IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING
Jack had that tone in his voice, the one that was just a bit TOO casual; it was his patented, 'Not like I really CARE or anything' spiel that usually translated into: 'Something is bugging the crap out of me, but no way in hell will I come right out and just tell you what it is.' Daniel knew this, knew it and yet found some perverse imp within his soul tonight stringing the other along, playing gently with Jack O'Neill's head.
That one syllable, drawn out to easily sound like three or four, bore all the signs of the linguist's habitual, longsuffering distraction; to add to that impression, Daniel kept his nose firmly planted in his journal and pretended to be madly absorbed in scribbling down his thoughts on today's activities among the Shando people. Jack had no way of knowing that the only thing Daniel really wanted to scribble down were erotic, passion-filled stanzas proclaiming the archaeologist's undying lust and love for a certain battle-hardened soldier...
Geez, I'm even gagging myself, Daniel grimaced ruefully at his own maudlin romanticism, then quickly hid his reflexive, telltale expression of chagrin behind his journal. He could hear Jack's impatient sigh from across the small tent they shared, and a tiny smile curved the corners of his mouth as he timed it just so...the absent lift of one hand to resettle his glasses on his nose, the gradual refocusing of his attention from some private landscape in his head to Jack's fitfully scowling face, the slow clearing of bemused eyes into an apologetic, 'Oh, did you want something?' query...
"It's nothing, really," Jack muttered, his brows lowering over discontented brown eyes as he paced the tent's close confines in a repetitive one-two, one-two step. "Just...whatcha doing?" As the restless Colonel made a move toward Daniel and his conspicuously blank journal page, the linguist skillfully maneuvered his body to block the incriminating lack of words in his book and cocked his head to one side, studying Jack with an absorbed expression that he knew would send his lover into a discomfited bout of irate self-consciousness.
"Well, right now I'm talking to you, Jack," Daniel murmured reasonably, giving a seemingly unconscious but completely choreographed tap of his pencil against his teeth. He watched O'Neill's gaze follow the eraser's path between Daniel's moistened lips, saw the telltale flicker-darkening of helpless arousal in the Colonel's eyes as Daniel slowly, innocently closed his lips around the pink eraser and sucked once, gently, on the rubber tip.
"Did you need anything in particular, Jack?" Daniel sighed now, revelling in his role as mere, hardworking archaeologist humoring his bored, irascible tent mate. "Was old Kyril putting the moves on you again today?"
A tiny snort of laughter escaped the linguist as a half-pained, half-embarrassed expression settled on Jack's sun-bronzed face; and as the older man took a mock-threatening step forward, Daniel threw up his hands and tsked gently.
"Okay, okay," he conceded defeat, setting his journal aside and patting the low mound of carefully arranged cushions that had served as their bed for the past several nights. "Tell me what's on your mind, Jack."
"Why are you so evil to me?" Jack sighed dramatically, giving Daniel his most put-upon expression; but with a small grunt of acquiescence he moved over to the pile of cushions and flopped down on his stomach next to Daniel, one hand reaching out to pluck at the archaeologist's robe-clad leg. A frisson of pleasure sizzled gentle fire down Daniel's leg at the gliding stroke of Jack's long fingers against his thigh, but the younger man held himself still and merely waited patiently, one brow slightly raised as though urging Jack to get on with it, already.
"Okay, okay..." Jack sighed grudgingly, taking two fingers and giving Daniel's thigh just enough of an admonitory pinch to let the recipient know that he was quite aware of that one's sly machinations, thank you very much. "What was he saying to you out there earlier...that Zagnut guy?"
"Zhereb, Jack; his name is Zhereb," Daniel corrected absently, his eyes glued to the sight of Jack's fingers prodding so restlessly, so persistently, at the concealing folds of the native robes the linguist still wore. The younger man found it difficult to think straight as particular areas of his body took keen notice of those deliciously tormenting fingers, as those same, yearning areas waited breathlessly for Jack's nimble digits to insinuate themselves beneath the robe's cottony material and press their heated firmness to his equally heated skin...
Oh, damn, what had he just been saying, and what the hell was Jack on about now? Kiss me, you idiot!, he wanted to proclaim roughly as feral images of himself rolling the Colonel onto his back and straddling him danced fiendishly in his head. But Jack's eyes were suddenly, genuinely troubled as they lifted to his, and Daniel sighed half-regretfully as he pushed his libido aside and opened the door to quiet solicitude.
"Zhereb didn't really SAY anything, Jack," Daniel murmured now, laying his fingers over Jack's and rubbing both their hands in a soothing, circular motion over his own thigh. "He was just...um...curious about a few of our customs."
"What sorts of customs?" Jack asked petulantly, and Daniel gave him a look of genuine puzzlement.
"Jack, what is this about, really?" he began, and Jack gave a shrug, tried to drop his gaze and lift himself up off the cushions. Silently but firmly Daniel held onto the other's hand, tugged once to hold Jack still and sent him a look of stubborn resolve that plainly said, 'Ah-ah! Spit it out; come clean.'
"I thought maybe he was...harassing you," Jack admitted softly, reluctantly. "Not so much in the sense of coming on to you, that is...just...well, trying to stir up trouble. Kindle some prejudices, spread around some distorted perceptions of the relationship you and I share...He seems to be a very suspicious and unhappy man, Daniel, very...dammit, I don't know. I just know I didn't like the vibes he was giving off out there."
