broke from Paul and flopped onto his back.

A similar sentiment came from Paul as he tried to regain some sort of composure. He sat up and grabbed Daniel, kissing him hard, cleaning out the come from his lover's mouth as he sucked on his tongue. Jack sat up too, joining in, taking Daniel's head from Paul's grasp for a moment, needing to be there, to be a part of this.

Finally, all three sat back, gasping for breath.

"Damn, I didn't get to use this," Daniel sniggered as he picked up the oil.

"Later, hun," Paul promised. "After our bath?"

"Bath would be good, or a shower. It's quicker," Jack commented.

"Shower it is," Daniel agreed. He couldn't wait to get those two into bed.

After a playful shower, the three men crashed on the bed, Daniel in his customary position in the middle. He'd been telling them what to do whilst they were cleaning up, and Paul wondered if he could ever shut off his dominant side. Jack left the room and came back with some glasses of wine for the three of them, passing them out and saying to Daniel, "You once said you'd tell us why you have so much control and why you have to be in control. Please, Daniel, talk to us."

Daniel downed his drink in one and then lay back. He allowed Jack to take over for a minute and felt himself being pulled to lie with his head on Jack's chest, Paul snuggling in a little closer and adding to Daniel's feeling that he was the filling in a sandwich.

"Let me, please, Danny," he said, stroking Daniel's hair when Daniel tried to pull out. "Let me take care of you for a while. Please."

"Okay. I think I can do that. But just for a while, Jack. If I lose my control, I may never get it back. It's why I couldn't let you guys do too much tonight out there," he added, pointing to the bedroom door.


"You don't want to hear it."

"We do," Paul encouraged.

"It's not nice."

"No, I didn't think for a moment it would be. Talk to me." Jack was urging him now, in the way that he'd been urged to talk a few months before.

Daniel sighed and then started to speak. His lovers said nothing, Jack just stroked his hair as the words came, haltingly at first, then spilling out in a rush.

"When I was eleven I was put into a foster home of a God-fearing couple. It was okay at first. I had to put up with the constant prayer times, but hey, I'd grown up in a Muslim country with set prayer times during the day, I could relate. I had no religion myself, and they thought that I was a sinning heathen that needed to be converted. So after school, I would be made to sit and read the Bible. Not really a problem for me either, as I'd already read a fair bit of the Koran in Arabic. It was an interesting compare and contrast exercise for me. I liked some of what I read, disagreed with other bits. I loved the Christian stories, at least the ones about love and compassion. They made sense to me. I hated the bits saying that people had to be killed because they had 'sinned'. You know me and the death penalty, I hate it. Anyway, after a while, the woman got herself a job at some college or other and would come home later than before. I was eleven, it's not as if I couldn't be on my own. That's when it started."

He pulled himself to sit up and faced away from Jack, pushing Paul away a bit too. They knew now not to touch him or interrupt him, just let him speak.

"The man, he decided that I was a hopeless case, maybe a lost cause. So he started to beat the sin out of me."

Both Paul and Jack shuddered. He couldn't imagine what Daniel of all people would be doing that would trigger that. Daniel turned and looked at them, knowing that that was what they were thinking.

"I didn't pray, guys. I wasn't religious. I didn't believe. And I never gave into him. I was happy to learn about the religion, but I wouldn't be converted, wouldn't allow them to baptise me. He got angry."

He faced away from them again, just looking at the bedcover that sat over them, and this time continued till he finished.

