Title: Hiding From the Truth
Word Count: 14,882
Beta: With great patience by annejackdanny.
Summary: Jack hides in a bottle but who or what is he hiding from.
Warnings: External and internalised homophobia. Discussion of physical abuse. Angst…oh the angst.
A/N: This was my first slash story and started life as a tiny plot bunny that suddenly grew big pointy teeth. The poetry is mine, please do not use or share without my permission.
Twelve bottles of Guinness, one large bottle of Bushmills (because the Jack Daniels was just too fucking apt) and a bottle of Dr. McGillicuddy’s Vanilla Schnapps (just in case). That was probably just about enough, Jack thought, to tie one on and reach the level of inebriation necessary to blot out the pictures scrolling across his minds-eye in startling clarity.
A finger gently stroking across prominent knuckles.
After all he had no one to blame but himself, so the humongous hangover that would chase his rapid descent into oblivion would be a fitting punishment.
That sweet smile, flanked by deep dimples aimed at someone who was not Jack.
Jack shuffled forward in the liquor store queue, too caught up in his self-inflicted misery to feel his usual irritation at the slowness of the checkout guy.
The pull of muscles beneath the cream sweater (Jack’s cream sweater, the one Daniel stole from his closet so many months ago) as he reached across the table to flick crumbs from another man’s chin.
He wasn’t angry; after all he had no right to be. But the hurt that radiated through his body was vicious as it cut through his defenses and made a liar of him.
The intimate words – unheard from Jack’s viewpoint outside the window – that made a pink blush stain Daniel’s cheeks.
As Jack was standing in line, he thought back to the day when he’d told Daniel it was over; had to be over.
He wanted to believe it was the right thing to do. He said the words as clearly and succinctly as he could, no mess, no fuss. But Daniel being Daniel wanted to talk; wanted to dissect his reasoning, try to dissuade him. But Jack needed him to leave it alone, because his resolve was really not that good. He was holding onto the cliff edge of his sanity with both hands as his heart screamed ‘no, No, NO’. So he let the lie leave his lips before he even thought about the pain it would inflict on the man he loved more than his own life.
“I met someone in DC when I was there this week. She’s attaché to Paul Davis’ CO.”
And he knew he was pressing the right buttons; hell, he knew Daniel better than he knew himself. His lover’s biggest fear was that Jack would realize he really did like women more than Daniel; that Jack’s sexual feelings towards the younger man would one day be overwritten by soft hips and a pair of tits. After all, he’d only said he was bisexual with regard to Daniel; no other man had ever made him feel so aroused or needy or desperate to hold and bite and suck and bury himself into hot tight heat…had they?
Jack groaned quietly (to the consternation of the woman behind him in the queue) as the reality of his feelings for his beautiful archaeologist sent a flush of want through him alongside the clawing pain of losing the love of his life.
As though he liked torturing himself he couldn’t stop remembering…
Daniel’s face paled and the hand clutching at Jack’s bicep fell away as if burned.
“D…did you…she…” Daniel stammered, his color turning rapidly gray.
Jack just nodded, a little noncommittal nod, feeling the lie burning him as Daniel’s reaction seared through his retinas to be etched behind his eyes; there whenever he closed his eyelids.
“Okay,” Daniel turned away from him, futzing with something on his desk. Jack was glad he’d decided to do this at work. It meant there could be no scene, no outpouring of vitriol, and no pleas for explanations. A surgical strike, completed with as little bloodshed as possible; although Jack felt eviscerated by the empty despair in Daniel’s eyes as he turned back to look at him. “Thanks for telling me so quickly,” he said quietly, with only the faintest tremor in his voice. “I’ll go and get my stuff from your place this afternoon about 3.00. Please don’t come home till after 5.00. That should give me enough time.”
Daniel shifted back around; made no further attempt to discuss the perfect thing they’d been together. Jack turned on his heels without another word and blew through the corridors like ten pounds of C4, parting all personnel who got in his way like the SGC’s very own Moses. He slammed into his office, closing and locking the door behind him and promptly fell to his knees, depositing the contents of his stomach on the floor as his heart was ripped in two.
With a sympathetic lurch of his gut at the memory, Jack found himself outside the store, bottled purchases in a sturdy brown paper bag in his right hand, the box of Guinness hanging from his left. He found himself unable to care what the cost of the liquor had been and whether the young guy behind the counter had seen his distraction and fleeced him for a few hundred dollars. None of that mattered any more. Daniel had moved on. Jack had seen the evidence for himself and there was nothing he could do now but go home, get drunk and then try to work out how to live the rest of his life without Daniel.
The drive home was mercifully short and the traffic was light this time of night. Jack managed to get himself and his precious cargo back to the house and through the front door. He didn’t even take off his leather jacket before the first bottle of dark brew was opened and half gone in one large swallow. The rest of the bottle was gone before his shoes were kicked off under the sofa and the second of the dozen beers was history by the time he’d lined up his liquid insensibility on the coffee table. It was only then he allowed himself to feel.
And the whip of his own treachery stung deeply as it lashed his soul.
Jack snorted derisively as he remembered the overheard conversation that had set him on this path to heartbreak.
Walking past the Linguistics Department one day, on the lookout for Daniel – who was MIA from a planned lunch in the commissary – he heard Dr. Swift’s English accent regaling an unknown other. Swift was a thirty-something language whiz who Daniel had recruited from Oxford. Jack remembered him because, aside from Daniel of course, he was probably the most beautiful man Jack had ever seen; thick black hair that curled slightly at the ends, sparkling green eyes and a pale slightly freckled complexion that spoke of his Irish heritage. He was an inch or two taller than Jack and kept himself in great shape for a geek. Daniel said he had chosen academia over rugby, which he could have played as a professional. Jack remembered commenting at the time that choosing geekdom over professional sports meant the guy was certifiably ‘wacko’. Daniel had just rolled his eyes.
Swift was everything Jack knew he never could be; young, good looking and Daniel’s intellectual equal. So the content of the conversation behind the half-closed door came as no real surprise.
“I don’t have a chance, Dave. I know Daniel’s gay; he made no secret of it at college. But O’Neill is always with him on base and it seems to me they’re spending most of their down time together, too.”
“O’Neill?” The un-named voice sounded disbelieving. “You’re not suggesting that cold SOB is gay?”
A snort of derisory laughter came from Swift. “Hardly. But it seems to me he thinks that because Daniel is his friend he has a prior claim to his time.”
‘Damn right,’ Jack growled to himself, wishing he could just move on, but too interested in what Swift had to say to make his way.
“Well, what Daniel sees in that broken down old fart I have no idea,” the second speaker opined. “Gray hair, dumb-ass persona. How a guy like him gets to be a colonel I’ve no idea. The Air Force seems to confuse blind adherence to orders with intelligence. His body is shot to hell, too. I’ve seen the state of that mans x-rays. His back is wrecked and his knees are only one injury away from keeping him planet side indefinitely.”
Although he was madder than hell with the assessment of him as a man and as an officer Jack couldn’t argue with the truth of his physical condition. It was obvious that the unidentified man was a nurse or technician in the Infirmary and even Jack couldn’t refute the evidence of his scans. Also it was obvious to anyone who looked at him that he was getting old and well past his prime.
“I know if I could get a shot at him, I could make Daniel really happy,” Swift continued, unaware of the glowering stone killer lurking outside his door. “The man’s a fucking god, a genius and to top it all a really nice guy. Trouble is with ‘Jack, the Ripper’ always hanging over his shoulder there’s no way to give it a try.” Swift gave a deep sigh and Jack was almost sorry for the guy despite himself. He knew that feeling of despair with regard to Daniel, had lived with it for four years before he’d ‘screwed his courage to the sticking place’ and told Daniel how he felt. ‘Wonder what you’d think,’ Jack grumbled to himself, ‘if you heard this dumb-ass colonel spouting Shakespeare.’
“Didn’t you try when he was in England?”
Jack had listened harder, wanting to know that, too. Their affair had been very young at that point and having Daniel thousands of miles away had been difficult for Jack on many levels, not least this exact scenario.
“I was still finishing my doctorate, he was a visiting lecturer. I managed to buy him a drink in the pub one night when he was out with my tutor,” Swift explained, “but he made it very clear that he didn’t do one-night-stands. So I backed off.” The huge gusting sigh told Jack how hard that had been for the Doctor of Linguistics. “I never dreamed I’d get to work with him.”
“Why don’t you go for it?” the friendly tech asked. “O’Neill goes to DC tomorrow; he won’t be hanging around to get in your way. Make your move. What’s the worst that can happen? The guy can only say no.”
“That is the worst that could happen,” Swift groaned dramatically. “I think I’m falling hard, Dave. If he says no, then I don’t know what I’ll do.”
