CATEGORY: Angst, Established Relationship
COMPLETED: March 24, 2006
AUTHOR’S NOTES: No real lobsters were harmed in any way grins
The smell of coffee woke Daniel, and he smiled. Moments like these, when Cameron brought him his coffee in the morning and kissed him awake, reminded Daniel why he was still with the man, and why he loved him. But the last month hadn’t been easy for either of them, their mission schedule being tighter than ever with the threat of the Ori. They still hadn’t had the talk they desperately needed, and Cameron was even more attentive and overprotective than before the Valentine’s disaster, as Daniel liked to call it. Granted, Cameron had waited for him on the surface after he had stormed off; the concert had been great and the make-up sex had even been better. Still, they needed to talk. And soon, before he had to make a clean cut and break it off with Cameron.
He rubbed his eyes, shoving the thought as far away as possible. He would have enough time to think his relationship with Cameron through in the next two days while his lover was in Washington D.C. It certainly helped Daniel’s mood that Jack would be here by late afternoon. He hadn’t seen his friend since New Year, and Daniel still had the feeling that he needed to mend his friendship with Jack, even though Jack had insisted that Daniel had nothing to worry about.
“Hey, sleepy head,” came the croaky greeting from Cameron, who had two mugs of coffee in his hands.
“Morning,” Daniel replied, smiling at Cameron before he cuddled back into the sheets. Yeah, these moments definitely reminded him why he was in love with Cameron.
Cameron carefully put the mugs on the nightstand before he leaned in to give Daniel a closemouthed kiss, and sat down on the bed. “I wish I could just go back to bed,” he said quietly, brushing a thumb over Daniel’s lips. “We need to talk,” he added, averting his eyes.
“I know.” Daniel sat up and pulled Cameron against his chest. “We will when you’re back.”
Cameron covered Daniel’s arms on his abdomen with his hands, leaning back into the embrace. “I have a bad feeling about this. As if nothing will ever be the same again after the weekend.”
Daniel gulped, realising that he had been underestimating Cameron again. Of course Cameron would have realised that something was going on. He was neither stupid nor insensitive. The only question that remained was why Cameron had been acting so out of character since Valentine’s Day, and Daniel had the feeling that he had missed something that would give him a clue as to why Cameron was so overprotective and jealous.
“We’re going to be fine,” Daniel said, needing to reassure the man in his arms. It wasn’t even a lie. Daniel desperately hoped that the talk tomorrow evening would save their relationship. “We just have to clear a few things up, and we’re going to do just that tomorrow evening.”
Cameron nodded against Daniel’s shoulder before he moved out of his arms. “I’m sorry, but I have to get showered and dressed. I need to be at Peterson in two hours.”
“I know.” Daniel’s guts clenched when Cameron stopped at the bathroom door to glance back at him, the look in his eyes telling Daniel that he was just as weary and hurt as Daniel. With a sudden certainty Daniel knew that he would fight to make their relationship work again. He simply wasn’t ready to let Cameron go, and the thought that he might have to scared him. “I could drive you there if you want me to,” he mumbled and got up as well.
The look in Cameron’s eyes changed to something warmer, and his smile was genuine. “I appreciate the offer, Daniel. I really do. But I don’t think that’s such a good idea. I want to kiss you goodbye properly, and I can’t do that at Peterson.”
Daniel chuckled, relieved that Cameron’s mood seemed to have lightened again. “You’ve got a point. Which means I should brush my teeth before you leave, right?”
Now, Cameron laughed. “Yeah, that might be a good idea. As much as I love you, morning breath just isn’t my thing.”
Daniel felt like someone had just kicked him in the balls, the emotional pain being almost physical. Cameron had let him know before that he loved him with the last Valentine’s card, but he had never said it aloud. Now that he had, Daniel couldn’t find it in himself to say it back. Instead, he walked over to Cameron and drew him back into his arms. Without hesitation, Cameron embraced Daniel, nuzzling his face into his hair. Daniel could only hope that Cameron understood what Daniel was trying to say without words.
* * * *
Daniel didn’t even look up from his translation when he heard the key turning in the lock, knowing that it had to be Jack. He had spent the better part of the day trying to take his mind off Cameron; off the look of disappointment on his lover’s face when Daniel had failed to tell him he loved him; off the bittersweet kiss Cameron had given him before he had left for Peterson Airport. Daniel had to agree with Cameron. He had a bad feeling about tomorrow night as well, and he was almost certain that nothing would ever be the same again after the talk.
“Gimme a hand, Daniel, will ya?” Jack said loudly, and Daniel jumped to his feet. He snickered when he spotted Jack’s face under a multitude of brown paper bags and six packs, but took half of Jack’s treasures out of his arms. “Thank you.”
“God, Jack, did you go shopping for a banquet? What’s all this stuff?” Daniel teased, balancing the bags as he carried them into the kitchen.
“No. I simply decided that St. Patrick’s and pizza don’t mix. I’m going to cook.” Jack wiped his hands on his jeans after he had put the remaining bags next to Daniel’s share, and opened his arms to hug Daniel. “It’s good to see you again, Daniel.”
“Likewise. You look good,” Daniel commented, looking Jack up and down, grinning.
“Why, thank you. You don’t look that bad yourself.” Jack grabbed one of the bags, waving it in Daniel’s direction. “Do you think your fish would mind rooming with a lobster for a few?”
Daniel blinked. “You have a live lobster in there?” he squeaked. “What the hell are you planning to cook?”
“Dublin Lawyer is the main course,” Jack replied, sounding positively smug. “And the flavour of the fish is best when you kill it right before cooking.”
“You’re impossible, Jack.” Daniel sighed. “Give me the bag,” he said, already taking it from Jack’s fingers. He looked inside, realising that Jack hadn’t been joking. It contained a live lobster, sheltered in a plastic container with water. He sighed again and released the lobster into his fish tank. As he had anticipated, his fish fled to their hiding places as soon as they spotted the intruder. “And more surprises for me?”
