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Red Sky at Morning
by Martha

"We beg You," Daniel said, his face tilted to the red sky above. "Grant us Your mercy."

Jack had to look away, his gut twisting with shame and anger. He felt a creeping, prickly horror and wanted to shout, to run away, stop up his ears or cover his eyes, anything to blot out the spectacle of Daniel--Daniel -- offering prayers of supplication for the sake of such a willful, stubborn people. After all, when had God ever granted mercy to Daniel?

Then when Daniel turned and stumbled, slack-jawed in the golden light of grace, Jack thought bitterly, Ah, of course. It was only grace if it came unearned.

***

By the time they made it back to base Jack's anger had become a city sidewalk of the mind. Gritty and hot under the soles of uncomfortable dress shoes, the glare making his eyes water even behind his sunglasses.

The debriefing had done nothing to dull his rage, nor had the celebrations, nor the shower. Now he sat on a locker room bench, his towel on his lap, thinking that if the Goa'uld were planning an attack, now would be as good a time as any. Wipe out the whole damned mountain and finally end this glaring, gritty rage.

Carter walked out of the showers naked as the day she was born, absently toweling her hair dry as she talked about her leave plans. The fiction of a women's locker room had gone the way of all their other optimistic notions of privacy halfway through their first year together as a team. Poor woman still stammered and blushed if she turned up first at Jack's house for a team barbecue, but she could pull a sports bra over her head and adjust her boobs without missing a beat as she told Teal'c all about about biking up Pike's Peak. All these years and she'd never been up the mountain, but she was gonna do it this weekend at last.

First weekend she'd had since the sun above K'tau had red-shifted, Jack knew. Christ, but they were lucky to have Carter. She hadn't wasted time guilt tripping, just rolled up her sleeves and got to work, treating this as a problem like any other, though it couldn't have been easy knowing she might well be responsible for destroying a world. Jack still had mixed feeling about whether those stiff-necked fundamentalists had deserved salvation in the first place, but he supposed he was glad it had all worked out for Carter's sake.

He watched her drop her hand to Daniel's shoulder and give him a little shake. "Your car still in the shop? Be glad to drop you off."

"You're going home on your bike?" he asked. It was a purely rhetorical question, since Carter had just finished sliding into her leathers. "Thanks anyway, but Jack can drop me off."

"You sure?" Carter darted a quick glance over her shoulder at Jack. So she knew something was up, even if Daniel was bound and determined to act oblivious.

"Um. Yeah."

"Are you apprehensive about riding a motorcycle, Daniel Jackson?" Poor Teal'c wanted to learn to ride so badly it hurt, but so far Hammond had continued to balk. Jack understood. Hammond could explain losing the SGC's private Jaffa on an offworld mission, but while learning to ride Carter's hog? No. Just, no.

Or at least, not yet. Teal'c was in a conspiracy with Jack to develop an offworld search-and-rescue scenario which involved blasting through the gate on dirt bikes.

"I rode one in Egypt," Daniel was saying. "Easiest way to get around Cairo. But if I don't have to? No, but thanks anyway, Sam."

"OK. Just be that way." Sam grinned affectionately at him, scooped her helmet up out of her locker, and waved good night.

"Do you you have any plans for the weekend?" Daniel asked Teal'c.

"Indeed. Sergeant Siler and Sergeant Davis are taking their offspring to see Shrek. I shall accompany them."

"You know that's animated, right? They're computer-generated characters. Not real people."

"Nevertheless, I am led to understand that it is a wondrous, comical animated adventure that satirizes fairy tales and wears its heart on its sleeve without ever winking too far to remind us that it is all a joke."

"Checking out those Yahoo reviews first, eh, T? Good man."

"Indeed not. The rec.arts.movies.reviews newsgroup offers a far more comprehensive range of opinions, and their authors are not so obviously influenced by studio pressure."

"Right." Jack finally toweled his hair dry and grabbed his jeans out of his locker. "What was I thinking?"

***

It was past three by the time Jack left the mountain. Daniel was mercifully subdued, sitting slumped in the front seat with his head resting against the window. Jack assumed he was asleep, but as soon as he took the Lake Avenue exit Daniel sat up and asked Jack to pull into the 7-ll on the next block.