"He started by hitting me with his belt. I refused to back down or cry. Next time, he used a rod. Always on my ass, never anywhere that would be seen. Of course, you know how stubborn I am. The more he hit me, the more I refused. Then he would tie my hands to a post and pull down my shorts and hit me when I was naked. I tried to tell the woman, but she wouldn't believe me. Then one day, he used his hand, spanking my bare backside. He was so got off on that. I was getting scared by then, and finally told a teacher. But he didn't believe me. Of course, spanking doesn't leave as much of a mark as a belt, does it? So, no proof. And back then, in the seventies, child abuse wasn't something that was spoken about. So I learned to control myself and my fear, bit down on it when I saw him. He never once saw me afraid. Defiant, yes, afraid no. It escalated, of course. His wife came home one day, found the social worker on the doorstep, there to check up on me I guess. She came up to my room with the social worker and saw me tied to a bed, with him fucking me. I wasn't making a sound. It wasn't the first time he'd done it either. Needless to say, the social worker called the cops, they got me out of there, arrested him, and he got sent down. But I had to stand in court and tell them what had happened, who I had told and so on. They tried to make it sound like I'd encouraged him. Somehow, the control I'd taught myself got me through it."

The words stopped and Jack swept Daniel into his arms, Paul holding him from the other side. When Daniel looked at Jack's face he saw love, anger and a whole lot of tears falling from his eyes, and then he got the same from Paul too.

"Fucking bastard," Jack hissed. "What happened to him. Where is he now?"

"Hanged himself in prison. Or one of the prisoners got him. Don't know. He's dead. She blamed me, you know. Said I'd made him do it."

"Stupid bitch. Tell me things got better, Danny?"

"Sure, Jack. They got better."

"Daniel?" Paul was curious, but almost afraid to know what happened next.

"No one wanted me for ages. Who wants a kid who's seen his parents squashed, been raped and has an IQ higher than them?"

"Who took you?"

"Eventually, I was taken in by a wonderful family. I got lucky. For three years I knew real love. Their kids wanted me, I wanted them, they really loved me. I'd never felt more welcome in my life."

They knew that somehow this wasn't going to end well, or else they'd have heard more.


"They were going to adopt me. They tracked Nick down, went to see him. They were killed en route."

Neither Jack nor Paul had any idea what they could to say to that. They held Daniel closer and closer till he complained that he couldn't breathe. It explained a hell of a lot about Daniel though. Why he needed to be controlled and in control, why he had no place in his life for violence. Jack had one query though.

"How come you liked being tied up?"

"Ah. First boyfriend managed to persuade me to tie him up. Let's say I got off on the power thing. He was a lot older than me and he wanted me to take charge. I hadn't told him about the rapes. You're the only ones that know, by the way, and I'd like it to stay that way."

"Of course, it stays with us till we die, Danny, you know that. Won't it Paul?"

"Too right it will."

Daniel nodded and then took another breath before continuing.

"Anyway, I saw how much Fai loved it, and after a long time I came to trust him - it took years - and then I trusted him enough to tie me up. He was so gentle with me, always making sure that he wasn't hurting me, making me happy before he even looked at himself, it made it okay for me. I found that I loved being in the dominant position, preferred to top even though I'm okay about being bottom now and then. I've always gone for guys that are bigger than me or older than me. Guess I like being in control of someone that should be in control of me."

"Is that why you're with me?" Jack asked.

"No. Yes, at first my attraction to you probably had a lot to do with that. But over the years I've grown to love you for who you are, Jack, not what you are." He turned to Paul. "It's not set in stone," he said with a grin to his smaller and younger lover. "You and I were friends for ages before we got together, weren't we? I grew to love you as a friend, then I fell in love with you, even though I was attracted to you at first. Believe it or not, with you guys, I don't get off on dominating you. I used to, with other partners, but not with you two."

"So, why are you still the dom?" Paul asked more curious now as to his reasons.

"Because it's ingrained in me? I'm not sure. I know you both need me to be this way, so that you can relax and be safe. And I still need to be in control because I'm scared shitless of losing it."

"I get that, Danny. But you said we were 'it', for life and all. What happens when I retire and no longer need a dom?" Jack put in.

"I don't know, Jack," Daniel sighed. "I'm hoping that I can change for you. Be what you need me to be when you need me to be it."

"You don't have to change, Daniel. Just be you. I love you. We love you. I know that I fell in love with the Daniel that I met at work, and now I love the Daniel that I have at home. Both Daniels are you. When it's time to stop, to let go, I'll be there for you. I promise, Danny. I'm not going anywhere. We'll work it out."

