For Better or Worse

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Mini-Angst, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  NC-17
Spoilers:  None
Season:  7 - September 12-15, 2003
Size:  40kb, short story
Written:  August 20-21,23 2003  Revised October 10, 2003  Revised Again: October 26-28, December 18, 2004  Revised for consistency:  February 25, 2007
Summary:  Something has been bothering Jack, and Daniel decides it's time to find out what.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1)  Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Drdjlover, Linda!

For Better or Worse
by Orrymain

“Jack, what's wrong?” Daniel questioned with a steady and firm voice.  ~You're going to tell me, O'Neill.~

Daniel stood, an unmovable statue, with his arms folded near the entranceway of the home he and Jack shared.  Jack was standing by the sofa, holding a newspaper in his hand.  He violently tossed the paper onto the coffee table when his lover started to question him.

For the last few days, Jack had been disappearing.  He had left early for the base and gotten home late.  At the SGC, he had never been in his office whenever Daniel had dropped by or phoned, and what really stood out to the archaeologist, was that his lover had never dropped by his office to badger him about anything, not even once.  That fact alone triggered all kinds of alarm bells for the younger man.

Jack hadn't even tried to explain his absences.  He just did his best to fumble through explanations with comments like, “I had something I had to do” or “I had an errand to run,” without ever giving any detailed information.  At night, he had said that he was tired or had a headache.  As a result, the couple hadn't made love for four days.

For Daniel, that time gap seemed like an eternity.  He was used to sleeping on his Jack pillow.  It was still how he'd been falling asleep, with Jack's arms around him, but he'd wake up alone in the morning, finding a note from his partner about having taken their dogs for a walk or being on another mysterious errand.

It seemed so strange to Daniel to have this separation right now.  He had only just gone back to work at the SGC, but was on strict light duty after nearly dying in an off-world accident last month.  Jack, too, had been hurt, but not to the same extent as the archaeologist.  Though he'd been on light duty for a while, he was now back to regular, active duty.

On this night, Jack had walked in, having not actually seen Daniel since the night before when they had gone to bed.  He placed a rather chaste kiss on his Love's lips that lasted about three seconds and then walked away.

As Daniel had studied him, Jack rifled through their mail, played for a while with their dogs, and literally droned on about some SGC business.  Even the most exciting news about Lou Ferretti's promotion to lieutenant colonel was said without enthusiasm.

Daniel had been patient, but it was time to stop Jack's stewing.  Earlier in the day, when he had dropped by the apartment, he had made the decision to press his lover about whatever was going on.

The archaeologist's apartment was now 'in name only'.  The books and items kept there were mostly for show.  It was more like a giant storage locker than anything else.  Daniel made a point of going there once a week to dust out the cobwebs and get any mail that had accumulated.  Mostly, it was junk mail and periodicals he kept going there for appearances sake; a few magazines he wouldn't be caught alive reading, since they were about as accurate as Budge; and the usual utility bills for the loft.

Sometimes Daniel would make a long distance call or two, or watch a pay-per-view movie, if Jack was out of town.  Everything he did was simply a string of little things that made people believe he still lived there, but was often out of town.  He never went on the same day of the week.

When he had dropped by on this day, as he got out of his car in the parking lot, Daniel saw Mrs. Barbara Harper, a widow who lived down the hall.

//Flashback//
“Hello, Mrs. Harper.”

“Why, Doctor Jackson, I haven't seen you in the longest time.  How are you?” the well-dressed woman spoke.

“I'm fine, thanks.  I've been ... gone a lot.”

“That's what Colonel O'Neill keeps telling me.  It must be nice to have someone as responsible and reliable as the colonel to look after your things when you're gone so much,” Mrs. Harper said with a twinkle in her eye.

Daniel stuttered slightly in response.  Her comments had sounded current.  Had Jack been spending time alone at Daniel's apartment?

