This is a sequel to Across Worlds, Throughout Time... and follows on pretty much straight away from that story's ending. It contains some swearing and a fair amount of explicit male/male sex. If you don't like that sort of thing, if you're underage or if this is illegal where you are, please don't read the story. Life's too short to be upset by things you read on the internet. Really. Go find something else that you'll enjoy more.
None of the characters are mine, nor is the setting. I'm just having fun playing with them. Thanks to the cast, crew and writers of Stargate: SG1 for making such a fantastic show.
The Gate Room was clear, everyone dispersed to change back into their BDUs, and only SG1, Doctor Frasier and General Hammond remained in the briefing room. Jack leaned against the window that overlooked the control room, watching Daniel chat quietly with Carter, the edges of a bemused smile still flickering across his face every time he caught sight of the ring on his finger. Jack ran his thumb over the matching ring on his left hand.
'Everything okay, Jack?' Hammond asked, joining him and casting a benevolent eye over the room.
'Just peachy, sir.' Jack looked over at his commanding officer. 'I can't help thinking we've ended up in an episode of the Twilight Zone, though.'
'I know exactly what you mean,' Janet said, coming to stand on the other side of Jack. 'Even by the SG1's standards, this is a little extreme.'
'I never saw it coming,' Jack concurred.
'That makes three of us,' Hammond agreed. The three senior officers fell silent and after a moment, Daniel turned, feeling the weight of their gaze on him. He blushed and raised an eyebrow in a silent question.
Jack lifted his chin in acknowlegement. 'So, anyone coming for that beer?' he asked lightly.
'Rain check, sir?' Carter said.
'Another evening perhaps, O'Neill,' Teal'c added.
'Go home, Jack. I don't want to see you or Daniel back on base until Monday morning, oh-eight-hundred,' the General ordered.
'Thank you, sir.' Jack pushed himself away from the window. 'Daniel?' Raising his eyebrows, he tilted his head towards the door.
Daniel glanced at him, blinked. 'Sure, I just need to get a few-'
'Things from your office, right,' Jack picked up smoothly. 'See you Monday, Carter. Don't spend-'
'All my time in the lab, right, sir. Enjoy your honeymoon.' Sam managed a small but genuine smile.
With a hand on the small of Daniel's back, Jack escorted the linguist from the room. He accompanied his husband through the corridors, acknowledging grins with a proud smile and taking note of the few who looked puzzled or uncomfortable. He 'mhm'ed in the right places as Daniel ran through the litany of things he needed to remember to take home, but when they got to Daniel's office and Daniel started rummaging through the piles of folders, Jack reached out and laid a hand gently on his arm.
'Jack?' Daniel looked up, puzzled.
'Daniel. Is there anything here which absolutely has to be done by Monday?' Jack's thumb rubbed in gentle circles.
Daniel frowned. 'Well, no, but-'
'Will the world end if you don't take work home?' Jack asked, velvet-toned. 'Anyone's life at stake here?' He stepped closer.
'Um, no...' Daniel's eyes were wide, the pupils dilating. His tongue flicked over his bottom lip and Jack fought back the urge to growl.
'And isn't there a stack of journals sitting on my coffee table that you've been meaning to catch up on?' With his other hand, he cupped the back of Daniel's neck.
'We should get going,' Daniel's voice was low, breathless. He swayed towards Jack, pouting when Jack pulled away.
'Aht! The things I want to do with you, we really shouldn't get into on base. Cameras, Daniel.'
Daniel's eyes narrowed. A split-second later, he was free of Jack's hands and dropping his laptop into his satchel. Without grabbing so much as a single book, he marched to the door and flicked the light off. 'Well? Going to stand around all evening?'
Jack laughed and followed Daniel out of the office, catching up with him in the corridor. In the elevator, he reached around Daniel and hit the button for his office.
'I thought you wanted to get out of here,' Daniel groused.
'I do, but unless you fancy trying your hand at hotwiring my truck and breaking and entering my house, I'm going to need my keys. Two minutes, that's all,' Jack reassured him, bumping elbows with him.
'Don't get changed,' Daniel said as the elevator doors opened again.
'Okay.' Jack glanced sideways in time to see a flush pass across Daniel's cheeks. 'Daniel? Is there something you want to share with me?' Daniel ignored him and Jack chuckled. 'You have a thing for my dress blues?'
'And if I do?' Daniel challenged, following Jack into his office.
Jack cleared his throat, feeling uncomfortably warm all of a sudden. 'Not a problem.' He opened his desk, retrieved his wallet and keys, then, deciding he really didn't need anything from his locker, grabbed Daniel by the elbow and marched him off the base as quickly as possible.
The airman on duty at the security checkpoint failed to hide his surprise at their suits as he handed them the clipboard to sign out.
'Wedding,' Jack explained as he scrawled his name on the sheet. 'Short notice.'
Daniel took the board from him, signed and handed it back. 'It was a good turnout, considering.'
'There's something to be said for no seating plan,' Jack agreed, ushering Daniel towards his truck. Behind them, the airman glanced at their signatures, then did a double-take. 'Sirs-' he called after them.
'Problem, airman?' Jack paused and looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised.
'Uh, it's just, your signatures...' the airman replied unhappily.
'Call General Hammond,' Jack ordered. 'Our new I.D. should be ready and waiting by Monday morning.'
Daniel smirked as they climbed into Jack's truck. 'So, Jack O'Neill-Jackson?'
'I figured Jack Jackson was a little silly,' Jack replied with dignity. 'Besides, Daniel Jackson-O'Neill?'
'I admit it doesn't really trip off the tongue, but I think it has a certain something, don't you?'
Jack started the truck. 'Oh yeah, something all right.' He took a moment to look at Daniel, all long legs and elegance in his best suit, broad shoulders displayed to perfection by the cut of the jacket. Heat burned through him, drying his mouth.
Daniel swallowed, eyes darkening, and shifted uncomfortably. 'Are you going to drive or are we going to make out here in the parking lot? I don't mind, but I'm not entirely sure NORAD will believe they can't throw your ass in jail when they catch us at it and I'd rather not spend our wedding night trying to get hold of a lawyer.'
Jack sucked in a lungful of air and turned his attention to the view through the windshield. He put the car in drive and was glad of the steering wheel to keep his hands occupied and off the man beside him. Classical music floated quietly through the truck as Jack drove down the mountain; it sounded like Debussy. 'That might happen,' he said finally as he pulled up at a stop sign.
He glanced over to see Daniel blinking owlishly at him from behind his glasses. 'I might get arrested. Once they check, they'll have to let me go, but there's nothing to stop them dragging me in.' Jack turned his attention back to the road and pulled out into the intersection.
Daniel frowned. 'I thought the orders from the President and the Joint Chiefs-'
'It's a get-out-of-jail-free card, but until they check, they won't know I have it,' Jack explained. 'It's not a stay-out-of-jail card and it won't be until DADT is repealed and the ban on gays in the military is lifted.'
'Wow.' Daniel mulled things over for a few hundred yards. 'You knew this all along?'
Jack shrugged. 'Well, yeah.'
'And you still went ahead with this?'
Jack risked another look over at the man seated beside him, hastily looking back at the road rather than face Daniel's gimlet-eyed stare. 'It's not as though they can throw my ass in Leavenworth, Daniel.' He swung the truck onto his drive and put it in park, set the handbrake and turned back to his husband. 'Besides,' he fished in the inside pocket of his jacket and withdrew his warrant card, flipped it open and pulled out a folded piece of paper. 'Here.' He handed it to Daniel, who read it over.
'A memo from the Joint Chiefs, countersigned by the President and by General Hammond as my CO. Once any military official sees that, they have to let me go. If they don't, they're liable to face disciplinary action at the highest level.'
Not looking noticeably happier, Daniel folded the paper and handed it back, then climbed out of the truck and waited for Jack to unlock the front door.
'Daniel?' Jack ushered him inside, closing and locking the door behind them.
'And what about all the things that can happen to you before they get around to reading it, Jack?' Daniel dropped his satchel on the couch. 'Last I heard, certain sections of the military are still quite keen on gay-bashing.' He stalked into the kitchen and set about putting on a pot of coffee with as much banging and clattering as he could manage without actually breaking the coffee machine.
Jack leaned against the doorway and watched him. 'Military police can't afford to indulge in that kind of thing,' he offered. 'They're under too much scrutiny, especially now.'
'Accidents happen.' Daniel slammed the cupboard door.
Jack winced. 'I was Special Ops, Daniel! There isn't a damn thing they can do to me that hasn't already been done and in case you missed it, I'm still here!' Jack walked into the kitchen and grabbed Daniel's arms. 'So what's this about?'
'I don't want you getting hurt because of me!' Daniel blazed, struggling to push Jack away.
'Neither do I!' Jack pulled him close, hugging the younger man as tightly as he could. 'I'm still here,' he murmured into Daniel's ear.
Daniel shuddered, the fight leaving him, and he wrapped his arms around Jack. 'I don't want to lose you too,' Daniel whispered, burying his face in the curve of Jack's neck.
'I don't plan on going anywhere, I promise.' Jack held Daniel close until the proximity reminded certain parts of his anatomy just what they'd been up to together over the past couple of days.
Daniel huffed in resigned amusement as he hardened in response. He pulled back and lifted his face to kiss Jack, only for Jack to laugh outright when Daniel's stomach rumbled loudly.
'Much as I'd like nothing better than to drag your ass upstairs and get started on our wedding night, I think I'd better feed you first.' Jack grinned as he slapped Daniel on the ass. Turning, he walked to the phone. 'Chinese okay?'
Daniel rolled his eyes. 'Don't you have any food in the house?'
'If by that, you mean anything edible that doesn't come out of a tin or a packet? No. Chinese it is.' Jack pressed 8 on speed-dial and, a few seconds later, rattled off an impressive list of dishes.
'You want anything else?'
Daniel shook his head. 'I think you ordered half the menu.'
Jack hung up the phone. 'Leftovers,' he proclaimed grandly. 'I'm not planning on leaving the house until, ooh, oh-seven-hundred on Monday.'
Daniel laughed, turning to pour himself a mug of coffee. 'What, no long walks in the park? No picnics?'
'Have you seen the weather forecast? Not a chance. I know you, Daniel,' Jack teased. 'Ten minutes out there and you'll be whining about the cold and trying to drag me off to the nearest coffee shop.'
'You know, somehow the idea of spending a lazy Sunday morning in my favourite coffee shop with you isn't entirely unappealing,' Daniel smiled. 'You could bring the crossword.'
'The idea of lazy Sunday morning sex appeals more, right now, I gotta say.' Jack said lightly, but the heated look in his eyes made Daniel flush and lick his lips.
'For two straight guys, I don't think we're doing too badly.' Daniel leaned back against the kitchen worktop and blew on his coffee.
A pained look crossed Jack's face. 'Crap!'
'What? I didn't mean, uh...'
Jack could see Daniel mentally kicking himself for bringing up the subject. 'No, no, not that. I, uh, I gotta pop out.'
'Why?' Daniel frowned in confusion.
'We didn't stop off in the locker room,' Jack explained.
Jack sighed. 'So I didn't pick up my laundry. And I didn't pick up the lube that's bundled with it.'
'Oh!' Daniel's eyes rounded in surprise. 'You mean...'
'I think we already established just how much sex neither of us has been getting. Here.' Jack fished his wallet out and dropped some bills on the table. 'That should cover dinner. I'll be fifteen minutes.'
'Jack... Don't you think maybe I should go? After all...' Daniel waved a hand at Jack, who looked down at himself, at his very military dress uniform and winced. 'It's one thing buying lube when you're in civvies, but... What?'
Jack's back stiffened and his chin lifted. 'You know what? I don't give a crap if I'm in my Class As or not. I have a piece of paper from the goddamn President himself saying it's okay for me to be married to you. I'm not going to chicken out of buying lube just because I'm still in uniform. Aht!' he cut off Daniel's protest with a raised finger.
'I'm not going out to find a hooker. I'm not sleeping my way around the Springs. I'm not bringing the Service into disrepute. But I am going to the drugstore so I can spend my wedding night making love with my husband. No, no arguing!' He grabbed his keys off the table and marched to the door. 'Fifteen minutes, Daniel.'
Jack slammed the door behind him and climbed back into his truck, reversing back out of his drive. Five minutes brought him to the nearest drugstore. He parked in a spot out front and let his anger carry him inside, through the aisles, right to the 'personal' section. He wondered about the mindset that shelved feminine hygiene products next to pregnancy tests, and pregnancy tests next to condoms and lubricant. Who the hell used 'vaginal deodorant' anyway? Just the thought of putting his pecker anywhere near a chemically deodorized anything made him shudder. He'd loved the way Sara smelled, the way she tasted, and oh god, he was going to have to call and let her know, explain somehow that he'd wound up married to his best friend, his male best friend, his team mate, despite all the rules and regs and laws to the contrary and...
