A Different Drummer by Imagine
[Reviews - 1] Printer
Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Drama, First Time
Rated: Adult
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Daniel lays his feelings on the line and Jack's reaction makes him realise the time has come to move on.

- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:
This story was first published in the e-zine Ancient's Gate V - Depths - thanks Judy!
Thanks also to my ever trusty Beta, Gateroller - cheers hun!
I stared at the door and then at my right hand, paused in mid-air and not quite knocking on Jack's door like it was supposed to. Last minute nerves? Not surprising I guess, after all I was on an important mission, one that would either succeed or fail that night on just one roll of the dice.

Odd I should think of that simile; our last mission had been nothing but a gamble too. One I almost lost, again. I never understood why all the crap landed squarely at my feet but it did. I could still see the shock and horror in Jack's eyes as once again my life hung in the balance and it was pure good fortune that I came home unscathed.

I also came home with a fervent belief that I couldn't keep beating fate forever. I couldn't afford to sit back and hope that life gave me what I wanted; I had to go out and take it. I would never forgive myself if, through my negligence, through my fear of action, I let the most important opportunity of my life slip through my fingers, which was why I was at Jack's house tonight.

Standing there on his doorstep wouldn't accomplish anything. I straightened my back and girded my loins. Oh god, why did I think that?

I rapped on the door before I had the chance to think one more thought. Thinking was dangerous.

After a moment without an answer, I knocked again because otherwise I might have turned tail and ran.

"Hang on!" an irritable Jack O'Neill yelled at me through his door and almost immediately it was flung open and there he was.

It was all I could do not to look him up and down, give him the once over. I think he might have noticed that and the automatic threat assessment response of Colonel Jack O'Neill wouldn't allow that to pass unheeded. Oh, he might have made a joke of it but I would still have been at a disadvantage and l needed to be in control when I took my chance. I kept my eyes front and centre but that didn't mean my peripheral vision didn't take in how wonderful he looked. He was wearing a pair of tight beige jeans with a matching tee that fitted so well that each muscle in his torso was delineated. An open black shirt over the ensemble finished the picture. He looked delicious enough to eat.

"Daniel, you're early, come on in," he said, the irritation gone to be replaced by a warm welcome and a smile that melted my bones.

"Yeah?" I said, hoping I sounded surprised. I had made a special effort to get there early so that I could get him to talk before he got caught up in his hockey game. "I had to call at the library on the way to return a book. I didn't want to be late so I set out early and I made sure I just handed in the book. I didn't allow myself to browse the shelves…" I stopped when I realised I was meandering and gave what was supposed to be a deprecating little smile.

"I'm flattered," he grinned. "Except," he added with sparkle in his gorgeous eyes, "I know the real reason you got here early."

"You do?" My stomach did an uncomfortable flip.

"Yep, I saw the write up in the TV Guide. That special on the Discovery channel about the Mayan pyramids. You knew I'd let you put it on and you were hoping you'd be able to carry on watching even when the game started. You're so transparent," he laughed.

Obviously not that transparent, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was so uptight that I didn't have the slightest idea what special he was talking about.

For months I'd been increasingly aware of Jack's growing attraction to me but as more time had passed with nothing changing between us it was now obvious Jack was not going to say or do anything about it.

Unless you count pissing me off!

My so-called best friend was doing that with increasing regularity and I had a pretty good idea that it was a coping mechanism that Jack had developed over the years, a way of controlling his emotions. It could be that he wasn’t even aware he was doing it any more; it was so automatic with him.

He was watching me closely so, smiling at him, I said, "So plan 'a' is a bust then."

"Plan 'a' and you have a plan 'b'? What, to stop me watching the hockey game? Why when we do this every Friday we're home, what's up this week?" Jack sounded genuinely confused, a slight frown crinkling his brow.

I had finally reached my limit and I was going to do something about it. I wasn't gonna mention the cliché about Mohammed and mountains but damnit if the shoe fits. Mixed metaphors Daniel, get a grip!

"I want to talk to you and I don't mean with the game blaring in the background and you with your mind switching between me and the TV."

"So you came early to talk?" he said, his voice going up an octave. "Jeeze, Daniel you know I hate to talk. I mean I can shoot the breeze with the best of 'em but I know you and you don't mean that. You mean talk."

~~

Talk! Fer cryin' out loud, he wants to talk! That's not good. He came round especially early to talk so it's gotta be something important, something big. And I'm terrified because I think I know what it is. I think I know why too.

It happened again today. The one thing I fear, the one thing I fight against with everything I am and one more time I failed. I'd done everything I could and still it happened. Trouble is you can't see it coming because, of course, if you could it would never happen. Circular reasoning there I guess. Anyhow, he almost died again today. It was so close that I think I let my guard down, I think I let him see too much.

I guess he was given one too many frights as well and he'd had enough. Enough of the jeopardy of not seeing tomorrow, enough of waiting on the sidelines as his life slides by. He's made his choice and I guess I am it. I should be over the moon and deep inside where it really counts, I am but my head knows better and I'm scared about what this might do to us.

Oh, Daniel, don't please.

God look at him. Does he do that on purpose? He must know how hot he looks in black and jeans that tight should be outlawed…and a leather jacket? Gorgeous soft leather that's just made for your hands to stroke…stroke him.

I realised the moment had finally come. The moment I had been dreading -- dreading one second and desiring with every breath in my body the next.

"Jack," he said sounding breathless. "We communicate in many ways, you know that. I sometimes think you can read my mind," he smiled, dipping his head and looking at me over his glasses. Jesus! I almost missed the next bit because I couldn't drag my attention from the sparkle in his eyes. "Why do you always pretend that talking to me is so hard? You know it's not. Not when it's this important."

"Important?" I bleated. His eyes were burning holes into me; I swear he could see into my heart. Read my soul.

"I'm sick of pretending, Jack aren't you?" he asked as he moved closer and closer, one step at a time his eyes never leaving mine, holding me there just by the look in his eyes.

"Pretending?" I managed to squeeze out past the lump in my throat.

"Please, Jack, no more. Just be honest. Be open with me ...I'll show you." He whispered the words and it was only as I felt his breath against my lips that I realised just how close he was to me. I had been so caught up in his eyes I hadn't noticed. He closed the remaining gap and brushed his lips against mine, a fire exploding in every nerve of my body.

After a second he pulled back, and desperate to feel him again, I followed him pressing my mouth against his and this time when he kissed me it was no brush of the lips. This time it was fierce and passionate, his mouth hard and wanting and I felt his teeth nip my lower lip and then his tongue pressed against my lips asking me to let him in. It was wonderful; I could give myself up to this so easily, I just knew how good it would be -- but, god forgive me, I couldn't ...

Why was life so cruel? Why did it offer me with the one thing I wanted and the one thing I couldn't have?

~~

For all too brief a time I was in heaven. I kissed Jack and as he began to kiss me back I pressed for him to open. I so wanted to taste him... I was suddenly aware of the feel of strong hands gripping my biceps and I revelled in his strength as he gripped me but then he pushed me away and held me at arms length. After a second he let go of me and stood back. I have never felt so cold.

He stood there, eyes glittering in his flushed face, his breath coming hard and fast through his parted lips. Lips still moist and red from my kiss.

"Jack?" For a moment I felt lost, hurt but he stood there just looking at me with a blank expression, not giving me anything. "Jack, if you weren't interested why didn't you just say so?"

"I never said I was interested. You just assumed," he said quietly, completely in control while I was spinning in the wind.

"Assumed?" I asked, puzzled, then anger began to seep in. "What the hell are you playing at? You knew what I wanted. If I didn't believe you felt the same way I'd never have... you were quite happy to stand there and let me kiss you. God, you kissed me the second time. Don't tell me you weren't responding, Jack O'Neill because let me tell you I felt you, and I don't just mean your mouth!"