"Why?"

Jack didn't need to turn his head to picture the exasperated expression on Daniel's face. "Why? Because I need a cup of coffee."

"Nobody needs coffee at this time of morning." Jack wondered why he was picking a fight when he didn't even want to look at Daniel right now, much less have a conversation with him.

"It'll just take a second," Daniel returned mildly.

"You're ten minutes away from your own kitchen and all the organic, shade-grown whatever-the-hell special shit you can drink. Why do you even bother with the good stuff when you're just as happy with 7-11?"

"Because my coffee is still ten minutes away and a 7-11 Big Gulp is right here."

"Do you even hear yourself?" Jack snapped as he pulled into the space closest to the front door. "You're such a pathetic addict you don't have any shame left."

He didn't turn off the engine, but the silence was deafening all the same.

Daniel looked at him steadily for a long moment while Jack refused to look away or feel ashamed, and then he got out and closed the door gently behind him. Jack watched him, noticing, as he had so often before, how differently Daniel moved in civvies. Dress him like a soldier and he'd learned how to act like one. Let him change into chinos and a checkered shirt and he became the same clumsy academic who'd bullshitted his way through the Stargate all those years ago.

Daniel stumbled on the curb but didn't fall, making his way into the store as though guided by smell alone, and filled the largest cup in the place with stale, overcooked coffee. He chatted to the clerk as he paid, giving the bored, weary-faced woman one of his self-deprecating smiles. She returned his change with no expression at all.

As Daniel pulled himself back into the truck, careful of his brimming, plastic-covered cup, Jack demanded, "What were you two talking about?"

"What?" Daniel slurped his coffee. "Oh. I was just saying she must meet some real characters working the graveyard shift."

"Yeah. Case in point."

"Mind if I come over tonight?"

Jack's heart sank. "Not much of tonight left."

"All the more reason."

"This is not a good idea tonight. Trust me."

"Always," Daniel said, his tone almost but not quite sardonic, and Jack didn't take the turn towards Daniel's apartment after all.

It was still very early by the time they pulled into Jack's driveway. No hint of sunrise, not a single bird, but the air felt humid on Jack's face, and he knew the sunrise in a couple of hours would be red. Daniel swigged more coffee and dumped the rest of the cup into the shrubbery. He followed Jack in, not speaking, not touching as Jack punched in his security codes and reset the alarm. Only then did he reach for Jack, cupping his head in both hands and kissing his mouth.

Daniel tasted like hot, burnt coffee and smelled like deodorant soap. His kiss was tender and thorough, and his body was warm against Jack's.

His tenderness and trust made Jack think again about Daniel's prayer for mercy for the K'tau, and his utterly insane suggestion, afterward, that his prayer had been answered. And that made him remember barefoot Daniel on Kheb floating Jack's AK-47 off his shoulder and pointing it at Jack's chest. Same damn thing, wasn't? Daniel could ask Oma to light candles with his mind. Daniel could even implore heaven to light the sun in the sky.

Beginning to shake, he turned his face from Daniel's and pushed him back. Daniel didn't resist, and when Jack put his hands on his shoulders, Daniel went to his knees. After a moment he laid his face against Jack's fly with a murmuring sound that rippled through Jack's belly like a cold wind slipping inside an unzipped coat. His hands were on the front of Jack's legs, massaging the long, tense thigh muscles. The warmth of his firm touch made Jack sway, light-headed, though his dick was still soft, and he crowded against Daniel, who shuffled backwards on his knees until Jack could prop his forearms against the wall over him.

The streetlight shone through the cracks in the front curtains. Jack looked down at the top of Daniel's head as he stroked Jack's thighs a few more times and then unbuttoned Jack's fly and pushed his jeans and boxers down, catching his still only half-hard dick in his hand. Jack saw the city sidewalk baking under the heat of a yellow-hot sun, and his half-hearted erection faded even more.

He forced himself to imagine Daniel kneeling on that same sidewalk, the concrete hot and unyielding under knees that were far too ready to bend, and a hard jolt rocked Jack, its intensity centered in his groin. He yanked Daniel's hand away so he could wrap his own fist around the base of his dick. Feeling like an aging porn star trying to hide a sad excuse for a hard-on, he pushed into Daniel's mouth until his curled thumb and forefinger pressed against the smooth ridge of Daniel's front teeth, Daniel trying hard to accommodate him, trying to suck, but Jack's fist kept his mouth open too widely.