Jack heard enough and felt strangely off-kilter. He moved with his usual stealth and made his way back along the corridor, all thoughts of finding Daniel gone in the wake of what he’d heard.
Four hours later Daniel found him in his office, scowling at the blotter as if he wanted to commit murder.
“Ready to go, Jack?”
Jack looked at Daniel then, knowing that something momentous was going to happen, but unsure what and he felt the bottom was about to fall out of his world. What if they were right; what if Daniel was wasting his time being with a clapped out old soldier when he could have the benefits of youth, intelligence and vigor that Swift could give him.
“How’s that new linguist working out,” he asked casually as he steered the truck out of the parking lot later.
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“Good, good. He’s very quick, has really in depth knowledge of the Celtic and Norse languages. He fits in well with the rest of the department. I think he’d be a good choice for an SG team eventually.”
Jack nodded and then just as casually he asked, “I don’t even know what the guy looks like. Have I seen him…in a briefing or something?”
“God, Jack. If you’d seen him you’d remember. He’s 6’4”, built, black hair, green eyes. The guy is seriously hot.” Daniel turned to him, eyes twinkling with amusement, “He has all the gay men in my department preening and primping around him like you’ve never seen, and I’ve even noticed a couple of Marines flexing their muscles in his direction, too.”
It took everything Jack had not to slam on the brakes and take Daniel right there in the front seat of his truck in broad daylight. The need to possess, claim, brand, hit him with hammer blows to his gut and his hands were white with tension as they strangled the steering wheel.
“I’ll look out for him then.” He was proud of the steadiness of his voice. Daniel carried on chatting about this and that without a clue of the turmoil in Jack’s head.
As soon as they got inside the house Jack had Daniel pressed up against the door, pants around his ankles and Jack’s hand firmly clasped around his dick. The triumph he felt as he brought Daniel to screaming orgasm was quickly dashed as his own libido failed to get with the program, the cold fear and roiling insecurities making his cock limp and unresponsive.
Afterward Daniel said all the right things and was clearly concerned. There was nothing but care from his young lover who decided that Jack was tired and should sleep.
But the morning brought no relief and Jack rolled out of bed with the dawn, scared that Daniel might want him before he left for DC and knowing that he wouldn’t be able to give his lover what he needed.
DC was a blur of boring meetings and ass-licking receptions. All the time Jack was there he could hear the voices of Daniel and Swift, mixing, intermingling, taunting him: Too old, too scarred, too broken down, too hard, too gray, too cold…too…too…
And at 0300 on the last day of the trip he’d made up his mind that for Daniel’s sake he had to finish it. Swift would be there to pick up the pieces and as much as the thought of Daniel with another man made Jack want to die, the thought of Daniel wasting his spectacular brilliance on him was worse.
Bottle number four was gone without him even remembering flicking off the cap and the slight buzz heralded the need for the first slug of the Irish gold. He didn’t bother with a glass; knowing that eventually he would end up missing his aim and spilling the precious stuff on the table or the floor. So he stuck to the tried and true method of slugging it straight from the bottle. His Da would have been outraged, but that was a natural state for Seamus O’Neill. Jack clamped down on memories of his father. He didn’t want old ghosts at this wake; this was his funeral and he didn’t want to share. The whiskey burned its welcoming trail down his long throat and he chased it with a long slug of Guinness number five.
And still the pictures scrolled across his vision; even with his eyes screwed tightly shut he could still see them…
The shifting of feet under the table, ankles touching and sliding.
This was all going too slow. Another swallow of Bushmills went down a little too fast and threatened to come right back up again, but Jack’s control over his body was absolute. He wasn’t about to waste a drop of oblivion on the floor of his lounge room. He swallowed hard and breathed through the nausea. He could feel the edges of his senses beginning to blur and welcomed the feeling like a long lost friend. It sparked the memory of long nights after Charlie, waiting for the point at which the pain had dulled and the visual recall dimmed. Perhaps, soon, he could forget the picture of Daniel and Matt Swift cozied up at the restaurant table, smiling and flirting and looking…oh god, looking like a couple.
Fingers touching across the table, glances meeting, nods and laughter.
Despite the pain, despite the feeling of dislocation and despair, Jack had known, as soon as he’d seen them together, that he had done the right thing.
They looked so right. Swift’s extra four inches and broader build made Daniel look almost small by comparison; the contrast of his black hair making Daniel’s look blonder, the paleness of his skin showing Daniel’s light golden tan to its best advantage. They had so much in common; intellectually, whilst not equals (for who could ever be with Daniel) they were true colleagues. They were both gay with extensive experience of sleeping with other men. Jack had been a total virgin and had resisted any of Daniel’s attempts to be on top. They were both hot, beautiful men who looked as if they belonged together. No one would ever be surprised that they were lovers. There was nothing; no level on which Jack could compete, so he had decided to take himself out of the game and had succeeded spectacularly.
Jack scrubbed his hand roughly through his hair, biting down on his cheek to try to stem the tide of self-pity that threatened to take him under. He slammed back bottle number six and threw it hard, end over end, to smash against the fireplace, not even flinching when fine splinters of glass ricocheted back to hit him across the face and backs of his hands. He merely reached out for the next brew and wrenched off the top, flicking the droplets of blood from his skin in the same direction as the bottle top.
It had been almost a week before he’d heard that Daniel and Matt were going on a date. Carter of all people had brought it to his attention. He’d been surprised at first that she’d felt the need to tell him. But then he realized that Sam was gloating, just a little. She had set her cap for him, he knew that and, despite her sisterly relationship with Daniel, she had always been jealous of their close friendship.
Jack didn’t think she suspected they’d been lovers; she had given no inkling that she did. But she seemed to take great pleasure in letting him know that Daniel was going to ‘Torro’ with Swift that night. The exclusive restaurant was a well-known date venue.
“Do you think they’re…?”
“They are colleagues, Carter, and civilians. What they do in their spare time has nothing to do with us.”
“But, sir, aren’t you the least bit curious. I mean Swift is gay; he makes no secret of it…sooo…Daniel? Could he be? I thought if anyone would know, you…”
“CARTER! The subject is closed.” Jack gave her his best CO stare and she subsided immediately like the good little subordinate. It wasn’t discussed again.
Jack sleepwalked his way through the rest of the day, praying not to meet Daniel in the corridors or commissary. For once the gods were on his side and he made it through the day without the gut wrenching pain of seeing his beautiful archaeologist. With a little wrangling and sweet-talking he managed to get a break from off world missions for SG-1 for two weeks. He put in for some leave to butt onto the end of that – god knows he had plenty to take – and the others would be going out with Carter as temporary CO for a month until he’d be back…if he would come back. He could see the concern in Hammond’s face when he told him he needed time away, but the man was a good enough leader to know when it was the wrong time to pry.
He left the mountain much later that evening, planning to book his flight to Minnesota. Perhaps in the calm atmosphere of the cabin by the lake he could find some closure. He had to find a way to move on or move out. Retirement was a real option and the one he was favoring.
But that wasn’t the way it turned out. He pulled onto the forecourt of the Chinese takeout on South Tejon Street, planning on ordering enough to last him the whole weekend. That way he wouldn’t have to face the world for a while. A quick glance to his left told him his subconscious was in charge. His search for food had brought him way out of his usual stomping grounds and placed him right outside ‘Torro’. And there, across the dimly lit restaurant, was Daniel, deep in intimate conversation with Matt Swift.
Jack was frozen in place. He knew he had to go; his senses screaming that any moment Daniel could look up and see him there. The younger man would not understand that Jack was at the mercy of his autonomic system; that his mind had brought him here with no conscious will. Daniel would accuse him of spying; stalking even, and any chance of them ever saying a civil word to one another again would be lost. Daniel would ask to leave SG-1 and Jack would have to explain it all to Hammond, along with handing over his resignation.
He’d probably only stood there for 30 seconds, maybe less, but the whole story of Daniel’s attraction to Matt Swift had played out in glorious Technicolor. As soon as he could wrench control of his limbs back from his treacherous mind he’d turned on his heels and booked to the liquor store.
And now he was downing number seven, chasing the first half of the whiskey into his churning gut. The schnapps was looking like it might be necessary after all. Jack still wasn’t drunk enough yet.
He stood, a little unsteadily and weaved across the room towards the guest bathroom. He relieved himself and moved to wash his hands. Hygiene was important even if you were planning to get so wasted you’d probably piss yourself before morning. His reflection in the mirror above the sink made him sneer; gray hair above a lined face peppered with little specks of blood from the tiny splinters of glass he could see shining on his skin. The bleak empty hopelessness in his eyes enraged him and he snatched down the mirror and slammed it down on the edge of the sink, then dropped it into the basin where it lay, cracked and useless, reflecting the fractured image of his face as he looked down on it.