A deep red flush suffused his face but he shook his head as if to deny what I’d said.

Hurt and angry I yelled at him, "You bastard, why did you do that to me? You know how I feel, I know you do and I ...I... Damnit, you feel the same, I couldn't be wrong about that; it's been like..." I stopped, my anger fading as quickly as it arose. I didn't need to say it; I knew he'd sensed the electric atmosphere between us over the last few weeks. The looks he gave me, the aborted touches that one time would have been automatic for him; everything told me I was right. What really stopped me now though was the expression in his eyes. Whatever was going on there he was as lost as I was. "Jack, please, tell me what’s wrong. Talk to me!"

~~

I tore my gaze away from Daniel's face. I didn't know what to do, what to say. Returning his kiss had been a major mistake, I knew it even as I touched his lips but there was nothing I could do. No way I couldn't not kiss the lips I'd dreamed about for so long. I realised if I didn't explain myself I could lose the most important friendship of my life, if it wasn't already too late.

Sighing I turned to him again, "Okay, Daniel we'll talk but I don't think you'll like what I have to say." His face paled but he held my gaze so determinedly that it took all my strength of will to continue. "Daniel, I can't ...I won't deny that I have feelings for you but I shouldn't have kissed you, I shouldn't have acted on my ...attraction to you at all." I began to pace because just then it was impossible to keep still, impossible to stand there and face him, to look into those eyes that could see through to my soul. I didn’t doubt he would find me wanting. "I'm sorry I let it go so far, I never meant to hurt you. I hoped that given time you would understand that I ...that it couldn't be what you hoped for and that you would move on."

"Move on? How the hell can I move on when I love you so much it.... Is that it, you don't feel enough for me?" he asked so softly but I could still hear the pain in his voice. "You don't want to be with me? I thought you .."

I heard the break in his voice and I was torn between wanting to put my hands over my ears so I wouldn't have to know how much I was hurting him and wrapping my arms around him to take away the pain.

"Why, Jack?" he continued, eyes bleak, "What’s wrong with me? I don't measure up to your expectations is that it?" his voice cracked a little then. "What is it about me that you don't want? I don't know what’s wrong...?"

Shocked I interrupted him; I couldn't stand for him to think it was something to do with him. "Wrong with you? You're perfect. How could I not want you?" I blurted out.

Daniel's mouth dropped open and colour crept up his neck as his eyes lit up as if from within. "Jack?" he breathed hopefully, taking a step towards me.

"No!" I said putting my hand out to stop him. "I can't, god forgive me, I can't. I won't lie to you anymore, I've never felt like this..." I closed my eyes to shut out the emotion blazing from those far too expressive eyes of his.

"Jack, please, tell me," he implored.

With a sick resignation I opened my eyes and looked at him. "You're asking me to, what? Enter into a relationship with you? I know you wouldn't accept anything less and there's nothing I'd like more but ..."

"But what?" he interrupted a mixture of anger and desperation in his voice. "I want you, you want me, what more is there?" Suddenly he stopped and stared at me. "Oh, is that it? I want you because I love you, I did say that, didn't I? I love you. But you don't love me, it'd just be about sex for you and," he gulped, "that's not worth it to you..."

I couldn't stand anymore and I cut across him. "Not love you! Not worth it! I love you damnit and..." I stopped when I realised what I had said. Not because I didn't mean it but because I did. I loved this man so much it was killing me to keep him at arms length but I knew I had no choice, not if I wanted to carry on with the life I had worked so hard to create all these years. I had a dream that one day...

I closed my eyes again, feeling like the worst kind of coward because I couldn't even meet his eyes. Getting a grip on myself I opened them and forced myself to meet his puzzled gaze.

"God, Daniel! This is so hard. I hoped you wouldn't..." I paused to take a breath; I thought I would choke on my own words. "I can't, not now. I'd thought maybe...one day but..." Oh, god, why did this have to happen? I might dream of a time when we could be together but I knew that was all it was, a dream. I couldn't even ask him to wait for me. Why should he wait for an old warhorse like me? He deserved so much more.

~~

I stared at him, hearing the words but somehow they made no sense. Here I was, a linguist, who suddenly found words useless. I stared at him and he looked down, his eyes flickering up intermittently. I was surprised to realise he was nervous. In some indefinable way that knowledge gave me strength.

"So, you do care, you do want me? It's just the damned military homophobic bullshit isn't it?" I asked him hearing the anger in my voice.

"You know it's not that easy! I took an oath, Daniel. The rules and regulations are not perfect, not by a long shot but I still swore to obey them. That means something to me, you know that."

"A lot more than I do obviously," I said as I got up to leave, my heart pounding in my chest and echoing in my skull as if someone was striking a hammer inside my head. "I'll put in for a transfer tomorrow." I hadn't planned to say that but there it was out in the open and suddenly I realised there was no other way.

"Daniel, no! You don't have to do that." Jack sounded panicked and I felt an unaccountable satisfaction. I was hurt and I wanted to hurt him back. When did I become so cruel?

"Yes, I do," I told him firmly, the decision made now. I might have spoken precipitously but it was the right choice no matter what that meant for me, for the whole team I guess, but for once I was thinking of myself. "It was bad enough before when I thought perhaps there was a chance. Even at my lowest ebb I could at least believe in the possibility. I could dream. Now, I know the truth, you say you love me but I'm not enough weighed against your career. The dream is just dust and ashes. I can't work close by you day after day, wanting you and knowing if you weren't the man you are I could have you."

"Would you ...love me if I weren't the man I am?" Jack asked shrewdly.

I smiled and I wondered if I looked as sad as I felt, "Probably not, you bastard," I said and I felt the sting of tears behind my eyes. I wouldn't break down, not in front of him.

Lifting my chin, I said, "I'll just have to learn to move on."

~~

The look in his eyes as he answered my question cut me to the core. There was so much sadness there that I wanted to gather him in my arms and take the pain away. The pain I had put there, no wonder he called me a bastard. Then he twisted the knife -- move on!

I know I had used just that phrase earlier but to hear him say that was exactly what he was going to do. God, what a fool I was. I didn't know what to say, what the hell could I say?

"Please Daniel? I know I have no right but..."

"No, you don't," he interrupted, the soft words full of pain. I understood that he wanted me to have that right, he'd offered it to me but I had thrown it back in his face and I realised then I really had lost him. Why, oh why had I kissed him back? If only I could've kept my distance the way I had over the last few months, he'd never have known. I might at least have left him his dream.

I'd not only destroyed his dream but my own too, I realised. Why would he ever trust me again? I wanted to shout and yell, grab him and shake him, scream at him that he had to stay with me; I was the only one who could protect him. But I knew that would only infuriate him more. He wasn't an innocent who was incapable of looking after himself, he did so day after day and I knew what he saw as my over-protective nature already galled him. There was nothing I could do to stop him transferring or even leaving the SGC if he chose to. He wasn't military and couldn't be ordered to stay. He was as free as the air to make his own choices for good or bad. If I couldn't persuade him and it was pretty damn clear that I had thrown away that possibility, then I only had one other choice. Let him go gracefully and hope at least that way I might keep his friendship.

"Will you go to another team?" I asked him quietly as if somehow not saying the words too loudly wouldn't make them so real. I had no need to express the fear with which that idea filled me, Daniel knew only too well.

"I haven't the slightest idea. I can't think beyond this....this iniquity," he said coldly. He stared at me for a long moment before, without another word, he turned and left, closing the door quietly behind him.

I stood in my entrance hall and just stared at the closed door. God how had everything gone so terribly wrong?