“Um, yes, it is.  Jack's ...”  Daniel paused.  While he'd never had a discussion with the woman about his relationship with Jack, she did know about their love affair.  She'd admitted that to Jack earlier in the year.  “He's, uh ... you know.”

“Yes, I do,” Mrs. Harper affirmed.  “The colonel is a very nice man,” she opined, continuing on without elaborating too much on what she knew was a difficult topic, considering the laws of the land and military regulations.  “Actually, he fixed the problem I was having with my toaster last night.”

“Last ... last night?”

“Yes, it wouldn't pop up the bread.  I thought I was going to have to get a new one, but when I mentioned it to the colonel, he volunteered to take a look at it, and now it works perfectly.”

“Jack's good with appliances,” Daniel spoke, confused about Jack's apparent presence at the loft.  ~And at keeping secrets.  What has he been doing here?~

The 'neighbors' talked all the way up to the eighth floor, stopping as they reached the widow's apartment.

“I'm glad Jack was able to help you, Mrs. Harper.”

“So am I.  I hope to see you again soon, Doctor Jackson,” Mrs. Harper said, turning to face her door and unlock it.

“Thank you.”  Daniel started to walk towards his apartment, but turned back and spoke, “Mrs. Harper, Jack sometimes gets a little ... overzealous.  Has he been here a lot lately?  I mean, while I was ... out of town?”

The widow smiled as she responded, “Oh, yes, he's very conscientious about taking care of your apartment.  You have nothing to worry about with Colonel O'Neill around.”

“I know.  He's, uh, very reliable.”  Daniel sighed, ~And he's hiding from me.  Why?~

Inside his apartment, Daniel wondered, ~Okay, what's wrong with this picture?~  He looked around, observing his surroundings carefully.  Normally, he would have had to dust, but there was no need for it.  A close examination showed that Jack had taken care of all the usual chores Daniel would do.  The apartment was ~zestfully clean,~ he mused lightly.  ~So, this is where you've been disappearing to.~

Daniel was both relieved and sad.  Jack wasn't getting into trouble somewhere, and, though he was running away from Daniel, he wasn't going very far.  In a way, that made Daniel smile.

~Jack, it's time to find out what was going on.  Trust me, Love.  Please.~
//End of Flashback//

Now, as he faced off against his lover in a battle of wills, Daniel repeated his inquiry, determined to get to the bottom of what was happening to cause the older man's recent behavior.

“What's wrong, Jack?”  ~You *are* going to answer me this time.~

“Nothing, Daniel,” the colonel responded, firm in his denial.  “What do you want to do for dinner?  We could do pizza or Chinese, or I think we still have some of the casserole left over from last night.”

Jack's face was stoic, his demeanor distant, his voice matter-of-fact.

“You're lying to me, Jack.”

“Daniel, I don't know ... there's nothing ...”

Jack was looking anywhere but at his curious lover, refusing to make eye contact.  He finally turned and headed towards the kitchen, hoping that would stop the discussion.

“Yes, you do know, Jack,” the younger man maintained.  “We don't hide things from each other, at least, we never have before, and, more importantly, we don't push each other away.”  He followed his lover, stopping at the counter that separated the kitchen from the living area.  He let out a tiny snort-like laugh at a realization.  “You can't do it, can you?  Ever since you've walked in here, you've been trying to act like everything is fine, but it's not.”

“And what makes you think that, Daniel?” Jack asked, staring at the contents of the refrigerator.

“A lot of things.  For starters, instead of jumping all over me after not seeing me all day, you barely touched me.  I've had more affectionate kisses from dogs, Jack.  You won't look me in the eye, and you're calling me Daniel.”

“It is your name ... Daniel,” Jack responded, pushing the appliance door shut without retrieving anything from it.

“Yes, and I rather like it ... from others, but not from you, Jack, and when we're alone, I can usually count on one hand the number of times you call me 'Daniel' in a night, and you've already gone way over your quota.”

“Daniel ...”  Jack paused, seeing the sharp look from his now aggravated, yet still patient, partner.  “Danny ...”

