Kitty and Dasha were kind enough to read this first in the (probably futile) hope of saving me from my own blunders -- Salieri took time away from drinking bad cosmos and eating fried meat at Media West to red-ink the story with a blue pen.
The truth is, I'm more fortunate than any fan deserves.
It was 0600, and already the apartment smelled like a hot day. Dry and airless, tainted with car exhaust fumes and a whiff of burnt coffee.
The doors to the balcony were open wide, and the sky beyond was faintly pink, but mostly gray. Daniel was sitting at the piano in his boxer shorts, his left hand hovering over the keys. He didn't seem to be playing anything in particular, just touching random notes at long intervals, head cocked to listen as the sound dispersed like ripples in a pond through the apartment. Daniel's right hand was in a sling strapped tightly to his chest.
"Hey," Jack said.
Daniel nodded without turning his head, but Jack could see the corner of his mouth turn up in profile.
"I would've knocked first, but I thought you'd still be in bed at this hour."
"Jack, you never knock," Daniel pointed out mildly.
"Brought you a double cap from Cafe Rico, but looks like you've already made yourself a pot so --"
Daniel languidly extended his left hand in Jack's general direction. "Hand it over here."
Jack snapped off the plastic lid and placed the tall white paper cup in Daniel's hand. Daniel's fingers curled around the cardboard insulating sleeve, and Jack laid his own fingers over Daniel's. Daniel finally turned to look at him. He wasn't smiling, but his eyes were warm.
"Mind if I use your shower?"
"Please." Daniel's nose wrinkled a little. "Feel free."
"Thanks." Jack headed for the bathroom, peeling off his sweaty t-shirt along the way. He dropped the lid on the toilet and sat down to untie his running shoes. His shorts stuck to the back of his thighs. "You sleep OK last night?" he yelled out to Daniel.
"OK," Daniel called back.
Jack padded back to the living room in his sock feet. "So that's why you're up at this hour of the morning. 'Cause you slept so good last night."
Daniel shrugged. "Vicodin always gives me lousy dreams."
"Ah." He didn't ask if Daniel wanted to talk about his dreams. "Gonna be a hot one today." The sky visible beyond the balcony had faded to pale gray. "Want me to--" Jack nodded towards the balcony doors. "I could shut those for you. Go ahead and hit the AC."
Daniel smiled faintly, as if he knew that damned balcony still made Jack a little nervous. "Nah, leave it for now. I breathe enough recycled air under the mountain as it is."
Jack stood and looked at him until Daniel said, "Take a shower, Jack," and so he did, washing with Daniel's soap, using Daniel's shampoo, drying off with a towel that smelled like Daniel. He found himself a fresh pair of sweats and a clean shirt in Daniel's dresser, and when he walked out again Daniel had finished his coffee and was sitting on the sofa looking out at a sky that was now hot, brilliant blue. The heat came in through the balcony doors like a slowly spreading wave, bringing with it the smell of asphalt and the sounds of early rush hour traffic.
Jack sat down next to him. "Want some breakfast? If you've got any eggs in the fridge I could make us scrambled eggs."
"Not really hungry. Help yourself though."
"Maybe I will," Jack said, and continued to sit.
Eventually Daniel said, "You going in today?"
"Little later, maybe. Thought I'd try to get my report to Hammond so he can pass it along. You know how nervous this stuff makes the big boys."
Daniel shook his head. "Everything makes them nervous."
"Don't worry. I'm leaving out the embarrassing stuff."
Silence while Daniel considered this. Finally he turned his head. "There wasn't any embarrassing stuff.
Jack didn't say anything, and Daniel thought about it for a little longer. "Not unless you count the whole mission, I guess. We came, we saw, we got our asses kicked right back through the gate."
"No," Jack said patiently. "I mean the really embarrassing stuff."
Daniel blinked at him.
It really had been one of their most impressive failures in recent memory, Jack thought, and the toughest part was that Daniel had wanted to communicate so badly.
Save for the goa'uld, sentient non-humanoids were as rare as hen's teeth along the gate system, probably because the goa'uld themselves had made a habit over the last several millenia of wiping out any species that couldn't be enslaved or used as hosts. Yet there they had been. Magnificent. Impossible. A stand of living waterfalls moving through a wooded glade. Daniel had stood watching them with his mouth hanging open, and Jack supposed he had probably been just as astonished, although at least he was holding a P90, and then Daniel had whispered, "God, Jack, that sound they're making. It's not just falling water. I think it's language."
He and Carter had blurted out skeptical objections in practically the same breath, but the truth was, if Daniel of all people believed he was hearing language then by God, those vertical pools of liquid were talking to each other, impossible or not.