~~

I had rolled the dice and lost and yet not in the way I expected. I hoped, I believed he loved me and that he only needed to admit it to himself and then to me. I hadn't thought that he'd always known but simply refused to allow free rein to his feelings or even to consider mine. I was angry and terribly disappointed that it seemed so easy for Jack to put his career before his feelings. To me there was nothing more important than love and I felt that perhaps he didn't love me in the way I loved him. I would never have put my career before the man I love, the man I had lost before I ever really had him. That thought made me both angry and sad.

I needed to stop thinking about this, it wasn't helping; nothing could. All I was doing was churning up my emotions. I had to accept it and move on. I just didn't know how. I was determined though not to sit around and mourn.

I shed a few tears of angry frustration when I first arrived home yesterday evening. I spent a couple of hours trying to decide what had gone wrong but deep down I knew it wasn't my problem, it was Jack's. I finally fell asleep but it was troubled by dreams and I awoke very early this morning still feeling confused and upset.

I couldn't face staying in bed any longer and got up. I took a quick shower and then went to the kitchen for some coffee. I made myself some toast but couldn't even eat that. I felt sick to my stomach.

I took my coffee through to the living room and sat on the sofa. I had to make a decision. The reason I plucked up the courage to put my cards on the table with Jack was that I didn't want to be on my own any longer and why should I have to be when I was in love.

When I was at the SGC and most especially when I was on missions I was with my surrogate family but more and more when I was off duty I felt so alone. Except for the occasional team nights and Friday get-togethers with Jack, I spent most of my nights alone. At first it hadn't mattered, my work had been enough but as time passed I came to realise that I wanted a life outside of work. I wanted someone special to come home to and relax with, to share my life, my heart and my soul with. I wanted Jack! Damn!

But now I knew that couldn't be. I closed my eyes and let the sigh escape. I knew better than most that life rarely gave you what you wanted.

I was angry with myself for being weak, for needing someone to lean on. I had survived these many years alone, except for that one long year with Sha're that now seemed a distant dream. I'd achieved something good; something worthwhile with SG1 but it was always just short of what I dreamed of. For a time it had been enough but no longer. I'd had a scare on that last mission I admit and I couldn't bear the thought of the day when my life finally came to a close and I had been unloved, unwanted. I needed to be needed.

I stood up and went to stare in the mirror, looking at my reflection, looking into my eyes. I had to make a choice. It wasn't a choice I wanted but that was no longer in my hands. I had to face that I wasn't going to share my life with Jack and if I didn't want to be a lonely, bitter old man I needed to move on and find someone else. If I couldn't have the one person I wanted then I would just have to settle for second-best.

I stared at myself, trying to see what others might see. I guessed I was reasonably good looking, I had overheard some of the nurses on base talking and they seemed to find me attractive. Trouble was that even though I was bi, I no longer found women attractive. I think falling in love with Jack had soured women for me. I wanted a guy. I wanted the freedom that loving another man gave me. It was so much easier to really let go when loving a man and I so missed a physical relationship.

God, what would it have been like to be loved by Jack?

I'd had so many fantasies about making love with Jack and that was always what it was when I thought about him. It was never just about the sex, never about fucking, not with Jack. I had too many dreams about him. I had to be strong, forget about him because that was never going to happen. I sighed and leaned my head on the back of the sofa; I couldn't allow the tears to fall.

I realised it would be very difficult to have any kind of meaningful relationship with someone with whom I couldn't talk about my work. Far too much of my life was my work. So I was rather limited in where I could look for a partner. It would have to be someone who worked at the SGC. Damn, how the hell was I supposed to find a gay guy in a top-secret military establishment? Hardly going to advertise that fact were they.

I got more coffee and checked the time. I would have to leave in another hour to go to the mountain. I would have to face Jack. God, I'd told him I was going to ask for a transfer. I didn't know what I would tell Hammond. I didn't really want to leave SG1 but I didn't know what else to do.

I couldn't think about this any longer. I'd go to the Mountain; maybe I could decide then what to do.

~~

The elevator doors opened and I found myself confronted by Teal'c. He was the last person I wanted to see, well either of my team mates actually. They both tended to see through me too easily for my own comfort.

"Morning, Teal'c," I said and quickly tried to pass him on the way to my office.

"Is something wrong, DanielJackson?"

"No, whatever gives you that idea," I said. Damn, even I could hear the falseness of my words. Teal'c just raised an eyebrow, so much for that lie. "Please Teal'c, just leave it."

He looked at me, long and hard. "No, I cannot just leave it as you ask when you are clearly in some difficulty. It will help to discuss it."

"Not this time, there is nothing to discuss," I said. I tried to sound firm and decisive but my voice shook because I kept seeing Jack's eyes as he told me he loved me but not enough; sad, but determined. God that still hurt.

"You do not lie well, DanielJackson."

I looked at him then and decided what did it matter if I told him now or later? In the long run I couldn't avoid this confrontation. "No, I don't. Very well, let's talk. We'll go to your quarters."

"Your office is nearer."

"I know but we might be disturbed there," I said. He frowned but didn't question me.

We were soon sitting comfortably in Teal'c's quarters and as I wanted to get this over with as soon as possible I told him I was going to see the general and ask for a transfer. I was surprised by his response. I expected him to ask me why I wanted the transfer but instead he nodded his head sagely and said, "O'Neill refused your advances. I was concerned that might be the outcome."

I was shocked. I had never said a word to Teal'c about my feelings for Jack let alone that I had decided to approach him. "How ...how? God, Teal'c how did you know I was...?" I couldn't even say the words out loud.

He had no such qualms. "How did I know you had feelings for O'Neill or how did I know you had finally spoken to him?"

"Er, either, both!"

"I have observed you both for some time and it was obvious to me your friendship had evolved into something more. It was also clear that O'Neill in particular was struggling with this knowledge. I watched you closely after the mission yesterday and I believed the time had come when you could wait no longer."

I dropped my head, partly in embarrassment and partly because I didn't want him to see the pain I was sure was in my eyes. Then I realised what he had said and with a feeling of impending doom, I asked, "It was obvious, you said. Not to everyone surely?"

"No, only to one who knows you well and who knows how to look."

I sighed. In other words, only Teal'c would have noticed.

"You are giving up and running away?"

Stung I snapped at him, "That's not fair!" He stared at me and I couldn't hold the look, I dropped my eyes. "He doesn't want a relationship. He says he can't." I looked up then. "I'm not important enough. His career is more important." I stood up and turned to leave, "I'm going to see Hammond; I...I can't work with him any more. I'm sorry Teal'c, I will miss you and Sam but...I'm sorry."

"You will not wait?"

"For what? He won't change his mind. I've had it, Teal'c. I won't spend my life alone any longer, if he doesn't want me I will find someone who does." I sounded firm and sure of myself yet I was anything but.

Raising that eyebrow of his, he asked, "How will you do this?"

It seemed an odd question for Teal'c to ask but I brushed that aside and answered him as honestly as I could.

"I don't know yet. I have a couple of ideas but first I need to make a clean break. I told Jack I would ask for a transfer and I'm going to show him I mean what I say." I saw the odd look Teal'c gave me and I was pretty sure he thought I was acting rashly, maybe I was but maybe it was time to stop being so damned reticent.

~~

I was supposed to be showering but I was just standing under the spray. I was tired and the water was soothing. I hadn't slept at all last night, I kept seeing the hurt in Daniel's eyes and I knew it was all my fault. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him but that was all I had done. I hadn't even given him hope for the future because I didn't think I had that right.