“No. Well, none that could snap off your finger.” Was it just Daniel’s imagination, or had Jack suddenly turned shy? At any rate, his friend was fiddling with an artefact that had been within his reach and was studying its intricate carvings instead of looking at Daniel. “Paul says hi,” he finally said, putting the piece of work into its place.
Daniel grinned. “Thanks. We were wondering if you would tell me,” he added with a smirk, ignoring Jack’s incredulous “What?” completely.
“What the heck is going on here, Daniel?” Jack asked, sounding every bit as irritated as he looked.
“Nothing. I just put together some bits and pieces.” Daniel
uncapped two Guinness, handing one to Jack. “You told me that it was someone I
know and like. Now, there aren’t many people in
Daniel reached for the phone without really thinking about it. He was almost done with a novel he had planned to finish before Cameron came home from the SGC. “Hello?”
Daniel sat upright, closing his book. “Major Davis. Now, that’s unexpected. What can I do for you?”
“I’ve called at a bad time, haven’t I?”
“It’s okay. I, ah, I wasn’t really busy,” Daniel replied, already knowing that he would have to search for the page he had been on.
“I shouldn’t have called.”
Daniel frowned. This didn’t make any sense. Granted, Davis and he had always gotten along in the past, even worked together on several occ—“What did he do?” he asked simply, following the hunch he had had ever since Jack had told him that he was involved with someone.
Daniel took his glasses off, rubbing the bridge of his
nose. Somehow, he felt bad for
“That’s not the point, Daniel. He’s in love with you, and I can’t shake the feeling that he’s just with me because he can’t have you.”
Daniel winced at the self-deprecating tone of
“What has me not being a woman got to do with this?”
“Everything. If you were a woman, he could openly date you, no matter how he truly felt about you. But you’re not. And trust me when I’m saying that Jack wouldn’t risk his career, or the career of someone else, just because he can’t have me. I know that for a fact.”
“What makes you so sure about that?”
“Because he told me, Paul. He never dropped the tiniest hint that he might be interested in me because of his career and responsibilities. That he’s with you now tells me how much you mean to him.”
And that he only thought he was in love with me, Daniel added in his head, realising that it was nothing but the unadulterated truth. The only question that remained was if Daniel’s perception had also played a trick on his emotions. Now that he thought about it, it seemed only logical, especially if he took their bisexuality into account. They were so close, sharing an intimacy in their friendship that would make most men uncomfortable. It was only the next rational step to assume that what they had was more than friendship. Looking back at it now, Daniel realised that it was truly only that. Friendship. The best friendship he had ever had in his life.
“He was going to retire for you,”
“Yes, he was. But consider this. He was going to retire because only then, he wanted to be with me. He’s with you now, and last time I looked, he’s still ruffling the feathers of the Pentagon.” Daniel sighed. “Look, I can imagine why you have doubts. But trust me on this, Paul. I gave him the option to fight for me. He didn’t.”
“Because you’re with someone.”
“At the time, my significant other had just realised that there might be more to our—our arrangement than sex. It would’ve been easy for me to leave to be with Jack, and Jack knows that.” Liar, said the little voice in his head. You were already so in love with Cameron that you couldn’t see straight.
Daniel heard the key grating in the front door lock, and
Cameron sauntered into the living room a moment later. He raised his brows when
Daniel held up his hand, telling him silently to be quiet. At the other end of
“In that particular case, your worries are unfounded. All I can ask of you is that you trust me, and that you trust Jack. And that you trust in your relationship with him.” Daniel accepted the soft kiss to his cheek with a smile, tugging Cameron down on the sofa to cuddle into his side. When Cameron indicated that he wanted to know who was on the phone, Daniel mouthed ‘Paul Davis’ at his lover, realising too late that he had just given away that Jack was dating Davis. Cameron only grinned and nodded, whispering a fond, “Congrats.”.
“How do I fix this?” Davis asked finally, sounding like he’d just realised what a fool he had been.
“I would say, wait until Jack shows up at your doorstep. It’ll
take some time, but he will come. He’ll be uncomfortable, and most likely ask
you something ridiculous about wanting to spend the evening watching hockey or
something.” Cameron snorted, rearranging himself to snuggle his head into
Daniel’s lap. “Stop that,
“Yeah.” Daniel yelped when Cameron bit the thumb that had
been brushing over his lips. “The very same who’s trying to tell me to quit
talking to you and give him my undivided attention.” Daniel smirked when
“I definitely will, Daniel. Thank you for your time.”
“Anytime, Paul. If you want to, we can hook up for lunch the next time you’re in the Springs.”
“I’ll hold you to that. Bye, Daniel.”
“Bye.” Daniel put the receiver back into the battery charger, smiling mischievously at Cameron. “And now, back to you…”
“So, I have to thank you that I still have a boyfriend?”
Jack said, his tone swinging from delight to sarcasm and back, as if he didn’t
know what he should think about
Daniel waved dismissively. “I wouldn’t go that far, Jack. I just—gave him a friendly push.”
Jack snorted. “Yeah, and he shoved me into his door when I dropped by last night.”
“TMI, Jack. Or do you want to know what Cameron and I did last night?” he added, narrowing his eyes and feeling positively smug when Jack paled.
“No. I think I’ll pass.” He bumped Daniel’s back with his shoulder. “Let’s put the rest of the shopping away.”
* * * *
Jack’s face looked strangely distorted and magnified through the glass and water of the fish tank. “It’s a lobster, Daniel.”
“It was meant to be eaten.”
“I still feel bad about killing it.”
“It’s a lobster.”
“At least I’m killing it before I cook it. I could just toss it into the boiling water.”
“Two of my fish are missing.”
“It’s a lobster. It eats fish.”
“So, the lobster ate two of your fish.”
“It basically is a murderer. It killed two of your fish.”
