Unburdened

Dr. Daniel Jackson stared incredulously at his raw, bleeding hands as the sound of the explosion echoed in his head.  They should hurt, he thought idly, turning his hands over in mute fascination.

“Daniel!”

Jack?

Daniel’s head jerked up, and he flinched as the tall figure of Colonel Jack O’Neill suddenly bore down upon him.

“Ah, Jesus, Daniel,” Jack murmured, crouching down beside him.  He turned and yelled over his shoulder.

“Carter! Teal’c! Over here!”

Daniel became aware of the comforting warmth of Jack’s hand on his shoulder at the same time as searing pain radiated through his hands and up his arms.

“Oh, God,” he hissed, hunching over his injured hands.

“Easy, Daniel,” Jack soothed, squeezing his teammate’s shoulder.  “Here, let me see,” he said softly.

Daniel shook his head, bringing his hands closer to his chest.  The thought of anyone touching them right now was unbearable.

“Come on, Danny,” Jack murmured, both hands now gripping his friend’s shoulders.  “Let me see your hands.”

Daniel felt Jack’s warm breath on his neck and he shivered.  He thought he had buried those feelings for Jack and laid them to rest with the other ghosts of his past.  He hadn’t meant to fall in love with Jack.  It just happened.  Scared the hell out of him when it did.  He tried to rationalize it as love for a friend.  It worked for a while.  But friends didn’t get hard-ons or have wet dreams about each other.  Each other.  God, how Daniel had wished that were true.  Wished with all his heart that Jack could love him in return.  But Jack could no more love Daniel than Daniel could love Sam…that way.  He accepted that.  Having Jack’s friendship was more than enough, especially after almost losing it.  Daniel shivered again when he remembered how their good-natured bickering had degenerated to words and actions that were harsh and hurtful.  That had scared him more than acknowledging a sexual longing for the older man.  At first, he thought Jack had sensed his desires and had reacted in anger and disgust so he backed away from Jack.  He gave him distance and time.  Daniel went on missions with other teams, but Jack became even more distant.  Then slowly, things started to get better, particularly after he almost took a swan dive off his balcony.  Jack began joking with him again.  Listened to him.  Sought his advice.  Confided in him.  But he never touched him.

Jack felt the tremors under his hands and pulled Daniel into his chest.

“Take it easy, Daniel.  You’re going into shock,” he whispered.

Daniel shook his head.  He wasn’t going into shock; he was scared.  The heat and comfort of Jack’s presence had brought back all his suppressed feelings.  He couldn’t go through that again.  He had to focus on something else.  Obliterate these feelings.  He clenched his hands tight and cried out in pain.

“Jesus, Daniel,” Jack gasped, prying the abused hands apart.  “What the hell are you doing? Carter! Where the—”

“Right here, sir,” she panted, kneeling down to assess Daniel’s condition.

“He’s going into shock, Carter,” Jack said grimly.

“I’m on it, sir,” she said, already pulling out supplies from the med kit.  “I need some room, Colonel,” she said, looking at him pointedly.

Jack hesitated then nodded stiffly.

“Take care of him, Major,” he said gruffly, squeezing Daniel’s shoulder before reluctantly letting go.

Jack stood up and turned to Teal’c, motioning him aside.

“How is Daniel Jackson?”

“His hands are a mess. What the hell was that?”

“A k’tar,” Teal’c spat angrily.  “It is a Goa’uld device similar to your Earth land mines, but much less powerful.  It is designed to injure but not to kill.  Daniel Jackson’s hands will be burnt and embedded with metal fragments.”

“Sweet,” Jack muttered, wincing at the thought.  He scanned the landscape, his eyes settling on the small excavation Daniel had been so happily engaged in only moments ago.  Jack hadn’t seen Daniel happy in such a long time.  He had indulged himself and watched from a distance, reveling in his young friend’s enthusiasm.  There had been times when Jack had thought Daniel had lost that sense of wonder.  Those had been dark times for Jack.  He felt responsible.  He had pushed Daniel away and assigned him to other teams.  Why?  Because he was scared.  His feelings for the young archaeologist had slapped him in the face one morning when he awoke to his hand pumping his dick, Daniel’s name on his lips.  After his initial horror, he had summarily dismissed it as a bad dream that just got out of control.  Made sense.  All that gate travel had to have some weird side effects.  That excuse worked the first time.  May have worked the second time too if there hadn’t been a third, a fourth, a…

Jack rubbed his eyes wearily, pushing those thoughts back where they belonged with his other buried hopes and dreams.  His inappropriate feelings had almost cost him the best friend he ever had.  Thank God, Daniel couldn’t hold a grudge, and thank God, Jack got to Daniel’s apartment in time to pull the distraught man off the ledge.  Jack shivered at the memory.