'Can I help you, sir?'
Jack took a deep breath and looked up. Further down the aisle, a middle-aged woman had paused in stacking packs of nappies onto a shelf and was looking at him in concern.
'I'm good, thanks,' he replied hoarsely, turning his attention back to the vast selection of prophylactics in front of him. 'Just, uh...' He waved a hand at the display.
The woman chuckled sympathetically. 'Sometimes there's too much choice? You know, I'll be over at the cash desk when you're done.' She retreated, leaving him alone to browse.
Jack stared at the array of boxes, looking for the lube. Trojans and Durex, lubricated, non-lubricated, ribbed, ultra-thin, feather-lite, flavored, colored, glow-in-the-dark... He gritted his jaw against the urge to call out to the clerk, ask what she'd recommend for novices at gay sex, and grabbed a box of assorted flavored condoms instead. He spotted the lube and added a tube of KY and a tube of Astroglide and went to pay.
Smiling, the clerk rang up the total and dropped the items into a paper bag. 'Have a great weekend,' she offered as she handed it to him along with his change.
'Thanks,' Jack said, embarrassed. 'Just married.'
'Oh! Well, congratulations. I hope you and your wife are both very happy.' Still smiling, she went back to her shelving as Jack made his way out of the store.
'Yeah, I'll be sure to tell him,' he muttered. Rain spattered on the windscreen as he drove home.
When Jack pulled up, the delivery guy was just leaving. Holding the box of food, Daniel waited as Jack parked the truck and got out with his bag of supplies.
'Any problem?' Daniel asked.
'Not so much a problem as too much damn choice.' Jack shut the door behind them and locked it. 'Did you know there are a hundred different varieties of condom and at least half a dozen types of lube out there? I felt like I should have a preliminary survey report from Carter.'
'I'm not sure she's equipped to conduct that particular survey. So what did you go with?' Daniel set the box down on the kitchen table and began stacking cartons beside the two plates already set out.
Jack dropped his keys and wallet onto the counter, then opened the bag and upended it. Boxes scattered and one of the tubes of lube slid as far as the sink. He glanced up and noted Daniel's raised eyebrows. 'What? I didn't think we needed ribbed for her pleasure, so I went with plain lube, a different plain lube, and a box of flavored condoms. And before you ask, yes, there's coffee and chocolate in there, as well as cherry and banana.'
'You think I'll blow you if you taste of synthetic coffee?' Daniel paused, incredulous. 'Really?'
Jack shrugged. 'Can't be any worse than the crap they serve on night shift in the commissary.'
Daniel wrinkled his nose. 'God, that stuff's beyond awful. I don't know how you drink it.'
'I only drink it when I can't raid yours,' Jack retorted. 'Can I at least take my jacket off? I'll put it back on after dinner if you really want me in it.'
'I guess sweet and sour pork stains are a little difficult to get out, huh?' Daniel set out the last of the cartons on the table and lobbed the empty box at Jack.
'Just so's you'd notice.' Jack dropped the box by the back door and unbuttoned his jacket, shucking it off with a happy sigh. 'I always feel trussed up in those things. They never cut them wide enough across the shoulders.'
'You look very... distinguished in it,' Daniel said, stripping off his suit jacket and rolling up his sleeves.
'You too,' Jack said, helping himself to an egg roll. 'I mean, you look good in that.' They busied themselves with dinner, and it wasn't until Daniel handed Jack a beer and poured himself a glass of wine that either of them broke the silence.
'I wasn't expecting half the base to turn out for our wedding,' Daniel said. 'It was, uh... quite moving, actually.'
'I thought you were going to pass out when you saw them,' Jack agreed. 'You looked like you'd rather face a system lord.'
Daniel sipped his wine. 'You're probably right. It's just... Was that your meeting?'
'The General and I met with the other team leaders, yes.'
'Object? No. They're good people on the whole, and by and large, we've been working together for years. I didn't know they were going to turn up for the main event, though.'
'So General Hammond didn't order them to attend?' Daniel asked around a mouthful of noodles.
'Hell, no! George would never do anything like that and you know it, Daniel! It was their way of showing support, saying they won't put up with any crap about this from the people on their teams.' He washed down a forkful of mu shu pork with a swig of beer, then put his bottle and fork down and covered Daniel's left hand with his own, their rings gleaming dully in the overhead light.
'You know I wouldn't even have considered doing this if I thought it would put you at risk, right? I'm not saying that the entire base is going to throw us a gay pride parade, but I don't think you have to worry.'
'What about the next time personnel rotate into the base?' Daniel dipped his chin and looked at Jack over his glasses.
'Then it will be made abundantly clear to them that the open-mindedness we require doesn't just cover wormholes and spaceships and aliens,' Jack said firmly. 'And when George retires and we get a new president, we'll deal with that as it comes.' He squeezed Daniel's hand, and Daniel turned it so that their fingers linked together.
Blinking, Daniel looked down at his dinner, poking the rice with his chopsticks, then dropped them at the edge of the plate. When he spoke, his voice was low, rough. 'I just... I'm not sure where we go from here. My entire life has been turned upside down in a couple of days. What... I don't know how we do this.' He frowned, finally making eye contact with Jack again.
'Hey, we do this together,' Jack said as sincerely as he could.
'And that means?' Daniel pushed.
Jack sighed. 'That means we discuss things now while dinner gets cold, apparently.' When Daniel scowled, Jack squeezed his hand again. 'Microwave, remember? You want to talk this through now, that's okay. The way I see it, this is no different from our first marriages.'
'Apart from the whole neither of us being a woman thing and the part where I lived with my wife's family on another planet for a year, I'm assuming,' Daniel interjected.
'Yeah, apart from that! Jeez, work with me, will ya?' Jack shot him an exasperated glare, but he kept hold of Daniel's hand. 'You and me, we're married 'til death do us part, and all that. Two people made one flesh. Now, we can carry on pretty much as usual if you want to. You keep your apartment, I keep my house, and when we feel like it, we hang out, maybe get lucky. We can wear these rings or not; nothing much has to change.'
'Or?' Daniel asked quietly. He didn't move his hand out from under Jack's.
'Or we do what we did when we got married last time. We make a life together, a home together. You move in here, or we can look for a house that suits us both. Mix up our books and CDs and kitchen stuff. Health insurance, next of kin. Driving in to work together. Fighting over who used the last of the milk or left the cap off the toothpaste. It's your call.' Jack hung onto Daniel's hand, fighting the urge to get up and pull the younger man into his arms and never let him go, hoping that Daniel couldn't see the desire, the need in his eyes.
It was a vain hope. Daniel studied Jack's face intently, as though he could read every emotion, every passing thought as easily as he read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. At last, he asked, 'You wouldn't mind giving up your space?'
'If I minded, I wouldn't have brought it up,' Jack said.
'I'm not easy to live with,' Daniel warned him. 'I'm used to being by myself, taking care of myself. I won't put up with you mother-henning me all the time.'
'You're an adult,' Jack agreed. 'As long as you let me take care of you when it really counts, I won't take it personally when you pitch a hissy fit.'
'A hissy fit?' Daniel's eyes narrowed dangerously and Jack grinned.
'Tantrum?' he offered. 'Get in a snit?'
'Perhaps this isn't such a good idea,' Daniel said in a glacial tone.
Jack took comfort from the fact that Daniel was still holding his hand. 'It's the best idea I've had in years, Danny. We've lived together off and on, spent weeks in a tent together, and trust me,
I'm not going to suddenly wrap you up in cotton wool. I'm not the easiest to live with either, but we haven't strangled each other yet and I gotta say, I think that's a good sign.'
Daniel thawed, answering Jack with a smile that held as much relief as it did happiness. 'Okay.'
'Yes, I'll come live with you. Here. We'll need to get someone in to do some work. I'm going to need bookshelves. Lots of bookshelves. And some of them are going to need glass doors and humidity control, and I have no idea where we're going to put the fish or the piano, but yes.' Daniel ran out of breath and stopped, squeezing Jack's hand. 'Yes.'
Jack felt his shoulders relax, tension he didn't know he'd been carrying draining from him all at once. 'Good,' he said roughly, gripping Daniel's hand tightly. 'That's good.' He let go of Daniel's hand, cleared his throat and looked down at his plate, blinking rapidly. 'So, you still hungry?'
Daniel kept his gaze on Jack. 'No.' He stood and began closing cartons. Jack took a deep breath, then another, and gave Daniel a hand, putting the leftovers in the fridge. Together they cleared the table and put the plates into the dishwasher, then Daniel scooped up the box of condoms, grabbed his suit jacket and walked to the doorway. 'I'm going to bed. Coming?'
Suddenly, Jack was too warm again. He fought the urge to check the thermostat and instead picked up the lubricant. He shrugged on his jacket as he walked slowly up the stairs, trying very hard not to think about what he was about to do with Daniel, but he could feel himself beginning to harden. He felt like a teenager all over again; horny, nervous, but excited by the prospect of getting to go to bed with Daniel, to make love with Daniel without fear of interruption, in his own home. In their home. In their bed. At the thought, he stopped in the doorway to the bedroom with a groan and had to adjust himself.
'You okay?' Daniel looked up from where he sat perched on the edge of the bed, untying his shoelaces.
'Just saluting the flag,' Jack said with a wry twist of his mouth.
'Oh!' Daniel sat up straighter. 'Really?'
'You betcha.' Jack leaned against the doorjamb, tossed the lube onto the bed. 'So. This the part where you tell me all about your secret uniform fetish?'
Daniel grinned, suddenly all predator. 'I'd rather show you.' He kicked his shoes off, got to his feet and stalked towards Jack, who stood his ground. Daniel ran his hands lightly over Jack's shoulders and down his arms, telling him without words how his dress uniform made him look tall, handsome; with a brush over his medals, distinguished, brave. When his hands reached inside the jacket and skimmed lightly over Jack's chest and abs through his shirt, he was telling Jack how the years of active service had left him impressively fit, how it didn't matter what Janet said, he wasn't eating too much pie.
Jack stood still, letting Daniel's hands explore him until they slid around his waist and down to cup his ass. With a groan, he leaned forwards and kissed Daniel softly, but with increasing heat, until Daniel tugged him forwards so that they were pressed together, chest to knees, and Jack found himself moaning into Daniel's mouth.
He pulled back long enough to gasp, 'Bed,' then Daniel was stumbling back, tugging Jack with him, and Jack spared a brief thought for how different it was falling into his second wedding night with someone as strong as he was, with someone almost as tall as he was, but then Daniel tumbled them to the bed and wrestled his way on top of Jack and ground down with his hips and Jack stopped thinking altogether.
Jack wrapped one arm around Daniel's shoulders, the other around his waist and thrust up, feeling Daniel's answering hardness through the covering fabric. He panted harshly as Daniel abandoned plundering his mouth for sucking and nipping at his jawline, his neck, while his hands worked at the buttons on Jack's shirt, then his own. They rocked together, suit pants rasping against dress blues, frustration slipping out in whimpers and fumbling, until Daniel pushed Jack's jacket and shirt open, baring his chest, and his own shirt fell around them like a curtain, hiding the way skin met skin, the dark hairs on Daniel's chest rubbing over the salt-and-pepper that hid Jack's nipples.
Jack closed his eyes and sighed in relief at the contact, letting his hand slide under the shirt to rest on Daniel's bare back. Then Daniel's hands were at his belt, tugging it open, unhooking and unbuttoning Jack's waistband, unzipping, doing the same with his own trousers, until Jack could work his hand beneath Daniel's trousers, beneath his boxers, and cup Daniel's firm round cheeks while Daniel somehow pulled and pushed their trousers and boxers down far enough to free their erections.
They rocked together, kissing hard, tongues fighting until Daniel growled in frustration and pushed himself off Jack. As Jack lay there blinking, Daniel wrenched his shirt off and pushed his trousers and shorts all the way down his legs and off, kicking them across the room, then turned his attention back to Jack. Within seconds, Jack was naked from the waist down and Daniel was back between his legs, wrapping a hand around his aching cock.
'Fuck!' Jack gasped, bucking up into Daniel's hand, fighting for control he'd not lost since he was a teenager, to not come at that one touch. He watched, amazed, as Daniel chuckled, wriggled back, then bent and breathed out, hot air flowing over the sensitive head of Jack's cock. 'Killing me, here!' Jack's voice was heading for the range only dogs could hear and Daniel, the bastard, only laughed again.
'Think you can hang on five minutes?' Daniel asked, squeezing Jack gently.