“I guess so.”
“So it committed a capital crime punishable by death.”
“Let’s execute it!” Jack took off the cover of the fish tank and reached for the lobster with the tongs. “Got it!”
“Just be careful, Jack. That thing could easily break your fingers with those claws.” Daniel followed Jack into the kitchen. “Anything I can do while you prepare the lobster?”
“Yeah, you can peel and dice the potatoes for soup,” Jack replied absent-mindedly, arranging the lobster on the counter so that he could kill it without having his fingers snapped off.
“Okay.” Daniel took the potatoes out of the net and began to peel them. He watched Jack out of the corner of his eye, wincing in sympathy when Jack plunged the knife into the cross on the back of the lobster’s head to kill it.
“You can do the same to the onions, by the way, when you’re done with the potatoes,” Jack said, slicing the lobster in half lengthwise. He cracked the claws open, removing all the flesh from the shell, tail, and claws before he cut it into two large chunks. He carefully washed out both halves of the shell and put them aside.
“Where did you put the stock?” Daniel asked, washing his fingers to get rid of the onion smell and the essential oil before he took off his glasses to dry the tears that were streaming down his face.
“Fridge. But you need to cook the potatoes and onions in the butter first.” Jack dried his fingers and took a swig from his Guinness bottle. “So, what’s going on?”
“I, ah, what exactly do you mean, Jack?” Daniel asked, though he knew very well that Jack was asking about his and Cameron’s relationship.
“You and Mitchell. Are you two okay?” Jack clarified, but his tone let Daniel know that Jack had noticed Daniel’s try to stall.
Daniel sighed, again rubbing across his eyes. “Not so good, Jack. Nothing has changed since Valentine’s Day. On the contrary; it got worse.”
“I thought you two wanted to talk?” Jack nodded towards the covered saucepan. “Watch your potatoes and onions.”
“We wanted to, but we didn’t.” Daniel took out the clear stock Jack had brought and poured it into the saucepan. “Cameron was the one who sent me all the cards. It was his way of inviting me to a Nightwish concert and telling me that he loves me. Of course, he was pissed over my reaction and told me that he wouldn’t come to the concert with me. He stormed off.”
“He’s a hothead,” Jack commented, taking another mouthful from his bottle.
“Yeah.” Daniel smiled. “He is. He’s got a temper to match yours, actually.”
“Why, thank you, Daniel. I’ll have you know that I’m a perfectly reasonable and calm person.” Jack smirked. “So, he stormed off. What then?”
Daniel sat down at his desk, burying his head in his arms. He had absolutely no idea how to fix the mess he had involuntarily created. He had never seen Cameron so hurt and dejected before. Not even when his friend Bryce Ferguson had died. And Daniel was responsible for that.
Daniel rubbed his hands over his face, trying to resist the urge to either go after Cameron or call him. He knew that it would only make things worse. Cameron wasn’t only a hothead, but also incredibly stubborn. No, pushing the matter would get Daniel nowhere. Maybe… Tonight… After the concert…
The concert. Daniel wasn’t even sure he wanted to go alone. He didn’t want to take anyone else but Cameron. It just wasn’t right. Cameron had paid for the tickets, so he should be the only one accompanying him, and that was even assuming that Daniel went.
On the other hand… No. It was either both or neither of them. Daniel wouldn’t go to the concert alone while Cameron was at home, hurt and frustrated. That just wasn’t Daniel’s style. But, then, he had thought it wasn’t his style to hurt people he loved like that either.
No, no, he really shouldn’t do that. Don’t fish your cell phone out of your pocket, Daniel. No, don’t text Cameron that you’re sorry and that you want him to come. Bad move, Daniel. Don’t send it. No, no, don’t, don’t…
Daniel threw his phone on the desk, feeling even worse than before. On the one hand, he kept complaining that Cameron was pushing him when he should back off, but on the other hand, he wasn’t any better, as sending Cameron a text message had just proved.
He sighed deeply, deciding that he might as well go home. He wouldn’t get anything done around here with his mind full of Cameron. He snorted. Earlier, he had berated Cameron for letting their relationship interfere with their job. Was Daniel any better? No, sir, he wasn’t. If he were, he would shut all thoughts about the fight out of his mind and get back to the translation.
“Hey, Daniel.” He looked up, staring at Sam. He hadn’t even heard the knock on his door, let alone her coming in when he hadn’t answered. “Are you all right?”
“No, not really. I fucked up.” Sam winced at Daniel’s choice of words, and he smiled in sympathy. “I, ah, I have no idea how to fix it either.”
“That bad, huh?” She pulled him into an embrace. “It’s going to be okay. He’s a hothead. You know that. Just let him cool off.”
“It’s not that simple, Sam. This isn’t one of mine and Jack’s fights where everything’s going to be fine in the morning. I hurt him because I didn’t think, and because I was angry, and—” Daniel closed his eyes. “I just sent him a text message, which was probably the worst idea I’ve ever had.”
Sam smiled. “You really care about him, don’t you?”
Daniel nodded, breaking the embrace, then shaking his head. “I’m going home, Sam. I won’t get any work here done for as long as this is in the room.”
“That’s okay. Good luck.” Sam ruffled his hair before she left him alone again.
Daniel looked over the mess on his desk, trying to locate his cell phone. When he finally spotted it, he felt his guts clenching. No new messages. What had he expected? That Cameron would just text him back, saying that it’s all right and that he shouldn’t worry about it? Get your mind out of the clouds, Daniel, he thought, and left his office to go to the locker room and change into his civilian clothes.
“See, that’s exactly why I never said anything, Daniel,” Jack said quietly. “I don’t think we would’ve been able to separate work from our private business. The borders had already blended into each other, and it would’ve gotten much worse if we had hooked up.”
“Maybe, yeah.” Daniel walked over to Jack and hugged him. “I’m glad we’re still friends,” he murmured, putting his head on Jack’s shoulder when Jack returned the embrace. “Thanks for being here.”