“O’Neill, are you unwell?”

Jack looked at Teal’c’s solemn, dark eyes and shrugged.

“That’s debatable,” he muttered. “Tell me more about these…k’tars.”

“At one time, the Goa’uld used them with great impunity.  It was a convenient means of obtaining new hosts.”

“Plant the suckers all over a planet and then come back later to pick up the pieces,” Jack said grimly.

“Indeed,” Teal’c replied impassively.

“Great,” Jack muttered.  “So, why’d they stop using them?”

“Accurate records were not kept of their locations.  Over time, many Jaffa and even Goa’uld were injured.  They were abandoned for more direct methods.”

“Abandoned,” Jack growled in disgust.

Teal’c arched his eyebrows reflectively.

“Have not the Tau’ri abandoned similar devices on Earth, O’Neill?”

“Yes, we have,” Jack admitted.  “Nice to know greed and stupidity are universal, isn’t it?”

Teal’c, familiar with Jack’s rhetorical questions, said, “Daniel Jackson will likely require surgery.   The blast can be most damaging.”

“Thank you, Teal’c,” Jack remarked caustically.  “Damn it,” he muttered when a muted cry from Daniel assaulted his ears.  “Okay, it’s a day’s walk to the ‘gate.  At least two for Daniel.”

“If this planet was selected for the use of k’tars it would be prudent to assume there may be more, O’Neill,” Teal’c informed, gazing at their surroundings.

“Is there any way to detect them?” Jack inquired.

“There is, but it requires great skill.”

“And you have this skill?” Jack queried with a lift of his eyebrows.

“I do indeed,” Teal’c replied.

“Didn’t doubt it for a second,” Jack said, thankful once again for the Jaffa’s stalwart presence.  “Okay, after Carter’s finished with Daniel, you and the major hightail it back to the ‘gate.  Daniel and I’ll go as far as we can and then wait for your return.”

Teal’c inclined his head in acknowledgement.

“Come on, let’s see how he’s doing,” Jack said, turning to return to their injured teammate.

“How is he, Carter?” Jack asked quietly, hunkering down next to Sam and trying to ignore the bloody gauze.

Sam’s haggard look spoke volumes.  “His right hand took the brunt of the blast, sir, but the left’s pretty bad too.  There are metal fragments everywhere.  He needs Janet, Colonel.  I’m afraid if I poke around too much I’ll cause more harm than good.”

“It’s okay, Carter.  Just patch him up for traveling.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, returning to her grim task.

“How you holding up?” Jack asked gently, his hand pressing into Daniel’s back.

Daniel flinched at Sam’s ministrations causing him to lean back into the support of Jack’s hand.

“This—this wasn’t on my itinerary,” he gasped.

“It never is, Danny,” Jack replied softly, rubbing the young man’s back soothingly.

Jack found himself staring at the damaged hands and he felt a rush of anger.  Daniel’s hands spoke as eloquently as his voice.  To see those long, expressive fingers so torn and still was an abomination.  There was a time when Jack had fantasized about how those hands would feel caressing his body.  He closed his eyes in disgust.  His friend and teammate was seriously injured.  Now was not the time to mull over what could never be.  He took a deep breath and opened his eyes.

“We’ll get you home as soon as we can,” he promised.  “Doc’ll have you playing the piano again in no time.”

Daniel snickered softly and leaned heavily into Jack.

Jack looked at Sam questioningly.

“It’s the painkillers, sir.  They won’t knock him off his feet but he’ll be a little less lucid,” she explained, loosely bandaging her teammate’s hands.

Jack nodded and shifted around so that Daniel was resting against his chest.  The motion roused the injured man.

“Jack, what happened?” Daniel asked.

“You don’t remember?” Jack inquired, frowning slightly.

Daniel’s eyes narrowed in thought.  “I remember digging.  No, more like scraping,” he amended. “There was an explosion. I don’t…I don’t remember what I did.  Sorry, Jack,” he said apologetically.

“Crap, Daniel.  You didn’t do anything,” Jack assured.  “Teal’c said you uncovered a k’tar.  It’s a damned Goa’uld landmine.”

“Trust me to find it,” Daniel murmured.

“Yeah,” Jack said, rubbing his friend’s upper arm gently.