Jack shook his head and walked out of the kitchen, making sure not to touch his lover as he passed by.  He went outside, climbing the ladder to the roof deck.  Daniel waited a couple of minutes, to give Jack a chance to sort through his thoughts. Whatever was wrong, Jack was going to spill, and they both knew it.

Climbing the ladder, Daniel sighed when he saw Jack.  His soulmate was seated in one of the two white chairs they kept on the deck.  They rarely used them, preferring to sit on the deck floor, snuggled into each other or at least touching as they rested against the wall of the house.  Jack was definitely trying to keep distance between them.

Daniel took a seat in the vacant chair, but didn't say a word.  He stared out at their backyard, watching Bijou and Katie play tug-a-war with a long bone.

Bijou and Katie had been a special present from Jack to Daniel for his birthday, a mom and her runt-of-the-litter puppy.  To Jack and Daniel, the beagles represented that their home was complete and that they were a family in all the ways that counted.  For Daniel in particular, they were another symbol that he wasn't that abandoned child anymore, that he finally had the home he had longed to have since his parents' tragic death decades earlier.

~Come on, Jack.  It's written all over you.  You're in pain.  Let me help.  Please trust me.  Better yet, trust us.~

Jack knew he had to tell Daniel what was stirring inside him, but words had never been easy for him, and what he had realized about himself over the last few days frightened him quite a bit.

~When did I change so much?  When did I stop being able to do what was necessary to protect my family?~

Jack was confused about those changes, even though he knew the reason for them was his lover, his partner, the man who had given him back his soul: the man seated in the chair next to him, giving Jack time to regroup, knowing he would speak soon.

~You're the best part of me, Danny.  You've given me a purpose and a reason for being.  It's what I live for now -- to love and protect you, and only you.~

The loving part was easy.  Jack had so much love for Daniel that he sometimes thought he'd burst.  Daniel took his breath away.  There was no such thing as enough for Jack, not where his lover was concerned.

The protecting part wasn't as easy, especially now, with what Jack had recently learned.  He was angry and frustrated that there was no one's neck he could snap, no mission he could sabotage, or no agency he could infiltrate to protect his lover.  They could only rely on themselves, waiting patiently for the danger to step up and try to bite them.  For a man of action like Jack, that was not an easy thing to do.

Several minutes passed as Jack sorted through his feelings, from love to anger, and when he finally broke their silence, his voice was soft and hesitant.

“Seven years ago, I could have done this without a moment's hesitation.  I never would have looked back, second-guessing what I needed to do.  Even with Sara, I did what I had to, sometimes pulling away from her, distancing her from whatever was going on.  It had to be done, and I did it.  Yes, I felt bad about lying or distorting the truth, but it kept her, and Charlie, safe, so I didn't worry about it too much. Besides, most of the time, orders were orders, not to be questioned.”

The older man leaned forward, clenching his hands together, his head bowed briefly before looking out at the darkening skies.  Daniel could see the pain on his face, his lover's expression taut.

“I could do it, Daniel, more easily than I care to admit, or remember, but now ...”  Jack grimaced from his emotional pain, his face still looking anywhere but at his lover.  “Now, I'm a marshmallow,” he chuckled lightly, having used Daniel's term for him, “and lying to you, playing that old game to protect the country or myself, or you, well, it's beyond me now; and *that* scares me, Danny, because I want to protect you and keep you safe.  If I have to lie or ...”  He stopped again, his voice hitching slightly, his head turning to the right, away from Daniel.  “Why?  I just don't understand why I can't do it now, when you are the most precious thing in my life; when you *are* my life.”

Daniel reached over and took Jack's hand in his, squeezing and caressing it as he held on.

“Jack, what we do is so dangerous all the time, that what we have here, at home, has to be real.  We don't have time for games or to play by the normal rules.  We agreed years ago that we'd always be honest.  We never even had to say it.  We just knew we couldn't lie to each other.  We've always known that whatever was out there, we'd face it together, good or bad, the two of us.”