The water was cooling and getting out of the cubicle I dried off as quickly as I could and wrapping myself in a towelling robe I went to the kitchen to make coffee. I looked at the time and wasn't surprised to see how early it was. I automatically opened my refrigerator to make eggs as usual but I suddenly felt nauseous at the idea of eating. I took out some juice instead and drank from the carton to get rid of the sour taste in my mouth.

Sitting there with my coffee I couldn't stop the thoughts running round in circles. I'd spent the night on my sofa thinking, trying to find a way to salvage my relationship with Daniel. I wasn't really into introspection but I had been brutally honest and I was ashamed of what I came to realise about myself. I'd always believed I was open and honest, certainly with myself but now I knew that wasn't true. I was blinkered.

I'd told him my career was more important to me than he was and I'd really believed it when I said it. I risked my life day after day, fighting to protect. Yet whom was I protecting? Save the world they said, and on occasion we had, my team and I.

But when I looked at it honestly -- threat assessed the hell out of myself -- I didn't do it for the world, for the billions of people who walked its surface. I didn't know those people. A soldier didn't see the big picture, it's not possible, all he could see was his own small corner of whatever war he was fighting. He fought for his family at home, his friends, even the man beside him on the battlefield. I fought to protect those I cared about, my own small corner of that world. The people I lived my life beside, my friends; Hammond and Fraiser, Ferretti and Siler, Walter and so many other people who fought to bring us home. I fought for Sara too because even though I rarely saw her now I still had feelings for her.

But most important of all were my team, the people who had slipped under my radar and become my family. Carter who I never even understood half the time but then, who did? I could always rely on her to be at my side. Teal'c, who I could trust to always be there when I needed him and who would die for any of us just because.

And Daniel, exasperating, irritating, passionate Daniel without whom none of it mattered. It hit me like the proverbial freight train, that he was the main reason I was prepared to die every day when I walked through that Gate to face the evil of the Goa'uld. I might claim to fight for god and country but in reality I fought for what was important to me as an individual. My career wasn't more important than him; he was the reason for my career, the reason for my life. And I realised then I couldn't continue without him by my side.

I even thought about the possibility of retirement and then I could've been with Daniel. But then the realisation hit me that would mean staying at home, waiting while he went off world without me because I knew with a certainty that he wouldn't retire. He would carry on fighting in a war against an enemy he hated with a passion. I couldn't imagine sitting at home and waiting for him to return from a daylong mission; I would be a raving lunatic inside a week!

It would be just as bad if he transferred to another team. Could I keep my professional calm and lead SG1 if I was worried about him?

It also occurred to me that he might find someone to 'move on' with on another team; the connection that built up within a good team couldn't be denied. It was the reason that, in any other command, squads were rotated on a regular basis so as not to allow such close relationships. It was deemed detrimental but in the SGC we found that it created good teams not damaged them and what unit wouldn't jump at the chance to have Daniel and be improved by his inclusion.

Then again, he wouldn't need another team to garner interest. I had heard the nurses talking about him time and again and I had wondered for quite some time now if one day he would find a woman to replace Sha're. Part of me had been jealous while part of me wanted him to be happy. Of course, now I knew that he was bi he could just as easily find a man to love and didn't that tear me up inside. The idea that another man might touch him the way I wanted to, love that perfect body. My stomach knotted at the idea. I knew he should be mine.

I had always believed the regulations about homosexuality were just plain wrong even before I fell in love with another man but now I saw just how iniquitous they were. Daniel had used the word and he was so right. I'd looked it up last night. Of course, I knew what it meant but I had a sudden need to see exactly how a linguist might use it, just to be certain. It hit me as I read the various meanings that they were the descriptions narrow-minded people used against homosexuality -- wicked, sinful, evil, immoral and unjust -- so I found it particularly appropriate -- just -- that Daniel had used it the way he had.

How, why should I uphold rules that I knew were intrinsically wrong? Indefensible in any just society!

I finally admitted that I loved him, body and soul and I had been too scared to tell him that. No wonder I’d lost him, I didn't deserve him. Well, I was going to do my best to live up to what he deserved but first I had to get him back.

The first step was to convince Daniel that I realised what a fool I had been. I just hoped he could forgive me. Perhaps then we could both realise our dream. It would be hard, I wasn't stupid enough not to recognise that but he was worth it. That was what I had finally come to understand. Daniel was worth more to me than anything else in the universe.

~~

I arrived on the base early but when I checked with security it was to find that Daniel had already signed in. That was good, it gave me a chance to see him before he could possibly ask Hammond for a transfer and hopefully I could convince him what a fool I'd been and ask him for a second chance. Daniel was the most understanding and forgiving person I knew; surely he'd at least listen to me.

I checked his office but it was obvious he hadn't been there yet. I went to see if he was visiting with Carter, he still seemed to confide in her though I was pretty sure this was one subject he would never discuss with her. Apparently she had been working really late last night and hadn't reported in yet. I tried the commissary and he hadn't been seen there either, which was odd because he always called in for coffee. Then I thought he might have spoken with Teal'c but I decided I should check the general's office first. I wasn't sure if he would really ask for a transfer immediately. I held the hope that it had only been anger talking but underneath I was afraid that he would carry it through. Teach me a lesson perhaps; he had every right to be upset with me.

I found to my relief that Daniel hadn't been to the general's office so, as yet, he hadn't asked for a transfer. The general was in early too this morning and Hammond took my appearance in his office as a stroke of good luck. He had been expected to visit the Academy that morning to give a talk to one of the classes but he has having to cry off because some bigwig from Washington was making an unexpected visit. He ordered me to take his place at the Academy. I tried to talk my way out of it but he was adamant.

I took solace in the fact that if the general was busy most of the day with his important visitor then Daniel wouldn't be able to see him either. With a bad grace I left the general's office and went to the Academy.

I finally arrived back in the Mountain late that afternoon and the first thing I had to do was report to the general. I expected he wanted me to give him a report on my lecture but instead he wanted to know why Dr. Jackson had requested a transfer off SG1.

I stared at the general and for once I was speechless for it was only at that moment that I realised I’d never really believed Daniel would actually do it. What kind of fool does that make me?

"Did you have any idea that this was in his mind, colonel?" he asked me, a hard look in his eyes.

"No, sir," I lied. Seeing the disbelief I hurried on, "We have been having some problems but nothing that would warrant... Did he give you any reason, sir?"

"Nothing I found satisfactory. Something about irreconcilable differences and finding it difficult to work with the team but he wouldn't be specific, though he was insistent. I don't believe a word of it, colonel. Find out what’s wrong," he stared at me and I felt like a bug under a microscope, "and fix it, colonel, you understand?" He had obviously decided whatever was going on I was right in the middle of it.

"Yes, sir! Would you happen to know his present whereabouts, general?" I was well aware that the general always knew a lot more about what happened on base than he ever let on.

"The last I heard he was with Teal'c but that was a while ago, colonel."

I nodded and got up to leave when his voice halted me. "Jack, I don't know what is going on between you two but I refuse to allow my best team to be split by personalities. Whatever it takes, you smooth his ruffled feathers."

"I will sir, believe me."

Hammond was asking me to do exactly what I wished but I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. If anything else had been behind the problem I suspected I could have but seeing as I was the problem… Fuck, Daniel, you never even gave me time to think it over. Then why should he, I had shut him down without any hope. I had to find him and now. Hopefully he was with Teal'c. He and Daniel had a close friendship, I was sorry to admit that recently Teal'c had been a much better friend to him than I was.

Reaching Teal'c's quarters I knocked on the door willing him to open up so I could find Daniel inside. When the big guy opened the door he cocked his head on one side and said, "I was waiting for you, O'Neill."

That immediately got my hackles up, not that he was so direct that was just Teal'c's way. No, it was that he knew I'd be coming. Obviously he and Daniel had had quite the heart to heart. Deciding to be just as direct, I asked, "Is he here then?"