“There may be more devices out there, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c informed.

“Just give me a minute, Teal’c, okay?” Daniel requested.

Teal’c cocked his head in puzzlement.  “I do not understand, Daniel Jackson.”

“I mean, let me catch my breath, and then I’ll go and find the rest of the, ouch, k’tars,” he said, biting his lip at his unfortunate attempt to wave his hand.

“Daniel, hold still,” Sam admonished.

“You will do no such thing, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said, his tone forbidding.

“Easy, big guy,” Jack said calmly.  “It’s just a joke.”

Teal’c arched his eyebrow.  “I fail to see any humor in such a scenario, O’Neill.”

“Yeah, well, Daniel’s not at his best right now.  Cut him a little slack, okay?” Jack quipped, giving Daniel a little shake.

“Very well, O’Neill.”

Daniel smiled and closed his eyes, allowing himself the guilty pleasure of being in Jack’s arms. He could always blame it on the painkillers

“I’ve done all I can, sir,” Sam said, sitting back to scrutinize her handiwork.

“Good work, Carter.”

“I think he really needs some rest, Colonel,” she said quietly.

Jack looked down at the man in his arms who was doing a pretty good impression of sleep already.

“I think he’s way ahead of you, Carter,” Jack smiled.  “You and Teal’c head for the ‘gate.  Daniel and I’ll go as far as we can.  I want you to check in every two hours.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, placing her hand briefly on Daniel’s cheek.  “You may have to change his dressing.”

“I’ll take care of him,” Jack vowed grimly.

“Follow our path, O’Neill,” Teal’c said.  “I will mark it clearly.”

“Be careful,” Jack warned, meeting their eyes.

“You too, sir,” Sam said.

Jack watched them leave and sighed heavily.  He hated splitting up the team but he didn’t have a choice.  They could carry Daniel out but they had the damn mines to watch for.  In the meantime, he’d let the young archaeologist sleep.

 

The clearly marked trail, courtesy of Teal’c, made Jack’s job easy.  What was hard was listening to the harsh breathing of his companion who plodded along doggedly in his wake.  Jack knew he would have to stop and give Daniel some more painkillers soon.

Daniel labored along behind Jack, stopping only when ordered to do so which usually entailed drinking copious amounts of water.  Daniel was glad he was sweating profusely because with all the water Jack was making him drink, if he didn’t sweat it out he’d have to piss it out, and that was something he really didn’t want to have to deal with.  Not when his hands were virtually useless.

“Hey,” Jack said, tugging on Daniel’s pack.

Daniel’s head snapped up in surprise.

“What?”

“I said, we’ll stop here for a bit.”

“Oh,” Daniel said.  “I didn’t hear you.  Sorry.”

“It’s okay.  Here, let me take your pack.”

Daniel quietly shrugged out of his pack and tried not to sigh in relief as the weight was removed.

Jack pretended he didn’t hear the relieved sigh.  He removed his own pack and propped them both up against a large, shady tree.

“This looks like a good spot,” Jack said, easing himself to the ground.

Daniel remained standing.  He was hot, tired, and in desperate need of relief.  He looked down at his hands and tentatively flexed the exposed fingers.  No way, he thought miserably.

“Um, Jack?” he called to the man ahead of him.

“Yeah?”

“I, uh, really have to go.”

“Well, it’s about time,” Jack chided, getting to his feet.   “With all that water you’ve been drinking you must be ready to bust.”

“You’ve been making me drink it,” Daniel accused.

“Do you need a hand?” Jack asked seriously, ignoring the accusation.

“Um, yeah, if you wouldn’t mind,” Daniel said quietly, trying not to blush.  “If you could help me with the zipper I think I can, uh, handle the rest.”

“No problem.”

Jack reached out and deftly unzipped Daniel’s fly.  He glanced up into gentle blue eyes and felt a warm glow at the gratitude shining out at him.

“I’ll just go over there,” Daniel said.

Jack looked to where Daniel pointed and frowned.  “Let me check it out first.”

Daniel bit his lip but acquiesced.  “Make it quick, okay?”

“You really have to go, huh?” Jack teased.  “Okay, okay,” he said, holding his hands out at the now glaring blue eyes, “I’m going.”

Daniel waited impatiently and practically sprinted when Jack gave him a “thumb’s up.”

While Daniel was otherwise engaged, Jack radioed the rest of his team.

“Carter, what’s your position?”

“We’re making good progress, Colonel.  We haven’t come across any mines and we should be at the Stargate before nightfall.”

