Chapter Sixteen – There's No Place Like Home

"Ouch!" Daniel cried, and Jack winced. "Not so – get out of there!"

"Oh, don't be such a crybaby," Jack growled.

"Crybaby!" Daniel protested. "I'm not a – ow! Not so hard!"

"Just a little longer." If he could just get Daniel past this point . . .

"That hurts! It's not –" Daniel fell silent for a moment, and Jack kept plugging away. "Okay, that's a little better," he said grudgingly.

"It's better for me, too," Jack said with a sigh. "You're finally relaxing. When you tense up like that, you just make it worse."

"Preach, preach, preach, Jack," Daniel growled. "I didn't know you'd ever done this before."

"I used to do it for Sara all the time." He grimaced. "Jesus, Daniel, you're hard as a rock."

Daniel sighed. "I always have been," he said. "Why did Sara get knotted up?"

"Her job was really stressful," Jack said. Gradually, he eased up on Daniel, till he finally let up the pressure altogether, just rubbing his back gently where he'd finally worked out the knot beneath his shoulder blade.

"You have very strong hands," Daniel said. "Most people can't make a dent in my back."

Jack smiled and looked for another knot. Daniel's back was mute evidence of a stressful life. He'd started rubbing the liniment into the bruises on Daniel's back, but the more he'd rubbed, the more he'd realized that Daniel was going to need something more than liniment to help with this. Tense muscles tended to react more intensely to trauma, so Daniel needed to relax.

He'd been very surprised. After a brief moment of shock and apparent concern, Daniel had stripped bare and lain down on the bed to allow Jack to annoint him with ointment and liniment as per Dr. Fraiser's orders.

Jack moved back down to Daniel's buttocks. The muscles on this man were tense everywhere, and he had a lot of bruising on his butt. He'd already worked out a few knots there, but there were more. He kept moving down Daniel's legs.

"You know, Daniel, it means a lot to me that you're not having a problem with this touching. I mean, we both know it's not sexual, but a lot of people probably couldn't accept that."

"Mmm," Daniel said.

"Really, it makes me feel better, knowing that our friendship hasn't changed. That you still view me as someone you can trust. I know how you feel about trust, or at least I think I do." He attacked a nasty knot in the lower thigh muscle. Daniel groaned with appreciation. "And I know you're not generally comfortable with touching, so it really does, it means a lot."

After several seconds, there was no response, so Jack leaned a little closer. "Daniel?"

The archeologist raised his head ever so slightly from the bed. "Hunh?" he said.

Jack smiled. "Never mind. Go back to sleep." He pulled the covers up to Daniel's shoulders and went quietly away.

The thing he'd feared most hadn't happened. He hadn't lost Daniel completely. They were still friends and that wasn't going to stop. He just had to keep a firm control of his libido. Much as the delectable man he'd just left behind strained his self control, he couldn't lose it, or he'd lose Daniel altogether.

And as Teal'c said, he shouldn't give up hope.

The End