"Come in," Teal'c said and it wasn't a question. For a moment I almost said no and then I realised it might be the only way to learn what was going on.

He invited me to sit down but I opted for the end of his bed rather than sitting on the floor as he indicated. He raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"So," I said briskly, "you know he asked for a transfer?" Not giving him time to answer I ploughed on, "I have to talk to him, do you know where he is?"

"I do but I am not sure he would wish to talk to you just now. I think you may have said enough last night."

I flushed then, just how much had Daniel told him? "Look, T, this is between Daniel and me. If you know where he is then say so, I have to find him, I... Look, Teal'c, just tell me where he is."

"Very well. He has gone to a place called 'A Different Drummer'."

I knew that name, but I couldn't.... I bit my lower lip to stop the gasp escaping. "That's the new bar just opened down town but I thought that was ...?" My voice froze but my mind was full of images of men, young vigorous men with Daniel standing in the middle, glancing from one to the next, smiling. I felt sick.

"It is," Teal'c replied. "I asked him what the name signified as it made no sense to me. He explained the concept. DanielJackson has gone to find companionship. He told me he had been lonely long enough. I agreed with his decision."

I was so shocked my mouth fell open; just how much had Daniel told him? His next words told me.

"You were a fool to refuse him. If he had been interested in me I would never have allowed him to escape," Teal'c said with disdain.

"He told you!"

"I have been aware for some time of his feelings for you."

"What?"

"I was also aware of your dilemma, O'Neill but I believed in time you would realise what really mattered. But today, when I saw how unhappy DanielJackson was I realised what must have happened. He chose to give me his confidence when I enquired. I was disappointed to find I had been mistaken in you."

I stared at Teal'c feeling distinctly dumbfounded and not a little ashamed. I dropped my eyes, uncomfortable under his steady gaze. I had no idea at all that anyone sensed that I was wrestling with my feelings for Daniel; damn it was supposed to be my deep dark secret. I wasn't happy with the fact that Daniel was prepared to discuss the situation with someone else. If I was honest and just now I was trying to be so, at least with myself, I was more than a little jealous that he wanted to confide in another person. Not that I had any right to be, I knew that. I had been the one to shut him out after all; I really was a bastard wasn't I? I was ashamed of the fact that Teal'c was intuitive enough to realise what I had done, more than that I was ashamed of my actions.

Feeling it was past time to face up to my shortcomings I lifted my eyes to meet his.

"You weren't mistaken, well not exactly," I told him ruefully. "It just took me longer than it should've to understand what really mattered. I came to find him so I could to tell him. If it's not too late," I added with a shrug.

Raising that damned expressive eyebrow of his, Teal'c said, "In that case, I suggest you talk to him there."

Damn he just had to suggest that, didn't he? With a sigh I told him, "I can't go into that place, you know that. Not if I want to keep my career and I do. It means a lot to me to be able to...." my voice faded, there were some things I needed to keep to myself.

He gave me another one of those long assessing looks and I made sure to keep eye contact with him. "Therefore, you need to keep your proposed relationship a secret?"

"I don't have a choice. And before you say it, it's not because I am ashamed of the way I feel, I'd shout it from the rooftops if I could but you know policy."

"I do not approve of this policy but I understand you have to live within its confines." He looked thoughtful for a moment. I'd never been happier than I was at that moment that I could read T's minimal expressions. He nodded slightly and said, "Go home, I will send DanielJackson to you."

It was my turn to raise an eyebrow but I said nothing, just got to my feet but before I was halfway to the door, his voice stopped me.

"Understand this, O'Neill. If you fail to gain his trust or if you later betray that trust, I will be waiting to make him an alternative offer. I feel he may already be considering his options."

If I'd needed any encouragement, that was it. Considering his options? God!

~~

I entered 'A Different Drummer' and looked around. It wasn't exactly what I'd been expecting, it was quieter and more subdued and I breathed a sigh of relief. I felt out of place as it was coming to such a place but the atmosphere helped me relax. There was a long bar with two bartenders, both of whom were busy serving customers. The seating at the counter was mostly full so I looked around and saw that beyond the small central dance floor where a few couples were dancing, there were some booths along the back wall. I decided I would be more comfortable there where I could observe what was going on.

It was many years since I had frequented a gay bar and I expected things had changed somewhat in the intervening years. I felt more comfortable checking out the scene first. Watching the men dancing together in each other's arms was erotic, hands smoothing over backs and down to buttocks as they moved and I wondered what it would feel like to have a man's hands on me again, it had been so long. God, I could hardly believe I was thinking of linking up with someone here but I had come to the conclusion that I needed to get back into the swing of things. I also considered it possible that perhaps someone from the base might frequent this place, not military personnel I was pretty sure but civilian staff possibly. Probably the military guys had to go farther away, maybe Denver. Anyhow I didn't think I wanted to get involved with anyone in the service, not after Jack.

A waiter came over then to take my order and as I lifted my eyes to look at him he gave me a friendly smile. "First time here eh?" I nodded and he continued, "I thought so. I'd remember someone who looked like you." I flushed at the compliment, overheard comments were one thing but I was not used to flattery, not to my face certainly.

Distracted, I said something to him but my actual words didn't register. Not until he returned a couple of minutes later with the Jack Daniels I must have unconsciously ordered. I couldn't escape from him even when I wanted to. Then the unbidden thought came, did I really want to? Wasn't it that I still hoped he would change his mind? I brushed those painful thoughts away. Jack had given me his answer and I had chosen another path now.

As if in answer to that thought, a voice disturbed my reverie.

"Can I buy you another drink?"

I looked up to a see a good-looking man of about thirty-five smiling at me. I had certainly never seen him before and I allowed myself a few moments to study him before I answered. He obviously knew what I was doing as he stood calmly and returned my perusal. He was tall though more my height than Jack's. Damn, I had to stop thinking of everything in terms of Jack! The stranger had grey eyes and medium brown hair but what I found most attractive was his smile. His body was pretty interesting too. Not as toned as some I knew but he was trim and long of leg, which I liked.

"Okay," I finally said returning his smile, "but I'll have something different this time I think. Oh, and my name is Daniel."

"Hi, pleased to meet you. I'm Alan. You don't like that?" he asked, indicating my glass, as he slid into the seat opposite me.

"It's not that. Let's just say it has associations."

"Ah, I see. Had a break up, is that it?" he asked sympathetically.

"No, more like couldn't get past the starting gate." I was surprised that I didn't mind answering him. I was usually much more reticent than that, perhaps because he was a stranger? I took it as a good sign and I settled back to get to know Alan better.

Three drinks later we were getting on well. I liked his dry sense of humour. He was an engineer and when I told him I was an archaeologist he admitted to an interest in history. He also liked to travel and he asked me about the various places I'd been to. I almost laughed, as I thought how excited he would be if I could really answer that question when it hit me I would never be able to talk to him about that part of my life. With an internal sigh, I realised Alan could only ever be or around the edges of my life but I decided that in the short term it was better than nothing, at least until I found something...someone better. I was a little surprised to find myself thinking about what would be no more than a fling with this man.

As I was telling him about the South American rainforest where I had been on a dig for a time, he reached out and laid his hand over my mine on the table. For a moment I stopped talking and just stared at his hand as he gently caressed the back of mine. I lifted my eyes to his and he smiled again and asked me to carry on, he liked the sound of my voice. At least he didn't stop me mid-sentence or tell me to hurry up and get to the point. I turned my hand over so we were palm to palm and he slowly slid his against mine and I found my voice petered out as my mouth became dry.

I almost jumped when I heard my name spoken in a deep voice I recognised and I looked up in shock to see Teal'c standing next to me. He was wearing a hat pulled low on his forehead to cover his tattoo and he looked odd out of his uniform.