Jack turned and, for the first time since he had arrived home, looked his Heart in the eye.

“And deal with it in our nation of two?” Jack asked.

“Yes.  It doesn't mean it's easy.  We've both had those times when it would have been easier to run or hide.  You tore down my walls, Jack, and I've tried ...”

“You have, Danny; you know that.”

“We both want to protect each other, and sometimes, it may seem like ... not being together might be easier, but the truth is, there's no better defense or offense than the two of us united to face ... whatever it is we need to face.”

“The Dream Team,” Jack spoke as he flashed a smile.

Daniel smiled in return and agreed, “Always, Love.”

Jack stood up, tugging his hand away from Daniel's hold, and walked to the edge of the roof deck.  He placed his hands on the railing, his grip tight.  Daniel followed and stood behind him, wrapping his arms securely around his lover's waist.  He kissed Jack's nape, and then placed his head sideways against Jack's back, his hands gently caressing Jack's abdomen.

“So ... what's going on?” Daniel questioned.

“I'm ... not sure,” Jack answered.

“Jack?”

“No, Danny, I'm really not.”

Daniel moved his head to look out towards the backyard, leaning his chin against Jack's shoulder.

“NID?  Kinsey?”

“I ... I just don't know.”  Jack turned around, and placed his right hand on Daniel's cheek, taking in his beauty, a beauty he'd been trying to resist all week. It had been too long, and he'd lost the fight.  He kissed Daniel, reveling in the softness of his lips, and the taste of his mouth.  “You've had far too much coffee today.”

Jack smiled as he rubbed his hands up and down against Daniel's arms. With a need that came from his soul, he pulled his soulmate in for a much-needed embrace.  Then he sighed, a long and heavy sound, as he held the man who was his heart.

Daniel stroked Jack's back, providing a constant support, both emotionally and physically, and spoke, “It's going to be okay, Babe.  Whatever's wrong, we'll fix it.  You told me that once, and it's what we always do.  Remember, we're unbeatable together.”

The younger man kissed Jack's neck, and then pulled back slightly, raising his hands to massage the back of Jack's neck.  His fingers played with the ends of Jack's silver-gray hair in the process.

~I love your hair; gawd, so sexy.  Focus, Jackson.  Business first, play later.~  “So, what do you know, or what's setting off the alarms?”

Jack took a deep breath.  He leaned his head forward against Daniel's, seeking yet one more connection between their souls, one found in silence during this most tender bond.  Soaking in Daniel's love as if he were a sponge, he gathered his strength to reveal all to his lover.

“I got a communique from a guy I know.  We went through the Academy together, but ended up on separate paths, at least that's what I thought.  Then, I saw him again when I was in Iraq, in the prison.  We ended up working together quite a bit after that.”

“And?”

“And he told me that he had come across some information about me.  He didn't say anything about the source.  It could be anyone, Daniel, but the point was that someone is looking at me as a threat, or stumbling block.”

“To what?” Daniel questioned curiously.

Jack sighed, shaking his head in frustration, and answered, “He didn't say.  Daniel, when guys like me and this guy break the rules to warn someone, it's the bare minimum.  We don't need to say more, because the warning is implicit.  No one would pass on something they hadn't verified as being authentic.  The details are ... fluff.  The message is the warning, the danger: watch your six.”

“Jack, how can you protect yourself from something you know nothing about?”

“It's not me, Danny.  The warning ...” Jack trailed off and became silent.

~Oh,~ Daniel expressed.  “Someone is trying to get to you through me?”

Jack nodded and again leaned his forehead against Daniel's as he softly spoke, “I love you, you know.”

“I know.  So what do we do?” Daniel asked as he moved his right hand to caress Jack’s cheek.

“Nothing more than we are now, except be more careful.  Danny, just  don't trust everyone so easily for a while, okay?  Be a little skeptical,” the colonel pleaded.

“You mean be sarcastic like you?”