Jack patted Daniel’s back. “Always.”
As soon as Daniel exited the elevator, he realised that he would have to call a cab or walk since Cameron had been the designated driver for today. He shrugged. He might as well walk the distance to the apartment; it would give him ample time to think about how he could make it up to Cameron.
He passed the security gate, nodding at the SFs as he walked by, and decided that he would go cross-country; he had time. He crossed the parking lot, his eyes automatically drawn to a lone figure leaning against an SUV. He stopped when Cameron looked up, his face still a mask of hurt indifference.
Daniel didn’t know what he should make of this. He didn’t even know if Cameron had waited there the whole time or if he had come back for Daniel. He simply didn’t know.
He waited, watching Cameron struggle with himself. He knew he should go to him. It was he who had created this mess after all, but his feet were glued to the spot. Finally, Cameron pushed away from the car and walked over to Daniel. “I got your text,” he mumbled, kicking a stone around on the concrete.
“I really don’t know what I could say or do to fix this mess, Cameron,” Daniel admitted, cursing the fact that they were standing in the middle of the Cheyenne Mountain parking lot where everyone could see them. He wanted to hug Cameron; wanted to kiss him so badly. “I’m not going to the concert,” he added eventually, kicking the stone back to Cameron.
“What? Why not? I thought Nightwish was your favourite band. You’ve been going on about that concert for months and were so pissed off that you couldn’t get tickets anymore.” Cameron kicked the stone away and put his hands on his hips, looking at Daniel over the rim of his shades.
Daniel wrapped his arms around himself, needing the protection of his own embrace. “It just doesn’t feel right. If you’re not coming, I’m not going. It’s as simple as that.”
Cameron sighed, and Daniel could almost touch the anxiety that was coming off his lover in waves. “What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t know,” Daniel snapped back, closing his eyes when Cameron’s mouth tightened another notch. “It’s me who needs to apologise, not you.”
“Yeah, you pissed me off pretty good, Daniel, and I really don’t know what to do. I’m so far out of my league here it’s not even funny anymore,” Cameron admitted, taking a step towards Daniel.
“I’m sorry about that.” He sighed. “I know you wanted to do something special, and it is special. But I, ah.” Daniel stopped, struggling with what he wanted and needed to say.
“You know, it’s quite remarkable for a linguist to not know what to say,” Cameron said at last, a small smile tugging at his lips. “Come on. Let’s go.”
“Yeah, let’s go home,” Daniel mumbled, feeling utterly and completely miserable. Even though Cameron seemed to have lightened up, he knew better, and he also knew that he would have to do some serious groveling before Cameron would forgive him.
Cameron got into the driver’s seat, waiting for Daniel to fasten his seatbelt before he started the engine and drove out of the parking lot. “So, home, dinner, shower, concert, talk?”
Daniel blinked. “What?”
“I want to know what we’re going to do with our evening,” Cameron repeated slowly, “But don’t think I’m going to let you off the hook so easily,” he added, pushing his shades back up his nose.
Daniel couldn’t help but smile, offering Cameron his hand, his smile widening into a grin when Cameron only hesitated briefly before he took it with a sigh. “I don’t expect you to. You being here and coming with me tonight is already more than I had hoped for.”
Cameron snorted. “Yeah. You know, I should be even more pissed off at you for making me go against my own principles.”
“I know.” Daniel squeezed Cameron’s hand lightly before he looked out of the window, trying to steer his thoughts away from their impending talk. He had a concert to look forward to.
“That really doesn’t sound like Mitchell at all,” Jack commented, pouring the soup into bowls. “You got him good, Danny.”
Daniel smiled shyly, following Jack with the cutlery. “It’s mutual, you know.”
“I know. How did Mitchell react?”
Daniel frowned. “React to what?”
“To you telling him you love him,” Jack explained very slowly, wiggling his eyebrows to let Daniel know just how inane his question had sounded to Jack.
Daniel felt the blood rushing to his face, and he ducked his head. “I haven’t told him,” he mumbled, desperately trying to hide behind his spoon.
“What? Could you repeat that? I thought you said that you haven’t told him,” Jack said, and Daniel knew from the sarcasm in Jack’s tone that his friend had understood him perfectly.
“I haven’t told him,” Daniel repeated, daring to look up and into Jack’s eyes. As easy as it usually was to read Jack, Daniel was unable to discern what was going on in his mind right now.
They ate in silence for a while before Jack cleared his throat. “You know, Daniel, for a supposed genius, you’re exceptionally stupid, and that’s usually my job.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Daniel asked crisply, glaring at Jack. Of course he knew that he should have told Cameron. How could he not know? But it still eluded him what exactly Jack was talking about.
“You’re a linguist, Daniel. And an anthropologist. And an archaeologist. It’s your job to understand people. To know what they do and why they do it. But those skills obviously leave you when your personal life is involved.” Jack smirked and stood up, picking up their empty bowls. “Come on. I need to prepare the lobster.”
Daniel jumped up and followed Jack back into the kitchen, seething. “What has me being all of the above, and me not telling Cameron that I love him, got to do with anything?”
“See?” Jack took the lobster flesh out of the fridge. “You don’t make the connection.”
“Because there is no connection!” Daniel snapped.
“Oh, there is, Daniel,” Jack insisted. “But you might actually not see it because you’re not military.”
Daniel blinked, getting more confused by the second. “What?”
Jack sighed, heating foamed butter to toss the lobster flesh in. “Mitchell is an officer in the United States Air Force.”
“Yes, I know that.”
“And he’s bisexual. Do you know what that means?”
“Yes, that he likes boys and girls,” Daniel said patiently, scowling at Jack over the rim of his glasses.
“Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel, do I have to spell it out for you?” Jack asked loudly, throwing the lobster pieces in the pan. “He’s a bisexual man in the armed forces, and he’s in a relationship with you! He can’t go around, holding hands with you or show any other kind of PDA that would actually reassure him of your relationship! You not saying those infamous words back at him means that he doesn’t know if he’s putting his career on the line for something that’s not even there!” Jack was shouting by the time he was finished, wincing when he heard the echo of his own voice. “Sorry.”
Daniel closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “That still doesn’t explain why he’s acting as if I’m his possession,” he said slowly, trying to keep his temper in check. It didn’t surface very often, but when it did… He had been told he was scary.
“It’s not about possessing you, Daniel, and it scares the shit outta me that I know what’s going on while you’re in some weird, oblivious, happy place,” Jack answered, his own voice quiet this time. “He’s afraid of losing you. Can’t you see that?”
“Well, he’s about to lose me, Jack.” Daniel shook his head. “I—I just can’t take it anymore. I’m a grown man with a life. I have friends I want to see without Cameron following two steps behind me. I feel like a prized pet in a cage, not like his lover.”
Jack sighed, pouring the Irish whiskey over the lobster before he set light to it. Once the flames had died down, he poured in the cream and seasoned the mixture. “And I guess you haven’t told him that. You just presumed that he would notice.”
“No. No, I haven’t told him. But he told me that I’m not his first man. I mean, he should know that I’m not some fragile woman he needs to protect constantly.” Daniel watched as Jack filled the lobster shells with the mixture before handing him a plate. “Thanks.”
“Let’s eat,” Jack said simply, brushing against Daniel’s side as he walked out of the kitchen. “I’m more than willing to listen to what you have to say, Daniel. You know that.”
“I do.” Finally, Daniel found it within himself to smile at Jack. He appreciated Jack’s support and friendship, especially at this moment, where he was too confused and angry to know what he should, or would, do. But he also had the feeling that Jack felt uncomfortable with the situation.
“Good. But I’m still saying that I’m the wrong person to talk to. You should talk to Mitchell about this stuff, not to me.” Jack averted his eyes and dug in. “Daniel, do you want to be with him?”
“Yes,” Daniel replied without hesitation. “That’s about the only thing I do know about this mess. I want to be with him, and the thought of letting him go scares me.”
Jack reached across the table, patting Daniel’s hand fondly. “I know. It wouldn’t be you if—” He gulped. “Talk to him, Danny. I know you tend to keep stuff to yourself, but right now, it’s the wrong thing to do. He doesn’t know you like I do. You need to tell him what’s going on.”
Daniel smiled sadly. “I know.”
* * * *
Daniel woke when he heard the front door unlock. For a moment, he didn’t know where he was, let alone how he got here. He sniffed, a foreign and still familiar smell tickling his nose. He shifted, trying to get comfortable again, gasping when an arm tightened around his waist to a point where the clutching fingers dug painfully into his side. He groaned in dismay, squirming away from the uncomfortable touch.
“Mitchell, don’t,” he heard Jack whispering, his voice sounding panicked. “It’s not what it looks like.”
Daniel’s eyes flew open and he tried to sit up, only to find himself being held down by the arm that was still wrapped around his waist. Presumably, it was Jack’s arm, and Daniel was lying on Jack’s chest, which would explain why Jack was trying to calm Cameron down.
“I’m a lot of things, General. But I’m neither stupid nor blind,” Cameron growled.
“For crying out loud, Mitchell!” Jack shouted, but the sound of a door being slammed told Daniel that Cameron had left. “Crap!”
“Let me go, Jack,” Daniel said quickly, trying to wriggle out of Jack’s embrace once more. “I need to go after him.”
“No, Daniel, you don’t,” Jack retorted firmly, but he let Daniel go nevertheless. “He’s gone.”
Daniel swiped his hands over his face, glaring down at Jack. Obviously, they had crashed on the couch last night, too tired, or too drunk, or both, to make it to their respective beds. Well, Jack was where he was supposed to be – on Daniel’s pull-out sofa where he always slept when he stayed over. Only that Daniel had obviously slept here as well, cocooned in Jack’s arms, and Cameron had found them like that. Of course, he would assume the worst possible scenario, being the hothead that he was. “I need to find him, Jack. I need to explain—”
“Calm down, Daniel,” Jack interrupted him, getting off the makeshift bed. “I will go after him.”
Daniel blinked. “What?”
“You won’t find him. And even if you did, he wouldn’t listen to you.”
“And what makes you think that he’ll listen to you?” Daniel snarled, throwing the door to his bedroom open to change into a clean set of clothes.
“Because I’m a superior officer. I can make it an order if I need to,” Jack shot back. “Listen, Daniel.” Jack gently turned him around by the shoulders, looking sternly at him. “This is my fault. You were too tired to stand on your own feet last night. I should’ve tucked you into your own bed, but I didn’t. I’m going to fix this.”
“You can’t fix everything, Jack,” Daniel muttered, feeling utterly defeated. This couldn’t be happening. His lover hadn’t just found him asleep in Jack’s arms. This was all a bad dream, and when he woke up, it would be to the smell of fresh coffee and Cameron’s gentle kiss.
“Maybe not, no. But this doesn’t fall into that category.” He pulled Daniel into a brief hug. “I’ll be back by lunch and take you out.”
“Wha’? Why?” Daniel looked into Jack’s eyes, wanting to trust him to be right.
“Because Mitchell was in his dress blues,” Jack said, smiling crookedly at Daniel. “And we all know what happens when you and Mitchell are alone in a room where Mitchell wears his dress blues, and it sure ain’t talking.”
Daniel blushed and punched Jack softly in the stomach. “You think you can find him?”
“Are you going to tell me how?”
“I could, but then I’d have to shoot you,” Jack replied lightly, grinning when Daniel rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry, Danny. I’ll talk to him.”
Daniel nodded and moved out of Jack’s arms. He smiled gratefully at him when Jack clasped his shoulder in a goodbye, hoping that Jack would find Cameron and make him understand. If not, he was out of options.