Then sparkling droplets like a spray of water plumed out from the free-standing fountain of a being nearest to Jack. The spray felt like snowflakes on his skin, and his P90 was wrenched from his grasp. Teal'c shouted a warning, and then they were hurtling backwards toward a suddenly active gate like leaves blown before the storm.
The waterfalls had been intelligent, it seemed. And telepathic. And compassionate. And technologically advanced, not only dialing Earth but somehow programing the GDO to send SG-1's signal ahead of them to avoid splatting them all like bugs on a windshield on the other end. All in all, exactly the sort of allies who could have proven invaluable. If they had a single flaw it was that they slightly overestimated human resiliency. Sam had gotten a nasty knock on the back of her head rolling down the ramp, and Daniel had broken his forearm.
Plus, they seemed a bit on the timid side. No one had been able to reconnect to the gate on P3Y-508 since.
"I just wanted to talk to them," Daniel said quietly. He was looking down at his left hand lying empty and open in his lap. "Can you imagine what that would have meant? Finding a way to communicate with beings so different from humans could change our very understanding of language as a social construct. Not just human-alien interactions, but communication between humans as well. All the misunderstandings and all the wars simply because we think we understand each other's words, when really most translation is the flimsiest sort of transliteration that doesn't convey anything of the different universes we're actually dealing with. It could have --"
Daniel broke off and turned his head again to stare out towards the sky. "Sorry. Told you I didn't sleep very -- Oh. Is that it? Is that the 'embarrassing' stuff you left out of your report?"
Jack almost gave in then, but instead he leaned over and touched his lips to Daniel's shoulder. He smelled of sleep and of coffee, and the skin on the point of his shoulder was very soft. A little shiver ran down Daniel's spine. When Jack raised his head, Daniel was looking at him with that funny smile of his, one of the few that really meant he was happy, the corners of his mouth turned down slightly and his eyes gentle. "Jack," he said. "I'm not all-- well, whatever you're thinking. You don't have to do some little song and dance to --."
Jack launched into his song and dance anyway.
"Daniel. The stuff I'm leaving out of my mission report is the part where we had to take our clothes off. Duh."
Daniel's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. Then his brow wrinkled fiercely. He looked behind himself as though he expected someone to be standing back there with cue cards or a video camera. "Um," he finally said.
Jack made his smile even more innocent.
"Are we -- Jack. Are we still talking about P3Y-508?"
"I think one planet was probably plenty. Don't get me wrong!" Jack held out his hands. "I'm not complaining, it's just that I'm generally a more private kind of guy."
Daniel pressed his palm to his forehead. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about."
"Plausible deniability. That's good. That's very good. Excellent strategy under these circumstances."
Daniel's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Maybe you could refresh my memory. What exactly am I denying?"
"No, no, you were right to begin with. Better not to talk about it."
"Uh huh," Daniel agreed slowly.
Jack nodded. "Right."
"Right."A siren went screaming down the street a couple of blocks away. Morning sunlight crept over the end of the balcony and spilled a white wedge across the floor.
"Of course it was pretty hot," Jack finally allowed.
"Of course it was," Daniel agreed carefully. "Which part was that again?"
"Well, naked in the forest happens to be a very good look for you." Jack shrugged. "Can you blame me for noticing?"
"So you were watching me. Naked. In the forest. Was this before or after the native inhabitants showed up?"
"Well, I was naked too, but an old gray guy like me with scarred up knees, not like anyone's gonna get excited about that."
Daniel punched him in the arm with his good hand. "Oof," Jack said. "Striking a superior officer. They'd court martial you for that if you were actually in the Air Force."
"I think we're more likely to be court-martialed for being naked on '508. Was there any particular reason? Or did we just feel like frolicking?"
"You were the one who wanted to communicate with the native inhabitants so badly. It's not your fault they turned out to be telepathic, though we probably should think about rewriting some of those first-contact protocols to include a sentence like, 'Assume all aliens can read your mind until proven otherwise, so for pete's sake, don't stand around thinking about last Tuesday night.'"
Daniel snorted in outrage. "I was not thinking about --"
"Yeah, there we are and you're trying to talk to them about trade alliances and sharing technology, but at the back of your mind you're really remembering how dinner went up in flames on the barbecue grill last Tuesday night because some people just can't keep their pants on."
Daniel squeezed his eyes shut and massaged his eyebrows as though he were in pain. "For the last time, I was certainly not thinking about you and me during the grand ten seconds or so we were actually in contact with the inhabitants of '508."
"The next thing we know, of course, the walking waterfalls want to hear all about our species' practice of non-procreational sexual activities. You tried to appease them with some dry clinical descriptions, but no, nothing will do but an actual demonstration, and what's more, they're not returning our GDOs until they get one."