“Whatever works to keep you alive, yes.”  For a moment, the two simply stood, gazing into each other's eyes, their hands roaming the other's body in tender strokes of reassurance.  Jack broke the quiet of the night.  “Danny, this week -- I'm sorry, Love.”

“You should have told me.”

“I know, but I needed time to sort through this.  I've changed, and, for a while, I didn't know how to handle that.”

“I was worried about you; you kept disappearing,” the younger man admitted.

“I didn't go far; I just went to the apartment.”

With a smile, Daniel informed, “I know, Jack.  I saw Mrs. Harper today, and she told me you'd been there a lot.”

Jack brought Daniel in for a hug.  He need to feel his warmth, to hear the beating heart of his archaeologist.

“I should have been here with you.”

“Yes, you should have.”

“I've been a bit of a heel this week, haven't I?” Jack asked, not really needing an answer.

“No, not really.  Just ... distant.”

~That's My Danny; always giving me a break.~  “I'm sorry, Angel.  I guess I just needed to try and figure this out, find some answer out there.”

“By avoiding me?”

Jack nodded and explained, “It's that Special Forces colonel in me, Danny.  It makes me think that you'd be ...”

“Don't even say it, Jack, because you know it's a lie.”

“Keep your eyes open, Danny, and I'm serious about the skeptical stuff. You're so darn trusting.  You'd see the little old lady needing a tire to be changed and run to her aid without batting an eyelash.  I need you to see that maybe that little old lady might not be so old, and she just might do something not so nice with that crowbar in the trunk.”

“Jack ... I'll try to ... I mean, I'll ...”

Jack shook his head, let out a harsh-sounding sigh, and observed, “Danny, you couldn't change if you tried, and I don't want you to.  I guess that's what makes this so difficult.  I want to tell you to drive by, let her change her own flat tire, and call the auto club, but if you did, you wouldn't be you, so just ...”

“... be careful,” both men said at the same time, smiles appearing on their faces and in the gleam of their eyes.

“You know, Jack, I'm not quite as gullible as I used to be.  You've trained me well.  I know what to look for, and in all probability whomever is lurking out there thinks I'm still some clueless geek.  They don't know about all that training you've put me through.”

“I know, Love, I know.  I just worry,” Jack admitted.

“So, any chance this guy will send you more information?” Daniel asked.

“Probably not, only if the danger becomes imminent, and he finds out something more.”

“Okay, that means we go on, together and take it as it comes, like we always do.”

“I really don't deserve you, Danny,” Jack opined.

Daniel groaned, “Jack, don't start; you know I hate it when you do that.  I happen to think I'm the one who got lucky here.”

“Okay, we're both lucky then,” Jack corrected, taking Daniel's hands in his and leaning over to kiss each of them.

Daniel felt warm inside.  Jack was so tender and romantic and always made him feel so cherished and treasured.

“I love you, Jack O'Neill, for better or worse.”

“It's liable to get worse for a while, Danny.  We don't even know what or who we're fighting here.”

“We can't live in a bubble either, Jack, trying to stay safe from an invisible enemy.  We've been here before, with that NID mess; this isn't anything new for us.”

“Yeah, but it's different now.”

“Why?  What's different?”

Jack laughed and nodded out towards the corner of the backyard as he answered, “The children, Danny.”

Both men laughed, then enjoyed a deep kiss.

“So, Love, we keep living our lives as normal as possible, okay?  Otherwise, Jack, they win without doing a thing.”

“You're right, Danny, but sometimes it's hard to go on thinking about broken plumbing or yard work when someone wants to hurt you.”

“You'll keep me safe, Jack.  I know you will.”  Daniel kissed Jack again, a kiss that spoke of love, trust, and their future of forever together.  “And speaking of that normal life, Love, about the ... children ...”  he chuckled at the term they were using for their beagles, but it is how they felt about the girls.  “What are we going to do about Katie's digging all over the yard?”

“What?  You're complaining because she likes to dig?  Daniel, I'm surprised at you.  I thought you'd be proud to have one of our daughters follow in your footsteps.”