Finally Daniel knelt up a little, changing the angle so he could lap at the underside of Jack's dick and the fingers in his mouth, but nothing zinged for Jack until he pushed Daniel down and back once more, swinging his leg over Daniel's shoulder to straddle him. Daniel's back arched so hard he had to put his arm behind himself to keep from falling.

Oh, that was better. Hot, nasty images crackled across Jack's mind. He'd stuff Daniel's mouth, cram his dick down his throat, make sure his next prayers had nothing to do with supplicating God. Jack was rock hard now, and he stopped holding himself so he could cup Daniel's face with both hands, angling in so he could feel his cock bulging against Daniel's cheek from the outside. Left side, sliding across his tongue. Right side, sliding again. He bumped the head against the roof of Daniel's mouth, even though from this angle he couldn't do it without feeling the faint scrape of Daniel's teeth.

Didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was making sure the next time Daniel opened his mouth nothing but Jack's come would dribble out. Shuddering, Jack pulled out a little to feel the kiss of Daniel's wet lips against his shaft, and then shoved his dick straight down Daniel's throat.

He immediately bucked up, gagging. Jack slipped out to let him breathe, continuing to hold Daniel's face in his hands. He said, "I'm not going to stop," and waited for Daniel to push free and belt him one, but Daniel only opened his mouth, and so Jack did it again. He crammed in so deep and hard that when he put his palm against the underside of Daniel's jaw he could feel the bulge. When Daniel choked he pulled out, waited a beat, and did it again. And again. And again. After a time Daniel stopped gagging. Always the quick study, Jack thought savagely.

We beg You, grant us Your mercy.

What the hell. What the holy fucking hell? This was not the same Daniel Jackson who had once found Jack's rosary in his bedside table while fumbling for the lube and had stopped everything to ask if the Church's views on homosexuality challenged his faith, and then wouldn't shut up about it until Jack wrapped the beaded chain around his balls. Jack still felt a little guilty and probably never would have done it if he hadn't been so drunk, but Daniel? Mr. Cultural Sensitivity had come so hard he'd nearly passed out.

Pause. Stroke. And again. Daniel's whole body was trembling and his face was wet with tears or sweat. Jack was getting close.

This wasn't the same Daniel Jackson who calmly speculated that a Goa'uld might assume the role of GOD God - - even Teal'c had balked at that one -- much less the same man who had gone toe to toe with Senator Kinsey over the futility of trusting in faith to avert Apophis' fleet.

A fine, hard tremor went through Daniel. He must be close, too. Jack slipped free of Daniel's mouth and grabbed himself, squeezing until he was sure he wouldn't come. Daniel was still splayed beneath him, back arched, elbow locked, shaking hard. "Jack, you son of a bitch," he rasped, and finally collapsed with a groan, doubled up on his back. He managed to unzip himself and the shiny, wet head of his dick pointed straight up, catching the glow of the streetlight. He fumbled, groping himself left-handed, since his right hand was probably all pins-and-needles from supporting his weight for so long, but Jack grabbed him to prevent it.

"Get up. Come on, get up."

"Fuck you," Daniel muttered, yanking himself free, but he rolled onto his hands and knees, and when Jack pulled at his arm Daniel rose as best as he could. His knees buckled but Jack manhandled him into the living room and over the arm of the sofa before he could fall. He dragged Daniel's pants to his knees before dropping too heavily onto his back, knowing he deserved Daniel's grunt of protest. He slipped one hand under the front of Daniel's shirt and groped between his legs with the other. When Daniel's cock rested like a warm club in the palm of his hand, Jack began to stroke him roughly, and Daniel moaned and shuddered, pinned by Jack's weight.

When Jack found Daniel's left tit he pinched as hard as he could, and Daniel came with a stifled, angry cry.

Jack heard himself panting, and with his hand spread across Daniel's chest now, pressed hard into the cushions, he could feel the thunder of Daniel's vulnerable heart. Feel that? he wanted to tell Daniel. God won't raise a single celestial finger to keep that beating.