AUTHOR’S NOTES: The recipe for the Dublin Lawyer was taken from “A Little Irish Cookbook” by John Murphy.
It didn’t take Jack very long to find Mitchell. There were only so many seedy bars in Colorado Springs where no questions were ever asked. In fact, Mitchell had picked the one bar Jack had always gone to when he needed to be away from everything that defined his life, and it reminded him once again how much alike he and Mitchell seemed. If he hadn’t been Black Ops… If he hadn’t been imprisoned in Iraq… If…
Jack shook his head, parked his rental car next to Mitchell’s SUV, and took a moment to organise his thoughts. He wasn’t good with words. He never had been the one to talk, always having been a man of action. But in this case, words were all that counted; carefully chosen words; words that would rectify the mess he had created. Why hadn’t he let Daniel go to his own bed last night? Why had he kept him on the pullout sofa? He was over and done with any romantic notions connected to Daniel. He was sure of that, if the absence of butterflies in his guts and wet dreams were any indicator. Besides, he had a man at his side; a man he’d only recently noticed, once he had taken off his Daniel-shaped glasses; a man he had already come to care for deeply. So, why?
It didn’t matter why. The only thing that mattered now was explaining the situation to Mitchell. And then some. It usually wasn’t his style to play relationship counselor, but in this case, it was different. While Daniel was able to talk a mile a minute when it came to his work, he had just as many difficulties expressing himself on a personal level as Jack.
He got out of the car and entered the bar. He automatically gave the gloomy and barely illuminated room a visual sweep, checking for possible threats. His gaze fell on Mitchell. The man was seated at the bar, slouched over his drink and completely unaware of his surroundings. Jack snorted. If anyone chose to attack Mitchell right here and right now, he doubted that Mitchell would even realise the threat until it was too late.
He straightened his shoulders, nodding at the barkeeper as he made his way to Mitchell. He had been right. Mitchell didn’t even look up when he slipped into a stool right next to him. “You know, drinking in uniform while on duty warrants a court martial,” Jack said quietly, accepting his beer without acknowledging the bartender any further.
Mitchell grunted and took another swig from his own bottle. “Are you going to report me, sir?”
“No. As you well know. I don’t care if you drink yourself into oblivion for a reason that doesn’t even exist. Been there, done that,” Jack retorted, raising his bottle in a mock toast before he guzzled half of the beverage down in one go. “Bottoms up, Mitchell. Let’s take a walk.”
“I don’t want to ‘take a walk’,” Mitchell bit back, though he emptied his beer.
Jack’s lips tightened. “I can make it an order if it makes you feel better.”
Mitchell shook his head and slid off the stool. “Fine. Let’s take a walk.” He threw a couple of notes onto the counter and waited for Jack to do the same. “After you, sir.”
Jack snorted and left the bar without looking if Mitchell was following him; he knew he would. He took a look around, trying to decide where they could talk privately. Their cars were out of question; there was a chance they were bugged. “They say that the woods are beautiful this time of the year,” he said eventually. “Come on. I’m driving.”
Mitchell scowled at Jack, but he got into the passenger seat of Jack’s rental. “If you say so, sir.”
“Drop the ‘sir’, will ya? Considering the circumstances, you might as well call me Jack. Or O’Neill, whatever you prefer.” Jack sped off, heading towards the forest that was located just at the edge of the Springs. It was a quiet, awkward ride, but Jack hadn’t thought that Mitchell would talk much. He could tell, just from Mitchell’s posture, that the man was trying very hard not to deck him, and Jack couldn’t blame him; he would feel that way, too.
He drove into a field path, parking the rental just outside the edge of the forest, then waited for Mitchell to get out before he followed him. “Come on. Let’s walk.”
Mitchell grunted noncommittally, but fell into step next to Jack. They walked in silence for a while until Jack spotted a cut-down trunk. He sat down, inviting Mitchell to join him with a nod. He still didn’t know what he could say to the man to fix the mess he created and smooth the way for Mitchell and Daniel’s talk.
“You wanted to talk, sir, so talk,” Mitchell said at last, his tone sharp.
Jack nodded. He had to think fast, and that usually wasn’t his department. At least not when it came to talking about personal stuff. “Have you ever shared a tent with Daniel before you two hooked up?” he asked, grasping the first thing that came to his mind; he would just have to go from there.
As he expected, Mitchell frowned. “Yeah, I have. Why?”
“Well, Daniel and I’ve shared a tent off-world as well,” Jack replied, an idea crossing his mind that might help him to explain why Mitchell had found Daniel and him wrapped around each other. “Done that ever since he came back from Abydos.” Jack shook his head. “When I woke up the very first morning with Daniel wrapped around me like a koala, he was embarrassed as hell. He tried to explain it with abandonment issues or something. At the time, I didn’t quite believe him.”
Mitchell braced himself against the trunk and leaned back. “I’m such an idiot.” He sighed. “That’s exactly what happened last night, right?”
“Yes.” Well, not exactly, but Mitchell didn’t need to know that Daniel had fallen asleep on the couch and that Jack had pulled him into his arms. That was a secret Jack would take to the grave with him. “But I understand why you’ve reacted the way you have. I would’ve, too.”
“It’s just—He hasn’t told me that you’d be over for the weekend. To me, it looked like… I don’t know.”
“It looked as if Daniel hadn’t told you so he could get it on with me behind your back?” Jack offered.
“Yeah.” Mitchell sounded as defeated as he looked like at the moment. “I’m losing him, aren’t I?”
“If you two don’t talk soon, yeah. You’re gonna lose him.” Jack looked at Mitchell, taking in the man next to him as if he was seeing him for the first time. So far, he had only seen the flyboy and the hot-headed leader of SG-1 in him, but Mitchell was showing him a side so painstakingly human that he couldn’t help but notice the things Daniel saw in the man; things that Jack had once possessed, too, and that Paul was digging out again slowly. “What I don’t understand is why you haven’t talked sooner. You know how it works between two guys.”