“That’s good.”

“How’s Daniel, sir?” she asked, unable to conceal her worry.

“He’s hurting, but you know Daniel.  I think he’s developing a fever but he won’t admit it.”

“Like you said, sir; you know Daniel,” Sam reiterated.

“Right.  Well, I think we’ll walk for a few more hours before settling in for the night.  Be as quick as you can, Carter.”

“Yes, sir.”

Jack flicked off his radio and watched Daniel come back.  He definitely looked more relaxed.  I can’t believe he waited that long.

“Everything go okay?”

“Yeah, but I couldn’t quite manage the zipper,” Daniel added quietly.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get it,” Jack said, reaching out and quickly taking care of his friend’s dilemma. Crap, you shouldn’t have even tried.

“Thanks,” Daniel mumbled.

Jack wished he could ease his friend’s obvious tension.  Ensure him that there was no shame in needing help for bodily functions.  In the end, he figured not saying anything was probably the best course of action.

“Up to a few more hours of walking after we rest?”

Daniel nodded his unenthusiastic assent.

“Take a couple of these first,” Jack ordered.

Daniel looked at the pills and obligingly opened his mouth.

Jack smiled grimly and popped the pills in.  He handed Daniel the canteen and watched warily as he successfully brought it up to his mouth.

“Okay,” Jack said, “now get yourself into the shade while I take care of a little business.”

“No argument from me,” Daniel sighed as he eased himself gratefully to the ground.

“You do that on purpose, don’t you?” Jack accused.

“Excuse me?” Daniel asked, puzzled.

“Follow orders,” Jack explained.  “You wait until there’s no one around and then you do as you’re told.”

Daniel clearly saw the amusement in Jack’s eyes and he smiled as the resulting feeling of goodwill carried more benefit than any pills.

“It’s an art,” Daniel replied.

“Well, you’re damn good at it, but I’ll take what I can get,” Jack grumbled amiably, as he sauntered off to the bushes.

 

After a short respite, Jack and Daniel continued on their way.  They made better progress than Jack expected.  Nevertheless, he called a halt to their trek after receiving confirmation of Carter and Teal’c’s arrival at the Stargate.

“This time tomorrow, Daniel, you’ll be at the tender mercies of Doc Fraiser.”

“Actually, that sounds pretty damn good,” Daniel sighed as he gratefully allowed Jack to remove his pack.

“Tired of my company already?” Jack teased.

Daniel flashed Jack a tentative smile in return.  God, if you only knew.

“You just take it easy and I’ll make camp.  This is as far as we go today,” Jack said.

Daniel sat down out of Jack’s way.  He watched the older man in action and sighed inwardly. Being alone with Jack was both a joy and a torture.  The most wondrous and most difficult times were when Jack was tender and accommodating.  Feelings that Daniel obviously hadn’t buried deep enough welled up to envelop, confuse, and distress him.  At times, the flaring pain in his hands was a blessing.  Daniel jumped when a hand clamped down on his shoulder.

“Easy,” Jack soothed.  “I didn’t mean to startle you, but you were looking a little spaced-out,” he explained, his eyes edged with concern.

“We are on another planet, Jack,” Daniel replied, recovering nicely from his surprise.

“Nothing wrong with you,” Jack smiled, cuffing him lightly on the side of the head.  “Ready for coffee and something to eat?”

“That’d be great,” Daniel enthused, allowing Jack’s attention to wash over him like a welcome shower.

Heartened by his friend’s enthusiasm, Jack set to work.

* * *
Daniel was dreaming.  He knew it was a dream because he was in bed with Jack and they were naked, and they were doing things that could only happen in his dreams.  He moaned in pleasure as Jack’s hand grasped his swollen cock.

“Daniel?”

Daniel’s eyes snapped open. Jack?

“Daniel, what…oh, Jesus, what are you doing?” Jack murmured.

Daniel’s sleep-muddled brain tried to register his surroundings.  He felt a hand grasp his, followed by intense pain.  He whimpered involuntarily and looked down at his hand.  His eyes widened in horror and disbelief as he saw his bandaged hand wrapped tightly around his erection, blood seeping through the gauze.

Oh God, oh God, no.  Please no.

Even worse, Jack was crouched beside him trying to remove his hand which was steadfastly locked onto his penis—an engorged penis that showed no sign of going down.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Daniel murmured piteously.

“It’s okay, Daniel.  It’s no big deal.  It happens to us all,” Jack reassured.  “Sha’re?” he guessed in sympathy.