He stumbled back to the lounge room and, with shaking fingers, twisted the cap off number eight. The Guinness was definitely only going to last a little longer so the likelihood of his vomit tasting of Vanilla in the morning was looking more certain. He could feel himself getting maudlin and was vaguely disgusted that this stage had to be got through before the completely smashed stage could take effect.
Feeling the need to be comfortable, but not wanting to move from his spot on the couch, Jack flicked the buttons on his jeans and peeled them away from his slightly sweaty flesh. He’d been so distracted that week that he’d forgotten to take clean underwear to the base and had gone commando today. He reached inside to settle his balls away from the seam of his pants and made a pass along his flaccid cock. Poor dead thing that it was, it just lay there insensate. Booze never affected Jack’s ability to get hard; hell, nothing in his long and not always illustrious past had done that.
The likelihood of a life without Daniel had taken his libido and locked it away for the duration. Jack had no doubt that there would never be another lover in his life. Daniel had been it for him.
Flinging his arms out to the side with a deep sigh his empty hand landed on the remote for the CD player lodged between the cushions. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d used the stereo and he was meticulous about putting the remote in its assigned place so he could find it. Daniel was always the one who just left it where it dropped and he hadn’t been there for a couple of weeks.
Blearily he poked at the ‘standby’ and ‘play’ buttons and was surprised when the mournful sound of Uilleann pipes came drifting from the speakers. This was Daniel’s favorite of Jack’s CDs. It was a compilation of traditional music from Ireland that Jack’s mother had given him one Christmas, her last Christmas as it happened. Sinead O’Neill had been eternally proud of her Irish heritage and not a birthday or Christmas had gone by without a reminder of that. This was one of the more tasteful gifts; the day-glo leprechaun garden gnome was not.
Too morose to care Jack just left the disc to play. His mind wandered to his mother and her idealistic vision of her only child. She had wanted him to be a priest…what Catholic mother didn’t want that for their son. But Ma had been desperate and had put all kinds of pressure on Jack to hear his calling. Jack knew God couldn’t call him; the sky was shouting too loud for God to be heard. Jack wanted to fly as fast and as far as possible from the cloying affection of his mother and the violent disdain of his father.
There were secrets held in his heart that only he and his father knew, secrets that would have killed his mother. His only recourse had been to run. The Air Force had offered him everything he wanted and barred what he needed. He’d quickly learned how to get what he wanted and to block what he needed and he’d made a life for himself. But in doing that he’d lost his family; at least he’d lost his mother. His father had never counted him as family…not after…
Jack took a pull at bottle number ten and then chased the bitter brew with a long swallow of the peaty liquor. His vision was blurring now and he was beginning to feel the slight turn of the Earth under his sprawled body.
Yeah…that was more like it.
The piper was playing a familiar tune and it wove its way into Jack’s consciousness.
“Oh no, you don’t, you sonuvabitch,” he growled and launched his half-full bottle at the player as the strains of ‘Oh Danny Boy’ filled the darkened room. Beer streamed from the neck as it flew end over end with unerring accuracy at the offending item which crashed in a most satisfying manner off the shelf. The glass from the bottle joined the shards from its sibling on the carpet as Jack reached forward and snagged another from the nearly empty carton on the table.
“Not sure that’s such a good idea, Jack. Not unless you’re planning on destroying all your electrical appliances tonight.”
Jack swiveled around in shock, the alcohol now swilling through his veins making it a less than graceful maneuver. “Whaaa…” he blurted.
Daniel made his way around the end of the couch and came to a halt by the coffee table. He looked stunning, still wearing Jack’s cream sweater and the black jeans that hugged his butt and made his legs seem endless. Jack watched his eyes take a quick sweep around the room and felt a strange flutter of pride. He had taught Daniel how to threat assess like that. He had no doubt that Daniel would be able to pinpoint all possible points of egress, potential weapons and any hostiles that might be in his lounge room. Being as the weapons were beer bottles and the hostile was very inebriated, Jack felt Daniel would be well able to respond if necessary.
“Got one of those to spare?” Daniel asked quietly, pointing at the bottle in Jack’s hand. The older man frowned and then waved at the lone Guinness on the coffee table. “Help yourself, but the shhn…snn…the Vanilla stuff is mine.”
Daniel gave a nod as he snagged the bottle between his first two fingers and twisted off the cap. Without missing a beat he threw it to land with the others in the fireplace and then folded himself into the armchair opposite Jack.
“Having a quiet drink at home?”
Jack felt a wave of sorrow pass over him at the gentle tone. He’d never heard Daniel speak to anyone else like that. It was the voice he used in bed, when they were basking in the afterglow; sticky and damp and warm; skin still tingling with the sparks of orgasm, the sounds of passion still ringing in their ears. He would run his fingers through Jack’s hair and talk to him about his dreams. They would connect on a level no one else could ever comprehend and fantasize about their future.
Until Matt Swift took Jack’s future away.
Jack took a deep swallow of the Bushmills to cover the trembling of his chin. Damn it, a surfeit of alcohol left him with no emotional control. If he didn’t watch it he’d be bawling like a baby.
“Whatcha doin’ here, Daniel?” Jack tried and failed to control the tremor in his voice. He coughed and tried again, too far gone to stop the impulse to talk; too drunk to see he should really just tell Daniel to leave. “Thought you had a date with Dr. Hot.”
Jack sniggered at his – allegedly – clever nickname and then subsided at the sad little smile Daniel gave him.
“You know I did. In fact you saw us at the restaurant.” There wasn’t any censure in Daniel’s voice, no blame or retribution, just sad acceptance.
Jack sat forward quickly, desperately needing Daniel to know that he hadn’t purposely followed him. The impetus and the level of alcohol in his bloodstream conspired to have him toppling over onto the coffee table and knocking the almost empty bottle of whiskey over. In a flash Daniel was there, righting the spinning bottle and placing a gentle hand on Jack’s shoulder, pressing him back into the couch. Jack turned bleary eyes to gaze at his ex-lover and was mortified to feel the press of tears as he looked his fill at the beloved face.
“Didn’t follow you or nothing,” he blurted out. “Wanted Mu Shu pork and you know Mr Chin’s doesn’t do it right and I’d heard about the one on Tejon and I drove up and…and …the place… Torrid…Horrid…yadda and you were right there and I didn’t know, Daniel,” he ended up yelling.
Daniel gave a small nod and sank down on the couch next to Jack. His proximity made Jack’s heart beat faster just before the memory of why he was here made it break apart. The spilling of tears down his cheeks made him mad as hell and he scrubbed angrily at his eyes.
“I can fuckin’ go where I fuckin’ like for my fuckin’ take out,” he growled belligerently, “just like you can have a date with your fuckin’ …b…b…boyfriend where ever the fuck you want.”
“Nice use of language there, Jack. Know any other curse words?” Daniel shook his head, but his eyes were soft and affectionate. “And for your information, Matt Swift is not my boyfriend.”
“Well, he should be,” Jack snapped, bringing his beer to his mouth with a waving hand.
Daniel’s face was a picture of confusion. The V between his eyebrows grew deeper and it was then that Jack realized he was wearing his contacts. His eyes were so vibrantly blue and, unshielded by his glasses, seemed to burn a path into Jack’s soul. He was fighting not to pull the younger man into his arms and in his inebriated state he had little in the way of willpower left.
“Why are you pushing me away, Jack? What did I do?” The open look of guilt that was written all over Daniel’s face made Jack’s brain override the liquid oblivion coursing round his blood stream.
“You didn’t do anything,” he drawled as he poked himself roughly in the chest. “I did it…Me.” He made an attempt at snagging the whiskey bottle, but missed by a good two inches. Shit, he was further gone than he thought. He had to get Daniel out of here before he started blurting out all sorts of emotional crap. “Told ya what I did,” he snapped, attempting cruel, but managing slurred. “I fucked somebody else; a woman. In DC…I told ya that.”
Daniel frowned again and fiddled with the beer that still hadn’t made it to his lips. “Yes, Jack, I know what you told me. But it wasn’t true, was it?” His blue eyes caught Jack’s and the older man was sure his scientist had been an interrogator in another life. There was no way he could look away from the clear, insightful gaze. Jack clamped his teeth onto the inside of his cheek and drew blood in his attempt not to give the game away with a drunken confession. He should have known his silence would not be enough to stop the dogged Dr. Jackson.
“You forgot one very important point, Jack.” Daniel didn’t wait for Jack to have a snappy comeback and Jack was pleased about that. He realized he was swiftly getting to the point where saying his name was going to be difficult.