Jack panted through the wave of pleasure that threatened to break over him. 'Sure, no problem. As long as... God! Just don't do that! Stop it, you shit!' He laughed, breathless with love and desire as Daniel's blue eyes sparkled their amusement at him. Daniel sprawled across him, reaching across the bed for the condoms, stomach brushing over his erection, making him squirm.
'Hold still!' Daniel spilled colored packets over Jack's chest. He snatched up a plain brown one and tore it open, swiftly extracting the latex and rolling it down over Jack's cock. Jack groaned and reached down to grip the base of his penis, pressing hard against the underside with two fingers.
'I thought you Special Ops types were trained to withstand anything,' Daniel said with a note of pride.
'Maybe I'll suggest they add this to the training,' Jack agreed. 'But they're going to have to find their own archaeologists for the course.'
'Sounds like a great idea,' Daniel grinned, lowering himself down between Jack's legs again. 'You want me to, uh?'
'No, I've got it for now,' Jack said, keeping his hand where it was.
'Good,' Daniel said, with a smile that was positively evil, looking up through his long lashes at Jack's red face. He licked his lips and flexed his fingers.
Jack groaned again. 'Killing me!'
In answer, Daniel lowered his mouth to the tip of Jack's cock, shaping his lips around it. He bobbed his head, letting the crown slip into his mouth, then back out again, gently, inquisitively. Then he pulled off and licked his lips, wrinkling his nose.
'This has nothing on real chocolate,' he said with distaste.
'Nothing?' Jack panted.
Daniel looked up at him again and his lips twitched. 'Well, maybe something,' he conceded, and went back for another taste.
Jack let his head drop to the comforter as heat surrounded him, twitching as Daniel's tongue flattened against his glans. The latex dulled sensation a fraction, but his mind readily supplied him with 'slick' and 'wet' as Daniel's mouth tightened, as Daniel took him deeper, as Daniel sucked. He didn't dare look down, even with his fingers holding back his orgasm. His eyelids fluttered closed as Daniel moved over him, all his dwindling reserves of willpower going to the twin herculean tasks of not thrusting and not coming. So hot, so sweet - and then Daniel's hands slid up the backs of his legs, pushing them wider, fingers firm at the crease of his thighs, one hand going to cup his balls, the other, two-fingered, sliding down behind, over his perineum, over his opening, and that right there should be on the Special Ops curriculum because he had no idea any human was capable of producing that sound, let alone himself, and the hand was gone, then back again, slick, cool, demanding entrance. He pushed down, opening to Daniel's hand as Daniel sucked hard, hard, hard, and slid two fingers home.
Jack roared and came, his hand falling away from his cock to clutch at the comforter, at the back of Daniel's head, and all the while he pulsed into the chocolate-flavored condom.
'Breathe, breathe, damn it!' Daniel leaned over him, concern leaving his eyes as air rushed into Jack's lungs.
'Goddamn, Daniel!' Jack croaked. 'Holy fucking shit!'
'Yeah, well, next time take a breath before you go purple, okay?' Daniel scowled.
'I guess chocolate-flavored works after all.' Jack waited a moment before letting the laughter bubble up.
Daniel's eyes flashed and Jack barely had time to register it before he was pinned to the bed, hands pushed back into the pillows, hot mouth nipping at his throat. His laugh turned into a moan as Daniel's weight pressed between his legs, sending shocks through his over-sensitized cock.
'Fuck me,' Jack rasped. 'I want you in me.'
Daniel stopped sucking at his neck. 'You'll be sore,' he warned.
'Don't care. Do me.' Jack wrapped his legs around Daniel's calves.
'Romantic,' Daniel snapped.
'Fine, I love you. Fuck me.'
Daniel glared down at Jack, but let go of his hands and reached for the lube. Jack panted as Daniel's long fingers pressed in easily, wanting more, needing more, until at last Daniel took hold of himself and guided his cock to Jack's opening. Jack moaned as Daniel pushed into him, hardly recognising himself in the needy, noisy, wanton display Daniel brought forth without even canted his hips up, setting his feet flat on the bed to give himself leverage so that he could thrust up, take Daniel deeper inside, satisfy the craving he couldn't articulate in any other way.
Daniel paused, buried within Jack's hot, tight channel. Breathing shallowly, he rested his weight on one elbow, sliding his other hand around to the small of Jack's back, where his shirt and jacket had worked their way up into a mess of wrinkles.
'You look so amazingly hot,' he said, sounding more than a little dazed.
Jack gazed up at him, taking in the flushed face, lust-darkened eyes and the way his hair, sweat-damp at the temples, stuck up in places and in others, was plastered down.
'Gorgeous,' he rasped and tightened around Daniel.
'Fuck!' Daniel eased back, then thrust in, rocking into Jack, holding him, covering him, possessing him utterly. Something in Jack's chest bloomed in welcome, eased at the filling of a need Jack had never known was there. As Daniel moved in him, over him, claimed him, Jack felt as though his very soul had been parched and cracked into a desolate wasteland and now, senses overwhelmed with Daniel, Daniel, the rain he hadn't even known he lacked was bringing him back to life. As Daniel came with a thrust and a harsh cry, spilling into him, Jack thought, finally, finally, I'm home.
They lay together, arms and legs wrapped around each other, two bodies made one flesh, one heartbeat, breathing together, impossible ever to separate, until Daniel softened and slipped from Jack with a trickle of semen and Jack remembered he was still wearing his jacket and shirt.
'There's a washcloth in the bathroom,' he said roughly, pushing gently at Daniel's shoulder. 'I need to clean up.'
Daniel groaned, but rolled off Jack and got up. He fetched the cloth, warm and damp, and carefully wiped Jack's limp penis, then down between his legs. Jack watched him, dark eyes hooded, feeling oddly vulnerable, but not at all threatened. He realised with a shock that he trusted Daniel not to hurt him, trusted himself not to hurt Daniel, not to need the myriad defenses that protected himself from the world and the world from him.
'I think your jacket's going to need cleaning,' Daniel said ruefully.
Jack grabbed a tissue and pressed it between his legs, then sat up. He stripped off the jacket, then undid his cuffs and peeled off his shirt. It was wet with sweat, and the tail was stained where the condom had slid off him, unnoticed, and spilled.
'Doesn't matter.' Jack felt as though he hadn't used his voice in a thousand years, sandpaper-rough, and if he spoke more than a few words at a time, it would crack and break. 'Here.' He dropped the shirt and jacket onto the floor and climbed under the covers, holding them up for Daniel to join him.
Daniel dropped the cloth on top of the ruined shirt and slid into bed beside Jack. They lay down, Daniel pulling Jack to him until he could wrap his arms around Jack's shoulders, let Jack blanket his side, heavy and lax. Jack let himself drift, let Daniel's solid, muscled body support him, surprisingly comfortable, and let the hush seep into his bones and carry him down into sleep.
Hours later, Jack woke with their positions reversed; Daniel's face buried in his neck and a long arm and leg flung across him, pinning him to the mattress. He was warm under the covers, verging on hot with Daniel's body heat like an electric blanket, but it was oddly comforting in the grey light that crept in around the edges of the blinds. He watched Daniel sleep, watched his hair silver as the light brushed it, felt his heart beat slow and strong through the chest pressed to his, felt the puffs of air, warm and damp, ruffle the short hairs that protected the sensitive skin at the back of his neck.
A wave of protectiveness swept through him and he tightened his arm around Daniel's back, happy for once simply to lie in bed in the still quiet of the dawn. Daniel snuffled and brought his arm up, resting his hand on Jack's other shoulder, and Jack caught the glint of gold on Daniel's finger. He pressed a kiss to Daniel's hair. Husband. He hadn't been a husband in years and neither had Daniel. He wondered how different it would be, not simply in being married to Daniel, of all people, but in being husband to a man, neither of them a wife.
He understood the division of labor in marriage; growing up, he had seen it in his parents and the parents of his friends. Of necessity, Sara had run the house, raised Charlie, while he was away for weeks and months at a time. They had worked together to make a household, a home, and even when he had barely been able to function after missions he wasn't allowed to talk about, missions he had no intention of ever talking about, he had known how to wear his roles as husband, father, until they sank back into his skin and became part of him again.
In the years since father had been ripped from him, and husband had sloughed away, he had run his own house, made it a home of sorts; less a comfort than a retreat to hide in and drink beer. Daniel's presence had always made it more, and now they were a household together, two independent, stubborn-minded middle-aged men. Somehow they would fit the pieces of their lives, their selves, together and the shape they made together would be the rest of their lives.
'Married,' Jack whispered. 'Husband.' He held Daniel tightly and kissed him again as the new day began.
A while later, Daniel rose with a yawn, exhaling morning breath as he shambled to the bathroom. Jack took that as his cue to kick off the coffee machine, returning to find Daniel only marginally more awake, peering at him over the covers from sleepy blue eyes.
'Coffee?' he asked hopefully.
Jack grinned. 'In the kitchen.'
Daniel pouted. 'Not staying in bed, then?'
Jack shook his head. 'Breakfast first. I don't know about you, but the last proper meal I ate was lunch yesterday and I'm kinda hungry here.'
There was a pause while Daniel considered the concept of food in general, then breakfast in particular, then he emerged from under the covers to sit at the edge of the bed, messy-haired and absolutely naked. 'Do you actually have anything in the house that counts as breakfast? Because much as I like leftover chinese, it's more lunch and dinner than breakfast food.'
Jack blinked and licked his lips, suddenly dry-mouthed.
'Jack? Breakfast?' Daniel prompted. 'Allegedly the most important meal of the day?'
'Uh, yeah...' He shut his eyes and attempted to get his brain out of his dick. 'Shit, no, really gotta go shopping. And we need to swing by yours, pick up some clothes and stuff.' He jumped, eyes flying open as Daniel brushed a kiss to his cheek.
'I'd better grab a shower, then,' Daniel smiled. Jack groaned and followed him into the bathroom.
It turned out that showering together took more time than showering separately, and Jack didn't want anyone else ever to find out just how erotic he found Daniel washing his hair for him because it would ruin his carefully cultivated air of cynical disinterest, but he was pretty sure that by the time they made it back into the bedroom, they were clean. Daniel's face was flushed from all the kissing they'd done before they finally got around to shaving, and Jack had several patches of stubble-burn down his chest and on his thighs.
'Got any clothes I can borrow?' Daniel asked, eyeing his crumpled suit with distaste.
'Here,' Jack tossed him clean boxer shorts and socks, found a soft green t-shirt and a pair of faded jeans that were a little too long in the leg and too wide in the waist, but would do for now. For himself, he found jeans and a white t-shirt, pulled a blue shirt over the top and fished out a battered pair of trainers.
'Sorry, you'll have to stick with the dress shoes until we get to your place,' he said as he tied his shoelaces. Daniel wrinkled his nose, but put on his shoes regardless. While he sat on the bed, Jack fished a thin plastic suit carrier out of the wardrobe. 'I need to drop my blues off at the dry cleaners,' he said, picking up the jacket from its heap on the floor. 'I'm not sure they can save this, though.' He eyed his shirt doubtfully, looking at the stains on the tail.
'I'm sure they've dealt with worse,' Daniel grinned wryly and took the shirt from Jack and briefly disappeared back into the bathroom. Jack heard the tap run for a few seconds. Coming back, Daniel stuffed the wet shirt into the bottom of the suit carrier. He added his own shirt and suit to the bag. 'Might as well get them both done at the same time.'
'Yeah, you never know when we'll have to attend another surprise wedding,' Jack said drily, but when Daniel walked past him towards the door, he slapped him on the ass and kissed away Daniel's squawk of protest.
In the kitchen Daniel quickly poured the coffee into two travel mugs before bundling up in the coat and scarf Jack fished out of the hall closet for him. Jack, already in his leather jacket, took a long swallow of his coffee before picking up his keys.
'You okay?' he asked, ushering Daniel out of the kitchen towards the front door.
'Sure,' Daniel replied. 'Why?'
Jack busied himself locking the house up and climbed into the truck before he answered. 'I don't know about you, but I didn't exactly have realise I'm in love with my team member, get married and have copious amounts of gay sex pencilled in on my schedule for the week.'
Daniel shrugged and fastened his seatbelt. 'Me neither, but it seems to be working for us.'
Jack looked over and saw the smile that softened Daniel's expression. 'I guess so.' He found himself smiling too as he reversed the truck out of the driveway and headed for downtown Colorado Springs. With a short detour to Jack's usual dry cleaners, they pulled into a favourite diner a couple of blocks from Daniel's apartment.
'I was going to ask if you wanted to get changed first, but I can hear your stomach from here,' Jack teased as they slid into a booth.
'Ha, very funny,' Daniel said, only for his stomach to interrupt with a loud growl. He held Jack's eye for a second, then both men burst out laughing.