"DanielJackson, I wish to speak to you," he said, his eyes fully on me.

"T...Murray, what are you doing here?"

"As I explained I wish to speak to you, I have an important message," he said and this time he turned his gaze on Alan.

Alan looked up at Teal'c who somehow looked even bigger in street clothes than he did in his uniform but to his credit, the engineer didn't seemed fazed. "He's busy talking to me right now, perhaps you could see him later," he said calmly, making a point of openly caressing my hand.

"That will not be possible," Teal'c said firmly. "I must speak with him now," and turning to me again he repeated, "It is important and cannot be discussed here."

I realised that it must be or why else would Teal'c have followed me here. Though if it was SGC related why send him? It didn't make sense but I was intrigued enough to nod at him. I turned to Alan and smiled contritely, "I am sorry but this is work related and I have to go. Perhaps we can meet up again?"

Alan frowned at Teal'c but smiled at me. He was probably wondering what on earth could be that urgent for an archaeologist. However, reaching into his wallet and bringing out a small white card, he said, "Okay, here's my card. Give me a call. I come in here a couple of times a week."

I took his card and slipped it into my pocket. "Sorry I don't have a card to give you." Teal'c touched my sleeve and I frowned at him before saying to Alan, "I'll be in touch."

"What the hell is going on?" I hissed at Teal'c as we moved away from the booth and crossed towards the exit.

"We will talk away from these premises," he said resolutely.

"Yes, of course," I replied not missing the rebuke. As soon as we were outside, I said, "I can't understand why they would send you in an emergency." Then a fear assaulted me. "It's not Jack is it? I mean nothing happened to him?" I had heard that he had been sent to the Academy, was that incorrect? Had he perhaps...

"It does concern O'Neill," he answered as we approached one of the ubiquitous black cars from the base. "We will arrange to collect your vehicle later," he announced and I quickly acquiesced, my car being the last thing on my mind.

"Is he hurt?" I asked quickly, as I got into the passenger seat.

He just looked at me and a chill ran through me. "Teal'c, please, what's happened to Jack?"

"I did not know if you would be interested after our talk this morning."

"What? Of course, I'm interested! I still care about him, Teal'c you know that."

Giving me a hard stare, he finally answered, "O'Neill wishes to see you at his house. I agreed to collect you and take you there."

I stared at him, hardly able to believe what I was hearing. I felt the anger building inside me and before I realised it I had opened the car door. I was going to go back inside and see if Alan was still there. Suddenly Teal'c grabbed my arm with a grip of steel and I couldn't escape. "Teal'c!" I snarled.

"Hear me!" he retorted. "O'Neill came looking for you. He was concerned and wished to talk with you."

I interrupted him. "I have nothing to say to him. I said it all and nothing has changed..."

"Yes it has," he said interrupting me, something Teal'c rarely did. I stared at him. "He has changed. He has come to understand what is really important. He needs to speak with you. I told him to go home and I would bring you from the bar."

"So he knew where I was but of course he wouldn't be seen dead in a gay bar!"

"Do not pretend to be a fool when you are not! O'Neill could not enter such an establishment unless he was prepared to lose everything."

"Exactly!" I snapped.

"Would you wish him to be disgraced and dismissed? Would that satisfy you?" He asked the questions harshly but before I could speak, he went on, "You would want to stop fighting the evil of the Goa'uld if that was the only way you could have O'Neill?"

I froze. "No, no I didn't mean that, but.... He thinks more of his damned career than he does me!"

"No, he wants to protect you. Do you not understand that means keeping the Goa'uld from taking this planet? He continues to fight because of you!"

"Others can do that!"

"Yes they can. But do you not know the man you claim to love?"

What was I thinking? I was still angry and upset but god, I knew better than this. I felt the heat of embarrassment colouring my face.

"All he wishes is to talk to you," he said. Teal’c finally released my arm and turned back to the steering wheel. He started the car. "I will take you to him."

I nodded and sat back to think about what Teal'c had said, about what he claimed Jack had said. I would hear him out but I decided it would take a lot for me to believe he had changed that completely since yesterday.

~~

Teal'c pulled the car over and parked outside Jack's house. He sat still and silent, waiting for me to exit I guess. I stared at Jack's house and for the first time that I could remember I was afraid to go inside. It made no sense. Until last night I’d considered this place as a second home and it had been my idea to walk out, it wasn't as if Jack had thrown me out or anything. The anger I had felt towards Jack all day had faded to a gnawing sadness.

I turned to look at Teal'c who was still sitting calmly and it suddenly hit me that Jack had spoken to Teal'c about us. Jack had been prepared to talk. Jack, for whom talking about his feelings was like pulling teeth. He must have been remarkably open for Teal'c to know as much as he did...What could have made Jack...?

"Are you coming inside with me, Teal'c? It's not as if we have anything to hide from you any more."

Looking at me for the first time, he replied, "No, it is not my place. You have much to resolve between you and for that you need only each other."

Slowly, with a hesitation I couldn't disguise I got out of the car. I stood on the sidewalk looking up the driveway and when the car pulled away I looked after it half-wishing I was in the passenger seat. When had I become such a coward? I had no cause to fear Jack O'Neill -- then I laughed at myself, it wasn't him I feared. I was afraid of what seeing him here again so soon after last night would do to me. Then I remembered Teal'c's words to me 'do you not know the man you claim to love?' Until last evening I thought I did, please god I had been correct all along. Teal'c had also said something about Jack understanding what was important.

I walked to the door and had a sense of déjà-vu as I lifted my hand to knock and I hesitated. Thinking of the man beyond that door, and how much I really wanted him I made myself a promise. I would give Jack one more chance -- if I allowed myself I would give him forever but that wasn't fair, not to me, not even to him -- so, just one more chance for him to tell me how he really felt, to be totally honest with me.

After all, 'A Different Drummer' would still be there tomorrow.

I knocked.

~~

I stood in my entrance hall leaning my forehead against the front door knowing he was standing outside at last after sitting so long in the car with T. I waited with bated breath for him to knock and as the seconds ticked by I worried that he had changed his mind and wasn't prepared to talk to me. Finally he knocked, thank god!

I took a deep breath to steady myself and opened the door.

"Daniel," I said softly, opening it wide.

"Jack," he answered stepping in. He seemed calmer than I expected.

"You want anything, coffee?"

"I'll have a whiskey," he said surprising me.

Maybe that was his intention; to show me I didn't know him as well as I thought I did. Perhaps he had a point, I'd never expected him to go into a gay bar. I went to get us drinks while he took a seat on the sofa. I placed the glasses on the coffee table and quashed my natural inclination to sit next to him and instead sat on the armchair opposite.

"Teal'c said you had something you wanted to say to me," he said without preamble.

Suddenly I didn't know where to start. I couldn't just declare undying love, after last night he'd never believe me. I decided to start at the beginning.

"You know my history in the service, Daniel. It's been more than a job, or a career, it's been my life. I was never the husband I should have been, the husband Sara deserved. Even Charlie lost out on the father he should have had." I edged forward on my seat and before I could speak again, Daniel interrupted me.

"You don't have to talk about such painful things, Jack," he said gently and I knew from the expression in his eyes he was only thinking of me.

"I do. I spent all last night thinking about this, thinking about my life, what my career has meant to me and what it cost me." He frowned a little then. "Don't misunderstand, I'm not denying responsibility for my actions now or in the past. I did what I believed I had to. I need you to see me, the real me, not just the image I project. I have always tried to do my duty, uphold the oath I took and I knew that meant my family had to take second place. Sara didn't always understand or appreciate that. To be honest we were having problems even before Charlie...." I stopped. After all these years the wound was still raw.