“Paul Davis is my friend. He has a cell phone. I know his number.” Daniel cocked an eyebrow that underlined the sarcasm of his tone and continued, “So I rang him and he was very informative.”
A light bulb went on over Jack’s head. That’s what happened when you made stuff up on the fly. Always use a little truth in your dissembling that was SOP, but Jack had not used his own rules in his hurried attempt to push Daniel away from him.
“General Harrison’s attaché is not an attractive woman; in fact he is fifty-five, has been married for thirty-five years and has two very old incontinent beagles called Wallace and Grommit.” Daniel leaned forward and his gaze became even more intense. “Paul was with you the whole time, Jack. You had back-to-back meetings. The truth is you didn’t sleep with anyone. So why would you tell me that? Why would you push me away so hard?” The younger man stood up sharply and Jack rocked back in his seat in surprise.
“More importantly, why, when you have what you want, which is me out of your life and going out with someone else; why then would you feel the need to get so brain meltingly smashed that you can’t even hear me letting myself into the house?” Moving the left over packaging from the beer to one side Daniel sat down on the coffee table directly opposite Jack. He tilted his head to one side and waited.
Jack swallowed hard. This was exactly what he’d tried to avoid with his inept lies and his cowardly evasions. He was going to have to tell Daniel what was going through his head and he was afraid, more afraid than he’d ever been in his life. The whiskey/stout combination was working better that sodium pentothal and, god, he was going to spill and there was so much crap to come out. He was starting to wish he’d had the guts to do this while he and Daniel were still together because he was sure once Daniel heard the down and dirty truth he would be outta here ‘toot sweet’.
“Daniel, you don’t wanna hear this…really…”
The colonel sighed and scrubbed his hand across his eyes, aware that once more his body was betraying him. He hated the weakness of crying, but the liquor allied with Daniel’s presence in his house – where he’d thought he’d never see him again – was too much for Jack to cope with.
“You d…” he began. He stopped when his voice wavered uncontrollably. “You deserve better than me.” He couldn’t look at Daniel, couldn’t bear to see the agreement in his ex-lover’s eyes. He knew that having had a taste of what was available in the total package of Dr. Matthew Swift PhD, Daniel would be struggling to find anything worth considering in the broken down drunk sitting in front of him.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
Jack’s head jerked up and he chanced a look at Daniel’s expression. Anger was written large all over the younger man’s face.
“I’m old, Daniel…Broken down. He was right; I am the gray haired, dumb ass, cold SOB who’s falling apart. I’m ‘Jack the Ripper’…Not a real man, just a soldier who knows how to kill and how to blow things up.” He sighed deeply and shrugged. “You should be with Swift. He’s hot and young and freakin’ clever, y’said so yourself.” Jack pulled his bottle jerkily to his lips and managed on the second attempt to tip it up, only to find it was empty. He used the base of the empty bottle to point at the one hanging loose in Daniel’s hand. “Leave that, will ya; I’ll probably need it once you’re gone.”
Daniel slammed the bottle down on the coffee table causing an eruption of foam to spill out of the top. “Who said that, Jack? Where did you hear all those things?” he rapped out angrily.
“Dr. Hot,” Jack drawled, “was talking to some infirmary tech about wanting you. I overheard what they said…” The world was starting to be a rather blurry place and Jack rested his head on the back of the couch and looked up at the ceiling light. The three arms of the small fitting were moving in and out of focus making him feel a little nauseous. He heard Daniel draw in a breath to speak when the doorbell rang. His uncoordinated attempts to get up were stalled by a heavy hand on his shoulder pushing him back into the cushions beneath him. Too drunk to put up a fight Jack settled back down and considered whether throwing another bottle at the fireplace would make him feel as good as he thought it would. He was about to test his hypothesis when the sound of voices filtered through his fogged consciousness.
“I’m staying here.”
“Dan, come on. We had a great time at the restaurant and we could have a better time at your place. Don’t cut yourself off from the possibility of a relationship for a broken down old man. The guy is just a dumb grunt. I don’t believe you can have that much in common, Dan. You’re a triple PhD for goodness sake. I know he’s like a dad to you and you loosing yours…”
“Fuck you, Matt. You know nothing about me and Jack O’Neill. Firstly, I don’t like being called Dan…”
The slightly muffled voices sounded like a soundtrack to some second-rate soap opera and Jack looked blearily towards the TV wondering when he’d turned it on.
“He calls you ‘Danny’ all the time…”
“…Secondly, he’s one of the finest men I know and right now I want to spend time with ‘Jack the Ripper’ far more than I want to spend it with you.”
“Now, Daniel, come on. That’s just a nickname…I don’t mean anything…”
“Goodnight, Dr. Swift.”
The sound of the door slamming made Jack realize that Daniel had been here and now he wasn’t. “Left without saying goodbye, eh,” Jack mumbled to himself, feeling the aching of his heart as a physical pain even through the alcoholic anesthesia. “Don’t blame ya; wasting your time hanging out with this broken down piece of nancy-boy ass.” He reached for the schnapps and began fiddling with the cap. Dr. McGillicuddy’s didn’t seem to have very drunk colonels in mind when they decided on the closures for their bottles though and he was still struggling when the liquor was pulled forcibly from his hands and replaced with a large glass of iced water.
“I’ll have that, thanks,” Daniel said pleasantly. “And I want that glassful and two more like it inside you before I get you started on the coffee.”
Jack gave a comedic double take as Daniel swam into view. The vision snorted and grasped Jack’s hand around the glass, pushing it gently towards his mouth. Jack tried to loosen the grip, but the movement was inexorable and so he decided to go with the flow and took a large gulp of the cold, refreshing liquid. It was good, better than the beer in fact, and Jack smacked his lips and dived in for another swig.
“Steady now,” Daniel’s tone was amused. “We don’t want you throwing up, not in here anyways.” Jack watched as a little frown creased Daniel’s handsome face. “It might not be a bad idea though, getting rid of some of that alcohol before it poisons you.” He picked up the almost empty bottle of Bushmills and waggled it in front of Jack’s face. “This wasn’t new tonight… Was it, Jack?” he asked, sounding slightly concerned.
“Yep,” Jack replied proudly.
“Shit, Jack. What in hell…” With a heavy sigh Daniel moved away again, taking the schnapps with him.
“Hey, hey…” Jack yelled, sloshing water out of the glass as he gestured towards the retreating figure. “Say g’bye b’for you walk out on me…s’only polite.”
Fighting for control of his limbs Jack struggled to his feet and stood swaying for a moment or two while his drink-addled brain tried desperately to latch onto a coherent thought.
Drink; that was it, he needed more booze.
Well, he’d just have to go out and get some. There was an all night liquor store about two miles away, he could be there and back in the truck in ten minutes.
With his new plan formulated Jack stumbled across the room, knocking the coffee table over in his zigzag path across the lounge room. His autopilot took him to the glass dish on the hall table where the truck keys lay waiting.
“If ya put things in the same place, ya always know where they are,” he mumbled to himself feeling very pleased that he was still so in control after all the alcohol he had imbibed. The hand that reached for his truck keys still held the half-full glass of water and as tumbler met dish there was a loud cracking sound followed by Jack’s bleary realization that both articles now lay in pieces on the floor. He gave a lopsided shrug and reached for the door, managing to grab hold of the knob on the third attempt.
“Piece ‘o’ cake,” he crowed as he tried to get his feet to co-operate. For some reason he couldn’t fathom he was having difficulty taking the necessary steps to get out of the door and into the truck. He looked down to see what the problem was and wondered why his feet looked so far away and blurry; sort of out of focus. But he was too intent on his mission to acquire more booze to be side tracked.
“Don’t need to see m’feet to drive the truck. Just need to feel’em,” he commented to himself. Trouble was he couldn’t really feel them either, but he wasn’t going to let a small thing like that stop him. “Nine days in the desert, dammit,” he groused, sure that this endeavor was going to be far easier than his heroic (and painful) crawl through the desert. He shuddered at the memory. “If I c’n do that I c’n go t’the store after a few drinks.”
Drawing together all his scattered concentration, he channeled his limited co-ordination and made to step out of the door, only to find his forward momentum halted.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Daniel’s incredulous exclamation surprised Jack so much that he took an involuntary step backwards, helped in part by the fist that Daniel had wrapped in the back of Jack’s shirt to prevent him going out of the door.
“Need more booze…y’took my V’nilla stuff,” Jack whined, too irritated at being stopped in his tracks to realize that Daniel hadn’t left after all. “Goin’ to the liquor store.”
Daniel shook his head in disbelief. “And how in Netu did you think you were going to get there?”