Daniel looked at him, his lips drawn into a tight, tolerant smile. "Ah."
"I'm afraid so," Jack agreed mournfully."The aliens made us have sex. I have to give you credit for trying to keep things light -- hand job, a little frottage -- but by then the aliens have been rooting around your apparently extremely vivid imagination and nothing but the full frontal NC-17 version will satisfy them."
"And you say I'm the one with a vivid imagination?"
"By the time the two of us are sixty-nining there in the grass I'm thinking things have really gone too far, but with your dick halfway down my throat I'm not exactly in a position to be giving many command orders."
Daniel was rolling his eyes. "Is this what you're thinking about during mission briefings when you get that faraway look in your eyes? Not hockey stats or the last episode of the Simpsons, but highly improbably offworld, uh, escapades?"
"I was really hoping that would satisfy their inter-cultural curiosity, mostly since I didn't think I could get it up again, but it turns out our own Dr. Daniel Never-Say-Die Jackson has got an exhibitionist streak a mile wide and is all too obviously ready, willing and able to go another round."
"You know, you have serious problems, Jack. Serious, serious problems."
Jack laid his hand squarely in Daniel's lap. "Not that you weren't a little bit shy. Did you know you blush all the way down to your butt cheeks?"
"This is the most ridiculous --"
Jack slid off the sofa and pushed Daniel's knees apart, situating himself in between with his forearms resting comfortably on Daniel's thighs. "Lucky that didn't keep you from performing, or we'd still be trying to get our GDOs back." He cocked an eyebrow up at Daniel, whose veneer of ironic detachment seemed to be wearing a little thin. "So. Remember what happened next?"
Daniel shook his head, but he was biting his lower lip. "Something equally improbable and pornographic?"
"Pornography is in the eye of the beholder," Jack informed him as he fished out Daniel's dick, warm and velvety soft in his hands. He skinned back the head very gently and Daniel inhaled hard, a muscle jumping visibly in his stomach. Beautiful, Jack thought. He made a loose circle of his fist and stroked him from base to head a couple of times, enjoying the solid weight against his palm and Daniel's shaky breaths.
"What, uh, happened next?"
"Don't remember that either?" Jack laid his head on Daniel's thigh, close enough for Daniel to feel the breath from his words. "You rolled me over in the grass and gave it to me six ways from Sunday."
Daniel groaned out loud, and Jack leaned up to kiss the soft skin under his navel. Daniel put his hand on Jack's head, stroking through the short-cropped hair, curling his fingers into a fist, then eagerly cupping the back of his head.
Jack laughed against his stomach, and then put his mouth on him.
Daniel hissed, hips coming up off the sofa. Jack pushed him down again and sucked hard, moving his head, trying to swallow. He put one hand on Daniel's right hip and spread the other hand across Daniel's trembling belly to hold him in place. Daniel began making beautifully frantic little sounds that made Jack feel like the king of the universe. He crammed his hand down his own pants and rolled his head on Daniel's thigh, and when he realized Daniel was trying to curl forward over him he raised his head and eased Daniel back again.
"I got it," he murmured, his voice hoarse. "Got all the bases covered here."
"Oh, god," Daniel said, and came hard, his body convulsing on the sofa.
Jack tightened his hand on himself and gritted his teeth and when Daniel moaned to him, "Jack, c'mere, please, please," he scrambled up beside him and helped guide Daniel's left hand. The touch of Daniel's fingers interlaced with his own undid him, and he bowed his head to Daniel's shoulder, shaking and groaning.
When he was sure his heart was still beating he eased himself back and collapsed beside Daniel. "Sorry," he gasped, still breathless. "Sorry. Didn't mean to fall against your bad arm. You sure you're OK?"
Daniel exhaled sharply. It sounded like a chuckle. "OK," he breathed. He rolled his head to the side to look at Jack. His lips were wet and very red, his eyes bright. "Yeah. Think I'm OK here."
Jack scooted close enough to kiss him. Daniel's mouth was luscious.
"And then," Daniel said thickly, when Jack finally rolled away. "Then the inhabitants of '508 finally gave us back our GDOs and sent us home, and we all lived happily ever after."
Daniel touched his mouth with the tips of his fingers. "OK."
"Should I ask where Sam and Teal'c were during all this?"
"Other side of the planet. Gathering soil samples. Way, way far away."
The air in Daniel's apartment was hot and still, sunlight sharp on the walls and ceiling. "Ah." Daniel said. "Well, I'm somehow reassured by that."
Jack put his hand on Daniel's face. "You betcha."
Then Jack got up and closed the balcony doors.