"Jack," he said. "Don't do this. If all you want to tell me is that I have to take second place too then..." He stood; I expect he intended to leave.

"No, no, you don't understand." I rubbed my hand over my face and back into my hair. I took a breath as he slowly sat down again. "That's what I want to explain. After you left last night... I was hurting Daniel." I tried to catch his eye but he was looking down at his hands twisting around each other in his lap. "I don't suppose you believe me but I do love you, Daniel. I have for longer than I care to admit. I kept pushing it down, trying to keep it in the background but it got harder and harder, especially when I came to realise you loved me too."

He looked up then, his eyes pained. For a second I didn't understand why and then I realised I hadn't given him any hope. As far as he was concerned I had only explained why I was turning him down. Quickly, I said, "In the early hours of this morning I realised what a fool I was."

~~

"Why, Jack?" I asked, surprised that my voice sounded so normal when my heart was in my throat.

He looked at me and he smiled. It wasn't his usual brash smile, or the one of relief I often woke up to in the infirmary, or the soft gentle one he gave me when he was comforting me. This was diffident, uncertain, hopeful.

"Because I realised I hadn't been able to see the wood for the trees." He laughed uneasily, "No wonder I hate trees so much!"

He sighed and picking up his glass drained it in one go. Still holding the empty glass he sat back and lifted his eyes to meet mine. "I was so busy being the good soldier, obeying my superiors, admittedly after my own fashion, but I always wanted to achieve the result they desired. Even when I did those damned distasteful things, I told myself it was for the right reason."

"And wasn't it?"

"Yeah, but not the reason I thought it was then."

I frowned, not quite following his reasoning. He must have seen it in my face because his expression softened.

"Confused the professor, eh? It's simple really. I'd lost sight of why I was fighting, why I was really fighting. It wasn't to save the world; it wasn't even for the good ole U.S. of A., not deep down where my soul lies. It was always for those that meant the most to me, my family, my friends. Sara had always believed she was second-best and that was my fault, because it wasn't true. I was just too blind to see it then. Now, thanks to you, I finally know myself. You'll never be second-best for me, Danny, you're the most important person in my life, everything I do, everything I am, it's for you."

"So you're telling me you love me but you're still putting your career before me?" I was confused by what he was actually trying to tell me. My heart was singing because he loved me, he really loved me but was it enough? Was I enough? I wondered then if perhaps he was going to ask me to wait for him, wait until he retired.

"You know I'm no good at talking things through. I've spent all night and most of the day thinking about this and I still can't make you understand," he said frustrated.

"Just say it, Jack. Please. How can I understand, how can I ....decide if I don't know what you're offering. What you're asking?"

"I almost asked you last night if you would be prepared to wait for me until I retired but then I realised how unfair that would be to you."

"Because you don't know how long that might be?" I asked softly. "Is that what you are asking me now?" I decided if he were I would accept. It would be hard to wait but at least I’d have a future with Jack to look forward to. I wondered though if I could remain celibate that long, I’d psyched myself up now and I was desperately in need of a physical relationship. It had been so long.

Jack came to stand in front of me. "I'm asking you if you can forgive an old fool and give me a second chance," he said.

I smiled at him, I could forgive him anything now that I understood he did love me, he did want me. "I can forgive you. I can even wait for you but I have to be honest here, Jack and I don't know how you will feel about this," I said standing up slowly. "I need," I dropped my head suddenly feeling uncomfortable but I knew I had to tell him the truth. I looked at him again and saw the concern in his eyes. I began again, "I need physical comfort, Jack. I have been alone too long. I'm sick and tired of using my right hand. The thing is I have never been into one night stands but I wanted, I needed ..." I stopped as I saw the look on his face, his eyes widening in shock. "Oh god, what am I saying. How can I expect...?" I dropped back down on the sofa, dropping my head into my hands. What the hell was wrong with me? How could I even think such a thing, let alone say it? Had I ruined everything? I didn't even dare look at his face.

~~

I listened to Daniel, realising he hadn't quite understood me. I almost interrupted him but he seemed so distressed that I thought it must be something he needed to say, so I let him speak. When he said he needed a physical relationship I felt my cock stir at the idea and I smiled a little as he spoke about masturbating, I'd been doing that to fantasies of Daniel for a long time now. Then I felt my stomach twist when it dawned on me he was talking about his need to be with someone else because he thought I wanted to wait until I retired.

He stopped speaking; I guess he saw something in my expression. He sat down again, dropping his head into hands. I stared down at him, feeling angry that he could even suggest it and then guilty because I knew I had pushed him into thinking like this. If only I hadn't been so blind and, of course, being the man he was he would think was entirely his fault. Yet the very idea of another man touching my Daniel filled me with revulsion.

"I'm sorry," he murmured.

For a moment I couldn't speak, I was remembering those images I had dreamed up when Teal'c mentioned that gay bar and I felt bile rise in my throat at the idea of Daniel with any other man. "God, Daniel," I croaked, "how could you...?"

Overwhelming jealousy gripped me and I reached out and grabbed him by the shoulders hauling him up. I hardly recognised my own voice when I snarled at him, "You're mine, mine, you hear. No one touches you but me." His face was a picture of shock and bewilderment as I yanked him that last inch and took his mouth in a kiss.

I knew it was brutal as I crushed his lips with mine, as I ground my hips against him, pushing him back to fall on the sofa behind him but I didn't care, he had to understand. As he landed heavily he gasped in shock and I thrust my tongue inside, tasting him for the first time. I had never tasted anything so wonderful and I would never share this with anyone, ever. He was mine; he belonged with me. I just had to make him see that.

~~

I was ashamed, not only of what I’d been thinking, not even of what I had actually been stupid enough to tell Jack but of the look of shock and then anger that gripped him. He suddenly grabbed me and yanked me to my feet, pulling me close against him. I admit I was a little scared when his fingers dug into my shoulders holding me in a grip of iron. The anger in his suddenly darkened eyes twisted my gut and then he snarled at me, telling me I was his and he'd never let anyone else touch me. The panic turned to anticipation as I saw something else in those expressive eyes, passion desire...lust.

Then all thought faltered as Jack took my mouth. I couldn't help but moan at the overwhelming passion engulfing my body as Jack moved his lips over mine and pushed his body against me. Suddenly he shoved me and I was falling to land on my back on the sofa and I gasped with surprise at his sudden action. The instant I opened my mouth Jack stuck his tongue inside as far as he could. Joy flowing through me I welcomed his kiss, giving back as good as I got, and good it was. Jack was a fantastic kisser. I couldn't help but squirm underneath an angry and very aroused Jack O'Neill holding me down, grinding his hips against me. His erection was rock hard and he was rubbing against my own full erection, a sweet torture against my now restrictive clothing.

By now his hands had moved from my shoulders and they seemed to be everywhere, my chest, my flanks, my arms. I reciprocated as best as I could but my right arm was trapped against the back of the sofa. I stroked along his spine with my left hand only to gasp in shock as he suddenly ripped my shirt apart, scattering buttons far and wide. He released my mouth and swooped down to kiss and nip first one nipple and then the other. I moaned and groaned, not sure what on earth I was saying, if it was even words, but who the hell cared! He was thrusting against me, pushing me down into the cushions of the sofa and desperately I lifted my hips to increase the contact.

I was so hard, throbbing with need as I surged against him, calling his name as I grasped him to me, my fingers shoving up his tee as I dug my fingers deep into his back. He licked and nipped over my chest and up towards my neck where he kissed and sucked my skin. Everywhere he touched fire trailed along my nerves and I could feel the blood pulsing through my veins, hammering in my head, making me feel dizzy and light-headed.