“In m’truck.” Jack turned to look at Daniel, planning to give him his best ‘what kind of idiot are you’ stare, but his feet just got tangled in the door mat and he found himself unceremoniously dumped on his backside, looking up into the face of a seriously pissed off archaeologist.
“Jack, stop being an ass.” The younger man spat out, irritation warring with concern in the serious blue eyes. “You can’t even stand up, let alone drive, you fucking crazy idiot.”
Jack wanted to refute that accusation; use some snappy comeback to put this geek in his place, but instead he just felt sad that Daniel was mad at him…No, not mad…
“M’always a dis’pointment,” he mumbled sadly.
Scowling, Daniel threaded his arms under Jack’s armpits, hauling him up onto very unsteady legs. Once he had Jack precariously balanced on his own feet again Daniel hooked the keys out of Jack’s unresisting fingers and slid them into his own back pocket. Leaning the drunken colonel lopsidedly against his strong chest, Daniel kicked the front door shut, flipped the latch and then began maneuvering his lover towards the guest bathroom. Jack tried to stop the forward momentum, but Daniel’s grip was strong and they made it into the facilities without either of them sustaining more than a slight bruise from banging into the walls on the way. The younger man hooked his fingers under Jack’s t-shirt and started to pull it over the older man’s head. Jack decided that this was definitely above and beyond and began to grouse.
“Leave me ‘lone. Where’s my schnapps?” Jack flung his arm out to the side and only Daniel’s fast reflexes helped him miss a flailing slap to his cheek. Jack didn’t even notice. “I’m still standing up which means’m not hammer’d enough yet,” he groused belligerently.
Daniel looked incredulous at the comment. “Five minutes ago you couldn’t even stay on your feet,” he admonished. “We’re going to get some of that Irish out of your belly and then, Colonel of mine, we are going to talk.”
Jack stopped fighting and his head drooped as tears poured down his cheeks. “Not your colonel…not anymore,” he bawled. “Just a filthy queer getting what he deserves.”
Daniel’s eyebrows creased as a shocked look skittered across his face. He continued with undressing Jack, the older man finding lifting his feet out of his pants inordinately difficult for someone who usually moved with considerable grace and finesse. Daniel was surprised to find Jack was not wearing boxers. ‘Missed out on the laundry again, Jack?’ he thought
“Who called you that, Jack?” Daniel asked quietly as he slid off Jack’s socks. He was trying hard to get to the bottom of this before Jack was too sober. He would shut right back down as soon as he was in more control and Daniel realized this might be his only chance to figure this out.
“My Da,” Jack replied, scowling. “I was fifteen, so fif..fifteen licks of his belt; fifteen diff’rnt ways to say it.” He lifted red rimmed eyes to meet Daniel’s and the younger man could see the depth of shame and humiliation there, “Nancy boy, pansy, queer, ass-fucker, faggot, f…filthy,” Jack sniffed hard and quirked a sad smile. “Knew a lot of words, my Da, none of them nice…not for me…I was a dis’pointm’t.”
Daniel’s eyes filled with tears and he shook his head. “Not true, Jack. None of them were true,” he soothed softly. He pressed Jack down onto the closed toilet seat and gave him the half-full glass of liquid he had placed in the bathroom moments earlier. Jack was so maudlin that he downed the slightly bitter drink without a murmur. Daniel took out a washcloth and soaked it in cool water in the sink and then placed a plastic bucket between Jack’s bare legs.
“Don’ feel sick, Danny. I can hold my drink…Irish…like me Da,” he informed Daniel haughtily, “He had a temper, too.”
“Yeah, I got that,” Daniel replied, his mouth set in a tight line. He watched closely as Jack went from bleary and slightly red faced to wide-eyed and green in the space of ten seconds. The remains of the Ipecac that Janet had given Jack to clear his stomach of a particularly nasty indigenous plant from P3X- 783 had been sitting in the back of the cabinet for longer than Daniel could remember, but it was exactly what he needed to clear Jack’s system. He couldn’t risk Jack being rushed into the infirmary with alcohol poisoning, especially given the secrets he was spouting at the same time. The damage to his reputation and standing would be irreparable.
It was less than fifteen minutes later that a panting, groaning Jack was leaning against Daniel’s chest as the younger man tenderly wiped a damp washcloth across his face and over his nape.
“Is that it, Jack?” he crooned quietly. Jack gave a couple of halfhearted retches and then nodded his head. Although he still felt woozy and drunk, the feeling of the world turning under his feet had leveled off a little.
Daniel hooked a finger under Jack’s chin and lifted his face to look into his eyes. “Can you manage to sit there by yourself while I find you some sweats?”
Jack gave another forlorn nod and pressed the cloth over his eyes, trying and failing once again to stop the hot tears that formed at the gentle care Daniel was showing him.
When the younger man returned with sweats and an Avalanche jersey, Jack took them from him and flapped his hand weakly. “G’home, Danny. Y’don’t need to be here. Go find Matt.”
“Shut up, Jack.” Daniel sighed. “Let’s get these on before you get chilled. You can have a shower when I’m sure you won’t fall over and crack your head open.”
Before long, with a little help from Daniel, Jack found himself warm and cozy in his sweats and snuggled up on the couch with his head on Daniel’s chest and the younger man’s arm wrapped around his shoulders. The feeling of being held by the man he loved so deeply was both pleasure and pain for Jack. He wanted him to go; it was just too hard to have him so close, but he wanted him to stay; to stay and never leave.
“Why’r you still here, Danny?” Jack whispered as the scent and feel of his love widened the crack in his already broken heart.
“Because I love you, you idiot. Breaking up wasn’t my idea, if you remember. There’s nowhere else I want to be.” Daniel wriggled around until he had his back against the armrest and Jack sprawled out half on the couch and half draped over him. He carded gentle fingers through Jack’s hair and asked the question he hoped Jack was still too drunk to resist answering. “Tell me about what happened with your Da.”
Jack pulled in a shuddering sigh and Daniel held his breath.
“Don’know were t’start,” his lover slurred.
“Where ever you like,” Daniel replied, “but the beginning is usually the best place.”
“I was fourteen,” Jack began quietly. “Had a job at the local grain merchants, hauling sacks, pricing stuff, helping out when they were short handed. Old man Larsson was a real Minnesotan from Scandinavian stock and he had two kids. Annelise was nine… pretty as a picture. Her brother was the same age as me…went to school together. Oh, Danny, he was beautiful. Eryk’s eyes were…” Jack looked up at Daniel and gave a sad smile. “…just like yours and his hair was so blond it would turn white in the summer.”
Daniel had guessed this was where Jack’s story would lead them, but he just sat there quietly, listening, letting Jack get it all out in the open.
“Pretty soon we were doing everything together… made a swing at the lake…spent hours down there fishing and skinny dipping.” There was a hitch in Jack’s breathing and he went quiet. Daniel waited a moment, but it seemed as if Jack had come to a dead end. Daniel knew Jack was stuck here; that only by reliving it could he move on.
“So, I’m guessing it became more than just two boys playing at the lake.”
Jack nodded against Daniel’s chest and the younger man pulled the graying head tighter into him, lending his support.
“Sooo…” Jack’s voice still sounded thick with alcohol, “The summer after I was fifteen we started fooling around, just kissin’ and stuff. It was so exciting, Danny. I’d kissed girls, but I’d never felt that way. It wasn’t just sexual, ya know, I mean at fifteen you can get hard just looking at the sidewalk. There was something…something…”Jack shrugged.
“Just say it, Jack,” Daniel coaxed. “It’s just me, it’s safe here.”
“Something precious,” Jack whispered. “It felt like I was being given a gift, even though everything I’d been taught said it was wrong.”
Daniel nodded and pressed a kiss to the top of Jack’s head. The older man gave a deep sigh and continued. “We went on like that for a couple of months until Eryk decided he wanted to try something, well more. My Ma had to go to hospital in Minneapolis for a minor op and Da took her, so we had the house to ourselves for several hours.” A shudder trickled down Jack’s back and Daniel held on tighter.
“I was still a runt; didn’t get my growth spurt till I was nearly seventeen…Almost didn’t make the Academy ‘cause I was under size at my first physical. But Eryk was six or eight inches taller than me and more physically developed, too.” Jack rubbed his face distractedly and groaned. “You don’t wanna hear this, Danny. It’s old news; water under the bridge,” He tried to pull away from his lover’s grip, but Daniel wasn’t about to let him stop when he had come so far.
“You can do this, Jack; you need to do this.”
Jack sighed and nodded. “I had my hand down the front of his pants when Da came walking into the room. You know they say people’s faces look stormy? Well, Da was Hurricane Seamus. He flung me across the room and threw Eryk out the house, yelling that if he saw his face again he would tell ole man Larsson what we’d been doing. Then he grabbed me by the collar and dragged me to the back yard. We had an outhouse; a tumbledown thing that Da used to have a sneaky drink under Ma’s radar. He thought Ma didn’t know but she always did.”