'Someone's cheerful this morning,' the waitress smiled and handed them each a menu then set about pouring them each a mug of coffee. 'It's nice to see you again, Doctor Jackson, Colonel. You haven't been by in a little while. I'm glad to see you're both doing okay.'
'Hi Sandra,' Daniel grinned, taking his glasses off and wiping them on his t-shirt. 'I'll have the full breakfast, extra toast and sausage, please.'
'And I'll have what he's having. Extra sausage sounds good,' Jack smirked. Daniel nudged him under the table.
'Hungry, huh?' Sandra smiled. 'I won't ask what you've been up to to work up an appetite.' She grinned cheekily at them and sashayed back to the kitchen to place their order.
Daniel's jaw dropped. 'Did she just-?'
Jack stared after her, blinking. 'I think she did.' He looked back at Daniel and laughed again. 'Lighten up, Danny. It's fine.'
'I, yeah. It's just...' Daniel ducked his head and took a deep breath before glancing up through his lashes at Jack. 'Wow, I hadn't realised how deeply DADT is ingrained in me, even though I'm not in the Air Force.'
Jack reached across the table and put his hand over Daniel's. 'It's okay, I get it,' he said softly and gave Daniel's hand a gentle squeeze. 'I get it.'
Sandra returned with cutlery and a basket of condiments. She eyed their joined hands quizzically. 'Everything okay?'
Daniel cleared his throat and found his smile returning. 'Actually, I think it is.'
Sandra dropped a hand lightly on his shoulder. 'About time,' she chided. 'Good for you.' With a nod that encompassed them both, she moved off to serve another customer.
'Seriously, did everyone but us have us paired off?' Daniel asked, retrieving his hand so that he could pick up his coffee.
'It's beginning to look that way,' Jack agreed, leaning back against the red leatherette seatback. 'Go figure. So, you got anything in mind for today?'
Daniel accepted the change of subject, staring into his coffee for a few seconds, his mobile face moving from a pout to a thoughtful frown to a lascivious grin.
'Apart from that,' Jack smirked again. 'We're going to have to go shopping first anyhow, since I'm assuming you don't fancy leftover chinese for breakfast tomorrow either.'
'I guess... pack up some stuff to go back to yours, call a couple of companies about getting my apartment packed up and your place sorted out so my artifacts don't end up going moldy in your basement.
'Hey, my basement's dry!'
'Temperature and humidity control, Jack, or I keep the apartment.'
'I suppose you have a company in mind?' Jack gave in gracefully.
'As a matter of fact, I do. They've done work for a few museums, even for us at the mountain, although they don't know that's where their storage cases were for.'
'So they're already cleared for military work? Sweet.' Jack fiddled with his knife and fork. 'You can have the guestroom for an office. The piano should fit in back, and I'll clear out my bookshelves and have more built in the basement. You think that'll be enough room, or should we look at getting an extension built?'
Daniel frowned again. 'I honestly don't know. Why don't we move things in and see? I can always take more of my books and journals up to the mountain.'
'Okay.' They sat in silence for a minute, then Sandra came bustling back with two plates stacked high with food. She slid one in front of Daniel, the other in front of Jack. 'I'll be right back with the coffee and toast.'
'God, I think I love you,' Jack groaned, mouth watering at the piles of sausages, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, scrambled eggs and hash browns. 'Ow!' He frowned at Daniel and reached below the table to rub his shin. 'What was that for?'
'What?' Daniel asked innocently, spearing a sausage. 'You get another leg cramp?' Neatly, he bit the end off the sausage.
Jack glared. 'Must have been.'
Sandra left them the pot of coffee and it didn't take them long to demolish breakfast. Jack belched, picked up his coffee and leaned back, cradling the mug in his hands. He watched Daniel finish up the toast, using it to mop up the last traces of egg, and relaxed as a warm glow spread through him, having only a little to do with breakfast.
Daniel glanced up and caught him watching. A smile spread across his face. 'Sap.'
'Bite me,' Jack suggested, scowling, but Daniel only laughed. 'So, what first?'
Daniel shrugged. 'Why don't you drop me at my place so I can start making calls and packing and then you go get the groceries? That way you won't be bored hanging round the apartment and I won't be tempted to break your fingers for interfering in my packing.' He softened the words with a smile.
'I'm hurt! I wouldn't interfere.' Jack pouted.
Daniel kept on smiling, although with more teeth showing, it looked more like a grimace. 'If you can't keep your hands to yourself when you're in my office for five minutes, what makes you think you can keep them to yourself in my apartment for a couple of hours?' He picked up his coffee and drank, looking over the rim of the mug with smug blue eyes.
Jack raised his eyebrows. 'Danny! We've been married for less than twenty-four hours and already you're telling me to keep my hands to myself?'
Daniel went red and spluttered, grabbing for his napkin to wipe his chin.
Jack laughed softly and handed over his napkin. 'Come on, let's get moving. The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can go home.' He waggled his eyebrows and leered comically.
'You're a bastard, O'Neill,' Daniel laughed, before finishing up what was left of his coffee.
'Yeah, but I'm your bastard.' Jack retorted. He looked around for their waitress, catching her eye as she delivered a couple of orders to a table in the far corner. She nodded and he fished his wallet out of his jacket pocket.
Sandra brought over the check and Jack dropped a couple of bills on the table to cover it and the tip, then stood, pulling on his coat and letting Daniel lead the way out of the booth. From the booth behind him, someone spoke in a rough voice, just loud enough for him to hear.
'Goddamn fucking faggots.'
Jack tensed, turned, took a step and placed one hand on the seatback, one hand on the table, leaning towards the man seated there. Politely, he smiled his best fuck you smile and in an icy tone said, 'That's Colonel faggot to you.'
'Jesus!' The man shrank back and his companion, seated across the booth from him shook his head in disgust.
'They let fags in the army now? Shit!'
'Air Force. We're way more picky on who we recruit. We also have the biggest guns and we can hit you from a mile up before you ever know we're there. So you think about it and have a nice day.' Jack stalked away, leaving the two men looking more shaken than angry.
At the door, Daniel turned around and waited for Jack. 'Problem?'
Nothing a little education wouldn't fix.' Jack brushed past Daniel and strode out into the parking lot.
Ah, bigots,' Daniel sighed. 'I suppose the next time Anise needs test subjects for potentially lethal experiments we could always send them to her.'
'They'd be too busy looking at her... attributes... to care about the snake in her head,' Jack agreed. 'I'm not sure she'd be able to find their brains to run her tests on, though.'
Daniel snorted and climbed into the truck. 'Fuck 'em,' he said as Jack climbed behind the wheel.
'Not if I was the gayest gay in the history of gaydom and they wore shiny sequined pants.' As Daniel laughed, Jack started the truck and drove the couple of blocks to the apartment, pulling up at the kerb out front.
'Call me if you need a hand,' Jack said, putting a hand on Daniel's shoulder. 'I'll be back in a couple of hours.'
Daniel nodded, clapped Jack on the arm, then slid out of the truck and entered the building. Jack watched him cross the lobby and get into the elevator. The doors slid shut and with a sigh, he put his truck into gear and drove off.
In the parking lot outside the supermarket, Jack pulled out his cell phone, hesitated, then dialled a number from memory.
'Hi Sara, it's Jack. We need to talk. Can we meet?'
Less than an hour later, Jack finished loading the shopping into the truck and was on his way back downtown. Pulling up outside a Starbucks, he went inside, bought a coffee and found a table to sit at and wait. Twenty minutes later, Sara hurried in and Jack stood as she approached.
'Hey.' He kissed her cheek and she gave him an awkward hug.
'Hi yourself. What's this all about?' Sara asked.
'Want a coffee?' He looked away awkwardly.
Sara studied him a moment. 'Go on, then.' She sat and Jack made his way to the counter. When he returned, Sara took hers and blew on the hot liquid as Jack sat down.
'How are you doing? Well? How's your dad?'
'I'm fine, Dad's fine and I'm assuming you're fine too, so you can quit stalling and tell me who you're dating,' Sara said, smiling to take the sting out of her words.
'Yeah, about that...' Jack drawled. 'It's not so much dating...'
Sara's eyes dropped to his hands, which were casually cradling his mug. 'Oh my god, you got married.' She paled. 'Is she-?'
Jack's eyes widened. 'No! No, nothing like that. I don't think I could, not after... Not after Charlie.'
Sara took a deep breath, then another, color coming back into her cheeks. 'So who's the lucky woman, then?' She sipped her coffee, watching as emotions chased themselves across Jack's face. Pain, uncertainty, love, pride... Embarrassment? 'Come on, Jack, you called me out here to talk. At some point you're actually going to have to speak. Who is she, where did you meet, and when did you tie the knot?'
'It's complicated,' Jack began, then stopped again.
'With you, it always is. So, is it someone from work?'
Relieved, Jack nodded.
'Not the woman on your team, the blonde?'
'Carter? No! God, give me a moment here,' Jack scrubbed his hands over his face. 'Okay, I'm going to need you to believe me on this, because some parts are classified and I can't tell you.' He waited until Sara assented before continuing. 'I married the other geek on my team, Doctor Jackson. Daniel. Yes, it's legal, no, they can't kick me out of the Air Force for it or haul my ass to Leavenworth, and yes, it's a marriage in every sense of the word.'
Sara gaped at him for long seconds, before closing her mouth with a snap and scowling. 'So help me, Jack, if you've dragged me all this way just to play one of your pranks-'
'It's true, Sara.' Jack leaned forwards. 'We were married on the base yesterday evening. Daniel's busy now, packing up some of his stuff to move into my place.'
'But you're not gay!' Sara protested loudly.
Jack ignored the heads that turned in their direction and kept his voice low. 'No, I'm not. Neither is Daniel. But it turns out, we do it for each other.' He retrieved his warrant card and pulled out the folded piece of paper from behind it. Opening it, he handed the paper to Sara. 'Read this.'
Sara read the memo, frowning in confusion. 'I don't get it. How?'
'How what?' It was Jack's turn to be confused.
'How any of this! How is this legal? How did this happen?'
'And those would be the classified bits,' Jack sighed. 'I'm so sorry, Sara. I didn't mean to hurt you. I just figured I owed it to you to tell you.
Sara folded the memo carefully and handed it back. 'So this is real. You're married to a man.'
'Uh-huh.' Jack put the memo back in the wallet with his warrant card and tucked it back into his pocket. 'I really am.'
'And he's moving in with you,' Sara said in a small voice.
'Are you... Are you happy?'
'Yes, we both are. Happier than in quite a while.' Jack said gently. He put a hand over Sara's and squeezed.
'Well, that's good. Congratulations, I suppose,' Sara said, then turned her head, brushing a tear away with her other hand.
'I'm sorry, I didn't tell you to upset you.' Jack looked down, scowling unhappily.
'No, no, it's just a bit of a shock. I never knew, I should have known,' Sara whispered.
Jack shook his head. 'Hey, if I didn't know, there's no way in hell you could have.'
Sara frowned down at her coffee.
'Is it... Was there... Was it because of me?' Sara looked up as Jack blinked in surprise.
'Because of you? No! Why would you think that?'
'I don't know! Maybe because when we were married you were straight? Weren't you?'
'Yes! And I'm still straight! I have no desire to go watch musicals or discuss interior decorating. The only thing that changed was that I realised that the person I enjoy spending my time with happens to be Daniel.'
'And the President just happened to agree?' Sara shot back.
Jack ground his teeth and fought to get his temper back under control. 'Sara, it's a security issue and I shouldn't even be telling you that much because it's classified.'
'I already know about the-'
'Aht!' Jack held up a finger. 'Come on.' He stood and grabbed his jacket, hustling Sara out of the building and round the corner into the parking lot.
'Come here.' He opened his arms.
Sara frowned. 'Why?'
'Just... Here!' He stepped forward and pulled her into a hug, ignoring how rigid her back was. She didn't hug him back. Jack dropped his head so that his lips practically brushed her ear, and whispered. 'We got intelligence that planetary security is at stake here.'
'So it's not real?' Sara whispered back after a pause.
'It's real, all right. But without that pressure, I don't think either of us would ever have realized what we felt for each other.'
Sara pulled back and stepped away. 'I'm going to go finish my coffee. You... be happy.'
'No, I'm not okay right now. I know it's nothing to do with me, it's nothing to do with our marriage, but it's going to take a while for that to... sink in, I guess.' She wiped at her cheeks. 'Go, help Daniel pack.' She drew in a shaky breath and met his eyes. 'I'm glad you found someone to love.'
Jack watched helplessly as she walked back into the coffee shop. 'Shit.' Angry and unsettled, he stalked to his truck, climbed in and drove back to Daniel's apartment. As he drove, a tiny part of him was proud that his hands were steady on the wheel.