Jack felt a slap on his arm, not a hard slap, just a loving thwap from his partner.

“Very funny, Jack.  She digs more than I do.  Do you see all the holes along the fence?”

“She likes to get down and dirty like you.”

“Jack, keep your mind on the children, please.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes, until we figure this out.”

“You're no fun.”  Jack saw the scowl on Daniel's face and gave in, deciding it would be best to solve the digging problem if he didn't want to end up sleeping with Bijou and Katie in their custom-built dog house. Besides, he had some serious make-up sex scheduled for later, so he decided to concentrate on the dogs until after dinner.  “Well, let's see, dogs dig for different reasons.”

“You're the expert on this one, but I ...”

“What, Love?”

“Jack, I'm worried that if she digs a big enough hole, she'll get out and might get hurt.”

“No, she won't; we'll fix it,” Jack said tenderly, leaning in for a quick kiss.  He could see that aside from the humor of the situation, his lover was genuinely concerned, and he, too, didn't like the thought of Katie going up against some larger dog or other perils like cars.  “Okay, process of elimination.  It can't be the heat.  Some dogs dig to try and find a cool spot, but that doesn't apply here; and sometimes they dig because they need exercise.”

“Bijou and Katie?  We're spoiling them rotten, Jack.  They probably get too much attention with all the playing we do with them.  I think I've lost ten pounds from all the running and walking we do with them now.”

“You're not sorry, are you?”

“Geez, Jack, no.  They're precious, and they're ours.  I wouldn't give them up for anything.”  Daniel leaned in and kissed Jack, putting his arms around him, one hand caressing the back of Jack's head.  He spoke softly into his lover's ear.  “I love them, Jack, and what they represent for us.”

“Love you, too, Angel.”

Jack kissed Daniel's forehead, a lingering kiss, his lips enjoying the feel of his lover's smoothness.  He was about to get lost in the scent of Daniel when Bijou barked, pulling Jack back into the dog dilemma of the moment.

Daniel chuckled, “I think she knows we were about to be distracted.”

Jack laughed, “I wouldn't be surprised.  Okay, we've ruled out the weather and lack of exercise.  None of the neighbors bordering us have pets.  Have you noticed any strays lurking around?”

“No, and usually the girls are happy just playing with each other,” Daniel noted.  When Jack started to laugh again, asked, “Hey, what's so funny?”

“The girls -- our children.  Danny, she's just like you, as crazy and weird as that sounds, Katie just likes to dig.  She sees us doing the gardening sometimes, and I'll bet she just senses it.  She's doing it for fun.”

“Well, that's nice, but do we abandon the yard so she can have ... fun?”

Jack explained, “No, we can train her to dig in a certain area, give her a play yard of sorts.”

There was more laughter, this time quite boisterous from the older man.

“Jaaack, what now?”

“You can bury artifacts in her play yard for Katie to dig up.  She'll love it.”

“My ... artifacts, Jack?”

Daniel was slightly panicked, and Jack chuckled seeing the look of horror pass over his lover's face.

“Not for real, Angel.  Maybe we need to get her some toys.  We've gotten them a few things, but we could get some fiber bones or the rubber ones and bury those.  Katie'd have a ball digging them up and burying them again; it's what beagles do.  And they were pulling on that long bone earlier ...”

“Oh, you saw that.  I thought you were ...”

“... staring out into nothingness?  Yeah, I saw.  You know I am always keeping an eye out for my own.”

Daniel smiled knowingly, his mind well aware of Jack's constant 'threat assessment mode'.  Jack was always aware of his surroundings, checking out anyone in the vicinity, looking for things that stood out as unusual.  Daniel knew Jack would die before letting anyone he loved be hurt.  He also knew anyone who hurt him would have to deal with Jack O'Neill, and he preferred not to think about what might happen during those dealings, so he let his thoughts return to the play yard.

“I saw some pull toys in the pet aisle; they're pretty inventive these days.”