“Was that when he hit you?” Daniel asked quietly.
“That was the first time. From then on every Sunday when Ma was at church he would tell me it was time to ‘do my penance’. Fifteen strokes; ‘cause that was the rule his own Da had set, a whack of the belt for every year.”
Daniel could feel Jack’s heart hammering where his chest was pressed against him. A cold, dark anger trickled through Daniel’s gut and he had to work hard not to jump up and rage against the cruelty of Seamus O’Neill.
“With every stroke he would tell me what I was; how disgusting I was; that I was worthless and would never be the man he expected me to be.” Jack pushed up and looked Daniel straight in the eye, guilt and pain etched around his liquid brown eyes. “N’dontcha see, Danny, he was right. I’m nothing but a soldier. I worked hard to do that well, but I’ve even failed at that…so many times…too many times…too many men and women dead under my command.” Jack pressed his shaking hands between his knees and rocked a little in his distress.
“Tried being a husband and a father, but it was all a lie. I let Sara down and killed my son. You’re wasting your time on me. I thought I could be real with you; thought I could get back some of that…wonder I felt with Eryk. But you’re too brilliant, too amazing, to be saddled with someone like me.” He pulled at his hair and then leaned forward with his head almost on his knees. “When I heard Matt and that tech talking about you and about how they saw me, I realized they were right. You shouldn’t be with someone like me. You deserve so much more.”
“What is it you think I need you to be, Jack, because from where I’m sitting you seem pretty much perfect.”
Jack snorted derisively. “I think you’re the one who’s been drinking Dr. Jackson. I’m‘a dumb grunt; s’what they said and s’true. I’m old and dull and my time has gone. I can’t talk to you on your level. Outside my Special Ops skills and bein’ able to strip my P-90 in two minutes there’s nothing between these ears that’s remotely interesting ‘specially not to someone like you.”
Jack felt the couch move as Daniel left his side and he laid his head back onto his knees.
He’d known that Daniel would eventually get with the program and see Matt, or someone like him, as the infinitely better prospects they undoubtedly were. He felt sick and worn and just wanted lay down somewhere dark and not come out again for a long time. He was still contemplating his next move when he felt the welcome presence of his friend and lover once again.
“Thought you’d gone,” Jack mumbled into his sweats.
Daniel didn’t reply but pushed back on Jack’s shoulder, forcing him to sit more upright. He placed a large leather bound folder on Jack’s knee and then sat back, an expectant look on his face.
Jack felt the blush as it colored and heated his skin. Oh, no, Daniel wasn’t supposed to know about this. This was a secret he had shared with no one else not even Sara.
“So, Jack…” Daniel began and Jack recognized the tone as his ‘I know something you don’t and I’m going to make you understand it’ voice. “…If you are so dumb and dull how do you explain this?” He opened the folder and fished out a sheet of paper that was covered in writing, some of it scored and scratched out.
Jack knew the best form of defense was offense. It was one of the lessons he’d learned well over many years. So he gave it his best, if slightly drunken, shot. “This is private, Daniel, and none of your business,” he snapped.
“I know that, Jack. I found it by accident one day when I was looking for the lube under the bed.”
Jack’s heart clenched at the memory of what that lube had been used for and he groaned out loud.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Daniel continued, not in the least bit cowed by Jack’s attempt at making him guilty for prying. “But the papers were scattered everywhere and I couldn’t help but see.” He poked at the paper sitting loose on Jack’s knee. “This is good, Jack. This is not the scratching of some dumb-ass soldier. This is beautiful and soulful.”
Jack tried not to look at the offending article; tried to distance himself from the shame he felt that another of his secrets was now in Daniel’s care. “It’s just something I found in a book…” he began.
“BullSHIT!” Daniel shouted making Jack jump a little. “I’ve read a lot of poetry and this isn’t by anyone else. This is your work, Jack, your beautiful poetry. Why would you deny it?”
Jack felt the anger and pain of over forty years rise to the surface and he surged to his feet spilling the folder and its contents in a heap on the carpet.
“Because real men don’t write poetry, okay! That’s for lily-white queers with limp wrists and lisps. It’s for men who can’t fight or kill or keep a wife and a family. It’s for shit stabbing homos; sissy, pansy, ass-licking faggots, filthy perverts,” Jack began to cry as he berated himself. “I’m gay, Danny, I know I am. Have been all my life, but I’m fucked up and it’s too late for me. He scarred me inside and out.”
At Daniel’s look of surprise Jack snorted through the tears. “Oh yes, I even lied about that too. The marks on my back that everyone thinks I got in Iraq,” he pointed over his shoulder. “All courtesy of nearly two year’s worth of Sundays. My old man succeeded where the Iraqis failed; he broke Jonathon O’Neill a long time before they got their hands on me; he broke me and made me this,” Jack poked fiercely at his own chest, “…just one big lie told over and over again.”
Jack’s voice got louder as he became more agitated and he beat on his chest in frustration. “The O’Neill everyone sees – the hard ass, stone killer? The man who can kill you a thousand ways with his bare hands? I had to invent him over all those years so that I could be a MAN, Danny; a real man like my Da wanted me to be. I survived in that Iraqi jail because there was nothing they could do or say to me that I hadn’t heard a hundred times before. So you see, this man you think you know…I’m not him at all.”
In his distress Jack began to pace and Daniel became aware of the broken glass in the fireplace and on the rug.
“Jack,” he said sharply, desperate to get through to the distraught man before he injured himself. “Please, baby, come and sit down before you cut yourself on the glass.”
Jack shook his head but stopped pacing. “I’m not your baby, Danny,” he croaked sadly, his nose stuffed and eyes still streaming. “I’m nobody…it’s too late for me.”
Daniel stood slowly, not wanting to provoke more reaction from his miserable friend. Reaching out with both hands he took hold of Jack’s shoulders and moved him back to the couch. Settling Jack back against his chest, Daniel was glad to feel some of the tension leave Jack’s body. He could see the older man was reaching emotional overload and that it was time to calm him and to try to show him the truth as Daniel saw it before he shut down completely.
“I call you ‘baby’ because I love you. It’s always been my pet name for you, just like you always called me ‘babe’ or ‘gorgeous’.” He felt Jack give a little nod of acknowledgment. “I want you to hear what I’ve got to say. I know you’ve been drinking a lot tonight and I know it’s been hard to tell me all those secrets, but I want you to try to listen and understand. What I’m about to tell you I will repeat as often as you need me to until you believe it.” Daniel jogged his shoulder slightly, “so are you ready to listen?”
“Yeah,” Jack whispered, almost too exhausted to speak, drained by the outpouring of his emotions.
“I love you,” Daniel began. “I.Love.You. Do you get that? You; Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neill: Colonel in the United States Air Force, consummate leader and strategist; my friend, confidant, lover; my gorgeous, sexy, hot middle aged man; intelligent, perceptive and amazingly gifted poet. I love you, Jack. I don’t want or need anyone else.” He took a deep breath, knowing that he needed to calm his own reaction to the horrific way Jack had been treated as a teen. “What you were told, all those years ago, wasn’t true: Being gay doesn’t make you less of a man. Can you see that?”
“…Know it in my head,” Jack mumbled, “but can’t help hearing…”
“Yeah, I know,” Daniel replied sadly. “I want you to realise, Jack, I won’t let you run away from me. If one day you can tell me honestly that you don’t love me any more, or that there is someone else; another man,” he qualified with a small smile, “then I will let you go, but not without a fight. You’re it for me, baby. I’m done looking and I’ve got all I need right here. But you have to stop pushing me away and trying to run. It hurts me, Jack. I’ve been so sad without you this last couple of weeks, so lost.” Daniel sighed deeply. “Can we start again, please?”
Jack felt his aching heart soothed as Daniel’s words pushed through the barriers that time and hate and pain had built around it. His whole body was seized with a soft, warm lethargy and he fell willingly into the circle of Daniel’s arms with a shaky sigh.
“Let’s go to bed, baby. You need to sleep and I need to hold you. We can talk more in the morning.”
Jack nodded in agreement and allowed Daniel to haul him to his feet and lead him, still slightly unsteadily, to the bedroom. He drank the bottle of water Daniel pressed into his hands, then settled under the covers and waited in quiet limbo until he felt the mattress beside him dip and the warm, beloved weight of his lover settle across his chest. Wrapped around each other they quickly fell into a deep and healing sleep.