'Daniel?' Jack shut the door behind him, noting the suitcase and duffel bag waiting beside the four boxes of books ready to go down to the truck.
Daniel popped his head out of the kitchen. 'Hey, Jack! I was just bagging up some of my non-perishables, you know, spices, rice, that kind of thing. You get everything you wanted at the store?'
Jack cocked an eyebrow, twitched a cheek, shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans. As Daniel raised his eyebrows in a silent question, Jack tried and failed to smile. 'I told Sara.'
'Oh!' Daniel came all the way out of the kitchen, closer to Jack. 'How did that go?'
'She wanted to know if it was her fault I'm gay.'
Daniel blinked, then frowned briefly, processing at his usual lightning speed. A wry smile flitted across his face, replaced by a gentle concern that encompassed both Jack and Sara and all their years of pre-Daniel history, post-Daniel separation. 'That well, huh?' He took another couple of steps towards Jack. 'Is she okay?'
Jack shook his head. 'Going to take a while, I think.'
Daniel took another step, heartened by the way Jack wasn't retreating. 'Are you okay?'
'At least she didn't tell me it's just a mid-life crisis.' The corners of Jack's mouth twitched infinitesimally and Daniel took the last step to close the distance between him and Jack.
'I won't be your toyboy,' Daniel warned.
Jack slid his arms around Daniel, pulling him into a hug, the full O'Neill-special. Daniel snaked his arms under Jack's coat and around his waist, waiting quietly as Jack buried his face in the curve of Daniel's neck. Slowly the tension drained from him and he lifted his head enough to murmur, 'Good, 'cos I'm no one's idea of a sugar daddy. And you get paid more than me.'
Daniel smiled and hugged Jack tightly. 'Want to go freak out a bank manager by asking for a joint account?'
Jack huffed and lifted his head. 'Always funny, but no. I think they have standard forms for that kind of thing at the branch. When we get home, I guess I'll call my lawyer and get him to start on all the paperwork for the house, my will, yada.'
'Want to take stuff down to the truck? I'm almost done for now.' Daniel loosened his hold on Jack's waist.
'Sure. Feed your fish?'
Jack pressed a kiss to Daniel's cheek. 'Okay, then.' He let go of Daniel and moved away to pick up the first of the boxes. 'Go on, finish up.'
An hour later, Daniel was hanging up the last of his shirts in Jack's closet. With boxes of books stacked in the guest room, he came downstairs to find groceries put away and two plates of yesterday's chinese on the table.
'I was just going to shout up,' Jack said, wiping his hands on a tea-towel. 'Late lunch?'
'Smells good to me,' Daniel agreed and crossed the kitchen to help himself to coffee.
Lunch turned into a lazy afternoon making out on the couch, turned into a lazy evening watching a documentary on ancient Chinese mummies on the TV that neither of them could remember the details of after Daniel grabbed Jack's hand and pressed it to his groin, but eventually they made it upstairs to the bedroom, falling asleep in a tangle of arms and legs, warm and happy and sated.
The next morning Jack woke early to the sound of the telephone ringing downstairs. He groaned, unwrapping himself from around Daniel. In no hurry, he clambered out of bed and pulled on sweatpants and his robe before disappearing into the bathroom. The base would call his cell phone; anyone else could call back. He flushed the toilet and washed his hands, stepped out into the hallway and swore. The phone was ringing again. Cursing under his breath at persistent telemarketers, Jack padded down the stairs and picked up the phone just as it stopped ringing. He stopped himself from slamming down the receiver and went into the kitchen to make coffee. As he was about to pour water into the machine, the phone started ringing again.
'Damn it!' Jack stormed through the house and the doorbell rang, long and irritating. Footsteps sounded upstairs and Daniel thundered downstairs.
Jack pulled open the door to an explosion of flashlights and a barrage of shouted questions. He slammed the door shut again and locked it, ignoring the doorbell that immediately began ringing again.
'What the fuck?' He turned to Daniel.
'General Hammond just called,' Daniel said. 'Someone talked to the press.'
'I'll kill them,' Jack growled. Daniel caught his hand as he turned to punch the wall.
'Don't. He's got Sam on tracking down the leak and he's sending a team to clear the reporters away from the house so we can go back to base.'
Jack groaned. 'Fuck! I was looking forward to watching the game this evening.'
Daniel pulled Jack into a hug. 'I was looking forward to more outstanding sex, but they'll be here in twenty minutes and Hammond wants us on base within the hour.'
'Can't we just, oh, I dunno, get Thor to beam us to a nice little desert island for the weekend?' Jack asked plaintively, wrapping his arms around Daniel.
'You could always put out a call and ask him, but he might want to observe.' Daniel made quote marks in the air with one hand.
Jack slapped Daniel's hand back down. 'Damn.'
Unhappily, they went back upstairs, ignoring the phone and the doorbell, both of which kept ringing while they showered and dressed.
'Might as well pack a few things,' Jack said. 'Even if the General stations half the goddamn SFs out there, I still don't want to screw you senseless with that pack of hyenas circling.'
'Worried they'll catch us with telephoto lenses?' Daniel threw several pairs of pants and socks onto the bed, then dumped t-shirts on the pile.
'That or the NID,' Jack said sourly. 'God knows what they're going to make of all this. I'm surprised they aren't here already.' His cell phone rang and he snatched it up. 'O'Neill,' he barked, listened a moment and said, 'out in two,' then stuffed the phone in his pocket. 'Car's here. They're clearing the reporters out of the way.'
Daniel added a pair of jeans to his pile of clothes, then pulled on a grey sweater. 'Okay.'
'Don't need to grab anything else?' Jack asked, putting the pile of clothes into a small holdall along with his own.
'Only coffee. Oh, wait,' Daniel grabbed the lube from the bedside table and tossed it to Jack, who caught it and added it to the bag. 'No, that's it.'
'Sorry, no coffee.' Jack zipped the bag and they went downstairs. 'Bastards caught me before I finished putting the damn machine on.
'Fuck!' Daniel swore fluently in several languages Jack didn't recognise as they put on their coats, although he appreciated the sentiment.
'Yeah, what you said. Ready?'
Daniel opened the door and the barrage of questions and camera flashes began again, but Jack stepped out behind him, pulling the door shut, and with one hand on the small of Daniel's back, the two men walked between the two rows of SFs to the waiting car. After one loud 'No comment!' from Jack, they ignored the reporters and headed for the mountain without looking back.
'Gentlemen,' Hammond greeted them as they entered the briefing room. 'Sorry for cutting your downtime short. I'm going to need a list of everyone you've seen or spoken to since you left the base yesterday.'
'George, what the heck's going on?' Jack stalked round the table and poured two mugs of coffee.
The general sighed. 'Major Carter is checking the base phone records and I've got people trying to find out which media outlet received the tip-off, but so far we have nothing.'
'Damn it!' Jack scrubbed fingers through his hair in frustration. 'I told Sara about it. I owed it to her. But she would never talk to the press.'
General Hammond frowned. 'It's possible she talked to someone else who would, though.'
Daniel took one of the mugs of coffee and slid into a seat. 'We had breakfast at the Silver Dollar diner yesterday morning. Sandra was our waitress, and there were a couple of jerks who weren't all that happy with us being there.'
'I went to the drugstore Wednesday evening and the grocery store Thursday morning,' Jack added.
'I called a company about getting some work done at Jack's house.'
'The guy who delivered the takeout.'
'And apart from your ex-wife, how many of these people know you two are married?' Hammond asked.
'Just Sara and my lawyer,' Jack said. 'He's supposed to be sending over some paperwork today. Shit.'
'Maybe Sandra or those assholes at the diner,' Daniel frowned.
'Write down names and numbers.' Hammond dropped a pad of paper and two pens onto the table.
'Can we get the news?' Daniel asked. 'I'd like to know what they're saying.'
Hammond opened the door and barked an order and two minutes later an airman pushed a television into the room and hooked it up. As he switched it on, Jack pushed a piece of paper over to the general.
'Here, that should be everyone. Have you heard from... higher up yet?' He picked up the remote and flicked channels, keeping his attention on the screen. Under the table, Daniel put a hand on his knee.
General Hammond scanned the paper, took Daniel's, and passed them to the airman. 'Take these to Major Carter.' Once the airman had left the room, he sat at the table on the other side of Jack. 'No, Colonel. So far, I haven't heard from the President or the Joint Chiefs, or anyone else. I expect they'll be in touch very soon, though.'
Jack found the local news channel, broadcasting the day's weather. Daniel's hand stayed on his knee.
'You know we're going to have to make an announcement,' Hammond said. He fell silent as the anchor started to read the news headlines.
Jack turned the volume up. Daniel's hand tightened on his knee as the screen showed footage of them leaving the house.
... Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson were apparently married at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force base on Wednesday. So far, the Air Force has failed to respond to calls for a statement. Senator Kinsey had this to say...
The Senator's head and shoulders filled the screen. Looking more florid than usual, Kinsey raved on about morality, Christian values, illegal acts and lawyers.
Daniel sighed. 'I should have known he'd be the first to jump on the bandwagon.'
Jack's eyes narrowed. 'I could zat him. No one would ever know.'
'I'd know,' Daniel said firmly. 'Not that I'm not tempted, but I'd rather he didn't become fodder for the conspiracy theory nuts out there.'
'Why not?' Jack turned the volume down again, leaving the news playing in the background. He turned to the General. 'At least tell me I can zat whoever talked to the press,' he appealed.
'That depends on who it is,' George said grimly. 'If it was anyone here, when I find out who it was, they'll be lucky to get away with a court martial.'
'Until then? What are we supposed to do?' Daniel asked.
'You might as well go and get settled in one of the VIP quarters. You're still off duty until Monday. I'm on this, gentlemen.'
'Thanks.' Jack stared glumly at the table, then sighed. 'Some honeymoon, huh?'
'Yeah.' Daniel stood and picked up his bag. 'Coming?'
'Apparently not,' Jack muttered and pushed his chair back from the table. 'Sir.' He followed Daniel out of the room. 'Want to bug Carter on the way there?'
'We should drop the bags off and get changed into uniform first. I have a couple of translations I might as well go work on since we're here.'
Jack eyed Daniel as they waited for the elevator, admiring the slim hipped, broad shouldered figure. 'Do the words off duty mean nothing to you? I thought you were the linguist here.'
'Since we're stuck back on base and I'm clearly not going to get to have that leisurely breakfast with you, followed by maybe a walk in the park or a trip to the bookstore, and the chances of getting into my apartment to do some more packing are, oh, non-existant right now, I'm thinking grabbing something from the canteen and heading to my office is about as much fun as it gets.'
Daniel stepped into the elevator and stabbed a button. Jack followed.
'We could always go to the Land of Light,' Jack offered. 'Or that planet we visited a couple of months back, the one with the beaches that go on forever. White sand. Lots of sun. No Go'auld.'
'Somehow I doubt George will let us honeymoon off world right now.' The elevator stopped and Daniel strode out, scowling. Jack trailed after him as he stormed down the corridor. Daniel opened the door to the VIP room they'd been ensconced in earlier in the week and dropped his bag on the bed. Jack only just avoided colliding with him as he turned and stalked back out of the room.
'Hey, wait up!' Jack called, hastily dropping his bag beside Daniel's. 'Shit.' He hurried after Daniel and just managed to catch him at the elevator again. 'Want to go hit things in the gym?'
Daniel pushed the button for the locker room. 'No. What I want is for the world to grow the fuck up and not go into hysterics because my husband is a colonel in the United States Air Force! I want to spend my honeymoon having fun with you, not being harassed by a pack of rabid reporters.' The elevator doors opened and Daniel launched himself out into the corridor, scattering the waiting airmen.
'Sorry,' Jack apologised and trailed him down the corridor. Behind him, he heard the airmen talking.
'What's got his panties in a bunch? Don't think I've ever seen Doctor Jackson that worked up.'
'He got called in off his honeymoon.'
'Oh, man! I'd be steaming too! That's harsh.'
'Tell me about it.'
Jack heard the elevator doors slide shut, cutting off the conversation. He pushed his way into the locker room, somewhat consoled by the concern the airmen had shown for Daniel. Speaking of... Jack looked around. With his back to the room, Daniel was half-naked already and Jack felt his cock twitch.
'Down, boy,' he muttered. 'Not the place.'
'What was that?' Daniel shoved his jeans down off his hips and Jack groaned. He forced his attention to the task of opening his own locker, but despite his best efforts, he was half-hard and desperately wishing the door locked.
'Nothing!' Jack snapped, unbuttoning his shirt.