“Yes,” Daniel whispered, too ashamed to look at Jack.

“Come on, Danny, let go,” Jack whispered, grimacing as he finally coaxed the injured hand free.

The ache in Daniel’s cock and heart rivaled the ache in his hand.  He was mortified, and yet his erection wouldn’t go down.  Not with Jack so close.

“I’m sorry,” Daniel mumbled again.

“Let me help,” Jack whispered, placing his hand over the bulge in Daniel’s shorts.

Daniel stiffened.  “Wh–what?”

“Let me help you.  God knows I’m no Sha’re, but I’ve got some experience,” he said softly, rubbing Daniel gently.

Daniel was stunned.  There was no mocking in Jack’s voice.  No pity.  Only concern.

“There’s no one here, Daniel.  Just you and me.  Let me help you, please.  Just close your eyes and think of Sha’re.”

Daniel nodded as he felt himself succumb to Jack’s hand and his warmth.  Soon, he cried in pleasure as his agony was brought to an end.

Jack quickly removed his hand.  He told himself he was doing this to help Daniel, not to fulfill his own guilty desire.  He almost believed it too, until he thought of what he had just done and felt his own cock stir in arousal.  Jack rolled away, disgusted with himself.

Daniel felt Jack leave and squeezed back the hot tears.  For one brief, glorious moment, he believed Jack had loved and desired him.  Now, he just wanted to curl up and die.  He couldn’t do this anymore.  Then he felt the warmth of Jack’s return.

“Here, let’s get you fixed up,” Jack said softly, as he proceeded to gently clean Daniel.  Jack tried not to think of the velvety softness of Daniel’s skin; tried not to inhale the intoxicating scent of his arousal.

“I’ll have to change your bandages,” Jack said apologetically.

Daniel nodded. He knew it would hurt like hell but it might take his mind off other things.  He sat up, with Jack’s help, but he kept his head down.

As Jack began laying out clean bandages for Daniel’s hands, he said quietly, “I’m sorry, Daniel. I shouldn’t have done that.  I don’t know what got into me.  It just…it just looked so damn painful.”

Daniel looked up tentatively.  Dark brown eyes filled with concern and a little fear, gazed at him steadily.

“It was,” Daniel admitted, smiling shyly.  “Thank you.”

Jack smiled in relief and said warmly, “Let’s take care of these hands.”

Daniel held out his hands.  When Jack gently grasped them, he tried very hard not to think about how Jack’s hand had felt only moments before.

Jack carefully unwrapped the hand that was bleeding.  “Hell, Daniel,” he murmured.  Crap, no wonder Carter didn’t want to mess around. Look at all that shit.

They’re swollen,” Daniel commented quietly.

“It’s no wonder with all that crap in there,” Jack said.  “I’m just going to bathe it in antiseptic and then apply a clean bandage,” he explained.

Daniel nodded and closed his eyes as Jack tended to his hands.  He soon opened them again when he found his mind straying to the memory of Jack’s hand tending to other parts of his anatomy.

“This will sting,” Jack warned, his hand poised with the antiseptic bottle.

Daniel gave a small smile and shrugged.  “Do it.”

Jack nodded and said, “I’ll be quick.”

Daniel hissed in pain and tried not to yank his hand back as the cold antiseptic burned its way into his torn flesh.

“Almost done,” Jack murmured, gripping the hand tighter.  He treated both hands and then applied fresh gauze before loosely wrapping the hands once more.

“I’m done,” he finally announced.

“Thanks,” Daniel grunted, sweaty and pale after the ordeal.

“Here, take these,” Jack said, offering Daniel two pills and some water.

Daniel dutifully swallowed the pills, holding the cup gingerly between his hands.

“I’ll make something to eat,” Jack said. “You just take it easy.”

Jack rummaged through his pack, dismayed at the trembling in his fingers.  Christ, what did I just do? I jerked him off, for crying out loud.  What the hell was I thinking?  What must Daniel be thinking?  Crap.

Daniel sat with his legs drawn up, and his hands hanging loosely over his knees.  He leaned back against the tree and tried not to think about Jack.  He tried not to feel Jack.  He failed miserably in both attempts.

Jack sat down next to Daniel and the younger man felt the familiar tingling thrill whenever he was alone with him.  He accepted the plate Jack offered and stared dully at the chunks of food large enough for him to grasp.

“I know it’s not haute cuisine but it’ll fill that empty spot,” Jack said lightly.