Morning came late for Jack and he wasn’t surprised to find a bottle of water and two Tylenol on the nightstand. He downed both gratefully. Daniel had plied him with water when he’d got up to use the bathroom during the night too, so the pounding in his head was not nearly as deafening as it could have been. The sheet beside him was cold, so his lover had been up for quite a while, but Jack was finding it difficult to gather both the physical and emotional will to get up and look for him. In a dark corner of his mind was a shrieking voice that said Daniel had left; that he’d woken up and realized that Jack was too damaged to be a viable partner and a big part of Jack agreed with that. But the muted sounds of movement from the kitchen put paid to that fear and locked it back in the box marked ‘insecurity’. He must have drifted back to sleep for a while because the next time Jack opened his eyes he wasn’t alone in bed.
Daniel’s blue eyes sparkled with love and affection as he dragged his index finger over Jack’s lips and along his jaw. He moved forward to kiss him, only to be stopped by Jack’s hand on his chest.
“I drank the best part of my body volume in alcohol last night and was violently sick. I should brush before we let this go any further, don’t’cha think?”
Daniel chuckled and nodded. Jack pulled himself out of bed and barely bit back a moan as the pounding in his head increased with the rise in blood pressure. Closing the bathroom door behind him, Jack blew out a breath, thankful for his quick thinking. He needed to get his head on straight before he let Daniel anywhere near him. He quickly peed and then turned on the tap at the basin. Using his cupped hands he sluiced cold water over his head, shivering a little as the frigid water trickled down his neck and under the collar of his jersey. Pushing his damp hair back from his face he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror and had a flashback to the night before. He’d have to make sure he cleared up the broken mirror in the guest bath before Daniel saw it. Red-rimmed eyes stared back at him and a face roughened by day old scruff. The hangover headache was still pounding at his temples (although quieter than before) causing pinched lines around his mouth that made him look every inch his fifty plus years.
“Who you fuckin’ kidding, O’Neill,” he berated himself quietly. “You can’t compete, no matter how much that man out there says otherwise.” Feeling the hopelessness of the night before return with a vengeance he automatically picked up his toothbrush and dealt with the fur that was growing on his tongue and teeth. When he’d done everything he could think to do and could stall no longer he sank down on the closed toilet seat and rested his heavy but slightly less-achy head in his hands.
After five minutes or so he heard a quiet tap on the door.
“Stop hiding in there, Jack. I’ve got a good idea what’s going on in that brain of yours and I can say quite categorically that you’re wrong.” Daniel’s voice was gentle and Jack found he couldn’t resist the pull of the man outside the door. He slid back the bolt and slipped out of the bathroom to find Daniel sitting on the bed, dressed almost identically to Jack except he was wearing a Blackhawks jersey. He patted the mattress next to him.
Jack had never considered himself a coward; he had faced battlefield situations over and over again that threatened his life or the lives of his men. But the distance from the bathroom to the bed felt like the longest walk he’d ever made. He breathed in deeply, took the two long strides to the bed and slid back onto the mattress. He shuffled down onto his back with his arm thrown across his eyes. He wasn’t hiding…much.
“I told you last night; in fact I promised you, that I would keep telling you until you believed me,” Daniel stated firmly, pulling on his arm; gently encouraging Jack to turn to face him. “I love you, Jack, and nothing that was said last night changed that, okay?” Daniel’s blue eyes burned brightly with love and the warmth of his gaze made the cold spot in the center of Jack’s chest ease just a little.
“No, Jack! I love you…there is no ‘but’, okay?”
Jack nodded slowly, still not quite believing what this beautiful man was telling him.
“Now,” Daniel continued, “what I want more than anything is to make love with you. I want to hold you and kiss you and make you feel with your body what your head won’t let you believe.”
Jack felt the heat of arousal curl under his skin, heating a path up his spine and around the back of his neck, making him shiver a little in anticipation.
“But I want it to be all for you, baby. I want to us to do whatever you want to do.” Daniel slid down to be full length on the bed and turned towards Jack, his head cradled on his upturned hand. “We can do anything you want,” he coaxed gently. “Tell me, Jack, tell me what you want.”
Jack felt his throat close with anxiety as the visual of exactly what he wanted flashed across his minds-eye. But…he couldn’t have that…could he…would Daniel even want…?
“Jack, you can ask me for anything except to hurt you or for you to hurt me, and I don’t think you’re into that.”
Jack shook his head mutely. He was mesmerized by Daniel’s mouth and eyes, so ashamed of what he wanted that each time he tried to verbalize it the words just wouldn’t come out.
Daniel saw his fear was immobilizing him and took pity on him. “Okay, how about I run through a few things and see what you think.” He pulled Jack gently down so their positions mirrored each other and then trapped Jack’s hands between his own, holding them firmly against his heart.
“A hand job…” he started with a quirky smile, “…a blowjob?” Jack just shrugged. “Do you want to make love?” Daniel tried and was pleased when Jack nodded and gave a little, almost shy, smile. “Okay,” Daniel continued, “so you inside me then.”
He looked surprised when Jack shook his head and then blushed darkly, but soon realized what it was that Jack needed. “Oh, baby. Do you want me inside you?” Jack’s breathing sped up and a small moan fell from his lips. His eyes darted to Daniel’s mouth and then back to his eyes, looking for signs of disgust or refusal. But all he saw was the wave of arousal that hit Daniel hard; his pupils blown so large that only a sliver of blue remained; his lips parted, his chest heaving and the feel of his heart thudding fast under Jack’s hands.
Moments later all Jack could do was feel, as Daniel’s lips descended, his young lover devouring his mouth in an intensely erotic kiss. Daniel’s tongue dipped and delved into his mouth, tangling with his own, tasting and mapping his teeth and palette in a dance that sent scorching flames of desire up Jack’s spine.
Jack felt blood slam down into his groin, his cock filling as he contemplated what Daniel had promised to do. This was the ultimate act; the thing he had forbidden himself for so very long. Jack didn’t know whether to be exhilarated or terrified. He had never allowed himself to even fantasize about having Daniel inside him, sure that what Seamus O’Neill had beaten into him all those years ago stood true; that to do this made him some kind of freak. But Daniel was no freak and he’d allowed Jack to penetrate him many times. Suddenly the enormity of what he was contemplating hit him and he started to shake. Daniel backed off immediately, realizing this was something they’d have to approach carefully if Jack was not to run away, screaming.
“We don’t have to do it right now, baby,” he whispered into Jack’s mouth between butterfly kisses to the corners of his lips. “Now I know that’s what you want we can work up to it.”
At first Jack felt relief, but suddenly, inexplicably, he felt peace enfold him like a warm blanket. He wanted this; wanted it more than anything. Daniel loved him; was ready and willing to do this for him. Why shouldn’t he take the very act that had terrified him for most of his life and subdue that fear with the man he loved?
“Please, Daniel, please…,” he breathed, not able to verbalize the need he felt growing in his gut. His cock was hard and aching, his hole clenching with the need to be filled. Never in his life would he have believed he would want this and there was only one man in this or any other galaxy that he would trust…
To take his virginity.
The enormity of that fact made Jack freeze and Daniel felt his lover’s muscles bunch as the adrenalin rush prepared him for fight or flight. Determined to head off Jack’s panic, Daniel slid his hand slowly down over Jack’s stomach, feeling his abs flutter under his fingertips. He slid carefully under the waistband of Jack’s sweats and tangled his fingers in the thatch of hair above the older man’s slightly fading cock. A hitched breath and slight relaxation of his muscles told Daniel that Jack was back with him and he renewed his efforts with his lips and tongue, this time running a line of nips and licks along Jack’s jaw line, down his neck and onto his chest.
Jack knew what had to happen; he’d done it often enough to Daniel, but when his archaeologist’s long, clever fingers began to stroke and press behind his balls Jack wasn’t prepared for the intensity of feeling.
Jack’s cock immediately got back with the program, filling and twitching against Daniel’s upper arm as his mouth slowly made its way down Jack’s body towards the very interested member.
Despite his conflicted feelings Jack couldn’t help giving a little whimper of discontent as Daniel stopped what he was doing and straightened back up. He planted a brain-melting kiss on Jack’s lips and then whispered quietly in his ear.
“Think it’s time we got rid of some of these clothes, don’t you?”
Jack couldn’t find his speech center; it had disappeared somewhere down the line, right along with his motor functions. It was all he could do to get his uncooperative limbs out of his clothes, even with the dexterous help of his lover. But soon they were both gloriously naked and the touch of Daniel’s skin – hot and silk soft – against his own was enough to quiet the voices jeering from the sidelines of his psyche. This much was familiar. It felt real and right and the memory of how good they were together came rushing back, filling all the empty places in his heart with warmth and happiness.