“Why don't we take the kids on a field trip tomorrow to PetSmart?  We can see how they react to some of the toys before we buy.”

“Okay.”  Daniel turned watching Bijou and Katie playing, rolling over each other on the grass.  A sudden maudlin feeling began to overtake him.  “Jack?”

It was a tentative calling to the older man, one of foreboding, and Jack immediately sensed it.

“No, Danny, they wouldn't hurt them.  No point.  That's ... minor league stuff, and whomever might be after us, is in the big leagues.”  Jack saw the concern in his lover's eyes.  “I promise, Danny.  They wouldn't; it would be a waste of time.  Special Ops, remember?”

“Oh yeah, tough as nails, hard-nosed, unemotional, unsentimental ...”

“You can stop anytime, Daniel.”

Daniel kissed Jack softly on the lips.

“Jack, you did what you had to do during those years, and you do what you need to do now, but you're none of those things, and I doubt you ever really were.  You just let ... you let that part of yourself take a backseat to being ...”

“... an idiot.”

“... someone who cares and feels as much as anyone I've ever known.”

“Look at me now, Danny.  I'm a ... marshmallow.”

“I doubt Ferretti would agree.”

“And you?”

“Well, you're my marshmallow, and I'm thinking chocolate and coffee go great with ... marshmallows,” Daniel said seductively.

“I do like the way you think.  Let's go play with the girls while we wait for pizza to arrive.”

“Chinese.”

“Chinese,” Jack said with a smile.

Daniel could have anything he wanted, whenever he wanted it; all he had to do was look at Jack the way he was now, eyes shining with love.

“And then, Jack ... dessert!”

“In bed?”

“I love it when we're on the same page.”

====

Two hours later, a variety of Chinese delights had been delivered and devoured by the two hungry lovers, and Bijou and Katie had been fed and taken for a long walk.  Jack was in the kitchen putting their dirty cups and utensils in the dishwasher when Daniel walked in.

“Hey, Daniel ...”

Jack started to say something, hearing his lover's footsteps, but as he turned around, Daniel pounced on him.  Soft lips pressed against Jack's for a moment, and then his tongue licked Jack's moist lips before pushing in and exploring his partner's mouth.  His hands were around Jack, hugging him closely, their bodies almost melding into one against the dishwasher.

Their mouths locked together, Daniel began to unbutton Jack's shirt.  When the third button wouldn't come open, Daniel yanked it off in frustration.

Jack moaned at the contact with his lover, his hands snaking under Daniel's tan slacks, desperate for the feel of Daniel's skin.

When the two broke from their latest kiss, Daniel panted, “Want you, Jack ... now.”

“Bed,” Jack gasped.

It was a question, a statement, and a command all rolled into one.

Daniel walked backwards as he pulled Jack towards the living room, their lips pressing together and their tongues dueling like swords until Daniel backed right into the counter, ending their kiss with a bite.  He looked at counter and glared for a brief moment as if it were Anubis, wishing he had a staff weapon to disintegrate it with.

~Stupid counter.  Forget the counter, Jackson; you have more ... tasty things to think about.  Need Jack ... now!~

Their hands entwined, the two made their way up the stairs as quickly as possible.

Standing near the bed with fire blazing inside him, Daniel gave up on Jack's shirt buttons and tore the rest of them loose with a single pull. Jack considered protesting, but he was otherwise occupied unzipping his lover's pants.

Once they had divested each other of their clothing, Daniel pushed them towards the bed.  Jack fell backwards onto it, and the two laughed into each other's mouths.  Their arms slid possessively along the other's skin, stroking and caressing, for a few moments.

Then, their arms wrapped around each other as they rolled back and forth, flipping each other over, reveling in the strength and feel of the other.  Their need for each other was intoxicating, and they drank in every morsel and taste they could.

Finally, his hunger inflamed, Daniel pinned Jack to the sheets, holding Jack's hands with his own next to Jack's head on their bed.  He pushed his tongue into Jack's mouth, eating and devouring him, starving for what had been denied him for days.