"Me too, Dan," Paul added. "You've done so much for me, stopped me from going quite mad over the last couple of years. But if you need to learn to give up control, then I'm here for you too. Being with you is enough for me now. There's no reason we can't play from time to time, but you don't have to be our dom all the time. If you feel you need it, then fine. But if you don't, then we'll work it out as Jack says."

Daniel smiled at them and kissed them both. "Thanks, guys. I love you both equally, you know that, don't you?"

They agreed that they did. Then Jack asked, "There's still something wrong, something bothering you, isn't there?"

"What if something happens at work?" Daniel asked, still uptight about Sam's attitude. "You know, if Sam says anything?"

"I can retire - I've got enough goodwill stored up," Jack said.

"I can resign, get an honourable discharge," Paul announced. "I've got enough shit on some of the generals on the JCS," he added with a smirk. "They won't want me to go down, I'm telling you. But I'll resign before I'm made to give you up, Daniel. I know that. I can do loads of things. I want to go into politics proper, start fighting outside for gay rights in the forces, that sort of thing. I'm just saying that Jack and I have options, so don't feel bad if it happens, okay?"

With one last thought as to how Daniel could be made to give up control that night, Jack headed to Daniel's cupboard and pulled out some ties.


"You're going to lose it, Danny. You're going to get what you love. And don't worry about me, I'm fine with the idea."

"Promise me?" Daniel pleaded.

"Oh, I promise. Thanks to you I've been able to let go of my past. Let us help you let go of yours."

Daniel inexplicably felt afraid, though he didn't let on. He schooled his face to look the way it had done all those years before. Jack noticed the change in Daniel's attitude and stopped dead.

"Daniel? What's wrong? I know you like being tied up, so what's up?"

Daniel didn't know how to answer that for a moment, then he realised. "I like it when I'm the one in control, Jack. I also just realised what I put you through when I tied you up that first time. I am so sorry. I wouldn't have done it if I'd known why you were so upset by the thought."

"I know, it's okay, Daniel. You can tie me up anytime now, I'm seriously okay about it. But in the meantime, I think that you can have some fun without the ties."

"I won't lose it unless I'm restrained, Jack. I'm too afraid of hurting you."

Jack's reply to that was to pull Daniel further down the bed before he got on it himself, straddling Daniel's thighs, sitting on him and holding him down. Paul grabbed Daniel's hands in his and held them over his head.

"Daniel," Jack said with a grin. "Get out of this one."

Smiling back, Daniel struggled and found that he couldn't get out of it.

"Do you have a safe word?" Jack asked him. "You know mine, but it just dawned on me that I don't know yours - or Paul's for that matter."

"I do. Paul's is 'rainbow'," he said with a grin.

"And yours?"

Daniel shrugged. "Shau're."

Jack nodded in understanding, she had always been his 'safe haven'. It made sense that he'd call to her if he was afraid.

"Good, now let the fun begin."

"Uh, guys? What are you going to do to me?" Daniel asked as they both moved to lay by his side.

"Blow your mind, Dan," Paul whispered as he put his lips by Daniel's ears, the touch of gentle breath sending a shiver down Daniel's spine.

Jack kicked the cover off and started work. While Paul kept Daniel's top half occupied, kissing his face and so on, Jack took care of his lower half. The twin sensations of Paul biting on his neck and Jack sucking his toes one at a time had Daniel hard. By the time Jack was kissing the insides of his ankles and Paul was suckling on his nipples, Daniel was moaning. The backs of his knees and kisses trailed down the inside of his arms and elbows made his head thrash about. Bites up the straining muscles of his thighs as his legs were pushed apart and Paul kissing and sucking his fingers got him close. They backed off, turned him onto his hands and knees so that his dick wouldn't touch anything to grant him relief. Then they changed places and Jack started on the back of his neck while Paul licked his ass cheeks.