He didn't say a word. He rubbed his palm around and around the wet head of Daniel's cock, collecting the seed as Daniel jerked and gasped, swearing at him. He slicked up his dick and Daniel's hole and began to press in.

"Tell me to stop," he grunted. "Dammit, Danny, tell me to knock it off."

"I want it." Daniel was still bucking in orgasm and he sounded like he was being strangled. "Fuck you, you fucking bastard, just do it already."

Jack straightened up and grabbed Daniel's hips to steady himself, then forced his way home. He went slow and didn't stop, trembling with strain as Daniel's whole body seemed to twist and spasm against his dick. When he was snugged in tight he dropped his head on Daniel's back in exhaustion. This time it was his own heartbeat roaring in his ears, bringing with it intimations of mortality.

Daniel might have understood once, but not now. He wasn't that reassuringly oblivious little humanist anymore, and apparently, it was breaking Jack's heart. He supposed it was because Jack himself had never had a shot at freedom. He would always believe the Goa'uld and the Asgard were false gods, because dammit, there was a true God, and He was one cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch to boot. Couldn't count on Him in a crisis, couldn't hope to understand Him until it was far too fucking late to do any good, but at least you knew the final fate of everything didn't rest solely in mankind's shaking hands.

But Daniel had believed just that, once upon a time. It had been his strength.

Jack pulled out and shoved in again, a little too hard and a little too fast. Daniel groaned hoarsely, and his hands clenched into fists on the sofa cushions.

"Tell me to stop."

Daniel's head turned to the side, his eyes squeezed shut. He was sweating, his shirt glued to his back. Jack stroked forward and back, forward and back. Daniel's spasms grew less erratic, his hips beginning to roll back as Jack thrust in, even his groans coming in time to Jack's rhythm now.

"Daniel."

The come Jack had used as lube was drying between them. The head of his dick burned a little as he pushed into Daniel's body, more when he did it again, becoming actual pain when he slowed down and screwed his way in the third time, as though going slower and harder could possibly have helped. He had a vague idea that he would keep this up until Daniel told him to stop, but fucking the skin off his dick wasn't worth it, not even to prove a point.

Assuming that's what he was doing here.

He pulled out, releasing his grip on Daniel's hips only when he was sure he wouldn't fall over. "Stay put," he growled, reasonably certain that Daniel would have the good sense to find a more comfortable position - - or better yet, simply leave - - before he came back. He yanked off his shoes, head spinning when he straightened up again. Dropped his jeans and stepped out of them. Staggered towards his bedroom but stopped and went to the bathroom to scoop a fat, slick wad of vaseline into his hand instead. Limped back to the living room and saw Daniel's white ass still shining over the arm of the sofa.

Right. What the fuck had he been thinking anyway? Daniel was capable of good sense on occassion. But he never stopped being stubborn as a goddamn mule.

Jack fisted his dick, smearing vaseline along the length. "You ready?" Not particularly expecting an answer, he braced himself with his left hand square in the middle of Daniel's left ass cheek, sloppily wiping the rest of the grease along his crack. He folded himself over Daniel, reaching around underneath him and crossing his arms over Daniel's chest, yanking open his shirt so he could fondle both nipples between a thumb and forefinger. Daniel protested the loss of his shirt buttons and Jack bit his ear, his cock sliding across Daniel's ridiculously slick butt, repeatedly missing the bullseye. He pinched harder and breathed hotly against the side of Daniel's throat, and this time when Daniel's hips jerked, Jack was in like Flynn.

Fuck, this was better. Daniel writhed in his arms, mewling and gasping Jack's name, and Jack kept himself buried in Daniel's ass, jerking just enough to hit the sweet spot over and over again until Daniel went rigid beneath him. Jack whispered, "Tell me to stop or I'm gonna keep this up all night," and Daniel convulsed under him and cried out like a man in pain.

Jack pulled out so fast that he lost his balance and sat down hard on the rug. Violently trying to keep from coming himself, he squeezed his cock until violet spots saturated his vision. A wave went through him that felt a hell of a lot like orgasm but when he finally caught his breath he found he hadn't shot after all. His dick was so rigid against his belly that when he tapped two fingers against his shaft he found he was going a little numb.