“As a matter of fact, sir, I don’t. Daniel’s my first boyfriend,” Mitchell muttered.
Jack blinked. Mitchell’s admission was unexpected and left only one conclusion for Jack. “So you lied to Daniel.”
Mitchell straightened and looked at Jack. “No, sir, I didn’t.”
“But Daniel said—” Jack started, but fell silent when Mitchell cocked one brow.
“I know what I said to Daniel. I said that he isn’t the first man in my bed, and that is the truth,” Mitchell said slowly, enunciating every word carefully.
Jack blinked again before he started to chuckle. “Sweet. So the whole mess you’re in is based on a mix-up. Because Daniel definitely thinks that he’s not your first boyfriend.”
Jack noted with satisfaction as the tension left Mitchell’s body, obviously realising just how stupid both of them had been. “So, I probably should go home now and clear that up, right?”
“Wrong, Mitchell.” Jack smirked. “I’m going to take you back to the bar, and then I’ll pick up Daniel for brunch. You’ll go home once we’re out, and lose the dress blues, because we both know that you and Daniel won’t talk as long as you’re wearing those.”
Jack’s smirk intensified when Mitchell blushed and ducked his head. “Yeah, changing might be a good idea,” Mitchell muttered, taking the hand Jack offered.
* * * *
Daniel flinched when he heard a key being turned in the lock of the front door. Though Jack had said he would come back and pick him up for lunch, he had no way of knowing for sure if it really was Jack that was entering the apartment or Cameron; he truly didn’t know what he should do if it were Cameron.
“Daniel?” He closed his eyes, his gut unclenching a little; it was Jack. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Daniel didn’t dare to look at Jack directly, afraid what he might find in his friend’s eyes. “You’re back,” he added lamely, not knowing what to say, though a dozen questions were swirling through his mind.
“I said I would be back,” Jack retorted, putting his hands on Daniel’s shoulders to rub them soothingly. “It’s gonna be okay, Danny.” Daniel snorted. “No, really. You need to talk, and it’s gonna be okay.”
“What did he say?” Daniel asked, his curiosity piqued now that Jack had told him what he needed to hear; that there was still a chance to fix this mess; that he and Cameron could make it through this with their relationship intact.
“That’s really not my place to say, but…There seems to be a misunderstanding, and once you’ve cleared that up, it will be fine.” He let his hands fall to Daniel’s arms and squeezed them gently. “I’m hungry.”
Daniel laughed. “Yeah, me, too.”
“Sweet.” Jack grinned. “O’Malley’s? We can call Carter, too…”
“No. Just you and me. I can go to lunch with Sam everyday, but I have to let you go after lunch, right?”
“True. Mind if I shower and change before we go? I smell and look like a skunk!” Jack said exasperatedly, eliciting another bark of laughter from Daniel. “It’s good to hear you laugh, Daniel. It’s been a long time.”
“Yeah. You tend to amuse me,” he added with a smirk, dodging the friendly punch that was meant for his ribs. “Go and shower. I will amuse myself while you’re incapable of doing your job,” Daniel continued loftily, flopping down on one of the couches.
“Oh, you’re so getting it, Danny!” Jack hollered, already heading for the bathroom, but Daniel could hear the mirth underneath the threat.
“Promises, promises,” Daniel murmured and smiled, picking up the book he had stopped reading when Paul had called him last weekend.
* * * *
Daniel fiddled with his keys, staring at the front door of his apartment. He couldn’t help feeling nervous, and also a little afraid, of what was waiting for him behind the door. Of course, Jack had tried to reassure him the best he could, but it hadn’t managed to eradicate Daniel’s apprehension completely; he was still afraid of losing Cameron.
With a sigh, Daniel unlocked the door, closing it softly behind him. He really didn’t know what he had expected to find, but everything was looking perfectly normal. Slowly, he made his way to the dining area, hesitating briefly when he spotted the uncapped but full bottle of beer on the table. He looked around, and felt a wave of dread rolling through him when he saw Cameron leaning over the balcony rail with a bottle of his own.
He sighed again and picked up the beer, realising that it was pointless to stall the inevitable talk any longer. Cameron looked up briefly when Daniel stepped out onto the balcony, his face blank, with his emotions carefully hidden behind a mask of indifference. Still, Daniel noticed the tiny flicker of joy that flitted across Cameron’s features when he glanced at him, and it was enough to give Daniel hope. He braced himself against the rail, close enough to brush against Cameron’s side.
For a moment, neither of them said a word. Daniel had so many things he wanted and needed to say to Cameron, but once more, his linguistic skills deserted him, and he wondered if Jack was right in the end; that Daniel couldn’t express himself when it came to personal matters.
“I owe you an apology, Daniel,” Cameron said eventually, rousing Daniel out of his thoughts. “I shouldn’t have stormed off like that.”
“It’s okay,” Daniel replied automatically, noticing that Cameron wasn’t looking at him, but was playing with the label of his bottle instead. “I would’ve reacted the same way, I guess.”
Cameron nodded. “You know, the past two months… There’s a huge misunderstanding standing in the room.”
Daniel quirked his brow, curious. He had been wondering what kind of misunderstanding Jack had been talking about earlier, and now it looked like he would get his answer. “Oh?”
“Yeah.” Cameron took a swig from his beer. “When I said that you’re not the first man I’ve slept with, I meant exactly that. You’re not the first guy in my bed, but you’re the first one I’ve had a relationship with. And I’m sorry if what I said led you to believe I have experience in the gay relationship department. Because I haven’t. My encounters with other guys consisted of a quick fuck and the question of if and when we’d do it again. But that’s it,” Cameron added, finally looking up to meet Daniel’s eyes.