'Doesn't sound like nothing.' Daniel switched his boxers for regulation underpants and Jack felt about ready to cry with frustration.
'Well nothing's all I'm getting right now, and trust me, that's a problem!' Jack stuffed his shirt into his locker as Daniel pulled on his BDUs.
'I'm sorry if being outed to the entire country by a pack of scandal-mongering piss-poor excuses for journalists doesn't really put me in the mood,' Daniel snapped back, tugging a black t-shirt over his head. Jack looked around, catching sight of Daniel's hair sticking up and fought down the urge to go over and smooth it down.
'Oddly enough, that doesn't really do it for me either.'
'And you do! You do, Daniel, and me and my dick were looking forward to another three days of nothing to do but you. Sorry if that makes me a little frustrated here!' Jack finished stripping and pulled on his underpants. Daniel was silent as Jack dressed quickly, but as Jack sat on the bench to tie his boots, Daniel sat beside him, their shoulders touching.
'I'm sorry. For this whole... mess,' Jack said quietly, tugging on his laces.
'For everything?' Daniel asked softly.
Jack glanced up, his eyes flicking over Daniel's face, noting the hint of uncertainty in the set of his mouth, the insecurity lurking in the depths of his eyes. 'Not for loving you. Never that, Daniel.'
Daniel cleared his throat. 'Me neither.' He pressed against Jack briefly, then set about tying his own boot laces.
'The President and the Joint Chiefs didn't go to all this trouble just to leave us out for the wolves, you know.'
'Actually, wolves are highly unlikely to attack humans.'
'Well, reporters aren't. And I'm not allowed to shoot them, no matter how nicely I ask George. Apparently they aren't the kind of vermin you can practise pest control on.' Jack waited for Daniel to finish tying a double bow before he stood up and proffered the younger man a hand.
'Come on. I don't know about you, but I could do with some breakfast.'
Daniel took his hand and allowed Jack to pull him up. 'Coffee?'
'Breakfast and coffee. Then you can go play with your translation to your heart's content. Or until George finds out and kicks your ass for working on your downtime.'
'That'd be a first,' Daniel smiled as they left the locker room and strolled down the corridor side-by-side. 'So what're you going to do?'
'Oh, I thought I'd bug Carter, maybe hit the gym. I'll find something to do.' He glanced sideways at Daniel, relieved to see him looking a little happier.
'If you get too bored, you could always come by my office,' Daniel offered. 'If you bug me enough, I'm sure I could find something to distract you...' He blinked innocently, then licked his lips.
And just like that, Jack was fighting down a hard-on again. He groaned. 'Oh god! You're killing me, here!'
Daniel, the evil s.o.b., smirked and stepped back into the elevator. 'Coming?'
'Killing me!' To the sound of Daniel's chuckle, Jack shoved his hands into his pockets and got into the elevator.
After breakfast, Jack left Daniel in his office, not trusting himself with more than a brush of his hand over the younger man's shoulder and a brisk, 'Later!' He tracked down Carter to a computer in the corner of one of the labs, scrolling down a list of data.
'Anything?' He leaned against a lab bench and stuck his hands in his pockets to stop himself fiddling with any of the pieces of metallic something-or-other strewn across its surface.
Sam glanced up. 'Sorry sir, nothing yet. This is a record of all outgoing emails from Wednesday afternoon onwards. It'd help if we could find out who broke the story. We haven't found anything in the phone logs, but getting information about people's home and cell phones is going to be a nightmare. With luck, the Pentagon will have more luck leaning on the news outlets themselves.' She paused, eyeing him carefully. 'I'm sorry, this has to be upsetting. If you don't mind me asking, how are you and Daniel doing?'
Jack flashed an insincere smile. 'Well, it's going to be something of a surprise to everyone we hadn't got around to telling yet.' He sighed. 'He's pissed. I'm pissed. We have perfectly good leftover chinese in the fridge that'll have to be thrown out, and I'm going to miss tonight's game. So how do you think we're doing?'
Sam winced. 'That good, huh?'
'We were doing just fine up until the world decided to camp out on my doorstep this morning. We'll get past this, I'm sure. Even if I have to shoot every goddamn reporter in Colorado Springs.'
'We'll help you hide the bodies, sir.' A little smile peeked out, then vanished as Sam turned back to her screen.
Jack watched her work for a minute more, then wandered off in search of something better to do. He found himself hovering outside General Hammond's office, listening hard to see if he could catch anything through the closed door that might possibly tell him what was going on. The not knowing, being out of the loop, made his feet restless and his trigger finger itchy. After a long couple of minutes of pacing, the door swung open.
'Colonel.' Hammond stood there, regarding him with an amused tolerance. 'I was hoping to find you. Come in and take a seat.'
Jack did as he was told, spotting a familiar manila folder on the General's desk and feeling an odd sense of deja-vu, as though Daniel should be in the seat next to him, about to be blindsided by their alternate selves all over again. The General sat down behind his desk and tapped the folder with one thick finger.
'I had a call from the President.'
'How's his wife doing?' Jack asked.
'We didn't get into pleasantries, unfortunately.' General Hammond fixed Jack with a penetrating stare. 'He wasn't terribly pleased by all of the media attention you and Doctor Jackson have garnered today. He's going to have to make a statement at some point, probably this afternoon, and that means postponing his golf game.'
'I haven't finished yet, Colonel.' For all the hardness in his tone, Hammond was still looking amused.
Jack fought the urge to get up and leave, to duck whatever steaming pile was heading his way. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
'It turns out that the President already had a speech prepared for a little later this month, to do with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. All this changes is the focus.'
'The focus being me and Daniel,' Jack hazarded.
'Indeed, Colonel. You and Doctor Jackson are going to have to be a little more public than any of us would like, but it can't be helped. I won't order either of you to speak with the press. I couldn't order Doctor Jackson anyhow. But I will say that the President has asked if you would be kind enough, in view of the allowances that have been made, to maybe give an interview, here in the mountain, with an interviewer and a list of questions that have been approved by the Pentagon in advance.'
Jack groaned. 'I suppose it's no use pointing out that allowances wouldn't have had to be made in the first place if we'd never been told about that letter.'
'No use whatsoever, Colonel.'
Jack sighed. 'For the record, I really don't like this.'
'It doesn't put any of us in a good position. Not you and Doctor Jackson, not me, not the President and certainly not the other men and women in the service who are currently serving under the restrictions of DADT.' Hammond paused, his stern gaze softening. 'Colonel– Jack– What would you have done if you had reevaluated your relationship with Doctor Jackson without that letter?'
A pained expression flitted across Jack's face. 'George, I don't know! Daniel's been the heart of the Stargate program ever since he came on board and the times he's been off my team have been... He's been... important... ever since I took him to Abydos and let him stay. He died for me. He gave me a reason to live, a way to keep on living. That kind of a bond...' He winced, then forced himself to continue. 'I need him, George. I can't do this without him. I never imagined anything like this, but now that I have him, all of him, I can't– I couldn't give him up. As important as the program is, I'd resign if I had to.'
George nodded. 'I think I understand, Jack.'
'So do I,' Jack said heavily. 'I'll do the interview.'
'I'll get it set up.'
Jack wandered the base, hands in his pockets, going nowhere in particular. In the end, he found himself at the door to Daniel's office. He tapped lightly against the doorjamb and leaned into the room.
'Jack!' Daniel looked up, blinking. 'Is it lunchtime already?'
Jack shrugged. 'Possibly.'
Daniel looked more closely, then frowned in concern. 'Are you all right?'
Jack's eyebrow twitched. 'Pretty much, I guess.'
'So, any news?'
'Still no idea who the leak is. But I have to do an interview. With the press. The Pentagon's going to approve the interviewer and the questions.' Jack came into the room and dropped down onto a spare stool.
Daniel regarded him with undisguised horror. 'Oh god! Tell me I don't have to do this!'
'You don't have to do this,' Jack said dolefully. 'George can't order you, apparently.'
'But he can order you?' Daniel asked drily.
'He could, but he appealed to my better nature.'
'You have a better nature? Did he offer you beer, or was it the latest Simpsons on DVD?'
'Oh, ha ha, very funny,' Jack groused, already feeling better. 'He just asked me what I'd have done if, you know, we'd...' he waved vaguely, 'without that letter and all the 'special dispensation' crap.'
'And reminded me that pretty much everyone else in the armed forces has to live with DADT and I have a duty to them.' Jack rolled his shoulders, trying to ease some of the tension that had crept back into them.
Daniel got up and came over to stand behind Jack, pressing his thumbs into the knots in Jack's shoulders. 'So you're going to go on television and talk about your big gay love affair, huh?'
'Not helping, Daniel.' Jack sighed, leaning back against Daniel's thighs.
'Hey, if you think I like it that the Pentagon's painting a big damn target on you...'
'No, I know. But, jeez, I'm getting really tempted to call up Thor.'
'You know how he is about observing, Jack. We've already been over this.' Daniel pressed down harder.
'Yeah, well, I haven't even been gay a whole week yet and now the whole damn world's talking about where I'm sticking my dick,' Jack grumbled.
'Hey, at least you're getting laid,' Daniel teased, turning the shoulder rub into a caress, cupping Jack's neck and running his fingers through the short-cropped hair at his nape.
'Not at this precise moment, no,' Jack said dolefully. 'Want to help a guy out here?'
Daniel smiled. 'I could be persuaded. Although I do have this really exciting translation I'm working on...'
'Exciting?' Jack twisted to look up at the younger man.
'Hot?' Daniel said innocently.
'Hotter than me?' Jack growled, standing up and turning to face Daniel.
'I didn't say that...' Daniel grinned mischievously and Jack pounced, catching him round the back of the neck and pulling him in for a kiss. Daniel's hands settled on Jack's hips, then slipped round to his butt. Jack groaned and deepened the kiss, plunging his tongue into Daniel's mouth. Daniel tasted of coffee and something sweet and Jack pulled back for a moment.
'Mmm, donuts...' he murmured.
'Idiot,' Daniel smiled and leaned in to kiss him again, but a knock at the door had them springing apart. Jack was across the other side of the room and glaring before Daniel had finished blinking in surprise.
'What?' Jack snapped. Sam poked her head around the door.
'Sorry sir, Daniel, I didn't mean to interrupt, but I think I have something.'
Jack drew himself up, feeling his annoyance turn into something darker. He gestured towards the door. 'Well, what're you waiting for? Lead on, MacDuff.'
'Lay on,' Daniel said, moving to follow.
'What I said,' Jack said. He waved Daniel on and followed his husband and Carter down the corridor, hoping that, if he couldn't drag Daniel back to a VIP room and nail him through the mattress, at least he could shoot whoever had cut short his honeymoon.
Carter led them back up to the briefing room where General Hammond was waiting, watching CNN with the sound turned down low. He looked up as they came in.
'Thank you for tracking them down for me, Major. Please, take a seat, gentlemen.'
Jack and Daniel took their customary seats, while Carter sat across from them and opened up a laptop.
'So, what's up?' Jack asked lightly.
Hammond smiled grimly. 'Major Carter?'
'Ah, yes sir,' Carter said, and turned her laptop round to face them. 'This is the security feed from Wednesday night.'
Jack watched the video play, grainy black and white. He recognised himself and Daniel, in Class As and a suit, as they signed out. The guard on duty called them back; Jack remembered the banter about names and I.D. in the car going down the mountain, the feeling of taking Daniel home, the sheer rightness of it. But the video continued and the guard made a call, clearly puzzled by the answer.
'Airman Scopes called down here and Walter informed him that your signatures were correct and that new would be forthcoming.' She fast-forwarded the tape, set it playing again, and continued her narration. 'Half an hour later, at shift change, the airman handed over to Airman Northright. As per protocol, he mentioned the incident before going off-duty.' She stopped the video. 'That was Northright's last shift before a forty-eight hour pass that he used to go and visit his parents over in Denver, I'm assuming for his mother's birthday. He has a sister, who's married. And his brother-in-law works for 9news dot com, which is...'
'NBC,' Jack sighed. 'I'm guessing the odds he mentioned it over a few beers are pretty high.'
'He's being brought in now,' Sam said. 'ETA twenty minutes.'
Jack looked at the general and raised an eyebrow.
'All right, Colonel, you can conduct the interview,' George said. 'But Jack? Words only. No violence.'
Jack scowled. 'Not even a little bit? I didn't even get to put the coffee on this morning, and you know how cranky Daniel gets when he hasn't had his first three cups. Hey!' He reached down and rubbed his ankle. Daniel managed to look faintly surprised.
'Cramp?' Daniel asked politely.
'Must be,' Jack glared.
'No violence, Colonel. That's an order,' George said, suppressing a smile, and pushed himself back from the table. 'Keep me apprised.'