Moaning and swearing under his breath, Daniel in the meantime had finally eased himself off the arm of the sofa and sat down.

"Hey," Jack protested weakly. "The upholstery."

"Sorry." Daniel's voice was a hoarse, unrepentant whisper. "I'll buy you a new couch." He flopped sideways. "Someday."

"Damn straight you will." He made his way over to Daniel and rolled him, unresisting, onto his belly. Much as he wanted to fuck Daniel face to face, his arms and legs were trembling too badly by now to manage it. He crawled on top of him, and when Daniel felt Jack's cock brush against the back of his thigh he muttered sleepily, "You haven't come yet?"

Jack thumbed his cheeks apart and penetrated him again, feeling Daniel's body tremble around him. "What the hell did you do?" Daniel slurred. "Shoot up with lidocaine?"

Jack wrapped his arms around Daniel and shifted them both onto their sides. A slow, easy screw this time. No urgency. Nobody was going anywhere. At least not before morning. He stroked Daniel's soft, wet cock in his hands as Daniel whimpered but didn't push him away. Jack rocked into him, pretending the physical intimacy could reveal Daniel's mind as well. When had he become the sort of man who believed prayers were answered anyway? He remembered Daniel unarmed and barefoot in the temple gardens before a phalanx of Jaffa. He thought of him curled on the burned rug, touching his dead Sha'uri's face.

But mostly he remembered the wavering sound of his voice in the darkness of Apophis' holding cell.

We're blind. And we failed.

He'd never heard Daniel in despair before.

He wrapped himself more tightly around Daniel, one hand spread across his stomach, then his chest, trying to contain Daniel's shudders as he fucked him. Daniel's body was so sensitive by now that the lightest stroke made him shake and groan, and he was getting hard again in incremental degrees as Jack eased his hand along the length of his shaft.

The moment Daniel stopped believing in himself, the only thing he'd had left was faith and a hope for grace. And if it were ever granted, Jack was sure to lose him. He knew it as well as he knew the back of Daniel's hand.

He kissed Daniel's shoulders, the side of his neck, the knobs of his spine. He drove into his impossibly sensitive body with slow, deep strokes, selfishly determined to wring another climax from him. Daniel arched against him with a sleepy whimper of protest, but Jack was merciless now. A red whisper of dawn was slipping under the blinds as Jack rolled Daniel onto his belly, finally yanking Daniel's pants off so he could spread his legs as wide he needed, penetrate him to the core, somehow make him believe again that the greatest hope and strength came from man, not from heaven.

Jack couldn't believe that, but once upon a time, Daniel had.

He dragged him to his knees, fucking harder, and Daniel came with a gasp and a curse, straining back against Jack for endless, agonizing moments before he collapsed beneath him. Jack followed him down, still pounding into Daniel. Jack's dick so hard it was painful, but he was as far from orgasm as ever.

Daniel's body jerked against the sofa cushions and his gasps had begun to sound like sobs, but he didn't ask Jack to stop. Finally Jack pushed one of Daniel's knees up so he could get his hand down between them, and tried to work his finger up Daniel's ass next to his pumping cock. Daniel thrashed, trying to buck Jack off while stubbornly refusing to say a word. The flesh around his skewered ass was tight and thin as a drumhead, but Jack kept working at him, twisting and pushing. When he could feel both his finger and his cock moving together inside Daniel, his own orgasm came like a wrench to the balls and a fist in his gut. He pulled out too fast, making Daniel cry out again, and he watched in misery as his semen spilled across Daniel's buttocks and thighs. He felt like he was losing gouts of blood.

When it was finally over he crawled off Daniel and thew a quilt over him before staggering to his bedroom.

When he awoke much later, rain was pattering noisily on his side porch and he could tell from his wet face and burning throat that he'd been crying in his sleep. Everything hurt, he stank, and his mattress was hard as a concrete sidewalk.

Daniel was spooned up behind him, and when he realized Jack was awake, he knelt up and kissed Jack's temple and wiped the tears from his cheek. "I know," he whispered in regret, though he couldn't possibly have known anything. "I'm sorry, Jack. I know."

End.

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August 2005