"He's in love with a man and can't admit it, either to himself or to the man OR to this society, Jack," Daniel cut in, his tone subdued. "Neither he nor his kinsmen will speak of the implied...'perversion'... they believe you and I share within this tent; they are JUST civilized enough to concede that more ways than their own exist in the wide world and to admit to themselves that their need for a revitalization of trade and commerce outweighs even their staunchest moral misgivings about dealing with us. To our faces they are polite, respectful; behind our backs I'm sure it's another matter. And if we had come here even five years ago, I don't believe they would or could have tolerated a same-sex liaison going on right beneath their noses."
"Well, if it had been five years ago, there wouldn't have been anything 'perverted' between us for them to see or infer," Jack growled uncomfortably, pulling his hand away from Daniel's thigh and rolling wearily onto his back. "God, Danny, I hate this. I hate PRETENDING we're not making love in this tent, PRETENDING we're not dying to touch each other every chance we get on this damned mission; I hate worrying that the next SGC teams to come here will hear and carry back wild tales of the orgies you and I have supposedly conducted here, together. I know we can convince Hammond that the natives merely misconstrued our bunking together, given this culture's rigid sexual mores; but I'm tired of this. Tired of having to be strictly professional and platonic 99.9% of our waking lives, tired of repressed, horny, lovelorn homophobes secretly lusting after you in their hearts everywhere we go and throwing hypocritical, hysterical accusations in our faces to mask their own, deceitful hearts. I didn't like the way that Zero guy looked at you, Daniel, and I know you HATE it when I get all protective and proprietary, but dammit--!"
"Jack...God, Jack, you idiotic man. Yes, it's true you are hopelessly 'cave man' about certain things in this relationship, and it's also true that it can get quite tiresome, reminding you ad infinitum that I can deal with any...inappropriate interest...on the part of strange offworlder men. You don't need to beat your chest or brandish your fists or a weapon to protect my virtue." Daniel smiled and extended a hand to cup Jack's cheek, his thumb stroking gently down along the curve of the other man's jaw.
"But I love you, anyway. And all I told Zhereb was that I hope he finds love for himself, that he finds the courage to follow his own heart...just as I've followed mine," Daniel continued quietly, leaning over to feather a wisp of a kiss across Jack's slightly parted lips. "He wasn't making a pass at me, Jack; he was merely seeking some level of...validation for his own romantic leanings. His soul was searching for a sympathetic spirit, I believe."
"You're too damned compassionate for your own good sometimes," Jack grumped now, frowning as he raised a hand to clutch at Daniel's fingers where they stroked along his cheekbone. "And I'm impossibly, embarrassingly jealous when I see other men look at you the way Zeke looked at you this evening." A light flush colored Jack's face as Daniel raised one incredulous and not altogether displeased eyebrow at this grudging admission.
"What's more...when I catch other men drooling over you, Dr. Jackson, I get such a hard-on, just knowing that out of every soul in this galaxy it's ME you've given yourself to, ME that you trust to be the one you sleep with, stay with, the one you kiss and touch and drag kicking and screaming into all these damned, crazy, exhilarating life experiences..." Jack's eyes were a languid mix of desire and chagrin as he reached to cup the back of Daniel's head in one large, gentle hand, and Daniel smiled down at him with a glow of surprised love warming his features.
"I do so love you, Jack," he murmured now as he shifted his body obligingly in the direction Jack's hand was steering him. "You know that; you know you don't have to be jealous or worry about us on that account. And I have a confession to make to you, as well," he continued conversationally as he rolled his body atop Jack's and luxuriated in the feel of the other man's exciting hardness pressed so insistently against his belly.
"And what would that be?" Jack groaned in a low voice, his hands sliding up and down the smooth column of Daniel's spine. "I really do want to know...But geez, Daniel, if you don't stop rubbing against me like that, I won't have any brain cells left to listen to your confession; they're all heading directly south, along with all the blood in my body! Maybe...maybe you can tell me later, we'll have time then, won't we? A time for everything--a time to kiss, a time for you to just...touch me, oh yeah, RIGHT there..."
"Shut up, Jack," Daniel grinned against the other man's mouth, and as he raised up just enough to shrug out of his robe, sleek muscles rippling along his shoulders, Jack growled in helpless need and dug hard fingers into the linguist's waist, his eyes glinting a mixture of arousal and grudging curiosity.
"Okay, okay, what's your confession?" he groaned impatiently, and Daniel leaned down to whisper teasingly in his ear.
"Today, when Kyril was rather clumsily flirting with you at the kinsmen's gathering, it got me really hot...he was acting so self-righteous, so holy and superior, and yet all the while I could see in his eyes that he wanted to throw you down and ride you like a wild bronco."
As Jack's eyes widened almost comically with the mental picture Daniel's words were painting, the linguist fisted both hands in the Colonel's salt-and-pepper hair and breathed huskily into his face:
"When I realized that he was doing that, that he was lusting after you, it was just like you described with other men looking at ME; I suddenly wanted to throw you down in front of him and show him that you're MY ride, my heart and soul...Make love to me, Jack; let this be our time, let ALL our days together be our time. No one can take this from us, Jack, ever. No one."
"Not even Zanzibar?" Jack grinned beneath the eager onslaught of Daniel's tongue; and as the linguist merely growled an unintelligible reply and made short work of Jack's camouflage pants, Jack ruminated rather dazedly that there was indeed a time for every good purpose under heaven.