Daniel smiled thinly as he balanced the plate on his knees.  It’ll take a hell of a lot more than that to fill my empty spot.

Jack tried not to fuss as Daniel negotiated the food into his mouth, but when Daniel muttered a soft “damn” and dropped a piece of bread, Jack was there in a flash.

“I’ll get it,” Jack said, as reached he reached over and plucked the bread from between Daniel’s legs.

Daniel flinched and Jack snatched his hand back.  Shit.  Way to go, O’Neill.

“Daniel, I didn’t mean—”

“I know,” Daniel interrupted, his cheeks burning.

“I just—”

“I know, Jack. It’s okay. It’s not you. It’s…” Daniel shook his head in frustration.

“I don’t blame you for being jumpy. Not after what I…did,” Jack said, faltering.  “Crap, I can’t believe I did that.  I’m sorry.  I had no right,” he said hoarsely, staring at the ground.

After several minutes of strained silence, Daniel said softly, “I didn’t try to stop you.”

Jack looked sharply at the huddled figure beside him.  He knew that tone.  He knew it only too well.  Self-loathing.

“Don’t,” Jack warned.

Large, blue eyes glanced apprehensively at him.

“Don’t make this your fault,” Jack said quietly.  “You did nothing wrong.”

“You don’t understand,” Daniel said softly.

“I jerked you off, for crying out loud. I abused my rank and worst of all, your trust,” Jack insisted hotly.

“You know your rank doesn’t mean anything to me, Jack,” Daniel countered.

“What about trust?”  Jack asked sadly.  “What about trust, Daniel?”

“That…that means everything, and I abused that trust,” Daniel admitted.

“What?” Jack asked in astonishment.  “You abused my trust? Hell, Daniel, I think you got a little brain damage from that k’tar as well.”

“You don’t understand,” Daniel said again, clenching his fists and regretting it instantly.

“Daniel,” Jack said, resisting the temptation to comfort the distraught man.

“It wasn’t Sha’re,” Daniel declared, staring defiantly at Jack.  “I wasn’t thinking of Sha’re when you…you know,” he said, dropping his gaze.

“Look, Daniel. It’s not my business who you—”

“It was you. I was thinking of you,” Daniel confessed.  

Jack stared at the wild blue eyes.  Okay, tread softly here, O’Neill.  You’re way out of your league.

Jack took a deep breath and then shrugged nonchalantly.  “Look, it’s not a big deal, Daniel.  I mean, after all, it was me, um, doing…that…to you.”  Oh, you’re Joe Cool.

 “Damn it, Jack.   Do I have to spell it out for you? It wasn’t just then,” Daniel admitted, lowering his head to his arms.

Jack stared, not knowing what to say or what, exactly, Daniel was trying to say.  He finally opened his mouth to say something inane when Daniel robbed him of speech.

“I wasn’t dreaming about Sha’re when you woke me up.  I was dreaming about you.  About us.
About making love to you.”  There, it’s out.  Thank God . Now things will be over one way or another.

Jack shook his head in denial.  No, no, this is not happening.

“Listen, Daniel—”

“It wasn’t the first time, either.”

Jack stared, open-mouthed.  Damn, he’s shut me up again.  He lowered his head and rubbed at an annoying ache at the back of his neck.  Is he saying what I think he’s saying?  What I hope to God he’s saying?

Daniel felt Jack’s gaze burning into him but he didn’t care.  He was tired of pretending, and he was tired of suffering.  “You’ll need someone to replace me, anyway.  I’m going to be pretty useless for a while,” he said dully.

“Daniel—”

“I won’t blame you for wanting me off your team.”

“For crying out loud, Daniel,” Jack groused.  “Will you let me finish at least one sentence?”

A fleeting smile crossed Daniel’s face.  In spite of his pain, both physically and emotionally, Jack could still make him smile.

Jack saw the brief smile and he got to his feet.  If he was going to salvage this mess, he had to do it now.  Daniel had just unburdened his soul to him.  Time to return the favor.

“First of all,” Jack said authoritatively to his teammate’s bowed head, “you’re not the only one who’s had dreams like that.  And secondly, the only and I repeat, the only time,” he enunciated carefully, “I will ever want you off my team is when I retire, and do you know why that is?”

Daniel slowly looked up, his eyes suspiciously wet.  He shook his head slightly, not trusting his voice.

Jack swallowed nervously.  Christ, don’t back out now.  “Because I want you to retire with me,” he said firmly.  Okay, there’s no turning back for either of us, Danny.