A quick look from Paul to Jack was greeted with a short nod. Jack trailed kisses down Daniel's spine while Paul got in-between Daniel's legs, pushed his cheeks apart and started to rim him.

"OHFUCK! Do something, please, don't stop, fuck me, suck me, whatever, just do it!" Daniel demanded.

"We will," Jack said in a patient tone that belied his own impatience. "We will. Just wait. Don't come, Danny, hold on for us."

Daniel tried to shut himself down, to allow his control to take over, but found it increasingly difficult. Jack opened the bedside table drawer and pulled out a few things, then grabbed the base of Daniel's cock and tugged on his balls, collapsing his erection. He slipped a ring over him and let him go.

"No coming yet, Danny," he teased.

Daniel was cursing him and starting to fight back. Jack was about to stop when Paul shook his head. Of course, no safe word. Daniel was actually enjoying the hell out of this exquisite torture.

They kept it up until they could take it no more, turning him around, kissing every inch of his body, leaving bite marks everywhere. Apart from for Jack's rude interruption, neither of them had touched Daniel's cock, which was again hard and bright-red.

"Please, please, I need to come," Daniel whispered.

"You will. Soon. On your knees, Daniel," Jack said quietly. He did as he was told, felt someone push his legs as far apart as they would go, then some cool liquid was applied to his anus. Not saying anything out loud, he inwardly yelled 'about fucking time'.

Paul pushed inside him without ceremony. Jack watched as he saw the younger man making love to their lover. Daniel was resting on his forearms, his head dropped, panting hard and groaning in equal measure.

"More," he demanded. Paul sped up, pushing in as far as he could go. "MORE." Paul let loose and thrust into him.

"Jack," Daniel begged, "undo the ring."

"Not yet, Danny, my turn in a bit," Jack teased.

The groan that came from Daniel at that could only be interpreted as a dirty, happy groan. Torture or not, Daniel was loving this.

"Let go, Daniel, I want to hear you, want to watch you fight back," Jack ordered.

Daniel's head snapped up, his eyes open wide, wild, passionate. He reached out and grabbed Jack, pulling him close and kissing him savagely. Noises from Paul told them that he was coming, and they looked back, Daniel craning his neck to see the sight he loved. Paul's eyes blackened with desire, his mouth open, panting hard, gasping for breath as he came. He slammed in with each release till he had no more.

Jack pulled him out and pushed him to lie with Daniel. Paul wriggled till he was under him and being kissed hard, both men fighting for breath as their lips and tongues battled. Jack took Paul's place and went for it, fucking Daniel hard and fast, knowing that he wasn't going to last. A minute or two later, and the view of his lovers kissing frantically as he fucked the man he loved more than life itself was too much.

"NOW PAUL," he yelled.

Paul pulled away from Daniel's kiss and quickly slid down the bed, still underneath him. He put his mouth on Daniel's dick, loosened the ring and deep-throated him as the relief of being released forced Daniel to come. That in turn pushed Jack over the edge and he tumbled, collapsing onto Daniel's back. Daniel nearly squashed Paul as his legs gave way, the major just managing to get out of the way before he did.

Somehow, they managed to find the strength to crawl up the bed. Daniel was the first to regain his powers of speech.

"Oh my fucking God," he gasped.

"Nope, just us," Jack sniggered. Paul lightly tapped him, too out of it to reply. "You okay, Daniel?" Jack asked.

"I'm fine. Wonderful. Fucked."

"Well and truly," Paul finally got out.

They started to laugh, hugging closely as they did. The laughter built out of all proportion as if a steam valve had been released and they ended up howling and helpless. Eventually, they calmed down. Paul grabbed the wipes and carefully cleaned Daniel up. Then Daniel took some and cleaned Jack, who, in turn, cleaned Paul. It seemed to be appropriate.

"Do you think you can let go, now, Daniel?" Jack asked when they were all snuggling under the cover later.

"Maybe. Possibly. It's certainly going to be easier now," Daniel replied sleepily.