Jack’s eyes drifted closed as Daniel began to systematically worship his body with mouth and hands. No part of him was untouched by lips and fingertips and his nerve endings sang with hypersensitivity. Daniel’s suckling left his nipples standing proud and tender and he could feel the heat of tiny love-bites along his ribcage and on his belly. He had been touched by Daniel before during their lovemaking, but never in such intimate, sensual detail.
Just when Jack thought he couldn’t stand it any longer; when he felt he’d spontaneously combust from the pressure building in his groin, Daniel stopped his stimulating assault and moved to kneel between Jack’s legs. Gently he encouraged Jack to bend his knees, placing the soles of his long feet flat against the bed. Jack looked at Daniel as he gazed down at him and thought he’d never seen anything so beautiful. His full lips were kiss swollen and red and the blue of his eyes was almost eclipsed by the inky black of his blown pupils. The younger man licked his lips excruciatingly slowly, the motion pulling the breath out of Jack’s lungs until he felt he would never breathe again. Long fingers wrapped around his cock and Jack gave an involuntary cry of alarm as his body prepared to betray him; his nascent orgasm making itself very obvious.
“S’all right, baby,” Daniel crooned, “let go. Let me see you come.”
Jack moaned loudly and couldn’t resist the pull of Daniel’s clever fingers on his iron hard dick as he stroked the shaft and tongued the head. Jack’s balls drew up tight against his body and the thrum and charge of imminent completion sparked bolts of electricity up through his thighs and zeroed in on a point just below the root of his cock. His back arched as the pleasure built to a crescendo of sound and heat and feeling that arced into his belly and shot from him in long ribbons of pearly come. Just when he thought it was over; when he felt he could withstand no more, a firm pressure on his pucker sent another wave of sensation through him, making him cry out.
Daniel was in him. His long slender finger was pressing and probing and sliding and, oh god, OH GOD, it was so good and right and perfect that with a lurch his cock sent another smaller spurt of come to join the rest as it pooled on his belly and chest.
Jack floated on a sea of endorphins; too caught up in the pleasure to be freaked out by the strange pressure up inside him.
“See, Jack. Feels good, yeah?” Daniel breathed, his voice husky with desire. The younger man’s cock was stiff, red and leaking; the promise of finally being inside his lover making Daniel giddy with want.
“Two fingers now; just breathe with me, baby,” he coaxed.
Jack felt the second finger breach him and the burn was more intense, but not painful. After riding it for a few moments it turned to heat and pleasure. Daniel hooked his fingers slightly and Jack knew he was searching for his prostate. In the back of his mind he was mystified; the exams Janet gave them were never pleasurable so what was all the fuss about that little gland anyway? Moments later Jack knew exactly why. Fireworks exploded behind his eyes and a pleasure bordering on pain filled him with exquisite agony.
“Oh, Danny, dannydannydanny…” he moaned, “yes…oh GOD yes…”
The third finger was more intense still and for a moment Jack thought he wouldn’t be able to manage it, but again, Daniel’s clever fingers sought out his pleasure center and the pain mutated back to luscious sensation.
Jack was so immersed in the buzz that when Daniel removed his fingers he gave a cry of disbelief. His cock was stirring, half hard on his thigh and he reached down and palmed it, amazed at the intensity of feeling. He shouldn’t be hard again; he was over fifty, fercryinoutloud. The twofer orgasm should have wiped him out for the rest of the night. But his body seemed not to care and the blood continued to pump back into the burgeoning organ.
Against the heavy thud of his heart in his ears, Jack heard Daniel call his name.
“Jack, baby, I need you to listen for a minute.” Daniel’s voice was strained with suppressed need. He was obviously holding on by the barest thread, desperate both to make this first time good for Jack and to be buried deep inside the man he loved. “I’m going to be inside you in a moment. I want you to take a deep breath and then let it out. It’s a bit harder this way round, but I want to see your face. I won’t lie to you; it’ll hurt, but then it gets better. Oh love, it gets so much better. Are you with me?”
Jack nodded that he understood, a cold knot of fear sitting heavy in his belly. The first touch of Daniel’s cock to his loosened hole felt like a burning brand and he almost yelled for him to stop, but he wanted this; had wanted this all his adult life, but had denied himself for all that time. Now there was this wonderful man who loved him enough to understand him; finally someone who believed in him for who he really was, not for who he projected. Fighting the urge to push his lover away Jack took a deep breath and then let it out.
Daniel moved into his body with a slow inexorable slide that felt like the shock of a zat up Jack’s spine. There was pain, real pain, and an awful, beautiful fullness that he loved and loathed in equal measure. Suddenly the forward movement stopped and he could feel the soft coolness of Daniel’s balls snugged tight against his ass. Daniel was preternaturally still, only the trembling of his thighs against Jack’s telegraphing the tremendous control the younger man was exerting. Jack wanted to cry with joy. This was it; the boundary had been crossed and he felt whole and real and reborn. He didn’t care about the pain, in fact it was receding fast to be replaced by a sensation so intimate, so immediate as to be spiritual in nature.
Jack wanted; Jack needed and he knew Daniel would give him everything he had.
“Danny…please…” he moaned, “Fuck me…god, yes, fuck me.”
It was as if the words released Daniel. With slow steady movements he stroked into Jack’s body. By the third plunge inside his lover he was nailing his prostate with every thrust. Both men were moaning and crying out their passion for one another. Daniel gathered Jack’s legs, placing the older man’s knees over his upper arms and pushed in deeper and harder. His strokes became swifter and more erratic as his own orgasm gathered. Jack’s cock stood proud again, begging for his touch so Jack curled his fist around it and began the twist and slide he favored.
Daniel’s eyes had been screwed shut in concentration, but as his orgasm became imminent he opened them wide to see the look of total rapture etched across Jack’s face. Their eyes met and sparks flew between them. Neither was in control anymore and with a flurry of hard strokes and long pulls they both raced to their completion.
Daniel’s cry of elation as he came was matched by Jack’s as he felt Daniel emptying himself inside him. He felt the world fading to gray around him as he pumped his very being through his cock and then he was gone, afloat in a sea of black.
When Jack came to consciousness again the sun was high in the sky, throwing its warmth through the bedroom window in wide golden beams. Jack opened his eyes and breathed in deeply, feeling a lightness in his chest he’d always had to fight for before.
Jack turned his head to see Daniel sitting up against the headboard, all golden skin and long, long legs. He had a large glass of red wine in his hand and Jack’s poetry folder open on his naked lap. The stark contrast between the dark leather and his creamy skin made Jack’s mouth water with the need to touch and taste.
“Hey,” he replied, his voice scratchy from overuse. It wasn’t a surprise; after all there had been screaming (he had to admit that) and most of it from him. “Whatcha doin’?”
“Just reading some of your writing,” Daniel replied with a smile. “It’s good, Jack.”
Jack snorted derisively. “I should throw it all.”
“NO!” Daniel pulled up his knees and gathered the myriad pieces of paper to his chest as if to protect them. “I mean it. This is really good. I’d like to take the folder so I can copy them into proper books. I don’t want to lose any of them, Jack.”
Jack felt a wash of proud warmth flow through him. He’d never thought enough of his own ability to do more than scribble on random sheets of waste paper. That Daniel, a man who had handled some of the greatest literature known to men (and to aliens for that matter) would think his scribbling worthy of preservation was amazing.
“Yeah,” he said with a shy grin, “I’d like that.”
“You don’t date them,” the younger man admonished, “but I recognize this paper as the jotter in your home office. Is this the latest one?” He held up a folded sheet of blue paper.
Jack blushed and went to snatch it away, but Daniel was too quick for him.
They both snorted and grinned. Daniel gathered the rest of the papers together in their folder and placed it carefully on the nightstand. The blue paper was still in his hand when he turned over to face Jack.
“You wrote this last week didn’t you,” Daniel stated, “This is how you saw you and me.” He looked down at the poem tracking the words with tear-filled eyes.
Jack gave a deep sigh and then nodded. “I couldn’t see how we could ever be together, Danny.”
“I know, but do you understand now?” the younger man asked gently. “What we did, what we are. It’s not wrong or perverted. And you are not any less of a man because you write poetry or sleep with me. You are still the soldier, the leader, the Alpha male to the outside world. But in here,” Daniel motioned around the room, “and in here,” he pointed to his heart, “you can be a gay man who loves and is loved.”
Jack reached for Daniel, fighting the lump in his throat and the tears in his eyes. “I understand, thanks to you.” They kissed long and sweet, their love stronger than ever now it was built on new foundations of trust and truth.
“So, what now?” There was a hopeful look on Daniel’s face that made Jack feel warm and loved.
“Now,” he answered, his voice husky with emotion, “now I have a new poem to write.”