Daniel continued to stare and Jack began to feel extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable.  Not to mention, very, very old.  He looked away from the intense scrutiny, wondering if he had completely misinterpreted the whole situation.  Sure as hell wouldn’t be the first time.

“You want me to retire with you?” Daniel asked softly.

“It’s what I said,” Jack said dismissively.

Daniel bit his lip, and scrunched his face in thought.  “You mean, you want me to retire at the same time?  You go your way and I go my way?”

Jack flashed a half-smile.  “Sure, if that’s what you want.”

“No, no, it’s not what I want,” Daniel said urgently, scrambling to his feet, his pain all but forgotten.  “It’s just that… I need to be sure what you mean because if you’re saying what I think you’re saying.”

“I’m saying, I want us to retire together, Daniel.  Not just at the same time but together,” Jack explained slowly.

Daniel’s mouth went dry and his stomach fluttered.  Jack wanted to be with him.  He licked his lips.

“You mean, together as in…together?” Daniel asked in a whisper.

Jack smiled indulgently.  Time for a little show and tell.  He wordlessly approached Daniel and placed his hands firmly on his shoulders.

“Close your eyes,” Jack ordered gently.

Daniel blinked rapidly as he gazed into the deep, dark depths of the older man’s eyes.  He shivered under the strong hands and felt Jack’s grasp tighten.

“Close you eyes,” Jack repeated patiently.

Daniel nodded mutely and closed his eyes.  He felt himself being pulled forward, warm breath on his face, and then lips, Jack’s lips, were on his own.

Daniel stiffened instinctively at the strange sensation but Jack’s tongue probed gently and Daniel’s lips parted automatically.  He relaxed and moaned deep in his throat.  He felt Jack’s hand wrap around the back of his head and pull him in tight.  Daniel allowed his tongue to slip quickly and effortlessly into the hot moistness of Jack’s mouth.  He wrapped his arms around Jack in a desperate need to be closer only to gasp in pain as his injured hands reminded him of their presence.

Jack pulled back sharply, eliciting another cry of distress from the younger man.

“Crap, Daniel, I’m sorry.  I wasn’t thinking,” Jack said in dismay.

“It’s–it’s okay,” Daniel assured in a hissing breath.  Sudden doubt flashed in the blue eyes, and he asked hesitantly, “You–you do mean my hands, don’t you?”

Jack cocked his head and gazed into the fathomless blue depths.  “Yes, Daniel,” he said, leaning in to steal a slow, sweet kiss.  “I meant your hands.  This,” he said, cradling his friend’s face between his hands, “this I’ve thought about a lot.”

Daniel swallowed hard.  “You have?”

Jack smiled and lowered his hands.  “Remember when I said you weren’t the only one to have dreams like that?”

Daniel stared as Jack’s words registered in his mind.  His eyes widened in comprehension.  He shook his head faintly and whispered, “I didn’t know.  You never said anything.”

“That’s because I thought it was only me,” Jack admitted.

“So, if I hadn’t said anything,” Daniel probed warily.

“We wouldn’t be doing this,” Jack said sadly.

Daniel stared into the warm, brown eyes and saw the bitter truth.  If he hadn’t confessed the guilty secret that had threatened to consume him, then both he and Jack would have continued in their strained and confusing relationship, oblivious to the other’s desires.  Daniel dropped his gaze.

“Don’t, Daniel,” Jack whispered fervently.  “Don’t dwell on ‘what-ifs.’ ”

Daniel heard the words but he was thinking of earlier activities.  He nodded slowly and looked up.  “So, um earlier, when you…you know,” he shrugged.

“I wanted to help someone very important to me,” Jack admitted quietly.

Daniel stared off into the distance and chewed his lip.  “So, touching me like that…did nothing for you,” he said dully.

“Ah, Danny,” Jack whispered, reaching out and rubbing the younger man’s arm.  “At the time, I saw my best friend in pain, both physically and emotionally.  I wanted more than anything to ease that pain.”

Jack watched his friend for some sign of understanding.  He received a brief nod and the words, “You did.”

“But, if it’s any consolation,” Jack said slowly, “when I thought about what I did, and believe me I thought about it, I got a hard-on that could’ve penetrated titanium.”

Jack got the response he was looking for.  Daniel blushed, snickered, and ducked his head all in one glorious motion.  Jack hugged him close, mindful of his hands, and buried his face in the warmth of his friend’s neck.