They continued to kiss, their hands stroking and rubbing against their skin.  They were rubbing together at a quick pace, their bodies pulsating from their passion, but it wasn't enough.  Jack wanted more, his body hungry to feel the hardened length of his lover inside him.

“I need you, Danny, inside me.  I've missed you ... missed this ... so much.”

Jack spread his legs in open invitation as Daniel reached under the pillow, pulled out the lube, and began to prepare his lover, putting the lubricant on his fingers and then working them inside his life partner.

“Want you, Danny; need you, now.”

Daniel entered him gently, slowly, giving Jack time to adjust to his size. Jack grunted in pleasure as Daniel started to move inside him, and met Daniel's thrusts with his own.  They always liked to make love this way, staring into each other's eyes, wanting to savor every second of their union.

Faster and harder Daniel moved inside Jack, pounding his length against Jack's prostate, their bodies sweating more each second.  Moans of pleasure escaped from their throats.

Jack grunted and cried out, “Yes ... Danny ... more ... Love you ... harder,  Danny.”

Jack's fingers clung to Daniel's warm, broad shoulders, his legs wrapping around his lover's rocking hips.  The sensations were overwhelming, somewhere between pain and ecstasy.

Daniel was panting, rasping out, “Love you, Jack” as he pressed harder and deeper inside him.

It had been so long, too many days.  They needed, wanted, and demanded more from each other.

“More, Angel; there, yes!”

Jack's words were gasped, his eyes still dark with desire, and Daniel was the same, his thirst and need for Jack consuming him.

Their bodies dripping with sweat and flushed from their quick pace, but still it wasn't enough.

“J'ck ... Jack!” Daniel shouted as he continued.

“Yes ... Danny ...  Dan...ny ... there ... yes ... now ...”  Jack moved just slightly encouraging Daniel to go deeper, as if it were possible.  Daniel was buried so deep that Jack could literally feel his lover up in his throat.  It was painfully erotic, and right now, the painful part didn't matter to Jack.  “Need to feel you, Danny; need you so much.”

It could never last long enough, and neither wanted to stop.  Daniel felt his orgasm building.  Jack was stroking himself and knew he was coming to completion.

With a last loud grunt and thrust as deep as he could go, Daniel cried his lover's name as Jack screamed out “Daniel”.  The shockwaves caused both their bodies to tremble and convulse as Daniel collapsed onto Jack, still inside him.

The men were breathing hard, their bodies soaked from their efforts.  They were hot and sticky, and it felt good.

Jack moved his hands to Daniel's back and rubbed gently.  Daniel started to withdraw, but Jack stopped him.

“Not .yet.  Stay ... a minute.”

Daniel lay his head on Jack's shoulder as their breathing evened.  He couldn't talk.  He was exhausted, but totally satiated.  Jack kissed his forehead.

“Geez, Daniel, what you do to me.  I can't get enough of you, Angel.”

“Love you, Jack.  Love you more than anything.”

Finally, Daniel withdrew from Jack, and Jack immediately brought his partner to lay on him, not wanting to lose the sensation of Daniel's warm body on his.

“I love my Jack pillow,” Daniel laughed as his fingers played lovingly with Jack's chest hairs.

“Good to know I'm good for something.”

Jack kissed Daniel's sweaty, mussed hair, his fingers laying down a continuous massage that was pleasing to both of them.

“Always ... for ... something.”

“Aw, Danny, it can't get any better than this.  Love you so much.”

Daniel's eyes couldn't stay open.  His head was on Jack's chest, his left leg hooked between Jack's.  Jack's arms were wrapped around his lover, one hand still stroking Daniel's silky hair.

Jack knew that whatever happened, he would protect Daniel, with his own life, if he had to.  No one would touch his Daniel and live to talk about it.

“For better or worse, Jack.  Together, always.”

“Forever, Danny.”

The two fell asleep, holding possessively on to each other, knowing that their future was secure in their nation of two.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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