As he rolled his hips making our cocks rub against each other he suddenly stopped kissing my neck and bit down hard. He lifted his head and growled, "Mine, mine damn you! Love you, love you!"

I felt his cock pulse against me as he came hard and it was all I needed to cause my own release to shoot out of me coating my boxers and pants.

I moaned his name as I came, tucking my head under his chin as he shuddered from his own orgasm.

"Oh god, Daniel, god.... love you," he muttered as he kissed my hair.

I murmured his name among other endearments, my breath ghosting over his neck and caressing his ear.

Slowly he turned us so we were on our sides facing each other and looked at me, a question in his eyes, eyes that suddenly looked sad.

"Jack?" I asked, reaching up to caress his cheek.

He sighed and said, "Oh god, I really screwed up didn't I? I'm sorry."

"Sorry? For what? That was fantastic. Haven't done that since college," I laughed looking down at the wet spot on my pants.

"Yeah," he grinned ruefully, "but that wasn't what I meant." I frowned and would have said something but he placed a finger across my lips. "You would never even have gone to that damned bar if I hadn't.... and just now I didn't even make myself clear. It's my fault you felt the need for... God, what a fool I am. What the hell you see in me, I'll never know." He sighed.

One day I would tell him what I saw in him but I knew now wasn't the time, I had to let him get this off his chest.

"I wasn't asking you to wait until I retire, like I said that wouldn't be fair to you. God, don't you think I wanted to be with you? It's all I think about. You said you were sick of using your right hand, well god damnit what do you think I've been doing!" Jack moved closer to me so our bodies touched everywhere they possibly could. "I've jerked off to fantasies of you."

~~

Daniel's eyes widened and a slow smile graced his face as he flushed slightly. "Er, me too. Can we compare notes some time? Maybe try a few?"

I laughed, "Oh yeah! Daniel," I said quietly, seriously. "If we do this we would have to be very discreet but I'm sure you can do that if you want to."

His eyes were shining brightly. "You're serious, you don't want to wait till you retire?" he asked breathlessly. "I was afraid that maybe this was just 'cause you were jealous and you lost control. I mean, you said your oath was important to you."

Trust him to call me on that one. "I know I did but I realised it's just as immoral to accept an immoral code. You said it perfectly when you called it an iniquity. I will still fight, I will obey and keep every other rule they impose on me but my right to love who I see fit does not stop me being the same officer I have always been." It seemed odd to me now how easy those words were, how true they were for me. After all these years of fighting myself, struggling against my nature, against my love for the man lying beside me now, it seemed so right.

"Oh, Jack!" he said, reaching up to pull my head back down where he took my mouth in the most gentle, loving kiss I'd ever experienced. The sensations pulsing through my body were intoxicating and it wasn't long before I lost myself in the taste and feel of him, the knowledge that Daniel was finally mine. No more dreams, no more fantasies, it was real, oh so very real.

"Can we get out of these clothes," he grinned. "Do this properly?"

He tugged at my tee and I released him to let him pull it from me and in a remarkably short time we were both naked and lying in each other's arms as we kissed and caressed and moved against each other.

"It's a nice thought, Daniel, but I need a little longer to ...to regroup," I laughed. "Anyway, I think the next part should be in the bedroom."

"I'm comfy here for now, maybe in a little while?" Daniel said.

~~

We lay quietly talking, Jack telling me that he would do whatever it took to make sure our relationship worked and I agreed that I understood precisely how careful we'd have to be.

"Well, Teal'c knows, at least we have one friend," I said and then I noticed the closed expression on Jack's face. "Jack? What?"

"Teal'c is very protective of you," he smiled. "When I was talking to him he made it perfectly clear he would not be at all happy if I ..." he trailed off with a deprecating grin. "That doesn't matter now. Ah, one thing you can answer for me though. He made some comment about the bar's name, something you told him? I was curious but it definitely wasn't the time to ask him for an explanation."

I smiled as I remembered Teal'c's confusion. "Yes, he asked me why the bar had such an odd title and I told him it was really very appropriate."

"Appropriate?"

"It’s from a quote, 'If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.' Appropriate," I smiled.

"I knew I recognised it, well kinda. Never heard the full quote, I've just heard the shortened version 'marching to a different drummer'," replied Jack.

Suddenly he rolled away from me and sat up. Immediately I felt cold and not just because of the loss of his body heat. I'd always had this ...connection with him and I could just feel his tension. I reached up and stroked his back, "What is it?" I asked softly.

He half-turned back towards me so I could only see his face in profile. In a low voice, he said, "I have to tell you, Daniel, when Teal'c told me where you'd gone and why, I ... just the idea of anyone else touching you turns my stomach. I'm a jealous bastard," he shrugged and finally turned to face me. "I'm also possessive and I want you all to myself."

There was an uncertainty in his eyes that I wasn't used to seeing. I put my hand over his heart and told him, "You are all I want, all I ever wanted. I was just hurting and so lonely without you, without the possibility of being with you, that I became desperate. I needed the touch of another human being just to prove to me that I was alive, that I meant something. I can promise that there'll never be anyone else for me, ever."

With mutual accord our lips met in a promise for the future.

"Let's take this to the bedroom," Jack said.

~~

"Maybe the bathroom," Daniel answered, eyes wide and innocent. I was immediately suspicious.

"The bathroom?"

"One of my favourite fantasies," he explained.

"Oh?" I grinned.

"Oh yeah, I guess I have a thing for shower sex," he shrugged.

How the hell he could look so innocent and be so inherently sensual...god!

"It's early morning, not long after dawn. You're exhausted. Well we have just spent the night making mad passionate love to each other," he grinned. Even his voice was different now, low and husky. "I tell you not to worry 'cause I love the idea of washing you. You're in the shower with your back to me leaning against the tiles, supported by your hands. I soap up the sponge, has to be a real sponge not one of those synthetic things."

By now his eyes have darkened and his cheeks have flushed and I'm getting hard just listening to the tone of his voice.

"The water is pounding on your shoulders and running down your back and over your buttocks. I soap you up using long strokes, reaching around to move across your chest and you moan as I circle your nipples. I move lower over your stomach and you drop you head. I can't see your face but I just know your eyes will be closed. I purposely ignore your cock which I know is throbbing with need."

Oh, god, he's describing the way I feel right now!

"I can't help it, I drop the sponge and use my soapy hands on your back as I move slowly down your spine, following my hands with my lips, kissing each little knot as I work my way down until I finally stroke along your cleft, pushing my fingers inside your already loose opening."

"Oh, I'm loose eh?" I asked huskily, letting my words brush over his ear and he gasped.

Breathlessly he went on, "Oh yeah, share and share alike, that's my idea of a relationship. We'd had quite the night!" He nibbled the side of my neck and I arched into him. I felt the smile on his lips as he continued. "By now you were ready for me and I told you to spread your legs. You never said a word but you shuddered under my hands and I was so desperate for you that I took you in one stroke, going so deep..."

"Oh, god Daniel, god... stop talking about it, let's go and do it!"

~~

I watched as the sun finally came up, creeping around the drapes in Jack's bedroom to paint patterns across the bed and the floor.

It's not often I am awake before Jack but then we have never spent a night like last night. I lifted my head from where it lay on his shoulder and looked at the peaceful expression on his sleeping face. I lay back down and squirmed a little to get as close as I could and even in his sleep Jack tightened his arms about me. I had never felt this content and I allowed myself to drift on the memories of the wonderful night we had just spent, both under the shower and in the bed. I couldn't help the grin that spread over my face.

We had made love to each other and it had been out of this world, not literally for once, but near enough and I thanked any deity who might be listening that Jack and I marched to the same drummer…our own drummer.


FIN
You must login (register) to review.