'I think that no violence thing applies to you too,' Jack said, leaning back in his chair.
Daniel raised an eyebrow. 'I have no intention of sitting in on this.'
'I'd have thought you'd want a chance to vent a little.' Jack sipped his coffee.
'Vent?' Daniel's other eyebrow headed north.
'Express your displeasure?' Jack offered.
'I'm... going to go do... something.' Sam beat a hasty retreat, taking the security tape with her. Daniel rose to his feet and followed her to the door.
'Hey! You're ditching me?'
'For a hot inscription I'm half way through translating? In a heartbeat,' Daniel smirked and put an extra sway to his hips as he sauntered out into the corridor.
'Slut!' Jack called.
'Bite me!' floated back through the door and Jack grinned, then caught sight of the TV, where, back on CNN, he and Daniel were leaving his house yet again. He scowled. Suddenly, he was really looking forward to the interrogation.
Jack entered the small briefing room, wishing the general had let him put the airman in a cell instead. Inside, seated at the table, was the young man in question, rubbing a hand over the back of his short cropped black hair. Beside the door, two SFs kept guard.
Jack dropped into a chair opposite the airman. 'Good party?'
Northright's eyes flicked up from the surface of the table in surprise. 'Sir?'
Keeping his tone light, Jack said, 'Your mother's birthday. You have a good party for her?'
'Yes, sir.' Northright frowned in confusion.
'Good food, a few beers, lotta cake?'
'I... Yes. Sir.'
'Rest of the family show up for it, or was it just you?'
'A couple of aunts, my sister and her husband, just the ones who live around Denver.' Northright hesitated. 'Sir, can I ask, what's this all about?'
Jack smiled, a feral grin exposing the predator inside. 'Sure you can!' Northright flinched at his overly jovial tone. 'Tell me, Northright, what do you think about being posted to Cheyenne Mountain?'
'It means a lot to me, sir. The mountain's an important place. I'd die to defend it.' Northright still looked confused.
'Really? How about the men and women who work here? Would you die to defend them?'
'Even the civilians?' Jack's voice dropped dangerously low.
'Especially the civilians, sir.'
Jack nodded slowly, then changed tack. 'And do you make a habit of discussing your job with your family?'
'What? No!' Northright leaned forward indignantly.
'Not even, oh, say, a curious little incident, something and nothing, just an oddity with a sign-out? Couple of guys joking about taking each other's name? Just some funny stuff about a big fat gay wedding?' Jack raised an eyebrow.
Northright blanched. 'Oh, god!'
'That's what I thought.' Jack scowled and leaned back. 'You watch a lot of news, airman?'
'Not really, sir.'
'Then you won't have seen the entire fucking world camped out on my doorstep this morning, will you?' Jack's voice rose. 'You won't have seen myself and Doctor Jackson having to cut short our fucking honeymoon to come back onto base to get away from all the reporters, thanks to you and your damn brother-in-law!'
'What part of classified do you not understand, airman?' Jack roared, leaning across the table. Northright leaned as far back as he could, not daring to take his eyes off the irate colonel.
'You've put the god-damned President in a very awkward position and what's worse, you've managed to piss me off! Unless the general goes to bat for you against the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President, you're facing formal charges.' Jack pulled back.
'I'm so sorry! I never meant...' the airman was practically sobbing.
'I don't care what you meant, I just care what you did. Which is pass along details of your highly fucking classified job to your reporter brother-in-law. I want contact details and I want to know exactly what you said.' Jack slid across a pad of paper with a pen on top.
The airman wiped a hand over his eyes, picked up the pen and started writing. A couple of minutes later, he passed the pad back.
'I'm really, really sorry,' Northright whispered. 'I didn't think it'd do any harm.'
'Doesn't matter what you thought. Just think about what could have happened if, say, some real right-wing homophobic nutjobs had gotten to my house before the military escort from the base. You knew better, Northright.'
Jack tore off the top sheet of paper and strode out of the room, leaving the airman whimpering behind him. 'Take him to one of the holding cells,' he snapped at the SFs and went to find Carter.
'Feeling better, sir?' she asked, taking the piece of paper he held out.
'No,' Jack sulked. He kicked at the leg of the lab bench and stuffed his hands in his pockets, ignoring Sam's wince.
'I think Teal'c was planning on doing a little sparring this morning if you're interested.'
Jack sighed. 'Let me know when you've tracked down this rat bastard vulture?'
'Of course, sir.'
He sighed again and went to find Teal'c.
Sparring was all well and good, Jack concluded, but it didn't help that after several days of having really good, athletic sex with Daniel, he had aches in new and interesting places which kept distracting him. It also didn't help that what he really wanted to do was shoot Northright's brother-in-law.
'Your attention is elsewhere, O'Neill,' Teal'c said, reprovingly.
'I know. Sorry, big guy. I think I'm going to hit the showers, then make sure Daniel eats lunch. Meet me in the mess?'
'I will reserve a table.' Teal'c inclined his head. 'I am sorry that you and DanielJackson have had your time together interrupted.'
'Me too, Teal'c. Me too.'
After lunch, Jack went back to watching the news in the briefing room, joined a little later by General Hammond. The news crews had apparently gotten fed up of camping outside his front door and had tracked down Sara and her father and were now camping outside their front doors instead.
'I took the liberty of calling Sara and letting her know. She said she'd go stay with a friend,' George said softly.
A picture of Charlie flashed up on the screen and Jack winced, feeling as though he'd been sucker-punched in the gut all over again.
'Who the hell is feeding them this stuff?' Jack blazed once he'd got his breath back. 'I'm going to fucking kill them!'
'Apart from the conjecture about you and Daniel, they don't have anything that isn't a matter of public record. I'm sorry, Jack. The President's giving his speech at fifteen hundred hours, so they'll have something else to focus on.'
'Or it'll simply make them concentrate on me and Daniel even more,' Jack said bitterly.
'Hang in there, Jack.' George squeezed Jack's shoulder, then left. A few minutes later, Daniel slid into the seat next to Jack and took his hand. Together they watched the news in silence until it was time for the president's speech. Sam slipped into the room, followed a minute later by Teal'c, and together the team listened to what the president had to say.
The president used a lot of words and took up twenty minutes in a speech which boiled down to changes to the US Military Code of Justice. DADT was officially abolished and homosexuals and bisexuals were allowed to serve in the armed forces.
'So what he's saying is we won't stand for intolerance,' Daniel said, a smile tugging at his lips.
'Positively intolerant of intolerance,' Jack played along, seeing the smile get larger.
'Discriminate against discrimination?' Sam offered.
'Be bigoted against bigotry.'
'Indeed,' Teal'c intoned.
Jack caught Daniel's eye and they burst out laughing. Sam joined in, and Teal'c inclined his head with a pleased smirk.
'Anyone started a book on who's coming out first?' Jack asked, when the laughter had subsided.
'I think Siler's had one running for a couple of months,' Sam said.
'Really?' Daniel frowned. 'Were we on it?'
'The odds were long enough that I do not believe anyone was foolish enough to take them,' Teal'c said.
'I guess if even Siler reckoned DADT was on its way out, the rest of the base shouldn't be too surprised,' Jack said. 'Carter, any news on the vulture? I mean, brother-in-law?'
'We've got confirmation that he was the one who broke the story, but apparently it got picked up almost immediately by one of the big networks, who had the resources to dig out your home address,' Sam said.
'Almost as if someone was looking for a story like this?' Jack asked, feeling a knot of anger settle in his gut.
Sam paused, then nodded. 'There's nothing to say for certain, but...'
'NID,' Daniel supplied. 'Well, if Siler knew about DADT, the NID certainly should have.'
'It doesn't really matter now,' Jack suppressed the urge to hunt down each and every member of the NID and do painful things to them. Long, drawn-out painful things. 'DADT is history and I still have to give an interview with the press.'
'At least I'll be able to say that's my husband up there on tv,' Daniel said innocently. 'You know, with the scowl and the monosyllabic answers and the itchy trigger finger.'
Jack's eyes narrowed. 'You do, and this'll be the shortest gay marriage on record, mister why-use-one-syllable-when-thirteen-will-do.'
'Uh-oh,' Sam said. 'I, uh - experiment running, better get back!' She fled, followed at a sedate pace by Teal'c, who turned at the door and fixed them with knowing eyes before leaving and closing the door behind him.
'I thought you liked my ability to wrap my tongue around pollysyllabic words,' Daniel said silkily.
'I like your ability to wrap your tongue around something,' Jack growled. 'Come here!'
'I'm not a lapdog,'
Daniel could make it to prissy in well under a second, Jack thought. 'I bet I can make you sit up and beg,' He wiggled his eyebrows.
Daniel held out for a moment, then gave in graciously. 'Only because I have a healthy scientific curiosity,' he cautioned as he inched his chair closer to Jack's.
'Uh-huh. Sure,' Jack drawled, reaching out to pull him close. His eyes fluttered shut as Daniel breathed a warm, butterfly-light kiss on his lips. Jack leaned forwards, impatiently capturing Daniel's mouth for a proper kiss, sliding his tongue into Daniel's mouth as soon as his lips parted and thrusting long and slow, enjoying the hot sweetness and the way Daniel moaned, low in his throat.
The sound of a throat being cleared broke them apart. Eyes still closed, Jack snapped, 'What? Fer crying out loud!'
'I just wanted to let you know that, in an uncharacteristic turn of speed, the Pentagon has okayed the questions for your interview. It's scheduled for an hour from now,' Hammond said drily. 'After that, the president has asked me to put a helicopter at your disposal. It turns out that one of his friends has offered the use of a secluded ranch so that you and Doctor Jackson can finish your interrupted honeymoon. In the meantime, Doctor Jackson, I've had a request from SG11 on PBX-993. They want to borrow your expertise, just for a couple of hours.'
Only Jack's sharp hearing caught Daniel's faint sigh. 'Sure, George. I'll go gear up. Any idea what they need me for?'
'Apparently a nomadic tribe came through the StarGate to trade with the natives and they have a historian, a story keeper, with them. The only problem is all the stories are in a language even the nomads don't speak any more. SG11's best guess is that it's a very obscure semitic dialect, but apparently if we can show we can understand it, they'll give SG11 the address of a planet that has an abandoned citadel full of treasures.'
Daniel blinked. 'All right, then. I don't suppose they sent through any recordings, did they?'
Hammond shook his head. 'No recordings allowed, apparently.'
'Okay, I'll get right on it.'
'Teal'c's going with you,' Jack interjected. 'And no running off with SG11 to this citadel. Or getting yourself captured or kidnapped or starting a rebellion. And definitely no pissing off system lords while I'm not there, you hear?'
'Yes, Jack,' Daniel said indulgently. 'Don't shoot the reporter. I'll see you later.' He left Jack scowling to himself and plotting revenge on the team that had borrowed his linguist. Twenty minutes later, in the gate room, Jack contented himself with adjusting the straps on Daniel's pack. It wasn't quite a goodbye kiss, but the indulgent look in Daniel's eyes as he submitted patiently to Jack's fussing said he knew perfectly well what Jack meant.
'I will bring him back, O'Neill,' Teal'c rumbled.
Jack nodded, jerkily, but didn't trust himself to speak as he watched the wormhole open and the two men stepped through.
Jack strode into the briefing room. It was on one of the upper levels of the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base; the camera crew didn't have the clearance to get any closer to the SGC. Lights had been set up in one corner of the room, and two chairs were artfully arranged at one corner of the conference table. A thin, elegant blonde in a powder-blue suit was talking with the cameraman.
She turned quickly and smiled, holding out her hand for him to shake. 'Colonel O'Neill, I'm Devon Brookes. It's a pleasure to meet you.'
'Thanks.' Jack flashed his professional meet'n'greet insincere smile. 'Would you mind if we make this quick? I have some business to get back to.'
The woman nodded. 'I take it you'd rather no makeup, right?'
Jack scowled. 'Don't even think about it! Here okay?' He dropped into one of the seats.
'That'll be fine.' She seated herself gracefully, smoothing her skirt as she did so, then took a small clip-on microphone and clipped it to his shirt. 'Normally I like to chat a little first, get to know whoever I'm interviewing, see if we can't relax, but I understand that you're a very busy man.' She smiled again and Jack found himself warily impressed with her air of sincerity. 'I have a list of approved questions from the Pentagon. It shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes, twenty tops. I'll keep the camera on you the whole time, then do my question and reaction shots afterwards so you can get back to work as soon as possible. If you'd rather not answer, you can say so and we'll edit it out.'
'Uh huh.' Jack tugged his green BDU shirt down. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the cameraman signal Ms Brookes.
The interviewer put on her professional smile. 'Colonel O'Neill, thank you for agreeing to talk with me today, and congratulations on your recent marriage.'