Daniel blinked, feeling more than a little dumbfounded. But
when he thought about it, Cameron was right. He had never said that he had ever
been in a relationship with a man, and it was Daniel’s error to assume
otherwise. “I’m an idiot,” he finally said, scooting closer to snuggle into
Cameron’s side. For a moment, he was not sure if Cameron would allow the close
contact; when he did put an arm around Daniel’s shoulders, the relief was all
the sweeter. “I’m sorry,
“I’m sorry, too. For pushing you and being over-attentive. I did realise that I was doing something wrong, but I was so far out of my depth… And you weren’t talking,” Cameron muttered, pulling Daniel closer. “I’m used to taking care of my partner, Daniel, and I like doing that for the person I love.”
“I know.” Daniel put his bottle on the rail before he plucked Cameron’s from his fingers as well. He slipped his other arm around Cameron’s waist, prodding Cameron softly with his nose. “We both played our part in this drama. I should’ve talked to you instead of assuming you had the experience and shoving you away.”
“Just tell me immediately when I’m pushing my limits again, okay?” Cameron closed his eyes for a moment. “God, I was so afraid of losing you.”
“Not going to lose me,” Daniel murmured, gathering his courage to finally tell Cameron what he obviously needed to hear. “I do love you after all.”
Cameron’s smile was blinding in its intensity, which told Daniel more than enough about what his words meant to Cameron. “Is this the point where we’re done with the emotional stuff and going to have make-up sex?” he asked with a chuckle, caressing Daniel’s face with his nose and lips. “I love you, too, but you know that already.”
“I do.” He took a deep breath, needing to explain to Cameron why it was so difficult for him to tell a person he cared greatly about that he loved them. “It took me almost eight months to tell Sha’re that I loved her,” he offered, noticing how Cameron’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. “It’s difficult for me to tell someone I love them. Everyone I’ve loved has been taken away from me. I guess—I was just thinking that if I didn’t say it, they wouldn’t leave me. Stupid, huh?”
Cameron cupped his face in his hands, his thumbs brushing tenderly over Daniel’s five o’clock shadow. “No, it’s not stupid. And I don’t expect you to say it again. I just—I wasn’t sure if you felt the same way about us. I guess I should’ve known, though. You wouldn’t have put up with my crap for that long otherwise.”
Daniel grinned, biting Cameron’s thumb softly. “There’s one thing I don’t understand, though. You were doing fine during the first two weeks. What changed after that?”
“I don’t know,” Cameron mumbled, avoiding Daniel’s eyes, which told Daniel that Cameron was trying to keep something from him. He tilted Cameron’s head back up and cocked his eyebrow, letting Cameron know without words that he wasn’t buying it. “Oh, all right, fine. It changed when I first started to hope that you and I were in for the homerun. There. Happy now?”
Daniel couldn’t help the smile spreading across his face. That was definitely not something he had reckoned with since Cameron didn’t strike him as the type to settle down with one person, and certainly not with a man. To hear those words from Cameron now meant more to Daniel than any declaration of love could ever mean. “Homerun, huh? After two weeks?”
“It’s silly, I know,” Cameron huffed. “Especially if you take our jobs into account, and God knows what else. But it’s what I feel, and I can’t help it.”
“And you wanted to do everything you could to make it work,” Daniel said fondly, still feeling the adrenaline rush Cameron’s admission had caused. “Pushing even harder when I shoved you away.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
“What am I gonna do with you now?” Daniel asked lightly, trying to break the awkward moment as he realised that Cameron was obviously very uncomfortable.
“Take me to bed?” Cameron croaked and rolled his eyes. “And if that wasn’t the cheesiest line ever…”
Daniel pulled Cameron close, capturing his lips with his. “I
don’t think so,
Cameron licked his lips. “What about spacing out on the couch, then, with a couple of old movies, Chinese take out, and beer?”
Daniel nodded. “Yeah, that sounds more like it.”
“And awfully domestic,” Cameron added with a smirk, stepping back into the apartment.
“And boring,” Daniel shot back, answering Cameron’s cocked eyebrow with a smirk of his own.
Cameron snorted. “Tell you what, Jackson. Our relationship won’t ever be boring.”
“I certainly hope so, Mitchell. Forever can be pretty tedious if you take the fun out of it.”
Cameron was in front of Daniel in two long strides, crushing his lips against Daniel’s in a manner that left no other option for Daniel but surrender. He moaned into Cameron’s mouth, searching blindly behind him for anything that would support both their weight. Instead, he lost balance and fell backwards onto the couch, grunting when Cameron landed on top of him. He tried to glare at Cameron, but the tender expression on his lover’s face took away any irritation Daniel might have felt. “Ready to start our boring, domestic life as an old married couple?” Cameron asked fondly, tugging Daniel’s bottom lip with his teeth.
“Well, if you’d let me up so I can take out my dentures…” Daniel quipped, laughing when Cameron’s expression changed into one of sheer horror. “Oh, I see,” he continued teasingly. “You’re only going to keep me as long as I can get it up fast enough for you and don’t have false teeth I have to take out before I blow you?”
Now it was Cameron who cracked up, shifting on the couch to snuggle into Daniel’s side. “That’s so wrong, Daniel,” he sniggered. “I’m going to have nightmares for the rest of my life of ivories snapping at my bits.”
“As long as they’re my ivories…” Daniel smirked when Cameron groaned, hiding his face in Daniel’s neck.
“I really didn’t need that image in my head,” he mumbled and pressed a kiss to Daniel’s skin. “What do you think about starting with ‘We’re No Angels’ and move to ‘Quo Vadis’ after that?”
“Sounds good,” Daniel replied, aware of the croak in his voice. Spending the rest of the day with Cameron wrapped around him while they were watching old movies over their beers definitely had its appeal. Perhaps even more than Daniel was ready to admit to himself, because Cameron was right. It was awfully domestic, but for once, Daniel decided that domesticity could be a very good thing.
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