“I never thought I could feel this way again,” Jack whispered.  “Desire someone so much.  If you don’t want this, Daniel, or if you’re not ready, just tell me.  I don’t want to lose your friendship for—”

Jack’s words were interrupted by a deliciously hot and agile tongue that plunged down his throat.
He responded enthusiastically and gratefully.  After several delirious moments, he pulled back and gasped, “I like the way you talk, Dr. Jackson.”

“Wait until you see what I can do with my hands,” Daniel suggested provocatively.

The thought of what Daniel could do with his hands had haunted Jack’s dreams for a very long time.  He literally tingled with anticipation.

Daniel smiled at Jack’s reaction and then sighed.  “Of course, it’ll be awhile before I’ll be able to use these for anything,” he lamented, looking down at his hands.

“The Tok’ra owe us big time,” Jack declared.  “After Doc pulls out all the nasty bits we’ll get Jacob to give you the once over.”

“Jack, I really don’t think—”

“And don’t you dare say you’re not worth it, Daniel,” Jack warned.

Daniel saw the sincerity in the older man’s eyes, and he obediently shut his mouth.

Daniel looked so chagrined that Jack pulled the young man into an impulsive, warm hug.

“I hate to see you in pain, Daniel,” he murmured.  “It makes me want to start ripping people’s heads off.”

Daniel leaned into the embrace.  “I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said softly, kissing the warm skin beneath his mouth.

“You can say that again,” Jack whispered, running a hand appreciatively over Daniel’s firm ass.

Daniel snickered and nipped Jack playfully.

“But, you also feel way too hot,” Jack said, pulling back and placing his hand on Daniel’s forehead.  “Come on, sit down before you fall down,” he ordered lightly, coaxing the younger man to the ground.

Jack squatted down beside him and looked intently into the blue eyes and the evident pain lines.

“You’re really hurting, aren’t you?” he asked, cupping the side of Daniel’s face.

Daniel closed his eyes and leaned into Jack’s gentle caress.  When he opened them again they were wet.

“Not nearly as much as I was,” he answered truthfully.

Jack’s stomach fluttered, and he felt his chest swell.

“I don’t deserve you,” Jack whispered.

“Yes, you do,” Daniel said forcefully, “and if you want to take that as a threat then fine.”

Jack laughed and shook his head in wonder. “I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch,” he whispered.  He gazed lovingly into the flushed face and asked, “Tell me the truth, Daniel.  How are your hands?”

Daniel looked down at his swollen, bandaged hands and sighed.  “They hurt like hell, Jack.  I can get used to the constant burning and throbbing, but it’s the other.  It feels like my skin’s erupting into boils and exploding,” he confessed.

Jack winced and said, “I want you to take some morphine, Daniel.  I know you don’t like it, but I really think you should.  We’re not going anywhere so you can cut yourself a little slack.”

Daniel considered Jack’s request.  It was true he hated the “spaced-out” feeling he always got from the drug.  He prided himself on his logic and critical thinking.  Morphine had an unfortunate knack of making him feel like a doorknob, and that was on a good day.

“It’s just you and me, Danny,” Jack encouraged.

Daniel looked at the solemn, dark eyes.  If he couldn’t do it for his own comfort, he could at least do it for Jack’s.

“Okay,” he acquiesced.

Jack smiled and retrieved the ampoule.  “Uh, do you need to go or anything before I give you this?”

“No, I’m fine,” Daniel assured him, blushing slightly.

“Okay.  This is the best thing for you,” Jack reiterated as he injected the drug into his friend.

Daniel closed his eyes as he felt the drug burn into his veins.  He reopened them and looked at the empty syringe in Jack’s hand.  He shook his head.

“No,” Daniel said quietly.  “You’re the best thing.”

Jack’s throat closed up tight, and he felt an enormous rush of love for his friend and teammate.

“Drug works damn fast,” he said hoarsely, a suspicious hitch in his voice.

Daniel graced him with a lopsided smile.  “You won’t take advantage of me, will you?”

Jack frowned and asked, “Is that a request?”

Daniel giggled and Jack smiled.  “How about if I just hold you?” Jack suggested.

Daniel dazzled him with a smile and happily snuggled into Jack’s waiting embrace.

Jack looked down at the contented six-foot-plus bundle of archaeologist and smiled.  If that’s where Daniel wanted to stay until Carter and Teal’c showed up, well, that was just fine with him.
This was a burden he could easily put up with.  He folded his arms around his feverish, “spaced-out” friend, feeling proud, humbled, and deliriously happy.

 

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.