Jack nodded stiffly. 'Thanks.'
'If you'll excuse my bluntness, how does a Colonel in the United States Air Force end up married to a male civilian consultant?'
Jack blinked. 'Well, we signed a marriage license, then kinda stood up together in front of the base chaplain and had him say some words. As I recall, they ended up 'husband and husband'.'
Devon's lips twitched. 'I see.' Her voice was rich with suppressed amusement. 'There has to be a little more to it than that, though. How did you meet Dr Jackson?'
'Daniel and I met several years ago, when I was assigned to a project he was already working on, here at Cheyenne Mountain.'
'On deep space telemetry?'
'That's right.' Only the tightness at the corners of Jack's eyes and mouth betrayed his discomfort.
'And how long have you been together as a couple?'
Jack bit back the urge to ask 'A couple of what?' and forced himself to answer politely. 'About a week.'
'So this has been a whirlwind romance?'
Jack shrugged. 'I guess.'
'Tell me a little about Doctor Jackson. What's he like?'
'Brilliant. Funny. Pedantic. Focused. He has the ability to go on for hours about all kinds of cr- stuff, if I don't shut him up. He's a better human being than pretty much anyone else I've ever met. He's... Daniel,' Jack finished with a helpless shrug.
'I understand both of you have been married before?'
'What happened there?'
It was only that the reporter actually looked interested in the answer that stopped Jack from telling her it was none of her business.
'My wife and I grew apart, got divorced about a year before Daniel and I started working together full-time. Daniel was widowed a couple of years later. We've always been friends.'
'But nothing more until now?'
'Yeah.' Jack shifted in his chair, slouching further back into its minimal padding.
'I can tell you aren't comfortable talking about this. Can you tell me why you agreed to the interview?'
Jack grimaced. 'I'm a guy, I don't talk about my feelings. And I'm old fashioned enough to believe that a private life should be private. I'm doing the interview because I don't like my CO being put in an awkward position over this whole thing. I also don't like the way certain sections of the public think that two men loving each other is worse than, oh, sacrificing babies to the devil. Love is hard enough, marriage is hard enough, without being told that I'm evil because the person I want to spend the rest of my life with happens to be the same sex as me.'
'So what do you think about being married to a man in a state which doesn't recognise gay marriage?'
'I hope this state and all the others like it wake up to the fact that allowing gay marriage doesn't threaten heterosexual marriages in the slightest. It isn't as though Daniel and I left brides at the altar just so we could run off and marry each other. Heck, with the hours we work, it isn't even as though we were dating anyone.'
'So deep space telemetry keeps you pretty busy?' The interviewer smiled.
'Like you wouldn't believe,' Jack groused.
'So what changed? After so many years of working together, of being just friends, what happened to make you see each other in a different light?'
Jack raised his eyebrows, pursed his lips, then sighed. 'We got a letter from friends from... out of town. Basically, it went along the lines of, 'life's too short, wake up and smell the coffee'. And they sent along wedding rings. To the base. Which meant it went straight to my CO, who referred the whole thing back up the chain of command and the first I found out about it was when Daniel and I got called into the General's office to discuss our relationship. He gave us forty-eight hours to work things out and shoved us in a room. We spent, oh, the first twelve freaking out. But there wasn't a tv in the room so we couldn't do the guy thing of watching the game to avoid talking and eventually we had to admit that there... might possibly be something in what the letter said.
'We live our lives in each other's pockets. We work together, we frequently spend our downtime together. When there's something we just have to tell someone, we tell it to each other. We get on each other's nerves, we argue, and we always make up again. Heck, when Daniel's been between apartments, he's lived in my spare room for weeks or months at a time. We're best friends, we already cared about each other. There have been jokes around the base for years that we're an old married couple and no one's ever had a problem with it.'
'Still, it's quite a leap to go from being best friends, from loving each other, to being in love, right?'
'In the end, it wasn't that much of a leap at all. We talked, we got a little drunk, we... kissed and we discovered that spark, that connection everyone's looking for when they date, it was there.'
'What did that first kiss feel like?'
Again, Jack had to bite back the urge to reply, 'Like none of your goddamn business!' Instead, he offered a strained, polite smile. 'It felt like coming home.'
Devon beamed, then a serious expression passed over her face. 'Your commanding officer, General Hammond, seems to have taken an unorthodox position in regard to the whole matter. I was under the impression that up until this afternoon, the armed forces still operated under a policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and an openly homosexual relationship could land you in jail.'
'So how were the rules different for you? Why were the rules different for you?'
'Like I said, by the time Daniel and I were called in to see the General, he'd already discussed the issue with his superiors. The President has never made any secret of his dislike of DADT and his wish to reform the armed forces to bring the military more in line with countries such as Canada, Britain and the Netherlands. Apparently he decided this was the perfect opportunity to trial those reforms and he got the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Hammond to agree to use the base as a testbed.'
'And are the reforms working?'
'If you mean, have I noticed a stream of people asking to be transferred to another base? Absolutely not. In fact, over the past couple of days, we've been swamped with requests to transfer in. The officers on base have been united in support of the reforms, regardless of what their private opinion of homosexuality may be. And at the last count, almost thirty men and women have come out to me or to their direct COs. Every single one of them has an incredible service record and I'm proud to serve with them. They've put their lives on the line time and again for this country. The least we can do in return is stop telling them they're monsters for who they prefer to sleep with in private.'
'Some people have said that your marriage is purely political, that you and Dr Jackson were asked to do this to get support for the President's reforms. What do you say to that?'
Jack snorted. 'Seriously? Anyone who says that has never met me or Daniel. Neither of us does politics and even if we did, we damn sure wouldn't use our private lives to make a political point, no matter who asked us to. Life is too short, way, way too short, and we both know that, better than most. There's no way in hell I'd waste time playing someone else's political games, not when I can be spending that time doing... other things.' He grinned lasciviously and Devon chuckled.
'So you haven't had any problems going from being a straight, career military man to being gay and married to your male best friend?'
Jack shrugged. 'I didn't say there weren't adjustments to be made, but then there are in any new relationship. Like I said, I don't talk about my feelings. I don't even think about them in private, usually. But once I got my head around just how important Daniel is to me and what that meant, the fact that he's a guy and I'm a guy and neither of us ever liked guys that way before, that really wasn't much of an issue.'
'Where is Dr Jackson at the moment? I was hoping I'd get to talk with him too.'
'I'm afraid he's had to go out of town at short notice to do a consult.'
'Can you tell me any more than that?'
'Nope, sorry. It's classified.' Jack smiled wolfishly and Devon pouted.
'Do you miss him?'
'God, yes.' The intensity of his reply startled them both.
'You'd rather be with him?'
'Always. That's nothing new, though. My 2IC will tell you I'm always tetchy when Daniel's out of town.'
'But now you're allowed to miss him?'
'I guess so.' Jack swallowed. 'Like I said, marriage is hard enough. But what we do is important and I'm not going to complain when without our jobs, we'd never have met, never have realised what we mean to each other. I'd never have had the opportunity to marry one of the most remarkable men on the planet, even if our marriage is only valid on base in this state.'
'What would you have done if you'd realised how you felt about each other but the rules hadn't been changed for you?'
'You mean would I have hidden a relationship behind DADT?' Jack frowned. 'No. I'd have retired. Daniel's too important to me to hide how I feel about him. I can't imagine how other people manage to keep their relationships secret if they feel anything like how I feel for Daniel. DADT was cruel and it's unfair and it still left servicemen and women vulnerable to abuse by bigots and homophobes.'
'So what would you say to them, to people in the armed forces who think gays have no place serving in the military?'
'I'd say if they think the biggest threat to this country, heck, to the world, is where I choose to stick my dick, they need to open their eyes and take a look around. Stop being afraid of anyone who's different. Get an education. Because very soon, there won't be a place for those people in our military. Life is too short and there are genuine threats out there, and those threats don't give a rat's ass about who's fucking whom. 'Scuse my language.'
'Thank you, Colonel O'Neill. It's been a pleasure to talk with you.'
'Thank you, Ms Brookes.' Jack smiled perfunctorily, then pulled off his mic and dropped it on the table. 'Gotta go. When you're done with... whatever... the airman will escort you out.'
Devon rose as he got to his feet. 'Colonel-' she offered her hand again, this time with an honest smile. Surprised, Jack took her and shook it, firmly. 'It really has been a pleasure to meet you. Dr Jackson's a lucky guy.'
'Uh, thanks. I'll tell him you said so.' With that, he turned and swung easily out of the room, his relaxed shoulders belied by the straightness of his back and the way his eyes automatically flicked over the room one last time before he opened the door, then checked the corridor as he left.
Devon suspected she'd underestimated him, something she thought a lot of people did, to their detriment. The colonel was a shrewd and dangerous man. 'Okay, if you put the camera on me, I'll read through the questions and then I'll run through some reactions.'
'Sure, no problem.' The cameraman moved carefully to the other side of the room and started filming again.
It wasn't quite the two hours Hammond had said before the Stargate engaged with an incoming wormhole. In fact, it was more like five, and for the last hour and a half, Jack had taken to pacing the corridors outside the gate room with such a ferocious scowl that word had gone round the base to avoid that entire level.
Daniel strolled through the event horizon and down the ramp, talking rapidly to Teal'c with a grin on his face. Jack leaned against the wall near the doorway and watched his husband approach, taking in the sooty smudges on Daniel's forehead and the bruise on his jaw.
'Daniel?' Jack said. The politeness of his tone cut through Daniel's chatter and caught the linguist's attention. 'What happened?'
Daniel blinked. 'Well, it turned out that the dialect was a variant of Phoenician and once I adjusted for shifts in pronunciation, it wasn't too hard to understand what Iba was saying.'
'I didn't mean that. What happened to your face?' Jack pushed himself away from the wall and stretched out a hand, cupping Daniel's jaw and running a thumb over the purpling bruise.
'My- Oh, that. I, uh...'
Teal'c stepped in, smoothly. 'DanielJackson was not paying sufficient attention as we left the camp and he tripped over a guy rope. I believe his injury is a result of him coming into contact with a cooking pot.'
'You tripped,' Jack said, skeptically.
'Yes, Jack, I tripped.' Daniel flushed, embarrassed.
Jack moved close enough to whisper in Daniel's ear. 'Want me to kiss it better?'
Daniel's flush deepened and Jack stepped back with a satisfied smirk. 'Go, get your post-mission checks done. As soon as you're ready, we've got a helicopter to catch.'
'Jack, I need to get Iba's stories down before I forget too much detail. They're a fascinating record of how their civilization moved from a settled technologically advanced city culture to a nomadic herding structure,' Daniel protested.
'You can bring your laptop with you, but I swear, Daniel, if you think we're putting off the rest of our honeymoon - which, by the way, we only have a couple of days left - so you can stay here and write a report, I'll...'
'You'll what, Jack?' Daniel cocked his head.
Jack licked his lips and let his eyes slowly travel down Daniel's body. When he returned his gaze to Daniel's face, Daniel was flushed again and his eyes were dark with arousal.
'I, uh... An hour. Right. Infirmary.' Daniel hurried out of the gate room. Teal'c and Jack took a moment to smirk at each other before following.
An hour later, Hammond's car and driver were waiting as Jack and Daniel exited the mountain. In the corridors below, the general, Teal'c, Sam, and as many on-duty personnel as possible had hung around to see them off. The biggest smiles had been on the faces of the men and women who now couldn't have their careers ruined just because of their sexual preferences, who didn't have to hide their loved ones for fear of reprisal, of dishonorable discharge, of jail.
'You know, I'm beginning to understand why we were set up to be the poster couple for gays in the military,' Daniel said as they climbed into the helicopter.
'Ya think?' Jack muttered. 'I'm still not exactly happy about that.'
'Me neither. Did you shoot the reporter?'
'I was polite! I was the very spirit of restraint. The soul of discretion. I didn't even swear. Well, maybe a little.'
'So she was blonde?'
Jack ignored Daniel's skeptical question and pulled on a pair of headphones so he could talk with the pilot.
Daniel smiled, pulled on his own set of headphones and fished out his laptop. By the time they were airborne, he was already typing. Jack sat back and watched him, content to sit beside him as they flew through the evening sky towards a ranch owned by a friend of the president where they got to spend the next two days finishing out their short honeymoon far from the lenses and microphones of the press.
It might not have been how he'd imagined his future turning out even a week ago, nor who he'd imagined spending his twilight years with, but as Daniel glanced up and smiled, his face radiant with the last rays of the setting sun and ablaze with love, Jack didn't see how things could have gone any better. He put a hand on Daniel's knee and smiled back at the man who had been his best friend for so many years. Best friend, lover, husband. Life was good?
Life was perfect.